By Jeff Risdon
Now that the Combine is over, it’s time for a slightly more educated mock draft. It’s still way too early to accurately project targets (free agency will have a BIG say in that), but it’s now easier to place players into more proper draft ranges.
In order to try and make this more realistic, I added some trades to the mix. Some of these are purely products of my imagination, while others do have a root basis in whispers I believe in. All trade projections are marked with an asterisk (*).
1. Houston Texans: Blake Bortles, QB, Central Florida. I know, I know, he’s not going to be even the No. 1 quarterback on many team boards, let alone the top-rated player. But the Texans hired a QB guru as their head coach and Bortles has the ideal athletic traits the NFL is looking for, and Bill O’Brien is already on record for really liking him.
2. *Minnesota Vikings from St. Louis Rams (from WAS): Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville. Minnesota seizes the opportunity to move up and select their franchise QB in Bridgewater. They give the Rams the No. 8 and No. 40 picks this year and their 2015 third round pick in compensation. I don’t believe they move up for any other QB.
3. Jacksonville Jaguars: Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina. Tough decision here for the Jaguars, and they go with the impact pass rusher. Clowney has rare ability, though some question whether he really wants to be great.
4. Cleveland Browns: Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M. I’ve said this before, but Cleveland is the ideal spot for Mr. Football and his unconventional style that will either equate to NFL brilliance or spectacular failure. Browns fans have had enough of “safer” QBs that have flopped.
5. *St. Louis Rams from Oakland Raiders: Greg Robinson, T, Auburn. The Rams package their booty from the earlier trade, sending #8 overall and their own second round pick at #44 to the Raiders to move up and take the tackle with the highest ceiling since Joe Thomas.
6. Atlanta Falcons: Khalil Mack, DE/OLB, Buffalo. Mack is much more than just a pass rusher, but he’s also quote adept at doing that too. He is a nice, perhaps even better, consolation prize for Falcons fans who covet Clowney.
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina. His ability to get open down the seam and impressive Combine workout should strongly appeal to the Bucs, who are set at outside receiver but need better targets in the middle half of the field.
8. *Oakland Raiders (from STL via MIN): Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson. The Raiders fall back a few spots and land the consensus top wideout in the draft while picking up an extra second-round pick. The depth at WR causes the teams near the top to address positions with scarcer top-tier talent.
9. Buffalo Bills: Jake Matthews, T, Texas A&M. His ability to play all over the OL gives him great value to the Bills, who are looking to solidify the protection in front of EJ Manuel. He’s the most NFL-ready left tackle in the draft in a long time.
10. Detroit Lions: Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M. The prospect of pairing the 6’5”, 230+ pounds Evans across from Calvin Johnson has to appeal to new OC Joe Lombardi, who comes from working in New Orleans’ vertical passing attack.
11. Tennessee Titans: Taylor Lewan, T, Michigan. One of the big winners of the Combine, Lewan offers outstanding athleticism and snarl to a team in the process of overhauling the offensive front.
12. *New York Jets from New York Giants: Odell Beckham Jr., WR, LSU. The Jets trade with their stadium mates, giving up the No. 18 pick as well as QB Mark Sanchez and the No. 69 overall pick, which they previously acquired in the Darrelle Revis trade. They move up to take the dynamic Beckham, one of the biggest winners of the Combine and instantly their No. 1 receiver.
13. St. Louis Rams: Calvin Pryor, S, Louisville. A body-rocker with great size and decent range, Pryor helps shore up the back end of an inconsistent pass defense. Another big Combine winner.
14. Chicago Bears: Aaron Donald, DT, Pittsburgh. He’s shorter and lighter than ideal but has proven to be a lethal interior rusher with great quickness and functional strength. The Bears are terrible up the middle at all three levels of the defense, and taking Donald here is a great start to remedying what ails them.
15. Pittsburgh Steelers: Anthony Barr, OLB, UCLA. Barr is not a finished product, as he’s only played defense for two seasons. His exceptional ability to flatten around the edge and close on the ball should immediately help the fading Steelers defense while he learns to be a more all-around player.
