NFL Draft 2013: Middle-Round Playmakers with Pro Bowl Potential

Maxwell Ogden@MaxwellOgdenCorrespondent IIIMarch 1, 2013

NFL Draft 2013: Middle-Round Playmakers with Pro Bowl Potential

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    As we count down the months until the 2013 NFL draft, the football world continues to evaluate prospects with a keen eye. Everything from previous injuries to sexual orientation is placed under a tight lens.

    Through all of the nitpicking, however, we're opting to look deep. Specifically, which potential middle-round selections possess Pro Bowl potential?

    Some players attended major programs, but their draft status is weaker than they might have expected. Others could be found at less notable schools, carving out solid careers but going without NFL notice.

    Fortunately, there are a handful of players who are 2013's diamonds in the rough

    Note: Projected rounds based on B/R's Matt Miller's post-combine seven-round mock draft.

Stedman Bailey, West Virginia Mountaineers

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    Position: Wide receiver

    Age: 22

    Height and Weight: 5'10", 193 pounds

    2012 Season Statistics: 114 receptions, 1,622 yards, 25 touchdowns

    Projected Round: Late second

    For all of the hype Tavon Austin receives, it appears we are forgetting about one of his former teammates.

    That man, of course, is Stedman Bailey.

    Bailey finished the 2012 season with 114 receptions for 1,622 yards and 25 touchdowns. Not only was Bailey successful in the slot, but he also lined up well outside of the numbers.

    As for how he'll fare at the next level, consider Bailey a Greg Jennings type of player.

    Bailey has consistent hands and is superb at tracking the ball over his shoulder. When he's working across the middle, he's one of the best in this draft class at finding holes in the defense.

    Bailey has the potential to put up monster numbers and find his way into the Pro Bowl—both as a slot and outside receiver.

Montee Ball, Wisconsin Badgers

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    Position: Running back

    Age: 22

    Height and Weight: 5'10", 214 pounds

    2012 Season Statistics: 356 carries, 1,830 yards, 22 touchdowns, 10 receptions, 72 yards

    Projected Round: Early fourth

    One way or another, Montee Ball is going to make an impact.

    Ball was the star of the Wisconsin Badgers offense for two consecutive seasons. Whether running between the tackles or breaking out to catch a pass, Ball proved capable of doing it all.

    That's why he tallied 55 rushing touchdowns over the past two seasons. He also caught six scores.

    Perhaps most impressive of all, Ball was an every-down back who averaged 25.4 carries per game in 2012. Even still, he averaged 5.1 yards per carry.

    Not only was Ball efficiently dominant, but he has the tools to make it work at the next level.

    From his patience when attacking seams to his cut-back agility, Ball has it all. He knows how to put his head down and fight for extra yardage, all the while possessing the ability to finesse his way to extra yardage.

    Ball is a special talent, folks—one that will shine regardless of where he's drafted.

Johnathan Franklin, UCLA Bruins

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    Position: Running back

    Age: 23

    Height and Weight: 5'10", 205 pounds

    2012 Season Statistics: 282 carries, 1,734 yards, 13 touchdowns, 33 receptions, 323 yards, two touchdowns

    Projected Round: Middle of fourth

    Johnathan Franklin may be a Pac-12 running back, but don't confuse him with a scatback style of player.

    At UCLA, Franklin was all about running between the tackles and breaking free with vision and open-field elusiveness. More importantly, this young man never shied away from contact.

    Don't expect that to change in the NFL.

    Franklin has become a much more responsible ball-carrier since battling fumble issues early in his career.

    Now that he has control over the ball, Franklin appears much more poised on the field. This has allowed him to follow his blocks and hit the holes as they're presented.

    When it comes to playing in the NFL, Franklin has all of the tools to become a Pro Bowl-caliber running back.

Cobi Hamilton, Arkansas Razorbacks

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    Position: Wide receiver

    Age: 22

    Height and Weight: 6'2", 212 pounds

    2012 Season Statistics: 90 receptions, 1,335 yards, five touchdowns

    Projected Round: Middle of fourth

    Cobi Hamilton is a quality athlete with a big frame and powerful hands. Even if a defensive back stays with him, one thing has become perfectly clear.

    When it comes to jump balls, Hamilton will do whatever it takes to come down with the pigskin.

    This is the trait that could make Hamilton a star at the next level. In a league that lives and dies by the intermediate passing game, the presence of a deep-ball threat has become a lost art.

    Those who thrive in such a capacity are often rewarded.

    Hamilton proved capable of performing at a high level, hauling in 90 passes for 1,335 yards last season. That's an average of 14.8 yards per reception.

    Standing at 6'2" with a powerful frame and unparalleled physicality, Hamilton is a quality coach away from becoming one of the best at his position.

