2013 NFL Draft Predictions: 6 Secondary Studs That Will Go in Round 1
Every year, due to the improved passing game around the league, NFL teams are looking for help in the secondary.
In the 2013 NFL draft, there are six top studs who will go in the first round. Most of these top secondary players currently reside in the SEC and the ACC.
These players are all difference makers, not just as coverage players, but also as solid run defenders. They are also the most pro-ready at this point in their careers, and could make the best short and long-term impact.
Cornerback David Amerson, North Carolina State
David Amerson will be arguably the best player in college football in 2012. He's a 6'3" ball hawk that can play in either zone or man coverage with success. Despite his height, he has very fluid hips in coverage and isn't afraid to mix it up as a tackler.
The only real question surrounding him is his speed, and whether he could keep up with the faster receivers in the NFL. However, that doesn't seem to be a real issue, since he wouldn't be taken by any team with the intent of going against the absolute fastest receivers in the NFL without help.
Cornerback Xavier Rhodes, Florida State
Xaiver Rhodes has great size. He is listed at 6'2" and 209 pounds. He uses his size and strength to shut down receivers. Much like Amerson, he isn't going to be able to cover the top speed receivers, since his straight-line speed isn't amazing.
However, he does have good hip control and uses his hands well in coverage. He tends to make plays on the ball and get penalties drawn against the receivers he is covering often.
While he isn't short-term No. 1 corner in the NFL, Rhodes could come straight in as a right cornerback for an NFL team and lock down that side for years.
Cornerback Johnthan Banks, Mississippi State
Banks is a corner that is best in zone coverage and as a blitzer. He is more than likely a Cover 2 scheme fit at best, but could also be converted to one of the top safety prospects in the draft. His 6'2", 185-pound frame has room to add muscle mass.
His biggest weakness is in both press and off-man coverage techniques. If he can prove that he has the hips to play in man coverage in the NFL, he could wind up being taken inside the first 15 picks. Otherwise, he is a late first or early second-round player.
Cornerback DeMarcus Milliner, Alabama
DeMarcus Milliner has more natural talent at corner than his first-round teammate Dre Kirkpatrick had a season ago. He should be a top pick in the 2013 draft, but there is much more talent to compete against this year. He has played as both a nickel and an outside corner already for the Crimson Tide.
The versatility that Milliner would provide to an NFL defensive coordinator is key. His ability to line up in the nickel packages and take on a slot receiver or start on the outside will allow him to go much higher than his natural talent as just an outside corner would dictate.
Safety T.J. McDonald, Southern California
McDonald has already been a Thorpe semifinalist, and he was added to the Thorpe watch list for 2012 as well. He is arguably the best defensive back to play in college football since Sean Taylor.
McDonald will fly around the field and search for people to hit. His best asset is his play diagnostics. He can tell almost instantly where he needs to be for each and every play. His ability to read the ball in the air needs work, but as an overall safety, McDonald could be a higher pick than 2012 first-round pick Mark Barron.
Safety Ray Ray Armstrong, Miami (FL)
Ray Ray Armstrong has some character concerns. In 2011, he was caught hanging out with an agent and then tweeted about it, which led to a four-game suspension (via ProFootballTalk).
Outside of that, Armstrong has been excellent both on and off the field.
He can cover decently and has been excellent as a tackler, but he needs to learn how to flow to the ball and shed blocks better in the run game. He has issues covering the ball deep but he has the speed and quickness to improve in that area.
Scott Carasik is a Featured Columnist and Trends and Traffic Writer for Bleacher Report. As a Featured Columnist, he covers the Atlanta Falcons, NFL and NFL Draft. He is also the Falcons analyst at Drafttek and also runs the NFL Draft Website ScarDraft.com and the host of Kvetching Draftniks Radio.