The 2013 NFL draft class doesn't feature an overwhelming amount of star power. Teams drafting outside the top five will be forced to maximize value instead of trying to find a prospect capable of instantly turning a franchise around.
That being said, given that lack of top-end talent, the class does have good depth. Front offices should be able to find solid value in the middle and late portions of Round 1. It all comes down to finding the hidden gems with plenty of potential.
With that in mind, let's take a look at three prospects who should end up outplaying their draft position, unless their stocks skyrocket leading up to draft day.
Even though the need for pass-rushers is immense around the NFL, Okafor isn't getting the type of attention he deserves. The Texas star is being overshadowed by the likes of Bjoern Werner, Jarvis Jones and Barkevious Mingo.
All fans needed to do was watch the Alamo Bowl to see what type of upside Okafor possesses. He recorded an eye-popping 4.5 sacks, helping the Longhorns' defense keep the game within striking distance before the team's comeback.
To go along with his improved pass-rushing skills, Okafor has also shown the ability to play a key role in stopping the run. Although he's going to need some time to develop at the next level, he has all the tools to become a complete package on the edge.
Which of these players will provide the most value?
Eifert tied a season-high with six catches in the BCS National Championship Game, but it was hard for any Notre Dame player to standout as Alabama rolled to victory. It was still a good enough performance to solidify the tight end's draft status.
The John Mackey Award winner as the nation's most outstanding tight end finished the season with 50 catches for 685 yards and four touchdowns. His size and ability to make catches in traffic will make him an ideal red-zone target in the NFL.
While Eifert must still work on his blocking skills, he's certainly improved in that area since arriving at Notre Dame. That should give teams hope they can mold him into a three-down TE, which is something that's becoming increasingly valuable in today's NFL.
If you took a glance at Patterson's numbers at Tennessee, the immediate assumption would be that he's a wide receiver built in the same mold as Percy Harvin of the Minnesota Vikings. A smallish wideout with great speed capable of helping in many different areas.
In many respects, that's true. Patterson averaged nearly 17 yards per catch for the Volunteers while also scoring two touchdowns on special teams, one punt return and one kick return. He has the game-breaking ability teams seek.
However, he's not a smallish receiver. He checks in at 6'3'' and over 200 pounds (Harvin is 5'11'', 184), which makes him an even more intriguing prospect. In a class that doesn't feature as much talent as past seasons, Patterson should shine.