2014 NFL Draft Big Board
The top prospects available for the 2014 NFL Draft.
By Charlie Campbell.
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Updated April 15, 2014
- Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina. Previous Rank: 1
4/15/14: Clowney has decided not to do any more private workouts for teams; that's partially about the injury risk. He's locked in to the top-three picks and is the favorite to go first overall, so he has nothing to gain by doing more private workouts for teams he has little chance of playing for.
At his pro day, Clowney performed well while being at less than 100 percent with a groin injury. He completed the workout and showed NFL teams that he has been diligent in his conditioning. Clowney also looked fluid and agile dropping into coverage in outside linebacker drills. His pro-day performance will only help his chances of going first overall.
Clowney (6-5, 266) performed as predicted at the Combine. The physical freak ran faster than many defensive backs and wide receivers in the 40-yard dash with a time of 4.53 seconds. Clowney's first 10 yards came in at 1.56 seconds, and he did showed explosion in the broad (10-4) and vertical (37.5) jumps. Clowney didn't do the field drills, but his Combine performance confirmed his rare athleticism.
While Clowney had an incomplete performance in the field work at the Combine, sources say it was "mission accomplished" for him in the team meetings, as he did very well. The teams we've spoken to came away impressed, including two teams picking in the top five.
2/18/14: Sources and scouts at the East-West Shrine and Senior Bowl told me there is a unanimous consensus that Clowney is the top talent for the 2014 NFL Draft. His ability to dominate as a pass-rusher and a run-defender with his rare combination of size, speed, strength and athleticism have him regarded as the top talent in the draft class.
Clowney notched five tackles with a tackle for a loss and two passes broken up against Wisconsin in his collegiate finale. He played well and flashed his immense skill set.
In his last game of the 2013 regular season, Clowney recorded three tackles with two tackles for a loss and a sack against Clemson. He was a beast against the run versus Tennessee, making a number of plays behind the line of scrimmage. Clowney also played well against Florida. The junior picked up five tackles with 2.5 tackles for a loss, plus got some pass pressures in that contest.
Clowney did well this year, but he wasn't dominant. However, Clowney received an insane amount of blocking and game-plan attention - more than any team could get away with in the NFL.
Clowney recorded four tackles, a sack and a forced fumble in South Carolina's win over Vanderbilt. It was his best performance of the season. Clowney totaled 40 tackles, three sacks, 11.5 tackles for a loss, four passes defended and a forced fumble in 2013.
To start the year, Clowney was out of shape and took plays off in underwhelming performances against North Carolina and Georgia. He got a few pressures on the quarterback, but only totaled three tackles against the Tar Heels. Clowney had a sack against the Bulldogs. After a rough start, he showed improved effort and wasn't taking plays off like he did in the season opener. Clowney's conditioning in the second half of the year definitely improved. He didn't help himself when he received a speeding ticket for going 110 mph in a 70-mph zone in December.
8/30/13: Clowney currently looks like he could turn into the best defensive prospect to enter the NFL draft this century - with the possible exception of Ndamukong Suh in 2010. Clowney has a rare skill set with an elite combination of speed, strength and athleticism. The junior 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 franchise player.
Sources told WalterFootball.com that Clowney lacks motivation and a good work ethic, plus lives by a different set of rules than his teammates and takes a lot of plays off. While those traits are disappointing, they can be fixed in the NFL via good coaching, workout clauses in his contract and veteran leadership.
Clowney dominated the SEC last season and was one of the best players in college football. The sophomore amassed 54 tackles, 23.5 tackles for a loss, three forced fumbles, two passes batted and 13 sacks. He finished sixth for the Heisman Trophy.
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.
The phenom is NFL ready and head coach Steve Spurrier said Clowney was ready to turn pro coming out of high school. He is overwhelmingly fast and physical, and can beat offensive tackles with either blinding speed or brute force.
Clowney has incredible explosion off the snap. He is lightning fast coming off the edge and has the power to shed blocks. Clowney already has a developed arsenal of pass-rushing moves, too. He wrecks game plans and constantly is requiring double- or triple-teams. Clowney also seems to have the ability to get some sacks on sheer intimidation. There are times where he looks like a young Lawrence Taylor.
- Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson. Previous Rank: 2
4/15/14: There is a lot of talk that the Detroit Lions are preparing to move up for Watkins. Detroit has shown a ton of interest in him, and he could be a great fit in the Motor City.
WalterFootball.com spoke with some scouts who agreed with my contention that Watkins was the only player to consider for the top spot other than Clowney. However, some teams would probably suggest Khalil Mack be added in. Still, Watkins is a rare talent and the best receiver to enter the NFL since A.J. Green in 2011.
Watkins (6-0, 211) was one of the stars of the Combine among the wide receivers. He looked faster and more explosive than his 4.43-second 40-yard dash time. Watkins was so smooth and fast in the wide receiving drills, and he clearly has first-step quickness that is unmatched. Watkins made the argument to go at the top of the first round, and his Combine performance proved he is a legitimate contender to go second overall.
At his pro day, Watkins continued to impress as some felt it was one of the best pro-day performances ever from a wide receiver. There was a huge contingent of scouts - with all the teams represented - at Clemson with Watkins being the featured prospect.
2/18/14: Watkins is a hot prospect in the scouting community. Scouts and league contacts were raving about him during the all-star practices. Watkins is a special talent who could become increasingly coveted in the lead up to the 2014 NFL Draft, just like Tavon Austin last year.
In the Orange Bowl, Watkins dominated Ohio State with 16 receptions for 227 yards and two touchdowns. He beat the Buckeyes' defenders with elite speed and explosiveness. The junior also showed some power on occasion. Watkins has elite speed with an explosive first step that looks similar to Percy Harvin. Watkins also has good hands and can play big when he needs to.
Taking on South Carolina, the junior had seven receptions for 93 yards. Watkins was excellent as he burned Georgia Tech for two long touchdowns and 104 yards on 5 catches. One score came on a bomb downfield as Watkins was able to pull off a defensive back. The second touchdown came on a quick screen pass that he took the distance from about 40 yards out.
Against Virginia, Watkins dominated with eight catches for 169 yards and two touchdowns. He had 14 receptions for 163 yards the week before against Maryland. Watkins caught eight passes for 68 yards and a touchdown in Clemson's loss to Florida State. He played better than the numbers indicate.
Watkins looked like the 2011 version of himself since this season's opener against Georgia and maintained a high level of play. Versus the Bulldogs, he caught a 15-yard bullet from Tajh Boyd before shedding a tackle and exploding down the field. None of Georgia's defenders could catch Watkins as he sprinted for a 75-yard score. That set the tone for Watkins this year. He totaled 101 receptions for 1,464 yards and 12 touchdowns in 2013.
8/30/13: Last year was a disappointment for Watkins. Even before the season started (May 2012), he had a drug arrest and that landed him a two-game suspension to start the year. The sophomore was unable to reestablish his place in the offense after returning as DeAndre Hopkins emerged as Clemson's No. 1 receiver. Watkins caught just 57 passes for 708 yards and three touchdowns in 2012. That was a big change from Watkins' fantastic freshman season. The speedster totaled 82 receptions for 1,219 yards and 12 touchdowns in 2011. He also ran the ball 32 times for 231 yards. On special teams, the versatile receiver averaged 25 yards per kick return with one score.
The 6-foot-1, 200-pound receiver is extremely explosive. His game looks similar to Percy Harvin. Watkins is a threat to score on any touch and has rare first-step quickness. He looks like a potential game-breaking receiver for the NFL. Watkins should be the No. 1 receiver again now that Hopkins is with the Texans and has the luxury of a great college quarterback in Tajh Boyd. As long as Watkins stays healthy, he should produce a massive season.
- Khalil Mack, OLB, Buffalo. Previous Rank: 3
4/15/14: Some project Mack as being worthy of the first-overall pick, but after speaking with sources, they felt that was too high for Mack. They felt he fits as a top-five pick, but not first overall. Scouts say that Mack is one of four elite players in the 2014 NFL Draft.
Mack didn't blow the Combine away, but he didn't do anything to hurt himself either. Mack had a respectable 40-yard dash time of 4.65 seconds with a 10-yard split of 1.56. He tied two others, including Anthony Barr, for the second-fastest 10-yard split. In the field drills, Mack got better as he went along and did well overall.
Mack followed up the Combine with an impressive pro day. His 40 time was faster, and he was said to be very impressive in the field work. It looks like a lock that Mack goes in the No. 2-6 range. WalterFootball.com has heard that the Rams are falling in love with Mack, and if they don't trade out of the second pick, Mack is the favorite to be their pick.
2/18/14: Mack is another top prospect who decided to pass on the Senior Bowl. He recorded six tackles and a tipped pass against San Diego State in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl. 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.
