Tag Archives: NFL

Final 2014 NFL Mock Draft (1st round)

1. Houston Texans: Jadeveon Clowney, DE. South Carolina

Quarterback is the indefinite need, but talent counts for a lot. If the Texans decision-making staff isn’t in love with any passers, it’ll be tough to justify passing on the player with the most upside in the draft for any other positional player.


2. St. Louis Rams (f/WAS): Greg Robinson, OT. Auburn

While the bad taste of the failed Jason Smith selection still lingers, the Rams need to be courageous and make the right pick. Whether Robinson ultimately moves Jake Long over to right tackle or not, the picks gives them a couple legitimately talented bookends. Protecting Sam Bradford from further missed time should be among the top priorities.


3. Jacksonville Jaguars: Johnny Manziel, QB. Texas A&M

Blaine Gabbert has officially left town and Jacksonville is under a new regime that showed signs of improvement in 2013. A new quarterback to both infuse a level of talent and also reinvigorate league-wide appeal in the franchise couldn’t hurt.


4. Cleveland Browns: Sammy Watkins, WR. Clemson

If there truly is no interest in selecting one of the available quarterbacks with this pick, than finding more offensive weapons for the eventual long-term signal caller is imperative. Watkins, paired with Josh Gordon and Jordan Cameron, would pose a dynamic threat for opposing defenses.


5. Oakland Raiders: Jake Matthews, OT. Texas A&M

The natural fit to a team that desperately needs a long-term answer to the left tackle position. Whomever the quarterback is moving forward, the Raiders need to be able to protect him.


6. Atlanta Falcons: Khalil Mack, OLB. Buffalo

No draft decisions are easy, but when fit, need, and talent blend into one available prospect, it doesn’t need to be that hard a selection. The Falcons could use help in the pass rushing department and Khalil Mack, perhaps more importantly, doubles as a complete player as well.


7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Mike Evans, WR. Texas A&M

Mike Williams is now in Buffalo and there’s no legitimate depth to speak of. Pairing Johnny Manziel’s favorite target with an equally imposing Vincent Jackson appears to be the most logical choice. Lovie Smith is now in town and brought McCown with him as his starting quarterback. The Bucs can put that supposed need off for now.


8. Minnesota Vikings: Blake Bortles, QB. Central Florida

The Vikes could go in a number of directions with this selection depending on their view of the quarterback class. In my eyes, two things are certain – Physically, Blake Bortles warrants No. 1 consideration and schematically, he’s a fit for Norv Turner’s offense. If Bortles can recreate the success of another ex-Viking quarterback & UCF alum from the past, than this would be a great selection.


9. Buffalo Bills: Zack Martin, OT. Notre Dame

Being a former OL coach (with success), you have to think Doug Marrone values blockers more than most would. Injuries derailed an otherwise encouraging rookie campaign from E.J. Manuel. Keeping him clean and upright is important, and I think that may take precedent. Martin is an experienced leader with the flexibility to even project at guard.


10. Detroit Lions: Justin Gilbert, CB. Oklahoma State

I don’t buy the theory that Detroit would opt for a pass catcher over an available top cornerback prospect. Justin Gilbert is a legitimate top 10 talent and at a position of long-term need for the Lions. I’ll give Detroit’s staff credit and continue believing they’ll make the logical choice in this scenario.


11. Tennessee Titans: Anthony Barr, OLB. UCLA

Shaun Phillips was signed and the Titans boast a couple of good young linebackers in the Zach Brown, Akeem Ayers duo. Still, there’s no such thing as ‘too many’ pass rushers. Anthony Barr is good value at this point and a good fir for Ray Horton’s base 3-4.


12. New York Giants: Aaron Donald, DT. Pittsburgh

He’s been steadily rising despite his obvious lack of size, and for good reason. The G-Men lost big Linval Joseph in free agency but still possess enough meat on the interior defensive line with Cullen Jenkins and 2013 2nd round pick Jonathan Hankins.


13. St. Louis Rams: Hasean “Ha Ha” Clinton-Dix, S. Alabama

The trade that allowed Washington to select RG3 has partially helped St. Louis stockpile quality defensive players. After addressing the glaring offensive need, the Rams look to address one of the few glaring needs remaining on defense. In-the-box strong safety T.J. McDonald was impressive, but now he’s paired with a true center-fielder with range who can cover.


14. Chicago Bears: Bradley Roby, CB. Ohio State

Charles Tillman is on his last legs and may even be moving inside to safety at some point next year. New blood is needed at the position in an NFC North with a good group of opposing receivers.


15. Pittsburgh Steelers: C.J. Mosley, ILB. Alabama

Pittsburgh does well to capitalize on experienced, proven college players in the early round and it’s hard to argue Mosley isn’t best available at this point, either. Partnering him with Lawrence Timmons would form a very difficult duo to play against.


16. Dallas Cowboys: Kony Ealy, DE. Missouri

Ealy is as slam-dunk of a pick as you’ll see for Dallas at this point. Finding a potential top 10 talent, at a position that has just become a primary need, fall to the middle of round one is true value. DeMarcus Ware out, Kony Ealy in.


17. Baltimore Ravens: Calvin Pryor, S. Louisville

In the post Ed Reed era, Matt Elam was added and was encouraging as a rookie. Calvin Pryor, a physical, downhill hitter with raw coverage skills would be an ideal complement. The position would unquestionably be solidified.


18. New York Jets: Eric Ebron, TE. North Carolina

A tight end?! Seriously, we’re talking steal at this point if Ebron nears the 20s. The Jets added a reliable offensive producer in Eric Decker and can bolster the offensive weaponry in a different way with this selection. Ultimately, the team needs talented pass catchers. They get one here.


19. Miami Dolphins: Taylor Lewan, OT. Michigan

Plug and play prospect for the Phins. The offensive tackle need is negated and Ryan Tannehill gains some much needed protection help. Lewan at No. 19 would be good value if he were around here.


20. Arizona Cardinals: Dee Ford, OLB. Auburn

When you give the Cards roster a look, you’ll quickly realize that they don’t have many glaring holes that can be filled with the group available. However, the team lacks a true disruption off the edge.


21. Green Bay Packers: Ra’Shede Hageman, DL. Minnesota

Ted Thompson is a draft day wildcard who, in multiple instances, has had little fear of selecting someone who maybe wasn’t the popular choice. Hageman has top 10 potential and if given time to develop consistency, this could easily prove to be a steal down the road.


22. Philadelphia Eagles: Kyle Fuller, CB. Virginia Tech

An athlete with size and speed, the Va Tech product has been rising well. The Eagles 3-4 transition has some good pieces, but the secondary could certainly stand to still be improved.


23. Kansas City Chiefs: Odell Beckham Jr., WR. LSU

After a staggeringly quick turnaround, the Chiefs are now a team without many glaring holes. The offense lacks a bit of a punch, and a wide receiver trio of Dwayne Bowe, Odell Beckham Jr., and Donnie Avery is little more formidable.


24. Cincinnati Bengals: Ryan Shazier, OLB. Ohio State

Despite losing Michael Johnson, the Bengals still have a lot invested in the defensive end position. We’ve witnessed the value of a large group of good young linebackers in recent years, and Shazier fits the mold. A quick, twitchy athlete with sideline to sideline qualities. Slots in right next to (and complements downhill defenders) Maualuga and Burfict nicely.


25. San Diego Chargers: Darqueze Dennard, CB. Michigan State

I think the cornerback group may shake out this way, but were Darqueze Dennard the fourth off the board, someone gets a major steal. San Diego simply can’t enter the 2014 season with its current crop of corners.


26. Cleveland Browns: Teddy Bridgewater, QB. Louisville

After landing the weapon earlier in Sammy Watkins, the Browns get the quarterback to piece everything together here. Bridgewater helped build up a Lousiville program without a plethora of talent surrounding him. He enters Cleveland with a few very legitimate targets.


27. New Orleans Saints: DeMarcus Lawrence, DE/OLB. Boise State

Unfortunately for the pass rusher-hungry Saints, nobody of great value remains. However, Boise State’s DeMarcus Lawrence has 1st round upside and could develop nicely into Junior Galette’s sidekick.


28. Carolina Panthers: Marqise Lee, WR. USC

The Panthers already had a big wide receiver need even before Steve Smith left town. Now without the long-time leader, the grunt work will be spread out amongst the current crop. However, Marqise Lee has plenty of experience being a workhorse in the passing game.


29. New England Patriots: Kelvin Benjamin, WR. Florida State

Physically, the FSU receiver is Calvin Johnson without the speed. Great high-point skills and can overmatch most corners on the boundary. New England got by with a rather sub-par group last year and Benjamin helps infuse some talent – as well as a threat in the redzone.


30. San Francisco 49ers: Stephon Tuitt, DE. Notre Dame

Shear value at this point. Tuitt’s slide is more of a formality and the 49ers are happy to see it. Justin Smith is extra long in the tooth, while Ray McDonald is on the wrong side of 30. Preparing for the future is never a bad thing.


31. Denver Broncos: Allen Robinson, WR. Penn State

Offering many stylistic similarities to Demaryius Thomas, Allen Robinson’s addition could make Denver’s downfield offense even more deadly. A tough vertical receiver who wins many 50-50 balls. Eric Decker is now in New York and Peyton needs his targets.


32. Seattle Seahawks: Cyrus Kouandjio, OT. Alabama

The champions don’t have many needs, but the loss of right tackle Breno Giacomini might have left the most immediate need going into 2014. Kouandjio is one of the best natural right tackles in this class and Pete Carroll already had 1st round success with James Carpenter – another Alabama alum.

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2014 NFL Draft to have record 30 prospects in attendance

A record 30 prospects have accepted an invitation to attend the 2014 NFL Draft live from Radio City Music Hall // COURTESY Marianne O'Leary

A record 30 prospects have accepted an invitation to attend the 2014 NFL Draft live from Radio City Music Hall // COURTESY Marianne O’Leary

The NFL Draft is one of the fastest annually growing entities in the sports world, let alone just within the NFL circle. With it comes inflation, and there is no shortage of it with regards to prospects making the trip to Radio City Music Hall. Long gone are the days of seeing only a small handful of prospects beginning round one in the backstage green room. The historic fleet of 30 players is spearheaded by polarizing passer Johnny Manziel of Texas A&M. South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney and Clemson receiver Sammy Watkins, amongst many other intriguing prospects will join the 2012 Heisman Trophy winner.

Four quarterbacks will attend, with Eastern Illinois’ Jimmy Garoppolo being the only non-“big 3” member of the class’ position to accept an invitation. Fresno State’s David Carr reportedly opted to experience draft day/weekend from home. The two most well-represented schools at the draft hail from the SEC, as Alabama and Texas A&M have three each in attendance. Additionally, the SEC also accounts for 11 attendees of the 30 – the most among any conference. Wide receiver boasts the most players in attendance with seven. There will be no running backs or interior offensive linemen at this year’s draft.

