We kicked our rankings off with a pre-Combine top 75 and have completed our assessments on the 2014 draft class. While there aren’t many changes to this list, we’ve added an additional 25 to take it to the totality of our evaluations for this year.
The one major change is moving Greg Robinson to the top spot. I feel like I’ll have to justify this one a little, so here’s goes my attempt. Robinson is as dominant a run blocker as I’ve evaluated. His upside as a pass protector is off the charts making me believe in the long-term he’s going to wind up the best player to come out of this draft. Yes, even with Jadeveon Clowney.
1. Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn
Why I think he’s deserving: This kid is special. I think he’s maybe the highest ceiling prospect in the entire draft. Sure he’s not an experience pass protector but his skill set suggests with time he could dominate in that area. He’s an NFL-ready run blocker on day one. In our last rankings he was sitting third but his upside is so high that I think he ultimately winds up the best player in this draft – at a premium position
Where he fits: Could play on the left or right side but long-term he’s a franchise LT in my book.
Projection: Top 10 – could go as high as 2 to St. Louis
2. Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville
Why I think he’s deserving: Teddy may not provide the highest upside of the 2014 QB’s but one could certainly make the argument that he’s the most ready to play of the bunch. If I were Houston, this would be my guy.
Where he fits: I’d like to see him with a warm weather team, perhaps in the AFC South. His hand size is a bit concerning when you’re talking about Cleveland.
Projection: Could go as high as one and the floor for me is at 8 with Minnesota.
3. Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina
Why I think he’s deserving: You can question his motor, how much he loves the game, and some of his decisions on and off the field – but you can’t question is freakish ability. He’s just too rare of a find to fall far and his scheme diversity will have all 32 teams interested.
Where he fits: Five, seven, or nine technique. Pick one. He’s a guy you take and plug him into your defense regardless of scheme – all 32 teams would love to have the problem of finding a fit for him.
Projection: Could go as high as one and the floor for me is at 6 with Atlanta. If he makes it past Houston, the trade market at No. 2 with St. Louis could heat up.
4. Khalil Mack, Edge Rusher, Buffalo
Why I think he’s deserving: If all you saw was the Ohio State tape, you’ve seen enough. This kid could play anywhere in the country and dominate so forget about the low level of competition. He’s athletic, physical, has plus instincts.
Where he fits: Weakside backer in a three-man front or strongside LB in a four-man front.
Projection: Top 10.
5. Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson
Why I think he’s deserving: There’s no more dynamic player in the entire draft – maybe outside of John Football. Watkins is a threat to take it the distance with each touch. Has experience playing inside and outside at the collegiate level – the problem will be finding him enough touches at the next level.
Where he fits: As I said, he’s played inside and outside at Clemson and either suits him equally well. He’s a guy that DC’s will have nightmares about trying to keep the ball out of his hands.
Projection: Top 10 – floor is at 10 with Detroit.
6. Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M
Why I think he’s deserving: Don’t care about the height, the frame, the running around recklessly, or the errant decision-making. Some people were put on this earth to play football and Manziel is one of them. Keep the comparisons, this kid is a game changer. The only reason he’s not my top ranked player is because I question whether he can stay out of his own way enough to be truly great.
Where he fits: Put him on my team any day.
Projection: Top 10 – slim chance he could slide.
7. Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M
Why I think he’s deserving: He comes with those Matthews bloodlines and it shows in his technique. I think he’s a more ready player than Luke Joeckel. Some will say he doesn’t have the upside and that may be true. But if you get what he’s currently at you’d be pretty happy.
Where he fits: Could play any position along the OL, including center. He’s a tackle – left or right.
Projection: Top 10.
8. C.J. Mosley, LB, Alabama
Why I think he’s deserving: I struggle to find much to critique in Mosley’s game. The only downfall may be he has a history with injuries. His athleticism and range make him a truly unique player and his scheme versatility will have all 32 teams wondering where they can best plug him into. Concerns with durability could drop Mosley but I think he’s worth a look earlier than what he’ll probably wind up being drafted.
Where he fits: You could argue that there isn’t a LB position that he couldn’t play and excel in. I think his best fit is on the weakside where he can use his athleticism and instincts to chase the action.
