The 2013 NFL Draft is rapidly approaching and, while experts and fans are painstakingly drawing up mock drafts, many NFL teams and scouts are digging deeper, searching for an X-factor who may go under the radar in rankings, only to surprise as a rookie.
Much like we saw with Bruce Irvin and the Seattle Seahawks last year, a surprise pick in the first round can completely change the season ahead and can still turn out to be a fantastic impact player.
Just because a player does might not be appearing in the usual mock drafts does not necessarily mean that they can't be a quality player in the league and doesn't mean they aren't worth the risk.
Here's some surprise first-round picks who are worth the risk in 2013.
Keenan Allen, Wide Receiver
The 2013 NFL Draft doesn't feature a standout wide receiver who is a surefire top ten pick, as was Justin Blackmon in 2012. But when it comes to picking the best receiver this year, it's hard to look past Allen.
Cordarrelle Patterson is the man that many are picking to go ahead of Allen, but that could well all be down to Allen's injury at the end of the season—something that he has seemingly recovered from fine and will be good to go by the start of the NFL.
He has drawn comparison to Percy Harvin and, given his incredible hands and ability to utilize in a number of players throughout the team, Patterson may well be picked before Allen but, regardless of projections, don't be surprised for Allen to be off the board midway through the first round.
Miami at No. 12 seems like a good landing spot.
Kenny Vaccaro, Safety
With Dee Milliner looking like a top-five pick at the moment for someone like the Detroit Lions, players at the top of this year's defensive back crop may move up a few slots higher than slots the spot they would most likely otherwise have fallen.
Vaccaro is a prime example of this phenomenon, with one of the the best safeties in the draft not thought of as going much higher than mid-to-late first round.
His size and athleticism make him an instant starter in the defensive backfield of several teams this year and he could be a surprise pick for several top teams this year.
Oakland, Detroit and Buffalo, all of whom are in need of secondary help this year, could well take a gamble here and pass up a pass-rusher for Vaccaro, who represents a comparable value.
Ditto for Johnthan Banks, who is the next-best corner (after Dee Milliner) and may shoot up the draft board as a result.
Yes, there are great linemen and pass-rushers in this year's draft, many of whom will be off the board by the end of the first round Thursday. That said, don't be surprised to see Vaccaro, Banks or Allen crack their way into the top 10.
Sometimes, it's just worth taking the risk for a ballhawk like Vaccaro.
Which players do you think are worth taking a risk on this year?
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