2013 NFL Draft: First-Round Steals That Will Be Bona-Fide Stars

Donald WoodFeatured ColumnistDecember 17, 2012

LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 20:  Quarterback Matt Barkley #7 of the USC Trojans holds the sword  and conducts the band after the game against the Colorado Buffaloes at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on October 20,2012  in Los Angeles, California.  USC won 50-6.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

With the 2013 NFL draft chatter starting to heat up, it’s time to analyze which first-round steals will blossom into NFL superstars.

As the NFL playoff races are just starting to heat up, the rest of the NFL is getting ready for the 2013 edition of the draft; not everyone can be winners.

All of the following college stars will sneak into the first round, but the investment will pay off ten fold as each becomes a bona-fide NFL star.


Matt Barkley, QB, USC

While a poor senior year at the University of Southern California has hurt senior quarterback Matt Barkley’s stock coming into the 2013 draft, his pure skill and raw talent will be enough for a team to take a chance in the first round.

After a few years of being groomed into a starter, Barkley could be one of the NFL’s best QBs.

A complete lack of protection in the pocket hurt Barkley’s numbers this season—3,273 yards passing, 36 touchdowns and 15 interceptions—but those numbers are still incredibly impressive.

Given the right protection at the NFL level, Barkley’s poise in the pocket, ball placement and timing will help him reach a high level in the NFL.


Tyler Eifert, TE, Notre Dame

While there aren’t many of note in this year’s draft, the best tight end coming out in 2013 is Notre Dame Fighting Irish star Tyler Eifert.

While the young TE must continue to work on his blocking abilities, he is already NFL-ready with his pass-catching.

Eifert is a former wide receiver who has hands unlike most tight ends his size. At 6’6” and 251 pounds, this is the kind of player that NFL teams are looking for.

Add in the big-game experience, and Eifert is a great pick.

With so little depth in the draft this year at the tight end spot, and the lack of elite play from tight ends across the NFL, expect Eifert to catapult into the first round.


John Jenkins, DT, Goergia 

One of the best NFL-ready talents to come out of college football this season has been Georgia Bulldogs senior defensive tackle John Jenkins.

With immense size (6’3” and 358 pounds) and an amazing ability to stop the run, Jenkins will make a splash in the NFL from Day 1.

While he isn’t the flashiest pick of the draft—a fact that will have the young star fall to the latter half of the first round—Jenkins will end up on a winning team that needs defensive-line help and make them exponentially better.

Jenkins was one of the biggest stars on a very talented Georgia defensive unit this season, and his ability to play in both a 3-4 and 4-3 defensive front makes him even more invaluable.

As the combine gets closer, expect for Jenkins’ draft stock to continue to rise.


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