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2014 NFL DRAFT FINAL BIG BOARD TOP 100 PROSPECTS (POSITION BY POSITION)

The 2014 NFL Draft is finally here and goes down tomorrow night. The intrigue is at an all-time high as the clock ticks closer to the start of the draft with every pick including the first overall selection seemingly up in the air. All of the workouts are in the books, all of the interviews have been conducted and all of the game tape has been watched. Teams and analysts have their draft boards completed and ready to go for Thursday night. Anything can happen and anything will at the NFL Draft. It all takes place May 8-10 in New York City at Radio City Music Hall with the action beginning at 8 pm ET. Here is my updated 2014 NFL Draft Big Board:

*Position Rank/Name/School/Previous BB Ranking/New Overall Ranking

 

OFFENSE

 

QUARTERBACKS

1.  Blake Bortles, Central Florida/7/new ranking: 9

2.  Teddy Bridgewater, Louisville/6/new ranking: 11

3.  Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M/15/new ranking: 15

4.  Derek Carr, Fresno State/28/new ranking: 25

5.  Jimmy Garoppolo, Eastern Illinois/42/new ranking: 42

6.  A.J. McCarron, Alabama/59/new ranking: 47

7.  Zach Mettenberger, LSU/75/new ranking: 75

8.  Tom Savage, Pittsburgh/unranked/new ranking: 80

9.  Aaron Murray, Georgia

10.  Logan Thomas, Virginia Tech

Dropped Out: Tajh Boyd/Clemson/92/new ranking: unranked

 

RUNNING BACKS

1.  Carlos Hyde, Ohio State/40/new ranking: 39

2.  Tre Mason, Auburn/55/new ranking: 51

3.  Bishop Sankey, Washington/71/new ranking: 54

4.  Jeremy Hill, LSU/64/new ranking: 65

5.  Ka’Deem Carey, Arizona/62/new ranking: 85

6.  Lache Seastrunk, Baylor/95/new ranking: 99

7.  De’Anthony Thomas, Oregon

8.  Andre Williams, Boston College

9.  Charles Sims, West Virginia

10.  Dri Archer, Kent State

                                                     

OFFENSIVE TACKLES

1.  Greg Robinson, Auburn/2/new ranking: 2

2.  Jake Matthews, Texas A&M/4/new ranking: 5

3.  Taylor Lewan, Michigan/6/new ranking: 6

4.  Zach Martin, Notre Dame/19/new ranking: 20

5.  Cyrus Kouandjio, Alabama/36/new ranking: 33

6.  Morgan Moses, Virginia/41/new ranking: 38

7.  Ju’Wuan James, Tennessee/78/new ranking: 57

8.  Antonio Richardson, Tennessee/61/new ranking: 70

9.  Jack Mewhort, Ohio State/74/new ranking: 77

10.  Billy Turner, North Dakota State

 

OFFENSIVE GUARDS/CENTERS

1.  Xavier Su’a-Filo, UCLA/37/new ranking: 37

2.  Gabe Jackson, Mississippi State/53/new ranking: 53

3.  Joel Bitonio, Nevada/80/new ranking: 59

4.  David Yankey, Stanford/54/new ranking: 61

5.  (C) Weston Richburg, Colorado State/77/new ranking: 66

6.  (C) Marcus Martin, USC/50/new ranking: 72

7.  (C) Travis Swanson, Arkansas/97/new ranking: 88

8.  Brandon Thomas, Clemson/76/new ranking: 94

9.  Cyril Richardson, Baylor/79/new ranking: 95

10.  Dakota Dozier, Furman/unranked/new ranking: 96

 

WIDE RECEIVERS

1.  Sammy Watkins, Clemson/3/new ranking: 4

2.  Mike Evans, Texas A&M/8/new ranking: 7

3.  Odell Beckham Jr., LSU/25/new ranking: 21

4.  Marqise Lee, USC/17/new ranking: 22

5.  Brandin Cooks, Oregon State/24/new ranking: 24

6.  Kelvin Benjamin, Florida State/33/new ranking: 35

7.  Davante Adams, Fresno State/45/new ranking: 41

8.  Donte Moncrief, Mississippi/60/new ranking: 48

9.  Allen Robinson, Penn State/52/new ranking: 55

10.  Jordan Matthews, Vanderbilt/48/new ranking: 56

11.  Jarvis Landry, LSU/57/new ranking: 62

12.  Paul Richardson, Colorado/72/new ranking: 74

13.  Cody Latimer, Indiana/unranked/new ranking: 50

14.  Martavis Bryant, Clemson/87/new ranking: 78

15.  Bruce Ellington, South Carolina/100/new ranking: 86

16.  Jared Abbrederis, Wisconsin/99/new ranking: 90

17.  Brandon Coleman, Rutgers/unranked/92

Dropped Out: Robert Herron, Wyoming/98/new ranking: unranked

 

TIGHT ENDS

1.  Eric Ebron, North Carolina/11/new ranking: 10

2.  Jace Amaro, Texas Tech/38/new ranking: 43

3.  Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Washington/39/new ranking: 45

4.  Troy Niklas, Notre Dame/49/new ranking: 69

5.  C.J. Fiedorowicz, Iowa

6.  Crockett Gilmore, Colorado State

7.  Colt Lyerla, Oregon

8.  Marcel Jensen, Fresno State

9.  Jake Murphy, Utah

10.  Xavier Grimble, USC

 

DEFENSE

DEFENSIVE ENDS

1.  Jadeveon Clowney, South Carolina/1/new ranking: 1

2.  Kony Ealy, Missouri/27/new ranking: 28

3.  Dee Ford, Auburn/34/new ranking: 29

4.  Scott Crichton, Oregon State/47/new ranking: 52

5.  Trent Murphy, Stanford/56/new ranking: 71

6.  Demarcus Lawrence, Boise State/58/new ranking: 44

7.  Kareem Martin, North Carolina/ 65/new ranking: 73

8.  Marcus Smith, Louisville/84/new ranking: 89

9.  Chris Smith, Arkansas/94/new ranking: unranked

10.  Jackson Jeffcoat, Texas

 

DEFENSIVE TACKLES

1.  Aaron Donald, Pittsburgh/14/new ranking: 8

2.  Timmy Jernigan, Florida State/20/new ranking: 23

3.  RaShede Hageman, Minnesota/26/new ranking: 26

4.  Louis Nix III, Notre Dame/23/new ranking: 27

5.  Stephon Tuitt, Notre Dame/29/new ranking: 30

6.  Dominique Easley, Florida/31/new ranking: 31

7.  Will Sutton, Arizona State/68/new ranking: 76

8.  Da’Quan Jones, Penn State/66/new ranking: 82

9.  Ego Ferguson, LSU/82/new ranking: 87

10.  Kelcy Quarles, South Carolina/88/new ranking: 93

11.  Justin Ellis, Louisiana Tech/unranked/new ranking: 100

Dropped Out: Anthony Johnson, LSU/86/new ranking: unranked

 

OUTSIDE LINEBACKERS

1.  Khalil Mack, Buffalo/5/new ranking: 3

2.  Anthony Barr, UCLA/9/new ranking: 14

3.  Ryan Shazier, Ohio State/22/new ranking: 19

4.  Kyle Van Noy, BYU/43/new ranking: 40

5.  Jeremiah Attaochu, Georgia Tech/63/new ranking: 60

6.  Telvin Smith, Florida State/89/new ranking: 81

7.  Carl Bradford, Arizona State/ 91/new ranking: 91

8.  Trevor Reilly, Utah/96/ new ranking: 97

9.  Adrian Hubbard, Alabama

10.  Christian Kirksey, Iowa

 

