@SMH If Kaepernick really cared, he would do something. Derrick Thomas is a prime example of someone who cares. He gave around half his earnings to underprivileged kids and did not say a word. The dude was a class act and will always have my upmost respect. He never would have thought to kneel for the National Anthem, but he sure as heck would do something! All of this is getting attention, but I see the opposite effect happening then what it was designed for. So you think this is a good idea? I am seeing very hard reactions from both ends which are splitting the two sides further apart.....
Jadeveon Clowney*, DE, South Carolina
Height: 6-5. Weight: 266. 40 Time: 4.53. Projected Round (2014): First-Overall Pick. 5/5/14: Clowney will be the first pick in the 2014 NFL Draft. The only question is if a team throws an insane package of picks at Houston to get the rights to select Clowney.
Clowney is the best player available in the 2014 NFL Draft. He has the most impressive skill set for the NFL of any draft-eligible player. Clowney looks like a very safe bet to develop into a double-digit sacker and a Pro Bowl edge rusher who is high impact player.
At the Combine, Clowney showed his out-of-this-world speed and explosion with a 40 time that would be a quality number for a wide receiver. He didn't do the field drills, but sources said that Clowney interviewed well with teams and was impressive. He continued to impress in interviews around his pro day.
Clowney will be one of the fastest front-seven defenders immediately upon his arrival the NFL. He also has natural power. Clowney uses that strength to shed blocks and can bull rush offensive tackles down the pocket. Clowney has a great repertoire of pass-rushing moves that will only get better with more coaching. It would be a shock if he wasn't a steady double-digit sacker in the NFL.
It gets lost in his pass-rushing ability and crazy athletic skill set, but Clowney is a very good defender against the run. He fires into the backfield regularly to blow up runs and disrupt plays. Clowney is strong at the point of attack and doesn't get pushed around. He has a lot of natural strength that should only improve after time in an NFL strength and conditioning program.
Additionally, Clowney intimidates the opposition. Blockers are scared to go against him, and offensive coordinators change their game plans because of him.
In 2013, Clowney totaled 50 tackles, three sacks, 11.5 tackles for a loss, four passes defended and a forced fumble. He played well in his bowl game against Wisconsin. The junior had a huge impact on game plans with teams deliberately going the other direction.
In the regular-season finale, Clowney had three tackles with two tackles for a loss and a sack against Clemson. He performed well overall this year, but wasn't as dominant as in his sophomore season. However, Clowney received an insane amount of blocking and game-plan attention - more than any team could get away with in the NFL.
It was evident during the 2013 season opener against North Carolina that Clowney's conditioning was subpar. His snap count didn't warrant him being as tired as he was and he clearly took some plays off. Sources told WalterFootball.com Clowney lacked a good work ethic in his conditioning and took a significant amount of plays off in 2012. Both issues were given further proof versus the Tar Heels. After a rough start to 2013, Clowney showed improved effort and wasn't taking plays off like he did in the season opener. Clowney improved his conditioning in the second half of the year.
Clowney recorded four tackles, a sack and a forced fumble against Vanderbilt. Versus Tennessee, he went against potential first-round left tackle Antonio Richardson. Clowney was a beast against the run early on and made a number of plays behind the line of scrimmage. The junior picked up five tackles with 2.5 tackles for a loss, plus got some pass pressures. Generally, Richardson won his snaps in pass protection against Clowney, and late in the game, South Carolina was moving Clowney around to go against other offensive linemen. He decided to sit out against Kentucky and Coastal Carolina.
Clowney didn't help himself when he received a speeding ticket for going 110 mph in a 70-mph zone in December.
8/12/13: Clowney is a NFL-ready phenom who head coach Steve Spurrier said was ready to turn pro coming out of high school. Clowney has been as good as advertised after being the No.1 recruit in the nation. He dominated the SEC in 2012. Clowney has a rare skill set with elite speed, strength and athleticism. He could turn into the "Andrew Luck" of defensive draft prospects; a high-pick lock who is extremely coveted by every team in the NFL and a safe selection to turn into an elite franchise player.
Clowney was one of the best players in college football last year. The sophomore amassed 54 tackles, 23.5 tackles for a loss, three forced fumbles, two passes batted and 13 sacks. He finished sixth in the voting for the Heisman Trophy.
Clowney has incredible explosion off the snap. He is lightning fast coming off the edge and has the power to shed blocks. Plus, Clowney has already developed an arsenal of pass-rushing moves. He wrecks game plans and constantly requires double-, or even triple-, teams. Clowney also seems to have the ability to get some of his sacks shearly on the basis of intimidation.
Clowney is extremely strong against the run in taking on offensive linemen. He is a stout defender at the point of attack and maintains his gap.
Clowney was the SEC Freshman of the Year and a Second-Team All-SEC selection in 2011. He totaled 36 tackles with eight sacks, 12 tackles for a loss and five forced fumbles. Clowney did well against top competition including a good game against Georgia's Cordy Glenn.
