2013 NFL Draft: Projected First-Round Picks That Are Locks to Succeed in NFL

Rob GoldbergFeatured ColumnistJanuary 2, 2013

CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 06:  Manti Te'o #5 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish calls defensive signals against the Miami Hurricanes at Soldier Field on October 6, 2012 in Chicago, Illinois. Notre Dame defeated Miami 41-3.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Although first-round picks in the NFL draft are usually much more likely to succeed than those selected in the later rounds, that does not always go to plan. Fortunately, there are a few players in this draft you can be confident about.

The top of the 2013 draft is likely to be filled with a lot of uncertainty. Many teams need quarterbacks, but the group of Geno Smith, Tyler Wilson, Matt Barkley and Mike Glennon all come with question marks. 

Other positions feature some elite players that can be great, but still come with bust potential.

However, there are still a few locks in this class. These players are certain to succeed wherever they wind up at the next level.


Bjoern Werner, DE, Florida State

Few defensive players in college football made as much of an impact this season as Bjoern Werner. 

The German defensive end finished the regular season with 13 sacks, which was tied for second in the nation. He has great speed and agility that allows him to beat his blocker and get to the quarterback.

However, this is not a one-trick pony. Werner totaled 18 tackles for a loss this year and was able to get 40 tackles, an impressive number for a defensive lineman. He also showed great awareness by knocking down seven pass attempts.

He showed that he can make a big impact on any game, even when he is unable to reach the quarterback.

Werner is the complete package from the defensive end position and will quickly be among the best in the league at his position.


Chance Warmack, G, Alabama

Alabama has a chance to win its second national championship in a row, and a major reason for this success is its outstanding offensive line.

Chance Warmack has started for three years at left guard and he is a catalyst for a run game that stays outstanding regardless of how many running backs go pro.

This season, the Crimson Tide were able to get two running backs over the 1,000-yard mark, a major accomplishment for not only the players but the offensive line as well. Warmack and teammate Barrett Jones were named first-team All-Americans.

A great guard can make a huge difference on any football team. At the next level, Warmack will be able to clear plenty of space for whichever run back is lucky enough to play behind him.


Manti Te'o, ILB, Notre Dame

There is no question that Notre Dame would not be where it is if not for Manti Te'o. The linebacker was a Heisman finalist thanks to his leadership on the No. 1 team in the nation. 

Te'o led the team with 103 tackles—including 5.5 for a loss—and seemed to be in the mix on every run play.

Against the pass, he is even more impressive. He finished with 11 passes defended and an impressive seven interceptions. Most young linebackers struggle in pass coverage, but the Hawaiian excels at it. 

His non-stop motor is the reason that the Irish had the No. 1 scoring defense in the country this season.

Next season, Te'o will immediately be able to transform even the worst defense into a competitive unit.


Zach Ertz, TE, Stanford

For most positions, there is a debate over which is the best player. That is not the case for tight end.

Zach Ertz led all tight ends in both catches and receiving yards this season. At times, he was the only legitimate receiving target for Pac-12 champion Stanford.

Listed as 6'6" and 252 pounds, he is incredibly tough to defend, especially in the red zone. NFL teams will certainly be able to utilize the big man in the end zone to be able to turn field goals into touchdowns.

His size also helps him as a blocker, where he helped seal the edge for teammate Stepfan Taylor all year.

Ertz is everything you want in a tight end and he is certain to make an impact at the next level.