INSIDE LINEBACKERS

1.  C.J. Mosley, Alabama/13/new ranking: 13

2.  Chris Borland, Wisconsin/69/new ranking: 64

3.  Yawin Smallwood, Connecticut/90/new ranking: unranked

4.  Christian Jones, Florida State/93/new ranking: unranked

5.  Shayne Skov, Stanford

6.  Preston Brown, Louisville

7.  Max Bullough, Michigan State

8.  Lamin Barrow, LSU

9.  Andrew Jackson, Western Kentucky

10.  Avery Williamson, Kentucky

 

CORNERBACKS

1.  Justin Gilbert, Oklahoma State/12/new ranking: 12

2.  Darqueze Dennard, Michigan State/16/new ranking: 16

3.  Bradley Roby, Ohio State/30/new ranking: 32

4.  Kyle Fuller, Virginia Tech/35/new ranking: 34

5.  Jason Verrett, TCU/32/new ranking: 36

6.  Lamarcus Joyner, Florida State/46/new ranking: 46

7.  Marcus Roberson, Florida/50/new ranking: 58

8.  Bashaud Breeland, Clemson/70/new ranking: 67

9.  Keith McGill, Utah/85/new ranking: 68

10.  Stanley Jean-Baptiste, Nebraska/81/new ranking: 79

11.  Loucheiz Purifoy, Florida/73/new ranking: 84

12.  Pierre Desir, Lindenwood/unranked/new ranking: 98

 

SAFETIES

1.  HaHa Clinton-Dix, Alabama/18/new ranking: 17

2.  Calvin Pryor, Louisville/21/new ranking: 18

3.  Jimmie Ward, Northern Illinois/44/new ranking: 49

4.  Deone Bucannon, Washington State/67/new ranking: 63

5.  Terrence Brooks, Florida State/ 83/new ranking: 83

6.  Ahmad Dixon, Baylor

7.  Dion Bailey, USC

8.  Ed Reynolds, Stanford

9.  Craig Loston, LSU

10.  Antone Exum, Virginia Tech

 

Written By: Mark Scott

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2014 NFL DRAFT BIG BOARD TOP 100 PROSPECTS (POSITION BY POSITION): POST-COMBINE

The 2014 NFL Scouting Combine is in the books and every team and draft analyst has now had a chance to see the majority of prospects work out for the world to see. A number of the very top rated prospects like Jadeveon Clowney, Greg Robinson and Sammy Watkins performed as expected and put on awesome displays of athleticism, while prospects like Taylor Lewan, Brandin Cooks, Odell Beckham Jr. and Aaron Donald also excelled. In fact, Donald was the clear MVP and biggest riser of the event. Not everyone did well as prospects like Cyrus Kouandjio, Loucheiz Purifoy and Anthony Barr struggled during drills. Some prospects were able to rise up draft boards, while others fell. For those that struggled, Pro Days will be their final chance to audition for teams. All this leads up to the 2014 NFL Draft taking place on May 8-10 in New York City. Here is the updated 2014 NFL Big Board:

 

*Position Rank/Name/School/Previous BB Ranking/New Overall Ranking

OFFENSE

QUARTERBACKS

1.  Teddy Bridgewater, Louisville/4/new ranking: 6

2.  Blake Bortles, Central Florida/8/new ranking: 7

3.  Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M/11/new ranking: 15

4.  Derek Carr, Fresno State/25/new ranking: 28

5.  Jimmy Garoppolo, Eastern Illinois/55/new ranking: 42

6.  A.J. McCarron, Alabama/73/new ranking: 59

7.  Zach Mettenberger, LSU/75/new ranking: 75

8.  Tajh Boyd, Clemson/86/new ranking: 92

9.  Aaron Murray, Georgia/T-100/new ranking: unranked

10.  Logan Thomas, Virginia Tech

RUNNING BACKS

1.  Carlos Hyde, Ohio State/35/new ranking: 40

2.  Tre Mason, Auburn/52/new ranking: 55

3.  Ka’Deem Carey, Arizona/46/new ranking: 62

4.  Jeremy Hill, LSU/56/new ranking: 64

5.  Bishop Sankey, Washington/69/new ranking: 71

6.  Lache Seastrunk, Baylor/83/new ranking: 95

7.  De’Anthony Thomas, Oregon/97/new ranking: unranked

8.  Andre Williams, Boston College

9.  Charles Sims, West Virginia

10.  Dri Archer, Kent State                                                  

OFFENSIVE TACKLES

1.  Greg Robinson, Auburn/2/new ranking: 2

2.  Jake Matthews, Texas A&M/3/new ranking: 4

3.  Taylor Lewan, Michigan/10/new ranking: 6

4.  Zach Martin, Notre Dame/24/new ranking: 19

5.  Cyrus Kouandjio, Alabama/18/new ranking: 36

6.  Morgan Moses, Virginia/48/new ranking: 41

7.  Antonio Richardson, Tennessee/50/new ranking: 61

8.  Jack Mewhort, Ohio State/72/new ranking: 74

9.  Ju’Wuan James, Tennessee/93/new ranking: 78

10.  Joel Bitonio, Nevada/unranked/new ranking: 80

Dropped out: James Hurst/UNC/94/new ranking: unranked

OFFENSIVE GUARDS/CENTERS

1.  Xavier Su’a-Filo, UCLA/45/new ranking: 37

2.  (C) Marcus Martin, USC/unranked/new ranking: 50

3.  Gabe Jackson, Mississippi State/59/new ranking: 53

4.  David Yankey, Stanford/49/new ranking: 54

5.  Brandon Thomas, Clemson/unranked/new ranking: 76

6.  (C) Weston Richburg, Colorado State/unranked/new ranking: 77

7.  Cyril Richardson, Baylor/54/new ranking: 79

8.  (C) Travis Swanson, Arkansas/79/new ranking: 97

9.  Anthony Steen, Alabama

10.  (C) Russell Bodine, North Carolina

WIDE RECEIVERS

1.  Sammy Watkins, Clemson/5/new ranking: 3

2.  Mike Evans, Texas A&M/13/new ranking: 8

3.  Marqise Lee, USC/14/new ranking: 17

4.  Brandin Cooks, Oregon State/43/new ranking: 24

5.  Odell Beckham Jr., LSU/34/new ranking: 25

6.  Kelvin Benjamin, Florida State/31/new ranking: 33

7.  Davante Adams, Fresno State/53/new ranking: 45

8.  Jordan Matthews, Vanderbilt/41/new ranking: 48

9.  Allen Robinson, Penn State/39/new ranking: 52

10.  Jarvis Landry, LSU/57/new ranking: 57

11.  Donte Moncrief, Mississippi/unranked/new ranking: 60

12.  Paul Richardson, Colorado/63/new ranking: 72

13.  Martavis Bryant, Clemson/unranked/new ranking: 87

14.  Robert Herron, Wyoming/unranked/new ranking: 98

15.  Jared Abbrederis, Wisconsin/84/new ranking: 99

16.  Bruce Ellington, South Carolina/unranked/new ranking: 100

Dropped Out: Brandon Coleman, Rutgers/95/new ranking: unranked

TIGHT ENDS

1.  Eric Ebron, North Carolina/12/new ranking: 11

2.  Jace Amaro, Texas Tech/26/new ranking: 38

3.  Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Washington/33/new ranking: 39