While Clowney already is an impact player, the scary part is he has immense upside and seems to be just scratching the surface of what he can be. Clowney has the physical talent to be a dominant NFL player and is the best defensive prospect to enter the next level since Ndamukong Suh.
Personal: Son of Josenna Clowney. Raised by Josenna and maternal grandparents John and Josephine Clowney. His father, David Morgan, served 12 years in prison for robbery. Was nicknamed "Doo-Doo" as a child.
Khalil Mack, OLB, Buffalo
Height: 6-3. Weight: 251. 40 Time: 4.65. Projected Round (2014): Top-10 pick. 5/5/14: It seems unlikely that Mack will get past the first three selections and could easily go second-overall behind Jadeveon Clowney. WalterFootball.com has heard that the Rams love Mack and he is a favorite for their pick at No. 2 if they are unable to trade down.
The fast and strong Mack is a downhill defender who makes lots of plays in the backfield. He is adept at shedding blocks with the speed and athleticism to be an edge rusher in the NFL. Mack could fit best as a 3-4 outside linebacker. The explosive play-maker should develop into a double-digit sacker quickly after being drafted. It looks very unlikely that Mack will get beyond the sixth pick, and he could go as high as second overall.
The senior dominated Ohio State to open 2013. Mack had nine tackles with 2.5 sacks versus the Buckeyes, plus an interception that he returned 45 yards for a touchdown. Mack notched a sack, a pass batted and six tackles versus Western Michigan. Early in the season, he recorded eight tackles and a sack against Connecticut.
In the regular-season finale against Bowling Green, Mack had 12 tackles with 2.5 tackles for a loss. He exploded against Miami of Ohio for three forced fumbles, three sacks and eight tackles. Mack recorded 10 tackles, an interception and a sack taking on Kent State. He notched a sack, a pass batted, an interception and three tackles against Massachusetts.
Mack ended the year with a tally of 10.5 sacks, 100 tackles, five forced fumbles, seven passes broken up, three interceptions and 19 tackles for a loss.
8/14/13: There is a real buzz about Mack heading into the 2013 season and when one sees his production, it is easy to understand the genesis of the hype. The senior has 56 career tackles for a loss and has been a downhill play-maker for three years. He registered 94 tackles, 21 tackles for a loss, eight sacks, four forced fumbles, one blocked kick and two passes broken up last year. Mack totaled 65 tackles with 20.5 tackles for a loss, 5.5 sacks, two passes batted and five forced fumbles in 2011. He had 68 tackles with 14.5 tackles for a loss, 4.5 sacks, 10 passes batted and two forced fumbles as freshman.
Mack is fast, a hard hitter, instinctive and has excellent pursuit skills. He could use more strength to defend runs that come straight at him.
Mack decided to return for his senior season in order to complete his degree. For the NFL, he projects as 3-4 outside linebacker. His ability to drop into pass coverage will get a lot of scrutiny this season.
Anthony Barr, OLB, UCLA
Height: 6-5. Weight: 255. 40 Time: 4.66. Projected Round (2014): Top-16 Pick. 5/5/14: Sources told WalterFootball.com that they expect Barr to go in the teens and don't believe he'll end up being a top-10 pick. Barr had a slower than expected Combine 40 time, but bounced back at his pro day with a 40 time that was in the 4.4 to 4.5 range.
In 2013, Barr totaled 65 tackles with 20 tackles for a loss, 10 sacks, five forced fumbles and a pass batted. He showed his amazing burst off the snap and pass-rushing ability with steady pressure all season.
In his penultimate game for the Bruins, he helped beat rival USC with five tackles, three tackles for a loss, one forced fumble and two sacks. Prior to that, Barr had seven tackles with a 2.5 tackles for a loss and a sack against Arizona State. His numbers were solid, but the Sun Devils did a pretty good job of keeping him from making game-changing plays.
Barr stepped up with a big game against Oregon, recording four tackles, two sacks, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery. A week before taking on the Ducks, the senior had eight tackles with a tackle for a loss against Stanford. He recorded three tackles and sack versus California. Barr notched two sacks, five tackles and three tackles for a loss against Utah. He picked up three tackles and a sack versus New Mexico State in the contest before that. His performance against Nebraska was monstrous as he collected forced three fumbles, 11 tackles and 1.5 tackles for a loss.
Barr's performances against Oregon and Stanford confirm his high draft grade. While Will Sutton won the conference defensive player of the year, Barr had the better season.
8/14/13: Barr may have done the most to help himself during the 2012 season of any player in college football. He went from being an obscure fullback who had a total of 12 receptions across two seasons into a potential high first-round pick as a pass-rushing outside linebacker. Barr owes Jim Mora, Jr. and his coaching staff a lot for making the position change.