Projection: 1st round, I don’t see him falling out of the top 15 but stranger things have happened.
9. Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M
Why I think he’s deserving: If Evans runs well in Indy, this will be common place and many will argue he should be the top receiver off the board. For me, it’s neck and neck with he and Watkins. He’s a high pointing artist that doesn’t leave many balls on the turf.
Where he fits: Outside receiver that wins in the vertical game.
Projection: 1st round. Could go anywhere in the 1st and I wouldn’t be shocked. I think beyond 10 – he’s a real value.
10. Brad Roby, CB, Ohio State
Why I think he’s deserving: To say Brad Roby struggled in 2013 would be a gross understatement. Poor showings became a regular this season. That said, I’m banking on that being an aberration going forward. Roby possesses great speed and is physical enough to excel in off or press coverage. I think he winds up being a steal in this draft as he probably can be had in the late first, early second.
Where he fits: His ultimate value may be in his diversity.
Projection: Top 40.
11. Anthony Barr, Edge Rusher, UCLA
Why I think he’s deserving: Risk vs. reward. Freakish ability will have teams salivating at the possibilities. That said, he’s green with two years at the LB position. I think you could be getting the next Aldon Smith or the next Aaron Curry.
Where he fits: Best fit is as a standup edge rusher in a 34.
Projection: Someone will roll the dice on Barr in the top 12-15 and I wouldn’t blame them.
12. Marqise Lee, WR, USC
Why I think he’s deserving: Lee was not healthy this season and it showed. He’s battled poor QB play – really for two seasons as Barkley wasn’t great in ’12. I think teams will overlook him because of the injuries, size, and some inconsistencies catching the ball all to regret it very early on.
Where he fits: Outside receiver that can make plays in the open field.
Projection: 1st round – probably drops because of aforementioned issues and winds up being a steal.
13. Xavier Su’a-Filo, OG, UCLA
Why I think he’s deserving: Su’a-Filo and Martin were very close for me. There wasn’t much I didn’t like with his game on the inside. He’s moved from left tackle to left guard at UCLA and his calling card is on the inside in the NFL. He’s a guy that could be an immediate starter at LG.
Where he fits: Struggled a bit with speed on the edge at tackle. Ideally suited at LG.
Projection: 2nd round – will be a steal.
14. Aaron Donald, DT, Pittsburgh
Why I think he’s deserving: Donald wins with a combination of burst, leverage, and power. Based on his size limitations, many teams may steer away – at their own risk. You don’t see many instances of Donald losing battles on the interior at Pitt. I think that can carry over to the next level with his active hands, explosive power, and closing burst. One of the bigger movers on our board due to putting size concerns aside.
Where he fits: Won’t be a fit for a lot of teams based on his size. That said, pigeonholing him as a nickel/dime rusher would not be wise. Another guy that you draft him and find a spot to use him.
Projection: 1st round. I think he could wind up sneaking into the Top-15 when it’s all said and done.
15. Brandin Cooks, WR, Oregon State
Why I think he’s deserving: I was a Markus Wheaton fan last year – had him as a 1st rounder since about Mid-October. I’ve been on the Brandin Cooks bandwagon as long as the Wheaton. Cooks can fly and like Wheaton his spatial awareness/eye tracking make him a tough guard in the vertical game.
Where he fits: His size suggests a slot receiver but I think he can win on the outside in the NFL.
Projection: 1st round.
16. Zack Martin, OG/OT, Notre Dame
Why I think he’s deserving: My love of versatility on the offensive and defensive front is beginning to show. Martin could play tackle at the next level but I think he’s a Pro Bowl guard that can contribute very early on.
Where he fits: I would worry a bit about some of the more athletic edge rushers in the NFL with Martin at tackle. At guard, I think he dominates from day one.
Projection: 1st round – won’t fall out of the top-20.
17. Louis Nix III, DT, Notre Dame
Why I think he’s deserving: Nix was a guy that I fully expected to dominate this season and push himself into the top 15 discussion. I didn’t see that domination. His skill set remains a thing of rare beauty with strength to bully, speed to chase quarterbacks, and agility to work down the line.