4.  Troy Niklas, Notre Dame/62/new ranking: 49

5.  C.J. Fiedorowicz/T-100/new ranking: unranked

6.  Crockett Gilmore, Colorado State

7.  Colt Lyerla, Oregon

8.  Marcel Jensen, Fresno State

9.  Jake Murphy, Utah

10.  Xavier Grimble, USC

 

DEFENSE

DEFENSIVE ENDS

1.  Jadeveon Clowney, South Carolina/1/new ranking: 1

2.  Kony Ealy, Missouri/21/new ranking: 27

3.  Dee Ford, Auburn/47/new ranking: 34

4.  Scott Crichton, Oregon State/42/new ranking: 47

5.  Trent Murphy, Stanford/44/new ranking: 56

6.  Demarcus Lawrence, Boise State/74/new ranking: 58

7.  Kareem Martin, North Carolina/unranked/new ranking: 65

8.  Marcus Smith, Louisville/80/new ranking: 84

9.  Chris Smith, Arkansas/82/new ranking: 94

10.  Jackson Jeffcoat, Texas/70/new ranking: unranked

Dropped Out: Michael Sam, Missouri/85/new ranking: unranked

DEFENSIVE TACKLES

1.  Aaron Donald, Pittsburgh/30/new ranking: 14

2.  Timmy Jernigan, Florida State/15/new ranking: 20

3.  Louis Nix III, Notre Dame/20/new ranking: 23

4.  RaShede Hageman, Minnesota/23/new ranking: 26

5.  Stephon Tuitt, Notre Dame/22/new ranking: 29

6.  Dominique Easley, Florida/29/new ranking: 31

7.  Da’Quan Jones, Penn State/71/new ranking: 66

8.  Will Sutton, Arizona State/58/new ranking: 68

9.  Ego Ferguson, LSU/68/new ranking: 82

10.  Anthony Johnson, LSU/64/new ranking: 86

11.  Kelcy Quarles, South Carolina/66/new ranking: 88

OUTSIDE LINEBACKERS

1.  Khalil Mack, Buffalo/7/new ranking: 5

2.  Anthony Barr, UCLA/6/new ranking: 9

3.  Ryan Shazier, Ohio State/28/new ranking: 22

4.  Kyle Van Noy, BYU/37/new ranking: 43

5.  Jeremiah Attaochu, Georgia Tech/76/new ranking: 63

6.  Telvin Smith, Florida State/65/new ranking: 89

7.  Carl Bradford, Arizona State/unranked/new ranking: 91

8.  Trevor Reilly, Utah/67/new ranking: 96

9.  Adrian Hubbard, Alabama/98//new ranking: unranked

10.  Christian Kirksey, Iowa

INSIDE LINEBACKERS

1.  C.J. Mosley, Alabama/9/new ranking: 13

2.  Chris Borland, Wisconsin/90/new ranking: 69

3.  Yawin Smallwood, Connecticut/87/new ranking: 90

4.  Christian Jones, Florida State/77/new ranking: 93

5.  Shayne Skov, Stanford/78/new ranking: unranked

6.  Preston Brown, Louisville

7.  Max Bullough, Michigan State

8.  Lamin Barrow, LSU

9.  Andrew Jackson, Western Kentucky

10.  Avery Williamson, Kentucky

CORNERBACKS

1.  Justin Gilbert, Oklahoma State/19/new ranking: 12

2.  Darqueze Dennard, Michigan State/16/new ranking: 16

3.  Bradley Roby, Ohio State/36/new ranking: 30

4.  Jason Verrett, TCU/32/new ranking: 32

5.  Kyle Fuller, Virginia Tech/60/new ranking: 35

6.  Lamarcus Joyner, Florida State/51/new ranking: 46

7.  Marcus Roberson, Florida/38/new ranking: 50

8.  Bashaud Breeland, Clemson/96/new ranking: 70

9.  Loucheiz Purifoy, Florida/40/new ranking: 73

10.  Stanley Jean-Baptiste, Nebraska/unranked/new ranking: 81

11.  Keith McGill, Utah/92/new ranking: 85

Dropped Out: Aaron Colvin, Oklahoma/61/new ranking: unranked, Terrance Mitchell, Oregon/81/new ranking: unranked, Pierre Desir, Lindenwood/99/new ranking: unranked

SAFETIES

1.  HaHa Clinton-Dix, Alabama/17/new ranking: 18

2.  Calvin Pryor, Louisville/27/new ranking: 21

3.  Jimmie Ward, Northern Illinois/91/new ranking: 44

4.  Deone Bucannon, Washington State/88/new ranking: 67

5.  Terrence Brooks, Florida State/unranked/new ranking: 83

6.  Ahmad Dixon, Baylor/89/new ranking: unranked

7.  Dion Bailey, USC

8.  Ed Reynolds, Stanford

9.  Craig Loston, LSU

10.  Antone Exum, Virginia Tech

 

Written By: Mark Scott

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2014 NFL SCOUTING COMBINE PRIMER

The 2014 NFL Scouting Combine is here and it will be the biggest one ever with over 330+ prospects at the event to compete in front of all 32 NFL teams. All the biggest names will be in attendance, Jadeveon Clowney, Johnny Manziel and Sammy Watkins will be in the house. The pressure will be on all of these prospects as the eyes of every coach, scout and front office guy in the NFL will be on them. A lot of money can be made or lost at the Combine as these prospects go head to head with one another.  As always there will be no shortage of storylines going on in Indy. Here are ten to watch.

1.  The Battle for the first overall pick

In most years there is usually a heavy favorite or two to be selected with the first overall pick, but the 2014 NFL Draft’s first selection owned by the Houston Texans is currently wide open as the NFL Scouting Combine is set to begin. Defensive End Jadeveon Clowney is the top prospect on almost every draft board and has been for the majority of the last two years and is considered by most to be an once in a decade type talent. Why isn’t he a clear favorite to go first overall then, well the Texans have a new head coach in place and a gaping hole at the quarterback position in a draft year that features a trio of signal-callers (Teddy Bridgewater, Blake Bortles, Johnny Manziel) ranked among the top 15 prospects with all three being predicted to come off the board within the first five picks in most experts’ mock drafts heading into the Combine. Those four aren’t the only prospects in the discussion as a pair of potential franchise left tackles Greg Robinson and Jake Matthews are ranked right behind Clowney and ahead of all three quarterbacks on a number of draft boards. Robinson has been the fastest rising prospect since declaring for the NFL Draft after dominating the SEC as just a redshirt sophomore and helping lead Auburn to a National Championship. He’s an athletic freak with a ridiculously high ceiling and is expected to light it up at the Combine. Matthews meanwhile could have been a high draft selection last year, but chose to return to school for another year and in turn sat at the top of draft boards along with Clowney all season long. He’s not the athlete that Robinson is, but he is much further along in his development and possesses elite technique in pass protection and run-blocking. The performances on the field and in the interview rooms at the Combine will go a long way in determining which one of these prospects or another yet to emerge will be selected with the first overall pick of the 2014 NFL Draft.