Barr had a breakout 2012 season and was one of the nation's leader in sacks. The junior collected 13 sacks, 83 tackles, 21.5 tackles for a loss, five passes batted and four forced fumbles. His sack total was the second largest in the nation behind only Georgia's Jarvis Jones. Barr is a tremendous blitzer who would fit well in a NFL 3-4 defense.
Barr is explosive off the edge with fantastic closing speed. He also is a physical player who dishes out some punishing hits on the quarterback.
Barr was consistently good throughout last year, but he was utterly dominant to close out the regular season. Barr then made the smart decision to return to UCLA for the 2013 season. He can still use some developmental time and that further growth could easily push him into the top 10.
Personal: Son of Lori Barr and Tony Brooks. Tony Brooks played fullback at Notre Dame and was a fourth-round pick of the Eagles in the 1992 NFL Draft. Three of Anthony Barr's uncles played in the NFL.
Marcus Smith, DE/OLB, Louisville
Height: 6-3. Weight: 251. 40 Time: 4.68. Projected Round (2014): 1-3. 5/5/14: In a draft that lacks pass-rushing talent, Smith has had a late rise. Some feel he could go late in the first round.
The Cardinals had a tough defense in 2013, and Smith was the leader of the unit. He was the American Conference Defensive Player of the Year as he finished the season with 14.5 sacks for Louisville. Smith also had 42 tackles with 18.5 tackles for a loss, four forced fumbles and three passes broken up. The senior's sack total put him second in the nation behind only Stanford's Trent Murphy.
Smith had multi-sack games against Florida International, Rutgers, South Florida, Connecticut and Miami. He then held his own at the Senior Bowl and did well at the Combine. Smith's stock has been rising down the home stretch.
Smith collected four sacks and 5.5 sacks as a junior and sophomore, respectively. He played defensive end for the Cardinals, but in the NFL, he will have to move to outside linebacker. Smith would fit best as an outside linebacker in a 3-4 defense.
Personal: Son of Elba Wilson and Marcus Smith. Administration major.
Dee Ford, OLB, Auburn
Height: 6-2. Weight: 243. Projected 40 Time: 4.60. Projected Round (2014): 1-3. 5/5/14: A medical issue kept Ford from working out at the Combine. Multiple teams have told WalterFootball.com that Ford has graded out as a late second-rounder. However, they could see a foolish team reaching for him at the end of the first round.
Ford was Auburn's best edge rusher in the Tigers' fast front seven. He ended 2013 with 29 tackles with 14.5 tackles for a loss, 10.5 sacks and two forced fumbles. Ford has excellent speed off the edge with moves to get away from blockers. In the National Championship, the senior dominated Florida State's right tackle. He missed the first two games of the season.
While Ford is very explosive off the edge, he isn't big enough to remain at defensive end in the NFL. Ford will have to move to outside linebacker. In a 4-3 defense, he would have to play as a linebacker who rushes off the edge in passing situations, similar to Von Miller in Denver. Ford projects best as an edge rusher for a 3-4 defense.
Behind Pittsburgh defensive tackle Aaron Donald, Ford was the most impressive defensive prospect at the Senior Bowl. Ford had a great week and continued his tremendous play in the game. All week, he used his great get-off and quickness to burn edge blockers in one-on-ones. Ford has the agility to drop his hips and juke tackles to the inside. He also has enough upper body strength to help him break the grip of tackles' hands and uses his speed to close in an instant.
8/14/13: Ford plays defensive end for Auburn, but he'll have to move to outside linebacker in the NFL. Ford had six sacks with 34 tackles and a forced fumble in 2012. He missed the majority of the 2011 season with a back injury. Ford recorded 11 tackles and two sacks as a freshman.
Personal: Majoring in public administration. Son of James and Debbie Ford.
Scott Crichton*, DE, Oregon State
Height: 6-3. Weight: 273. 40 Time: 4.84. Projected Round (2014): 2-3. 5/5/14: In 2013, Crichton totaled 47 tackles with 19 tackles for a loss, 7.5 sacks and three forced fumbles. He was more disruptive than the numbers indicate. Crichton didn't record a sack against Oregon, but constantly pressured Marcus Mariota and caused lots of disruption. In his career, Crichton caused a lot of havoc and commanded some extra blocking potential. He finished the season well and entered the 2014 NFL Draft.
At the Combine, Crichton had a solid performance, yet he wasn't overly impressive. Sources have told WalterFootball.com they have graded Crichton as a second-rounder. He is a bit of tweener between a 4-3 end and a 3-4 outside linebacker.
8/12/13: Crichton has displayed some natural pass-rushing and play-making ability over the last two years for Oregon State. The sophomore turned in an impressive 2012 season with nine sacks, 17 tackles for a loss, 44 tackles and a forced fumble. He had six sacks, 14.5 tackles for a loss, six forced fumbles and 74 tackles as a redshirt freshman in 2011.
Crichton needs to improve his hand usage and the ability to shed blocks. He has some quickness and strength, but needs his repertoire of pass-rushing moves to get better. Crichton is too reliant on a bull rush. If the junior checks in smaller than his listed measurements, he will have to move to outside linebacker.