16. Dallas Cowboys: Hasean Clinton-Dix, S, Alabama. A relatively safe pick is a good pick for the Cowboys, coming off one of the lamest defensive efforts in NFL history. Ha Ha is smart and has shown he can make plays at the back end.
17. Baltimore Ravens: Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma State. The unquestioned winner of the Combine at CB, Gilbert has a lot of inconsistent game tape that waters down the enthusiasm. The Ravens pounce on his potential here.
18. *New York Giants (from New York Jets): Timmy Jernigan, DT, Florida State. After falling back, the Giants still get an immediate impact starter along the line in Jernigan. He’s an active anchor that can make those around, and behind, him a lot better.
19. *San Francisco 49ers from Miami Dolphins: Kelvin Benjamin, WR, Florida State. The 49ers package several of their picks (#30, #55 from KC, and #77 from TEN) and send them to Miami to move up and select the giant but enigmatic wideout from the national champs.
20. Arizona Cardinals: Zach Martin, T, Notre Dame. Many project him to kick inside to guard, but Martin showed during Senior Bowl practices he’s pretty darn good at tackle too. The Cardinals need both, so he makes a great fit.
21. Green Bay Packers: C.J. Mosley, LB, Alabama. Mosley offers outstanding instincts, great power, and all-around versatility to play all three downs in any of Dom Capers’ unusual personnel packages.
22. Philadelphia Eagles: Kony Ealy, DE, Missouri. The versatile end didn’t set the Combine on fire, but he can rush the passer from the edge as well as inside. Philly needs a player with his talents.
23. Kansas City Chiefs: Marqise Lee, WR, USC. I originally had a QB here, but Lee is too tempting to bypass. He’s the forgotten stud in this deep wideout class, and the Chiefs have to get more dynamic at receiver.
24. Cincinnati Bengals: Dee Ford, DE/OLB, Auburn. Cincy has a number of solid options here, and in this scenario they opt to go with the dynamic edge rusher. He fills the Michael Johnson role and offers more juice than Margus Hunt.
25. San Diego Chargers: Jason Verrett, CB, TCU. The Chargers get the dogged cover man they sorely lack in Verrett. He lacks size but might be the most instinctive cover man in the draft.
26. *New England Patriots from Cleveland Browns (from IND): RaShede Hageman, DT, Minnesota. The Patriots send the Browns No. 29 overall, a seventh rounder this year and a 2015 second round pick in order to move up and select the giant but inconsistent Hageman. Don’t forget that new Patriot draft consigliere Mike Lombardi was running the Browns draft room just two weeks ago; expect at least one trade between these two franchises.
27. New Orleans Saints: Ryan Shazier, LB, Ohio State. His ranginess and attacking mentality fit well in the Saints defense, and he showed his outstanding athleticism in what Combine workouts he participated in.
28. Carolina Panthers: Morgan Moses, T, Virginia. The retirement of Jordan Gross raises the imperative for the Panthers to get a new offensive tackle, and Moses presents excellent length and upside.
29. *Cleveland Browns (from NE): Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan State. His stock took a hit when he measured in at under 5’11” and he looked tight in drills, but game film says he can play.The Browns get their complement to Joe Haden.
30. *Miami Dolphins (from SF): Xavier Su’a-Filo, OL, UCLA. He is an outstanding guard prospect, but he also has a chance to be a very good tackle. Miami needs one of each. Perfect fit and they got extra picks to get him.
31. Denver Broncos: Stephon Tuitt, DE, Notre Dame. Tuitt is another player who did not meet expectation in 2013 but still has enough to offer to merit first round consideration. The Broncos could take the chance on his upside.
32. Seattle Seahawks: Louis Nix, NT, Notre Dame. The Irish defensive lineman comes off the board to the Seahawks, who continue to stockpile depth and talent to keep the defense fortified.