2.  Who will be the first quarterback chosen?

While the battle to be the first overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft is very intriguing, so is the one between the top three quarterback prospects (Bridgewater, Bortles and Manziel) to see which one will be the first to come off the board. They all rank among the top 15 prospects by most experts in one order or another with Bridgewater holding the slight edge over Bortles then Manziel in most cases. All three are also expected to be selected within the first ten picks, possibly even the top five with so many QB-needy teams drafting early and all are heavily in the discussion to be taken with the first overall pick. Bortles could gain an edge at the Combine over Bridgewater and Manziel as he is the only one of the three that is willing to step up and participate in the throwing drills, while the other two will wait until their pro days to throw in what will be scripted workouts.

3.  Tight Position Battles between Top Prospects

Every year there are close battles between prospects at every position to see which one will come off the board before all the others. This year is no different, except that a number of the battles will feature the very top prospects fighting it out to see which one will be the top player selected at his position. As mentioned above Bridgewater, Bortles and Manziel are neck to neck at the quarterback position, while Sammy Watkins holds an edge over Mike Evans and Marqise Lee at wide receiver and offensive tackles Greg Robinson and Jake Matthews are as closely ranked as any two prospects at the same position with Taylor Lewan and Cyrus Kouandjio lurking closely behind them. Eric Ebron has a lead over Jace Amaro at tight end while the running back and guard battles are wide open among the top five or six prospects at each position. On defense, Jadeveon Clowney is in his own world at defensive end, but so is C.J. Mosley at the inside linebacker position, perhaps even more so as the next ILB might not be selected until two round after him. There are however, three close head to head battles among prospects at outside linebacker, cornerback and safety to see who will be the first to be selected at his position. Outside linebackers Anthony Barr and Khalil Mack appear even heading into the Combine, while cornerbacks Darqueze Dennard and Justin Gilbert are nearly as close. At safety, HaHa Clinton-Dix is currently holding an edge on the surging Calvin Pryor. Meanwhile, defensive tackle is arguably the most wide open of any position with every expert’s rankings appearing in a different order. Performances at the Combine could go a long way in determining who wins each of these position battles.

4.  What are the coaches saying?

Coaches always seem to be in a good mood at the Combine and because of it they seem to be more open to answering questions making the media session full of interesting tidbits about each team. The coaches often reveal what direction they may be looking with their first round draft pick, what prospects they’re interested in seeing, which free agents their team may want to resign or let test free agency and much more. The Combine is often times the most open and revealing that the coaches are all year.

5.  Meeting the Media

Prospects aren’t only put to the test by NFL teams on the field and in the interview room, but they all must go through the gauntlet that is the media session. Often times dealing with the media can be one of the toughest things an athlete has to deal with especially with the advances of social media. Most of these prospects have never had to really deal with the media before, let alone the hordes of journalists and reporters that will be drilling them with all kinds of questions from every direction at the Combine. These sessions with the media can often reveal a prospect’s real personality and character. Prospects that will have it tougher than others include Johnny Manziel, Michael Sam and Jadeveon Clowney.

6.  Who will impress at the Weigh-Ins?

Before any of the prospects put on a show on the field, they get weighed-in and measured for all to see. Each year whether it’s a mammoth 330lb. nose tackle or a 6’5”, 270lb. athletic freak, there are always a handful of prospects that stand out from the pack and blow coaches and scouts away just by the way they look. That’s not to say that the measurements aren’t that important because they are. The measurements of every prospect can’t be trusted until they get officially measured at the Combine. The majority of them actually tend to slightly shrink from what is listed on their school or team profiles. There are certain measurements that are more critical and important than others depending on the position. For Quarterbacks; height and hand size stand out, arm length for offensive tackles and cornerbacks, and height/weight for defensive ends and outside linebackers seem to be some of the more important measurements to be taken. The height and length of the cornerbacks appear to be what most scouts are intrigued with this year.

7.  Who will be the Workout Warriors?

Some of this year’s favorites to light it up at the Combine include highly ranked prospects like Clowney, Greg Robinson, Khalil Mack, Anthony Barr and Eric Ebron. Others to keep an eye on include Loucheiz Purifoy, Bradley Roby, Dee Ford and Seantreal Henderson. Outside of those names there is guaranteed to be someone nobody is talking about that puts on a show that gets everyone talking. As always it will be interesting to see which prospect’s performance sends him skyrocketing up draft boards.

8.  The 2014 Wide Receiver Class

This year’s crop of wide receivers is absolutely ridiculous in terms of the talent that is available. All season long analysts talked about how amazing the 2014 quarterback draft class was potentially going to be, but due to a few different circumstances it didn’t quite turn out like that or even come close while quietly the number of highly talented wide receivers entering the draft started to pile up. Sammy Watkins, Mike Evans and Marqise Lee headline this class as top 15 ranked prospects, but they could also be just three of a possible eight or nine that are selected in the first round. Mel Kiper’s latest mock draft had an astounding nine receivers coming off the board in round one. If these prospects can perform up to expectations at the Combine, this class has the makings of something potentially historic.

9.  Small School Flavour

Each year prospects from “small schools” with very little fan fare emerge at the Combine and move up draft boards when given the chance to put their skills and athletic abilities to the test right next to some of the more talked about and well-known players from the bigger programs. Of the 330+ prospects in Indy, 37 come from a non-FBS level program. The fast-rising Jimmy Garoppolo (Eastern Illinois) headlines the list of “small school” prospects to watch after lighting it up at both the East-West Shrine game and the Senior Bowl. Behind him are a trio of ultra-productive running backs in Dri Archer (Kent State), Terrance West (Towson) and former Georgia Bulldog Isaiah Crowell (Alabama State). Garoppolo isn’t the only quarterback to keep an eye on as Jeff Matthews (Cornell) and Dustin Vaughn (West Texas A&M) are intriguing prospects as well. Some others to watch out for include WR Jeff Janis (Saginaw Valley), OL Billy Turner (North Dakota State), OL Dakota Dozier (Furman) and LB Tyler Starr (South Dakota). The prospect I recommend most however is CB Pierre Desir (Lindenwood) as he will attract a number of teams due to his size and length. The rise of Richard Sherman and other big corners over the last year or two should draw some eyes Desir’s way as he stands a reported 6’1” with 33 inch long arms. He isn’t just another big corner either as he happens to possess some very good game tape.

10.  The Medicals

Perhaps more so than any drill or interview, a prospect’s medical report at the Combine can make or break his draft stock. Whether it is a prospect trying to show he is fully or nearly recovered from an injury suffered over the last year or an unreported injury or health issue is discovered. The medical testing is arguably the most rigorous and nerve-racking test that every prospect has to go through at this event. A bad result can send a prospect’s stock spiraling down draft boards. This year a few prospects to keep an eye on in regards to the medicals are DT Dominique Easley/Florida, NT Louis Nix III/Notre Dame, QB Zach Mettenberger/LSU, QB Aaron Murray/Georgia, CB Kyle Fuller/Virginia Tech, RB Dri Archer/Kent State and CB Antone Exum/Virginia Tech.

