NFL Draft 2013: Biggest Defensive Steals Outside 1st Round

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistMarch 16, 2013

FS Prospect D.J. Swearinger
FS Prospect D.J. SwearingerRonald Martinez/Getty Images

Every year, teams find gems in the later rounds of the draft, and the 2013 NFL draft will be no exception.

Whether it's questions of consistency, physical tools, opposition in college, etc., potential stars always manage to fall outside the first round. It's impossible for scouts to have seen every player available and make a fair and accurate determination as to his potential.

After an uninspiring junior campaign and draft combine, Vontaze Burfict chose to forgo his senior season. It looked like a horrendous decision as he wasn't even drafted. The Cincinnati Bengals signed him as a free agent, and it turned into a fantastic move for both sides. Burfict's 127 tackles were the fourth-most among rookies in 2012.

There's plenty of players like Burfict lying in the weeds of the NFL draft. It's up to general managers to find them. In order to provide some help, here are three prospects outside the first round who will have a huge impact.


Jonathan Cyprien, SS, Florida International

As a member of the Florida International Golden Panthers, Jonathan Cyprien has had to deal with question marks over his level of competition during his college career. It's certainly a valid concern. The Sun Belt is arguably the worst football conference in the country.

That's why it was imperative that Cyprien put on a strong showing at the Senior Bowl, which is exactly what he did (h/t Tommy Hicks of

He's a hard hitter who's not afraid to attack offensive players at full speed. But he can run into problems because of that aggressiveness and lacks the elite speed to make up ground quickly. Cyprien flies around the field looking to make a play. It's a trait that will serve him well, overall, in the NFL.


D.J. Swearinger, FS, South Carolina

Swearinger has been rising up draft boards, but it's unlikely that he'll go in the first round.

Much like Cyprien, Swearinger is very aggressive in the secondary and looks to make the highlight-reel tackles. It looks great when it works, but more times than not the receiver bounces off the tackle, or worse, Swearinger picks up a personal foul penalty.

You want your safeties to be able to lay the wood, though, and that's exactly what Swearinger can do. Plus, his physicality will be of benefit when he needs to bump receivers at the line of scrimmage and inside the five-yard window.

He's not exceptionally fast, but Swearinger has a great burst when coming up for either a tackle or pass deflection.


Margus Hunt, DE, SMU

With so many skilled pass-rushers, it's likely Margus Hunt will get overlooked on draft day. He blew scouts away at the combine, but that won't be enough to jump past the bigger names fans and experts have been talking about for months.

While Hunt was regarded by some as a possible top-end prospect, it wasn't until the combine that he drew the attention of almost everyone. His 40 time of 4.60 was phenomenal for somebody his size, and he's got strength to match.

The problem with Hunt is that he may only be the cliched workout warrior, symbolized by Tony Mandarich. He'll look great at something like the combine, but he doesn't have the skill set to transition into a productive player.

There's no doubt that Hunt is a raw prospect and will need some time to develop in the NFL. In a few years, he could be one of the most dominating pass-rushers in the league.