BBD Staff Writer: Evan Sidery
Even though the 2013 NFL Draft just over two weeks ago, it is already time to start talking about the 2014 draft class. I thought 2013 was a deep class, but the 2014 draft class looks even deeper, with many big-name prospects not even cracking the top 50. Sit back and enjoy my first part of my initial top 100 big board below.
*Players with remaining eligibility following the 2013 college football season are asterisked
1. Jadeveon Clowney, DE/OLB, South Carolina*
The man is an absolute freak. If Clowney was eligible to come out in 2013, he would have been the first overall pick. Jadeveon is the Andrew Luck-type prospect on defense (once in a generation). He will be given the highest grade by me I have ever given once I start doing my scouting report series.
Bridgewater has the prototypical size to be a top prospect next year. Teddy has a big arm and major toughness that cannot be overlooked on tape. Playing in a pro-style offense at Louisville will also help cement his case as the top quarterback in the 2014 class.
3. Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan
This might be a surprise to some draft fans out there with having Lewan this high. I have him as my top offensive tackle over guys like Cyrus Kouandjio (Mel Kiper’s top OT) and Jake Matthews (Top OT on many draft sites boards). Lewan has a nice mean streak and a great anchor that makes me convinced he’s a top three prospect in this draft.
4. Marqise Lee, WR, USC*
Lee is the best wideout to come out since A.J. Green in 2011. Also, he will be the highest graded WR on my reports since Green as well. He won’t be a major deep threat, but he will be a YAC monster on intermediate routes. Marqise is truly one of the more special WR prospects I have watched film on in a long, long time.
5. Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson*
Watkins is faster and more explosive then Lee, he can take curl routes to the end zone. He has scary acceleration that makes him more of a deep threat than Lee in the NFL. With DeAndre Hopkins gone to the draft with the Texans, Watkins could be a top Heisman contender for both offense and special teams. This dual-threat could vault up into the top three, depending on his in-season performance.
6. C.J. Mosley, OLB, Alabama
Mosley comes in as my top-ranked outside linebacker, by a nose. Alabama has the potential to have six or more prospects in the first round next year. He has the versatility to play inside or outside in any defense. He rushes the passer well enough to bend the edge and be a havoc there.
7. Kyle Van Noy, OLB, BYU
Having Van Noy over Anthony Barr might surprise many people, but he has much more of a skill set then Barr at this point. He can play in either the 4-3 as a DE or 3-4 as on OLB, but he’s more likely suited standing up. Van Noy was an even better prospect then Ezekiel Ansah. He will terrorize offenses next year for Brigham Young.
8. Bradley Roby, CB, Ohio State*
Roby is great at man coverage and can really shut down the opposing wideout he is covering. He is also a ball hawk that can break on balls with amazing anticipation. Bradley would have been the top corner in the 2013 draft if he was eligible.
9. Cyrus Kouandjio, LT, Alabama*
Having Cyrus over Jake Matthews may stir up the pot a little bit in draft communities, but I love the tape of him. I liked his game coming out of high school and it has developed even more since. Cyrus has a strong first punch that will stun defenders. Kouandjio maintained his spot at left tackle to stop D.J. Fluker from supplanting him.
10. Anthony Barr, OLB, UCLA
Barr comes in initially as my third ranked outside linebacker. He has the size at 6’5″ that will entice the scouts, reminds me just a little bit of Dion Jordan. Anthony can cover well and even stop the run. He’s the swiss-army knife of linebacker prospects in this draft class.
11. Stephon Tuitt, DE, Notre Dame*
I was trying to find a place to put Tuitt in the top-10, but could not find it. He has massive potential as a 300-pound-plus pass-rushing defensive end. Tuitt finished with 12 sacks last year for Notre Dame, a true beast on defense. Stephon could even be a better pro then Clowney (runs into corner to avoid mass chaos).
12. Louis Nix, NT, Notre Dame*
A true space-eater inside, Nix could be a top ten pick come April next year. He has the power to drive back lineman into the quarterback on any play. His quickness also could make him a coveted one-gap nose tackle for any 3-4 team next season.
13. Jake Matthews, LT, Texas A&M
Matthews finally shows up on my list at No. 13 here. On many initial draft boards, he is in the top ten, or even top five in some cases. One reason I dropped Matthews this far is me wanting to do the wait-and-see approach with him. Jake is moving to left tackle this year to protect Johnny Manziel’s blind side after Luke Joeckel left for the draft. If Matthews shines on the left side, then he will likely vault into my top-10 mid-season.
14. Aaron Lynch, DE/OLB, USF*
Lynch has not played in almost two years, but before leaving Notre Dame he was better then both Tuitt and Nix. Lynch was a one-man wrecking crew his freshman season, destroying tackles with his speed. If Lynch continues his success at USF next year, he also could jump into my top 10 later on.
15. Tajh Boyd, QB, Clemson
I covered the Chick-Fil-A Bowl last year and saw Boyd shred apart LSU’s daunted defense. He threw and ran all over their defense to an upset victory. Boyd has the ability to take over games completely with his dynamic skill set. Tajh has a very quick release and an underrated character off the field. After interviewing Boyd postgame, I came away impressed with his swagger. Boyd will be a big threat to take home the Heisman Trophy this year.