Written By: Mark Scott

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2014 NFL DRAFT BIG BOARD TOP 100 PROSPECTS (POSITION BY POSITION): PRE-COMBINE

The 2014 NFL Draft is exceptionally deep this year with just as many talented prospects on both sides of the ball. On offense, wide receiver and offensive tackle are particularly stocked with talent, while on defense; cornerback and defensive tackle are the deepest positions. The top of the Big Board is headlined by Jadeveon Clowney, Greg Robinson, Jake Matthews, Teddy Bridgewater and Sammy Watkins. There has been plenty of movement all season long with prospects rising and falling and there should be even more as the NFL Scouting Combine is upon us with Pro Days and individual private workouts with teams to follow. All this leads up to the 2014 NFL Draft taking place on May 8-10 in New York City. Here is the 2014 NFL Big Board:

*Position Rank/Name/School/Overall Rank

OFFENSE

QUARTERBACKS

1.  Teddy Bridgewater, Louisville/4

2.  Blake Bortles, Central Florida/8

3.  Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M/11

4.  Derek Carr, Fresno State/25

5.  Jimmy Garoppolo, Eastern Illinois/55

6.  A.J. McCarron, Alabama/73

7.  Zach Mettenberger, LSU/75

8.  Tajh Boyd, Clemson/86

9.  Aaron Murray, Georgia/T-100

10.  Logan Thomas, Virginia Tech

 

RUNNING BACKS

1.  Carlos Hyde, Ohio State/35

2.  Ka’Deem Carey, Arizona/46

3.  Tre Mason, Auburn/52

4.  Jeremy Hill, LSU/56

5.  Bishop Sankey, Washington/69

6.  Lache Seastrunk, Baylor/83

7.  De’Anthony Thomas, Oregon/97

8.  Andre Williams, Boston College

9.  Charles Sims, West Virginia

10.  Dri Archer, Kent State

                                                     

OFFENSIVE TACKLES

1.  Greg Robinson, Auburn/2

2.  Jake Matthews, Texas A&M/3

3.  Taylor Lewan, Michigan/10

4.  Cyrus Kouandjio, Alabama/18

5.  Zach Martin, Notre Dame/24

6.  Morgan Moses, Virginia/48

7.  Antonio Richardson, Tennessee/50

8.  Jack Mewhort, Ohio State/72

9.  Ju’Wuan James, Tennessee/93

10.  James Hurst, North Carolina/94

 

OFFENSIVE GUARDS/CENTERS

1.  Xavier Su’a-Filo, UCLA/45

2.  David Yankey, Stanford/49

3.  Cyril Richardson, Baylor/54

4.  Gabe Jackson, Mississippi State/59

5.  (C) Travis Swanson, Arkansas/79

6.  (C) Marcus Martin, USC

7.  Anthony Steen, Alabama

8.  (C) Weston Richburg, Colorado State

9.  Jon Halapio, Florida

10.  Chris Watt, Notre Dame

 

WIDE RECEIVERS

1.  Sammy Watkins, Clemson/5

2.  Mike Evans, Texas A&M/13

3.  Marqise Lee, USC/14

4.  Kelvin Benjamin, Florida State/31

5.  Odell Beckham Jr., LSU/34

6.  Allen Robinson, Penn State/39

7.  Jordan Matthews, Vanderbilt/41

8.  Brandin Cooks, Oregon State/43

9.  Davante Adams, Fresno State/53

10.  Jarvis Landry, LSU/57

11.  Paul Richardson, Colorado/63

12.  Jared Abbrederis, Wisconsin/84

13. Brandon Coleman, Rutgers/95

 

TIGHT ENDS

1.  Eric Ebron, North Carolina/12

2.  Jace Amaro, Texas Tech/26

3.  Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Washington/33

4.  Troy Niklas, Notre Dame/62

5.  C.J. Fiedorowicz/T-100

6.  Marcel Jensen, Fresno State

7.  Colt Lyerla, Oregon

8.  Jake Murphy, Utah

9.  Xavier Grimble, USC

10.  Crockett Gilmore, Colorado State

 

DEFENSE

DEFENSIVE ENDS

1.  Jadeveon Clowney, South Carolina/1

2.  Kony Ealy, Missouri/21

3.  Scott Crichton, Oregon State/42

4.  Trent Murphy, Stanford/44

5.  Dee Ford, Auburn/47

6.  Jackson Jeffcoat, Texas/70

7.  Demarcus Lawrence, Boise State/74

8.  Marcus Smith, Louisville/80

9.  Chris Smith, Arkansas/82

10.  Michael Sam, Missouri/85

 

DEFENSIVE TACKLES

1.  Timmy Jernigan, Florida State/15

2.  Louis Nix III, Notre Dame/20

3.  Stephon Tuitt, Notre Dame/22

4.  RaShede Hageman, Minnesota/23

5.  Dominique Easley, Florida/29

6.  Aaron Donald, Pittsburgh/30

7.  Will Sutton, Arizona State/58

8.  Anthony Johnson, LSU/64

9.  Kelcy Quarles, South Carolina/66

10.  Ego Ferguson, LSU/68

11.  Da’Quan Jones, Penn State/71

 

OUTSIDE LINEBACKERS

1.  Anthony Barr, UCLA/6

2.  Khalil Mack, Buffalo/7

3.  Ryan Shazier, Ohio State/28

4.  Kyle Van Noy, BYU/37

5.  Telvin Smith, Florida State/65

6.  Trevor Reilly, Utah/67

7.  Jeremiah Attaochu, Georgia Tech/76

8.  Adrian Hubbard, Alabama/98

9.  Carl Bradford, Arizona State

10.  Chris Kirksey, Iowa

 

INSIDE LINEBACKERS

1.  C.J. Mosley, Alabama/9

2.  Christian Jones, Florida State/77

3.  Shayne Skov, Stanford/78

4.  Yawin Smallwood, Connecticut/87

5.  Chris Borland, Wisconsin/90

6.  Preston Brown, Louisville

7.  Max Bullough, Michigan State

8.  Lamin Barrow, LSU

9.  Andrew Jackson, Western Kentucky

10.  Avery Williamson, Kentucky

 

CORNERBACKS

1.  Darqueze Dennard, Michigan State/16

2.  Justin Gilbert, Oklahoma State/19

3.  Jason Verrett, TCU/32

4.  Bradley Roby, Ohio State/36

5.  Marcus Roberson, Florida/38

6.  Loucheiz Purifoy, Florida/40

7.  Lamarcus Joyner, Florida State/51

8.  Kyle Fuller, Virginia Tech/60

9.  Aaron Colvin, Oklahoma/61

10.  Terrance Mitchell, Oregon/81

11.  Keith McGill, Utah/92

12.  Bashaud Breeland, Clemson/96

13.  Pierre Desir, Linderwood/99

 

SAFETIES

1.  HaHa Clinton-Dix, Alabama/17

2.  Calvin Pryor, Louisville/27

3.  Deone Bucannon, Washington State/88

4.  Ahmad Dixon, Baylor/89

5.  Jimmie Ward, Northern Illinois/91

6.  Dion Bailey, USC

7.  Ed Reynolds, Stanford

8.  Terrence Brooks, Florida State

9.  Craig Loston, LSU

10.  Antone Exum, Virginia Tech

 

Written By: Mark Scott

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2013 NFL DRAFT PROSPECT WATCH: BOWL GAMES PART 4 (JAN.1)

Bowl Mania continues on New Year’s Day as six games involving a boatload of draft-eligible prospects will keep scouts, front offices and fans busy all day long. The day starts out slow for prospects, but quickly picks up as the bowls grow more important and involve higher profile prospect-stocked teams. A number of highly ranked players like Bjoern Werner, Taylor Lewan, Jarvis Jones and most of the rest of the Georgia draft class will be in action. Nothing like some college football to cure a hangover.