Personal: Majoring in human development and family sciences. Son of Lucky and Malama Crichton.
Jeremiah Attaochu, DE/OLB, Georgia Tech
Height: 6-3. Weight: 252. Projected 40 Time: 4.71. Projected Round (2014): 2-3. 4/12/14: Many project Attaochu to go early in the second round. The issue for him is scheme fit as he is a tweener for a 4-3 defense and is a better fit in a 3-4.
In 2013, Attaochu collected 45 tackles with 16 tackles for a loss, two passes batted and 12.5 sacks. He beat North Carolina left tackle James Hurst for one of those sacks. Attaochu had big games against Clemson and Georgia. He is a good speed rusher, but he'll most likely have to move to outside linebacker in the NFL. Attaochu played well at the Senior Bowl, but didn't work out at the Combine.
8/12/13: Attaochu is fast and is very athletic. He has some natural pass-rush ability as he enters his senior year with 19 career sacks. Attaochu is moving from outside linebacker to defensive end for 2013. He should gain weight for the NFL and looks like he would fit well as a 3-4 outside linebacker.
Attaochu totaled 69 tackles, 10 sacks, 12 tackles for a loss, one pass broken up and one forced fumble last year. He had solid sophomore season with 59 tackles, 11.5 tackles for a loss, six sacks, one interception, two passes broken up and two forced fumbles.
Personal: Majoring in science, technology and culture. Son of Paul and Comfort, originally from Nigeria.
Trent Murphy, DE/OLB, Stanford
Height: 6-5. Weight: 250. 40 Time: 4.86. Projected Round (2014): 2-3. 5/5/14: Murphy has a well-rounded skill set as he is a good pass-rusher with quickness and strength. Murphy defends the run well and has good instincts. He also has the athletic ability to drop into pass coverage. Murphy looks like a great fit as a 3-4 OLB in the NFL. He would be drafted higher if he was faster and had more explosion off the snap.
Murphy had a mixed performance at the Senior Bowl and wasn't good enough to help his first-round prospects. At the Combine, Murphy confirmed that he is a second-day pick and not a first-rounder.
In 2013, Murphy totaled 15 sacks, 24.5 tackles for a loss, 62 tackles, six passes batted, one forced fumble and an interception returned 30 yards for a touchdown. He led the nation in sacks.
Murphy recorded two sacks of San Jose State quarterback David Fales in the 2013 season opener. Murphy had an interception returned for a 30-yard touchdown against Washington State. Versus Washington, he had two sacks and deflected a pass that was intercepted near the end zone late in the fourth quarter to protect Stanford's narrow win over the Huskies.
Murphy played well against Oregon and was an animal against Oregon State, totaling eight tackles, 2.5 sacks, two batted passes and 4.5 tackles for a loss. He came close to a number of other sacks and was living in the backfield all night. Murphy was held in check by Notre Dame left tackle Zack Martin, and totaled just two tackles and .5 tackles for a loss. While Stanford fell in a road upset to USC, Murphy was phenomenal for the Cardinal. He had eight tackles with four tackles for a loss and two sacks. Murphy had a quality game against Michigan State in the Rose Bowl.
8/12/13: Murphy was perhaps the best player on Stanford's tough defense in 2012. That is saying something with other good prospects like Ben Gardner, Henry Anderson, Ed Reynolds, Chase Thomas and Shayne Skov all being legitimate pro prospects.
Murphy is a physical force who beats linemen with power and technique. He also has speed to get by as an edge-rusher. Murphy totaled 56 tackles with 10 sacks, 18 tackles for a loss, four passes broken up, one interception and a forced fumble last season. He racked up 40 tackles with 10 tackles for a loss and 6.5 sacks in 2011.
Murphy is a versatile player who has lined up in a variety of spots in Stanford's 3-4 defense.
Personal: Majoring in science, technology and society.
Kyle Van Noy, OLB/ILB, BYU
Height: 6-3. Weight: 244. 40 Time: 4.71. Projected Round (2014): 2-3. 5/5/14: Van Noy looks likely to go on the second day. He could be a late second-round pick or go in the third. Van Noy was solid at the Combine but was said to have impressed at this pro day.
Even though 2013 was a moderately disappointing season for BYU, Van Noy still made a lot of impact plays for the Cougars. He recorded 68 tackles with 17.5 tackles for a loss, four sacks, seven passes batted and two interceptions. Teams also game planned for Van Noy to go away from him. He was solid at the Senior Bowl, but didn't do enough to help himself get back into first-round consideration.
Against Wisconsin, Van Noy had eight tackles with two tackles for a loss and an interception. He recorded six tackles and three sacks versus Georgia Tech. The senior picked off a pass and returned it 17 yards for a touchdown against Utah State. A week earlier against Middle Tennessee on a tackle for a loss, Van Noy knifed through the line to tackle the running back in the end zone for a safety.
