Slam-Dunk Picks for the 2013 NFL Draft
The 2013 draft is light on the can't-miss type prospects. This year's top 10 will be one of the more fluid in recent memory. There just aren't players like Andrew Luck or Robert Griffin III in this year's draft.
However, that doesn't mean there aren't plenty of prospects who are guaranteed to have solid careers. A slam-dunk prospect doesn't have to develop into an elite player. He could just end up having a long and high-impact career.
It's tough to guarantee this year's group will develop into elite players, but there's still a large group that possesses the potential to reach that point.
Luke Joeckel, Offensive Tackle, Texas A&M
Luke Joeckel NFL Player Comparison
Projected Draft Position: Top 5
Left tackle prospects typically are drafted a little higher than their play suggests. However, Texas A&M's Luke Joeckel brings value as a top-five pick. He's an athletic and technically sound pass protector. His ability to play with balance and quickness is what makes him so effective.
Joeckel uses a natural bend and quick shuffle to mirror the pass rush. His change-of-direction ability helps him react to counter moves.
This is a player who's capable of immediately grabbing a starting job and playing at a high level.
His biggest area of concern surrounds his toughness in the running game. Joeckel needs to show more aggression and a nasty streak. He's lucky that teams value the ability to protect the passer rather than generating a push in the run game.
Look for Joeckel to be in play for the top overall pick and shouldn't fall past the Detroit Lions at No. 5.
Dion Jordan, Defensive End/Linebacker, Oregon
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Projected Draft Position: Top 5
Oregon's Dion Jordan boasts the explosiveness, length and work ethic to quickly develop into a dangerous pass-rusher. He showed at the combine that he's one of the more athletic players available in this draft. However, that athleticism is also backed up by his play on the field.
Jordan's versatility plays a major role in an evaluator's belief that he's a sure thing. He's capable of lining up at either defensive end or outside linebacker in a 3-4 system. During his time at Oregon, Jordan gained a ton of experience both rushing the passer and dropping into coverage.
The recent success of rookies used as situational pass-rushers like Aldon Smith and Bruce Irvin is also important to note. This means that a team could use Jordan in certain packages until he's ready to be an every-down player.
Don't rule out the possibility of Jordan coming off the board as early as the No. 2 pick to the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Dee Milliner, Cornerback, Alabama
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Projected Draft Position: Top 5
Alabama's Dee Milliner boasts the size and speed needed to develop into a lock-down corner. Outside of his natural athleticism, he also shows a swagger and aggressiveness that typically accompanies the NFL's top defensive backs.
Milliner loves to play a physical style of football. The best example of this came in the BCS National Championship Game where he basically shut down Notre Dame's Tyler Eifert. Notre Dame opened the game attempting to get Eifert the ball in one-on-one situations to take advantage of his size.
This strategy proved ineffective because Milliner's long arms and toughness kept this from being a mismatch.
Milliner's 4.37 40-time during the combine showed that he also has the top-end speed needed to stick with the quicker receivers in the NFL.
It's hard to imagine a scenario where he gets past the Detroit Lions at pick No. 5.
Eric Fisher, Offensive Tackle, Central Michigan
Projected Draft Position: Top 7
Central Michigan's Eric Fisher has used the draft process to significantly increase his draft stock. His game tape shows a player with all the skills need to succeed at the next level. However, he needed an opportunity like the Senior Bowl to show he could perform the same against top-level competition.
Fisher is battling Texas A&M's Luke Joeckel to be the first offensive tackle off the board. While Fisher doesn't possess Joeckel's upside, he's a more complete and safe player at this moment.
He features the athleticism to protect the quarterback, but he separates himself with his run-blocking ability. His strong lower half, inside hand placement and nasty streak are what allow him to get a strong push off the line.
It's highly unlikely he gets past the Arizona Cardinals at pick No. 7.
Chance Warmack, Guard, Alabama
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Projected Draft Position: Top 13
The guard position doesn't typically get the same type of recognition as the other positions on the field. However, Alabama's Chance Warmack is the type of player who could go against that trend. He's such a dominant player that he forces people to pay attention.
Warmack's combination of an explosive first step, raw power and sound technique is what makes him such an effective player. He routinely generates a strong push off the line of scrimmage, which opens large holes for the running back.
His natural bend and quick feet help him mirror the pass rush and keep pressure out of the face of the quarterback.
Warmack is in the discussion for the safest pick available in this draft class. There's a realistic possibility that he doesn't get out of the top 10.
Jonathan Cooper, Guard, North Carolina
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Projected Draft Position: Top 20
North Carolina's Jonathan Cooper isn't far behind Chance Warmack for honor of being the first guard off the board. He's an excellent athlete who also features the raw strength needed to control the line of scrimmage.
Cooper uses his quickness to beat the defender off the ball and gain position. His use of inside hands and power helps him create a push off the line or turn the defender from the play. He also does an excellent job climbing to the second level and pulling to the outside.
His draft stock got a boost from his combine interview where he talked about his willingness to play center at the next level. The more versatile a player is, the better chance he has at excelling in the NFL.
Khaseem Greene, Linebacker, Rutgers
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Projected Draft Position: Top 25
The most successful NFL linebackers are typically hard-working, instinctive and explosive. These are all qualities that Rutgers' Khaseem Greene possesses. He showed over the course of his college career that he has a knack for making big plays.
Greene doesn't aim to just record tackles; he also looks to generate turnovers and deliver a big hit. His athleticism plays a major role in how safe of a pick he is, but Greene also shows the willingness to take to coaching and improve.
It's also important to point out that Greene boasts some versatility. He has the frame and athletic ability to play in any system and at outside or inside linebacker.
Tyler Eifert, Tight End, Notre Dame
Tyler Eifert NFL Player Comparison
Projected Draft Position: Top 32
Notre Dame's Tyler Eifert has the production and workout numbers that screams he's a safe pick. It's especially true because of the way the NFL is using tight ends more and more as pass-catchers. Eifert fits the mold of an Aaron Hernandez-type player.
His excellent height, leaping ability and quickness make him a matchup nightmare for any defense. He's too quick for linebackers to handle and too physical for defensive backs.
The only area of concern is Eifert's struggles as a blocker. He needs to show better effort and technique as a blocker to ensure he develops into a well-rounded tight end.
However, teams will be willing to overlook his blocking struggles because of his upside as a pass-catcher.
Datone Jones, Defensive Line, UCLA
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Projected Draft Position: Early 2nd Round
One of the easiest ways for a NFL player to ensure sustained success is by possessing versatility. UCLA's Datone Jones boasts the size, strength and quickness to fill multiple roles along the defensive line. This will make him a very attractive prospect come draft day.
The ideal position for Jones might be as a 5-technique in a 3-4 attack. This is where he can use his combination of strength and quickness to rush the passer or stuff the run. However, he also has the potential to play the 3-technique in a 4-3 attack.
His ability to hold at the point of attack against the run and generate some pressure on the quarterback is key. This will allow him to impact the game on multiple levels. Jones compares favorably to the San Francisco 49ers' Justin Smith.
Larry Warford, Guard, Kentucky
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Projected Draft Position: Early Second Round
Kentucky's Larry Warford isn't the same type of athlete as a Chance Warmack or Jonathan Cooper, but he has similar upside. His value is tied into his size and raw power. He's the type of interior lineman who can move bigger defensive tackles off the line of scrimmage.
Warford's strength ties in nicely with his inside hand placement and use of leverage. This helps ensure he's effective when someone can match his size and strength.
He's rated a little lower than Warmack and Cooper on my board because he doesn't have the same type of scheme versatility. Warford is someone who will reach his maximum potential in a power-running system.