There was a real buzz about the 6-foot-3, 245-pounder heading into the 2013 season, and when one looked at his production, it was easy to understand the genesis of the hype. He justified it by dominating Ohio State in the 2013 season opener. Mack notched nine tackles and 2.5 sacks against the Buckeyes, plus snagged an interception that he returned 45 yards for a score. The senior amassed 10.5 sacks, 100 tackles, five forced fumbles, seven passes batted, three interceptions and 19 tackles for a loss in 2013.
Mack had 56 career tackles for a loss coming into 2013 and was a downhill play-maker throughout his career. He registered 94 tackles, 21 tackles for a loss, eight sacks, four forced fumbles, one blocked kick and two passes broken up in 2012. 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 a freshman.
Mack is a fast and instinctive hard hitter who has excellent pursuit skills. He could use more strength to defend runs that come straight at him.
- Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn. Previous Rank: 4
4/15/14: Sources have told WalterFootball.com that Robinson is one of the four elite players in the 2014 NFL Draft. Because of that, he could go to a surprise team in the top five that take him because he's the top talent available and too good to pass up.
Robinson (6-5, 332) was the star of the offensive linemen during the Combine. He ran an amazing time in the 40 of 4.92 seconds with a 10-yard split of 1.69. That 10-yard split was in the range of a tight end. Robinsons's second try improved his numbers as his 10-yard split was 1.68.
In the field drills, Robinson showed his ability to bend with fluid hips. He also excelled in the bench press. With Robinson's size, speed and length, there is no doubt that he is a rare athlete. Robinson had a great Combine to further force his name into the discussion to be the first offensive tackle selected. He could go as high as the second-overall pick.
2/18/14: The Tigers' formidable offensive line was led in 2013 by Robinson, who had a great redshirt sophomore season. Against Missouri and Alabama, he put on clinics. Robinson had power blocks to spring long runs and dominated in the ground game. He did a superb job of sustaining his blocks to keep his defenders from making tackles. Robinson finished the year well with a good outing against Florida State
Robinson has an impressive skill set. He is very strong to push defensive linemen at the point of attack. He also has quickness and good feet to be a pass-blocker in the NFL. Robinson looks like a high first-round pick, but his football development could have been better off by returning for his junior season before going to the NFL. Robinson is still raw and could have some growing pains.
- Anthony Barr, OLB, UCLA. Previous Rank: 5
4/15/14: Opinions on Barr are very split. Some view him as a top-10 pick, while others feel he should go in the teens or the 20s. Barr could be a victim of the over-analysis in the months leading up to the 2014 NFL Draft.
Barr (6-5, 255) didn't have a bad Combine performance, but expectations around him were probably too high. He ran the 40 in 4.66 seconds with 1.56 10-yard split. Barr did well in the field drills, but he clearly needs some NFL development in the weight room and at honing his craft as an outside linebacker. Barr had the lowest bench-press total of any linebacker with only 15 reps.
Barr bounced back at his pro day and was said have been timed in the 4.4s and 4.5s in the 40-yard dash. He also was said to look great in the linebacking drills. Barr helped mitigate the damage of the Combine and should have basically a draw from his postseason workouts. A lot of people feel Barr's upside is huge considering he has only played linebacker for two seasons.
2/18/14: Barr declined to play at the Senior Bowl, and there was no need for him to take an injury risk. He had three tackles against Virginia Tech in his final game, but was more disruptive than the numbers indicate. In his penultimate game for the Bruins, Barr helped beat rival USC with five tackles, three tackles for a loss, one forced fumble and two sacks. He recorded seven tackles with a 2.5 tackles for a loss and a sack against Arizona State prior to that. 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. Barr's performance against Nebraska was monstrous as he collected forced three fumbles, 11 tackles and 1.5 tackles for a loss.
Barr recorded 65 tackles with 20 tackles for a loss, 10 sacks, five forced fumbles and a pass batted in 2013. His performances against Oregon and Stanford confirm his high draft grade.
8/30/13: In 2012, Barr 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. Jim Mora, Jr. and his staff deserve the credit for changing Barr's position and turning him into an impact player. Barr broke out last year as 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.
The senior 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 2012, 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. The senior can still use some developmental at his new position. Barr should get better at defending runs straight at him and could benefit from 10-15 more pounds of muscle.
- Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M. Previous Rank: 7
4/15/14: Matthews put together a decent Combine. The 6-foot-5, 308-pounder had a good 40 time of 5.07 seconds and did well overall. He confirmed his high grade. After speaking with sources, it seems feasible that Matthews could slide to the back half of the top 10 in part because of team needs. Teams are also grading him behind Greg Robinson.
Scouts still feel that Matthews is a good player, but just not an elite athlete. However, they view him as a very safe pick to turn into a good pro starter for the next decade. Some feel that Matthews could be the third tackle selected in the 2014 NFL Draft.
2/18/14: Matthews declined to play in the Senior Bowl. Against Duke, he went out with a dominant performance to help the Aggies pull off a comeback win. In a tougher test, Matthews helped hold Missouri pass-rushers Michael Sam and Kony Ealy to only .5 sacks in Texas A&M's loss to close out the regular season.
Matthews was solid against LSU, although he did allow a coverage sack. That was Johnny Manziel holding onto the ball way too long really. In early November, Texas A&M and Matthews won in a shootout over Mississippi State. He played well in his final home game for the Aggies.
Auburn's speed-rushers gave Matthews some issues. He won the majority of his blocks, but was beaten for a sack by Ladarius Owens on a left-armed rip move. Matthews played much better in the second half and his pass protection was strong. That performance won't help him, but it won't be enough to change his standing as the top tackle prospect.
A week earlier, Texas A&M had a comeback win against Ole Miss, and Matthews was superb in protecting Manziel to let him lead the Aggies to 20 fourth-quarter points. Matthews previously played well versus Arkansas while taking on some quality pass-rushers like Chris Smith.
Texas A&M put up a huge point total against Alabama in a losing effort. Matthews had a couple of mistakes, but won the vast majority of plays. Crimson Tide defensive end Jeoffery Pagan had Matthews beaten for a sack, but Manziel slipped out of his grasp to complete a pass for a big gain. Matthews was dominant for the vast majority of the season-opener against Rice, but got crossed up on a stunt and allowed a sack. Overall, Matthews was very impressive as a senior.
8/30/13: There is a quality debate about who is the top tackle prospect between Matthews, Alabama's Cyrus Kouandjio and Michigan's Taylor Lewan. Kouandjio could have the best physical skill set. At this point, I like Matthews the most because he is the most proven. He has been excellent the past three seasons going against elite competition in the Big XII and SEC.
Matthews produced his third dominant season of college football in 2012. He was a strong pass-protector for Johnny Manziel and was phenomenal at opening up holes in the ground game. Matthews had his biggest test of the year taking on LSU speed-rusher Barkevious Mingo. Matthews hit some great blocks in the ground game, including some plays where he took care of Mingo and another defender on the second level. Mingo didn't beat Matthews for a sack and only had one pressure after Manziel scrambled into Matthews while blocking Mingo. Matthews also turned in impressive performances against Alabama, Florida, Auburn and Oklahoma.
Matthews was very good at protecting quarterback Ryan Tannehill in 2011. Matthews was excellent at opening up holes in the ground game for running backs Cyrus Gray and Christian Michael, too.
Matthews has natural strength and agility. He is quick in his pass drop and is light on his feet. Matthews has a ton of upside with his best football ahead of him.
Watching Matthews clearly shows that he has great instincts and intelligence. The senior is a natural football player. Matthews has a lot of success with cut blocks, and is quick to use one when he sees an opening to take a linemen out of the play by diving at the legs. For the next level, Matthews could use more strength to push defenders at the point of attack and help him to sustain his blocks longer.
Matthews has moved to left tackle this year to protect the blind side of Johnny Manziel. I think Matthews will make the move successfully because he is a pure football player. Matthews also has great bloodlines as he is the son of Hall of Fame offensive lineman Bruce Matthews.
- Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan. Previous Rank: 8
4/15/14: Sources have told WalterFootball.com that Lewan could be an underrated prospect. Some teams feel he is better than any of the top-three tackles from the 2013 NFL Draft: Eric Fisher (No. 1 overall), Luke Joeckel (No. 2 overall) and Lane Johnson (No. 4 overall). Lewan has positive momentum; some believe he could go ahead of Jake Matthews.
Lewan (6-7, 309) was one of the most impressive players at the Combine's Saturday session. Officially, he had the fastest 40 among the offensive linemen - 4.87 seconds - and that was unexpected. His 10-yard splits were tremendous at 1.70 and 1.64 seconds. In the field work, Lewan looked natural with his athleticism and feet. He wasn't expected to be faster than Robinson or Matthews, so it was a great day for Lewan that will only serve to confirm his status in the top 16.
Charges were pressed against Lewan this Spring for a fight outside of a bar last December. The incident has been known about for months, so it shouldn't have caught any NFL team by surprise, but some strict teams could move Lewan down because of it.