33. Houston: Jimmie Ward, S, Northern Illinois
34. Washington: Bradley Roby, CB, Ohio State
35. Cleveland: Brandin Cooks, WR, Oregon State
36. Oakland: Derek Carr, QB, Fresno State
37. Atlanta: Jace Amaro, TE, Texas Tech
38. Tampa Bay: Kyle Van Noy, LB, BYU
39. Jacksonville: Jimmy Garoppolo, QB, Eastern Illinois
40. *St. Louis Rams (from MIN): A.J. McCarron, QB, Alabama
41. Buffalo: Davante Adams, WR, Fresno State
42. Tennessee: Scott Crichton, DE, Oregon State
43. New York Giants: Austin Seferian-Jenkins, TE, Washington
44. *Oakland (from STL): Jordan Tripp, OLB, Montana
45. Detroit: Kyle Fuller, CB, Virginia Tech
46. Pittsburgh: Lamarcus Joyner, CB/S, Florida State
47. Dallas: Will Sutton, DT, Arizona State
48. Baltimore: Joel Bitonio, T, Nevada
49. New York Jets: Troy Niklas, TE, Notre Dame
50. Miami: Travis Swanson, C, Arkansas
51. Chicago: Deone Bucannon, S, Washington State
52. Arizona: Aaron Murray, QB, Georgia
53. Green Bay: Martavis Bryant, WR, Clemson
54. Philadelphia: Pierre Desir, CB, Lindenwood
55. *Miami (from SF via KC): Jerry Attaochuo, DE/OLB, Georgia Tech
56. Cincinnati: Keith McGill, DB, Utah
57. San Diego: David Yankey, G, Stanford
58. New Orleans: Dion Bailey, S, USC
59. Indianapolis: Trent Murphy, DE, Stanford
60. Carolina: Allen Robinson, WR, Penn State
61. San Francisco: Seantrel Henderson, T, Miami
62. New England: Chris Borland, LB, Wisconsin
63. Denver: Gabe Jackson, G, Mississippi State
64. Seattle: Jared Abbrederis, WR, Wisconsin
65. Houston: Carl Bradford, OLB, Arizona State
66. Washington: Aaron Lynch, OLB/DE, South Florida
67. Oakland: Stanley Jean-Baptiste, CB, Nebraska
68. Atlanta: Antonio Richardson, T, Tennessee
69. *New York Giants (from NYJ via TB): Brandon Thomas, T/G, Clemson
70. Jacksonville: Carlos Hyde, RB, Ohio State
71. Cleveland: Bishop Sankey, RB, Washington
72. Minnesota: Caraun Reid, DT, Princeton
73. Buffalo: Shayne Skov, LB, Stanford
74. New York Giants: Jordan Matthews, WR, Vanderbilt
75. St. Louis: Ego Ferguson, DT, LSU
76. Detroit: Weston Richburg, C, Colorado State
77. *Miami (from SF via TEN): Charles Sims, RB, West Virginia
78. Dallas: Chris Smith, DE, Arkansas
79. Baltimore: Bruce Ellington, WR, South Carolina
80. New York Jets: Tre Mason, RB, Auburn
81. Miami: Jon Halapio, G, Florida
82. Chicago: Kareem Martin, DE, North Carolina
83. Cleveland (from PIT): Yawin Smallwood, LB, Connecticut
84. Arizona: Josh Huff, WR, Oregon
85. Green Bay: Demarcus Lawrence, OLB/DE, Boise State
86. Philadelphia: Taylor Hart, DE, Oregon
87. Kansas City: Walt Aikens, CB, Liberty
88. Cincinnati: Brett Smith, QB, Wyoming
89. San Diego: Shaq Richardson, CB, Arizona
90. Indianapolis: Justin Ellis, DT, Louisiana Tech
91. New Orleans: Jack Mewhort, T, Ohio State
92. Carolina: Ahmad Dixon, S, Baylor
93. New England: C.J. Fiedorowicz, TE, Iowa
94. San Francisco: Brandon Coleman, WR, Rutgers
95. Denver: Robert Herron, WR, Wyoming
96. Minnesota (from SEA): E.J. Gaines, CB,Missouri
Arizona Cardinals, Atlanta Falcons, Baltimore Ravens, Buffalo Bills, Carolina Panthers, Chicago Bears, Cincinnati Bengals, Cleveland Browns, Dallas Cowboys, Denver Broncos, Detroit Lions, Green Bay Packers, Houston Texans, Indianapolis Colts, Jacksonville Jaguars, Kansas City Chiefs, Miami Dolphins, Minnesota Vikings, New England Patriots, New Orleans Saints, New York Giants, New York Jets, Oakland Raiders, Philadelphia Eagles, Pittsburgh Steelers, San Diego Chargers, San Francisco 49ers, Seattle Seahawks, St. Louis Rams, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Tennessee Titans, Washington Redskins, IQ
By Jeff Risdon
The first two days of workouts are done, and all the offensive players have wrapped up their work at the 2014 NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis.
