Dan Hope’s Top 100 Prospects for the 2014 NFL Draft

Slot cornerback/safety hybrid Lamarcus Joyner checks in as the No. 26 overall prospect in this year’s class. (Photo: Charles LeClaire — USA Today Sports)

26. Lamarcus Joyner, CB/S, Florida State

An instinctive defensive back with great short-area quickness and proven ball skills, Lamarcus Joyner is the Tyrann Mathieu of this year’s draft class, without the baggage Mathieu had coming out of college. He is undersized for an outside cornerback, but could be a star as a slot cornerback/free safety hybrid at the next level.

27. Jason Verrett, CB, TCU

If Verrett was a couple inches taller and 10 pounds bigger, the 5’9”, 189-pound cornerback would have a strong case for being the top player at his position in this year’s draft. With terrific speed, fluid hips, quick feet and no shortage of physicality, Verrett is able to hold his own against bigger receivers, while he shows no hesitation as a run-support tackler. He has the ball skills to be a playmaker in an NFL secondary.

28. Kyle Fuller, CB, Virginia Tech

Skilled in both man and zone coverage, Fuller is a well-rounded, disciplined cornerback who has great ball skills and does not hesitate to be physical. He is a fluid athlete who has enough length to match up with receivers outside, but could also project to the slot or even to some situational work at safety.

29. Dominique Easley, DT, Florida

Had he not torn his ACL during a practice in September, Easley might have contended with Donald to be the top defensive tackle prospect in this year’s draft class. Having torn both of his ACLs within the past three years, the durability of his knees is a major concern, but if he can stay healthy, he is an explosive penetrator with exceptional first-step quickness but who also has good point-of-attack strength.

30. Jimmie Ward, FS, Northern Illinois

A fluid athlete with great range, Ward is the best in deep coverage among safety prospects in this year’s draft class. He is slightly small for a safety at 5’11” and 193 pounds, but he is physical in run support nonetheless and also has the versatility to play slot cornerback in sub-packages.

31. Louis Nix III, NT, Notre Dame

Nix is a massive nose tackle who excels at holding gaps and can overpower his opponents, yet he also he has enough quickness to burst into the backfield. He has the size and strength to anchor the middle of a three-man defensive line, but could also be a force, especially against the run, in a 4-3 defense.

32. Derek Carr, QB, Fresno State

There’s no better passer with a clean pocket in this year’s draft than Carr, who displays the arm strength and accuracy to excel in the NFL. Under pressure, however, Carr’s accuracy, mechanics and decision-making all take a nose-dive. If he can improve under pressure, he could be the best passer in this draft class, but if he continues to struggle against the rush, he’ll be a bust.

33. Carlos Hyde, RB, Ohio State

Hyde shouldn’t be a first-round pick at a devalued position, but he stands out as the best running back in this year’s draft class. A big, powerful bruiser between the tackles, Hyde also has an explosive burst out of the backfield and is a good pass-catcher who can extend plays in space.

34. Kony Ealy, DE, Missouri

Ealy is a disruptive defensive lineman who can bring pressure from both outside and inside and has a high-upside combination of length and athleticism. He doesn’t have an exceptional burst, so he must continue to develop his technique to have sustained NFL success, but he has the potential to develop into a star and is scheme-versatile.

35. Jordan Matthews, WR, Vanderbilt

A big receiver who can win with strength, runs crisp routes and catches everything that comes his way, Matthews has the skill set to be a productive No. 2 wideout in the NFL. He lacks top-end speed and acceleration, and could struggle to separate downfield, but the SEC’s all-time leader in receptions and receiving yards can find ways to get open and fight for the ball when he is covered.

36. Dee Ford, DE/OLB, Auburn

Ford is an explosive pass-rusher who flies around the corner and uses his hands well. He is undersized for a defensive end and could get overpowered at the line of scrimmage, but he uses his speed well in run pursuit and should be able to transition to outside linebacker in a 3-4 defense.

37. Trent Murphy, OLB/DE, Stanford

The FBS leader in sacks for the 2013 season, Murphy is a skilled edge rusher who bends naturally and uses his hands well to break down blockers. He isn’t the most explosive or powerful player, and would need to bulk up to convert to defensive end in a 4-3 scheme, but he is a smart, instinctive player whose length makes him a tough matchup outside.