2/18/14: Lewan decided to pass on the Senior Bowl. In the final game of his collegiate career, he was rock solid against Kansas State. Lewan won his blocks all night and didn't allow any pressures from the Wildcats. It concluded his impressive senior season.
Ohio State beat the Wolverines by one point, but Lewan generally played well against the Buckeyes. Previously against Iowa, he played well in the ground game and in pass protection. Lewan won his blocks against Michigan State, and was especially strong in pass protection, but the Wolverines' offense was shut down by the Spartans. There were a few plays where Lewan lost control of his emotions and engaged in some dirty cheap shots in piles. He also was called for a facemask.
The Wolverines and Lewan racked up a big point total against Indiana. Previously, he played well against Connecticut, except for one play where he was beaten for a sack. Lewan had a strong game versus Notre Dame in Week 2 and played much better than he did the year before against the Fighting Irish. Lewan did well in run blocking and was rock solid as a pass-protector.
8/30/13: Last year was Lewan's third straight season as an effective blocker for Michigan. He was solid as a pass-protector and a standout as a run-blocker. Lewan was dominant in the majority of games, but he faced a weak conference schedule. Assuming they all stay healthy, Lewan will enter the NFL having not seen as good of competition as Jake Matthews or Cyrus Kouandjio.
Lewan had a so-so 2012 performance against Alabama. He was beaten for some pressure and was called for a few penalties. Lewan rolled his ankle late and left the game early, but the outcome had been decided and it seemed more precautionary. He had an okay game against Notre Dame, but was beaten for a sack. The junior allowed some pressure and showed some bend-but-not-break moments. He had a mixed day against Ohio State, too, allowing a sack and also being beaten on another play that produced a forced fumble. Lewan's day against the Buckeyes was fine other than those plays, but those two plays where he was beaten were extremely costly for the Wolverines.
Lewan held his own in the Outback Bowl against South Carolina's Jadeveon Clowney. Lewan had his share of wins, but he was also beaten for a tackle for a loss. Lewan was called for a holding and needed some double-team help, too. However, he wasn't beaten for a sack and Clowney didn't make him look bad. Against an elite superstar pass-rusher like Clowney, that was a respectable day for any tackle.
Lewan's height give him great length, but it works against him in causing him to have a harder time bending. He needs to improve his knee bend, agility and the speed of his kick slide for NFL speed-rushers.
Lewan was a Second-Team All-Big Ten selection as a sophomore in 2011. It was good to see him mature from his freshman year when racked up way too many personal foul penalties. Lewan is an aggressive blocker who fights through the whistle, but he showed more self-control in his second and third season. Reportedly, Lewan has become a team leader and his devotion to Michigan caused him to pass on the 2013 NFL Draft to return for his senior season; despite the fact that he could have been a high first-round pick.
- Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina. Previous Rank: 6
4/15/14: Ebron is taking a number of pre-draft visits, and it appears that teams are trying to get a better sense of him for their locker room. Ebron had a good pro-day performance and has justified being selected in the top 10 of the 2014 NFL Draft. There are some divided opinions on Ebron while some question his off-the-field makeup and maturity.
Everyone expected North Carolina tight end Eric Ebron (6-4, 250) to blow up the Combine, and he was on his way to doing that before pulling a hamstring during his second 40 attempt. Ebron unofficially ran both of his 40-yard dash times at 4.5 seconds, and the official times came in at 4.6, which was good for second among the tight ends. The injury forced Ebron to sit out the field drills.
2/18/14: In Ebron's final game, he caught seven passes for 78 yards against Cincinnati, but the junior did drop a deep ball that would have gone for a touchdown. Against Duke, Ebron ended the regular season in style with 121 yards on five receptions. He had a phenomenal 2013 season during which he produced long touchdowns and killed teams down the middle of the field. Ebron is very fast with mismatch speed to get open. He recorded 62 receptions for 973 yards and three touchdowns in 2013.
Additionally, Ebron flashed some impressive blocking potential. There were times when he rocked defenders and put them on roller skates. There were other times when Ebron missed or didn't finish blocks. He needed to, and did, improve his blocking in 2013; it could always get better. Ebron has a great skill set with size, speed and strength. He has the potential to be a starting tight end in the NFL with three-down ability.
Ebron was the Tar Heels' second leading receiver in 2012, making 40 catches for 625 yards and four touchdowns. He was a dangerous receiver for Bryn Renner. North Carolina was thin at defensive end, so Ebron played some defensive end along with being a tight end. All he pretty much did was try speed rushes to get disruption upfield, but it was impressive that he was able to apply some pass pressures.
Ebron is very fast running through the secondary and is excellent attacking the middle of the field on slants and seam routes. He operates well as a slot receiver, too. Ebron needs to work on his hands and route-running, but he has great potential if he can just be more consistent.
- Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma State. Previous Rank: 9
4/15/14: Gilbert dominated the Combine and secured his spot as the top-ranked corner. He led all of the defensive backs with a 4.37-second official time in the 40-yard dash. Considering Gilbert (6-0, 202) is a big corner, that is a tremendous time. To top it off, he was excellent in the field drills. Gilbert was fluid in his backpedal and at veering across the field. He had loose hips to flip and turn, too. Gilbert also made a great leaping hands catch. The Combine performance showed that he is worthy of a top-10 pick and can be viewed as a potential No. 1 corner for the NFL.
2/18/14: Gilbert recorded seven interceptions, 42 tackles, seven passes broken up and one kick returned for a touchdown in 2013. He had one interception and two tackles in the Cotton Bowl, plus did a great job in man coverage taking on Missouri's giant Dorial Green-Beckham.
Gilbert had an interception returned 31 yards for a touchdown against Iowa State and a 41-yard pick-six against Texas. He also returned a kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown against Kansas. Gilbert finished the regular season with some clutch performances. He really improved his game as a senior and became more disciplined. Gilbert has the skill set to be a starter in the NFL.
Gilbert has the size to play on the outside. He is good in bump-and-run and also functions well in off-man coverage. Gilbert had a mixed day against West Virginia in that he batted away two passes in the end zone and grabbed an interception, but was also beaten for a 17-yard touchdown before later being ejected at the end of the game over a fight. To finish the regular season, Gilbert had good games against Texas Tech, Baylor and Oklahoma.
Gilbert recorded 63 tackles, nine passes defensed and averaged 26 yards per kick return in 2012. He did a nice job of matching up against Baylor's Terrance Williams late that season. Gilbert had an excellent 2011 campaign with 59 tackles, 10 passes broken up and five interceptions. He averaged 27 yards per kick return those two seasons.
Gilbert has size and ball skills. In 2011, he had interceptions against the top-three quarterbacks in the 2012 NFL Draft; Stanford's Andrew Luck, Baylor's Robert Griffin and Texas A&M's Ryan Tannehill. Gilbert spent his collegiate career in a pass-happy conference, so he should enter the NFL battle-tested and ready to start quickly.
- Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M. Previous Rank: 10
4/15/14: The opinons on Evans are pretty divided. Some feel he deserves a top-10 pick and made Johnny Manziel a better quarterback than he was, while others think that Evans may not translate well in the NFL and shouldn't go early in the first round. Even though he ran well at the Combine, some teams feel that Evans may not be fast enough to be a true No. 1 receiver in the NFL. It has been become commonplace to see Evans projected seventh-overall to Tampa Bay, but WalterFootball.com knows some around the league who think he'll be a mid first-rounder.
It was "mission accomplished" at the Combine for Evans. One of the only concerns around the big wide out was his speed to get open against NFL defensive backs. Evans' 40 time came in at 4.53 seconds with a 10-yard split of 1.57. Those were great times for the 6-foot-4, 231-pounder that take away a potential concern about his straight-line speed. Overall, he was solid in the field work. Evans has solidified his standing as the second-rated wide receiver in the 2014 NFL Draft.
2/18/14: Evans decided to enter the 2014 NFL Draft. In his final game for the Aggies, he had four receptions for 72 yards. Missouri held Evans to eight yards on four receptions late in the season. Previously, LSU sent double-coverage his direction and kept him from making any huge plays. He had four catches for 51 yards.
A few weeks earlier, Texas A&M was upset by Auburn, but Evans put on a show for NFL scouts. He continued his stellar year with a dominating performance that totaled 11 receptions for 287 yards and four touchdowns. Earlier in 2013, Evans destroyed Alabama and made a lot of difficult catches for big gains along the deep sideline. He caught seven passes for 279 yards and a touchdown against the Crimson Tide.
In 2013, Evans recorded 69 receptions for 1,394 yards with 12 touchdowns. He averaged 20 yards per reception for the season.
Evans had an awesome freshman season in 2012 and overtook Ryan Swope to be the No. 1 receiver for Johnny Manziel. Evans caught 82 passes for 1,105 yards and five touchdowns.