Where he fits: Nix is a guy that I caution you to not pigeonhole him into a certain scheme or fit. I’m not sure he can’t kick outside to the 5T – similar feeling I had with Dontari Poe.
Projection: A big man that can move shouldn’t go much lower than 20. If he does, I’m going to assume it’s an injury-related slide.
18. Jimmie Ward, S, Northern Illinois
Why I think he’s deserving: Let’s get the negatives out of the way, Ward isn’t an elite height, weight, speed guy. Now on to why he’s the best safety in this draft. Ward is an interchangeable piece in the backend. He is one of the better defenders in the entire country when the ball is in the air – has some Jairus Byrd to his game. Where he separates himself from others is he has the instincts of a veteran and you don’t see that from many safeties coming out.
Where he fits: Could play FS or SS but I think he’s probably a FS.
Projection: Top 50.
19. Ryan Shazier, OLB, Ohio State
Why I think he’s deserving: Shazier has safety-like movement skills that allow him to make plays sideline to sideline. OSU brought Shazier more than in previous years and it showed his ability to rush off the edge. He’s never going to be a guy that can fight through the trash and rack up huge tackle numbers. If you’re looking for a guy that can find the alley and blow up plays in the backfield, he’s your guy.
Where he fits: He’s going to have to be covered up at the next level. Best fit is probably as a weakside OLB in a four man front.
Projection: Top 40.
20. Lamarcus Joyner, FS/CB/Defensive Weapon, FSU
Why I think he’s deserving: I may be a sucker for versatility. I can remember watching Bjoern Werner last year and not being able to take my eyes off of Joyner. His size is an issue – no denying that but a good DC will find ways to use him – ala Tyrann Mathieu.
Where he fits: Your guess is as good as mine. Slot corner that could hang at safety.
Projection: 2nd round but I like him more than most.
21. Jason Verrett, CB, TCU
Why I think he’s deserving: Jason Verrett is why I read every comment that my readers send in. As DCLifer so aptly pointed out, I’m a bit schizophrenic in my rankings. I’ve fallen victim to underrating certain positions due to size limitations but not others. In my last rankings, I said if Verrett were an inch or two taller he’d be a top CB. That said, I do think there’s a limit but Verrett is just over that limit. He’s scrappy, physical and could wind up being a steal in the draft.
Where he fits: I don’t think it’s wise to pigeonhole him into ‘just a nickel’. That may be his best spot ultimately but he can play on the outside as well.
Projection: 1st round, top 40 at worst
22. Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan State
Why I think he’s deserving: Dennard is one of the more physical corners in the draft and excels in press coverage. He may be the most well rounded CB in this class with strong coverage skills and excels in run support. The only question with Dennard is how well he can keep up with speed at the next level.
Where he fits: Press corner with physicality to match up against the bigger receivers in the league.
Projection: 1st round. Slow 40 time may drop him a bit but has excellent tape to back up his play.
23. Odell Beckham, Jr., WR, LSU
Why I think he’s deserving: Beckham was a guy that I re-evaluated after the Combine. I love Jarvis Landry but Beckham is a flat out playmaker. He’s a guy that I think may be faster than his timed speed. Where I underestimated him previously was his hands and route running. Not just the one-hand grabs that he makes but he consistently catches outside his body.
Where he fits: Beckham can work outside or inside.
Projection: 1st round
24. Jace Amaro, TE, Texas Tech
Why I think he’s deserving: Amaro spent most of his time in the slot or out on the edge but I think he’s strong enough to play inline as well. Amaro’s a mismatch no matter where you line him up and a creative OC will have a heyday with him. I give him the edge over Ebron because I think he’s a little more complete.
Where he fits: Best fit is on the edge or in the slot but his improvements as a blocker were evident.
Projection: 1st round – with New England a strong possibility late in round one.
25. Dee Ford, Edge Rusher, Auburn
Why I think he’s deserving: Dee Ford was the winner of Senior Bowl week. Ford’s speed off the edge gave everyone fits. Gifted with an explosive first step, Ford will excel rushing the passer from day one. He has more pop than I originally thought and could be versatile enough to line up at several spots depending on the front.
