5 Under-the-Radar NFL Draft Prospects Entering 2013 Season
We're still about two months away from the kickoff of the college football season, but preseason draft boards and mock drafts have already been released, and the top prospects are well known to all.
But draft boards are sure to change dramatically over the next 11 months, and off-the-radar prospects are certain to rise up the boards.
The following slideshow features five prospects who aren't appearing in many, if any, first-round mock drafts, but they have the potential to elevate their stock into that range during the 2013 season.
The list features some well-known college players who still have a lot to prove, as well as some relative unknowns who will be entering their first full season in the spotlight.
Keith Price, QB, Washington
After a breakout sophomore campaign in 2012, Keith Price's junior year was marred by inconsistent performances. And due to the volume of quality quarterback prospects likely to be available in the 2014 NFL draft, Price has flown under the radar in the early stages of the process.
Price's accuracy on the deep ball has held him back, and he must improve in that to develop into an early-round prospect.
However, Price possesses the rare natural physical tools to excel both in and out of the pocket—skills which will immediately endear him to NFL teams looking to find the next Robert Griffin III.
Price should be viewed as a developmental prospect at this stage of the process, but his athleticism and arm talent give him the ability to shoot up draft boards with a strong senior year.
Braxton Miller, QB, Ohio State
Despite being a legitimate Heisman front-runner for 2013, Braxton Miller is rarely mentioned among the top draft-eligible prospects.
After two years as the Ohio Buckeyes' starter, Miller remains a run-first quarterback, which will need to change before he's ready for a starring role in the NFL. But in terms of physical traits, Miller compares favorably to Colin Kaepernick.
Take a look at the two quarterbacks' statistics during their sophomore years (and keep in mind the competition gap between the Big Ten and the Western Athletic Conference):
Miller: 2,039 passing yards, 58.3 completion percentage, 1,271 rushing yards
Kaepernick: 2,849 passing yards, 54.3 completion percentage, 1,130 rushing yards
Much like Kaepernick following his sophomore campaign, Miller is a few years away from being NFL ready. However, he possesses the natural athleticism and rare arm talent to develop into an elite prospect.
With a strong junior campaign, Miller could skyrocket up draft boards much like Kaepernick did leading up to the 2011 NFL draft.
Dri Archer, RB/WR, Kent State
As NFL offensive coordinators continue to get more creative every year, size is no longer a requirement to be considered a top prospect.
The St. Louis Rams' selection of Tavon Austin, who was measured at 5'7", 174 pounds at the combine, has opened the door for prospects such as Dri Archer to dream of sneaking into the first round.
Archer, who is listed at 5'7", 175 pounds, dominated the Mid-American Conference in 2012, accounting for more than 2,500 all-purpose yards.
While he'll need to prove he can continue to carry the load in 2013, a repeat performance will guarantee Archer a spot within the first two rounds and could land him in Tavon Austin territory in the 2014 NFL draft.
Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina
Despite having just one year of starting experience, Eric Ebron has already emerged as one of the top big-play weapons at tight end.
With another year to work with quarterback Bryn Renner, Ebron should continue to develop and may establish himself as one of the top draft-eligible tight end prospects.
During his two years at North Carolina, Ebron has averaged more than 16 yards per reception and has shown consistent development, hauling in 21 of his 50 career receptions over the final five games of the 2013 season.
With character concerns looming over the consensus top tight end prospects, Oregon's Colt Lyerla and Washington's Austin Seferian-Jenkins, the door is open for Ebron to rise up draft boards with a breakout junior year.
Cedric Reed, DE, Texas
Cedric Reed primarily played a reserve role for the Longhorns during his sophomore campaign but managed to rank second on the team with 13 quarterback pressures.
Due to the departure of Alex Okafor to the NFL, Reed will be given his first opportunity to step into a full-time starting role and appears to be up for the challenge. During the final five games of the 2012 season, he recorded 4.5 tackles for loss and showed flashes of his potential to develop into an explosive pass-rusher.
Reed will need to prove he can remain productive as the focal point of the pass rush, but his early success gives reason to be hopeful for him to develop into one of the better draft-eligible pass-rushers in this year's class.
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