NFL Draft 2013: Defensive Studs Sneaking into 1st Round

Morgan Chalfant@@mchalfant16Contributor IIIJanuary 29, 2013

MIAMI GARDENS, FL - JANUARY 01:  Jordan Lynch #6 of the Northern Illinois Huskies runs with the ball in the third quarter against Xavier Rhodes #27 of the Florida State Seminoles the Florida State Seminoles during the Discover Orange Bowl at Sun Life Stadium on January 1, 2013 in Miami Gardens, Florida.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

With the 2013 NFL draft fast-approaching, rumors are swirling around players with the potential to ascend to the first round.

Though they originally seemed to be candidates for the second round, these powerful defensive players have the potential to go as first-round picks come April. Let’s take a look at three big-time players on defense who may solidify their spots in the first round by April.


Xavier Rhodes, CB, Florida State

Rhodes had a fabulous season with the Florida State Seminoles in 2012. He totaled three interceptions and 39 tackles in his 14 games.

What’s more, is now asserting that the Broncos will pick Rhodes with their final first-round pick because they will need help in their secondary come the 2013 season: “The Broncos need a CB, even if they manage to win a title off Peyton’s right arm. Champ Bailey is in his mid-thirties. If he pulls a Ronde Barber and moves to safety then suddenly this CB unit becomes really average.”

SB Nation also sees the Florida State cornerback as a potential first-round pick, given his statistics and strong 2012 college season.  


Sharrif Floyd, DT, Florida

The defensive tackle from the University of Florida has proven his ability to improve throughout his 2012 season as a Gator, and his athleticism may be enough to get him snatched up in the first round.

Floyd is extremely fast and demonstrates his endurance and impressive upper body strength consistently. Though he may lack in technique, the 6’3", 303-pound defensive tackle consistently improves and is willing to improve.

SB Nation conjectures, “Floyd now has a real shot at being a first round pick in the 2013 NFL Draft.” Floyd’s ability to rise in the draft with improvement is certainly attached to his willingness to persevere. Floyd left a bad home environment at age 15 and lived with his grandmother. When he wanted to go to the U.S. Army All-American Combine and couldn’t afford it, he organized a bake sale to pay for the trip.

There’s no doubt that Floyd has the mental and physical strength to be an asset to any NFL team, and this strength may be enough to make him a first-round selection.


Johnthan Banks, CB, Mississippi State

CBS Sports currently has the cornerback from Mississippi State going in either the first or second round. According to SB Nation, the Mock Draft is making a more bold prediction, saying that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers may grab Banks with their No. 13 pick: “There were times this year when Banks got burned (namely against Alabama), but he has very good ball skills and size. The Buccaneers need talent at cornerback and Banks has it. They could also go after a pass rusher like Dion Jordan in this spot.”

The cornerback’s statistics for his 2012 season are quite impressive. He totaled four interceptions, 39 tackles and 24 assists. Despite a rather lackluster second half of the season, Banks won the Thorpe Award for 2012.

Though his performance in the latter part of 2012 may hurt him, the 6'2", 185-pound Banks is nevertheless an obvious choice for cornerback; his recognition as the Thorpe Award winner proves just that.