38. Kelvin Benjamin, WR, Florida State

A 6’5”, 240-pound wide receiver with great length, Benjamin is a big jump-ball target who can go up and make plays on the ball in the air. He’s a solid route runner and a good athlete for his size, but he might struggle to separate from NFL defensive backs due to a lack of top-end speed.

39. Brandin Cooks, WR, Oregon State

A shifty receiver with an incredible combination of speed and lateral agility, Cooks is a threat to turn any play into a big play. At just 5’10” and 189 pounds, his role is likely to be limited mostly to the slot, but he attacks the ball impressively and doesn’t often get pushed off his routes.

40. Bishop Sankey, RB, Washington

Sankey is an efficient runner who uses his vision well to find running lanes and can move between them with effective cuts. He has a good burst out of the backfield and has the strength to bounce off contact. An athletic 209-pound back who catches the ball well and has good strength, Sankey has the skill set to be a productive NFL feature back.

41. Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan State

Dennard lacks the size and speed of a prototypical No. 1 cornerback, but he makes up for his average physical traits by being technically sound. Skilled in both man and zone coverage, Dennard excels at using his hands in press coverage and is an instinctive player with good ball skills.

42. Cyrus Kouandjio, OT/G, Alabama

A 6’7”, 322-pound offensive lineman with 35 5/8” arms, Kouandjio has incredible length and size and can overpower his opponents at the line of scrimmage. He was a productive left tackle at Alabama, but with limited foot skills that give him trouble against outside speed rushers, he might be best suited for a move to guard or at least right tackle.

43. Terrence Brooks, S, Florida State

A fluid athlete with good ball skills and experience playing all over the secondary, Brooks has the potential to play either safety spot on an NFL defense. He is somewhat small for a safety and an inconsistent tackler, but he is both skilled in deep coverage and a playmaker when he is in run support.

44. Blake Bortles, QB, UCF

A 6’5”, 232-pound quarterback with a big arm and the ability to make plays with his feet, Bortles has the most promising physical tools of any signal-caller prospect in this year’s draft. In order to capitalize upon those physical tools, however, Bortles must improve his footwork, mechanics and deep-ball accuracy.

45. Gabe Jackson, G, Mississippi State

Jackson is a similar prospect to Larry Warford, a 2013 third-round pick who wound up being one of the stars of the rookie class. Like Warford, Jackson is a massive, powerful guard who excels at driving opponents off the line of scrimmage. He is a limited athlete, but he rarely gives up ground in pass protection.

46. Davante Adams, WR, Fresno State

Often compared to Michael Crabtree, Adams consistently finds ways to get open despite unexceptional measurables. He is a skilled route-runner who accelerates well and attacks the ball in the air to make plays.

47. Bradley Roby, CB, Ohio State

A fluid, explosive athlete who hits hard and is good at making plays on the ball, Roby has all the skills and physical traits to be a No. 1 cornerback, but he has to learn to play within his skill set. He has a penchant for making big plays, but often gives them up the other way as a result. His discipline, both on and off the field, must improve.

48. Calvin Pryor, SS, Louisville

A ballhawk in coverage who also lays the wood as a hitter, Pryor is a difference-maker in the secondary with an impressive highlight reel. He could be in for some growing pains in coverage, however, as he is a technically inconsistent player who shows some tightness in his hips.

49. Jace Amaro, TE, Texas Tech

In his 106-catch junior season, Amaro proved himself to be a tough matchup over the middle of defenses with his size, leaping ability and hands. He isn’t much of a blocker and he’s not a superb athlete, but he has the flexibility to line up all over the field and make plays as a receiver.

50. Shayne Skov, ILB, Stanford

Skov is an instinctive linebacker who has a nose for the football and always plays fast. Best suited to be a 3-4 inside linebacker, Skov is an aggressive blitzer who fills gaps well and is also adept at dropping back into coverage. He does not have exceptional athleticism, but shows the range to make plays outside.

See page 3 for prospects 51-75.

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Tags: 2014 NFL Draft, Big Board, Jake Matthews, Positional Rankings, Rankings, Top 100 Prospects, Top Prospects

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