NFL Draft 2013: Intelligent Players Who Will Develop into Franchise Cornerstones

Patrick ClarkeCorrespondent IFebruary 23, 2013

Oct 13, 2012;  Tallahassee, Florida, USA; Florida State Seminoles defensive end Bjoern Werner (95) during the second half of the game against the Boston College Eagles at Doak Campbell Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Melina Vastola-USA TODAY Sports
Melina Vastola-USA TODAY Sports

Like Texas A&M's Damontre Moore and Oklahoma's Lane Johnson, some college football players are freak athletes by nature.

But while others aren't so much, they play such an intelligent, sound game that they are often every bit as effective, proving to be football players first and athletes second. That doesn't mean these players are any less physically gifted, but they are standouts in terms of football acumen.

Here, we'll take a closer look at a trio of bright first-round prospects with franchise cornerstone potential.


Jonathan Cooper, North Carolina, G

Jonathan Cooper has gained loads of experience at guard for North Carolina over the years, and he will put what he's learned there to the test in the NFL.

Cooper is an exceptional mover at 6'3", 320 pounds, but it's his awareness that sets him apart. He utilizes his power to perfection and rarely misses a block. He's a quarterback's best friend and a running back's biggest asset. 

Behind Alabama's Chance Warmack, Cooper has to be considered the best guard available in 2013.

Whichever teams takes Cooper this April will better be off for it. He's already a sound player who will only improve with time. His football IQ is impressive, and that's what will set him apart from the rest of the big bodies at the next level.


Bjoern Werner, Florida State, DE

Florida State's Bjoern Werner has great awareness. And despite all the attention being paid to fellow defensive ends Damontre Moore and Barkevious Mingo, he's one of the best pass-rushers available in 2013.

Wherever Werner ends up, he's sure to have an immediate impact as a disruptive force on the defensive line. At 6'4", 255 pounds, he can power through opposing lineman, get around them and even bat down passes consistently when he doesn't get to the quarterback. 

Werner led the Seminoles with 13 sacks this past season after recording seven in 2011. In addition to forcing a fumble this past year, he also recorded five quarterback hurries and broke up eight passes. 

Keep an eye out for Werner this spring to see where he winds up. His smart and dominant play has put him on the radar, and soon, it will make him a star in the NFL.


Kenny Vaccaro, Texas, S

Texas safety Kenny Vaccaro is one of the few college prospects at his position that stands out in 2013. Not only did Vaccaro lead the Longhorns with 96 tackles this past season, but he recorded two interceptions as well.

What makes him such an intelligent player, though, is his ability to read quarterbacks' eyes and to make early jumps on the ball. He has great instincts and can recognize and diagnose a play in a hurry.

Vaccaro's stellar cover skills certainly set him apart from other safeties headed to the NFL this spring.  But in the end, it will be his football smarts that determine how much success he has at the next stop. If his college production is any indication, then Vaccaro will certainly become a difference-maker and a potential franchise cornerstone for one lucky NFL team.


Follow Bleacher Report Featured Columnist Patrick Clarke on Twitter.

Follow _Pat_Clarke on Twitter