In alphabetical order, here are the 30 prospects who will be in attendance for the 2014 NFL Draft:

Odell Beckham, WR. LSU
Blake Bortles, QB. UCF
Teddy Bridgewater, QB. Louisville
Hasean Clinton-Dix, S. Alabama
Jadeveon Clowney, DE. South Carolina
Brandin Cooks, WR. Oregon State
Kony Ealy, DE. Missouri
Eric Ebron, TE. UNC
Mike Evans, WR. Texas A&M
Kyle Fuller, CB. Va Tech
Jimmy Garoppolo, QB. EIU
Justin Gilbert, CB. Oklahoma State
Ra’Shede Hageman, DT. Minnesota
Timmy Jernigan, DT. Florida State
Cyrus Kouandjio, OT. Alabam
Cody Latimer, WR. Indiana
Marqise Lee, WR. USC
Taylor Lewan, OT. Michigan
Khalil Mack, LB. Buffalo
Johnny Manziel, QB. Texas A&M
Jake Matthews, OT. Texas A&M
Jordan Matthews, WR. Vanderbilt
Morgan Moses, OT. Virginia
C.J. Mosley, LB. Alabama
Calvin Pryor, S. Lousiville
Greg Robinson, OT. Auburn
Bradley Roby, CB. Ohio State
Ryan Shazier, LB. Ohio State
Jason Verrett, CB. TCU
Sammy Watkins, WR. Clemson

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2014 NFL Mock Draft, v. I

As promised, here is the first installment of Dion Caputi’s 2014 NFL Mock Draft. So as to avoid over-stuffing appetites for draft-related content too early in the process, I’ve opted to keep mocks to a minimum until this point. However, with the big day(s) approaching fast, be prepared for a ramped up effort to provide you with evaluation notes, analysis, and – of course – mocks. Now, lets get after it:

1. Houston Texans: Blake Bortles, QB. UCF

Matt Schaub is officially out of town and the combination of Ryan Fitzpatrick, Case Keenum and T.J. Yates won’t offer new management any palpable assurances. I lend a fair amount of credence to the notion that Bill O’Brien likes a particular style of quarterback. In two years at Penn State, he transformed an erratic Matt McGloin into a more well-versed pocket passer, before coaching the tall-standing gunslinger Christian Hackenberg to 2013 Big Ten Freshman of the Year honors. Of the quarterback triumvirate that the draft’s top 10 will be focused around, the lone prospect that fits O’Brien’s physical mold is Blake Bortles. The big, pocket-mobile passer has all the tools necessary to be a franchise cornerstone and the talent to warrant No. 1 overall consideration.

2. St. Louis Rams (f/WAS): Greg Robinson, OT. Auburn

Arguably the most valuable prospect in this draft class, quarterbacks-aside. The underclassman blocker has quickly become a top 3 lock and perhaps the standalone tackle above Jake Matthews. A really good bender with quick feet, Robinson displayed all season how physical he can be with pads on and an athletic inclination during workouts at this year’s combine. The endgame for St. Louis, were they to select Robinson No. 2 overall, would be to plug the Auburn product in at left tackle. Short (and long) term, it would allow the organization to slide Jake Long to the right side, where he is likely to be more effective. Conversely, if St. Louis is comfortable with Long on the blindside and can’t move down, you have to think Sammy Watkins is a very logical option for a team that has flexibility with its picks.

3. Jacksonville Jaguars: Jadeveon Clowney, DE. South Carolina

I’d argue that despite Gus Bradley’s comments about Chad Henne “probably” being the opening day starter, that a quarterback should be the pick here. Regardless, the former Seahawks defensive coordinator knows the value of putting pressure on the opposing passer, and few prospects to enter the NFL Draft have projected to be as good at it as Jadeveon Clowney. Motivation is the overwhelming concern to most evaluators, but the disruptive potential that the Gamecocks star offers is sure to make him a dangerous commodity to pass on. There is depth at the quarterback position in the 2014 NFL Draft, so the Jaguars may prefer to target one on day two.

4. Cleveland Browns: Teddy Bridgewater, QB. Louisville

It’s tough to justify entering a season with Brian Hoyer as the standalone quarterback option when jobs are on the line. The Louisville gunslinger is accurate, mechanically smooth, and did a lot to help build up a program that wasn’t packed with an abundance of offensive talent. The cloudiness over Cleveland’s interest in seeking a quarterback with this pick doesn’t hinder my strong belief that the organization will ultimately opt for a signal caller to build around. New head coach Mike Pettine is a defensive minded individual, and while it may be a stretch here, it can be argued that Justin Gilbert could form a frustratingly good duo with Joe Haden.

5. Oakland Raiders: Jake Matthews, OT. Texas A&M

The Raiders have done well to invest in veteran pass rushing help, but holes remain. Amidst the fallout of Rodger Saffold’s botched signing and Jared Veldheer’s bay area departure, the organization was left without a viable blindside option. The acquisition of Matt Schaub relieves the pressure to select an immediate improvement at quarterback, and in this scenario a supreme talent is available in a primary area of need. Discovering a long term solution under center remains a legitimate need, however.

6. Atlanta Falcons: Khalil Mack, OLB. Buffalo

If reports are true, than the Falcons may be looking to move up in order to secure elite pass rushing prospect Jadeveon Clowney, and the Rams at No. 2 are a very likely suitor should that be the case. However, in a no-trade mock, Thomas Dimitroff and co. are pleasantly surprised to find another potentially elite defender to aid a porous pass rush. In multiple ways, this scenario could actually prove more fruitful. The UB standout could have a similar rookie impact to that of Von Miller. It’d be hard to envision Atlanta passing on Mack to reach for offensive tackle Taylor Lewan, but he – as well as Anthony Barr – are likely to be in the discussion, at the very least.

7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Sammy Watkins, WR. Clemson

The Bucs have very little depth at wide receiver after Vincent Jackson as it is and the team just dealt troubled Mike Williams to Buffalo. The big investment in prized free agent defensive end Michael Johnson negates the need to add a pass rusher here and Alterraun Verner shores up a need at cornerback. Josh McCown was brought in to be Lovie Smith’s starter, so by process of elimination + evaluating available talent in this scenario, top pass catching prospect Sammy Watkins is an easy selection.

8. Minnesota Vikings: Johnny Manziel, QB. Texas A&M

Love it or hate it, the Vikings desperately need a quarterback, and Johnny Football could very well be the game-changing wildcard that Minnesota lacks. General Manager Rick Spielman is one of few survivors of the Brad Childress-era staff assembled in 2006. He has lasted through two head coaches and two unsuccessful attempts at drafting a franchise quarterback. Swinging for the fences at No. 8 may be his last chance despite being good at his job overall. The Vikes have a penchant for moving down the board and positively manipulating the draft, but if no quarterbacks are available and they can’t, linebacker C.J. Mosley makes a lot of sense in an emergency scenario.

9. Buffalo Bills: Taylor Lewan, OT. Michigan

The Bills managed to rank in the top third of the league in sacks and the overall pass defense was statistically impressive. What can stand to be improved more so, however, is pass protection. E.J. Manuel put together what I would quantify as an encouraging rookie campaign, but was marred by multiple injuries in the process. Taylor Lewan would offer a level of flexibility to head coach Doug Marrone – who comes from an offensive line background. Every year we witness an emphasis on tackles when a run begins, so taking the big Michigan man here may not wind up being that much of a reach. Lewan can slot in on the right side or push left tackle Cordy Glenn inside to guard – where I’ve always thought he projects better to. Hasean Clinton-Dix could be a natural replacement for the departed Jairus Byrd, as well.

10. Detroit Lions: Justin Gilbert, CB. Oklahoma State

A dream scenario for the Lions, having arguably the top player available at perhaps their most legitimate of needs fall to them. Gilbert offers the Lions a cornerstone piece to lean on in the secondary and even holds extra value as a return threat. Detroit has been void of a true playmaker in the defensive backfield and there are few players available with the talent level he has remaining in this scenario.

11. Tennessee Titans: Anthony Barr, OLB. UCLA

New defensive coordinator Ray Horton deploys a host of 3-4 variations and an impact pass rusher to groom into a high leverage role would help the process along. Barr is excellent value, as he could ultimately wind up a top 5 selection and many wouldn’t think twice about it. The converted fullback also provides a level of flexibility amongst the front seven, with versatile linebackers Zach Brown and Akeem Ayers able to line up in a variety of spots. Veteran Shaun Phillips was signed to a two-year deal, but I’m not sure he negates Tennessee’s need to find 3-4 pieces early on.

12. New York Giants: Aaron Donald, DT. Pittsburgh

Despite losing big Linval Joseph to the Vikings in free agency, the G-Men still have enough run-stuffing size in the middle between Cullen Jenkins and 2013 2nd round pick Jonathan Hankins. Adding an active, high-motor presence like Aaron Donald to help reinforce the defensive line would partially make up for lost depth. Capable in both the run and pass, the Pitt product is well-dressed in accolades and boasts three years of excellent production. Those who write off the 2013 Nagurski, Bednarik, Outland, and Lombardi award winner due to his lack of size are making a critical mistake.

13. St. Louis Rams: Hasean “Ha Ha” Clinton-Dix, S. Alabama

After improving the offensive line early on, the Rams have even more flexibility at No. 13. Frankly, I’d be very surprised if the Rams were to make both picks without moving down, but with so many premium draft picks available there is plenty of flexibility. Jeff Fisher is a former defensive back himself and while T.J. McDonald had an encouraging rookie season, the organization could stand to pair him with another young talent. Although St. Louis hasn’t shied away from spending high picks on wide receivers, you can’t rule out the possibility this year – Mike Evans would be a natural complement to the electric Tavon Austin.

14. Chicago Bears: Darqueze Dennard, CB. Michigan State

After improving the pass rush with the addition of Jared Allen, the Bears eliminated a potential early round need. The organization, in my mind, did well to retain Charles Tillman for one more year, but the veteran cornerback is now at an advanced age and regressed last season. While he may remain on the boundary, it can be argued that a move to safety may benefit his career. Regardless, the team needs an infusion of young talent at the position and the consensus All-American Darqueze Dennard is a great fit. There isn’t a very big drop off, if any, from Justin Gilbert in talent and I’d argue Dennard’s positional aptitude is greater.

15. Pittsburgh Steelers: C.J. Mosley, ILB. Alabama

Particularly in recent years, the Steelers have done well to capitalize on falling talent. The selections of Maurkice Pouncey, Cam Heyward, David DeCastro, and Jarvis Jones helped aid specific needs and promoted a youthful turnover in the process. In this scenario, there are few better fits than the instinctual, athletic C.J. Mosley. Boasting quality physical skills and a high football IQ, the defensive field general can be plugged in next to Lawrence Timmons from day one. We’ve seen the value in many good, young linebackers of the past couple draft classes and I think the Alabama product might be the best prospect of all by comparison. Keeping in touch with the defensive youth movement, I’d keep a close eye on nose tackle Louis Nix. Perhaps even Notre Dame left tackle Zack Martin.

