- Steve Muench, Scouts Inc.
My colleague Todd McShay posted his first 2013 mock draft this week, and while there is still much to be determined in terms of draft order, team needs and which non-seniors will declare, many of the players in that projection will ultimately be first-round picks based on value.
Still, not making the initial first-round mock -- or the first round on draft day -- doesn't mean a prospect isn't capable of making an impact at the next level.
Below are three players who project as Day 2 picks at this point but have the potential to become early contributors in the NFL based on their skill sets, as well as a later-round sleeper with the potential to become a valuable reserve.
Georgia S Shawn Williams (Grade: 83)
Williams picked off four passes last season and has shown the ability to make routine plays in coverage, but he has no interceptions this year and doesn't show the ball skills teams look for in first-round safeties.
Plus, he doesn't have the same fluidity or quick-twitch movements in coverage as Texas S Kenny Vaccaro (Grade: 92), and Williams will have a tougher time matching up with slot receivers at the next level.
A team looking for immediate help in the back end would do well to land Williams in the second round, though. At 6-foot and 219 pounds, he's an effective run-stopper who can hold up in the box and make plays filling from the high point. He's a big hitter with above-average range in coverage and moves well enough to match up with tight ends.
In addition, he's a smart player who rarely gets caught out of position and appears capable of quickly adjusting to a new scheme. NFL comparison: Seattle SS Kam Chancellor
North Carolina OT Brennan Williams (Grade: 80)
Williams tore the labrum in his left shoulder and underwent surgery in late October, so durability is an obvious red flag here. And while he's been out, fellow tackles like Central Michigan's Eric Fisher and Texas A&M's Jake Matthews have been climbing our board.
And it's not like Williams projected as a first-round pick before the injury. His footwork in pass protection has been inconsistent, he could do a better job keeping his pads down as a run blocker, and his level of play doesn't always reflect his natural ability.
The good news, though, is that Williams' flaws are correctable for the most part. He has the tools to push for early playing time at right tackle if he can stay healthy. The 6-foot-6, 320 pounder is quick enough to get into position and strong enough to move defenders off the ball, and he also has the lateral mobility to succeed in a zone-blocking scheme like the one the Houston Texans run.
In terms of pass protection, Williams shows good balance when forced to redirect and he's strong at the top of his set. NFL comparison: Indianapolis OT Winston Justice
UCLA CB Sheldon Price (Grade: 74)
Price (6-1, 185) is a taller corner who sometimes takes too long to transition out of breaks, and despite his size he isn't a great run-stopper. He needs to be more aggressive and wrap better as a tackler, and his instincts and discipline are issues as well.
For example, he got caught peeking into the backfield and was beaten over the top for a 26-yard touchdown against Stanford in the Pac-12 championship game.
Price makes this list because he has the length, top-end speed and hip fluidity to develop into an effective press corner. He doesn't have great ball skills but does show the potential to develop into a playmaker if he starts to read plays better and his positioning improves. NFL comparison: Pittsburgh DC Keenan Lewis
Day 3 Sleeper: Bowing Green DT Chris Jones (Grade: 30)
The MAC Defensive Player of the Year isn't as versatile as his body of work would suggest. Jones (6-1⅜, 293) lines up at end, nose tackle and defensive tackle in the Falcons' scheme, but is on the shorter side for a defensive end prospect and isn't big or strong enough at the point to play nose tackle in the NFL. There are also the obvious concerns about the level of competition he's faced.
Still, Jones is an intriguing late-round possibility for a 4-3 team looking for depth at defensive tackle. His quick first step, violent hands and motor make him disruptive, and he's relentless against both the run and the pass.
He sometimes gets overzealous and hits the quarterback late, like he did in the Buffalo game, but he doesn't back down and gets under the skin of his opponents. Jones appears to be the kind of prospect people love to play with and hate playing against. NFL comparison: Tennessee DT Karl Klug
Steve Muench looks at a trio of Day 2 prospects who make an early impact in the NFL, including Georgia S Shawn Williams.