NFL Draft 2013: Best Offensive Weapons Available in the First Round

Jonathan IrwinContributor IIJanuary 11, 2013

CHESTNUT HILL, MA - NOVEMBER 10: Tyler Eifert #80 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish goes up to catch a pass against the Boston College Eagles during the game on November 10, 2012 at Alumni Stadium in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

The 2013 NFL draft class has an abundance of defensive players but is thin on high-upside offensive players. Teams looking to nab a top weapon will have to jump on it early in the first round.

But there's still plenty of contributors to be found early on in the draft.

We're looking at five of the best offensive players this draft has to offer. Most, if not all, are a lock for the round one of the draft.

If paired with the right system, these weapons will have team-changing impacts.

Keenan Allen, WR, California

Arguably the 2013 draft's best wide receiver, don't expect Allen to stay on the board long.

Allen lacks the speed-size combination of most top wide receivers but uses his incredible athleticism and toughness to make an impact.

As a junior at Cal, Allen averaged 12.1 yards per catch with six touchdowns before being sidelined for the last three games of the 2012 season with a knee injury.

The wideout has great hands, and can beat defenders anywhere on the field. His quickness gets him down the sidelines in a hurry, while his toughness makes him a valuable target over the middle.

Outside of his knee injury, the worst thing you can say is that Allen can struggle to get away in tight coverage.

Even so, he has all the necessary tools to make it at the next level. If paired with other receivers who can draw defenders, Allen will be a force to reckon with.

Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Tennessee

Coming off a great junior season, Cordarrelle Patterson has rooted himself as the draft's second-best wide receiver.

Patterson averaged 16.9 yards per catch last season, racking up 46 catches and five touchdowns for the Vols.

With solid length and an athletic frame, he has the build for an NFL wideout.

Patterson has an explosive first step, which helps create separation between defenders. Once the ball is in his hands, he's very good at missing tackles.

2012 was his first year out of junior college, but the increase in competition didn't seem to matter—he handled himself well in the defensively savvy SEC.

While he can still struggle with running routes, Patterson has all the building blocks needed for the next level.

Tyler Eifert, TE, Notre Dame

Tight end isn't the most elite position in the NFL, but its value is on the rise with the up-tempo offenses of today's game.

And no one in this draft plays the position better than Notre Dame's Tyler Eifert.

At 6-5 and 252 pounds, Eifert has a great physical frame. He moves well for his size and is unafraid to be aggressive over the middle of the field.

He's averaged 13.7 yards per catch in college, and has nine touchdown receptions over the last two seasons.

The development of his skills as a blocker has helped Eifert climb the ladder, and he should be a lock for the first round of the draft.

Any team looking for late round receiving value could do no worse than the draft's best tight end.

Tavon Austin, WR, West Virginia

Of all the offensive threats featured in the first round, no one's success may be harder to project than Tavon Austin.

The senior out of West Virginia enjoyed a dominant 2012, racking up over 1,000 receiving yards for the second year in a row with 11 touchdown catches.

2012 helped showcase how dynamic Austin can be as he rushed for over 600 yards and averaged 25.4 yards on kick returns.

But at 5-9 and 175 pounds, Austin lacks the size to be a dominant wide receiver at the next level. The one thing that sets him apart is his blistering speed.

Speed isn't always enough in the NFL, and he'll have a tough time posing a vertical threat to opponents. Nor does he lack the physicality to overpower defenders.

Overall Austin's dynamic athleticism will help fuel is success at the next level. Undersized wide receivers have succeeded in the NFL, and Austin has a chance to do the same.

Zach Ertz, TE, Stanford

The 6-6, 252-pound Zach Ertz will probably go early in the second round, but he has the upside to justify a first-round pick. 

The physical Ertz is a great team player and will do anything to secure a victory.

The tight end has great hands, leading Stanford in receptions, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns. He has the athleticism to go vertical but the toughness to play over the middle.

The big question is if Ertz can become a better blocker. He is able and willing to set blocks but currently lacks the size to do if efficiently.

If Ertz can add some strength and physicality to his game, he can become a great all-around tight end at the next level.


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