16. Dallas Cowboys: Kony Ealy, DE. Missouri

It was difficult not to notice how poor the Cowboys defense was last season as it transitioned away from a 3-4 base front. Take DeMarcus Ware out the equation and what’s really left? Particularly along the defensive line, the Cowboys desperately need to add young blood and the well-built, raw talent from Missouri helps aid those concerns. Jeremy Mincey is a half-decent vet and there are a couple young ends that can compete, but the team lacks a potential difference maker. Kony Ealy might be a top 10 player based solely on talent, in my opinion. Safety is also a possibility, as the team has done well to rebuild its secondary in recent years, so Louisville’s Calvin Pryor makes a lot of sense as well.

17. Baltimore Ravens: Calvin Pryor, S. Louisville

General Manager Ozzie Newsome is top shelf when it comes to roster management and further proved it this offseason by knocking off multiple needs prior to the draft. Last year, the effort to move on in the post-Ed Reed era began with the 1st round selection of promising young Matt Elam. Were the draft to shake out this way, I can definitely see a scenario where the thought of pairing him with the raw, but talented Calvin Pryor is too tantalizing to pass up on. The addition of wily vet Steve Smith eliminates the need to look for a wide receiver here, in my opinion, but big Mike Evans is an intriguing looking fit. Perhaps a projectable 3-4 defensive end like Ra’Shede Hageman or Stephon Tuitt, as well.

18. New York Jets: Eric Ebron, TE. North Carolina

A little bit of a curveball, as the Jets could greatly benefit from plugging in a number of available defensive talents that Rex Ryan may be chomping on the bit to work with. Still, Eric Ebron’s talent is undeniable and him being unselected at this point would constitute a shock to many onlookers. While I don’t think he’s Vernon Davis 2.0 as a prospect, as some might, the North Carolina star is a mismatch nightmare and will help aid whomever is under center for Gang Green in 2014. As noted, there is a host of defensive building blocks that make sense. A nose tackle like Louis Nix or pass rusher like Dee Ford. The need at cornerback is currently so big that you can’t rule one out despite the lack of true value available, in my opinion.

19. Miami Dolphins: Zack Martin, OT. Notre Dame

I’m tempted to believe the Dolphins would consider again addressing the defensive line with in-state talent Timmy Jernigan at this point, as he’d be value. However, if offensive line is the decision, which makes more sense to me, than you could make an argument for either Martin or Alabama’s Cyrus Kouandjio. Ultimately, the Notre Dame captain wins out in that situation here, as he is guard/tackle versatile and brings a very level-headed personality into a locker room that could really use it right now.

20. Arizona Cardinals: Dee Ford, DE/OLB. Auburn

The Cards did very well to fill a sizable need on the blindside with the addition of Jared Veldheer, while also relieving pressure to add immediate help at cornerback with the signing of Antonio Cromartie. On paper, there are few glaring needs for Arizona, but for a team that does well to generate consistent pressure on opposing passers, further reinforcements couldn’t hurt. Disruptive edge rushers are a draft day premium and it would be a technicality that brought Dee Ford to No. 20 overall, in my estimation. Depending on how much faith the organization has in right tackle Bobby Massie, Alabama’s Cyrus Kouandjio could be a natural fit as well. Just a thought, but Austin Seferian-Jenkins would really open up a Cardinals offense that often emphasizes tight ends.

21. Green Bay Packers: Ra’Shede Hageman, DL. Minnesota

There’s another slight curveball, I’d say. Jernigan still on the board and Hageman goes to Green Bay. Why? Ted Thompson is a bit of a draft day wildcard and I think he does a fair amount of projecting with many his selections. Physically, the Minnesota product is a specimen in the J.J. Watt mold. However, he’s incredibly raw and doesn’t display regular consistency. Hageman has untraceable potential and I think the Pack in particular would believe they can tap it.

22. Philadelphia Eagles: Bradley Roby, CB. Ohio State

The Eagles began a 3-4 transition and have a few pieces worth emphasizing, but the secondary stands to be improved upon. Malcolm Jenkins was brought in to play safety and pairing him with a fellow Ohio State alum would be an intriguing option, in this case. You can never have enough good cornerbacks and if the semi-enigmatic talent at Bradley Roby’s disposal is properly channeled, he could be a bargain. Consistency is somewhat of a concern, but he won’t be overloaded with responsibility as a rookie.

23. Kansas City Chiefs: Mike Evans, WR. Texas A&M

It was impossible to predict such a drastic and positive turnaround for the Chiefs in 2013. After picking first overall last year, they’re a team without very many glaring needs this May. Without a safety to potentially plug in next to Eric Berry or additional depth at linebacker, the team can look in a variety of directions. Mike Evans is arguably the best remaining talent and could ultimately wind up going well inside the top 15. Big, red zone threat with strong hands, the Johnny Football’s preferred target is also able to run good routes – a highly intriguing combination. A wide receiver trio of Evans, Bowe, and Avery would be quite formidable, and it can never hurt to add more offensive weaponry.

24. Cincinnati Bengals: Ryan Shazier, OLB. Ohio State

Cincy stays in-state to seek improvement at the linebacker position, here. Shazier is a twitchy athlete with sideline-to-sideline speed. His positional value is aided by the current crop of young linebackers who have made great contributions early on (e.g. Luke Kuechly, Kiko Alonso, Lavonte David, Bobby Wagner, etc.). Despite losing Michael Johnson, the Bengals have invested premium picks in the defensive end position, so reaching for one – if you even believe one is worthy – isn’t necessary. Combining the All-American Buckeye with Vontaze Burfict and Rey Maualuga would give the Bengals another nice piece on defense.

25. San Diego Chargers: Kyle Fuller, CB. Virginia Tech

With Irish Chocolate on the board and a palpable need at nose tackle, the Chargers ultimately lean toward the position that is much harder to improve. Simply put, San Diego can’t enter this season with its current group of cornerbacks. Eric Weddle aside, the secondary is in disarray and new blood is needed. Va Tech’s Kyle Fuller is an instinctual boundary defender with great athleticism and physicality. His hand usage in press isn’t what I believe it can be, but there is formidable upside. Some elements of his game are reminiscent of long-time Chargers soldier Quentin Jammer.

26. Cleveland Browns (f/IND): Brandin Cooks, WR. Oregon State

Despite there being talent available at cornerback and Timmy Jernigan still floating around unpicked, the Browns would do well to surround their new quarterback (No. 4 overall pick Teddy Bridgewater) with more targets. The explosive and athletic Brandin Cooks is a dynamic downfield threat that offers something a little different than what the current Browns receiving corps does. The reliable-handed Oregon State receiver can also create after the catch. An offensive core that features Bridgewater, Cooks, Josh Gordon, Jordan Cameron, and co. looks young and formidable. I wouldn’t even rule out a top rated guard like UCLA’s Xavier Su’a-Filo or perhaps guard/swing tackle David Yankey of Stanford.

27. New Orleans Saints: Demarcus Lawrence, DE/OLB. Boise State

Rob Ryan’s transition to a 3-4 front has panned out, as the Saints recovered from a historically poor 2012 season. However, the focal point of any unbalanced formation is generally the edge rushing Jack linebackers or “conversions.” 26-year-old Junior Galette tallied 12.0 sacks last year and can only benefit from having a formidable bookend. Former JUCO transfer Demarcus Lawrence of Boise State is a fast-rising prospect with a proven track record of pass rushing ability and production, boasting 20.0 sacks over the previous two seasons. Lawrence is fluid in space and has a great physical skill-set to build upon. Not many are mocking him in the first round, but I personally don’t see a very big drop off between Dee Ford and himself. It is a deep wide receiver class, so I think there is more value in the pass rushing option here. Although, in this scenario I’d be very intrigued to see the do-it-all Marqise Lee of USC working with Drew Brees. Champ Bailey may also cancel out any chances of a first round cornerback.

28. Carolina Panthers: Kelvin Benjamin, WR. Florida State

Full disclosure: I pegged a cornerback here and couldn’t bring myself to stick with it. With the unparalleled depth this draft class has at the wide receiver position, coupled with its lesser positional value, I just don’t know how likely it is that Carolina chooses one here. That said, it’s difficult to justify passing on the opportunity to surround Cam Newton with more weapons, and the national title winner Kelvin Benjamin could be a dyanmic addition. A true redzone threat who high-points with ease, Benjamin is only scratching the surface of his potential. If the organization that drafts him is patient and realizes he will enter the league without much polish, there are a number of benefits to be reaped long term. Although he doesn’t remotely match up in the speed department, Benjamin is of similar size + body type to that of Calvin Johnson’s, and that can (and will) cause mismatches at the next level.

29. New England Patriots: Timmy Jernigan, DT. Florida State

And the seemingly unrealistic slide is over. Jernigan falling to No. 29 is no indictment of his abilities, but a formality based on the way this mock scenario has panned out in my mind. The Patriots are always a trading candidate on draft day, but in the event a player like this is available at this point, it’s an easy decision. The squatty, powerful Seminole has the skill-set to play either defensive tackle role in a base 4-3 and would be able to contribute without immediate pressure in New England. The countdown on Vince Wilfork’s Patriot career may have begun this offseason and the club has always shown a willingness to be patient with its high picks. The turnover on defense continues with this selection, as Chandler Jones and Timmy Jernigan would be two very formidable building blocks.

30. San Francisco 49ers: Stephon Tuitt, DE. Notre Dame

San Fran has gotten by nicely along its defensive line for a few years now, but it might be time to begin looking at infusing some youth. In September, both starting ends Justin Smith and Ray McDonald will be 35 and 30, respectively. Adding a top, young talent to groom for the future could prove supremely useful – especially considering the value of Tuitt at this point. The 6’5″ 304 lbs. Fighting Irish 5-tech has tallied a total of 19.5 sacks in two years and has a strong foundation for future improvement.

31. Denver Broncos: Jason Verrett, CB. Texas Christian

The Super Bowl runners-up suffered the loss of both Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and future Hall of Famer Champ Bailey. Despite landing Aqib Talib in free agency, the team remains a little exposed at the position. TCU’s Jason Verrett reminds me a little of Russell Wilson as a prospect: a complete player who would, in my mind, be a very high pick were it not for less-than-ideal size. That said, he can adapt to multiple coverage schemes, tackle, play physical, and boasts very good hops as well. Despite the height deficiency I do project him to be able to play on the boundary at the next level. I wouldn’t rule out a wide receiver here either. Although Emmanuel Sanders was brought in, the departure of Eric Decker could entice Denver to pull the trigger on any one of the remaining talents at the position. An overabundance of offensive weapons has never harmed a Peyton Manning-led team.

