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2013 NFL Draft: College Highlights of 10 First-Round Studs

Dan SnyderCorrespondent ISeptember 11, 2012

2013 NFL Draft: College Highlights of 10 First-Round Studs

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    Being that football season has finally returned, fans of certain teams may already be looking forward to the 2013 draft. 

    And although it's still months away and near impossible to predict what's going to happen in April, we can still get some idea of who might be at the top. 

    So let's take a look at some highlights of 10 guys you'll most likely hear in the first round. 

Matt Barkley, QB (USC)

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    Matt Barkley is, without question, the top name you'll hear floating around the 2013 NFL draft. The senior QB returned to Southern Cal in hopes of winning a title with the Trojans after a season that could have placed him within the top-five of the 2012 draft. 

    Barkley has opened the 2012 season on the right track, firing 10 touchdown passes compared to just one interception. He's hasn't faced the stiffest competition in Hawaii and Syracuse, but he's rolled over the teams he should have, and that's something great quarterbacks do. 

Star Lotulelei, DT (Utah)

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    Defensive linemen tend to fly off the board come day one of the draft, and Utah's Star Lotulelei should be no different. He doesn't have exceptional pass-rushing skills, but he's a monster at the point of attack and lives in opponents backfields. 

    In 2012, Lotulelei has recorded six tackles and a sack, a good start for a guy who had just 1.5 sacks a year ago. 

David Amerson, CB (N.C. State)

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    After bursting on the college scene last year with his 13 interceptions, North Carolina State's David Amerson is being regarded as one of the top playmakers on the defensive side of the ball.

    He has a nose for the football and does a great job of baiting quarterbacks into making terrible throws. 

    Amerson got off to a rough start in 2012, not recording a single stat in the loss to Tennessee. But he came back strong against UConn, recording his first pick of the season. 

Jarvis Jones, OLB (Georgia)

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    Talk about getting off to a rocket start, Georgia's Jarvis Jones has already laid down 17 tackles and 3.5 sacks this year after recording 13.5 sacks last season. 

    Jones has an ideal size and skill set to be a rush outside linebacker in a 3-4 scheme. He does a great job of using his leverage and length to move blockers out of his way on the path to the quarterback.

    Couple Jones' ability to get to the quarterback with is above-average pass-coverage skills and you have one heck of a player.  

Robert Woods, WR (USC)

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    Hauling in 111 passes and scoring 15 touchdowns as a sophomore is going to catch anyone's eye, but USC receiver Robert Woods has been turning heads while in Southern California. 

    Woods hasn't recorded a hundred-yard game yet this season, but his four touchdown receptions from Matt Barkley are something to write home about. There's no doubt that as the season progresses on, Woods will see more and more action. 

    His biggest question will be can he be more dynamic than Justin Blackmon?

Marcus Lattimore, RB (South Carolina)

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    South Carolina running back Marcus Lattimore hasn't been appearing inside the top 10 of many mock drafts.

    I'm a little shocked by that. 

    Lattimore was an absolute stud back in 2010 when he topped the 1,000-yard mark and scored 17 touchdowns as a freshman and was on his way back to the top last year before an injury cut short his season.

    In 2012, Lattimore started the season well against Vanderbilt, but was held in check when the Gamecocks played ECU. 

    Lattimore has a distinct blend of size and speed that should make him a valued commodity and even push him into the top 10. 

Barkevious Mingo, OLB (LSU)

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    Pass-rushers always seem to soar up boards during the draft and LSU outside linebacker Barkevious Mingo could be a beneficiary to that. 

    Mingo is an exceptional athlete who has great burst off the edge and knows how to get to the quarterback. He's a little raw and could use some work, but if Bruce Irvin can make his way into the top 15, Mingo should have no trouble getting first-round looks. 

    It hasn't been an overly impressive start to 2012 for Mingo, who has just eight tackles without a sack in the Tigers' first two games

    But don't let that discourage you. This kid is the real deal. 

Geno Smith, QB (West Virginia)

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    Maybe no quarterback had a better start to their 2012 season than WVU signal-caller Geno Smith. Smith and the Mountaneers absolutely manhandled Marshall en route to Smith's 323 yards and four touchdowns through the air. 

    But maybe the most impressive stat of that game is that Smith completed an out-of-this-world 89 percent of his passes. 

    Smith has good size but may need to add a little bulk for teams to be completely sold on him. He compares very well to RGIII in that he has legs, but knows when to use them. 

Tyler Wilson, QB (Arkansas)

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    Wilson has had quite an up-and-down season so far, and we're only in Week 2.

    The Razorback signal-caller lit up Jacksonville State in the team's first game but struggled heartily before leaving with an injury against UL-Monroe, a game Arkansas eventually lost. 

    The story of Wilson's season will be how he and Arkansas respond to a crushing loss against a much inferior team. There's no doubt that Wilson has all the tools to be a great NFL player, but he'll have to show everything he's got for the rest of 2012. 

William Gholston, DE (Michigan State)

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    The name Gholston and NFL draft currently leave a bad taste in the mouths of some Jet fans, but that could change next year. 

    Vernon's cousin William Gholston is an explosive athlete off the edge who has elite size and measurables. Gholston played a pretty poor opening game against Boise State but really rebounded against Central Michigan, reeling in seven total tackles and a sack. 

    Gholston still needs some polish and to learn to control his emotions on the field, but he could be a major addition off the edge for one lucky NFL team. 

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