Evans can beat defenses downfield with his mismatch size, the speed to get vertical and the ability to rip off yards after the catch. He looks like a Vincent Jackson-type receiver for the NFL.
- Blake Bortles, QB, Central Florida. Previous Rank: 11
4/15/14: The 6-foot-5, 232-pound Bortles had a good pro-day performance. WalterFootball.com reached out to sources at quarterback-needy teams picking in the top 10, and they said that Bortles did well. They felt he had a good workout and made the argument to be the first quarterback selected. Sources tell WalterFootball.com that they don't expect Bortles will get past the Raiders at No. 5.
Bortles had good Combine and helped himself. His 40 time wasn't anything spectacular at 4.93 seconds, but he showed mobility and athleticism in college. More importantly, Bortles displayed some above-average arm strength in the Combine field drills. He threw some beautiful passes with some catchable balls. Even though Bortles was working with unfamiliar receivers, the Central Florida product showed nice anticipation. Bortles was the only one of the top quarterbacks who was willing to do everything, which reflects well on him. He did what he needed to at the Combine to make the argument that he's the top quarterback.
Months ago, sources with two quarterback-needy teams picking in the top five told WalterFootball.com that they had Bortles as their top-ranked quarterback. The consensus media opinion has caught up to the teams so that Bortles is now being projected by many to be the first-overall pick.
2/18/14: Sources told WalterFootball.com that when considering entering the 2014 NFL Draft, Bortles received seven estimations from the NFL Advisory Board; all seven came back with first-round grades. In speaking with some evaluators from teams that are in the market for a quarterback, they say that Bortles has a good skill set and is smart, but they have some doubts about his game. They say he has a decent arm, but his ball flutters some. Bortles throws passes late and needs to improve his anticipation. Those sources also said that in college, Bortles didn't throw every route and enters the NFL having played in a limited offensive scheme. He has the intelligence to overcome that, but it will be a work in progress.
In his collegiate finale, Bortles helped lead Central Florida to a win over Baylor in the Fiesta Bowl. The junior completed 20-of-31 passes for 301 yards with three touchdowns and two interceptions. He also made some plays on the ground.
Bortles completed 68 percent of his passes this year for 3,581 yards with 25 touchdowns and nine interceptions. The 6-foot-4, 230-pounder has a nice skill set for the NFL. He has a strong arm with good size and the athletic ability to scramble for yards. Bortles needs a lot of development for the next level. He has to improve his field vision, footwork and speed to read the field.
Sources from two teams in the top five told WalterFootball.com that Bortles is grading out as their top quarterback,. It seems very possible that Bortles' stock will consistently rise in the lead up to the 2014 NFL Draft.
In 2012, Bortles completed 63 percent of his passes for 3,059 yards with 25 touchdowns and seven interceptions. He needs to improve his footwork for the NFL. Bortles needs to become more uniform and could stand to improve his throwing mechanics. That would help his accuracy and ball placement.
- Ryan Shazier, OLB, Ohio State. Previous Rank: 12
4/15/14: A few years from now, this writer thinks people are going to wonder why Shazier wasn't drafted earlier. He will be a steal in the back half of the first round.
League contacts have told WalterFootball.com that they view Shazier as a nice weapon to develop into a coverage defender against pass-receiving tight ends. At his pro day, Shazier (6-2, 237) showed scouts that he maintained his speed despite adding about 12 pounds since the end of the season. There are a lot of teams that love Shazier, so don't be surprised if he's selected higher than most project.
Shazier is an explosive linebacker with sideline-to-sideline speed. He has good instincts and is a tremendous pursuit linebacker. Shazier jumped off the screen when watching Ohio State and was constantly around the ball making plays.
In 2013, Shazier recorded 143 tackles with 22.5 tackles for a loss, four passes broken up, four forced fumbles and six sacks. The junior showed nice pass-coverage ability to cover ground in the middle of the field. He also did well against physical run defenses. His added strength should improve his ability to shed blocks and hold up when runs come straight at him.
Shazier had an excellent sophomore season in 2012 with 115 tackles, 17 tackles for a loss, one interception, 11 passes broken up, five sacks and three forced fumbles. He recorded 58 tackles, three sacks and two forced fumbles in 2011.
- Haha Clinton-Dix, S, Alabama. Previous Rank: 13
4/15/14: Clinton-Dix ran the Combine 40-yard dash in 4.58 seconds officially, which is a good time for a safety. The 6-foot-1, 208-pounder looked even better in the field work. He moved well in the field with smooth hips to turn and good feet. Clinton-Dix showed that he is a natural center fielder who covers a lot of ground. Teams that are looking for a safety to lock down the deep part of the field will probably rate him as their top safety. Because of the lack of talent in this year's draft class, Clinton-Dix could go higher than many around the league expect.
Clinton-Dix is an extremely well-rounded prospect. The only thing he really lacks is elite speed. Sources say that Clinton-Dix is a good prospect, but teams don't view him as an elite athlete or special prospect along the lines of Earl Thomas. They feel that Clinton-Dix could fall into the 20s.
Teams that want a physical, strong safety type could prefer Calvin Pryor to Clinton-Dix. The teams that need a free safety to be a deep center fielder will probably prefer Clinton-Dix. Given the passing focus of the NFL, the latter bodes well for Clinton-Dix to be the first safety selected.
2/18/14: Clinton-Dix had six tackles with two tackles for a loss against Oklahoma. While the junior was credited with only one tackle against Auburn, he was in on more plays downfield to help prevent some touchdowns. The draft's top safety prospect also had some rough plays and bit on misdirection.
Versus Mississippi State, Clinton-Dix recorded an interception, five tackles and half of a tackle for a loss. He had five tackles against LSU and picked up two tackles against Tennessee. It was Clinton-Dix's second game back following his reinstatement to the team from his two-game suspension. He recorded five tackles against Arkansas in his return to the lineup.
Clinton-Dix did some damage to his draft stock when he landed his then-indefinite suspension for taking a loan from an Alabama assistant. No one was surprised when Nick Saban reinstated Clinton-Dix before the Crimson Tide took on LSU. The junior was excellent against Ole Miss in deep coverage on the Rebels' talented wide receivers prior to his suspension. He had eight tackles and was very active.
Clinton-Dix excelled versus Texas A&M. He had a nice open-field tackle on a run by Aggies signal-caller Johnny Manziel. In the second quarter, Clinton-Dix came across the field to break up a deep pass. It was a great play, but he was questionably flagged for targeting. Clinton-Dix covered a ton of ground and gave good help to his cornerbacks over the top. He made a lot of touchdown-saving tackles versus Texas A&M. Against Virginia Tech, Clinton-Dix had an interception bounce off his hands on an overthrow by Logan Thomas, but played well otherwise.
In 2013, Clinton-Dix recorded 51 tackles, two interceptions and four passes broken up.
8/30/13: The Alabama defense got some huge, clutch plays out of Clinton-Dix during their National Championship run last season. He had a breakout year as a platoon player with Vinnie Sunseri in replacing Mark Barron. Clinton-Dix totaled 37 tackles with five interceptions, four passes broken up and a forced fumble in 2012.
Clinton-Dix is very good in pass coverage as both a deep defender and roving free safety. He covers a lot of ground, defends big receivers and has ball skills. The junior is expected to be the difference-maker in the Alabama secondary this year with the loss of Robert Lester to the 2013 NFL Draft. Clinton-Dix needs to improve his run defense and tackling, but he has the size to do it. Clinton-Dix also will receive excellent coaching and development as an every-down player.
The Crimson Tide has produced a lot of good defensive backs, and Clinton-Dix looks like the next star to come out of Alabama's secondary with his rare combination of size and speed. The Orlando, Florida product was top recruit coming out of high school.
- Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M. Previous Rank: 14
4/15/14: Manziel helped himself at his pro day and showed a stronger arm than some projected. The hype machine has him being pushed for No. 1-overall consideration by the Texans, but sources say there is the possibility for him to fall in the 2014 NFL Draft - even to the second round. Opinions on Manziel are very different as some see him as a second-rounder while others believe he's a top-20 pick.
Manziel needed a strong showing at his pro day, and he came through with one. Manziel impressed teams with his performance. Sources said that he looked good despite him sidearming some throws at times. These sources wished Manziel would have done more pocket throws. They said a team would need to change its scheme to a shotgun-based offense to utilize Manziel, but there is a specialness about him as a player.
The 5-foot-11, 207-pound Manziel ran the 40-yard dash in 4.68 seconds at the Combine. He had a 10-yard split of 1.59 and showed a second gear once he got going. Manziel's 40 time illustrates why he's such a weapon with his feet and how he is able to run away from defenders. Manziel didn't throw at the Combine.