Marcus Lattimore, South Carolina Gamecocks

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    Position: Running Back

    Age: 21

    Height and Weight: 5'11", 221 pounds

    2012 Season Statistics: 143 carries, 662 yards, 11 touchdowns, 26 receptions, 173 yards

    Projected Round: Middle of third

    In terms of raw ability, Marcus Lattimore may be the best running back in this draft class.

    Lattimore runs with fluid motion, hits the gap with power and patience and is one of the best at picking up yards after contact. With a rare combination of lateral agility and downfield power, Lattimore has "star" written all over him.

    Unfortunately, the South Carolina back has another phrase written all over him: "injury prone."

    Lattimore has suffered season-ending knee injuries in two consecutive seasons. He was forced to miss the NFL combine due to his rehabilitation regime.

    If he is able to remain healthy, Lattimore is a Pro Bowl-caliber talent. That just so happens to be a major "if."

EJ Manuel, Florida State Seminoles

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    Position: Quarterback

    Age: 22

    Height and Weight: 6'5", 237 pounds

    2012 Season Statistics: 263-of-387 attempts (68 percent), 3,392 yards, 23 touchdowns, 10 interceptions, 103 carries, 310 yards, four touchdowns

    Projected Round: Late second

    At 6'5" and 237 pounds, EJ Manuel has the physical tools to make an impact at the next level.

    After running a 4.65 40-yard dash at the combine and completing 68 percent of his passes as a senior in college, we learned that there's more to Manuel than his size.

    There's Pro Bowl-caliber upside locked inside his gigantic frame.

    Manuel is a pure winner. He won all four of the bowl games he appeared in during his college career and finished his tenure at FSU with a record of 25-6 as a starter.

    Again, all he does is win.

    At the NFL level, Manuel could join this generation of read-option quarterbacks. With the frame to stand in the pocket and the athleticism to go outside the tackles, Manuel is a defense's worst nightmare.

    In the proper scheme, he could prove to be a Pro Bowl-caliber talent.

Matt Scott, Arizona Wildcats

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    Position: Quarterback

    Age: 22

    Height and Weight: 6'2", 213 pounds

    2012 Season Statistics 301-of-499 attempts (60.3 percent), 3,620 yards, 27 touchdowns, 14 interceptions, 113 carries, 506 yards, six touchdowns

    Projected Round: Late fourth

    Matt Scott has all of the tools to be the NFL's next great read-option quarterback.

    During his senior year at Arizona, Scott orchestrated the offense under head coach Rich Rodriguez. Unlike past Rich Rod schemes, however, Scott threw the ball.


    Scott averaged 41.6 pass attempts per game. Despite attempting such an outrageously high number of throws, he managed to complete 60.3 percent of his passes.

    In other words, this young man can air it out.

    When it comes to running the ball, Scott isn't too shabby. He piled up 506 yards and six touchdowns on the ground as a senior.

    At the combine, Scott ran a 4.69 40 and a 3.99-second 20-yard shuttle, third and first respectively among quarterbacks.

    I repeat, Scott has all of the tools to be the NFL's next great read-option quarterback.

Trevardo Williams, Connecticut Huskies

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    Position: Defensive end

    Age: 22

    Height and Weight: 6'1", 241 pounds

    2012 Season Statistics: 42 tackles, 21 solo, 13.5 tackles for loss, 11.5 sacks, one fumble forced

    Projected Round: Early sixth

    At 6'1", it's unlikely that Trevardo Williams will find success as a down lineman in a 4-3 scheme.

    Fortunately, Williams is one of the most athletically gifted players at his position. For that reason, he has all of the gifts necessary to be a standout 3-4 outside linebacker.

    Just check the numbers.

    Williams managed to tally 11.5 sacks during his senior season. This comes one year after tearing up opposing offensive lines for 12.5 sacks.

    In other words, Williams can get after the quarterback.

    At the NFL combine, Williams displayed those physical gifts. He ran a 4.57 40, posted a 38-inch vertical and tallied a 124-inch broad jump.

    He also came in fifth among defensive linemen with 30 reps during the bench press.

    Assuming he ends up in a 3-4 defense, Williams can be a game-changing pass-rusher. As a result, he could be the latest middle-round sack artist to make a Pro Bowl appearance.

    The upside is there.

Tyler Wilson, Arkansas Razorbacks

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    Position: Quarterback

    Age: 23

    Height and Weight: 6'2", 215 pounds

    2012 Season Averages: 249-of-401 attempts, 3,387 yards, 21 touchdowns, 13 interceptions

    Projected Round: Middle of third

    Whether or not Tyler Wilson will meet his potential is a conversation for another day. What is undeniable, however, is that the upside is present.

    Wilson is a powerful pocket presence who thrives in the intermediate passing game. While his deep ball can waver, Wilson is the type of quarterback who can step in and run a pro-style offense.

    Improving the time on his delivery will help, as he tends to cock the ball back enough to offer defensive backs a read.

    When it comes to raw ability, however, there are few quarterbacks in this class quite as talented as Tyler Wilson.