10 Defensive Players Who Will Be Steals in the 2013 NFL Draft

Randy ChambersAnalyst IFebruary 21, 2013

10 Defensive Players Who Will Be Steals in the 2013 NFL Draft

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    The 2013 NFL draft is full of elite defensive prospects who can make an immediate impact. With players such as Bjoern Werner, Damontre Moore, Jarvis Jones and Dee Milliner all expected to be taken early in the first round, this draft will be dominated by the defensive side of the ball.

    But while those guys are considered the cream of the crop, they don't always pan out at the next level. And even more, it is often the guys who very few people are talking about that end up being the better players in the league. More and more frequently, players who didn't receive any draft hype end up carving out the most successful careers.

    This year should be no different, as there are plenty of diamonds in the rough if you dig deep enough.

    With the draft in April taking place before you know it, here are some of the defensive players who will be a steal for some lucky NFL team.

Brandon McGee, CB, Miami

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    What He Brings to the Table: Brandon McGee is not terrific in pass coverage. He was beaten many times last year on the deep ball and sometimes struggles to find the football when it is in the air. However, he is one of the fastest players in the draft with a 4.29 40-yard dash time. With his quick feet and decent size at 5'11", 195 pounds, McGee has a lot of potential to improve defensively. He uses his hands well and is an aggressive player who can come up with the big play more times than not.

    Bottom Line: There likely isn't a faster defensive player in this draft than McGee. When you have that leaning in your favor, you are going to turn heads and receive attention. He is more of a project player than anything else, but the potential to be a nickelback at the next level and contribute in the return game is worth a pick in the later rounds. Remember, speed kills, as Al Davis once said.

    Predicted Round: Fifth or sixth

Tourek Williams, DE, FIU

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    What He Brings to the Table: Tourek Williams is a natural athlete with a quick burst who excels at rushing the passer. Not great against the run, as he is on the smaller side at 6'4", 262 pounds, but he is a versatile player who has experience dropping back in coverage and filling in multiple spots on the defensive line. Certainly not an every-down player, but his versatility and pass-rushing skills make him a real sleeper.

    Bottom Line: Williams didn't start playing football until he reached the high school level and was tossed around at various different positions. This means that he is still new to the game and could improve greatly once he continues to get his feet wet defensively. More and more kids from smaller schools are shining in the NFL, and it won't be surprising if this kid ends up carving out a productive career.

    Predicted Round: Fourth or fifth

Jordan Poyer, CB, Oregon State

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    What He Brings to the Table: Jordan Poyer is just a smooth athlete who moves around the field nicely. Although he played cornerback at Oregon State, he has a lot of traits that you see in a safety, as he reacts well to the ball and is able to break down plays quickly. Poyer has a nice backpedal and quick feet that allow him to break on the play and often get to the football. He can also be an effective special teams player.

    Bottom Line: Poyer is just a solid cover man who had more than his fair share of interceptions in his time spent with the Beavers. Not exactly great in run support, but he does have the frame to bulk up a bit and become effective in that area as well. He is a smart player who has the ability to get even better once he makes an NFL roster.

    Predicted Round: Second

William Gholston, DE, Michigan State

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    What He Brings to the Table: When you look at William Gholston, you can tell this guy was meant to play football. His size at 6'6", 278 pounds and pure athleticism is almost scary. He is a power rusher who can collapse the pocket with ease and uses his long frame to interrupt passing lanes. He often demanded double teams at the college level and has deceptive quickness for a guy his size. With an above-average motor, Gholston has a ton of potential.

    Bottom Line: This was somebody who was considered a lock for the next level, but he just never really peaked at Michigan State. There are also questions about his maturity and passion for the game. Even with these concerns, you don't see this type of skill set every day; with a mid-level pick, I would have no issues at all rolling the dice.

    Predicted Round: Third or fourth

Robert Lester, S, Alabama

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    What He Brings to the Table: Robert Lester has good instincts on the field and reacts to the running game quite nicely. He is somebody you can put in the box and have confidence in making the play when trying to stop the run. His downfall would be that he is a liability in pass coverage, as he doesn't have quick feet, or the speed to cover a ton of ground and keep up with receivers. Still, the physical part of his game is worth taking a chance on.