Where he fits: I think he’s a guy you line up on the edge and let him get the quarterback, ala Dwight Freeney. I wouldn’t rule out him being a 7 or 9 technique just based on his size.
Projection: Top 40, probably jumped into the 1st with an impressive week in Mobile.
26. Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina
Why I think he’s deserving: Eric Ebron came into the 2013 season with some major questions about his hands. While it will remain a concern, his improvement in this area speaks volumes about his work ethic. Aside from improved hands, Ebron is a fantastic athlete and threat after the catch.
Where he fits: Ebron is a willing block so he can be played almost anywhere. He will likely excel split out forcing DC’s to match him up on a LB or S.
Projection: 1st round.
27. Marcus Roberson, CB, Florida
Why I think he’s deserving: Roberson didn’t have a great season in 2013. Struggled through some injuries during his time at UF but skill set warrants a closer look. He’s not the biggest or fastest but I love his instincts and ball awareness skills.
Where he fits: Equally adept in off vs. press. Will have to avoid grabbing receivers down the field.
Projection: Top 40.
28. Derek Carr, QB, Fresno State
Why I think he’s deserving: I think ultimately the team drafting Carr will like what they get. I don’t see any special qualities about him that make me think he’s deserving of coming off the board in the top 10. Think Jay Cutler without the elite arm (still very good) and a bit more humbled. My major concern is there’s a little Blaine Gabbert to his feel for the pocket and that’s a bit scary.
Where he fits: Threw a ton of bubble screens in college but his calling card may come in a vertical offense. Also he’s a better athlete than many think.
Projection: Top 40. Could go in the top 10 and it wouldn’t surprise me if he lasted into the 2nd round.
29. Ha’Sean Clinton-Dix, S, Alabama
Why I think he’s deserving: I don’t love this kid as much as some do. While there’s a lot to like in his versatility, he’s a bit too much of a straight-line athlete for me to rank him much higher than this. There’s no doubt he can close and make plays on the ball but I worry about him having to match up with some of the better TE’s and slot guys. Seems a bit tight hipped to be a top 20 safety.
Where he fits: He’s an interchangeable part. Can play SS or FS. I don’t see him excelling tight to the line of scrimmage, may be better suited in the deep half.
Projection: 1st round.
30. Jimmy Garoppolo, QB, Eastern Illinois
Why I think he’s deserving: I’m trying to really weigh why I don’t have Garoppolo higher than this ranking. Many will think this is nuts but outside of competition questions, there isn’t much I don’t like with him. He isn’t the biggest or fastest but is above-average in most every category that I would grade a quarterback on. I think if you get this kid in the 2nd round, you are going to be very happy down the road. If he falls any further, than you’ve officially gotten a steal.
Where he fits: Could fit anywhere. Has good athleticism to go with plenty of arm talent and intangibles.
Projection: Top 50.
31. Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan
Why I think he’s deserving: Lewan was the biggest gainer in the rankings. I still don’t think he’s a top 25 pick in this draft but he’s better than I’ve given him credit for. I questioned his athleticism based on three games. After the Combine I watched more games of Lewan’s and I underestimated his skills in pass protection. His QB’s didn’t do him any favors.
Where he fits: I still don’t think he’s a franchise LT but could make for a solid tackle in the league.
Projection: Top 20.
32. Kyle Van Noy, OLB, BYU
Why I think he’s deserving: Van Noy does a lot well but may lack the spectacular athleticism to wow scouts and NFL decision-makers. His intelligence with excellent read and react ability should keep him in the top-40 of the draft. That said, I worry about him in pass coverage as he’s often a step slow getting to his zone drop spot.
Where he fits: For being an unspectacular athlete, he makes some spectacular plays. I think he’s best served being moved around multiple fronts to allow him to be freed up from the big bodies, diagnose the play, and make a play.
Projection: Top 40.