Here are a few things I gleaned from the weekend action at the Combine.
$.01--Taylor Lewan has to be considered the biggest winner so far. The Michigan offensive tackle had an outstanding workout. He had the fastest 40 time of any lineman at an official 4.87 seconds, and his broad jump, vertical, and shuttle times were near the top as well. At over 6’7”, that display of athleticism really turns heads.
In addition, Lewan came across as affable and engaging in interviews. He’s had some on-field blow-ups with opponents, teammates and even his own coaches, but during the Combine he emerged as a positive leadership presence.
His play has been generally strong but inconsistent, especially as a run blocker. Lewan has some technique issues that need to be ironed out, but his display in Indy ensures a first-round slot. He could go as high as #7 overall to Tampa Bay, and the top 15 seems likely.
$.02--The overall athleticism of the wide receivers reinforced what many of us have been saying for months: this receiver draft class is ridiculously deep and talented.
This creates an interesting decision for teams looking for wideout talent: do they pounce on the top tier, which includes Sammy Watkins, Mike Evans, Odell Beckham Jr. and perhaps Marqise Lee, in the top 15, or do they stay patient and tap into the depth of the class?
It’s an interesting decision for teams like the Lions, Jets, and Panthers, teams that need to get an immediate starter from the draft. Will the depth create lower market demand, which would push down draft slotting for even the top tier guys after Watkins?
The key here is how much separation teams view between taking guys like Beckham or Lee in the teens and guys like Brandin Cooks (the fastest WR in Indy) or Allen Robinson in the 40s. The early pulse is that the top three--Watkins, Evans and Beckham in that order--will be gone no later than when the Jets pick at No. 18 overall. But that next group, which includes Lee, Kelvin Benjamin, Cooks, Jarvis Landry and Jordan Matthews, could wind up dropping further than anticipated due to the glut of talent. It’s a buyer’s market for wideouts.
$.03--Like everyone else, I intently watched the Michael Sam press conference. The openly gay Missouri defensive end faced the biggest media crowd any prospect has ever seen before.
What I saw was a man who didn’t squirm under the scrutiny. Sam handled himself as well as anyone could possibly have expected. He was poised, he was comfortable, he was self-aware, and he was bright. The reaction from the other players, both publicly and privately, was that it really wasn’t a big deal to have an openly gay teammate. That’s how it was for Sam at Missouri too.
That leads me to this conclusion: the media, and the older talking heads in particular (hello Ditka!) are a lot more involved in any controversy and pushing agendas than any of Sam’s future teammates will be, and that’s disappointing. I agree with Sam when he good-naturedly pled to just focus on his football prowess and not his bedroom activity. But the mass media will never allow that, unfortunately.
$.04--The bombshell that the Cleveland Browns entered into discussion with the San Francisco 49ers about a “trade” for Niners coach Jim Harbaugh created much consternation. The fact the Browns did not deny it makes it even more fascinating.
Here’s what can be confirmed, via Adam Schefter of ESPN and various others:
--the two teams did indeed talk
--Harbaugh is unhappier with his contract situation in San Francisco than anyone previously thought
--compensation was never agreed upon, but Schefter intimated on Sirius NFL Radio that it was a second round pick
--this happened before Mike Pettine was hired but after Josh McDaniels rejected the Browns’ head coaching offer
--Harbaugh’s unique personality has a shorter shelf-life with any one organization than most people would like to acknowledge
--the Browns are widely perceived by folks within the league to be very close to being a legit playoff force, but endemic mismanagement and the lack of a legit franchise quarterback have made them far worse than they should be
The takeaway here should be more about Harbaugh than the Browns. The Dolphins had a dalliance with him once, and now the Browns have as well. He’s a guy that needs to be the center of attention and gets antsy if grass even starts to root around his toes. Enjoy him while you’ve got him, Niners fans, because he’s not likely to be the coach in San Francisco much longer.