Sources have told WalterFootball.com that they feel playing with Mike Evans hurt Manziel's accuracy to a degree, because he became very reliant on throwing the ball up for grabs since Evans could consistently made plays for him. Manziel won't be able to live off that as much in the NFL. According to sources, Manziel is graded out behind Blake Bortles.
2/18/14: Manziel's play-making ability is undeniable. He is viewed as a likely top-10 pick. However, sources from quarterback-needy teams told WalterFootball.com that they don't feel they can afford to take Manziel because they are afraid that his party lifestyle presents too much bust potential.
Manziel led a huge comeback win in his final game for Texas A&M. He made some amazing throws with great ball placement to go along with his tremendous mobility. Manziel finished completing 30-of-38 passes for 382 yards with four touchdowns. He ran for 73 yards on 11 carries with a touchdown.
The redshirt sophomore had his worst game of 2013 against LSU. He completed only 16-of-41 passes for 224 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions. The Tigers' defense deserves a lot of credit for its game plan and execution.
A week earlier against Vanderbilt, Manziel played through a shoulder injury and didn't run as much as usual. He completed 25-of-35 passes for 305 yards with four touchdowns and an interception. Manziel connected on 28-of-38 passes against Auburn for 454 yards with four touchdowns in the game before. He ran for 97 yards (48 net) and a touchdown as well.
Manziel led a comeback, fourth-quarter win on the road at Ole Miss. He completed 31-of-39 passes for 346 yards with an interception. The dynamic signal-caller ran for 121 yards (113 net) with two scores on the ground, too.
Texas A&M lost to Alabama, but, while Manziel had a couple painful mistakes, he had a tremendous game to light up one of the best defenses in college football - one that is loaded with a lot of future draft picks. Manziel completed 28-of-39 passes for 464 yards with five touchdowns and two interceptions. He ran for 98 yards on 14 carries. Thanks to Manziel, the Aggies lit up the Crimson Tide defense to the tune of 42 points. He threw some perfect passes in the deep part of the field to hit his receivers in stride. Manziel showed excellent anticipation, field vision, accuracy and good arm strength. It was a truly impressive performance.
Manziel completed 69 percent of his passes this year for 3,732 yards with 33 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. He ran for 846 yards (686 net) with eight scores, too. While Manziel's running ability gets a lot of attention, he used 2013 to demonstrate that his passing skills are improved and underrated. His instincts are off the charts.
8/30/13: Manziel, a.k.a Johnny Football, was the breakout star of college football in 2012 and became a national celebrity en route to being the first freshman to win the Heisman Trophy. The first-year starter dominated the SEC as a dual-threat quarterback. He completed 68 percent of his passes for 3,706 yards with 26 touchdowns and nine interceptions. Manziel also ran for 1,410 yards (1,571 net) with 21 touchdowns on the ground. He was an absolute force.
Manziel has a good arm and some accuracy potential as a pro prospect, but will need to continue to develop his ability to be a pocket passer. He could stand to improve his accuracy and has spent time in the offseason working on that along with adding some weight to his frame.
Obviously, Manziel has great mobility. He is so dangerous when he is on the run with the threat to keep it himself or pass the ball. Alabama's defense comprised of NFL talent lost at home to Manziel last year as he put up almost 350 yards of total offense.
Manziel has a good supporting cast this year, but everybody will be gunning for him in 2013. He won't take anybody by surprise and there are high expectations. It will be interesting to see how the sophomore responds to the pressure.
- Aaron Donald, DT, Pittsburgh. Previous Rank: 17
4/15/14: Sources tell WalterFootball.com that Donald could slide in the first round because there are only a few teams that he fits - namely Chicago and Dallas. Donald is a wild card who could go in the top 16, or one of those teams could move down and perhaps land him. A year ago a similar prospect, Sharrif Floyd, wasn't expected to slide into the teens and 20s, but that's what happened.
If Donald were larger, he would be the 2014 NFL Draft's top-rated defensive tackle and a high first-round pick. Still at 6-foot, 285-pounds, Donald is very strong for his size with explosive speed. He was a superstar at the Senior Bowl and NFL Scouting Combine.
Donald blazed a fast 40 time of 4.68 seconds in Indianapolis. In the field work and bag drills, he continued to excel with his burst, athleticism and strength. Donald was also second among the defensive linemen in the bench press.
At the Senior Bowl, Donald was the most impressive player. He destroyed the offensive linemen in the pass-rushing one-on-ones and carried that over into the team scrimmage. Donald dominated the consensus top guard in the draft class, Baylor's Cyril Richardson, as he burned him with speed rushes and beat Richardson with powerful bull rushes despite Richardson having a 50-pound advantage. Donald put on a show with his pass-rushing ability as he was excellent in every practice at the Senior Bowl.
Donald was dominant in 2013. The senior was one of the nation's leaders with 11 sacks and led the country in tackles for a loss with 28.5. He also had 59 tackles two passes batted and four forced fumbles.
Donald started his junior year slowly, but rebounded in the second half. He totaled 64 tackles, 18.5 tackles for a loss, 5.5 sacks, one forced fumble and two passes broken up in 2012. A year earlier, Donald had a breakout sophomore season with 47 tackles, 16 tackles for a loss and 11 sacks.
Donald projects to being a three-technique pass-rusher in a 4-3 defense in the NFL. His best scheme fits include Chicago, Dallas and Tampa Bay, but the lattermost doesn't need him.
- Calvin Pryor, S, Louisville. Previous Rank: 16
4/15/14: At his pro day, Pryor was said to have a good workout and represent himself well. Some rate him as the top safety for the 2014 NFL Draft.
Pryor (5-11, 207) matched Clinton-Dix in the Combine 40 with a 4.58-second time. Pryor wasn't as smooth in the field drills, but he held his own. Pryor didn't do anything to hurt his stock at the Combine, although he checked in three inches shorter than his listed height. Sources say that Pyror is a good prospect, but teams don't view him as an elite athlete or special prospect along the lines of Earl Thomas. There are a number of safety needy teams picking in the early 20s so Pryor stands a good chance of going off the board there.
Teams that want a physical, strong safety type could prefer Calvin Pryor to Clinton-Dix. The teams that need a free safety to be a deep center fielder will probably prefer Clinton-Dix. Given the passing focus of the NFL, Pryor is less likely to be the first safety selected than Clinton-Dix.
2/18/14: Pryor is tough, physical and has some ball skills. The junior made some big plays for Louisville in 2013 with 75 tackles, three interceptions, four passes broken up and two forced fumbles. He has speed to go along with his size and can cover a lot of ground in the middle of the field.
Pryor notched 100 tackles and five forced fumbles in 2012. He was a Second-Team All-Big East selection for that performance. Pryor broke into the lineup as a freshman in 2011 with 43 tackles, two forced fumbles and two interceptions.
- C.J. Mosley, OLB, Alabama. Previous Rank: 19
4/15/14: Mosley didn't run the 40-yard dash in Indianapolis, but he did well in the field work. Mosley showed good feet, quickness, loose hips and fluid athleticism.
WalterFootball.com has heard from sources that Mosley's stock is falling. That isn't surprising because the linebacker position has been downgraded in recent years. Teams are also concerned about a knee injury with Mosley and him following a recent trend of Alabama players being beat up entering the next level. Some believe that Mosley could fall to the second round.
2/18/14: In speaking with scouts, they feel that Mosley had a good, but not great, senior year. Alabama had Mosley in charge of all the team's checks and audibles. Scouts felt that weighed him down, so he didn't play as freely. Mosley is at his best when he doesn't have to think as much and can just play off his instincts.
Against Oklahoma in the Sugar Bowl, Mosley had a quality, but unspectacular, performance with six tackles. The senior recorded 14 tackles versus Auburn. He also got burned on some of the Tigers' misdirection read-option runs.
Mosley's best game of the season came against LSU. He was around the ball all night, making tackles and having a physical presence. Mosley finished with 12 tackles, two passes broken up and 1.5 tackles for a loss, although he did drop an easy interception.
Mosley recorded 108 tackles with nine tackles for a loss, five passes broken up and one forced fumble in 2013. He was solid in every game, including against Arkansas when he recorded 10 tackles. Mosley had a good outing versus Texas A&M with 12 tackles. Throughout the year, he showcased a well-rounded game with good run defense, pass coverage and blitzing ability.
8/30/13: Alabama's defense last year was comprised of significant pro talent, yet Mosley was one of its best players. The junior led the team with 107 tackles. He also had two interceptions, four sacks, eight tackles for a loss, one forced fumble and two passes broken up.
Mosley (6-2, 235) is extremely well-rounded. He is a good run-defender who is also excellent in pass defense. Mosley moves well and covers a lot of ground in zone coverage. He can play some man coverage and is a skilled blitzer. NFL scouts will love Mosley's pass defense. The senior could use more strength for the ground game, but he is a special player.
