The five most unpredictable first-round prospects of the NFL Draft

4/23/13 in NFL   |   Matthew_Shovlin   |   735 respect

While plenty of people (myself included) love to predict what will happen in the NFL Draft, the reality is that much of it is completely unpredictable. It's nearly impossible to get an idea of what is going on in the private discussions of team executives, and the information that general managers reveal is always a tossup between the truth and a smokescreen. Certain teams end up drooling over certain players, but a lot of the time, they either keep their desired player to themselves, or they lie about which player it is that they want.

However, there are some players in the draft that are even more unpredictable than others. Whether it be due to character concerns, injury history, or poor workouts, some players end up being slotted all over the place in mock drafts. Here is a list of the five likely first-round prospects whose landing spots are among the most unpredictable in the draft:

(I did not include quarterbacks, because that entire position as a whole is completely unpredictable in this draft)

Chance Warmack (OG, Alabama) and Jonathan Cooper (OG, UNC): It will be extremely interesting to see where these two end up. Warmack was considered by some analysts to be the best overall prospect in the entire draft. The problem, however, is that NFL franchises simply do not value guards nearly as much as they value other positions. If a team wants to go with a "best player available" strategy, Warmack could come off the board early. If teams prefer to go the route of filling what they deem to be their most important positions, Warmack could begin to slip.

What makes this even more interesting is that a lot of NFL personnel men consider Cooper to be the superior guard prospect. Even if one team decides to reach for one of these top guards, the other player could still be in for a free fall. I could see one of these two players going to the Cardinals at 7th overall, but I wouldn't be all that surprised to see one of them drop into the 20's.
Nov 3, 2012; Athens, GA, USA; Georgia Bulldogs linebacker Alec Ogletree (9) intercepts a pass in the first half against the Mississippi Rebels at Sanford Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports
Alec Ogletree (LB, Georgia): Ogletree's game tape is phenomenal. He covers the entire field easily and excels in pass coverage. He's a solid tackler who can drop the hammer on ball carriers. He is Scouts Inc.'s 13th overall prospect. The issue with Ogletree is that teams seriously question his off-field habits. Ogletree was charged with a DUI shortly before the 2013 NFL Combine. He was suspended in 2012 for violating unspecified team rules. He was also arrested and suspended as a freshman for stealing a motor-scooter helmet. With players like Rolando McClain causing headaches for franchises lately, teams will likely be wary of Ogletree's troublesome past.

Before the DUI, I liked Ogletree going to the Bills at 8th overall. I still think it is a good fit from a talent and need perspective, but I understand that teams don't want to risk a high draft pick on a player with character concerns. I have him going to the Giants at 19th overall in my latest mock draft, but there is a chance that he slips out of the first round.

Manti Te'o (LB, Notre Dame): You knew he was going to be on this list. Everything I said about Ogletree - Te'o is basically the opposite. Te'o was reportedly sensational in team interviews. He's a hard worker and a natural leader, and teams obviously love that about him. However, teams also question his ability to play at the speed of the NFL game. His straight line speed is certainly below average (4.82 forty at both the combine and his Pro Day), but he's quicker than he is fast, and his great instincts help him make up for his lack of speed.

According to ESPN's Chris Mortensen, "at least half the teams" have a first-round grade on Te'o. That being said, I've also heard that one team has dropped Te'o from their draft board altogether. I could see Te'o going as early as 19th overall to the Giants, with the Bears, Vikings, and Broncos as possible landing spots later in the first round. I have Te'o dropping out of the first in my mock draft, but I'm starting to think that the Ravens at 32nd overall is his most likely landing spot.


Sep 17, 2011; Ruston, LA, USA; Houston Cougars defensive back D.J. Hayden (2) during the second half in the game against the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs at Joe Aillet Stadium.  Houston won 35-34. Mandatory Credit: Spruce Derden-USA TODAY SportsDJ Hayden (CB, Houston): If not for a freak injury late in his senior season, Hayden may have ended up as a popular pick for the top cornerback in this draft. Hayden tore his inferior vena cava - a vein in his heart - which threatened his life and was expected to end his football career. After receiving medical clearance and impressing in workouts, his stock is back on the rise. He's being talked about by a lot of people as a late first-round pick, but respected analysts Mike Mayock and Greg Cosell both have Hayden ranked as the best corner in this draft. I've heard an NFL evaluator say Hayden has the most natural cover skills and playmaking ability of any cornerback this year.

I like Hayden going 12th overall to the Dolphins. I also wouldn't be surprised if they passed on him. The Jets, who have the 9th and 13th overall picks, were apparently very impressed with Hayden's workout on Monday. ESPN's Mel Kiper has Hayden going 28th to the Broncos - I don't expect him to fall that far, but who knows? He could be a borderline first-round pick, or if a team ends up really liking him, he could be a heavy sleeper to be the first cornerback taken (I doubt it, but it's possible).

Cornellius "Tank" Carradine (DE/OLB, Florida State): Like Hayden, Carradine suffered a late season-ending injury in 2012 that forced scouts to look elsewhere for first-round prospects. Carradine's injury was of the ACL variety - the type of injury no NFL prospect wants anything to do with. Despite the devastating injury, Carradine was able to work out for scouts just a few days ago, and was very impressive. He got his 6'4'', 276 pound frame moving to the tune of a 4.75 forty-yard dash, forcing all scouts to take notice of this player who once instilled fear in his SEC foes.

Kiper doesn't even have Carradine in the first round, but I've heard that if the Dolphins can't trade out of their current position, they'll give Tank some serious consideration at 12th overall. The Saints (15th), Giants (19th), and Vikings (23rd and 25th) have also been linked to Carradine. He could end up going to any one of those teams, or could end up falling out of the first round completely.


It's always difficult to predict where a player will be selected, but these five are amongst the toughest to prophesy. There are plenty of others who are tough to predict in the first round as well, such as Cordarrelle Patterson (WR, Tennessee), Eddie Lacy (RB, Alabama), Xavier Rhodes (CB, Florida State), Arthur Brown (LB, Kansas State), and as I said before, all of the quarterbacks.
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4/26/13   |   Kenne   |   15876 respect

Looks like you were right about Cooper going to the Cardinals, I just hope he pans out and is worthy of the hype. I still think they should've traded their pick down (maybe to the Rams) and gotten him a few picks later.