$.05--Stock up, stock down
A few players that made themselves money in Indy:
--Auburn tackle Greg Robinson, a legit candidate to go #2 overall to the Rams…or a trade partner.
--Nevada tackle Joel Bitonio, who starred in the first OL workout group before being upstaged by the second group.
--LSU WR Odell Beckham Jr., for his excellence in the gauntlet drill as much as his 40 time.
--Alabama QB A.J. McCarron, for finally showing some spine and actually throwing in drills. He did very well. I know it’s not a popular take, but McCarron is going to be drafted in the first 40 picks, like it or not.
--Kent State RB Dri Archer. 4.28 in the 40 means he’ll get drafted, which was not necessarily the case before he scorched the turf.
And a few who did not help themselves with subpar performances:
--UCF QB Blake Bortles, for indicating he had no problem sitting a year and being a little too open about knowing he needs a lot of work. While it’s honest and true, NFL decision makers hear those comments and immediately interpret it as “lacking confidence and competitiveness”, the two worst possible traits a QB can have.
--Arkansas center Travis Swanson, who put up the fewest bench press reps of any offensive lineman.
--Arizona RB KaDeem Carey, clocking a 4.70 in the 40. That’s slower than LSU fullback J.C. Copeland running right before him.
Monday and Tuesday are the defensive player workouts, and those will certainly have some winners and losers as well.
By Jeff Risdon
For the offensive rankings click here:
Here are the top 10 players at each position heading into the Combine.
As I tend to evaluate offensive players before defensive players, these ratings are subject to more volatility over the next few weeks. These rankings do not attempt in any way to project the order in which these players will be drafted.
Because of the increased specialization of schemes, I rope all players who project as everything from a 3-4 end (5-technique) to nose tackle (0-technique).
1. Aaron Donald, Pittsburgh--Short but destructive interior rusher with electrifying first step and a wide array of pass rush moves.
2. Timmy Jernigan, Florida State--Excels at shedding and stacking with great pad level and brute strength, quick feet for a big man.
3. Louis Nix, Notre Dame--Fell off in ’13 with a knee issue but has legit strength/speed combo and a higher ceiling than either guy above him.
4. RaShede Hageman, Minnesota--Speaking of high ceilings, Hageman has the highest of all DTs but carries a high bust factor as well, in part because he plays so high.
5. Will Sutton, Arizona State--Short and short-armed, gained bad weight in ’13, yet his spins and twists are devastatingly effective to get into the backfield with alarming consistency.
6. Dominique Easley, Florida--Possesses a dynamite first step, but doesn’t always know how to parlay that into anything productive. Coming off second torn ACL.
7. Kelcy Quarles, South Carolina--Overshadowed a bit, but knows how to get into the backfield and has closing burst. Pad level and base strength are issues.
8. Ego Ferguson, LSU--Ego offers lots of quickness and relentless hustle, good eyes vs. the run. Technique needs a lot of work.
9. Anthony Johnson, LSU--Not as athletic as linemate Ferguson but a better run defender and closer; motor doesn’t always run hot. Has upside galore.
10. Caraun Reid, Princeton--Dominated the Ivy League with his bullish build, powerful swim and shoulder moves, and energy, but I worry he’s a DT/DE tweener.
Best of the rest: Taylor Hart, Oregon; Justin Ellis, Louisiana Tech; Stephon Tuitt, Notre Dame; Ryan Carrethers, Arkansas State; DaQuan Jones, Penn State; Deandre Coleman, California; Dan McCullers, Tennessee; Zach Kerr, Delaware; Brent Urban, Virginia;
Instead of listing defensive end and outside linebacker, I’ve divided them up between edge pass rushers and more traditional outside backers. These players are either 4-3 rush ends or 3-4 OLBs.
1. Jadeveon Clowney, South Carolina--The best overall player in this draft, a transcendent talent with potential to be an immediate star.
2. Khalil Mack, Buffalo--Excellent do-it-all backer has both power and speed, great awareness in coverage and against screens. Legit top 5 talent.
