The annual “My Guys” watchlist is here. It has become a favorite of readers as it has featured some breakout stars (Robert Griffin, Russell Wilson). This isn’t a ranking of any sort – just a list of players at each position that I like for one reason or another.
Without further ado, here’s our 2014 NFL Draft offensive “My Guys” watchlist.
First Team: Teddy Bridgewater, Louisville
In this case he’s our No. 1 overall quarterback and our top “my guy”. I just happen to have an affinity for tough guys that are highly skilled. Bridgewater showed toughness last season playing through injury – at times being unable to stand but stayed on the field, competing. Bridgewater has a shot to be a very special player in the same vein as Griffin/Luck.
Second Team: Devin Gardner, Michigan
I called my shot after seeing Gardner light up a couple of spring practices. This guy is just scratching the surface of what he can be. His work ethic, leadership, and football smarts were on full display this spring – catching my eye and making me take notice. He’s got a puncher’s chance at putting together a special season in Ann Arbor.
Honorable Mention: Brett Hundley, UCLA
This one came down to three players for me: Hundley, Kevin Hogan, and Brett Smith. Hundley edged out the other two – barely. Hundley’s skill set is through the roof and with another dominate season he could be the rare redshirt sophomore quarterback to test the NFL waters.
First Team: Carlos Hyde, Ohio State
A season of full health in Urban Meyer’s system will push Hyde to the top of this running back class. He’s a power back with surprising feet and better than advertised speed. Hyde should be Urb’s first 1,000 yard rusher this season as he and Braxton Miller look to be the Big Ten’s best rushing duo.
Second Team: Bishop Sankey, Washington
Sankey nearly topped 1,500 yards last season, yet went relatively unnoticed. What Sankey lacks in size he makes up for with his vision, patience, and elusiveness. He’s not an overly fast (straight-line) athlete but has the ‘quicks’ to make people miss. If Sankey adds some strength/bulk to his frame he could challenge as a first-round back.
Honorable Mention: James Wilder, Florida State
There’s a ton of tread left on these tires. Wilder didn’t see a ton of carries up to this point but should be the bell cow for Jimbo Fisher in 2013. Wilder is a freak athlete with size, strength, and speed that make the most gifted jealous. His violent running style is Adrian Peterson-esque but we need to see a larger sample size.
First Team: Michael Campanaro, Wake Forest
There’s not much I don’t like about this kid. He’s going to coast to becoming Wake’s all-time receptions leader this season (needs 55) and has caught my eye since evaluating Chris Givens. With a season of full health in 2013 – Campanaro could be the top slot receiver in the 2014 NFL Draft.
Second Team: Kasen Williams, Washington
Fresh off an arrest its tough to put Williams this high but I love this kid’s game. He’s big, physical, and is a nightmare to bring down in the open field. Williams suffers from spotty quarterback play from Keith Price but has managed to overcome it with back to back solid seasons at UW.
Honorable Mention: Eric Ward, Texas Tech
It took one game for me to know that Ward has the goods to be an NFL receiver. The game was TCU in 2012 – in which he made me think he could challenge to be one of the top senior pass catchers in the 2014 NFL Draft. Ward is going to be aided by Kliff Kingsbury’s arrival but will be breaking in a new quarterback – which could be a true freshman.
First Team: Clive Walford, Miami
Another guy that caught my eye this spring and on tape. Walford doesn’t have the skills of Colt Lyerla or ASJ but has similar ability to change the game from the tight end spot. Walford isn’t going to be a top tight end this year (should he declare early) but could be a guy that cracks the starting lineup of an NFL roster sooner than expected.
Second Team: C.J. Fiedorowicz, Iowa
Fiedorowicz may be the most underutilized player in the entire country. He’s a guy that doesn’t do anything great but everything well. He won’t blow teams away with his athleticism but more than makes up for it with his feel for soft spots in the defense and ability in the red zone.
Honorable Mention: Jace Amaro, Texas Tech
I must be a little bullish on Tech’s passing game. Amaro was injured for much of last season but has flashed special athletic gifts. If he can mature and stay on the field, he’s got a shot at being special.
First Team: Cyril Richardson, Baylor
Richardson has played guard and tackle at Baylor. His future home is probably on the inside where he can utilize his power as a drive blocker. Richardson’s versatility will make him a hit come draft time and is one of the big reasons he top our list.
Second Team: Xavier Su’a-Filo, UCLA
In case you can’t tell, I value versatility fairly highly on the offensive line. Su’a Filo has played guard and tackle at UCLA but figures to be best suited on the inside at the next level. All you need to know is that Su’a-Filo was voted a captain coming off a two-year mission and will be a two-time captain as a junior in 2013.
Honorable Mention: Antonio Richardson, Tennessee
“Tiny” Richardson quietly had a great season in 2012. After pushing Dallas Thomas (who was on our 2013 “My Guy” watchlist) to the inside, he consistently graded out as UT’s top OL – a feat considering the quality on that line. Want to be impressed turn on the South Carolina tape and watch him hold Jadeveon Clowney at bay. Richardson doesn’t have great feet but rarely gets beat around the edge – despite that fact. I like this kid…a lot.