32. Seattle Seahawks: Cyrus Kouandjio, OT. Alabama

The champion Seattle Seahawks’ very talented roster is well-documented, but the team did witness starting right tackle Breno Giacomini bolt for the Jets. Although the team could also potentially look to replace departed cornerback Brandon Browner, it did just fine without him, so the position is likely to be addressed later. Pete Carroll and co. have been happy with the production of the last Alabama offensive lineman it selected in round 1, in James Carpenter, which can only help the case for this one. Cyrus Kouandjio projects to be a very effective right tackle at the next level and could easily be selected much earlier despite a rocky-at-times pre draft run up. This pick helps shore up one of, if not the only, legitimate positional concern the Seahawks have right now.

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2014 NFL Combine Notes: Quarterback, Wide Receiver & Running Back

Things heated up at the 2014 NFL Combine on Sunday, as we witnessed an infusion of speed with the offensive playmakers. We saw a few of the “name” quarterbacks participate in throwing drills, while others opted to hold out until pro days. This year’s wide out class is as deep as it has ever been and coupled with a long list of running backs with very different skill-sets. Certainly an intriguing bunch to evaluate. here’s what caught my eye on day two of workouts in Indianapolis:

Quarterback

*Louisville’s Teddy Bridgewater was in attendance, tallying a 30″ vertical + 9’5″ broad jump, but chose not to throw. Johnny Manziel also opted to wait for his pro day to showcase his throwing, but ran a 4.68 time in the 40-yard dash, 31.5″ vertical, and 9’5″ broad jump.

*Virginia Tech’s Logan Thomas let it rip on Sunday. On film he exhibits an inability to control his arm with consistency, leading to erratic spells. In Indy, he was regularly throwing ropes to receivers in intermediate and longer range drills. He showcased well and surely will catch the eye of coaches who feel they can massage his most obvious creases. There obviously is no physical limitations, and he even clocked the best time of any quarterback with a 4.60. Without ruling out his future as a passer, it’s worth noting that he’s got the size + speed to entice some as a prospective tight end… a position he was highly touted at out of high school.

*Tajh Boyd of Clemson displayed pretty solid timing with his foreign receivers. Drops were quick and easy, release was compact. Made a couple nice throws downfield.

*Alabama’s A.J. McCarron is one of the more under-appreciated passers of this class, and his downfield throwing abilities don’t get the due credit, in my view. On Sunday, he made three very nice, very accurate deep throws for completions. McCarron was putting a little bit of loft under his short-intermediate throws and out-route simulation drills, but overall it was a positive showing.

*Highly touted UCF passer Blake Bortles threw and had a good day. Solid on deep passes. Perhaps most importantly, there was no evident loss of velocity, as some have been increasingly concerned about in this pre-draft run up. Short-intermediate range throws were released with pretty noticeable strength.

*Eastern Illinois’ Jimmy Garoppolo didn’t really stand out to me, but continued to display really good footwork. This carried over from his solid Senior Bowl performance, and I believe it translated into pretty good timing despite unfamiliarity with the receivers.

*Pittsburgh’s Tom Savage was arguably the best of the second group on Sunday and displayed a strong arm with good timing.

Running Back

*Nobody did more to earn the label of “workout warrior” out of the running back group than Georgia Southern’s Jerick McKinnon. He marked the second-fastest 40-time among his position (4.41), the most bench press reps (32), second best vertical (40.5), second best broad jump (11’0″). Performed well in drills, looked fluid and quick when running routes. Had a really good day.

*Kent State’s Dri Archer was, by far, the fastest timed player of his positional group after posting a blazing 4.26 time in the 40-yard dash. He exhibited comfortable, off-body hands. Archer made me a believe that he can be utilized as both a running back and slot-receiver in order to get him touches in space. Could be a legitimate playmaker if placed in the right system.

*Blake Bortles running back at UCF was the talented Storm Johnson, who put together a very solid combine workout. The Miami (FL) transfer solidified the notion that he has good hands and can be a factor in the passing game, making a handful of quality off-body grabs. Loose, fluid movement for a well-sized ‘back. Likely to remain in my top 5 for the position.

*Washington’s Bishop Sankey made a bit of a statement. A primarily downhill, North-South runner who ran really well (4.49) and showed reliable hands in catching drills. Good hips, bent well, stayed loose.

*Alabama State’s Isaiah Crowell did himself good with a solid performance at the combine too. Was moving really nicely and intrigued with a couple quality catches off his frame. Timed speed was average at best, but the former 5-star recruit from the University of Georgia flashed enough talent to warrant a look.

*Lache Seastrunk of Baylor checked out physically. Very muscular, strong lower-body and it translated well – the ex-Oregon Duck had the best vertical (41.5) and broad (11’2″) jumps, putting his explosion on full display.

*Oregon x-factor and return specialist De’Anthony Thomas underwhelmed in his 40-time, clocking in at a 4.50, but looked as quick as you’d expect. Teams will have to find creative ways to get him in space, but he has the electricity to intrigue a team hungry for a potential playmaker and returner.

*Auburn’s Tre Mason wasn’t really a standout amongst his positional group, but didn’t perform poorly either. Solid in receiving drills, but could have maybe ran routes with a little more purpose. Aside from that, he competed and did himself no harm.

*Ohio State’s Carlos Hyde ran his first 40-yard dash and pulled up holding his left hamstring. He did not participate in any drills afterward as a precaution.

*For a bigger, bulkier ‘back like Toledo’s David Fluellen, he was able to sink his hips and change direction really nicely. Pleasantly surprised by his decent fluidity.

Wide Receiver

*First and foremost, the fastest timed receiver was Oregon State’s Brandin Cooks, who clocked a 4.33. A fleet-footed burner with the ability to play in the slot or out wide. Looked explosive during drills.

*Clemson’s Sammy Watkins didn’t get me out of my seat with his workout, but he flashed the occasional “wow” moment during the day in drills. Great body control, really solid hands, and did everything at a high speed, while remaining efficient in his movement He may be disappointed with it, but his official 4.43 time was nothing to scoff at.

*Johnny Manziel’s most talented target Mike Evans was a standout among his section of wide receivers. Long athlete who displayed really good hands all throughout the day, plucking off his frame with regularity and comfort. Looked a little stiffer in and out of his breaks, but strides nicely downfield.

*Kelvin Benjamin looks like a specimen at 6’5″ 240 lbs. definitely passed the eye-test. Ran a 4.61, which is fine for a player of his stature, and demonstrated his ability to use his length when making catches. Had a bit of a propensity to drop the occasional pass this past season, but was pretty consistent in making catches during combine drills. Appeared to be a little less rigid than Mike Evans when changing direction or sticking his foot in the ground in/out breaks.

*Big, physical Rutgers pass catcher Brandon Coleman ran a really solid 4.51 time at 6’6″ 225 lbs. Made a few nice catches downfield and overall, I believe he helped himself. Physical makeup is very interesting.

*Disappointing 4.60 time for Penn State underclassman Allen Robinson, but he proved on film that he could get separation and win in 50-50 situations when he was in them. Still, his physical testing wasn’t anything more than average.

*LSU’s Odell Beckham Jr. exhibited impressive body control during the gauntlet drill and ran routes with authority. Timed speed of 4.43 was a good figure for him, as well.

*Ole Miss’ Donte Moncrief was up and down in drills, but physically did well. Ran an impressive 4.40 and was a top performer in the vertical and broad jumps. Big frame was carried well.

*A surprise from Pittsburgh State (KS) John Brown blazed a 4.34 and looked very quick in and out of cuts during drills. Accelerated quickly and stayed loose all throughout the day. I’ll have to do a little more work.

*Alabama’s Kevin Norwood is a player I’ve been high on for some time now. He struggled to consistently complete drills without the occasional drop.

*Oklahoma slot-man Jalen Saunders was agile and electric, ran fast (4.44), and looked good enough in a variety of drills to indicate he could line up out wide on occasion too – which film also suggest, in my view.

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2014 NFL Combine notes: Offensive Line & Tight End

The on-field portion of the 2014 NFL Combine kicked off on Saturday with offensive linemen and tight ends working out for evaluators in attendance. Lets keep this short and sweet. Here are a few notes from day one:


Offensive Line

*Michigan’s Taylor Lewan showcased his athletic ability by timing as the fastest offensive lineman at the 2014 NFL Combine, running 4.87 officially. The 6’7″ 309-pounder had the best broad jump (9’9″), while placing as a top 5 performer in the vertical jump and 3-cone drill. Got a little upright at times during some drills, but moved well throughout drills. Good posture and bending.

*Auburn left tackle Greg Robinson, at 6’5″ 332-pounds ran 4.92 (good enough for second best time), and repped 32 times with 35″ arms. Looked powerful in the lower half and drove well in pad drills. “Pad level” at point of attack in certain drills was particularly impressive, but had a slight tendency to overextend. Overall, strong day.

*Nevada tackle Joel Bitonio had arguably the best workout. Very fluid mover with good feet and hips. Ran well (4.97), plus had high marks in the broad jump, 3-cone drill, and 20-yard shuttle. Extended arms well in pad drills.

*Top guard of the day was UCLA’s Xavier Su’a-Filo. Fluid, fluid, fluid. Movement skills were up there with any of his fellow linemen, if not better. Tested very well in the 20-yard shuttle and performed particularly well in short-area movement drills. Second-round pick with potential to fit into the bottom portion of round one, supported it with a good workout.

*Johnny Football’s left tackle Jake Matthews entered the day with the distinction of being a potential top 3-5 selection and did nothing to harm that with his performance. Didn’t stand-out like some of his fellow linemen, but put together a professional workout and displayed a solid ability to square his frame in pad + mirror drills.

*Colorado State center Weston Richburg is someone I’ve been praising highly for quite a while now. He, like Su’a-Filo, was a standout with regards to transition movement. Fluid, able to stay balanced, and even bent pretty well. At 6’3″ and a shade under 300-pounds, he was able to exhibit strong short-area quickness.

*The big, physical University of Tennessee tackle Antonio Richardson was never going to be in his element at the combine, but competed well throughout the workout. Strong in pad drills that required him to make some contact and extended pretty well. Kept his feet under him well when driving. Decent agility.

*Similar to Tiny Richardson, another lineman who wasn’t at an advantage without the pads on was Stanford’s David Yankey. His pedestrian 5.48 time isn’t concerning, as he’s a strong blocker who extended his 34″ arms nicely in pad drills. He showed enough.

Tight End

*It was very difficult not to take note of Tennessee State’s A.C. Leonard. The Florida transfer officially ran the fastest time with a 4.50 and was tied for the best positional broad jump at 10’8″. In drills he continued to display very natural movement ability while maintaining reliable hands throughout. If he can be as clean off the field as he was on it Saturday, he will be an interesting one moving forward.

*Notre Dame underclassman Troy Niklas didn’t run the 40, but participated in drills. He was one of the more eye-grabbing pass catchers of the group to me, exhibiting natural hands. Comfortably catches off-body and didn’t lose stride in the process during drills. Combine stats weren’t great, but he had a good day when you consider he was reportedly dealing with a strain.