3. Kony Ealy, Missouri--Ealy has great versatility; can play any technique from 3-7 and has some experience as a stand-up rush LB too.
4. Dee Ford, Auburn--Undersized but not lacking strength, though speed and quickness are his calling cards. Strictly a 3-4 OLB, lacks size/strength to play in-line.
5. Kyle Van Noy, BYU--Smooth athlete with high football IQ and a powerfully quick closing burst, but not a premium sack artist.
6. Anthony Barr, UCLA--Freakishly fast around the corner and closing on the QB, but right now that’s all he offers; has to develop more all-around skills to merit a higher value.
7. Scott Crichton, Oregon State--Muscled-up strongside end with deceptive burst and great balance, very adept at attacking the ball.
8. Carl Bradford, Arizona State--Instinctive attack dog with outstanding closing speed, has the build & eyes to move to 3-4 ILB.
9. Jerry Attaochu, Georgia Tech--Read-and-react athlete with good length and a lot of functional strength. Can be tight and unfocused.
10. Marcus Smith, Louisville--Explosive first step with good balance and agility, still learning how to get off blocks and developing countermoves.
Best of the Rest: Demarcus Lawrence, Boise State; Shaq Barrett, Colorado State; Chris Smith, Arkansas; Jackson Jeffcoat, Texas; Trent Murphy, Stanford; James Gayle, Virginia Tech; Aaron Lynch, South Florida; Michael Sam, Missouri; Kareem Martin, North Carolina; Will Clarke, West Virginia; Ethan Westbrooks, West Texas A&M; Devon Kennard, USC
These are more traditional linebackers whose primary role is not as pass rushers, though some of them are accomplished there too.
1. C.J. Mosley, Alabama--Off-the-charts instincts and intangibles, very quick and fluid, competitive. Durability and strength are the only questions.
2. Ryan Shazier, Ohio State--Undersized but very quick and strong, has a chase gear. Needs to develop patience vs. the run.
3. Chris Borland, Wisconsin--Thickly-built throwback with off-the-charts instincts and tackling power. Short but understands how to counter it. Reminds me of Chris Speilman.
4. Yawin Smallwood, Connecticut--Traditional 4-3 MLB is a terror between the tackles, lacks elite range and size. Echoes of AJ Hawk.
5. Christian Kirksey, Iowa--Very fluid, quick read-and-react backer with cover skills but lacking bulk and strength. Flashed blitz ability at Senior Bowl.
6. Christian Jones, Florida State--Incredibly versatile, explosive athlete with great leadership and intangibles, needs to play stronger. Needs a position.
7. Shayne Skov, Stanford--Intense, very physical between-the-tackles sledgehammer, a poor man’s Brian Cushing with two bad knees.
8. Preston Brown, Louisville--High-cut, instinctive 3-4 ILB prospect with surprisingly adept short-area cover skills. Lacks range and fast-twitch muscle.
9. Andrew Jackson, Western Kentucky--Compactly built downhill thumper with limited range, will be a 3-4 ILB. Poor man’s Curtis Lofton.
10. Jordan Tripp, Montana--Proved during Senior Bowl he can swim in the big pond, very quick and smart. Great 4-3 WLB prospect, but not a consistent tackler.
Best of the rest: Jordan Zumwalt, UCLA; Telvin Smith, Florida State; Tyler Starr, South Dakota; Adrian Hubbard, Alabama; Boseko Lokombo, Oregon; DeDe Lattimore, South Florida; Uani Unga, BYU; Max Bullough, Michigan State
1. Darqueze Dennard, Michigan State--Savvy press corner who plays bigger than his size, excellent with the ball in the air.
2. Jason Verrett, TCU--Naturally sticky cover man with great fight/size of dog ratio; lack of size and bulk is a valid concern.
3. Bradley Roby, Ohio State--Play fell off in ’13 but has all the physical tools and competitiveness to bounce back and be best-in-class.
4. Kyle Fuller, Virginia Tech--Lost half ’13 with an injury, and that gives pause with his frame, but showed great instincts and awareness when healthy.
5. Lamarcus Joyner, Florida State--Playmaker. Undersized and a lousy tackler, but nobody attacks the football better. Might be better as sub-package safety hybrid.