Van Noy had a big impact against Texas, recording eight tackles with a sack. He also had a ton of other pressures and hits on the quarterback. In Week 1 versus Virginia, Van Noy racked up four tackles with two tackles for a loss. He also caused an interception while tackling the quarterback.
8/14/13: Van Noy is extremely explosive coming off the edge. He is a solid run-defender, but really excels in pass defense. Van Noy is a good athlete who drops into coverage well, yet he is still a phenomenal blitzer.
Van Noy has an excellent physical skill set with a lot of upside to develop in the NFL. He was one of the nation's leading sackers in 2012 with 13 quarterback takedowns. The junior also recorded 53 tackles, 22 tackles for a loss, six forced fumbles, two interceptions and five passes batted. Van Noy was the most impressive player on the BYU defense and that includes the 2013 NFL Draft's fifth overall-pick, defensive end Ezekiel Ansah.
Van Noy closed out last season with a game for the ages. He scored two touchdowns against San Diego State. On the first, Van Noy dropped into coverage and picked off a pass to set up a 17-yard touchdown return. The other touchdown came on recovering a fumble in the end zone.
Van Noy had 68 tackles, 15 tackles for a loss, seven sacks, three forced fumbles, three passes batted and three interceptions in 2011.
Personal: Son of Kelly and Layne Van Noy.
Kareem Martin, DE, North Carolina
Height: 6-6. Weight: 272. 40 Time: 4.72. Projected Round (2014): 2-3. 5/5/14: Martin could go in the second round, but he shouldn't fall out of the third round. Martin recorded 82 tackles, 21.5 tackles for a loss, 11.5 sacks, three forced fumbles and three passes broken up in 2013. After a quiet start, he was red hot in the second half of the season.
Martin has a nice athletic skill set, but didn't always played up to his potential. He needs to become more consistent with his pass rush. Martin didn't have a very impressive week at the Senior Bowl, but had a respectable showing at the Combine. Martin has a lot of athletic upside, so he if lands in the right spot, he could prove to be a steal.
8/12/13: Martin totaled 40 tackles, 15.5 tackles for a loss, three passes batted, one forced fumble and four sacks last year. Surprisingly, the junior wasn't as effective a pass-rusher as he seemed capable of. Many thought Martin would produce a big season with a year of experience and Quinton Coples being in the NFL.
Martin beat out Donte Paige-Moss for a starting job in 2011 despite the fact that Paige-Moss had a productive 2010 season. The sophomore provided a bigger impact early in the season for the Tar Heels than Coples. Martin recorded 40 tackles with four sacks, seven tackles for a loss and six passes batted in 2011.
Martin has upside, and he could become a big-time prospect as a senior. Martin has good size with excellent speed. He is a physical player who really battles offensive tackles.
Personal: Public policy major.
Demarcus Lawrence*, OLB, Boise State
Height: 6-3. Weight: 251. 40 Time: 4.80. Projected Round (2014): 2-3. 5/5/14: Lawrence was moderately disappointing at the Combine, but he did add some weight to his frame. Some pundits feel that Lawrence should go early on the second day of the 2014 NFL Draft.
Lawrence was fairly quiet in the early going of 2013, but started to heat up late in September. He turned in a big game against Air Force with nine tackles and two tackles for a loss. Lawrence recorded sacks in six straight games - 3.5 sacks came against Nevada. The junior picked up 72 tackles, 20.5 tackles for a loss, 10.5 sacks, one pass batted and three forced fumbles in 2013.
Lawrence needs to add more strength. He probably would have a better shot at going higher if he had returned for his senior year and gotten stronger.
8/14/13: Lawrence replaced Shea McClellin in the Boise State defense in 2012 and had a breakout sophomore season. Lawrence spent his freshman year in community college, but was an impact player for the Broncos in 2012. He showed nice pass-rush ability with 9.5 sacks. Lawrence also led the defensive line in tackles (48) and tackles for a loss (13.5). He chipped in four forced fumbles and an interception, too. Lawrence's year of experience could make him even better in 2013 - if he adds some more strength.
Carl Bradford*, OLB/ILB, Arizona State
Height: 6-1. Weight: 243. 40 Time: 4.76. Projected Round (2014): 2-4. 5/5/14: Bradford played really well in 2013. He has a unique skill set with toughness as a run-defender and pass-rushing ability.
Bradford was impressive against Notre Dame with a lot of disruption. He was superb against Washington State with forced fumbles and a sack. The junior was suspended against Oregon State. Bradford had 61 tackles with 19 tackles for a loss, 8.5 sacks, four passes broken up, one interception and three forced fumbles in 2013. He could be a nice weapon in a 3-4 defense who plays on the inside and outside. Bradford would fit best as a Sam (strongside) linebacker in a 4-3, but he could also be trained on the inside.
