2013 NFL Draft: 2 Prospects from Each Round with the Most to Prove
Every prospect from the 2013 NFL draft has something to prove in the league.
However, some prospects have more to prove due to various reasons. These reasons can vary from off-field issues that dropped them into the later rounds to injuries that they have to overcome.
This state of having to prove yourself can be either good or bad for prospects. Either they'll work harder than ever or they'll crumble under the pressure.
Today, we'll examine two prospects from each round of the draft that have the most to prove.
D.J. Fluker, OT, San Diego Chargers (11th overall)
Many considered Fluker the fourth-best offensive tackle in the draft behind Luke Joeckel, Lane Johnson and Eric Fisher. However, no one expected him to get drafted as early as the 11th overall pick to the Chargers.
An offensive lineman drafted this high isn't just expected to start for his team, but he's also expected to be an anchor on the line. Not only did Fluker have questions about playing left tackle heading into the draft, but some even wondered whether he'd make a better guard than tackle in the NFL.
Fluker needs to prove that he wasn't a major reach and that he can become the franchise tackle San Diego so desperately needs on its roster.
Alec Ogletree, OLB, St. Louis Rams (30th overall)
Based on pure talent, Ogletree should have been drafted much higher than the end of the first round. However, a DUI arrest days before the NFL combine obviously put some character doubts in the minds of NFL GMs.
The big question is whether Ogletree will continue to make immature mistakes throughout his career. Was this just the foolishness of a young man or a habit that will follow Ogletree wherever he goes?
As long as Ogletree can stay out of trouble, he'll go a long way towards proving that it was a one-time mistake and that he's committed to the game of football.
Just Missed: Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Minnesota Vikings (29th overall)
Had Patterson been drafted higher than the 29th pick, he likely would have had more to prove than either Fluker or Ogletree. However, with a later choice in the first round, it won't seem so bad if it takes him some time to hone his special skills to the NFL game.
Justin Hunter, WR, Tennessee Titans (34th overall)
The Titans moved up six spots to draft Hunter, but they gave up a 2014 third-round pick and 2013 seventh-round pick in order to do so. That is quite a price to pay for a player who had some questions entering the draft.
The questions surrounding Hunter were never about his talent or commitment to the game. Rather, Hunter struggled with injuries, the biggest being a torn ACL suffered early in the 2011 season.
After that injury, Hunter never appeared to be the same in terms of athleticism and burst during the 2012 season. He'll need to prove to the Titans—and all the teams that passed on him—that he's fully recovered from his injury and is back to his old self.
David Amerson, CB, Washington Redskins (51st overall)
Before the start of the 2012 college football season, many considered Amerson the best cornerback in the nation. Heck, Bleacher Report scouting guru Matt Miller had him as the No. 4 overall prospect in the 2013 class back in July of last year.
However, Amerson struggled to produce throughout the year and fell down draft boards all the way up to draft night. The Redskins finally grabbed him in the middle of the second round.
What Amerson has to prove is that the 2012 preseason hype wasn't just hype, but rather that it was reality. If he can become the player everyone thought he was before his final college season, he might end up being the steal of the draft.
Just Missed: Manti Te'o and Geno Smith
To be honest, it was just too easy to say that Te'o and Smith have the most to prove. They both obviously have a ton to prove—Te'o was a Heisman finalist, and many projected Smith as a top-five pick—but I sometimes like a challenge.
Tyrann Mathieu, CB, Arizona Cardinals (69th overall)
Remember in the last slide how I said I like challenges sometimes? Well, this is one of those times when I don't like a challenge.
Mathieu is the obvious choice for a player with the most to prove in the third round. For those of you living under a rock for the past year, LSU kicked Mathieu off the team for a drug problem, and he missed all of last season before entering the 2013 NFL draft.
The Cardinals took a huge chance on him in the third round, but he landed in a rather ideal location. He'll be playing with former college teammates Patrick Peterson and Kevin Minter, who'll hopefully help him stay on the straight path.
All eyes will be on Mathieu from Day 1 in order to see if he can overcome the mounds of off-field issues that he brought to the NFL.
Sam Montgomery, OLB, Houston Texans (95th overall)
The biggest knock on Montgomery entering the draft was his apparent lack of work ethic. One of his strength coaches at LSU called out Montgomery to scouts due to his lack of self-discipline and motivation.
However, that wasn't the end of the questions surrounding his work ethic. Montgomery also said that he didn't work as hard against lesser opponents while in college.
Montgomery needs to prove that he's willing to put in the effort to be successful because there isn't a weak opponent in the NFL.
Just Missed: Keenan Allen, WR, San Diego Chargers (76th overall)
Allen has a good amount to prove because he was once considered such an elite receiving prospect. However, he just misses the list as a player with the most to prove because his draft-day slide really wasn't a surprise.
Questions surrounding Allen's athleticism and personality began to arise before the draft, and he never recovered from those questions. He has a great opportunity to prove that he can still be an elite wide receiver, but he doesn't have as much to prove as either Montgomery or Mathieu.
Matt Barkley, QB, Philadelphia Eagles (98th overall)
Had Barkley left school a year earlier, he likely would have been the third quarterback drafted after Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III in the 2012 NFL draft.
Instead, Barkley went back to USC to win a national championship. Unfortunately, he failed miserably at that, struggled during the season to impress NFL teams and wasn't drafted until the first pick of the fourth round.
