2013 NFL Draft: 5 Prospects Whose Stock Could Rise
Grant Halverson/Getty Images
Each and every year, there are prospects in the NFL Draft that enjoy a meteoric ascent up draft boards.
Some players ride their momentum from an impressive showing at the Senior Bowl, while others tear up the NFL Scouting Combine and dramatically improve their draft stock.
Where players currently rank on teams' draft boards doesn't matter. What matters is where they rank when they're on the clock in late April.
Let's take a closer look at five prospects whose stock could rise as draft day approaches.
5. Eric Reid, FS Lousiana State
Reid has the necessary size and athleticism to be a starter in the NFL.
Chris Graythen/Getty Images
While Texas safety Kenny Vaccaro is clearly the top player in this year's draft at his position, LSU's Eric Reid certainly has the tools to be a first-round pick himself.
At 6'2" 212 pounds, Reid has the length the cover a lot of ground on the back end of a defense. And in today's pass-happy NFL in which tight ends are asked to do more than they've ever done, players like Reid are as valuable as ever.
LSU ranked eighth in the country last season defensively, allowing an average of 297.8 yards per game. The Tigers had talent all over the defense, but the presence of Reid in the secondary made them a much more versatile unit.
He clearly has the size to come in and be a difference-maker early in his NFL career, and if he tests well at the combine, Reid could come off the board very early in April.
4. Travis Frederick, C Wisconsin
Wisconsin's Travis Frederick has a good chance at being the first center selected.
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
Wisconsin center Travis Frederick was a surprise early entry in the 2013 NFL draft.
Frederick was overshadowed by the Badgers' star-studded offensive line during his time in Madison, but he decided to go pro after his junior year in hopes of helping out an NFL team as a rookie.
Alabama center Barrett Jones is widely considered to be the top prospect at the position, but Frederick has a chance to be the first center off the board.
Wisconsin had a center in last year's draft, Peter Konz, that was a borderline first-round pick. Konz was drafted in Round 2 by the Atlanta Falcons and started 10 games a rookie. As far as interior linemen, go both Konz and Frederick are versatile players, but Frederick is the more physical of the two.
Matt Miller currently ranks Frederick as the 69th-best prospect in the draft and the second-best center behind Jones. Frederick figures to test well at the combine and at Wisconsin's pro day, perhaps catapulting him into the first two rounds.
3. Quinton Patton, WR Louisiana Tech
Patton has great value in the second round of this year's draft.
Bob Levey/Getty Images
Wide receiver is one of the deepest positions at the top of the 2013 NFL draft. Cordarrelle Patterson, Keenan Allen, Terrance Williams and Tavon Austin are all currently considered as first-round selections.
And after an impressive week at the Senior Bowl, Louisiana Tech wide receiver Quinton Patton has played his way into the top half of the second round.
Patton isn't the biggest wide receiver, nor is he the fastest, but the 6'0" 202-pound Patton is a terrific route-runner with great hands. He compares to another small-school, similarly-sized wide receiver in Greg Jennings.
With teams transitioning towards spread offenses and flooding the field with wide receivers, Patton will certainly be a hot commodity in the second round of the draft—or perhaps even earlier.
On tape, Patton doesn't blow people away with his speed, but if he runs a surprisingly fast 40-yard dash at the combine, his draft stock will continue to rise. Matt Miller currently has Patton as the fifth-best receiver in the draft and the 39th prospect overall.
2. Alex Okafor, DE Texas
Okafor could be a difference-maker from day one in the NFL.
Brett Deering/Getty Images
There are a handful of intriguing pass-rushers in this year's draft class. As many as six pass-rushing specialists have a good chance at coming off the board in the top half of the first round.
But with so much attention on BYU's Ezekial Ansah, Florida State's Bjoern Werner and Texas A&M's Damontre Moore, Alex Okafor of Texas is being severely overlooked.
Okafor racked up 12.5 sacks for the Longhorns this past season. Pass-rushers come at a premium in the NFL, so teams will certainly be after Okafor at some point in the first round. The only question is: Just how high will Okafor go?
Matt Miller ranks Okafor as the 18th-best prospect in this year's draft. But judging by how he treated opposing offensive lines this year, it wouldn't be surprising at all if he blows the doors off the combine and puts himself into top-10 consideration.
At 6'5" 265 pounds, Okafor has prototypical length for the position. He has a never-ending motor, which is evident from his 4.5-sack performance against Oregon State in the Valero Alamo Bowl.
1. Gio Bernard, RB North Carolina
Giovani Bernard NFL Player Comparison
After Eddie Lacy put together a memorable performance in the BCS National Championship Game, in which he registered 157 total yards and two touchdowns, he's widely considered to be the top running back in this year's draft.
After all, the University of Alabama has produced NFL running backs Mark Ingram and Trent Richardson in the past couple years. Lacy figures to be the latest successful Alabama running back.
But while Lacy is a physical between-the-tackles runner, North Carolina running back Giovani Bernard does absolutely everything one could ask a running back could do.
Bernard not only eclipsed 1,200 rushing yards and 45 receptions in each of his two seasons with the Tar Heels, he also excelled as a punt returner this past season. On 16 punt returns in 2012, Bernard racked up 263 yards and two touchdowns.
Bernard is currently the No. 56 prospect on Matt Miller's big board and the second-best running back behind Lacy.
But as draft day grew closer last year, Boise State running back Doug Martin enjoyed his ascent up draft boards. And it's entirely possible that the versatile Bernard could endure a similar rise come April.