2014 NFL Draft Stock – Pre-Combine

This new section highlights which players have improved or worsened their 2014 NFL Draft stock as the draft approaches.

By Charlie Campbell.
Send Charlie an e-mail here: [email protected]
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2014 NFL Draft Stock Up

Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson
There are some draft pundits and NFL personnel who feel that Watkins could be the second-best talent in the entire 2014 draft class. South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney is the consensus No. 1, but after him some feel that Watkins is a better talent than other highly regarded prospect like Texas A&M left tackle Jake Matthews or UCLA outside linebacker Anthony Barr. Watkins has separated himself as the top wide receiver in the 2014 NFL Draft and looks like he couldn’t fall lower than the 10th pick.

Watkins will bring a Percy Harvin-type play-making ability to whichever franchise drafts him, and after Harvin’s Super Bowl performance, there will be a lot of teams that are eager to add that element in the copycat NFL. From a physical-talent perspective, Watkins may behind only Clowney in terms of a skill set that should excel at the NFL level. Watkins could follow in the path of Cincinnati’s A.J. Green and Jacksonville’s Justin Blackmon as recent top-five picks at the wide receiver position.

Blake Bortles, QB, Central Florida
WalterFootball.com has spoken with a number of the quarterback-needy teams in the top 10, and a lot of them are taking a liking to Bortles over the other top quarterback prospects. These sources feel that Bortles has the best physical skill set for the NFL as he possesses the best combination of size and athletic ability.

Both Teddy Bridgewater and Johnny Manziel are significantly smaller than Bortles, while Bortles has more mobility than Bridgewater. Sources have also told WalterFootball.com that Bortles is an intelligent quarterback who should impress in the interviews and pre-draft visits. He has a serious shot to be the first quarterback selected in the 2014 NFL Draft.

Carlos Hyde, RB, Ohio State
While teams have gone away from ground-oriented offenses in the passing-driven NFL, there is still a place for a downhill physical runner to pound defenses. Three of the final four teams in the playoffs this year featured a power back to lead their ground attacks: Seattle (Marshawn Lynch), San Francisco (Frank Gore) and New England (LeGarrette Blount). That bodes well for Hyde (6-0, 240) as the bruising back could end up being the first running back off the board. Some view him as the top running back in the 2014 NFL Draft.

A the Combine, it will vital for Hyde to show that he has a burst for the NFL to hit the hole before it closes. Thus, the time on the first 10 yards of his 40-yard dash is going to be critical for his hopes of being selected on Thursday night. Hyde could also help himself by looking fluid in receiving drills. There is chatter that he could be the Browns’ target late in the first round or possibly early in Round 2. After starting the 2013 season suspended, Hyde’s dominant play has put him in the running for the first round and being the first back selected.

Dakota Dozier, G, Furman
It seems there are some Division II or small-school offensive linemen who rise up draft boards every year. Players like Carolina’s Amini Silatolu and San Francisco’s Mike Iupati ended up being second- and first-round picks respectively, and this year’s version of a small-school riser is Dozier. He isn’t viewed as highly as those two were coming out of college, but there are some that believe that Dozier could end up being a second-day pick.

At the East-West Shrine, Dozier showed some power to open up holes in the ground game and some athleticism to be a pass-blocker in the NFL. Dozier played offensive tackle in college, but his home in the NFL will be at guard. The 6-foot-4, 312-pounder has a body type that fits better on the inside. He could fit in a man power or zone scheme.

Morgan Moses, OT, Virginia
Moses was one of the offensive linemen who helped himself at the Senior Bowl. Entering his senior year, he had been the right tackle on the other side from Oday Aboushi. Moses excelled on the right side but replaced Aboushi at left tackle in 2013 and was an upgrade. The 6-foot-6, 325-pound Moses did well against speed rushers and continued his strong play at the Senior Bowl.

As a late first-round or early second-round pick, Moses could stay at left tackle or be moved to the right side. The best plan for his long-term future could be to start out at right tackle before eventually flipping over. He looks like a nice value pick in a deep class of offensive tackles.

Tyler Larsen, C, Utah State
The top-two centers in the draft class are Arkansas’ Travis Swanson and Colorado State’s Weston Richburg. Both of them could go on the second day of the 2014 NFL Draft, while Larsen used the Senior Bowl to make the argument that he is the third-rated center for the draft. Larsen (6-3, 317) has the ability to function as a drive blocker and showed some potential as a pass-protector. He has some athletic ability and balance to develop.

Larsen is more likely to go in the early rounds on the third day of the 2014 NFL Draft than the centers in front of him. However, there are a lot of teams that are in need finding long-term starters at center. The Baltimore Ravens, Detroit Lions, San Francisco 49ers, Atlanta Falcons and Jacksonville Jaguars all need new centers, so Larsen could end up getting drafted earlier than expected out of need. Once Swanson and Richburg are off the board, a team could feel compelled to get Larsen so they aren’t empty handed in the middle of their line.

Calvin Pryor, S, Louisville
There are a lot of fans of Pryor in the scouting community. The big, physical safety produced a lot of splash plays during his time at Louisville and has showed a developed ability to separate the ball from receivers. Sources also say that they like how Pryor projects in his ability to defend tight ends down the middle the seam. They feel that he has the speed and size to match up on tight ends in man coverage.

Right now, Pryor is the consensus No. 2 safety prospect in the draft behind Alabama’s HaHa Clinton-Dix. However, some sources feel that, with a strong Combine and pro day, Pryor could cause some teams to prefer him for their schemes over Clinton-Dix. Pryor looks like a late first-round or early second-round pick entering the Combine.

Jimmie Ward, S, Northern Illinois
Ward (5-10, 191) isn’t the biggest safety, but he is adept in pass coverage. Ward showcased his nice coverage ability at the Senior Bowl. He could help to defend slot receivers in the NFL. In 2013, Ward had 95 tackles with seven interceptions and 10 passes defended. He has nice instincts and ball skills to defend the deep part of the field. Even though Ward isn’t that big, he is a reliable tackler and reached 100 tackles as a junior and sophomore.

Ward projects to the NFL as free safety to defend the deep part of the field as the last line of defense. He may not have the size to function in the box, but as a deep safety, he could be a Day 2 selection.

2014 NFL Draft Stock Down

Bryan Stork, C, Florida State
There were a few offensive linemen who struggled at the Senior Bowl, and Stork was one of them. Stork (6-3, 306) is not a great athlete and isn’t overly strong. He also has very short arms that could hurt him against speed rushers. In speaking with NFL sources, they feel that Stork doesn’t have power in his game and doesn’t make up for it by being quick and athletic. Stork also has some medical concerns stemming from concussions during his senior season. It wouldn’t be surprising if his skill set and the medical red flags drop him lower on the third day of the 2014 NFL Draft.

Russell Bodine, C, North Carolina
With a record number of underclassmen entering the 2014 NFL Draft, there were bound to be a few players who made a mistake in skipping their senior season. League sources believe Bodine was one of them. While it isn’t a strong center class, he didn’t produce a junior season that impressed NFL evaluators. Bodine is said to be just a guy and is nothing special. Sources feel that the junior is third-day pick, at best, and could be a late-rounder. Bodine would have been better off improving as a senior before entering the draft.

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