33. Jared Abbrederis, WR, Wisconsin
Thoughts: I don’t see any glaring holes in Abbrederis’ game. Sure, I’d like him to be an inch or two taller and 20 pounds heavier but if he were, I think we’d be talking about him as a mid-1st round pick. Abbrederis is a consistent catcher of the ball with better speed than many think. His routes are so crisp that he consistently won battles against the best the Big Ten has to offer – including embarrassing Brad Roby. He’s more than just a possession guy. He can win in the slot or outside. I think he surprises some in Indy and jumps up draft boards.
34. Kony Ealy, DE, Missouri
Thoughts: If you’re in the market for a versatile end that can play the run as well as give you a bit off the edge as a pass rusher, Ealy could be the fit. Ealy doesn’t possess great edge speed but he makes plays with solid technique and strength. I just question him in coverage as a rush linebacker and whether he’s dynamic enough off the edge to be an impact edge rusher at the next level.
35. Jarvis Landry, WR, LSU
Thoughts: I’m not comparison guy but I’ve seen Anquan Boldin thrown around with Landry and it makes sense. Landry doesn’t quite have the burst or explosion of this teammate Odell Beckham Jr. but he catches everything and plays bigger than his listed size. Don’t sweat his 40 time, he’s a better player and it could wind up helping a team with him dropping
36. Blake Bortles, QB, UCF
Thoughts: Obviously I’m not a big Bortles fan. I think if you can afford to wait on him to steady out his mechanics/accuracy issues, you could be happy down the road. The talk of No. 1 overall is ridiculous in my book but stranger things have happened.
37. Carl Bradford, OLB, Arizona State
Thoughts: Carl Bradford is a guy that I strongly considered as a round one prospect. In most year’s he would be in that consideration but the strength of this class keeps him out of the top 32. He’s a prime candidate to go underdrafted and make a team really happy in the near future. It’s impossible to turn on ASU and not take notice of Bradford.
38. Kyle Fuller, CB, Virginia Tech
Thoughts: Fuller is the real deal. He is in that second tier of CB’s that will be in consideration at the end of round one, beginning of round two. Love his ability in off-man but his durability keeps him out of my top 32 and could be the difference between being a first or second round pick.
39. Marcus Smith, Edge Rusher, Louisville
Thoughts: Smith got after opposing quarterbacks with a regularity this season and I expect in the right system we’ll see similar production in the NFL. I said in the last rankings that I hadn’t seen enough of Smith to go over the moon about him but I’ve watched two more games and think he’s a legit prospect. His ability to flatten out off the corner caught my eye.
40. Allen Robinson, WR, Penn State
Thoughts: Allen Robinson has the size that NFL teams covet at the WR position. He had a very fine follow-up season to his strong sophomore campaign. Teams in need of size on the outside could be very happy to make an early round two investment in Robinson.
41. Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma State
Thoughts: Justin Gilbert is why I deploy other opinions into my rankings. I was so turned off by Gilbert’s 2012 tape that I didn’t give him a chance. Honestly I’d only watched one 2013 game and thought he was better but not great. A member of NFLF evaluation team reminded me that I said this guy was a top 10 pick after his sophomore season. I’m going to fall somewhere in the middle on this one at just outside the top 40. No doubt he has the size, speed, and skills to warrant a top pick but I worry about his competitiveness and determination to be a great one.
42. Ra’Shede Hageman, DT, Minnesota
Thoughts: Hageman’s athleticism and size are rare but his play if anything but consistent. For 4-5 plays a game he’s on a different planet than those he’s playing against but it’s the remainder of the snaps that I worry about. He can play about anywhere on the DL which is probably the reason he’ll go in the first round.
43. Morgan Moses, OT, Virginia
Thoughts: Moses quietly had one of the better seasons for an OT in the nation. Playing in Virginia didn’t help his national recognition but it could keep him under the media radar. NFL teams are fully aware this kid can play and it wouldn’t surprise me a bit if he’s taken late in round one.
44. Davante Adams, WR, Fresno State
Thoughts: If Adams caught the ball more consistently and I was more comfortable with him as an NFL route runner, he’d be in my top 20. Adams potential is through the roof. A team that can afford to get little production for a year or two out Adams could find gold down the road.