Mosley totaled 37 tackles with 4.5 tackles for a loss, two sacks and an interception in 2011 while splitting time with Nico Johnson and Dont'a Hightower. Mosley had an excellent debut as a freshman in 2010. He was third on Alabama's defense with 67 tackles, plus had 10 pass breakups and two interceptions that were both returned for touchdowns.
- Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville. Previous Rank: 15
4/15/14: Bridgewater had just an average performance at his pro day and disappointed a lot of the evaluators in attendance. His accuracy, footwork and ball placement were off. He has a lot to improve in those areas. Sources in attendance texted WalterFootball.com from the pro day and said that Bridgewater did not help himself.
In speaking with a variety of teams, including some that need quarterbacks, picking in the top 10, there are a lot of organizations that are just lukewarm on Bridgewater. They have Blake Bortles and Derek Carr grading out ahead of him. One team said it has A.J. McCarron ahead of Bridgewater. That presents the possibility that Bridgewater could fall on draft day. Some teams don't view him as a first-round pick.
Bridgewater needed to hit 200 pounds at the Combine weigh-in to address concerns around the NFL about his frame. Well, the 6-foot-2, 214-pounder eased those concerns, but he didn't do any of the field workouts.
2/18/14: WalterFootball.com has learned from sources that Bridgewater is not viewed as, and is not grading out as highly as, other first-overall picks. League contacts say that Bridgewater is not the caliber of prospect of the Indianapolis Colts' Andrew Luck (2012), the Carolina Panthers' Cam Newton (2011) or the Detroit Lions' Matthew Stafford (2009); all three were the first-overall pick in their draft classes.
Sources say that Bridgewater has a good skill set, but not a great one. He is not the athlete or passer that Newton and Luck are. Bridgewater (6-3, 205) has a strong arm, but not an elite cannon. While Bridgewater has some mobility on rollouts, he is also smaller than those other quarterbacks. Some sources have said that the junior could check in with a slighter build under 200 pounds.
At the end of blowing out Miami in bowl season, Bridgewater said, "what a way to go out," and it certainly was as he dominated the Hurricanes. Bridgewater completed 35-of-45 passes for 447 yards with three touchdowns versus Miami. He also did some damage on the ground.
Bridgewater completed 71 percent of his passes for 3,970 yards with 31 touchdowns and four interceptions this year and decided to enter the 2014 NFL Draft. In the regular-season finale against Cincinnati, he completed 23-of-37 passes for 255-yards with three touchdowns and an interception.
In Louisville's game versus Central Florida, Bridgewater played well overall, but the Cardinals were upset by the Knights to ruin Louisville's hopes of an undefeated season. He completed 29-of-38 passes for 341 yards with two touchdowns. Bridgewater made some beautiful throws and used his eyes to open his receivers. In 2013, he really showed off a mental acumen for the position.
Bridgewater is known to be a real student of the game, who really puts in the time in the film room and on the practice field. As a passer, Bridgewater has a good skill set. He has a strong, though not elite, arm. Bridgewater can make all the throws with some natural accuracy. He hangs tough to deliver passes in the face of pass rush and shows some mobility on rollouts, but isn't a true dual-threat quarterback. Bridgewater was clutch on third downs in 2013. On a number of throws this season, he demonstrated great poise in the pocket and was patient to let his receivers work themselves open.
8/30/13: Bridgewater has the skill set, and is building the resume, to be a franchise quarterback in the NFL. The 6-foot-3, 205-pounder has a strong arm with some natural accuracy. He also has mobility, intelligence and toughness. Bridgewater could possiblt be a dual-threat quarterback in NFL. However, he is more similar as an athlete to Andrew Luck rather than Robert Griffin III or Cam Newton.
Bridgewater was the one of the best quarterbacks in college football last year. He carried Louisville to an 11-2 season including a Sugar Bowl win over Florida. The sophomore completed 68.5 percent of his passes for 3,718 yards with 27 touchdowns and eight interceptions. He also ran for 237 yards (211 net) and a touchdown. Bridgewater threw for over 400 yards against both Cincinnati and Syracuse. He had a clutch performance to beat Rutgers late in the season and send Louisville to a BCS bowl.
Bridgewater took college football by storm as a true freshman and was named the Big East Rookie of the Year. He completed 64.5 percent of his passes for 2,129 yards and 14 touchdowns. Bridgewater ran for 265 yards (66 net) and four touchdowns, too. He was calm and showed excellent composure despite his lack of experience. Originally, Bridgewater was going to play in his backyard at Miami, but Charlie Strong was able to steal Bridgewater away after the Hurricanes fired Randy Shannon.
Former Florida safety Matt Elam said last January that Bridgewater was the best quarterback the Gators played in the 2012-2013 season. That was high praise considering that Florida took on Johnny Manziel, Tyler Bray, Aaron Murray and E.J. Manuel. The Gators' defense had just dominated Manuel, but Bridgewater completed 20-of-33 passes for 266 yards with two touchdowns and an interception on a tipped pass. He was even better than the numbers indicate.
Bridgewater should be able to build on his sophomore season as a junior, in part because Louisville has an easy schedule. The toughest opponents on the Cardinals' regular season schedule are Rutgers and Cincinnati, so he will be in position to have a dominant season before turning pro. If Bridgewater had been in the 2013 NFL Draft, he would have been the first quarterback taken and probably the first- or second-overall pick.
- Austin Seferian-Jenkins, TE, Washington. Previous Rank: 21
4/15/14: A foot injury kept Seferian-Jenkins (6-5, 262) from running the 40-yard dash in Indianapolis. Sources feel that Seferian-Jenkins could fall to the second round because of a variety of concerns, including injuries. Those sources also feel that Seferian-Jenkins could end up being one of the steals of the 2014 NFL Draft. Reportedly, he has trimmed some weight and has impressed teams with a better body while rehabbing his foot.
The knocks on Seferian-Jenkins have some projecting him to be as low as the fourth tight end drafted. Some feel that he has off-the-field problems, but other sources have said they don't have an issue with him.
2/18/14: After helping to beat BYU, Seferian-Jenkins declared for the 2014 NFL Draft. He caught three passes for 37 yards and a touchdown against the Cougars, plus did a good job of blocking.
Taking on Washington State, Seferian-Jenkins had two catches for 52 yards with a touchdown. He also did a good job of blocking for Bishop Sankey. Seferian-Jenkins caught four passes for 22 yards with a touchdown against UCLA the game before. The junior also fumbled the ball away early in the contest. A week earlier versus Colorado, he matched his 2013 season highs with 62 yards on three catches and a touchdown.
Seferian-Jenkins was only thrown two passes versus Oregon, but he made acrobatic catches for 36 yards and a touchdown. Against Stanford, Seferian-Jenkins recorded four receptions for 58 yards. He had some nice blocks in the ground game for Sankey, but also had a bad drop late in the fourth quarter that could have gotten the Huskies close to being in range for a game-tying field goal attempt. Seferian-Jenkins was suspended for the season-opening contest versus Boise State due to his offseason DUI.
In 2013, Seferian-Jenkins hauled in 36 passes for 450 yards and eight scores. The Washington offense seemed to forget about him as it was led by Bishop Sankey, while Keith Price favored throwing to other weapons.
8/30/13: It looks like Seferian-Jenkins could contend to be the best tight end prospect to enter the NFL since Vernon Davis went in the top 10 of the 2006 NFL Draft. Seferian-Jenkins has a freaky combination of size and speed. Seferian-Jenkins' pass receiving and run blocking is reminiscent of New England Patriots star tight end Ron Gronkowski.
Seferian-Jenkins was in the running as the best tight end in college football as a freshman in 2011. He was an absolute force as a receiver and a blocker, totaling 41 receptions for 538 yards and six touchdowns.
Seferian-Jenkins caught 69 passes for 852 yards and seven touchdowns last year. Quarterback Keith Price had a disappointing season, and his standout tight end was capable of producing even more.
Seferian-Jenkins is a true mismatch receiver. He is too fast for linebackers and most safeties. Seferian-Jenkins also is too big and physical for defensive backs. He has the speed to make big plays down the middle of the field. Seferian-Jenkins should continue to improve his blocking technique, but that will come with more age and experience. The junior looks worthy of being picked in the top half of the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft.
- Marqise Lee, WR, USC. Previous Rank: 18
4/15/14: It was a mixed Combine performance for USC wide receiver Marqise Lee (5-11, 192). He ran slower than expected in the 40-yard dash with a time of 4.52 seconds. His 10-yard split was 1.56 seconds. While that was a disappointing 40 time, Lee did a tremendous job in the field work. Some have rated him lower and feel that he shouldn't go ahead of other receivers like Oregon State's Brandin Cooks, LSU's Odell Beckham Jr. and Florida State's Kelvin Benjamin.
Sources have said that Lee could slide in the 2014 NFL Draft. Teams think that he could fall out of the first round. They feel that some good, surprising prospects fall into Round 2 every year, and it isn't out of the question for that to be Lee. Momentum is a part of the draft process and unfortunately for Lee, his is going in the wrong direction.
