NFL Draft 2013: Day 3 Picks Who Will Be Starters by Season's End
Every year, teams find steals on Day 3 of the NFL draft.
While we don't have a clue which players from Day 3 will end up being the guys that fall into that category, there's a good chance we can project a few guys that will have a chance to compete for a starting job in their rookie season—despite being a late draft pick.
With the 2013 NFL draft in the books and each team now officially moving forward to the training-camp, preseason and regular-season phase of the 2013 NFL campaign, it's time for us to take a step back and look at all the talent moving to the 32 NFL teams from Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
Steals are there for the taking when it comes to the draft, and these guys below will have a chance to make good on their new teams' choice to take a flier on them in the bottom part of the draft.
*For a complete look at every pick in the 2013 NFL draft, click here.
Day 3 Picks Destined for Starter's Jobs in 2013
Dallas Cowboys RB Joseph Randle (5th round, pick No. 151)
This was the pick of the draft for Dallas, in my opinion, as the Cowboys managed to add the most-crucial depth to their offense in the fifth round.
We all know that DeMarco Murray has shown flashes of stardom for the Boys.
He's also shown flashes of being injury prone and has yet to play a full season with the star on his helmet. Strong starts in 2011 and 2012 were both wiped out by injury by the time Dallas was trying to make a playoff push both seasons, a big reason why Dallas finished next-to-last in rushing in 2012.
In Randle, they get a Murray-like type player who has no durability concerns from his time at Oklahoma State, having played in 26 straight games over the past two seasons (h/t ESPN) as Kendall Hunter's replacement for the Pokes.
Randle rushed for over 2,600 yards and had 38 touchdowns in his final two years with the Cowboys. He is the perfect kind of back for Tony Romo and the offense that Jason Garrett wants to run in Dallas. He does everything well, and has the type of size you want in a back of his talent.
Murray is just one injury away from officially cementing his status as a player that can't stay healthy. If Murray slips up at all during the regular season in terms of health, Randle is clearly better than either of the other running backs on the Dallas roster (Phillip Tanner and Lance Dunbar).
This is a huge pick for Dallas both in terms of finding a guy capable of contributing right away in the passing game and on third down and an automatic replacement for the disappointing Felix Jones. Furthermore, Randle doubles as a long-term solution to the running back position.
Bet on Randle seeing the field on the opening series at least once this season, more because of Murray's injury concerns than because Randle is going to come in and win the job outright.
Philadelphia Eagles QB Matt Barkley (4th round, pick No. 98)
The Eagles didn't wait long to trade up and draft Barkley with the first pick on Day 3, and Chip Kelly might not wait long to make Barkley the starter in his up-tempo offense, either.
Kelly saw first-hand what Barkley was capable of at USC, and knows that he's a high-octane QB capable of putting up big numbers in the right offense with the right amount of coaching.
If there's one thing Kelly knows, it's quarterbacks.
As Albert Breer of NFL.com noted post-draft, this thing is officially wide open in Philadelphia. Don't take any stock in Michael Vick still being there, the team holding on to Nick Foles or the signing of Dennis Dixon—this is a "best player plays" competition:
By the way, right after Barkley was drafted, Chip Kelly told us on record that the Eagles plan is to have keep all 5 QBs, have them compete.— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) April 27, 2013
If Barkley plays like he did during his junior season and the first part of his senior one and finds a way to bounce back strong from his college-ending injury, there's a good bet he gets a chance to prove he belongs not only as a starting NFL QB, but in an upcoming list of NFL draft steals.
Denver Broncos DE Quanterus Smith (5th round, pick No. 146)
If you don't know anything about Quanterus Smith, you better get acquainted with the man likely expected to help ease the loss of Elvis Dumervil.
The Broncos didn't do a lot of adding along their defense during the draft. Nevertheless, the picks they did make (Sylvester Williams, too) have a chance to make an immediate impact on a defense that already has plenty of pass-rushing options—namely Von Miller.
What grade would you give Denver's 2013 draft class?
Smith might have played at no-name Western Kentucky, but he had three sacks in an early-season game against Alabama this year, has prototypical defensive end size (6'5", 250) and had 20 sacks over his final two seasons at Western Kentucky.
While he's considered a project by some, there's a good chance he carves out a role in passing situations if he can manage to learn the intricacies of how to fire off the ball low and avoid getting up the field too much.
In the fifth round this is huge value for the Broncos, who quietly addressed big positions of need throughout the draft and added more depth to both running back and receiver—where Peyton Manning should have a lot of fun this offseason.
On defense, though, Smith can both learn from the line already in place and put his pass-rushing skills to full use in Year 1, making this a great pick for both sides and giving Smith a chance to earn a specific role as a rookie for a contender.
Arizona Cardinals WR Ryan Swope (6th round, pick No. 174)
The Cardinals might be in trouble at the QB position after not doing anything to upgrade the position behind Carson Palmer, but Bruce Arians got the most out of Andrew Luck as a rookie in Indianapolis and must feel he can do the same with Arizona's new signal-caller.
But to whom will he throw the ball?
The easy answer is Larry Fitzgerald and Andre Roberts, the former a long-time NFL star and the latter a player that came on strong in the latter half of the season for the struggling Cardinals.
Add Ryan Swope to that category.
It was amazing to me that he was still there after Round 3, much less the fourth and fifth rounds. After running a 4.34 at the NFL combine, producing a 37-inch vertical (h/t NFL.com) and being the security blanket of one QB already in the NFL (Ryan Tannehill) and another destined to get there one day (Johnny Manziel), this is a steal for the Cards.
With straight-line speed combined with his stocky stature, Swope has the makings of a poor-man's Danny Amendola and flashes great hands out of the slot, where he'll make his money in the NFL.
Although he might have over-achieved at the combine, Swope is the kind of player with the potential to carve out a long-term career in the NFL because he can do two things well—he exploits one-on-one matchups with linebackers and he catches nearly everything thrown his way.
He had over 250 receptions during four years at A&M, a number that is more impressive if you consider only 19 came during his freshman season. As a slot option that can occasionally move to the outside in certain sets, Swope is a huge coup for the wideout-poor Cardinals, and he could be the team's starting slot in three-WR sets when camp breaks in August.
Other Day 3 Picks Who Could Earn Starter Time as Rookies
Washington Redskins S Bacarri Rambo (6th round, pick No. 191)
Atlanta Falcons TE Levine Toilolo (4th round, pick No. 133)
Arizona Cardinals RB Stepfan Taylor (5th round, pick No. 140)
Cleveland Browns S Jamoris Slaughter (6th round, pick No. 175)
Pittsburgh Steelers S Shamarko Thomas (4th round, pick No. 111)
Seattle Seahawks WR Chris Harper (4th round, pick No. 123)
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