Being selected early in Round 1 doesn't mean a player will turn into a star. There are a few prospects with "star" written all over them who will certainly slide in the 2013 NFL draft, however.
Last year, running back Doug Martin wasn't selected until the bottom of the first round, and he emerged as one of the best players in his draft class. The Seahawks scored linebacker Bobby Wagner in Round 2, and he was a huge part of his team's success on the defensive side of the ball.
Burgeoning star receiver T.Y. Hilton fell to the bottom of Round 3, while running back Alfred Morris was picked up by the Washington Redskins in Round 6.
The 2012 draft wasn't an aberration, either. Every year, excellent players fall down the board. The lucky teams that land them end up getting phenomenal value for their pick, and these players typically play with a big chip on their shoulders.
Here's a look at a few future stars who will slide in this year's draft.
TE Travis Kelce, Cincinnati
Kelce should be in the conversation with Zack Ertz and Tyler Eifert as the top tight end in this year's draft.
Blessed with prototypical size (6'5" and 255 pounds), Kelce is an excellent receiver and a punishing run-blocker. Eifert is the best receiver of the three tight ends mentioned, but Kelce isn't far behind and is far and away superior in the run game.
In his senior season with the Bearcats, Kelce caught 45 passes for 722 yards (16.0 yards per reception) and eight touchdowns.
At his pro day, Kelce ran a 4.64-second 40, which is faster than Eifert ran at the combine. He has the size, speed, agility and strength to become a dominant player at the next level.
Unfortunately, there's a good possibility Kelce won't be drafted until the third round of this year's draft, due to his one-year suspension in 2010 at Cincinnati. Neither Kelce nor Cincinnati has disclosed what it was he was suspended for, and to this day it remains a mystery.
NFL teams don't like mysteries.
According to the 2013 Pro Football Weekly draft guide, via Eric Edholm of ProFootballWeekly.com, an unnamed NFL evaluator isn't convinced Kelce's problems are behind him: "...an unnamed NFL evaluator called Kelce 'a trainwreck character-wise' and said his baggage will push him down until the third round at least."
If Kelce's character concerns drop him into the late-third round or into the fourth, he'll be an absolute steal, provided he stays out of trouble.
RB Le'Veon Bell, Michigan State
Unlike Kelce, Bell doesn't have any character concerns, but he'll fall on draft day, nonetheless.
For my money's worth, Bell is the top running back in this year's draft class. But if you look around the web, there aren't many experts who share this opinion. Eddie Lacy, Giovani Bernard, Montee Ball and Johnathan Francklin have been the players most mentioned as potential stars.
Bell is a big, powerful runner, at 6'1" and 230 pounds. He isn't your typical, plodding power back, however, and he moves better than many smaller backs. Bell posted a 4.6-second 40 at the combine, which was faster than scouts expected.
Watching him run on tape, the only thing of concern that stands out is that Bell sometimes doesn't get his pad level low enough.
As far as production goes, Bell proved to be a highly capable player at the college level, both as a runner and as a receiver out of the backfield. In his three years at Michigan State, he ran for 3,346 yards (5.0 yards per carry) and 33 touchdowns while catching 78 passes for 531 yards and a touchdown.
Three-time Pro-Bowl running back Steven Jackson recently offered some high praise for Bell, via Gillian Van Stratt of MLive.com, saying Bell reminded him of himself:
There's not a lot of big size running backs this year, (except) Le'Veon Bell out of Michigan State. (He has the) ability to run behind his path and stay in a physical conference like the Big Ten. He would probably be the closest in this draft.
If Bell turns out anything like Jackson, he'll be one of the best values of the draft if he's selected anywhere after the late-second round.
DE Alex Okafor, Texas
When was the last time you saw Okafor in a Round 1 mock draft?
It's likely been a long time, and if Okafor falls out of the first round this year it'll be a shame.
Though Okafor isn't a speed-rusher like many of the other pass-rushers slated to be picked up early in this year's draft (4.88-second 40 at his pro day, per ESPN.com's Calvin Watkins), he will be a monster on the edge for any team running a 4-3 scheme.
A powerful young man who has played some defensive tackle at Texas, Okafor has the strength to hold the edge on running plays and has a nice repertoire of pass-rushing moves with which to attack opposing quarterbacks.
A team like the Denver Broncos or Atlanta Falcons could target Okafor in Round 1, but more than likely he'll slip into the middle- to late-second round.
The NFL is infatuated with speed these days, and Okafor's lack of speed off the edge will cause his stock to drop. That doesn't mean he won't develop into a star, however. If he lives up to his potential, Okafor could turn into a star defensive end in the mold of John Abraham.
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