2013 NFL Draft Projections: Predicting Biggest Steals in First Round

Adam WellsFeatured ColumnistJanuary 18, 2013

Dec 20, 2012; San Diego, CA, USA; Brigham Young Cougars linebacker Ezekiel Ansah (47) hoists the Poinsettia Bowl Trophy after the Cougars beat the San Diego State Aztecs 23-6 at Qualcomm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports
Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

The idea of a first-round pick in the NFL draft being a steal is a very difficult idea to sell. After all, these prospects get put under such an intense microscope, we feel like we know them better than they know themselves. 

However, it is possible for talent to slide lower than it should. Aaron Rodgers was talked about as the No. 1 pick in the 2005 draft, but when San Francisco went with Alex Smith, he slid all the way to the Packers at No. 24. I think they are happy with how that panned out. 

As the process of evaluation begins in earnest, here are the players who will slide, for whatever reason, and become the envy of the teams who passed on them. 


Guard Chance Warmack

I do have to say that I believe Warmack will end up being a top-10 pick when April rolls around. You don't build a résumé as impressive as his, or own the physical tools he does, and not get put up very high on a draft board. 

However, in a class that is stacked with dominant defensive linemen, Warmack could be pushed down slightly because he doesn't play a sexy position.

We like to think that teams will draft the best player available if he fits a need, but a lot of general managers see the allure of a strong pass-rusher off the edge as too appealing to pass up, even if the offensive line is a bigger need. 

Warmack was the best and most dominant offensive lineman for the best team in college football over the last four years. He is ready to step in and be a star right away. Elite guards are hard to come by, so when you have the chance to take one early, you need to take it. 

Predicted pick: Cleveland Browns No. 6


Linebacker Ezekiel Ansah

Ansah is the kind of player that makes the NFL draft so much fun. His performance at BYU was nothing to get excited about. At his best, he had just 4.5 sacks and 60 tackles. Decent numbers for a linebacker, but you won't stop and take notice. 

However, when you watch what Ansah can do on film and see the freakish athletic ability he has, you can't help but dream about what he can turn into. Tools are the lifeblood of the NFL draft, and Ansah has as many great ones as any player in this class. 

The dilemma that teams face is trying to get him to play up to that potential. A 6'6", 270-pound linebacker with speed to cover wide receivers and power to run over offensive linemen is not something you see everyday. 

Having him play part-time right out of the gate while learning from a strong defensive coordinator is probably going to be his best course of action. Then again, maybe the tools show up right away and he turns into an instant sensation. 

Predicted pick: New Orleans Saints No. 15


Defensive end Sam Montgomery

Here is the case of a player who doesn't have a ceiling like Ansah but just produces whenever he is on the field. I don't think Montgomery is going to turn into a superstar; very few players have that kind of upside. 

Yet I also could see a scenario where Montgomery makes a Pro Bowl or two in his career. His LSU teammate Barkevious Mingo is going to get a lot of attention because of his raw skills, but Montgomery has always been more active when the two played. 

Montgomery finished the season with eight sacks, compared to just 4.5 for Mingo. He is bigger and more physical off the line, though he doesn't possess Mingo's speed off the edge. As a late first-round pick, he could add a strong presence to an established defense. 

Predicted pick: Atlanta Falcons (Draft position not yet known)