2/18/14: Lee was excellent against Fresno State in the Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl. He totaled 118 yards on seven receptions with two touchdowns. One touchdown was a 40-yard catch-and-run that showed off the explosiveness Lee had in 2012. He had long gains and looked healthier than he had at any point in the 2013 season. The junior declared for the 2014 NFL Draft.
Taking on rival UCLA, Lee had six receptions for 69 yards. He was playing through pain and had some clutch third-down receptions to move the chains. Against Stanford, Lee came through some clutch catches to help the Trojans upset the Cardinal. He had six receptions for 83 yards. A few weeks earlier, Lee flashed the 2012 version of himself with five receptions for 105 yards and a touchdown against Oregon State. He started the game with a 71-yard touchdown catch on a deep post.
After missing the game against Arizona, Lee had two receptions for 18 yards against Notre Dame. He tweaked his injured knee during the first half and didn't play in the second half. Lee just didn't look the same, and it seems like he may have rushed back to the field too soon. The junior was then held out against Utah.
Lee had a rough night against Arizona State. He caught seven passes for 92 yards, but also allowed a terrible dropped pass to be intercepted by the Sun Devils. Then in the fourth quarter, Lee injured his knee on a punt return. It was labelled a severe knee strain; he was on crutches in the days following the game and was listed as questionable for the game against the Fighting Irish.
Lee had a mildly disappointing outing in the season opener with a few drops and a muffed punt. On the other hand, he caught eight passes for 104 yards. Washington State then held Lee to 27 yards on seven receptions as USC lost 10-7 to the Cougars. In the third game, against Boston College, he snagged two receptions for 90 yards and a touchdown. The Trojans' quarterback play disappointed in 2013, and Lee hauled in just 57 passes for 791 yards and four touchdowns.
8/30/13: Lee was one of the best players in college football in 2012. He was a Heisman finalist who carried USC's offense while other players had a down season. Lee was a consistent source of big plays with the speed to score on any reception. He put up astounding totals with 118 receptions for 1,721 yards and 14 touchdowns. The sophomore also returned kicks and averaged 28.5 yards per return, including a 100-yard touchdown in the season opener.
As a freshman Lee had an impact, too. He broke into the starting lineup for the Trojans and was a superb weapon for quarterback Matt Barkley to exploit. Playing opposite Robert Woods, Lee had a massive debut hauling in 73 passes for 1,143 yards and 11 touchdowns.
Lee looks like a future No. 1 NFL receiver. He is extremely fast and explosive. Lee also is a track star at USC. The junior projects as a receiver who will stretch a defense vertically and be a threat to score on any play. While Lee isn't the biggest or the strongest, he plays bigger than his size and makes up for it with great route-running and hands. The 2013 season could be a challenging year for Lee as he is going to see double- and triple-teams while the Trojans break in a new starting quarterback.
- Odell Beckham Jr., WR, LSU. Previous Rank: 24
4/15/14: Many now believe that Beckham won't get out of the top-20 picks. The Steelers, among others, are showing a lot of interest in the speedster.
Beckham has the speed to stretch the field and has demonstrated the potential to make game-changing plays. He is extremely fast and uses that speed to constantly gain separation from defensive backs. Beckham has enough size to line up on the outside and can burn cornerbacks on go routes running down the field. He also is fast enough to burn double coverage with safety help over the top. Beckham has good hands and is a gritty player.
With his elite speed, Beckham earned playing time as a true freshman in 2011 when he caught 41 passes for 475 yards and two touchdowns. Beckham led LSU in receiving the next year with 713 yards on 43 catches and two touchdowns. He averaged 9.1 yards per punt return.
As a junior, Beckham and LSU finally got some consistent quarterback play via Zach Mettenberger and new offensive coordinator Cam Cameron. Beckham and Mettenberger challenged defenses in the deep part of the field all year. They worked well in Cameron's offense, and Beckham gave Alabama a lot of problems in their matchup. Against UAB, he returned a missed field goal 100 yards for a touchdown, returned a punt 60 yards for a score and caught five passes for 136 yards and three touchdowns. Beckham had six receptions for 204 yards and three scores against Furman. In 2013, he caught 59 passes for 1,152 yards with eight touchdowns.
Beckham looks like a great NFL receiving weapon for a downfield offense. He has enough size to line up on the outside, and should be a great weapon out of the slot. Beckham has the speed to get separation in all parts of the field and is particularly dangerous running go routes and deep posts. He should stretch a defense vertically and teams will have to be cognizant of giving corners safety help over the top. Beckham looks like a home-run hitter for a pro offense and could be used in the return game.
- Kelvin Benjamin, WR, Florida State. Previous Rank: 22
4/15/14: Benjamin (6-5, 240) took away any speed concerns with an unofficial 40 time of 4.53 seconds at the Combine - the official time was a bit slower. His 10-yard split of 1.62 was solid. Benjamin needs some development in his route-running and hands, but he has an intriguing set of tools to develop. Benjamin was solid, but didn't blow everyone away, at his pro day. There were teams that hoped he would run the 40 again, but he passed on doing it.
Sources have told WalterFootball.com they view Benjamin as a late first-rounder. There have been some recent negative reports that he blew off a private workout with a coach, which has put fresh fuel on the fire about maturity questions.
2/18/14: The big Benjamin is a mismatch nightmare with a ton of upside. Late in the 2013 season, Benjamin put on a show as he torched Florida and cornerback Loucheiz Purifoy to the tune of 212 yards on nine catches and three scores. Benjamin can stretch a defense vertically and beat defensive backs with his speed, but even when covered his size makes him open.
Benjamin was a big-time play-maker for the Seminoles in 2013. Even though other receivers saw more targets, the redshirt sophomore produced a lot of long receptions for Jameis Winston. In his final collegiate season, Benjamin had 54 receptions for 1,011 yards with 15 touchdowns. In the final minute of the National Championship, Florida State went to Benjamin for the game-winning touchdown reception.
Benjamin saw his first playing time in 2012. He caught 30 passes for 495 yards with four touchdowns. For the NFL, Benjamin needs to improve his hands as he drops a fair amount of passes.
- Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan State. Previous Rank: 25
4/15/14: Dennard was surrounded with speed concerns entering the Combine, but he did his part to erase them. In the 40-yard dash, Dennard had an official time at 4.51 seconds. He was tight in the field drills though. His hips weren't fluid and his change of direction was awkward. Dennard showed that playing off-man coverage is a real weakness. He was a press-man corner in college, so he's going to need development to be a complete player in the NFL. That is a big difference between Dennard and Gilbert, which leads to Gilbert being rated first at the position.
There is variety on opinions on Dennard. Some feel he is worthy of a top-16 spot, while other teams feel he's a late first-rounder and have other cornerbacks rated higher. Dennard currently has some negative momentum.
2/18/14: In 2013, he recorded 62 tackles with 10 passes broken up and four interceptions. The senior is a physical corner who needs to become more disciplined about his contact to avoid penalties, but he has some press-man ability and is a gritty defender. Dennard may not be the fastest corner, but he has good instincts and recognition skills.
Dennard has had a lot of good games in 2013 and maintained tight coverage. He was excellent against Michigan and did a good job of covering speedy Wolverines receiver Jeremy Gallon. Dennard had a clutch performance to help Michigan State top Ohio State in the Big Ten title game.
While Johnny Adams was expected to lead the Spartans' secondary in 2012, it was Dennard who was the most impressive defensive back. He had a good season and was a First-Team All-Big Ten selection. The junior recorded 52 tackles with three interceptions and seven passes broken up. Dennard had three interceptions, 42 tackles and three passes broken up in 2011.
- Louis Nix, DT, Notre Dame. Previous Rank: 20
4/15/14: Nix moved well in the field drills at the Combine, but the 6-foot-2, 331-pounder didn't have a good 40 time. Then again, the Combine isn't the environment where a mammoth, physical lineman like Nix will stand out. WalterFootball.com has spoken with teams that are projecting Nix to the back half of the first round.
2/18/14: Nix finished 2013 early after deciding on season-ending knee surgery. He had been playing with a torn meniscus and went to Dr. James Andrews to have the knee fixed. Nix hired an agent, so he's off to the NFL.
Nix had two tackles with a tackle for a loss against USC. After a slow start, he caused disruption and played well overall. Nix recorded six tackles versus Arizona State. Oklahoma sent a lot of double-teams his direction and altered its game plan to compensate for his ability to cause havoc. Nix also played well against Michigan and was very disruptive at the point of attack. He totaled four tackles and a tackle for a loss versus the Wolverines. Nix recorded 27 tackles with two tackles for a loss in 2013.