That's a lot to comprehend, but what it all boils down to is the fact that Barkley likely has a massive chip on his shoulder. He probably wants nothing more than to prove to teams that they were all wrong about the type of player he can be in the league.
Sean Porter, OLB, Cincinnati Bengals (118th overall)
At Texas A&M, Porter played alongside Von Miller. After Miller left the team and got drafted with the second overall pick of the 2011 NFL draft, many expected Porter to become the next high draft pick from A&M.
However, a switch from a 3-4 defense (which Porter excelled in) to a 4-3 defense (which Porter sometimes struggled in) in his senior year caused some concerns about his overall abilities. Those concerns dropped Porter all the way into the middle of the fourth round.
What Porter needs to prove is that his knowledge of both 4-3 and 3-4 defenses makes him a more versatile and well-rounded player.
Just Missed: Tyler Wilson, QB, Oakland Raiders (112th overall)
Wilson was another highly-regarded prospect before the 2012 college season started. However, he too struggled throughout the college season and saw his draft stock drop dramatically.
As one of the more gifted quarterback prospects in this year's draft, Wilson has to prove that his struggles on the field revolved around the sudden departure of his coach Bobby Petrino and not his overall talents.
Denard Robinson, RB, Jacksonville Jaguars (135th overall)
There was no doubt that Robinson was one of the better playmakers in the entire 2013 NFL draft class. Unfortunately, no one really knew what position he'd be able to make those plays at.
He obviously wasn't going to be an NFL quarterback, and he struggled at the Senior Bowl at wide receiver. The Jaguars drafted him and decided they'd give him a chance at running back.
Robinson must prove that he's a talented enough playmaker to be a running back in the NFL, even if that is only in a situational role.
Quanterus Smith, DE, Denver Broncos (146th overall)
Smith suffered an ACL tear late in the season but was extremely impressive before the injury. In fact, ESPN's Todd McShay reminded us before the draft about just how good Smith was against the best team in college football:
WKU DE Quanterus Smith is name to remember. Led FBS in sacks before ACL tear (Game 10). Tape vs. ALA is impressive! 3 sacks, all over field.
— Todd McShay (@McShay13) March 19, 2013
Smith is an extremely talented pass-rusher who has the ability to disrupt offenses on a consistent basis. He'll need to prove he's still that dominant player once he's fully healthy. If he can do that, he could end up being the steal of the draft.
Just Missed: Jesse Williams, DT, Seattle Seahawks (137th overall)
In terms of size and potential, Williams might have had the most of any prospect in the 2013 NFL draft. Most mock drafts had him being drafted way before the fifth round, and some were even bold enough to put him at the end of the first around.
Williams must prove he has the desire to turn that raw potential into production on the field.
Ryan Swope, WR, Arizona Cardinals (174th overall)
Swope was an extremely productive receiver during college, recording 252 receptions and 3,117 receiving yards in four years at Texas A&M.
At only 6'0" and 205 pounds, Swope will basically be limited to the slot receiver position for the Cardinals. He needs to prove that he has the quickness and route-running ability to excel as a slot receiver.
Bacarri Rambo, SS, Washington Redskins (191st overall)
Rambo had a rather interesting career at the University of Georgia. He burst onto the scene his sophomore season and even earned All-American honors during his junior year.
Unfortunately, failed drugs tests led to a suspension at the start of his senior season. Rambo never really got back into the same type of groove he had his junior year and plummeted down NFL draft boards.
What Rambo has to prove is that he can still be the All-American player he was two years ago. He'll need to prove that the off-field issues are a thing of the past and that he's re-committed to the game of football.
Just Missed: Cobi Hamilton, WR, Cincinnati Bengals (197th overall)
Much like his quarterback Tyler Wilson, many expected Hamilton to have a huge 2012 season and end up being a high draft pick in the 2013 NFL draft.
While he statistically had a big season, Hamilton will still need to prove that he's a far better player than the 197th overall pick.
Jordan Poyer, CB, Philadelphia Eagles (218th overall)
It's not common that a consensus All-American and first-team All-Pac-12 player doesn't get drafted until the seventh round. What's strange about Poyer's drop is that no one really knows why it happened.
It could be because he was arrested back in 2012 for trying to get into a nightclub that had previously banned him. However, we saw players with more serious off-field issues, like Tyrann Mathieu and Janoris Jenkins, get drafted much higher.
Whatever caused Poyer to drop, he can now use it as fuel to prove to all 31 other teams that they made the wrong choice to pass on him so many times.
Marquess Wilson, WR, Chicago Bears (236th overall)
It's one thing to leave your college team. It's another thing entirely to bash your head coach on your way out the door.
That's what Wilson did when Washington State suspended him for violating team rules, and Wilson chose to leave. Most NFL teams would consider that type of reaction childish.
Had Wilson left like a man, apologized, and worked hard during the offseason for the NFL, he certainly would have gone higher than the seventh round.
Wilson needs to show the Bears that he's not a child who will instantly dismiss his coach when something bad happens.
Just Missed: Zeke Motta, SS, Atlanta Falcons (244th overall)
Considered the glue that held a dominant Notre Dame defense together this past season, Motta still almost went undrafted.
He'll need to prove that he's not only worth a roster spot, but also that he can be an impact player and a leader like he was in college.