*North Carolina product Eric Ebron ran the second best official time at 4.60, but reportedly tweaked a hamstring during his second 40-yard dash attempt. He was seen with an ice wrap on his right leg and did not workout.

*Colt Lyerla of Oregon ran well at 4.61 officially, but didn’t “wow” in drills like some may have expected, but showed off his athleticism quite well.

*Texas Tech’s Jace Amaro looked a little off-balance while running drills and hands were up and down throughout the day. Had a decent overall workout.

*Quarterback-turned-H back Trey Burton of Florida worked out with the tight ends and looked very athletic. He ran well (4.62) and his ability to get downfield and change direction was solid enough. He was clearly raw as a pass catcher and it showed in drills. An athlete without a position at the moment, but he has talent.

*C.J. Fiedorowicz, the big Iowa in-liner, did well in pad/block-mimicking drills and displayed a decent ability to catch underneath or short-passes. As expected, he struggled a little with the downfield catching drills and wasn’t always comfortable when locating the football.

*CSU’s Crockett Gillmore is coming off a good platoon role at the Senior Bowl and continued to display reliable hands in drills at the combine. Would have liked to see him run better (than an official 4.89), but overall his workout wasn’t bad.

*Cal H-back Richard Rodgers ran less than what I’d have expected at 4.87, but moved better than his time would indicated when participating in drills. Natural hands and fluid route runner, but I was disappointed not to see him make more of his physical skills during combine testing.

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2014 Senior Bowl: South roster

*(Height | Weight | Hand Size | Arm Length | Wingspan)

Quarterback
Derek Carr, Fresno State (6’2 1/8 | 215 lbs. | 9 1/8 | 31 1/4 | 75 1/8)
David Fales, San Jose State (6’1 3/8 | 220 lbs. | 9 1/4 | 31 1/8 | 75 1/2)
Jimmy Garoppolo, Eastern Illinois (6’2 1/4 | 219 lbs. | 9 | 30 1/4 | 75 1/4)

Running Back
Antonio Andrews, Western Kentucky (5’10 1/8 | 225 lbs. | 9 1/8 | 30 5/8 | 73 7/8)
Jerick McKinnon, Georgia Southern (5’9 | 209 lbs. | 8 3/8 | 29 1/2 | 71)
Jay Prosch, fullback, Auburn (6’0 3/4 | 256 lbs. | 10 | 30 1/8 | 74 1/8)
Lorenzo Taliaferro, Coastal Carolina (6’0 3/8 | 231 lbs. | 8 1/2 | 31 3/8 | 75 5/8)

Wide Receiver
Mike Davis, Texas (6’0 1/4 | 193 lbs. | 10 1/8 | 32 | 77 1/4)
Ryan Grant, Tulane (6’0 1/4 | 197 lbs. | 9 5/8 | 30 7/8 | 74 1/2)
Cody Hoffman, BYU (6’3 7/8 | 218 lbs. | 9 7/8 | 33 | 78 1/4)
Jordan Matthews, Vanderbilt (6’2 5/8 | 209 lbs. | 10 1/2 | 32 5/8 | 80 1/8)
Kevin Norwood, Alabama (6’2 | 197 lbs. | 10 1/8 | 31 3/8 | 74 1/4)
Solomon Patton, Florida (5’8 1/2 | 179 lbs. | 9 1/4 | 29 7/8 | 70 3/8)
Jalen Saunders, Oklahoma (5’8 3/4 | 164 lbs. | 8 3/4 | 28 7/8 | 70 7/8)

Tight End
Marcel Jensen, Fresno State (6’5 3/8 | 264 lbs. | 10 1/8 | 34 1/4 | 83 7/8)
Arthur Lynch, Georgia (6’4 1/2 | 258 lbs. | 10 1/8 | 31 | 75 7/8)

Offensive Tackle
Ja’Wuan James, Tennessee (6’6 1/8 | 315 lbs. | 9 5/8 | 33 3/8 | 82 1/4)
Morgan Moses, Virginia (6’6 1/8 | 325 lbs. | 9 3/4 | 34 3/4 | 83 7/8)
Billy Turner, North Dakota State (6’5 | 316 lbs. | 10 1/4 | 33 1/4 | 81 3/4)

Offensive Guard
Joel Bitonio, Nevada (6’4 | 307 lbs. | 9 7/8 | 33 | 80 7/8)
Jon Halapio, Florida (6’3 1/2 | 320 lbs. | 10 1/2 | 32 3/4 | 80 1/8)
Gabe Jackson
, Mississippi State (6’3 3/8 | 339 lbs. | 9 3/4 | 32 3/4 | 79 1/4)
Wesley Johnson, Vanderbilt (6’5 1/4 | 290 lbs. | 10 1/8 | 32 1/2 | 79 7/8)

Center
Marcus Heit, long snapper, Kansas State (6’2 5/8 | 252 lbs. | 10 1/4 | 30 3/4 | 76 7/8)
Gabe Ikard, Oklahoma (6’3 1/4 | 302 lbs. | 9 3/4 | 32 3/4 | 79 1/4)
Bryan Stork, Florida State (6’3 1/2 | 306 lbs. | 10 1/8 | 31 | 77)
Travis Swanson, Arkansas (6’5 | 310 lbs. | 10 | 32 7/8 | 79 1/2)

Defensive End
Dee Ford, Auburn (6’2 1/8 | 243 lbs. | 10 | 32 3/4 | 77 1/8)
Chris Smith, Arkansas (6’1 1/8 | 266 lbs. | 9 5/8 | 34 1/8 | 82 1/2)
Ed Stinson, Alabama (6’3 1/8 | 292 lbs. | 9 1/4 | 32 7/8 | 78 3/4)
Brent Urban, Virginia (6’6 3/4 | 298 lbs. | 9 7/8 | 33 5/8 | 80 3/4)

Defensive Tackle
Deandre Coleman, California (6’5 | 315 lbs. | 10 1/4 | 34 | 81 1/2)
Daniel McCullers, Tennessee (6’6 7/8 | 348 lbs. | 10 5/8 | 35 5/8 | 85 1/2)
Caraun Reid, Princeton (6’2 1/8 | 301 lbs. | 10 1/4 | 32 5/8 | 79 1/8)
Will Sutton, Arizona State (6’0 3/4 | 315 lbs. | 9 5/8 | 30 5/8 | 76 1/8)

Linebacker
Jeremiah Attaochu, Georgia Tech (6’3 1/4 | 252 lbs. | 9 3/8 | 32 7/8 | 81 1/4)
Lamin Barrow
, LSU (6’1 1/4 | 229 lbs. | 9 7/8 | 33 | 79)
Adrian Hubbard
, Alabama (6’5 7/8 | 255 lbs. | 9 1/8 | 33 7/8 | 81 3/8)
Christian Jones, Florida State (6’3 3/8 | 234 lbs. | 9 5/8 | 32 7/8 | 80 3/4)
Telvin Smith, Florida State (6’2 7/8 | 218 lbs. | 10 1/2 | 32 1/4 | 79 3/8)
Jordan Tripp
, Montana (6’2 3/4 | 237 lbs. | 9 5/8 | 30 7/8 | 75 1/4)
Kyle Van Noy, BYU (6’3 1/4 | 244 lbs. | 9 1/2 | 32 | 78)

Cornerback
Walt Aikens, Liberty (6’0 5/8 | 205 lbs. | 9 3/8 | 32 1/4 | 79 1/2)
Aaron Colvin, Oklahoma (5’11 3/8 | 186 lbs. | 9 1/4 | 31 | 75 1/2)
Chris Davis, Auburn (5’9 3/4 | 201 lbs. | 9 3/8 | 30 1/2 | 74)
Keith McGill, Utah (6’3 | 214 lbs. | 10 1/4 | 33 | 80 7/8)
Jemea Thomas, Georgia Tech (5’9 1/2 | 190 lbs. | 9 7/8 | 33 5/8 | 80 3/4)
Jaylen Watkins, Florida (5’11 3/8 | 194 lbs. | 9 5/8 | 30 5/8 | 75)
Lavelle Westbrooks, Georgia Southern (5’11 3/8 | 195 lbs. | 9 7/8 | 31 7/8 | 77 1/8)

Safety
Terrence Brooks, Florida State (5’11 | 197 lbs. | 8 1/2 | 30 1/4 | 74 3/8)
Kenny Ladler, Vanderbilt (6’0 1/8 | 200 lbs. | 9 1/8 | 31 3/8 | 75 3/4)
Craig Loston, LSU (6’0 3/8 | 214 lbs. | 10 1/8 | 30 3/4 | 75 1/4)

Special Teams
Cody Mandell, punter, Alabama (6’2 1/4 | 214 lbs. | 9 7/8 | 30 3/8 | 76 1/8)
Cody Parkey, kicker, Auburn (6’0 1/4 | 189 lbs. | 9 3/4 | 29 5/8 | 73 1/8)

—-

Conference Breakdown
SEC: 22
ACC: 8
Big 12: 5
MWC: 4
Pac-12: 3
Big South: 2
Independent: 2
Southern: 2
Big Sky: 1
C-USA: 1
Ivy league: 1
MVFC: 1
Sun Belt: 1

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2014 Senior Bowl: North roster

*(Height | Weight | Hand Size | Arm Length | Wingspan)

Quarterback
Tajh Boyd, Clemson (6’0 3/4 | 222 lbs. | 9 3/8 | 30 1/2 | 75 1/2)
Stephen Morris, Miami FL (6’1 3/4 | 208 lbs. | 10 1/8 | 31 7/8 | 77 1/2)
Logan Thomas, Virginia Tech (6’5 3/4 | 250 lbs. | 10 3/4 | 33 | 79 3/8)

Running Back
David Fluellen, Toledo (5’11 1/4 | 226 lbs. | 9 1/4 | 32 1/8 | 78 1/4)
Ryan Hewitt, fullback, Stanford (6’4 | 246 lbs. | 9 1/8 | 30 3/4 | 76 1/4)
Charles Sims, West Virginia (5’11 7/8 | 214 lbs. | 8 1/4 | 30 1/2 | 74 3/4)
James White, Wisconsin (5’9 | 206 lbs. | 8 3/8 | 28 5/8 | 69 1/4)

Wide Receiver
Jared Abbrederis, Wisconsin (6’0 7/8 | 189 lbs. | 9 5/8 | 30 3/4 | 75 1/8)
Michael Campanaro, Wake Forest (5’9 3/8 | 191 lbs. | 9 3/4 | 28 5/8 | 69 1/2)
Kain Colter, Northwestern (5’10 3/4 | 199 lbs. | 10 | 30 3/4 | 73 1/4)
Shaquelle Evans, UCLA (6’0 3/4 | 210 lbs. | 9 3/8 | 31 7/8 | 76 3/4)
Robert Herron, Wyoming (5’8 7/8 | 193 lbs. | 9 5/8 | 29 7/8 | 73 3/8)
Josh Huff, Oregon (5’11 | 201 lbs. | 9 1/8 | 30 1/2 | 74 1/8)
Jeff Janis, Saginaw Valley State (6’2 1/4 | 212 lbs. | 8 7/8 | 32 1/4 | 78 1/8)