9/5/13: Bradford broke out last year with 81 tackles, 11.5 sacks, 20.5 tackles for a loss, five passes defended, three forced fumbles and one interception. The sophomore started strong and was on fire to close out the season. He had sacks in the final six games with a total of seven sacks in that stretch. With Will Sutton causing havoc on the inside, Bradford could have another big season as a junior in 2013.
Chris Smith, DE, Arkansas
Height: 6-1. Weight: 266. 40 Time: 4.71. Projected Round (2014): 3-4. 5/5/14: In 2013, Smith recorded 36 tackles with 11.5 tackles for a loss and 8.5 sacks. He had three sacks against Southern Miss. Smith didn't stand out against South Carolina, Florida or Alabama. However, he played better against Mississippi State and Ole Miss. Smith showed his edge-rush ability at the Senior Bowl, but he should move to outside linebacker in a 3-4 defense in the NFL. Smith had a nice Combine performance and would be ranked higher if he were taller.
8/12/13: Smith fell under the radar last year because Arkansas had a nightmare season, but he played extremely well. The junior totaled 52 tackles with 13 tackles for a loss, 9.5 sacks, four passes batted and one forced fumble. He put a lot of pressure on the quarterback. In 2011, Smith had 31 tackles with 3.5 sacks. He could be the second-best pass-rusher in the SEC behind only Jadeveon Clowney.
Personal: Son of Sherry and William Smith.
Adrian Hubbard*, OLB, Alabama
Height: 6-6. Weight: 257. 40 Time: 4.69. Projected Round (2014): 3-5. 5/5/14: Hubbard was solid, but unspectacular, for Alabama in 2013. He had 33 tackles with 5.5 tackles for a loss, three sacks and two passes broken up for the year. Hubbard notched his first sack of the season against LSU and added another against Auburn. He should have returned for his senior year, and WalterFootball.com heard from sources that Alabama didn't make much a pitch for him to comeback. Hubbard had a decent week at the Senior Bowl and followed that up with a similar performance at the Combine.
8/14/13: Hubbard won the starting spot to replace Upshaw at Sam linebacker last year following the latter's departure for the NFL. Hubbard ended up being Alabama's best pass-rusher last year and it looked like he was just scratching the surface of his potential. The sophomore totaled 41 tackles, 11 tackles for a loss, seven sacks, three forced fumbles and a pass batted.
Hubbard is very quick and is a physical player. He will be a great fit in a 3-4 defense. Last year was Hubbard's first season of significant playing time, and he should be even better as a junior with the year of experience under his belt. Adding some more weight to fill out his frame could help Hubbard's overall game.
Jackson Jeffcoat, DE/OLB, Texas
Height: 6-3. Weight: 247. 40 Time: 4.63. Projected Round (2013): 4-6. 5/5/14: In 2013, Jeffcoat collected 79 tackles, 13 sacks, 19 tackles for a loss, three passes batted and an interception. He played well for Texas and came up with clutch performances against Kansas State and Oklahoma with two sacks in each outing. Jeffcoat had three sacks against Texas Tech.
While Jeffcoat produced a good statistical season, sources say he's a project for the NFL because he is too undersized for defensive end and not athletic enough for outside linebacker. Not everybody projects him transitioning well to outside linebacker either. At the Combine, he ran faster than expected.
8/12/13: Jeffcoat went out for the 2012 season after six games due to a torn pectoral muscle. He totaled 25 tackles, four sacks, 10.5 tackles for a loss, two forced fumbles and one pass breakup in his shortened year. Jeffcoat needs to add strength as teams were able to run the ball at him.
Jeffcoat was a Second-Team All-Big XII selection in 2011. He had 54 tackles with 16.5 tackles for a loss, 7.5 sacks and three passes broken up. Almost all of Jeffcoat's production came in the second half of the season. He was a backup as a freshman, collecting only 13 tackles with three tackles for a loss, 1.5 sacks and one pass breakup.
Jeffcoat has a real burst off the edge that puts tackles on their heels. He has the speed to turn the corner and the agility to drop his hips or shoulder to get pointed to the quarterback. Jeffcoat needs to continue to develop his pass-rushing moves for the NFL. He could fit best as a 3-4 rush linebacker, and it is possible that he could be the 2014 NFL Draft's Dion Jordan.
There is no doubt that Jeffcoat has good bloodlines. His father, Jim Jeffcoat, had a long NFL career with the Dallas Cowboys and Buffalo Bills.
Cassius Marsh, DE, UCLA
Height: 6-4. Weight: 252. 40 Time: 4.89. Projected Round (2014): 4-6. 5/5/14: Marsh picked up 55 tackles with 8.5 tackles for a loss and six sacks in 2013. After a slow start to the year, he played well in the second half. Marsh had a big game against USC to close out the regular season. He showed a nice combination of strength and quickness. Marsh was up-and-down at the East-West Shrine, but he has some potential. Marsh had good performance at the Combine.
