Nobody saw Bruce Irvin as a first round pick at this time last year. The year before that, Christian Ponder flew up draft boards into the first round in April. And who could forget Tyson Alualu back in 2010?
No matter how many mock drafts you read, you are bound to be surprised on draft weekend. But maybe we can identify some of the potential shockers to make draft weekend a bit more predictable.
Here are a handful of names that may be drafted sooner than you think.
Blidi Wreh-Wilson, CB, Connecticut
The Connecticut defense was more talented than the record showed. One of the most impressive players for the Huskies was cornerback Blidi Wreh-Wilson. He grades out as one of the five best cornerbacks in this draft class, and a potential run at the position could start in the late first round. Teams like the Broncos, Patriots, Falcons and 49ers could all be in the market for a cornerback, so don't be shocked if Wreh-Wilson's name gets called late on day one.
Jonathan Franklin, RB, UCLA
This running back class is a jumbled mess at the top. Rankings will vary quite a bit, and the position is deep this season. Most think this could be the first draft in history that doesn't see a running back come off the board in the first round. That's a possibility, but with UCLA's Jonathan Franklin generating some buzz lately, he may have a shot at getting drafted in the first round. He's arguably the most complete back in this class, with the only knock on him being his size. Franklin has a real shot to jump Eddie Lacy on draft week.
D.J. Swearinger, Safety, South Carolina
Like the cornerback class, safety is a fairly deep position this year with plenty of options in the second round. Swearinger is one of those options, but he may come off the board sooner than that. With his aggressive style and unmatched ball skills, Swearinger has the upside required to land in the first round. Outside of Kenny Vaccaro and John Cyprien, there may not be a better safety prospect in this draft. WIth a handful of safety-needy teams in the back half of the first round, Swearinger could hear his name called early than most expect.
Watch out for a wide receiver or two to sneak into the top 40 picks on draft weekend. Stedman Bailey, Robert Woods and Da'Rick Rogers are three names in particular to watch out for. While the three aren't necessarily being talked about as first round picks, each could entice a team late in the first round, much like A.J. Jenkins did a year ago. If not, like Brian Quick in 2012, one or more of the wide receivers mentioned could come off the board early on the draft's second night.
E.J. Manuel, QB, FSU and Matt Scott, QB, Arizona
Call it a hunch, but I think E.J. Manuel and Matt Scott will both be over-drafted due to their athleticism. The read option is sweeping the league, and Manuel and Scott appear to be the two quarterbacks most capable of running it in this draft. Both could wind up getting drafted early in round two by a team hoping to capture lightning in a bottle and get the next best athletic signal caller.