2013 NFL Draft Projections: Studs Who Will Change Their Team's Fortunes

Brian MaziqueCorrespondent IIIDecember 31, 2012

ATHENS, GA - NOVEMBER 17: Jarvis Jones #29 of the Georgia Bulldogs celebrates after the game against the Georgia Southern Eagles at Sanford Stadium on November 17, 2012 in Athens, Georgia. (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)
Scott Cunningham/Getty Images

The 2012 NFL regular season is over. Only 12 teams are heading to the postseason, while the other 20 will turn their attention to the draft in search of a missing piece, or the cornerstone player that can key their turnaround.

This is a short list of prospects that have the ability to affect their new teams in a major way.


QB Geno Smith, West Virginia

Teams like the Kansas City Chiefs, New York Jets and Arizona Cardinals desperately need a franchise quarterback. Smith may be the closest thing this draft has in that regard.

No one is expecting a repeat of the 2012 class of quarterbacks, but Smith is certainly a first-round talent. He had a stellar season at West Virginia.

Smith threw for 4,104 yards, 40 touchdowns, only six interceptions. He completed a crazy 71.4 percent of his passes and has decent height at 6'3" with enough arm strength to curtail any concerns about his ability to make all the NFL throws.

After general managers watched the impact of Robert Griffin III, Andrew Luck and Russell Wilson, they may be more willing to hand the reins over to Smith in his rookie season. Despite the Mountaineers' loss to Syracuse in the Pinstripe Bowl, Smith is still the top-rated QB in the draft.

Both Rob Rang and Dane Brugler of CBS Sports have Smith going to the Chiefs with the top pick.


OLB Jarvis Jones, Georgia

On defense, there are few positions where a rookie can come in and make a huge immediate impact. A pass-rushing OLB in a 3-4, or a defensive end that terrorizes opposing quarterbacks from a 4-3 are two examples.

Jones has the ability to be special in this regard. CBS Sports calls him the No. 3-rated prospect potentially in the 2013 NFL draft.

The 6'3" 240-pounder from Georgia recorded 12.5 sacks as a junior. He has big-time speed and seems like a great fit as an OLB in a 3-4 defense. Teams like the New York Jets or Pittsburgh Steelers would do well to target Jones.

Both teams need a young, impact player on defense. Jones could easily make the biggest impact of all the defensive rookies in 2013.


MLB Manti Te'o, Notre Dame

Normally, it would take a few seasons for a young MLB to assert himself, but Te'o is a special case. This kid is a natural leader who will raise the level of the players on any defense immediately.

He is the leader of the stout Notre Dame defense, and a Heisman trophy finalist.

No team needs his influence like the Detroit Lions. Both Rang and Brugler have Te'o going to the Lions in their mock drafts.

Detroit has struggled to stop the run (18th in the NFL) and their team character is questionable. Te'o will be an upgrade for Detroit in both veins.

This is the type of player that can become the face of a franchise. The Lions must take him if he's available.


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