TAXSLAYER.COM GATOR BOWL, JANUARY 1/2013

Mississippi State Bulldogs (8-4) vs. Northwestern Wildcats (9-3)

New Year’s Day starts out pretty slow for prospects in the Gator Bowl with just one highly rated player. Mississippi State CB Johnthan Banks (Sr) is an experienced corner with very good height and length that possesses the ability to play man coverage and in zone. His ball skills and instincts are among the best at the position and allow him to contribute in a number of areas and make game-changing plays. His lack of elite speed is the biggest question surrounding him right now and could keep him out of the first round, but won’t cause him to fall any further than the second. He was fantastic this season in winning the Jim Thorpe Award as the nation’s best defensive back and enters the 2013 NFL Draft as the top senior cornerback available. After Banks the Bulldogs have a group of mid to late round prospects that includes OG Gabe Jackson (rJr), CB Darius Slay (Sr), DT Josh Boyd (Sr) and OLB Cameron Lawrence (Sr). Jackson is a mammoth offensive lineman that moves incredibly well for a man his size and absolutely mauls defenders in pass protection and especially when run blocking. He has starting potential in the NFL and could be drafted as high as the third round. He still has a year of eligibility remaining and could return to Mississippi State for another season. CB Corey Broomfield (rSr) and WR Chad Bumphis (Sr) are likely undrafted free agents. Northwestern doesn’t have any noteworthy draft-eligible prospects this season.

HEART OF DALLAS BOWL, JANUARY 1/2013

Purdue Boilermakers (6-6) vs. Oklahoma State Cowboys (7-5)

There are even fewer prospects in the other game at noon between the Boilermakers and Cowboys, but at least each team has a noteworthy draft-eligible player in this one. Purdue DT Kawann Short (rSr) is a huge athlete with the ability to dominate a game. While he’s able to handle double-teams and clog up the middle he’s not just the typical space-eating defensive tackle, but is actually a very talented pass-rusher from the interior as evidenced by the 18.5 sacks and 48 tackles for loss he amassed over his collegiate career. He is also able to use his huge wingspan to knock down passes and block kicks on special teams. He would probably be rated as a first round pick, but major questions exist about his lack of effort game in and game out and thought that he plays too passive at times. He probably comes off the board in the second round and could end up being a steal if he can change his bad habits. Oklahoma State RB Joseph Randle (Jr) is a very talented running back with explosive speed and the ability to break off big runs when he gets just a bit of open space. He also has terrific hands out of the backfield as a pass-catcher. While he showed for the second straight season that he can handle a full workload as a feature ball-carrier, he will probably be best suited as a change of pace or third down back in the NFL. Randle has the choice to return to school for his final year of eligibility, but should he declare early he could be selected as high as the third or fourth round. Purdue CB Josh Johnson (Sr) is an underrated corner and has a chance to be a seventh round pick in April.

OUTBACK BOWL, JANUARY 1/2013

Michigan Wolverines (8-4) vs. South Carolina Gamecocks (10-2)

The number of prospects starts to pick up with the Outback Bowl matchup pitting Big Ten against SEC when the Wolverines and Gamecocks take the field. Michigan LT Taylor Lewan (rJr) is the highest rated prospect in this game and the only one that will be drafted in the first round in April. He’s a massive blindside protector with elite athleticism and may just be the most physically imposing prospect in the draft. His technique still needs some work, but he’s extremely competitive and plays with a mean streak. He’s soared up draft boards as the season’s gone on and looks to be the clear no.2 offensive tackle prospect behind Texas A&M’s Luke Joeckel could sneak into the top ten of the draft. While he played basically his entire career at Michigan as a quarterback, WR Denard Robinson (Sr) will enter the draft as a receiver, although some think he could even be moved to cornerback. It is unlikely he’ll take too many snaps at quarterback in this game if at all. Instead he will likely line up as a receiver or running back throughout the game. While the position he’ll eventually play in the NFL is still unknown at this point, what is known about him is that he is an extremely fast and dynamic playmaker with the ball in his hands. He could come off the board in the first half of Day 3. Late round hopefuls for the Wolverines include DE Craig Roh (Sr) and SS Jordan Kovacs (rSr), while ILB Kenny Demens (rSr), CB J.T. Floyd (rSr) and DT William Campbell (Sr) will most likely go undrafted. Hearts are still broken for South Carolina RB Marcus Lattimore (Jr) and what he’s had to go through after suffering his second brutal season-ending knee injury. In 2011 he went down with a torn ACL that he fought and rehabbed tooth and nail to come back from and did so successfully in regaining most of the form that had him rated as the top running back coming into the season. He was just starting to look completely like himself again when he went down with one of the most gruesome-looking injuries seen in sports in a while. Despite the injuries, the fact that he won’t be able to work out for anyone and another year of eligibility remaining, Lattimore has still chosen to declare early for the draft and hope for the best. His plan is to land on an NFL team and rehabilitate his knee with the best possible training staff. Is future at this point is a complete unknown. Aside from Lattimore whose draft stock is up in the air at this point, the Gamecocks feature a group of mid to late round prospects that will be playing in this game including FS D.J. Swearinger (Sr), OLB DeVonte Holloman (Sr), DE Devin Taylor (rSr) and C T.J. Johnson (rSr).

CAPITAL ONE BOWL, JANUARY 1/2013

Georgia Bulldogs (11-2) vs. Nebraska Cornhuskers (10-3)

Perhaps more so than any other team this season the Georgia Bulldogs are a legit showcase of NFL talent with up to twelve possible 2013 draft picks, six of which that could be taken among the first four rounds. OLB Jarvis Jones (rJr) is a freak athlete that is arguably the top pass-rusher and may even be the top prospect in the entire draft. He is an explosive pass-rusher with elite speed and strength and is constantly wreaking havoc in opposing backfields and taking out the quarterback. He rounded out his game very nicely this season displaying the ability to be more effective in stopping the run and holding his own when asked to drop into pass coverage. NFL front offices and scouts have all been eagerly waiting for Jones to enter the draft to have their shot at adding him to their squad, but if teams want him they’ll have to make a move as it’s not likely he makes it out of the top five selections. He is a big-time playmaker that should be able to start and dominate right away. NT John Jenkins (Sr) is a mammoth athlete and the best pure run-stopper in the draft. He’s basically impossible to move at the point of attack and is a dominating force in the middle. He handles double-teams without a problem and is able to make a play on the ball-carrier when he gets into the backfield. He’s not the most glamorous draft pick, but he is an immediate starter that can be plugged into the starting line up right away and will instantly upgrade anyone’s run defense. Outside of Jones, ILB Alex Ogletree (Jr) was Georgia’s best defender this year. Despite missing the first four weeks of the season he still managed to lead the team with 98 tackles in just nine games and was their most consistent and reliable player. He’s an outstanding athlete with the ability to make plays sideline to sideline whether chasing ball-carriers or dropping into pass coverage.  He possesses an excellent combination of size, length and speed and has the versatility to play multiple linebacker positions. His length especially has some scouts thinking that he could be a highly effective pass-rushing outside linebacker in the NFL. While Notre Dame’s Manti Te’o is the top ranked inside linebacker, Ogletree and his incredible athleticism is not far behind and may even be a more dynamic player than Te’o at the next level. He is a likely first round pick should he decide to declare a year early for the draft. QB Aaron Murray (rJr) is a tough, athletic quarterback with very good arm strength and clean mechanics, but he has struggles with his decision-making at times and lack ideal NFL size. He’s a confident kid with talent and could make for a nice developmental quarterback behind an established starter. A number of the quarterback prospects are closely jockeying for position with Murray likely a third or fourth round pick. Jones, Ogletree and Murray could all elect to return to school for their senior year, but only Murray is a real candidate to do that with Jones and Ogletree considered first round locks. The Bulldogs secondary is well represented with FS Bacarri Rambo (rSr) and SS Shawn Williams (Sr). Rambo is a playmaking safety that can lay the wood when delivering big hits and create turnovers in the secondary using his terrific instincts and ball skills. He’s constantly in the middle of the play making something happen. Williams is a smart, productive player that always seems to be in the right place at the right time. He’s a guy that coaches don’t have to worry about where is head is at and rarely makes mental errors. He’s a reliable safety that teams will know what they’re getting with him. Both safeties have the potential to be starters in the NFL and could be selected as high as the third round. A number of Georgia’s possible draft picks will be potential Day 3 selections including DT Abry Jones (Sr), WR Tavarres King (rSr), CB Sanders Commings (rSr), OLB Cornelius Washington (rSr) and CB Branden Smith (Sr). ILB Christian Robinson (rSr) will probably end up an undrafted free agent. The Cornhuskers have a pair of their own possible late Day 3 draft picks in RB Rex Burkhead (Sr) and FS Damion Stafford (Sr). Burkhead is a thick, power back with the ability to plow his way through the line for the hard yards inside or use his speed to make big plays on the outside with his feet or hands. He showed in 2011 that he can be a feature back, but this season he was constantly battling injuries causing him to miss six games and saw his production take a major dip. He’s probably a sixth round pick. Stafford will most likely join Burkhead in the last couple rounds of the draft. He is an underrated consistent defender that is at his best in run support and is decent in pass coverage, but could stand to make improvements in that area. He’s not going to blow any scouts away with his athleticism, but could be a solid special-teams and depth player that might come off the board late in the draft. Behind them is group of players that will likely go undrafted, but could sneak into the late portion of the draft including DE Eric Martin (Sr), K Brett Maher (Sr), ILB Will Compton (rSr) and DT Baker Steinkuhler (rSr).