Tight End
C.J. Fiedorowicz, Iowa (6’5 5/8 | 262 lbs. | 10 5/8 | 32 1/4 | 79 1/4)
Gator Hoskins
, Marshall (6’1 1/8 | 244 lbs. | 9 7/8 | 32 5/8 | 79 3/8)
Jacob Pedersen, Wisconsin (6’3 1/8 | 242 lbs. | 9 1/4 | 31 1/8 | 76 3/4)

Offensive Tackle
Seantrel Henderson, Miami FL (6’6 7/8 | 331 lbs. | 10 3/8 | 34 1/4 | 84)
Zack Martin, Notre Dame (6’4 1/8 | 305 lbs. | 9 3/8 | 32 1/4 | 76 7/8)
Jack Mewhort, Ohio State (6’5 5/8 | 306 lbs. | 10 1/8 | 33 | 80 1/4)
Brandon Thomas, Clemson (6’3 1/2 | 316 lbs. | 10 3/4 | 34 3/8 | 83 1/8)

Offensive Guard
Kadeem Edwards, Tennessee State (6’4 1/8 | 309 lbs. | 9 5/8 | 34 1/2 | 83 1/2)
Brandon Linder, Miami FL (6’5 3/8 | 316 lbs. | 10 1/4 | 33 1/4 | 81)
Cyril Richardson, Baylor (6’4 1/2 | 343 lbs. | 9 3/4 | 33 7/8 | 81 1/8)
Michael Schofield, Michigan (6’6 5/8 | 303 lbs. | 9 3/4 | 33 1/2 | 81 3/8)

Center
Tyler Larsen, Utah State (6’3 1/2 | 317 lbs. | 9 3/8 | 30 1/2 | 74 1/8)
Tyler Ott, long snapper, Harvard (6’2 3/4 | 252 lbs. | 9 3/8 | 31 | 76 1/4)
Weston Richburg, Colorado State (6’3 1/2 | 300 lbs. | 9 | 38 3/4 | 78 1/4)

Defensive End
James Gayle, Virginia Tech (6’3 5/8 | 255 lbs. | 9 5/8 | 32 3/8 | 77 3/4)
Kareem Martin, North Carolina (6’5 7/8 | 272 lbs. | 10 | 34 3/8 | 84 1/8)
Trent Murphy, Stanford (6’5 3/8 | 252 lbs. | 10 7/8 | 33 1/8 | 80 3/8)

Defensive Tackle
Aaron Donald, Pittsburgh (6’0 7/8 | 288 lbs. | 9 7/8 | 31 3/4 | 77 3/8)
Justin Ellis, Louisiana Tech (6’1 7/8 | 342 lbs. | 9 7/8 | 32 1/4 | 78 3/4) –  *Replaced Taylor Hart (Oregon)
Ra’Shede Hageman, Minnesota (6’6 | 318 lbs. | 9 5/8 | 33 3/4 | 81 3/4)
DaQuan Jones, Penn State (6’3 1/2 | 323 lbs. | 9 3/8 | 32 3/4 | 78 1/4)
Shamar Stephen, Connecticut (6’4 5/8 | 308 lbs. | 9 7/8 | 33 | 80 1/8)

Linebacker
Chris Borland, Wisconsin (5’11 3/8 | 245 lbs. | 9 3/4 | 28 7/8 | 73 3/8)
Jonathan Brown, Illinois (6’0 1/2 | 224 lbs. | 9 1/4 | 32 1/2 | 78 7/8)
Christian Kirksey, Iowa (6’1 3/4 | 234 lbs. | 8 5/8 | 32 3/8 | 78)
Michael Sam, Missouri (6’1 5/8 | 260 lbs. | 9 1/8 | 33 1/4 | 80 1/4)
Marcus Smith, Louisville (6’3 1/2 | 258 lbs. | 9 5/8 | 33 1/4 | 80 1/4)
Jordan Zumwalt, UCLA (6’4 | 231 lbs. | 8 1/2 | 31 1/8 | 75 1/8)

Cornerback
Marqueston Huff, Wyoming (5’11 | 198 lbs. | 8 1/4 | 31 | 74 1/2)
Stanley Jean-Baptiste, Nebraska (6’2 3/8 | 215 lbs. | 8 1/2 | 32 3/8 | 78 3/8)
Dontae Johnson, North Carolina State (6’2 | 199 lbs. | 8 7/8 | 31 1/2 | 77)
Dez Southward, Wisconsin (6’0 1/8 | 206 lbs. | 10 | 31 5/8 | 77)

Safety
Deone Bucannon, Washington State (6’1 7/8 | 216 lbs. | 9 1/2 | 31 3/8 | 78)
Ahmad Dixon, Baylor (5’11 1/2 | 205 lbs. | 9 5/8 | 32 | 76 5/8)
Isaiah Lewis, Michigan State (5’10 | 205 lbs. | 9 7/8 | 30 7/8 | 74)
Jimmie Ward, Northern Illinois (5’10 3/8 | 191 lbs. | 9 1/2 | 31 1/2 | 77 1/8)

Special Teams
Chris Boswell, kicker, Rice (6’2 | 183 lbs. | 8 1/2 | 31 1/2 | 76)
Kirby Van Der Kamp, punter, Iowa State (6’3 3/4 | 202 lbs. | 9 3/8 | 31 5/8 | 76 1/4)

—-

Conference Breakdown
Big Ten: 15
ACC: 11
Pac-12: 7
Big 12: 4
MWC: 4
AAC: 2
C-USA: 2
MAC: 2
GLIAC: 1
Independent: 1
Ivy League: 1
Ohio Valley: 1
SEC: 1

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Official list of 2014 NFL Draft declarations

Last edited on Jan. 19 at 1:15 p.m.

Eligible players who have graduated
QB Teddy Bridgewater, Louisville
DE Carl Bradford, Arizona State
LB Adrian Hubbard, Alabama
S Dion Bailey, USC

Total number of players who have declared: 98 (*NFL Draft record)

Quarterback (3)
Blake Bortles, Central Florida
Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M
Brett Smith, Wyoming

Running Back (20)
George Atkinson III, Notre Dame
Kapri Bibbs, Colorado State
Brendan Bigelow, California
Alfred Blue, LSU
Ka’Deem Carey, Arizona
Isaiah Crowell, Alabama State
Devonta Freeman, Florida State
Jeremy Hill, LSU
Storm Johnson, Central Florida
Henry Josey, Missouri
Tre Mason, Auburn
Adam Muema, San Diego State
Darrin Reaves, UAB
Bishop Sankey, Washington
Lache Seastrunk, Baylor
Jerome Smith, Syracuse
Josh Spooney, Brown
De’Anthony Thomas, Oregon
Terrance West, Towson
James Wilder Jr., Florida State

Wide Receiver (20)
Davante Adams, Fresno State
Odell Beckham, Jr., LSU
Kelvin Benjamin, Florida State
Chris Boyd, Vanderbilt
Martavis Bryant, Clemson
Brandon Coleman, Rutgers
Brandin Cooks, Oregon State
Bruce Ellington, South Carolina
Mike Evans, Texas A&M
Austin Franklin, New Mexico State
Jamel Johnson, Alabama State
Jarvis Landry, LSU
Cody Latimer, Indiana
Marqise Lee, USC
Donte Moncrief, Ole Miss
Paul Richardson, Colorado
Allen Robinson, Penn State
Willie Snead, Ball State
Josh Stewart, Oklahoma State
Sammy Watkins, Clemson

Tight End (10)
Jace Amaro, Texas Tech
Eric Ebron, North Carolina
Xavier Grimble, USC
Nic Jacobs, McNeese State
A.C. Leonard, Tennessee State
Colt Lyerla, Oregon
Jake Murphy, Utah
Troy Niklas, Notre Dame
Richard Rodgers, California
Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Washington

Offensive Tackle (5)
Cameron Fleming, Stanford
Terrance Hackney, Bethune-Cookman
Cyrus Kouandjio, Alabama
Antonio Richardson, Tennessee
Greg Robinson, Auburn

Offensive Guard (3)
Xavier Su’a-Filo, UCLA
Trai Turner, LSU
David Yankey, Stanford

Center (2)
Russell Bodine, North Carolina
Marcus Martin, USC

Defensive End (8)
Scott Crichton, Oregon State
Jadeveon Clowney, South Carolina
Kony Ealy, Missouri
Demarcus Lawrence, Boise State
Aaron Lynch, USF
Chris McCain, California
Stephon Tuitt, Notre Dame
George Uko, USC

Defensive Tackle (9)
Dominique Easley, Florida
Ego Ferguson, LSU
Carlos Gray, North Carolina State
Timmy Jernigan, Florida State
Anthony Johnson, LSU
Viliama Moala, Cal
Louis Nix, Notre Dame
Jeoffrey Pagan, Alabama
Kelcy Quarles, South Carolina

Linebacker (4)
Khairi Fortt, California
Ronald Powell, Florida
Ryan Shazier, Ohio State
Yawin Smallwood, UConn

Cornerback (7)
Bashaud Breeland, Clemson
Vic Hampton, South Carolina
Kameron Jackson, California
Terrance Mitchell, Oregon
Loucheiz Purifoy, Florida
Marcus Roberson, Florida
Bradley Roby, Ohio State

Safety (7)
Nick Addison, Bethune-Cookman
Ha’Sean Clinton-Dix, Alabama
Jonathan Dowling, Western Kentucky
Al Louis-Jean, Boston College
Calvin Pryor, Louisville
Ed Reynolds, Stanford
Pierre Warren, Jacksonville State

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Top 5 by position, 1.0

* = Undecided.

Quarterback

1. Teddy Bridgewater, Louisville (JR)

The class is led by razor-sharp Teddy Bridgewater who boasts an NFL arm and has gotten more accurate each season.

2. Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M (SO)

Johnny Football has faults, but supremely talented with ‘escapability’ and propensity for playmaking in the game’s most important position.

3. A.J. McCarron, Alabama

A.J. McCarron makes excellent decisions and has a deceptively strong-arm despite lacking the star power of fellow classmates.

4. Blake Bortles, Central Florida (JR)

Only average competition, but few quarterbacks, when on-point, were as dangerous as Blake Bortles this season – a raw talent with good field vision. Is he ready for the major responsibility that the NFL has to offer?

5. Zach Mettenberger, Louisiana State

LSU’s Zach Mettenberger, a much-improved SEC passer, possesses prototypical size and the draft’s strongest arm; torn ACL is only a major concern if he can’t plant + drive his foot on throws.

Honorable Mention: Aaron Murray, Georgia

Murray is somewhat limited + coming off a torn ACL, but perhaps the most mentally strong quarterback in the class.


