With the 2014 NFL Draft just three months away, PewterReport.com’s draft coverage is just kicking off. Armed with information gathered from the Shrine Game and the Senior Bowl, PewterReport.com’s draft analyst Eric Dellaratta outlines the top 32 players in the draft in this article. Many things will change between now and the draft, which will take place at Radio City Music Hall on May 8th, but expect PewterReport.com to release a new big board periodically leading up to the draft. Here is who PewterReport.com believes are the top 32 players eligible for the 2014 NFL Draft.
1. DE Jadeveon Clowney – South Carolina – 6-6, 270 – Junior Dominant force at defensive end. Makes big plays as a pass-rusher and run defender. Might be the most athletic player in college football and he’s expected to blow up the NFL Combine. Nice repertoire of pass-rushing moves and still has plenty of room to grow his game. Surefire top-10 selection.
2. QB Teddy Bridgewater – Louisville – 6-3, 205 – JuniorFar and away the best quarterback prospect in the 2014 class. Smart player that reads defenses well and is great at finding the open guy. Has good arm strength and excellent accuracy. Should come off of the board very quickly on draft day.
3. OLB Anthony Barr – UCLA – 6-4, 248 – SeniorAthletic pass-rusher with experience in UCLA’s 3-4 defense. Raw but has extremely valuable physical tools needed to being a top flight outside linebacker at the NFL level. Sometimes is a liability in run support. Will likely have to stay at linebacker at current weight.
4. WR Sammy Watkins – Clemson – 6-1, 205 – Junior Uber-athletic receiver with outstanding hands. Excellent speed and agility allows for easy and efficient run after catch ability. Effective at catching the ball at its highest point with strong hands. Projects as a top-10 selection.
5. OT Jake Matthews – Texas A&M – 6-5, 305 – Senior Strong pass-protector that stops pass-rushers in their tracks. Technically sound and is fantastic at using his hands and gaining leverage. Has experience at both left and right tackle positions.
6. DE/OLB Khalil Mack – Buffalo – 6-3, 248 – Senior Speedy pass-rusher with a never-ending motor. Never takes plays off and his extra effort pays off with big time production. Ideal fit for a 3-4 team as an OLB, but could transition into Von Miller-like role.
7. OT Greg Robinson – Auburn – 6-5, 320 – Junior Mauling run blocker who has as much upside as anyone in the draft. Rare combination of size, strength, and athleticism. Far from a finished product but has everything you’re looking for in a potential franchise left tackle.
8. LB C.J. Mosley – Alabama – 6-2, 232 – Senior Wonderful sidline-to-sideline speed and movement skills. Called Nick Saban’s complex defense. Sound tackler with a thumping attitude. Plug and play linebacker that will fit in both 4-3 and 3-4 schemes.
9. CB Darqueze Dennard – Michigan State – 5-11, 197 – Senior Arguably the best cover corner in the nation in 2013. Physical style will translate very well to the NFL game. Will fit man and zone schemes at the pro level. Should be a first round pick when it’s all said and done.
10. S HaHa Clinton-Dix – Alabama – 6-1, 208 – Junior The best safety in the 2014 draft class. Excellent range and instincts allow him to make big plays against opposing passing attacks. Sound tackler that isn’t afraid to lay the wood and deliver big hits.
11. WR Mike Evans – Texas A&M – 6-5, 225 – JuniorBig receiver in the mold of Vincent Jackson. Phenomenal ability to haul in contested catches and jump balls. Huge redzone threat due to his ability to box out defenders by using his strength and size.
12. DE Stephon Tuitt – Notre Dame – 6-6, 312 – Junior Versatile defensive lineman with great size and strength. Possesses deceptive quickness and speed. Versatility will help his draft stock greatly.
13. DT Louis Nix – Notre Dame – 6-2, 345 – Junior Huge nose tackle with freakish athletic ability. Flashes of Vince Wilfork. Plays with good leverage and has plenty of power. Will fit 3-4 and 4-3 schemes. Will likely be the first defensive tackles selected on draft day.
14. OT Taylor Lewan – Michigan – 6-7, 315 – Senior Very strong offensive tackle with great size and length. Plays with a “mauler” mentality and can get on mean streaks in run blocking. Lack of great athleticism is a concern for his transition to the pro game.