ROSE BOWL GAME PRESENTED BY VIZIO, JANUARY 1/2013

Stanford Cardinal (11-2) vs. Wisconsin Badgers (8-5)

The 99th Rose Bowl will showcase two tough, smash mouth-types of teams in Stanford and Wisconsin and the seven prospects involved are perfect examples of that type of player. Stanford will feature one potential late first round pick to go with three others that could be mid-round selections. After taking over for Cody Fleener (Indy Colts), TE Zach Ertz (rJr) proved this season that he was an even better and more complete player than his former teammate. He showed off his big, soft hands and route-running ability in leading all FBS tight ends with 66 catches for 837 receiving yards, both school records, while adding six touchdowns. He’s not just another pass-catching tight end either after elevating himself into a dominant blocker this year. Ertz will be in close competition with Notre Dame’s Tyler Eifert for the top spot among tight ends and could sneak into the late first round. Stanford’s linebacker combination of OLB Chase Thomas (rSr) and ILB Shayne Skov (Sr) are a pair of hard-nosed, intelligent defenders. Thomas constantly causes chaos at the line of scrimmage and in the backfield. He’s not an elite athlete, but makes up for that with high-energy all-out effort on every down. He’s the type of football player every team would want and could go as high as the late second round. Skov is a notch or two below Thomas, but is still a very good football player. He is solid in run support and can provide a pass-rush from the middle when called upon. Skov has a red flag or two off the field and should be taken in the first half of Day 3. RB Stepfan Taylor (Sr) is a workhorse back that has proven over the last three seasons that he can handle full-time duties at the position with three straight seasons of at least 1100 rushing yards and double-digit touchdowns. He’s also a running back that doesn’t need to come off the field on third down as he has proven to be a talented pass-catcher out of the back field with 91 receptions for 718 yards and five scores. He’s a tough athlete with a thick, powerful frame built to handle the rigors of the NFL. He could be selected in the late third/early fourth round. Late round hopefuls for Stanford include WR Drew Terrell (Sr) and C Sam Schwartzstein (rSr). The Badgers will feature three mid-round draft choices in RB Montee Ball (Sr), OT Ricky Wagner (rSr) and OC/OG Travis Frederick (Jr). In the end it seems like Ball’s highly publicized decision to return to school for his senior season didn’t hurt him much after all as he earned a similar third round draft grade to the one he received last year. Like Taylor, Ball is a workhorse back that can handle 30+ carries a game, while often contributing with his hands on third down. Ball compiled an amazing 5040 career rushing yards with an NCAA record for rushing touchdowns with 76 and most total touchdowns with 82, including 39 total scores in 2011 to tie Barry Sanders’ single season NCAA record. While Ball is a highly talented running back with the potential to be feature ball-carrier in the NFL, he has already put 900 carries on his body heading into the Rose Bowl. His collegiate workload could have an effect on his draft position, but will definitely have an effect on his career long-term. He’s a third or fourth round pick. Ricky Wagner and Travis Frederick will continue the Wisconsin tradition of sending talented, rugged offensive linemen to the NFL. These two are absolute maulers at the line of scrimmage and have the ability to just destroy oncoming defenders when run blocking. They are big, strong and as mean as it gets with the versatility to play multiple positions on the offensive line. Frederick has slightly more upside than Wagner, but both players should come off the board somewhere between the third and fifth rounds.

DISCOVER ORANGE BOWL, JANUARY 1/2013

Florida State Seminoles (11-2) vs. Northern Illinois Huskies (12-1)

It will be big school versus small school in this season’s Orange Bowl as legendary powerhouse Florida State welcomes upstart Northern Illinois to the big show. The big school/small school angle is quite evident in terms of NFL prospects as the Seminoles have eight or nine players that could be draft picks in April. At the top of the Florida State draft class are potential first round picks DE Bjoern Werner (Jr) and CB Xavier Rhodes (rJr). The rise of German-born Bjoern Werner has been pretty remarkable. In just five short years he’s gone from a high-school exchange student with zero football experience to a First-Team All-American and one of the very top draft-eligible prospects. He is a powerhouse pass-rusher with the strength and power to flatten offensive linemen and the speed and explosive burst to beat them around the edge. He made a name for himself as junior, but became a star and elite prospect this season when he stepped up as the Seminoles feature pass-rusher following Brandon Jenkins’ season-ending injury. Despite having to often face the opponents’ best pass protector Werner was dominant registering 13 sacks and 18 tackles for loss. He looks like a sure-fire top ten pick and could come off the board in the first three selections. Rhodes is a tough, very physical corner with imposing size and strength. He excels in the physical part of playing defense using his superior strength to get in the face of opposing wide receivers and knock them off of their routes. He also has pretty good speed and has shown he possesses the ability to cover receivers anywhere on the field. He’s projected to be a late first, early second round pick. Following Werner and Rhodes are four projected mid-round picks in OLB Brandon Jenkins (Sr), QB EJ Manuel (rSr), DE Cornellius Carradine (Sr) and DT Everett Dawkins (rSr). Jenkins is an explosive pass-rusher with first-round talent, but a Lisfranc injury in his left foot ended his season and dropped him down draft boards leaving his stock a bit up in the air. It won’t be until February or March before he’s able to show he’s fully healthy and worthy of a spot in the first half of the draft. Manuel is a big, athletic quarterback with a very strong arm and the mobility to make plays with his legs, but is still a project at this time. He makes too many bad decisions, holds on to the ball too long and seems to get rattled pretty quickly by pressure. He came into the season as a Heisman candidate and potential first round pick, but struggled despite Florida State’s impressive record and will now need a good showing at the Senior Bowl to sneak into the late third round, but could fall into Day 3. Carradine came into the season as the little known third man behind starters Werner and Jenkins, but like Werner he raised his game to another level with Jenkins’ injury and was flying up draft boards into the first round before going down with a torn right ACL in the season finale. He amassed 11 sacks and 13 tackles for loss through twelve games, but like Jenkins his draft stock is really an unknown until he can show scouts he’s healthy again. Dawkins is a very athletic interior defensive lineman who is best at creating havoc in the middle and putting pressure on the passer even if it doesn’t translate to the stat sheet. His agility and athleticism allow him to move easily around the field and pursue ball-carriers. He should be an early Day 3 selection. Possible late round draft choices for the Seminoles include FB Lonnie Pryor (Sr), WR Rodney Smith (Sr), K Dustin Hopkins (Sr) and DT Anthony McCloud (rSr). Northern Illinois has just one late round hopeful in DE Sean Progar (rSr) for the 2013 NFL Draft. S Dechance Durante (rSo) is still just a sophomore, but is definitely a guy to watch for next year as he looks to have some star potential despite missing half the season with an injury.

