NFL Draft Prospects That Are Guaranteed to Fill Up the Highlight Reels

Russell S. BaxterContributor IApril 13, 2013

NFL Draft Prospects That Are Guaranteed to Fill Up the Highlight Reels

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    “He could go all…the…way!”

    The NFL highlight. No one has done it better than ESPN’s Chris Berman.

    You have to have the paint for Picasso to do what he does best. So we’re taking a little time to project what players available in the 2013 NFL draft will eventually provide those big-play moments.

    To assist the cause, we dug up some highlight packages around the web to assist our cause. Sit back and enjoy watching these young performers do what they do best.

    Finally, here’s a huge shout out and a bigger "thank you" to Bleacher Report colleague Matt Miller for his assistance on this piece.

Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia

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    For the first time since 2008, the likelihood is high that we won’t have a quarterback taken with the first overall pick in the NFL draft.

    But we won’t have to wait long for West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith’s name to be called on April 25.

    The Mountaineers signal-caller comes off a season in which he completed 71.5 percent of his passes for 4,205 yards and 42 scores with only a half-dozen interceptions.

    Throw in 151 yards rushing and a pair of touchdowns, and it’s easy to see why Smith is at the top of the leaderboard when it comes to this class of quarterback prospects.

Giovani Bernard, RB, North Carolina

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    Talk about consistency.

    North Carolina running back Gio Bernard had quite a two-year run with the Tar Heels.

    Make that a bunch of runs.

    A year after running for 1,253 yards and 13 touchdowns in 2011, Bernard ran for 1,228 yards and a dozen scores this past season. But it should be noted that the latter total came on just 184 carries, an imposing 6.7 yards per carry.

    Want more? Bernard also totaled 47 receptions for 490 yards and five touchdowns in 2012, one season after he caught 45 passes for 362 yards and a score.

    Mr. Bernard may be just getting warmed up.

Marcus Lattimore, RB, South Carolina

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    Yes, there’s a distinct possibility that South Carolina running back Marcus Lattimore may not see the field in 2013.

    Still, where he goes and how soon he’s selected will be one of the more intriguing storylines of this NFL draft.

    Knee injuries have cut short Lattimore’s last two seasons, the latest after nine games in 2012. The star Gamecock totaled 835 yards and 11 touchdowns from scrimmage.

    In three seasons and 28 games at South Carolina, Lattimore amassed 3,444 yards from scrimmage and totaled 41 touchdowns.

    Whenever he returns to the game, it will be worth the wait.

Tavon Austin, WR, West Virginia

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    Wide receiver Tavon Austin’s final season at West Virginia would have made for a good collegiate career.

    In four seasons, the productive performer totaled 288 receptions for 3,413 yards and 29 scores.

    But 2012 was an amazing year. Austin totaled 114 catches for 1,289 yards and a dozen touchdowns. Add in 72 rushing attempts for 643 yards and three scores and you’re talking 1,932 yards from scrimmage this past season.

    Now factor in another combined 978 yards on kickoff and punt returns, returning one each for a touchdown, and you get the picture.

DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Clemson

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    Clemson wideout DeAndre Hopkins saw his production increase with each season, and it culminated with a big 2012 campaign.

    Hopkins totaled 82 catches for 1,405 yards (17.1 yards per catch), 18 of those receptions for scores. That latter figure is very impressive considering that the Tigers star scored only nine touchdowns in his first two seasons.

    All told, Hopkins’ three-year career totals read 206 receptions for 3,020 yards and 27 scores.

    But it’s that final season that is the eye-opener here.

Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Tennessee

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    Junior-college transfer Cordarrelle Patterson played only one season at the University of Tennessee.

    Talk about making it count.

    The speedy wide receiver showed everyone just how many ways he could affect a game.

    Patterson’s 46 catches totaled 778 yards and five touchdowns. He also ran the ball 25 times for 308 yards and three scores.

    He also made an impact on special teams, returning 24 kickoffs for a 28.0 yards average, one for a touchdown. He also took a punt back for a score last season.

