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2013 NFL Draft: Identifying the Draft's 8 Biggest Projects

Ryan McCrystalFeatured ColumnistNovember 22, 2012

2013 NFL Draft: Identifying the Draft's 8 Biggest Projects

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    No draft pick (aside from maybe Andrew Luck) comes with a guarantee. There's risk involved in every selection, but some players require more development than others. 

    Here's a list of eight draft-eligible prospects for the 2013 NFL draft who will take some time to reach their full potential.

    However, each of the following also has the raw skills necessary to excel in the NFL. And for that reason, they will be scouted closely this offseason as teams attempt to determine if an investment would be worthwhile.

Margus Hunt, DE, SMU

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    Hunt is a physical freak of nature. Listed at 6'7", 280 pounds, he has the size and athleticism to dominate as a 3-4 defensive end at the next level. Unfortunately, Hunt has yet to show the ability to consistently play at that level, even in Conference USA.

    Hunt's physical tools all but guarantee him a spot in the top 100 picks, but he will definitely be viewed as a project and may not see much action early in his career. 

    A veteran team with a strong defensive coaching such as the Patriots or Texans may be the best fit for Hunt.

Ezekiel Ansah, DE/LB, Brigham Young

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    Ansah, who was born in Ghana, is one of the great stories in college football this season. He's emerged as one of the most dangerous pass-rushers in the nation with his four sacks and 12 tackles for loss, but he still has a long way to go before he's ready for life in the NFL. 

    You'll hear plenty of Jason Pierre-Paul comparisons over the next few months—and not just for their football ability. Like Pierre-Paul, Ansah is relatively new to the game of football and will take at least a year to develop at the next level. 

Denard Robinson, RB/WR, Michigan

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    Robinson's career as a quarterback is almost over, but he definitely has a future at the next level. 

    The only issue with Robinson's transition will be determining where to use him. Is he a running back? A receiver? Both?

    His speed and ability to make guys miss will be a valuable asset wherever he lines up, but as a quarterback to this point, he hasn't needed anyone to feed him the ball. His future NFL team will need to work with him as he learns the nuances of a new position.

Barkevious Mingo, DE, LSU

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    Due to LSU's deep defensive line rotation, Mingo is essentially used as a situational pass-rusher. And while he's among the most feared pass-rushers in the nation, it's difficult to overlook the lack of experience as a true three-down lineman. 

    He can make an immediate impact in the NFL as a pass-rusher, a la Bruce Irvin of the Seahawks, but he is a long way from being a truly dominant force. 

    Mingo will need to add some weight and improve his ability to hold up at the point of attack against the run. 

Reid Fragel, OT, Ohio State

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    Fragel will be one of the most intriguing late-round prospects in this year's draft. A former tight end, Fragel shifted to the offensive line just prior to his senior year and won the starting job at right tackle. 

    He's listed at 6'7", 298 pounds and may be the most athletic lineman in this year's draft class. 

    Due to his inexperience, Fragel clearly needs time to develop before stepping into an NFL starting role, but his athleticism and success in his first year on the line should draw significant interest from teams this offseason.

Montori Hughes, DT, Tennessee-Martin

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    Hughes showed promise early in his career at Tennessee, but he was dismissed from the program prior to the 2011 season and landed at Tennessee-Martin. 

    If an NFL coaching staff can keep Hughes focused, he could develop into an elite nose tackle. He has the size to take on double-teams but also the athleticism to be more than just a space-eater. 

    This year's class of nose tackles is top heavy, which could make Hughes a popular mid-round target for teams looking to add a nose tackle later in the draft. 

Devin Taylor, DE, South Carolina

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    Once considered a potential first-round prospect, Taylor has never fully lived up to expectations at South Carolina, and he has been overshadowed by teammate Jadeveon Clowney the past two seasons. But Taylor still has the raw skills that NFL personnel covet in the late rounds of the draft. 

    Teams will need to do their homework on Taylor to determine the reason for his failed development in college, but he could be the type of player that just needs to be pushed by the right coaching staff. 

Marcus Davis, WR, Virginia Tech

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    Few receivers in this year's class have Davis' combination of size (6'4", 232 lbs) and speed. 

    A receiver with Davis' raw ability should dominate the ACC, so there are definitely concerns about his lack of development. But inconsistent quarterback play has also contributed to his failures. 

    A change of scenery and the ability to develop a rapport with an NFL quarterback could lead to his growth as a receiver. He would also benefit from landing somewhere such as Detroit or Houston, where he could learn from an elite veteran receiver. 

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