8/12/13: Marsh quietly put together an impressive 2012 season. The junior collected 40 tackles, eight sacks, 10.5 tackles for a loss, two passes batted and two forced fumbles. He was red hot in the middle of the year with 5.5 sacks in a four-game stretch.
Marsh was wise to return for his senior season. It wouldn't be surprising if he has a big year with edge-rusher Anthony Barr demanding double-teams and forcing quarterbacks to move towards the other side.
Marsh also had a solid sophomore season with 22 tackles, four tackles for a loss and two sacks. He has some real quickness and with upside to improve his production in 2013. Marsh received playing time as a freshman and made 23 tackles.
Personal: Son of Curtis Marsh and Holly Ann LeBlanc.
Ron Powell*, OLB, Florida
Height: 6-3. Weight: 237. 40 Time: 4.65. Projected Round (2014): 4-6. 5/5/14: Powell started the 2013 season strongly and recorded two sacks against Miami. He got banged up and barely played against Arkansas and LSU. Powell finished the season playing solid football and entered the 2014 NFL Draft rather than taking another injury risk. He notched 26 tackles with seven tackles for a loss and four sacks, but his collegiate career fell far short of expectations. Powell was lighter than expected at the Combine, but he ran well.
8/14/13: Powell was out for the 2012 season after a setback during rehab for his knee injury. The Gators are optimistic that he is in store for a big season in 2013. They are projecting Powell to be a starter, and he has been on the practice field without restrictions in training camp. The redshirt junior has the physical talent to be a first-round pick.
Powell was the No. 1 recruit in the nation in 2010. He had a rough start as a freshman, recording just 25 tackles with 2.5 tackles for a loss and a sack.
Powell was moved was moved to hybrid defensive end and outside linebacker for 2011 in Will Muschamp's defense. The 'Buck' linebacker produced some quality prospects like Sergio Kindle and Brian Orakpo for Muschamp when he ran the defense at Texas. Powell finished his second season with 32 tackles, nine tackles for a loss, six sacks and a forced fumble.
Late in 2011, it seemed like the light bulb finally turned on as Powell showed some of the excellent speed and play-making ability that made him such a sought after recruit. He recorded four sacks in the final six games and was consistently pressuring the quarterback.
There was a lot of excitement for Powell heading into 2012, but the junior tore a knee ligament in spring practice (and received a medical redshirt). Powell may be better off staying for his senior season in 2014 and continue to improve before going pro. However, there have been reports out of Gainesville that suggest Powell could explode this year.
Prince Shembo, OLB, Notre Dame
Height: 6-1. Weight: 253. 40 Time: 4.71. Projected Round (2014): 4-6. 5/5/14: Shembo totaled 48 tackles and 5.5 sacks in 2013. He had a big game against Arizona State with three sacks, but wasn't consistent this season. Shembo had a decent performances at the East-West Shrine and the Combine.
8/14/13: Shembo went under the radar last year, but he was a good contributor for Notre Dame's tough defense. He was a quality run-defender and contributed some pass rush off the edge. He totaled 51 tackles with 10.5 tackles for a loss and 7.5 sacks. Shembo flashed some impressive pass rushes on occasion and notched sacks against Michigan's Taylor Lewan and Oklahoma's Lane Johnson.
Shembo needs to continue to improve his pass-rushing moves and really needs to get better at shedding blocks. Shembo's hand usage has a lot of room for improvement and if he can do that, it could make him a much better pass-rusher.
Shembo registered 31 tackles with two sacks in 2011. He had 15 tackles and 4.5 sacks as a freshman.
Morgan Breslin, DE/OLB, USC
Height: 6-2. Weight: 250. Projected 40 Time: 4.71. Projected Round (2014): 5-7. 5/5/14: Breslin missed the 2013 opener against Hawaii with a foot injury. He was banged up over season and missed time at multiple points. When Breslin played, he performed well for the Trojans. In limited time, Breslin picked up 4.5 sacks, eight tackles for a loss and 15 tackles. He didn't work out at the Combine.
8/12/13: The junior college product Breslin had a breakout year for USC in 2012, his first season on campus. He totaled 62 tackles with 19.5 tackles for a loss, 13 sacks, four passes batted and a forced fumble.
The biggest issue keeping Breslin is his size. He is a tweener defensive end/outside linebacker. It will be interesting to see how Breslin performs in the Trojans' new defense, but he looks best as a 3-4 outside linebacker.
Personal: Majoring in sociology.
Trevor Reilly, DE/OLB, Utah
Height: 6-5. Weight: 255. Projected 40 Time: 4.85. Projected Round (2014): 5-7. 5/5/14: Reilly played linebacker and defensive end for Utah. For the NFL, he could play either position, but would need to add more weight for defensive end. The senior recorded 100 tackles with 8.5 sacks, 16 tackles for a loss, two passes broken up, one interception and one forced fumble in 2013. He didn't work out at the Combine.