Denard Robinson, WR, Michigan

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    Yes, we’re aware that Denard Robinson played quarterback at the University of Michigan. But he projects to wide receiver in the NFL, so we’ll focus on those factors as well.

    Problem is that he caught only three passes at Michigan, all coming in his senior season.

    Of course, his running numbers are a different matter.

    In each of his final three collegiate seasons, Robinson ran for at least 1,000 yards each year, including 1,266 yards and seven scores last season. During his career with the Wolverines, the talented performer threw for 49 scores but also ran for 42 touchdowns.

    It’s safe to say Robinson will be giving opposing defenses plenty to think about this fall.

Tyler Eifert, TE, Notre Dame

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    Who’s not looking for a quality tight end these days to supplement his passing attack?

    Look no further than Notre Dame’s Tyler Eifert, basically the consensus No. 1 prospect at the position available.

    Eifert’s career total of 140 catches, 11 for touchdowns, may not wow you statistically. But the 6’5”, 250-pound performer totaled 1,840 yards on those 140 receptions, an impressive 13.1 yards per catch.

    Of course, “Eif” doesn’t necessarily have the same ring to it as “Gronk.”

Cornellius Carradine, DE, Florida State

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    In this day and age of the quarterback era, the exact same number of NFL teams is looking to make the leader of the offense as uncomfortable as possible.

    And that’s where Florida State defensive end Cornellius Carradine comes in.

    The Seminoles defender comes off a season in which he totaled 80 tackles and 11.0 sacks. But he also missed the final two games with a knee injury, and that could affect his draft status…but hopefully not his 2013 season.

Alex Okafor, DE, Texas

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    As time wore on, University of Texas defensive end Alex Okafor continued to get better.

    After seeing just limited playing time as a freshman, Okafor totaled 28 tackles and 3.5 sacks in his second season with the Longhorns.

    Make it 50 stops and 7.0 sacks for Okafor during his junior campaign. And a year ago, he capped off his career with 12.5 sacks and four forced fumbles.

    Intriguing numbers indeed.

Jarvis Jones, DE/OLB, Georgia

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    Talk about a pass-rushing specimen.

    One-time University of Southern Cal product turned University of Georgia standout Jarvis Jones has the moves that would shame Jagger.

    The numbers are off the charts. Jones totaled 85 tackles, 14.5 sacks and seven forced fumbles in 2012. A year earlier, his first with the Bulldogs, he amassed 40 stops and 13.5 sacks.

    In terms of on the field, it’s hard not to like what you see.

Khaseem Greene, OLB, Rutgers

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    For those who love a linebacker that can do everything well, Rutgers' Khaseem Greene is your guy.

    The Scarlet Knights standout had quite the final collegiate season. Greene totaled 136 tackles and 6.0 sacks, picked off a pair of passes and forced a half-dozen fumbles.

    Greene totaled six interceptions during his four years at Rutgers, along with a dozen forced fumbles. He also totaled a career-best 141 tackles in 2011.

    A pretty productive player who certainly bears watching.

Alec Ogletree, ILB, Georgia

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    Early entry Alec Ogletree had quite a 2012 despite sitting out the first four games of the season.

    The rangy defender totaled 111 tackles, 3.0 sacks and an interception.

    Not bad for a player who began his career at safety. As a freshman defensive back, Ogletree totaled 34 tackles. He made the move to linebacker a year later and in 2011 totaled 52 tackles, 3.0 sacks and a pair of forced fumbles in just eight games.

    It wouldn’t be a shock to see Ogletree becomes one of those players who makes an impact on an NFL defense sooner than later.

Matt Elam, SS, Florida

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    Matt Elam’s last two seasons at the University of Florida showed you why he figures to be a solid performer at the pro level.

    A year after totaling 78 tackles, two interceptions and a pair of forced fumbles, Elam amassed 76 tackles, doubled that interception total (four) and added another forced fumble.

    Combine those stops with a nose for the ball, and some team will be very happy to add the big-play Gator to its roster.