Fairly or unfairly, the 2013 NFL draft is going to be compared to last year's class. The problem with that is we could be seeing one of the great quarterback crops in history right now. Making an instant impact at the NFL as a rookie is not as easy as certain players made it look.
However, when you go over the players in this year's class, there are a few special talents who stand out. Drafting a young star is all about finding the right combination of raw talent, smarts and determination to guide the franchise to a championship.
Elite talent doesn't come along all the time, but every draft class has a few special players who stand out. Here are the best prospects with the raw talent to make an instant impact as rookies.
Linebacker Jarvis Jones
Measurements (via GeorgiaDogs.com): 6'3", 241 pounds
When Jones declared for the NFL draft after Georgia's victory in the Capital One Bowl, an already-loaded defensive class got that much better. He immediately moved to the top of the linebacker crop.
In order for Jones to make an instant impact at the next level, he will likely have to go to a system that runs a 3-4 scheme. He has enough raw talent to succeed in a 4-3, but his speed off the edge would be largely negated.
Jones is probably going to be a pass-rushing specialist at the next level. He finished his junior season with 14.5 sacks and 24.5 tackles for loss, leading the nation in both categories. He is a physical monster with excellent closing speed.
There is no doubt that Jones will be a top 10 pick. He just needs the season to start in order to show the world that he is a superstar in the making.
Wide Receiver Justin Hunter
Measurements (via TennesseeSports.com): 6'4", 200 pounds
In a class that is seriously lacking in impact offensive talent, Hunter is clearly the standout skill player. He is not an elite-level wide receiver prospect like Calvin Johnson or A.J. Green, but his upside can push him into that territory in a few years.
The first thing that Hunter needs to do is add more bulk to his frame. He has the size and speed to be an impact receiver in the NFL, he is just very thin right now and is at risk of injuries with big, physical defenders at the next level.
Other than his weight, there is nothing that Hunter can't do on the field. He has incredible hands, great leaping ability to go get the ball away from defenders and a knack for getting open down the field.
You have to be able to catch the ball in traffic in the NFL. Hunter has the best set of hands in this class, as well as a fearless attitude that will allow him to make an immediate impact at the next level.
Defensive Tackle Star Lotulelei
Measurements (via UtahUtes.com): 6'4", 320 pounds
The top prospect in this year's draft class, Lotulelei is in an interesting position to make an impact. He might not have the best stats of any rookie in 2013, but the things he is able to do will have a profound impact on the game around him.
It is hard for a DT to post high tackle and sack totals because of the nature of the position. For the longest time the main job of the player was to stop the run and soak up blockers to create opportunities for defensive ends to get sacks.
As the position has evolved over the last few years, with players like Ndamukong Suh, Justin Smith and Geno Atkins racking up sacks, defensive tackles are being asked to do a lot more.
Lotulelei already has the frame and skills against the run to stifle the offense. He just needs to figure out proper pass-rush technique as he develops. He is not going to be great in that category, but if he is even adequate, he should be a star in the middle of a defense for a long time.
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