6. Justin Gilbert, Oklahoma State--Has outstanding size and movement skills, but didn’t always play smart or tough. Arrow pointing way up based on ’13.
7. Terrance Mitchell, Oregon--Doesn’t stand out at any one thing but really has a complete game that should translate well to the NFL.
8. E.J. Gaines, Missouri--Tough off-man corner can also play over the slot, might be best run defender of the class. Lacks elite speed & quickness.
9. Victor Hampton, South Carolina--Aggressive, talkative, physical big corner with great speed and closing burst. Can be overaggressive and sloppy at times.
10. Marcus Roberson, Florida--Inconsistent performer with big peaks but deep valleys. Has the size and speed teams want to work with, has special teams value.
Best of the rest: Pierre Desir, Lindenwood; Bashaud Breeland, Clemson; Nevin Lawson, Utah State; Aaron Colvin, Oklahoma (would be higher if not injured); Jaylen Watkins, Florida; Philip Gaines, Rice; Keith McGill, Utah; Rashaad Reynolds, Oregon State; Ross Cockrell, Duke; Bennett Jackson, Notre Dame; Ricardo Allen, Purdue; Loucheiz Purifoy, Florida; Stanley Jean-Baptiste, Nebraska
1. Jimmie Ward, Northern Illinois--Raised his stock with a terrific Senior Bowl, proved he could cover the slot or range deep vs. better competition. Grade A hitter too.
2. Hasean Clinton-Dix, Alabama--Big, athletic, well-schooled safety. Good-not-great across the board, lower ceiling than widely advertised.
3. Dion Bailey, USC--Very heady, rangy, instinctive safety with cover skills and great athleticism. Needs to play tougher, struggled to bring down bigger receivers.
4. Deone Bucannon, Washington State--Downhill thumper with short-range cover skills is strictly a strpong safety, must clean up his pursuit angles. Echoes of Louis Delmas.
5. Calvin Pryor, Louisville--Big-time hitter with great size, confidence and decent range, but often lacks positional discipline and sees coverage responsibilities late. A bigger Matt Elam.
6. Ahmad Dixon, Baylor--Another strong safety only, has some tightness but closes in a flash with ferocity. Compares to an uninflated Laron Landry.
7. Terrance Brooks, Florida State--Undersized former corner might serve best as nickel back, has the football IQ and smooth movement skills to succeed.
8. Jemea Thomas, Georgia Tech--Smallish but very quick and fluid, has shown he can play over the slot. Should make a strong nickel back. Competitive.
9. Kenny Ladler, Vanderbilt--Very quick, smooth athlete with great instincts and leadership. Small frame lacks power, however. Was productive playmaker at Vandy.
10. Tre Boston, North Carolina--Verbose, highly confident hit-and-miss gambler makes plays, but needs to make better decisions. Might have best hands in class.
Best of the rest: Craig Loston, LSU; Ed Reynolds, Stanford; Sean Parker, Washington; Ty Zimmerman, Kansas State; Marqueston Huff, Wyoming; Nate Berhe, San Diego State; Jonathan Dowling, Western Kentucky; Brock Vereen, Minnesota; Dezmen Southward, Wisconsin; Isaiah Newsome, UL-Monroe
Any questions or comments, find me on Twitter @JeffRisdon or hit the message board here.
Draft, Draft Misc, IQ
After watching more games and cut-ups than we care to count, here are our current positional rankings for the offensive players in the 2014 NFL Draft.
On Michael Sam: a pre-announcement assessment of his abilities as a prospect, why the news matters, the media's role and more.
Seattle's physicality was expected, but the impact of their speed is what really flummoxed Denver and that will be what teams across the NFL look for in the offseason.
While Peyton/Legion of Boom gets the attention, this game is going to be decided by how well the Broncos' defense can handle the balanced Seahawks' offense.
Blake Bortles goes first overall, while Jadeveon Clowney, Teddy Bridgewater, Johnny Manziel and Khalil Mack round out the top-5.
The UK and the NFL may be happy to hold two or three games a year in London as a showcase of novelty and spectacle but having a permanent operation is a far riskier venture.