8/30/13: Manti Te'o got all the headlines in 2012, but Nix was an animal for the Fighting Irish. He was a disruptive force and caused a lot of havoc at the line of scrimmage. The disruption Nix caused helped his teammates like Stephon Tuitt and Te'o to clean up. Nix totaled 50 tackles, 7.5 tackles for a loss, two sacks, five passes batted and one forced fumble for the season.
The numbers don't illustrate how good Nix was for the Notre Dame. He could crack the top half of the first round in the 2014 NFL Draft with a strong senior season. Nix also needs to show NFL teams he can maintain good conditioning and be effective over a large amount of snaps.
Nix has surprising quickness. He has a burst off the snap and is like a big bowling ball rolling through the line of scrimmage. Nix could fit a 3-4 or 4-3 defense, but looks like a natural zero-technique nose tackle in a 3-4.
- Stephon Tuitt, DE, Notre Dame. Previous Rank: 23
4/15/14: Tuitt didn't do the field work at the Combine, but he showed up having lost a lot of weight. Tuitt was back to his 2012 form at 6-foot-5 and 304 pounds. He measured in with long arms (34 3/4) yet put up 31 reps on the bench press.
At the Combine, it was discovered that Tuitt had a stress fracture in his foot. He held a pro day at a high school and ran reportedly ran well in the 40 at 4.8 seconds. Tuitt didn't work out at the Notre Dame pro day as his foot was in a boot to help it heal.
2/18/14: Tuitt decided to skip his senior season and enter the 2014 NFL Draft. He played well against Rutgers in the Pinstripe Bowl, picking up four tackles with 1.5 sacks. In Notre Dame's regular-season finale, Tuitt had three tackles against Stanford. Going against BYU, he recorded seven tackles with a sack. Tuitt was ejected for targeting against Pittsburgh in the previous game.
The junior had his best game of the season against USC. He dominated the line of scrimmage and had success going against the Trojans' guards and tackles. Tuitt recorded seven tackles with two sacks for his first multi-sack game of the year. He drew a holding penalty and had a lot of other pressures.
Tuitt had three tackles with a strip-sack versus Arizona State. He looked good against Michigan State as he recorded six tackles with sack. Versus Michigan, Tuitt had a few pressures and a diving interception in the end zone to get Notre Dame a huge score in the second half.
Tuitt wasn't as dominant as he was in 2012, but he wasn't as bad as some made him out to be. Tuitt still made an impact with tough run defense and applied pressure on the quarterback. He played heavier around 320 pounds, yet he still managed to make big plays. Tuitt totaled 49 tackles with nine tackles for a loss, 7.5 sacks, one forced fumble and a pick-six this year.
8/30/13: Tuitt was one of the breakout stars who helped lead Notre Dame to the National Championship game last year. He was a dominant force for the Fighting Irish with his combination of power and surprising quickness. Tuitt had 12 sacks, 47 tackles, three forced fumbles, one pass break up and a 77-yard fumble return for a touchdown - against Navy - in 2012. Manti Te'o received all the headlines, but Tuitt and Louis Nix were phenomenal for the Fighting Irish. Like the rest of the Notre Dame defense, Tuitt had a disappointing performance to end the season against Alabama.
Tuitt was a backup as a freshman, recording just 30 tackles and two sacks. The junior could be even more of a force in 2013 now that he has a year of starting experience, but he will see a plethora of double-teams. Tuitt has the size to play defensive tackle in a 4-3 defense or defensive end in a 3-4 set.
- Kyle Fuller, CB, Virginia Tech
- Zack Martin, OT, Notre Dame
- Derek Carr, QB, Fresno State
- Ra'Shede Hageman, DT, Minnesota
- Brandin Cooks, WR, Oregon State
- Carlos Hyde, RB, Ohio State
- Kony Ealy, DE, Missouri
- Timmy Jernigan, DT, Florida State
- Scott Crichton, DE, Oregon State
- Xavier Su'a-Filo, G, UCLA
- Dominique Easley, DE, Florida
- Jace Amaro, TE, Texas Tech
- Antonio Richardson, OT, Tennessee
- Cyrus Kouandjio, OT, Alabama
- Kyle Van Noy, OLB, BYU
- Morgan Moses, OT, Virginia
- Davante Adams, WR, Fresno State
- Marcus Roberson, CB, Florida
- Allen Robinson, WR, Penn State
- JuWaun James, OT, Tennessee
- David Yankey, G, Stanford
- Dee Ford, OLB, Auburn
- Ego Ferguson, DT, LSU
- Jeremy Hill, RB, LSU
- Tre Mason, RB, Auburn
- Lamarcus Joyner, CB, Florida State
- Bradley Roby, CB, Ohio State
- Jarvis Landry, WR, LSU
- Jordan Matthews, WR, Vanderbilt
- Troy Niklas, TE, Notre Dame
- Ka'Deem Carey, RB, Arizona
- Trent Murphy, DE, Stanford
- Loucheiz Purifoy, CB, Florida
- Zach Mettenberger, QB, LSU
- Gabe Jackson, G, Mississippi State
- Cyril Richardson, G, Baylor
- Dion Bailey, S, USC
- Joel Bitonio, OT, Nevada
- Christian Jones, OLB, Florida State
- Weston Richburg, C, Colorado State
- Brandon Thomas, OT, Clemson
- James Hurst, OT, North Carolina
- Yawin Smallwood, OLB, Connecticut
- Justin Ellis, DT, Louisiana Tech
- Will Sutton, DT, Arizona State
- Lache Seastrunk, RB, Baylor
- Demarcus Lawrence, DE/OLB, Boise State
- Jared Abbrederis, WR, Wisconsin
- Paul Richardson, WR, Colorado
- Brandon Coleman, WR, Rutgers
- Anthony Johnson, DT, LSU
- Jimmy Garoppolo, QB, Eastern Illinois
- Jeremiah Attaochu, OLB, Georgia Tech
- Bishop Sankey, RB, Washington
- Travis Swanson, C, Arkansas
- Jimmie Ward, S, Northern Illinois
- Taylor Hart, DE, Oregon
- Josh Huff, WR, Oregon
- Marcus Smith, OLB, Louisville
- Jason Verrett, CB, TCU
- Bashaud Breeland, CB, Clemson
- Keith McGill, CB, Utah
- Stanley Jean-Baptiste, CB, Nebraska
- George Uko, DT, USC
- Shayne Skov, OLB, Stanford
- Trey Millard, FB, Oklahoma
- Ben Gardner, DE, Stanford
- Daniel McCullers, DT, Tennessee
- Anthony Steen, G, Alabama
- Donte Moncrief, WR, Ole Miss
- Deone Bucannon, S, Washington State
- Terrance West, RB, Towson
- DaQuan Jones, DT, Penn State
- Kapri Bibbs, RB, Colorado State
- Ed Reynolds, S, Stanford
- DeAndre Coleman, DT, California
- E.J. Gaines, CB, Missouri
- Richard Rodgers, TE, California
- Tajh Boyd, QB, Clemson
- Morgan Breslin, DE, USC
- Adrian Hubbard, OLB, Alabama
- Kelcy Quarles, DT, South Carolina
- Cody Hoffman, WR, BYU
- Trevor Reilly, DE, Utah
- Ed Stinson, DE, Alabama
- C.J. Fiedorowicz, TE, Iowa
- Bryan Stork, C, Florida State
- Storm Johnson, RB, Central Florida
- Cassius Marsh, DE, UCLA
- Michael Sam, OLB, Missouri
- Jackson Jeffcoat, OLB, Texas
- De'Anthony Thomas, RB, Oregon
- Stephen Morris, QB, Miami
- Logan Thomas, QB, Virginia Tech
- A.J. McCarron, QB, Alabama
- Bryn Renner, QB, North Carolina
- David Fales, QB, San Jose State
- Colt Lyerla, TE, Oregon
- Andrew Jackson, ILB, Western Kentucky
- Aaron Colvin, CB, Oklahoma
- Andre Hal, CB, Vanderbilt
- Aaron Murray, QB, Georgia
- Antone Exum, S, Virginia Tech
- Jaylen Watkins, CB, Florida
- Jon Halapio, G, Florida
- Charles Sims, RB, West Virginia
- Carrington Byndom, CB, Texas
- Dri Archer, WR, Kent State
- Wesley Johnson, OT, Vanderbilt
- Russell Bodine, C, North Carolina
- Seantrel Henderson, OT, Miami
- Tevin Reese, WR, Baylor
- Philip Gaines, CB, Rice
- Zack Fulton, G, Tennessee
- Kenny Ladler, S, Vanderbilt
Round 1-2 Prospects:
Round 2-3 Prospects:
Round 4-6 Prospects:
NFL Free Agents - April 19
2015 NFL Mock Draft - April 17
2014 NFL Mock Draft - April 16
Fantasy Football Rankings - March 28
2014 NBA Mock Draft - March 26
NFL Picks - Feb. 2
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