15. WR Marqise Lee – USC – 6-0, 195 – Junior Fast receiver with well developed route-running skills and play-making ability. Projects as a top end NFL receiver that will thrive in an offense that likes to take shots down the field with speedy receivers.
16. OT Cyrus Kouandjio – Alabama – 6-5, 310 – Junior Rough Sugar Bowl game but has all of the tools to become a great blindside protector. Excellent length and athleticism but technique and footwork need to be improved.
17. QB Johnny Manziel – Texas A&M – 6-0, 210 – RS SophomoreBackyard football, scrambling quarterback that posted monstrous numbers in college. Excellent athlete that will be a threat with his legs. Will his style of play hold up in the pros?
18. DT RaShede Hageman – Minnesota – 6-6, 311 – Senior Very athletic interior defensive lineman that could fit in both 3-4 and 4-3 fronts. Strong bull-rush and ability to push the pocket. Somewhat of a streaky player. Should post great numbers at the Combine.
19. TE Eric Ebron – North Carolina – 6-4, 245 – Junior A true athlete at the tight end position. Excellent speed and agility allows him to gain consistent separation. Average blocker with the frame to improve at the pro level. Consistency as a receiver needs to improve.
20. TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins – Washington – 6-6, 276 – Junior Big, athletic tight end with NFL-ready blocking skills and receiving ability. Capable of splitting out in the slot and blocking in-line. Prototypical size for an in-line NFL tight end.
21. DT Aaron Donald – Pittsburgh – 6-0, 288 – Senior Extremely disruptive interior defensive lineman that plays with great quickness. Nobody could block him at the Senior Bowl. Size is somewhat of a concern, but other small defensive tackles have had success in the NFL (Geno Atkins, John Randle).
22. TE Jace Amaro – Texas Tech – 6-5, 260 – Junior Major receiving threat with good size and speed. Excellent on crossing routes and in the seam. Has solid blocking skills but there is still room to improve.
23. LB Ryan Shazier – Ohio State – 6-2, 230 – Junior Instinctive, athletic linebacker that has been Ohio State’s best defensive player. Excellent tackler and strong in pass defense. Some will question size but those were the same people questioning Lavonte David’s size.
24. OT/OG Zack Martin – Notre Dame – 6-4, 305 – Senior Excellent week of practice at the Senior Bowl. Good hand usage and technique makes up for lack of elite height and arm length. Proved he can play guard or tackle. Should be a first round pick in May.
25. DE Trent Murphy – Stanford – 6-6, 261 – Senior Strong, instinctive defensive end that would be a nice fit for a 4-3 defense. Has an excellent motor. Strong in run support and a technically sound pass-rusher.
26. QB Derek Carr – Fresno State – 6-3, 218 – Senior Pocket-passer with a great arm that can make all the throws. Throws an accurate ball and excels on touch passes and fitting the ball into tight windows. Needs to improve his ability to sense pressure and pocket movement.
27. CB Justin Gilbert – Oklahoma State – 6-0, 200 – Senior Productive cornerback with prototypical size and speed for the next level. Excellent ball skills and moves fluidly and efficiently. Could be a late first round selection.
28. DT Timmy Jernigan – Florida State – 6-2, 298 – Junior Quick interior pass-rusher equipped with an array of rushing moves. Disengages from opponents well. Needs to improve consistency as a run defender. An excellent fit as a three-technique in a 4-3 scheme.
29. WR Kelvin Benjamin – Florida State – 6-5, 235 – RS SophomoreMassive receiver with great leaping ability and speed. Had a big year for Florida State in 2013. Had trouble catching easy balls. Instant contributor, especially in the red zone. A must-watch at the NFL Combine.
30. DE/DT Dominique Easley – Florida – 6-2, 285 – JuniorOne of the quickest lineman off the snap in all of college football. Consistent disruption and impact in opposing backfields. Uses his hands well which allows him to keep offensive lineman off of his frame. Torn ACL injury might limit draft stock.
31. WR Allen Robinson – Penn State – 6-3, 210 – Junior Smooth receiver with good size and movement skills. Excellent 2013 season with massive production. Well-rounded overall receiver that lacks outstanding qualities that would move him higher on the draft board.
32. OG David Yankey – Stanford – 6-5, 314 – Junior One of the most athletic offensive lineman in the country. Has experience at tackle but his game is suited best for the guard position. Nimble feet and exceptional quickness makes him excellent at pulling. Should be one of the first guards to come off the draft board.
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