Running Back

1. Lache Seastrunk, Baylor (JR)

From Baylor, by way of Oregon, Lache Seastrunk is a home-run threat with terrific quickness and creativity.

2. Storm Johnson, Central Florida (JR)

Storm Johnson, a Miami (FL) transfer, was somewhat of a forgotten man, but features an ideal combination of size + speed.

3. Bishop Sankey, Washington (JR)

Sankey is a shiftier downhill runner with good quickness and vision, but lacking top-end foot speed.

4. Carlos Hyde, Ohio State

Possesses certain Le’Veon Bell characteristics. The rough & tough Carlos Hyde has ‘plus’ quickness and runs very well between the tackles.

5. Tre Mason, Auburn (JR)

Not a powerful ‘back, but the Heisman Trophy finalist features an excellent initial burst and smooth change of direction Skills. Also has value on special teams as a kick returner.

HM: Isaiah Crowell, Alabama State (JR)

Former highly touted UGA recruit Isaiah Crowell is a bit of a slasher with deceptive strength on contact.


Wide Receiver

1. Marqise Lee, Southern California (JR)

Unfortunately Marqise Lee’s production tailed off after the graduation of Matt Barkley, but his versatility and ability to change the game in all phases of the field make him a valuable weapon.

2. Sammy Watkins, Clemson (JR)

Sammy Watkins is a track star with terrific athleticism, but will need to answer questions about a substance-related suspension from May 2012.

3. Allen Robinson, Penn State (JR)

PSU’s Allen Robinson is the Big Ten’s most dangerous pass catcher – a vertical threat with great ball skills.

4. Mike Evans, Texas A&M (SO)

Johnny Football’s favorite target, Mike Evans, is a big wide out with near-H-back size and deceptively good run + catch ability.

5. Jordan Matthews, Vanderbilt

Vandy’s Jordan Matthews is a passing game focal point and highly competitive with defenders in 50-50 situations with very reliable hands.

HM: Jalen Saunders, Oklahoma

OU’s shifty slot-type Jalen Saunders has the separation skills and good awareness to find soft zones.


Tight End

1. Eric Ebron, North Carolina (JR)

The athletic and fast Eric Ebron leads a primarily junior-led tight end class. Overall bulk & height may be of concern, but receiver skills are not in question.

2. Jace Amaro, Texas Tech (JR)

Tech’s Jace Amaro is a gritty pass catcher with good in-line blocking skills. Very physical and snatches off-body when making catches.

3. Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Washington (JR)

2013 Mackey Award winner Seferian-Jenkins is good route runner with a very wide catch radius. Cited for DUI and served a day in jail, leading to a one-game suspension this past season.

4. Xavier Grimble, Southern California (JR)

Well-built, natural hands, good quickness and has route running potential. Blocking skills leave something to be desired.

5. C.J. Fiedorowicz, Iowa

Big Iowa tight end C.J. Fiedorowicz is a strong blocker and decent hands as an outlet receiver. Has ‘momentum speed.’ Can he make the big catch?

HM: Richard Rodgers, California (JR)

Rodgers appears to be a bigger H-Back with good movement in route running. His weight + medical will be important factors in his evaluation.


Offensive Tackle

1. Jake Matthews, Texas A&M

Prototype left tackle with excellent hand usage in pass protection. Athletic blocker with nice kick-slide. Picked up right where last year’s No. 2 overall pick Luke Joeckel left off at A&M. Also has long snapping experience.

2. Greg Robinson, Auburn (JR)

Big, strong, aggressive. Stays square, bends well, and – most importantly – has really good feet. Hands in pass pro could improve. A terrific talent.

3. Taylor Lewan, Michigan

Fantastic height (6’8”) and long arms. Aggressive run blocker, who keeps a generally low pad level in pass pro. Fared rather well vs. Jadeveon Clowney. Feet can be a little slow at times and won’t be as athletic as some of the defenders he will be assigned to block.

4. Antonio Richardson, Tennessee (JR)

Few are as balanced in both pass protection and run blocking. Powerful + aggressive and very competitive. Athleticism is only average and endurance is something of a concern.

5. Cyrus Kouandjio, Alabama (JR)

‘Plus’ quickness for a heavier blocker of his size. Powerful drive-blocker with experience. Plays with leverage and stands his ground well in pass protection. Consistency is questionable.

HM: James Hurst, North Carolina

Tall, well-built left tackle type. Capable pass blocker with long wingspan. Can be ‘sticky’ when engaged with defenders and may be a nice fit for a zone-blocking scheme at NFL level.


Offensive Guard

1. Cyril Richardson, Baylor

Massive guard who may get spot looks at right tackle. Terrific run blocker, with the size to handle interior rushers in passing situations. Good movement for his size, pulls pretty comfortably.

2. David Yankey*, Stanford (JR)

The big Aussie-born Yankey is another potential right tackle with a nice blend of pass and run blocking skills. Not particularly quick in movement, but fundamentally sound. Stout at point of attack.

3. Gabe Jackson, Mississippi State

Mammoth road grader Gabe Jackson has the size + experience needed to be a day one starter at the NFL level. Very strong, but don’t drive blockers overly well or possesses ‘plus’ athleticism, despite being quick for his size.

4. Xavier Su’a-Filo, California-Los Angeles

Left guard/left tackle versatile, but the slightly over-aged Su’a-Filo (23) – who completed a two-year Mormon mission during his time at UCLA – has had his potential in question. Still, he is highly athletic + quick feet.

5. Zack Martin, Notre Dame

Undersized left tackle who projects to guard at the NFL level, Martin is an experienced lineman and two-time co-captain of the Irish. Great fundamentals.

HM: Jon Halapio, Florida

Power blocker with good leverage, the UF product has ideal size and bulk for the position. Played through injury as a senior.


Center

1. Travis Swanson, Arkansas

Size (6’5” 318 lbs.) + experience (starting since 2010) are the two staples of this All-American first teamer’s game. Swanson, a team captain, is also viewed as a leadership figure with stability. Unquestioned top center.

2. Weston Richburg, Colorado State

Small-schooler with the look of a prototype center. Intriguing size + strength + athleticism. Routinely is able to cover ground in movement and generates momentum quickly. Undervalued.

3. Marcus Martin, Southern California (JR)

Nice quickness off the snap and aggressiveness at the point of attack. Like a running back, often keeps his feet moving through contact, driving defenders. Laterally fluid, and projects well in man & zone-blocking schemes.

4. Bryan Stork, Florida State

Experienced, fleet-footed center who may be best utilized in a zone-blocking scheme at the next level. A nicely framed in-line blocker who neutralizes stronger defenders by playing at a lower pad level.

5. Tyler Larsen, Utah State

Best asset is his fluid ability to move laterally. Seals A-gaps well with his East-West quickness + bulk. Good range ion getting to the second level off the snap.

HM: Russell Bodine, North Carolina (JR)

Athletic frame with an ideal attacking rate off the snap. More of a finesse blocker who won’t overpower many interior defensive linemen, but stays competitive at the point of attack.


Defensive End

1. Jadeveon Clowney, South Carolina (JR)

Pegged as a top 3 projection since the beginning of his collegiate career. Specimen with elite pass rushing talent. Motor and motivation are in question, but he fits the mold of great pass rushers (like Mario Williams, Julius Peppers) of past draft classes.

2. Kony Ealy, Missouri (JR)

Naturally long edge rusher who can comfortably turn speed into power. Somewhat in the Jason Pierre-Paul mold – a gifted athlete with a very high ceiling and nearly no physical limitations.

3. Trent Murphy, Stanford

A potential 3-4 outside linebacker conversion with versatility and terrific size. Another naturally long defender with ideal short-area agility. Comfortable engaging and shedding blocks, and possesses a strong variety of pass rushing moves.

4. Dominique Easley, Florida

Will have to continue proving he can overcome a ACL injuries to both knees, but the undersized DT/DE-type has a fantastic first-step and can be downright disruptive at times. Could be a later round value if teams are overtly concerned about size + medical.

5. Jackson Jeffcoat, Texas

A little light for his size, the son of former NFL defensive end Jim Jeffcoat, still possesses nice length and height. Plays with good leverage and, for a true pass rusher, understands positional responsibility. Flexible rusher + uses hands well to get off blocks.

HM: Kareem Martin, North Carolina

Doesn’t bring fire off the snap or ideal closing speed, but a big athletic frame with stoutness at the point of attack make Martin a versatile commodity. Fluid movement skills for a taller lineman (6’6”) and deceptive lateral agility.


Defensive Tackle

1. Ra’Shede Hageman, Minnesota

The former tight end is a phenomenal athlete and possesses excellent movement skills – let alone for a 6’6” 311-pound interior lineman. Consistency, technique – plays a little high, and a 2012 misdemeanor will concern some.

2. Will Sutton, Arizona State

The shortish two-time consensus All-American can be a disruptive one-gapper and has developed more positional responsibility as a senior. Sack production dipped in 2013 after adding weight in effort to fill out his compact frame.

3. Louis Nix, Notre Dame

Mammoth nose tackles with good movement skills are a rare commodity if they aren’t always required to come off the field in potential passing situations. “Irish Chocolate” is a strong, space-eating run defender who is particularly powerful. Like many nose tackles, Nix is, perhaps, a little too bulky with questionable endurance & conditioning.

4. Timmy Jernigan, Florida State (JR)

Squatty 4-3 nose tackle-type with brute strength, who plays at a low pad level. Particularly good run defender, but can be effective in the passing game as well. Motor, injuries, and conditioning are concerning, but Jernigan is a talent.

5. Ego Ferguson, Louisiana State (JR)

Active interior defensive lineman with good size and short-area quickness. Laterally fluid, reads + reacts well, and frequently involved in tackles. Has benefited from playing alongside fellow underclassman Anthony Johnson, but he’s certainly taken advantage.

HM: Kelcy Quarles, South Carolina (JR)

Experienced lineman with a good first-step. Generates leverage strength and uses hands well to disengage blockers. Has the look of a 4-3/3-4 versatile player. Capable of anchoring. Only an average sized frame without much more room to grow.


Outside Linebacker

1. Anthony Barr, California-Los Angeles

Rangy and highly athletic, Barr carries his frame well and moves about the field smoothly. Penetrates very well and can be highly disruptive as a pass rusher or affect passing lanes. Tackling consistency + strength are areas of improvement.

2. Khalil Mack, Buffalo

Capable of rushing from a variety of places and posing a threat with his short-area explosiveness. Albeit against lesser competition, Mack has held his own when asked to cover. Somewhat of a tweener, but an athletic play-maker with legitimate pass rushing potential.

3. Vic Beasley*, Clemson (JR)

A pursuit defender with great closing speed. Primarily pass rushing oriented defender who would likely be best utilized on the edge in a 3-4 base. He’s comfortable enough when dropping into coverage.

4. Kyle Van Noy, Brigham-Young

Contains well, takes really good angles, and often involved in tackles due to his speed. Plays sideline-to-sideline and has experience rushing off the edge in a 3-4 front. Although he’ll likely be a 4-3 OLB in the NFL, he has lined up in a variety of spots on-field.

