Three rounds are in the books at the 2013 NFL draft. As expected, there were multiple surprises along the way, which helped make up for the lack of star power atop the draft. The class' depth also means there are still some talented players on the board ahead of Day 3.
Diehard football fans know plenty of productive players are drafted in the final four rounds. They don't enter with the same level of hype or expectations, and that can be a good thing. It allows them to progress at a more natural pace before making an impact.
One of those aforementioned surprises has been the extended fall of USC quarterback Matt Barkley. He heads the list of top prospects still on the board heading into the final day of the draft. Let's examine him and two other prospects capable of greatly outplaying their draft slot in the coming years.
1. Matt Barkley – QB
In reality, any talk involving Barkley going inside the top 10 before the draft began always seemed like a long shot. No quarterback in the class possessed that type of value, which explains why the Buffalo Bills were willing to trade down before making E.J. Manuel the first one off the board.
That said, dropping out of the first three rounds completely is a shock. Barkley was a successful college quarterback who ran a pro-style offense, illustrated very good accuracy on short and intermediate throws and threw 75 touchdowns over his final two seasons at USC.
Teams clearly don't view him as somebody capable of stepping in right away, or he'd be gone. Even so, he's shown enough talent to handle a backup role and certainly possesses the tools to become a starter within a couple seasons. The draft disappointment should help add to his motivation.
2. Alex Okafor – DE
One reason for Okafor's slide is his perceived lack of scheme versatility. He's viewed as a true 4-3 defensive end, obviously eliminating all teams who play a 3-4 defense. While he possesses the rush skills necessary to play outside linebacker, his work in coverage would take some work.
Which of these prospects will be the best pro?
But when you combine his college production and the number of teams in need of rushers, he should have been off the board on Day 2. He racked up 23 sacks at Texas, including 12.5 as a senior. He also had 34 tackles for loss during his collegiate career.
His most impressive performance came in his final game. He flashed tremendous rushing potential with 4.5 sacks in the Longhorns' bowl victory. Finding the right team is key, but whatever franchise does take him should receive terrific return on investment.
3. Quinton Patton – WR
Patton watched as 11 wide receivers came off the board over the first two days. He wasn't among the names who got called and is clearly the best wideout left on the board. It shouldn't take long on Day 3 before that changes.
While it's understandable that teams would take his stats with a grain of salt due to the level of competition, it's impossible to ignore 183 catches for nearly 2,600 yards and 24 touchdowns over the past two seasons. Those are monster numbers.
Well............ Everything happens for a reason— Quinton Patton (@4_Turnt_Up) April 27, 2013
Patton has shown the ability to stretch the field while running precise routes and flashing good hands. He can also play anywhere across the formation, whether it be on the outside or in the slot. That should allow him to carve out a niche for himself pretty quickly at the next level.