    Bottom Line: The bottom line is that Lester is a Nick Saban player, and I hear those guys usually end up being pretty successful at the next level. There are questions to this kid’s game and doubts he could be an every-down player, but for where he will be selected, the value is certainly there for any team who gets him.

    Predicted Round: Fourth or fifth

Corey Lemonier, DE, Auburn

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    What He Brings to the Table: Corey Lemonier is a bit undersized at 6'3", 242 pounds, but he does have the room to add on more weight. He is an aggressive defensive player who fires off the ball and has the ability to turn the corner quickly. He is relentless when chasing down the ball-carrier and also has experience standing up and putting his hand in the dirt. Often looking for the big hit, Lemonier could be a force if he lands in the right situation.

    Bottom Line: Lemonier reminds me a lot of Gholston. Lemonier was once a big name and considered a next level-type player, but due to a subpar season and lack of team success, his name and stock began to take a hit. With his overall athleticism and ability to rush the passer, picking this guy up outside the second round is almost criminal when you look at the overall potential.

    Predicted Round: Third or fourth

Logan Ryan, CB, Rutgers

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    What He Brings to the Table: Logan Ryan is a cornerback who can do a little bit of everything. He has the typical size at the position you like to see at 6'0", 180 pounds, and he has fluid hips to turn his body and keep up with the receiver stride for stride. One of the things scouts will really like about Logan is that he is a solid tackler and actually enjoys helping out in run support. Comfortable playing either man or zone coverage, Ryan looks to be the real deal at the corner position.

    Bottom Line: Ryan will be picked rather quickly, but there is a chance he slips down into the second round. With this draft being top-heavy, the former Rutgers defensive player seems to get lost in the pack. This is somebody who could contribute right away and develop into a true No. 1 corner over time.

    Predicted Round: Second

Zeke Motta, S, Notre Dame

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    What He Brings to the Table: Zeke Motta is that big and physical safety that NFL teams are leaning towards as of late. They want the guys who can creep up in the box and become a factor in slowing down the opposing running back. Motta is a big guy at 6'2", 215 pounds, and he reacts well to the running game. He sheds blocks nicely and is decent at pass coverage. His strength is being that physical presence on the field who prevents the big play at the line of scrimmage.

    Bottom Line: Notre Dame has already produced a solid safety in Harrison Smith, who went in the first round last year. Motta won't get anywhere near the same amount of love, but he is an aggressive player who has an above-average football IQ. He is somebody who has been flying under the radar a bit and could end up going a little higher than people expected.

    Predicted Round: Third or fourth

Robert Alford, CB, Southeastern Louisiana

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    What He Brings to the Table: There may not be a better pure athlete in this draft than Robert Alford. He is just one of those guys who jumps off the screen, and you can tell he just has more natural gifts than everybody else. Despite his smaller frame at 5'10", 186 pounds, Alford has no problem helping out in run support, and he has fabulous change of direction skills. His ball skills really stand out, as he finds the ball quickly and usually comes up with the big play.

    Bottom Line: Many had questions due to the lack of competition Alford played in college, but he was able to hold his own in the Senior Bowl. Alford could immediately step onto an NFL field and help take away receivers in the slot and could make plays in the return game as well. This is somebody who tends to grow on you and has limitless potential, especially once he adds on a little more weight.

    Predicted Round: Second or third

Tyrann Mathieu, CB, LSU

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    What He Brings to the Table: It's been made clear time and time again that Tyrann Mathieu isn't the greatest cornerback in the world and may be more of a liability in pass coverage than anything. However, if you ever saw an LSU game, you know that this kid is a playmaker on the defensive side of the ball. He plays much bigger than his size, and he is aggressive at the line of scrimmage. The Honey Badger has a nose for the football and seems to come up with the big plays in the biggest moments of games.

    Bottom Line: Due to several off-the-field issues and not playing football in a year, most teams are going to shy away from Mathieu. But didn't we see this with Janoris Jenkins last year? That seemed to have turned out quite well for the St. Louis Rams. Guys who can consistently come up with game-changing plays don't fall off trees, and when you add Mathieu's potential on special teams, you have yourself a steal later in the draft.

    Predicted Round: Fourth or fifth