There are no locks in the NFL draft. There are no perfect prospects, no guarantees, no assurances that even the most talented players will pan out.
But there are safe picks, relatively speaking. There are those players that just seem destined to have success in the NFL, combining the proper intangibles with off-the-charts talent.
This article is interested in those players. Here, I'll take a look at three players I feel safe projecting as stars at the next level. They don't carry any big question marks or flags, they produced in college and have the talent to continue to grow and improve.
They aren't locks, but they're as close as this draft gets.
Manti Te'o, MLB, Notre Dame
This kid is a winner, and that's all there is to it.
Actually, there's a lot more to it. He has an impeccable nose for the ball, makes big plays at key junctures and is a sound tackler. He's a natural middle linebacker in either the 4-3 or 3-4, as he plays with excellent leverage and combines good technique with excellent strength.
Plus, he's a natural leader and would likely become the face of any defense he is on before long. His intelligence, worth ethic, intensity and character all will ensure he gets the most of his abilities.
The team that drafts this kid will be adding a wonderful player and person, and one the organization can market for years to come. He's a home-run selection.
Chance Warmack, OG, Alabama
Guards are never sexy selections, and fans rarely get excited about them at the draft. Heck, teams rarely get excited about guards, as even the top options at the position generally fall into the second half of the first round.
But Warmack is special. Really special. So special, he's the best lineman at Alabama, which basically just churns out All-American lineman at this point.
Think I'm exaggerating? Let's ask Todd McShay (via ESPN Insider) what he thinks:
Warmack is a big, strong, nasty lineman with good smarts and athleticism. He shows awareness, is an easy mover in pass protection and has power as a run-blocker. The best guard I've evaluated in the past decade, Warmack is the rare interior lineman worthy of a top-10 overall pick.
There you have it, folks. This kid is as safe as they come.
Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah
Drafting a defensive tackle can be a fickle business, but Lotulelei is as safe and complete a prospect at the position as you'll find. He's an absolute beast against the run, combining strength and ideal size with a nasty streak and relentless motor.
He can take on double-teams and should be an anchor in the middle of a defense for years to come. Yes, he needs to improve as a pass-rusher, but few players will have a bigger impact immediately than Lotulelei. He'll instantly improve any team's rush defense.
Plus, his name is Star. What more do you need to know?
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