NFL Draft 2013: Unheralded Names Sure to Be Franchise Players

Tim KeeneyContributor IApril 23, 2013

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - FEBRUARY 24: Mike Glennon of North Carolina State works out during the 2013 NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium on February 24, 2013 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Joe Robbins/Getty Images

While all eyes are focused on the first round of the upcoming NFL draft, the most crucial picks will come during the weekend. 

That's not to say the first round isn't important. If someone tried to tell you that, you should probably give them a nice firm slap on the noggin.

But teams that are able to land long-term starters in the second or third rounds or beyond tend to enjoy plenty of success.

Just last year, the St. Louis Rams drafted Janoris Jenkins in the second round, the Seattle Seahawks snagged Russell Wilson in the third and the Washington Redskins stole away Alfred Morris in the sixth—all unheralded players before the draft and all potential franchise players just a year later.

Let's take a look at who could make that kind of impact in 2013. 


Johnathan Franklin, RB, UCLA

When no running back is expected to go in the first round, it's difficult to project the order in which the ball carriers will leave the board.

Evidence of that unpredictability is clear when CBS Sports has Johnathan Franklin as the second-best running back, ESPN has him as No. 3 and has him at No. 4.

However, don't be surprised if the UCLA stud ends the season as the best rookie rusher. 

Franklin, who tallied 2,057 yards from scrimmage and 15 total touchdowns with the Bruins last year, will be able to make an instant impact at the next level because of his ability to contribute in every aspect of the game.

At 5'10", 205 pounds, he not only has a low center of gravity but also has the burst and explosiveness in between the tackles that makes him tough to bring down. In the passing game, he runs crisp routes, has reliable hands and can be trusted in protection. 

Should he be tossed into the right situation, Franklin has the tools to earn rookie of the year—despite likely being drafted outside the first round. 


Mike Glennon, QB, NC State

This draft won't come close to producing the quarterback talent from last year's class, but that doesn't mean there aren't hidden gems in the middle rounds. 

There are several candidates for that distinction—mostly because no one thinks any of the QBs deserve a first-round pick—but Glennon stands out as the most likely. 

Much like every other gunslinger in this draft, he has his concerns, most notably in his decision making and mobility.

Stil, Glennon has gaudy size (6'6", 218 pounds) and a rocket for an arm. If he is able to get set and unload in rhythm, he can make NFL-caliber throws far down field with absolute ease.

That's obviously a big "if," but it's a nice starting point for a middle-round pick. 

Throw in his intelligence and propensity to thrive under pressure (see comebacks against Florida State and North Carolina), and you have a future NFL starter with the right guidance. 


Barrett Jones, OL, Alabama

ESPN's Kevin Van Valkenburg sums up Jones perfectly:

Oh, and by the way, in addition to being a hire-character human being, Jones anchored the Alabama offensive line for four years, won three national titles and was an All-American at three different positions.

No big deal. 

The big man is slightly undersized and has some questions surrounding his durability, but his versatility, work ethic, attitude, leadership, toughness and intangibles are all things I would bet on at the next level.