Reilly had 69 tackles, 4.5 sacks, four passes batted and three forced fumbles in 2012. In 2011, he had 47 tackles, five sacks and four forced fumbles.
Personal: Economics major. Son of Ross and Kris Reilly.
James Gayle, DE/OLB, Virginia Tech
Height: 6-4. Weight: 259. 40 Time: 4.70. Projected Round (2013): 5-7. 5/5/14: Gayle had 44 tackles in 2013, plus six sacks, 10.5 tackles for a loss and a forced fumble. He played well for Virginia Tech alongside Derrick Hopkins, Luther Maddy and Dadi Nicholas. Gayle didn't really stand out at the Senior Bowl, but he did well at the Combine.
8/12/13: Gayle had 43 tackles, 11 tackles for a loss and five sacks in 2012. He recorded 38 tackles, 12.5 tackles for a loss and seven sacks in 2011. Gayle has been a Second-Team All-ACC selection for the past two seasons. He was a backup in 2010, but still recorded four sacks.
Gayle has some athletic ability and natural pass-rush skills. He could easily improve his draft stock with a big senior year. Gayle needs to add weight and strength.
Personal: Majoring in sociology. Son of James and Michelle Gayle. Uncle, Shaun Gayle, had a solid career for the Chicago Bears.
Michael Sam, DE/OLB, Missouri
Height: 6-2. Weight: 261. Projected 40 Time: 4.71. Projected Round (2014): 5-7. 5/5/14: Sam was a breakout performer for Missouri in 2013 with 11.5 sacks. He also recorded 48 tackles with 19 tackles for a loss, two forced fumbles and two passes broken up. Sam returned a fumble for a touchdown in the Tigers' upset win over Georgia. He dominated with three-sack games against Arkansas State, Vanderbilt and Florida. The senior was shut down by Tennessee's tough offensive line, and Auburn ran over him in the SEC Championship.
Sam recorded 22 tackles with 4.5 sacks, seven tackles for a loss and two forced fumbles in 2012. As a sophomore, he had 1.5 sacks. That was slightly less than the 3.5 sacks from his freshman season.
Sam should move to outside linebacker in the NFL, but could be a situational defensive end in obvious passing downs. He would probably fit best as a 3-4 outside linebacker. Sam had a mixed week at the Senior Bowl and looked bad at the Combine.
Personal: Son of Michael and JoAnn Sam.
Chaz Sutton, DE, South Carolina
Height: 6-5. Weight: 256. Projected 40 Time: 4.83. Projected Round (2014): 6-FA. 5/5/14: Sutton made an impact for South Carolina and held up moderately well with teams sending plays away from Jadeveon Clowney. Sutton had 32 tackles with 8.5 tackles for a loss and three sacks in 2013, but is undersized for the NFL. He didn't work out at the Combine.
8/12/13: South Carolina has had a lot of good defensive line talent in recent years, so it has been hard for Sutton to see the field. He is slotted to replace Devin Taylor as a starting defensive end on the other side from Jadeveon Clowney. With the monster Clowney drawing double- and triple-teams, Sutton should see a ton of one-on-one blocks in 2013. He totaled 25 tackles, seven tackles for a loss, five sacks, one pass broken up and one forced fumble as a junior last season.
Personal: Majoring in hotel, restaurant and tourism management.
Aaron Lynch**, DE, South Florida
Height: 6-5. Weight: 249. Projected 40 Time: 4.74. Projected Round (2014): 7-FA. 5/5/14: Lynch was a disappointment in 2013, yet he still entered the 2014 NFL Draft. Lynch wasn't the same force that he was at Notre Dame as a freshman. Despite a weak conference, Lynch didn't come alive until late November when he picked up four sacks through the final three games.
Lynch recorded 29 tackles with 11.5 tackles for a loss and five sacks in 2013. He made a big mistake going pro considering his disappointing year and questions about his makeup. There are a lot of off-the-field concerns that could cause him to go undrafted.
8/12/13: The Notre Dame transfer was forced to sit out the 2012 season, but he may only need one more season of college to prove that he is a first-round prospect. Lynch played really well for Notre Dame in 2011 as freshman, recording 33 tackles, seven tackles for a loss, 5.5 sacks and a forced fumble. Lynch was just scratching the surface of his talent.
Lynch left the Fighting Irish due to homesickness for Florida and landed with the Bulls. He should dominate the Big East in 2013.
Personal: Majoring in interdisciplinary social science. Son of Alice Lynch.
Ishaq Williams*, OLB, Notre Dame
Height: 6-5. Weight: 255. Projected 40 Time: 4.73. Projected Round (2014): 7-FA. 5/5/14: Williams racked up 17 tackles with 1.5 tackles for a loss and a sack in 2013. He missed a few games with a knee injury. Williams didn't participate in the Combine.
8/14/13: Williams rotated into the game in 2012 and totaled 22 tackles for the season. He has good size and strength. Williams could take on a bigger role in 2013 now that Manti Te'o is in the NFL.