It is nice to look at early projections for the NFL draft, but there is still a lot to be decided over the next few months. Some players that are low on draft boards will end up being taken as early as the first round.
Now that the college football regular season and all-star games are finished, players use this time to work on themselves to get prepared for the NFL. Therefore, it might take until the combine or pro days for less heralded prospects to start to shine.
However, these players should end up being selected in the first round by the time April rolls around.
Kevin Minter, ILB, LSU
Most scouts spent the entire season raving about Manti Te'o and his ability to lead one of the top defenses in the country.
However, Kevin Minter was just as good in 2012 without all of the media attention.
The middle linebacker finished with 130 tackles this season, with 15 of them for a loss. Both of these numbers led LSU, and he was the senior leader of the No. 12 defense in the nation.
Minter has good size for the position, but more importantly, he has great instincts that cannot be taught. He is the type of player that will find his way into a starting lineup and not leave it for a long time.
Teams will start to notice him soon enough as he slides into the first round of the draft.
DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Clemson
Clemson came into its season expecting Sammy Watkins to be its star receiver. It only took one week for DeAndre Hopkins to take over the team.
The junior had an incredible season, finishing fourth in the nation with 1,405 receiving yards and second with 18 touchdowns.
Only one person in FBS had more than 70 receptions and a better yards per catch average than Hopkins.
He has great speed and elusiveness that can make him a true No. 1 receiver at the next level. At the rate he keeps improving, he could be the first player drafted at his position.
Khaseem Greene, OLB, Rutgers
In recent years, outside linebackers have become more pass-rushers than anything else. Georgia's Jarvis Jones exemplifies this type of player and he will be taken within the first 10 picks in the first round.
However, Khaseem Greene is a much more well-rounded player at the linebacker position. He can rush, but he is also very good in pass protection.
The former safety is also incredibly fast for his position and can use it to cover a lot of range on the field.
He led Rutgers with 136 tackles this season and is certain to be able to get triple-digit tackles regularly throughout his career.
Giovani Bernard, RB, North Carolina
This year's draft does not have a Trent Richardson in it. There are no "can't-miss" running back prospects that will be taken in the top half of the first round.
Few people even project any running backs to be taken in the first round. However, the need will certainly be there, as squads are always looking to upgrade the ground attack.
While college football fans are more familiar with names like Montee Ball and Eddie Lacy, Giovani Bernard might be the most complete running back in the draft.
He has good size and great speed that will certainly be on display at the combine, and teams are going to fall in love with his raw ability.
Depending on where some teams will draft, he could fall anywhere in the second half of the first round.
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