5. Ryan Shazier, Ohio State (JR)

Speedy athlete who can disrupt the game with his ability to close in the backfield. Prone to over-pursuing and only average in coverage, but the All-Big Ten first team selection needs to be accounted for when rushing the passer. A little light and undersized.

HM: Khairi Fortt, California (JR)

A Penn State transfer following the Sandusky scandal. He’s a little raw, but rich in talent. Excellent in movement, Fortt covers ground very well and tackles with really good form. Coverage skills leave something to be desired, but there is a strong base for growth.


Inside Linebacker

1. C.J. Mosley, Alabama

Would have been a coveted prospect in last year’s draft. Mosley is an athletic, disciplined, and experienced inside ‘backer. Sure-tackler with coverage skills, the versatile ‘Bama product doesn’t come off the field. Less effective when playing closer to the line of scrimmage and taking on bigger blockers; not

2. Shayne Skov, Stanford

Productive defensive quarterback with hailed leadership skills and a propensity to live in the film room. Good pop behind hits – able to generate momentum behind hits. Big and heavy enough to stand ground while engaging blockers. Coverage skills are a little underrated, but definitely has room to grow. Only average athleticism.

3. Christian Jones, Florida State

Prototypical FSU linebacker – athleticism and measurables. Jones features short-area explosion and covers the field well, taking good angles on ball carriers. Instincts are average at best, but he enjoys contact and playing physical. He was suspended this season for one game due to an unspecified violation of team rules.

4. Yamin Smallwood, Connecticut (JR)

Heady linebacker with good instincts. Diagnoses plays well and physical enough to execute when tracking ball carriers. Effective blitzer when called to do so, and handles himself well when taking on blockers. Wins many one-on-one battles.

5. Max Bullough, Michigan State

Well-framed Big Ten linebacker Max Bullough plays with intensity and a noticeable on-field motor. Displays good instincts and a knack for playing effective zone-coverage. Not very athletic, may be beaten to the seam by quicker tight ends, and below average pass rushing skills.

HM: Chris Borland, Wisconsin

Perhaps generously listed at 5’11”, size will be a major concern to many. That said, Borland would be one of the more coveted players in the draft if he were he taller. Stout, active run defender with good instincts and fluid hips in coverage. Lacks elite speed, but deceptively quick and plays well laterally. People blacklisted a Wisconsin player in 2012 due to height. I’d advise nobody does the same in 2014.


Cornerback

1. Justin Gilbert, Oklahoma State

Like a defensive end who can rush the pass rusher, a cornerback who can play effective man-coverage is coveted. Gilbert has good size and packs a punch behind hits. Nice leaping skills round out a neatly checked athletic evaluation. Prone to penalties and could be more involved in run defense.

2. Darqueze Dennard, Michigan State

Speedy + ball skills. The cousin of Patriots cornerback Alfonzo Dennard, Darqueze, is an excellent all around prospect. Reliable and respected in both man + zone. Can be aggressive and poses a definite turnover threat to opposing quarterbacks.

3. Kameron Jackson, California (JR)

Scrappy and durable, the very fast Long Beach Poly HS product is aggressive and tough to beat despite being undersized. Capable of playing in a variety of coverage schemes and looks like an equally effective nickel-type.

4. Jason Verrett, Texas-Christian

One of the most effective press-man cornerbacks available. Very physical in man-coverage and steps up well as a run defender. Size is less than desirable, but he’s a proven play-maker at TCU with impressive ball skills.

5. Terrance Mitchell, Oregon (JR)

Played a little in Ifo Ekpre-Olomu’s shadow in Eugene, but he’s going to generate a buzz as we draw closer to May. Fundamentals and technique are top-notch. Excellent, smooth back pedal + comfortably fluid hip work. A 5-interception junior season opened some eyes to his quietly improved ball skills.

HM: Bradley Roby, Ohio State (JR)

An up-and-down season has some questioning his consistency, but Bradley Roby is an earlier round player based on talent. Excellent body control and really good speed for the position with man-coverage capabilities. Tackling isn’t anything better than average and not overly physical.


Safety

1. Ha’Sean Clinton-Dix, Alabama (JR)

A good balance of effectiveness when playing center-field and in the box. Speed is evident on tape and used to being around the ball. Well put together and strong frame with room to add.

2. Dion Bailey, Southern California (JR)

Strong ball skills and even better instincts tell the story on Bailey. Has the necessary blend of size + speed to match up on modern tight ends. He’s an undersized linebacker, so some will place him in the tweener category.

3. Calvin Pryor, Louisville (JR)

Another aggressive, hard-hitting safety with a willingness to defend in the box. A bigger frame with room to grow, the Louisville underclassman has displayed durability throughout his three years. Quietly good ball skills. Man-coverage skills are relatively untested. Somewhat reminiscent of another ex-Louisville safety Kerry Rhodes.

4. LaMarcus Joyner, Florida State

It’s a shame that Joyner’s height (5’8”) will prevent him from being drafted as high as his talent level would indicate. Has been very effective in numerous defensive back positions. Highly aggressive and physical when blitzing or playing in the box. May be pegged as a better nickel than full-time safety at the next level.

5. Craig Loston, Louisiana State

Explosive athlete who loves the big hit. Tackling in general is hit or miss (pardon the pun), but capable of generating turnovers with his powerful hitting skills. Angles aren’t the best, but Loston is an extremely willing box defender. Consistency in coverage is the question.

HM: Antone Exum, Virginia Tech

A plus-size box defender with great physicality and length to disrupt and alter the passing game. Likes delivering big hits, but his tackling form suffers at times because of it. A torn ACL ensured he would only play three games as a senior. Played cornerback for the Hokies but may be a safety in the NFL.

-DC

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Ranking a handful of 2014 eligible QBs

ImageLouisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater has fulfilled expectations through six games.


1. Teddy Bridgewater, Louisville

Features ideal height, standing at 6’3″, and ‘plus’ mobility in and out of the pocket. Last season’s Big East OPOY is accurate (64.5% in ’11, 68.5% in ’12) and became far more efficient in his second season as a starter. Numbers have improved, as expected, due in large to a weak 2013 schedule. So far, Bridgewater has improved to a 71.0% completion, while upping his 2012 yards per attempt (8.9) to a staggering 10.6. Throwing 18 touchdowns on a mere two interceptions only highlights his ability to make good decisions, albeit against competition that won’t punish him for occasional lapses in judgement. The Miami, FL native has continued to exhibit good pocket presence and avoids pressure without taking off running on instinct. Somewhat troubling is his lack of bulk, as he weighs in at sub-200 lbs., but the soon-to-be 21-year-old Jr. has enough time to fill out his frame.

2. Tajh Boyd, Clemson

A little on the short end, as he is 6’1” at most, but a strong armed passer, featuring a quick release, with all of the necessary physical skills needed to compensate. Drastically improved his completion percentage from 59.7 in ’11 to 67.2 in ’12, while chucking 36 touchdowns on 13 interceptions last season. I would not question his work ethic after notable year-to-year improvement, as this scrappy pivot has a propensity to turn his game up in crunch time. Like Bridgewater, Boyd’s statistic accumulation to this point has been head-turning, and he’s managed to protect the football, drastically reducing turnovers. Thus far, he appears to have solidified himself as a mid-60% completion passer. Despite mediocre height, Boyd’s a mobile pocket passer who creates throwing lanes well to counter. The 2012 ACC POY is notably tough and likes to initiate contact when he runs. He’s managed to successfully recover from a torn ACL suffered in high school without setbacks.

3. A.J. McCarron, Alabama

Lacks ideal athleticism or ‘escapability’ in the pocket and doesn’t possess the big arm you’d prefer. However, he’s veteran passer with consistently good accuracy. McCarron was statistically the most efficient quarterback in college football last season (with a rating of 175.3), contributing significantly to a very talented Alabama offense. In his second year as a starter in 2012, he improved in completion percentage (66.8 in ’11 to 67.2), passing yards yards (2,634 to 2,933), yards per attempt (8.0 to 9.3), touchdowns (16 to 30) and interceptions (5 to 3). Plays in an NFL transferable offense and utilizes the talent around him well. He’s a good quarterback and will get opportunities at the next level – but how good can he be? There has been limited statistical improvement in 2013, as McCarron’s already matched his 2012 interception total in only six games. With that said, he’s completing slightly more passes and staying efficient despite a less potent rushing attack supporting him.

4. Aaron Murray, Georgia

Another signal caller on the short end, as he — like Boyd — is 6’1” at most, but possesses the traits to utilize the height deficiency to his benefit. He’s agile behind the line of scrimmage and can create throwing lanes for himself. Played behind a generally NFL-sized offensive line throughout his UGA tenure, and his size has not proven to be a hindrance. He’s now a four-year starter who’s generally improved with each year leading the Bulldog offense. In 2012, Murray passed for career highs in completion percentage (64.5), yards (3,893), yards per attempt (10.1), touchdowns (36) and rating (174.8). So far in 2013 he’s remained efficient, but his completion percentage has taken a small hit (62.8% through six games). If he’s been unable to surpass 65% in four full years of starting at Georgia, odds are he’s hit his plateau from that standpoint.

5. Logan Thomas, Virginia Tech

Must improve on the subtleties of the position, I.E. ‘feeling’ back-side pressure, protecting the football when running, fluidity and rhythm in drops, but the 6’6” 250 lbs. signal caller is a specimen. Elite arm strength, gifted athlete, makes bucket throws, and improvises well when under fire. Athletic enough to maintain accuracy when throwing on the run and sets his feet properly before releasing. A more primary issue I find when evaluating Thomas is that he appears to have peaked early from an accuracy perspective. The fifth-year Sr. is highly likely to remain a sub 60.0% passer heading to the pro level at year’s end, a poor distinction. With that said, his accuracy numbers would benefit greatly from opting for higher percentage passes, as his decision making is suspect at times and trusts his arm a little too much. He’s falling off the radar, but NFL coaching and patience are key to potentially tapping the obvious potential that the Lynchburg, VA native possesses.

6. Bryn Renner, North Carolina

Regarded as a promising high school recruit, Renner has NFL size (6’3” 225 lbs.) and the arm to match. Capable of making great throws that only starters at the pro level can make; however, consistency has proven to be an issue, as he’s equally capable of making curious decisions with the ball in his possession. On-field maturity will be monitored closely this year, as his decision making and game management skills have been questionable. With an eye on the NFL, Renner could most help himself if he’s able to display more on-field reliability at North Carolina. Mistakes will happen, but they need to be minimized. Unfortunately, in four games, prior to a minor foot injury that kept him out against Virginia Tech, Renner’s shown little improvement in his areas of issue. Style is a little reminiscent of Jay Cutler’s, as he’s a physically well-put-together passer, who wins and loses taking risks, with a completion percentage that will waiver around a 60% at most.

-DC

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