 

Written By: Mark Scott



2013 NFL Draft Prospect Watch: Week 1

This is a new feature on NFL Draft Center where every week of the college football season I will take a closer look at the best game to watch for potential prospects and the best head to head matchup in a game between draft eligible players. This season gets started with a bang Friday night when one of the best head to head battles we’ll see all season long takes place as two of the top prospects in the draft, CB David Amerson and WR Justin Hunter face off with one another, while a Crimson Tide showcase in prime time follows on Saturday night.

Best Head to Head Matchup: North Carolina State CB David Amerson vs. Tennessee WR Justin Hunter and North Carolina State QB Mike Glennon vs. Tennessee QB Tyler Bray @ the Georgia Dome, Friday/7:30 PM

While the Boise State/Michigan State game will get all the national attention on Friday night, the game all the NFL scouts will be glued to is the matchup between North Carolina State and Tennessee as it features a showdown between the consensus top cornerback in the draft in the Wolf Pack’s All-American David Amerson and one of the top receivers available in Volunteers’ wide out Justin Hunter. Both rate among the 15 best prospects to potentially enter the 2013 NFL Draft with Amerson ranked among the top five on most boards. The reigning Jack Tatum Award winner as the nation’s top defensive back, Amerson put together a season for the history books in 2011 as he set a new ACC and NC State record for interceptions in a season with 13, falling just short of tying the FBS record of 14. Amerson is a big corner at 6’3”, 195lbs. with good length and large hands. He can man up one on one in coverage with anyone and possesses the instincts and ball skills to switch his mindset from defense to offense mid-play with the ball in air. He is also exceptional versus the run and has shown the ability to improve his skills and technique at a rapid progression. He will be in tough though Friday when he has the task of covering Justin Hunter. The Tennessee product is a tall, lean receiver with good speed. He’s an excellent route runner, but it’s his elite leaping ability and great hands that have scouts comparing him to Cincinnati Bengals standout A.J Green. There is a big question surrounding Hunter though and that’s whether or not he can return to the same player he had shown before tearing his ACL in the third game of the season last year. This is a huge test for both players and one that could go a long way in determining where both of them could be selected come the draft and whether they can maintain the lofty status among prospects that they currently have.

Amerson versus Hunter may be the main attraction in their game Friday night, but it’s not the only head to head battle worth watching as this game will be the first this season to feature two of the top ten quarterbacks available for the draft. Tennessee’s Tyler Bray is that gun-slinger type quarterback and will remind a lot of people of Chicago’s Jay Cutler. He possesses a cannon for an arm and might just throw the best deep ball of any of this year’s quarterback prospects. He can be lazy at times in his technique and often chooses to try and make the much more difficult throw than using one of his safer, more open options. He will also need to show he can stay healthy after missing five games with a hand injury in 2011. After having to stand in the shadow of Russell Wilson for a few years, Mike Glennon finally got his shot last season after Wilson chose to transfer to Wisconsin. Glennon possesses the NFL prototypical size and arm strength for the next level, but because of his lack of game experience he still has work to do in improving his technique, footwork and decision making. He’s probably a third or fourth round pick right now, but it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him shoot up draft boards with an even stronger season than last year.

Best Game to Watch for Prospects: #8 Michigan vs. #2 Alabama @ Cowboys Stadium, Saturday/8 PM

The top game of the week is undoubtedly the first matchup of the season between two top ten teams in the Crimson Tide and Wolverines. It’s also the best game of the week to watch for prospects even if it is predominantly an Alabama showcase. The Tide will again enter a new season with a whole slew of potential Day 1 and 2 draft picks. Their offensive line is the crown jewel of their roster as it features three possible first round selections in OL Barrett Jones, OG Chance Warmack and RT D.J. Fluker. All three are big, physical and experienced. They’re well coached under Nick Saban and have the versatility to play multiple positions on the line. Jones in particular has displayed the ability to play both tackle and guard positions and will begin this season at Center after starring last year at left tackle.  As usual Bama is stocked on the defensive side of the ball, although they don’t appear to have that elite first round prospect this time around. Their top defensive prospect is Nose Tackle Jesse Williams, who could make his way up draft boards from his second round rating with another good season. He’s still a bit of project after growing up in Australia and only starting to play football at 15 years old. He eventually made his way to Western Arizona Community College where he quickly displayed high level talent and gained the attention of Saban. In his first year at Alabama, he started all 13 games as a five-technique defensive end, but will make the move inside to Nose Tackle this season. Williams possesses amazing strength (600lb. bench press) and great all-around physical tools. Behind Williams is a pair of linebackers in C.J. Mosley and Nico Johnson and a pair of defensive backs in FS Robert Lester and CB Dee Milliner, who could all come off the board in the third or fourth round. Finally Alabama’s most interesting prospect to watch will be running back Eddie Lacy, who will attempt to make it three straight Tide running backs to be taken in the first round. He has some work to do as he is currently rated as a late second/early third round pick by many publications.

While Alabama’s starting lineup is full of potential early round draft choices, Michigan features just one notable potential early round draft choice in OT Taylor Lewan, who might just end up being the first player taken playing in this game. A massive left tackle that plays mean and nasty, Lewan has the ability to battle one on one with the opposing team’s top pass rushers. He’s not a perfect prospect by any means and still has a lot of work to do in improving his footwork and blocking techniques, while also cutting down on the number of penalties he gets. The progress he displays this year will go a long way in determining if Lewan is that early first round selection some scouts think he might be or if he will be taken later in the first or even as low as the second or third rounds. The Wolverines next two best prospects look like Day Three picks. Defensive End Craig Roh probably should be taken a bit higher than he will go, but in a year that could be special for pass rushers he could find himself still available heading into the mid to late rounds. He has great instincts and is a tireless worker on and off the field. He’s got good speed and plays with an edge and is the type of player every coach wants on his team. He probably just isn’t going to stand out among the talent in this year’s crop. Quarterback Denard Robinson is one of the most electrifying athletes in college football today, but given his lack of size and an elite arm, he will have to make the ever so tough transition to wide receiver or running back that so many of his type of quarterback has had to make when attempting to move to the next level. Robinson is likely to be available in late on Day Three, unless there is a team out there that really likes him.

Written By: Mark Scott