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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 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)

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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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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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Jaguars make major front office moves

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Typically the decision to fire a head coach and extend the contract of a general manager are the type of process actions after a professional football franchise has been sold. However, on Tuesday the Jacksonville Jaguars of the National Football League shocked the league with a flurry of managerial and ownership changes.

 

Current owner Wayne Weaver, 77, who purchased and brought pro football to Jacksonville in 1995, sold the franchise to Pakistani-born, American automotive parts billionaire Shahid Khan, 61, for an estimated $760 million dollars. The NFL owners will vote to ratify the deal on December 14th and the transaction is expected to be completed by January 4th, 2012. The emotional owner Wayne Weaver was believed to be seeking a buyer who will keep the team in Jacksonville for a few years now. The franchise has had notable issues with ticket sales, causing speculation over possible franchise relocation despite being locked into a stadium lease deal that runs through the 2029 season.

Weaver said there would be no contractual agreement preventing relocation, however.

“You have to trust individuals’ integrity” he said of Khan possibly moving the franchise. “There’s not a doubt in my mind that this team will be in Jacksonville.”

Weaver was highly emotional in his announcement to the press of the agreed upon transaction, fighting back tears all throughout the conference.

Shahid Khan, who earlier this year tried (and failed) to purchase the majority share of the St. Louis Rams football franchise, will join German-born Minnesota Vikings owners Zygi Wilf as the only non-American born owners currently in the league.

“Wayne’s legacy will be lasting,” said Khan. “I will always be grateful for Wayne’s trust and confidence in my commitment to the Jaguars, the NFL and the people of the Jacksonville community.”

 

The odd part of the transaction is that the Jaguars fired the football team’s head coach Jack Del Rio, one of the longest current tenured coaches in the league, prior to completing or even announcing the sale of the franchise. Del Rio had been on the coaching hot-seat for roughly two years now and the threat of being relieved of his duties always looming. The Jaguars made it official and the belief is that the decision was made because the team was “all-in” to make it to the playoffs this season and with a 3-8 record, that simply was not going to happen. Del Rio leaves the only head coaching job he’s ever had with a 69-73 regular season record and 1-2 record in playoff appearances. Jack Del Rio was only the second coach the Jaguars franchise has ever had. He is owed roughly $5.6 million for the remaining year on his contract.

The decision was also believed to have been made in large part due to botched personnel decisions and Del Rio’s lack of consistent year-to-year success.

Del Rio was widely regarded as a players-coach. Someone members of the team respected and appreciated for his activity and involvement in the players’ improvement off the field, as well as on it.

“We feel like we let him down,” said star running back Maurice Jones-Drew, who had a close relationship with Del Rio. “It’s a sad day.”

Del Rio told the press he was “blessed with nine good years” as Jaguars head coach.

Taking over as the team’s interim head coach will be defensive coordinator Mel Tucker. It was the logical decision as Tucker’s defensive unit has been one of the lone bright spots for the team this season. Wayne Weaver confirmed that Tucker would get an opportunity to interview for the full-time head coaching job after the season, as well.

 

Also, the Jaguars opted to extend the contract of the team’s general manager, Gene Smith, by 3 years, keeping him in Jacksonville through the 2014 season. Smith earlier this season turned down an extension with the organization. The highest ranking member of the team’s front office under new owner Shahid Khan, Smith will lead the search and interview process for the hiring of a new head coach.

 

Jaguars linebacker Paul Posluszny capped the whirlwind of movement off nicely.

“I don’t know what else can top a day like this.”

 

-DC

 

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