45. Chris Borland, ILB, Wisconsin
Thoughts: His size will always be the biggest detractor but his game outweighs that in my book. Borland was dynamic rushing the quarterback off the edge and from the interior this season. The question comes down to if he were three inches taller, where would we be talking about him – the answer in my book is a round one LB.
46. Josh Huff, WR, Oregon
Thoughts: Josh Huff remains vastly underrated in my book. He’s built like a RB and runs like one after the catch. I continue to ask myself why I don’t have Huff higher on my board. This one will be one that I may change again before May.
47. Troy Niklas, TE, Notre Dame
Thoughts: He’s big, physical, and has better than advertised athleticism. I’ve seen some evaluations making this guy out to be a big loaf – I’m not seeing that at all. He’s going to rise up the media draft boards and due time and could wind up a late day one pick.
48. Pierre Desir, CB, Lindenwood
Pierre Desir showed well in the all-star circuit and will be a guy that I wouldn’t be surprised if he continued to climb the closer we get to the draft. His ball skills are off the charts – teams didn’t throw his way in 2013. The only question I have is he doesn’t show a whole lot of aggression in run support. He’ll have to work on that area to become a more complete corner.
49. Dominique Easley, DT, Florida
Thoughts: Without his devastating injury this season, we may be talking about Dominique Easley the same way we are Aaron Donald. Easley’s get-off is spectacular and I think he’s scheme diverse enough that he’ll wind up a steal in the 2nd-3rd round range.
50. Cyrus Kouandijo, OT, Alabama
Why I think he’s deserving: I wasn’t high on D.J. Fluker (looks like I was wrong on that one) but I’m really not high on Kouandijo. I know there’s upside there but I haven’t seen him get any better in three years at Alabama. Combine that with medical questions that arose and I think he’s headed for a fall.
51. Kelvin Benjamin, WR, Florida State
52. Storm Johnson, RB, UCF
53. Terrance Mitchell, CB, Oregon
54. Deone Buccanon, S, Washington State
55. Weston Richburg, C, Colorado State
56. Carlos Hyde, RB, Ohio State
57. Austin Seferian-Jenkins, TE, Washington
58. Terrence Brooks, S, Florida State
59. Timmy Jernigan, DT, Florida State
60. Joel Bitonio, OG, Nevada
61. Bashaud Breeland, CB, Clemson
62. Gabe Jackson, OG, Mississippi State
63. Calvin Pryor, S, Louisville
64. Demarcus Lawrence, OLB, Boise State
65. Telvin Smith, OLB, Florida State
66. Bishop Sankey, RB, Washington
67. Brandon Thomas, OG, Clemson
68. Stephon Tuitt, DE, Notre Dame
69. Aaron Murray, QB, Georgia
70. David Yankey, OG, Stanford
71. Charles Sims, RB, West Virginia
72. Jeremiah Attaochu, OLB, Georgia Tech
73. Tre Mason, RB, Auburn
74. Cameron Fleming, OT, Stanford
75. Jordan Matthews, WR, Vanderbilt
76. Devonta Freeman, RB, Florida State
77. Marcus Martin, C/G, USC
78. Stanley Jean-Baptiste, CB, Nebraska
79. Chris Smith, DE, Arkansas
80. Brett Smith, QB, Wyoming
81. Ahmad Dixon, S, Baylor
82. Will Sutton, DT, Arizona State
83. Ross Cockrell, CB, Duke
84. Michael Campanaro, WR, Wake Forest
85. Terrance West, RB, Towson
86. Antone Exum, CB, Virginia Tech
87. Jack Mewhort, OT, Ohio State
88. Donte Moncrief, WR, Ole Miss
89. Scott Crichton, DE, Oregon State
90. Trent Murphy, DE/OLB, Stanford
91. Dakota Dozier, OG, Furman
92. Robert Herron, WR, Wyoming
93. Charles Leno, OT, Boise State
94. Billy Turner, OT, North Dakota State
95. Cody Latimer, WR, Indiana
96. Ego Ferguson, DT, LSU
97. Isaiah Crowell, RB, Alabama State
98. Caraun Reid, DT, Princeton
99. Kareem Martin, DE, North Carolina
100. JaWuan James, OT, Tennessee