2014 College Football Recruits Likely to Be Future 1st-Round NFL Draft Picks
Projecting recruits into the NFL is not an ideal thing to do, as so much can happen during a player's senior year in high school and college career. From personal obstacles, to coaching and academics, many variables play a role in determining a prospect's success and NFL aspirations.
However, solely from a talent perspective of the player's skill level and on-field production, a skilled evaluator can see some recruits have what it takes become pros. This read will look at several recruits who show the advanced skills, speed, athleticism and instincts to be not only potential NFL players, but also first-round picks.
On this list we have two talented running back prospects, two potential franchise left tackles and even a player who projects to several different positions. There's also a sleeper or two on this list, so come inside and see who in this 2014 recruiting class has the makings of a high draft pick.
Hoza Scott, OLB
Hoza Scott is a versatile defender, as the OLB can play multiple positions in various schemes. The 6'3", 225-pounder can play WLB in a 4-3 as a classic "chase" guy. He can also play weak-side DE in sub-packages.
In a 3-4 defense, Scott can still play OLB but work as a rush-end type in this scheme due to his quick first step and ability to bend. The Texas A&M commit has great athleticism, range and speed, which will help him make many plays for Kevin Sumlin.
Scott's athletic traits along with his size and versatility make him a potential first-round pick.
Bryan Mone, DT
Star Lotulelei was a first-round pick in this year's draft, and Bryan Mone has similar abilities. Already 6'4", 315 pounds, the Utah native is headed to Michigan.
Mone is a powerful interior DL prospect who uses his size well and can be dominant versus the run. He'll push the pocket as a pass-rusher and can cause headaches for offensive lines.
Greg Mattison coached Haloti Ngata when Mattison led the Ravens defense, so look for him to mold Mone into an identical force in Ann Arbor.
Sony Michel, RB
Today, running backs have to be deemed "special" to go in the first round of the draft. Well, based on his tape, Sony Michel is just that.
From Florida, the 5'11", 205-pound back has quickness through alleys, good speed, strength and excellent vision. Michel also shows quick feet, agility and the needed skills to factor into the passing game.
He'll learn from "Gurshall" at Georgia (who may be taken in the first frame when they leave) and should run himself into the first round whenever he checks out of Athens.
Quin Blanding, S
Three safeties went within the first 33 picks of this year's draft. Quin Blanding grades out higher than all three (Eric Reid, Matt Elam and Johnathan Cyprien) when they were recruits.
Blanding is a 6'2", 200-pounder from Virginia with excellent range, ball skills and instincts. He can get transition quickly to get off the hashes, has the range to patrol deep thirds as a single high safety and supports the run.
Blanding will be a team captain one day for Mike London at Virginia, and that will only boost his stock.
Lorenzo Carter, DE/OLB
From Georgia, Lorenzo Carter is too athletic, quick and big to flame out in college. He's already 6'6", weighs more than 230 pounds and oozes potential.
Carter can play the traditional DE role or stand up as an OLB in a 3-4 scheme. Pass-rushers will always be in demand, and when someone of Carter's size and ability becomes available, NFL scouts will be drooling over him.
Once he learns how to use his hands better as a rusher and if he can stay healthy, Carter should produce good numbers in college and become a first-round pick. A good comparison for Carter would be Dion Jordan, who was a first-round pick by the Dolphins last month.
Marlon Humphrey, CB
Five CBs were selected within the initial 36 picks in last month's NFL draft. Specifically, at the CB position, tall cornerbacks get extra attention from evaluators.
Marlon Humphrey is a 6'1" cover man with excellent instincts and anticipation skills. He's got good athleticism and loose hips and plays the ball well. Humphrey is a smart player with elite talent, and his father Bobby played in the NFL.
Expect him to land at Alabama, where Nick Saban will have Humphrey follow in the footsteps of recent first-round CBs like Dre Kirkpatrick and Dee Milliner.
David Sharpe, OT
David Sharpe may be the most raw prospect on this list, but he may have the highest ceiling. He's 6'7", 288 pounds and has the athleticism of a small forward.
Sharpe has a chance to develop into an elite LT prospect. He could max out one day at 6'8", 320 pounds, while still possessing quick feet, agility and good balance.
Left tackles with size and great pass-blocking ability are always in high demand from the NFL, evidenced by three LTs being selected within the first four picks of this year's draft.
Tony Brown, CB
Tony Brown brings back memories of Patrick Peterson (then Patrick Johnson) as a recruit due to his 6'0", 185-pound frame and ability to press.
The Texan is a physical cover man with good instincts, strength to re-route at the line and the hips to come out of his transition quickly. In fact, Brown is such a talented defensive back that he could grow into a dynamic safety, where he still would have first-round potential.
Andrew Brown, DT
The 6'4", 295-pound Andrew Brown will weigh more than 300 pounds when he leaves college. He has great first-step quickness, plays to his size at the point of attack and has good power.
Brown is already bigger than Sharrif Floyd coming out of high school and uses his hands better than the average prep DT prospect. Brown also has good short-area pursuit quickness and can finish plays.
He'll be a playmaker and cornerstone player wherever he lands and should catch NFL scouts' attention early in his college career.
Jabrill Peppers, DB/ATH
Jabrill Peppers could be a first-round pick as an RB, CB, WR, S or even OLB. He's already 6'1", 205 pounds and has excellent athleticism, speed, instincts and a strong work ethic.
From New Jersey, Peppers is a physical specimen who takes care of his body and has great character. Cornerback could be where his heart is at, and his size, quickness and awareness will make him a standout there.
However, success should come fairly easy to Peppers, no matter which position he plays in college.
Cameron Robinson, LT
Cameron Robinson understands how critical playing with knee bend is better than any other OT prospect in the country. His father, Steve Foley, played in the NFL, so he comes from a pro pedigree.
The Louisiana native stands 6'6", weighs more than 330 pounds and has great athletic ability, agility, balance and movement skills for a big man. Not be classified as just a finesse guy, Robinson is a powerful run-blocker who can put targets on his back to clear holes.
Robinson may be a more natural athlete than Luke Joeckel right now.
Da'Shawn Hand, DE
Da'Shawn Hand plays out of position right now for his high school team, as they have him line up more at DT. However, the 6'5", 247-pounder is a classic pass-rushing DE who also has good strength.
Hand can convert speed to power during a rush, get up under a blocker's pads and walk him back deep into the pocket. He forces passers off their launch points and can chase them down due to great speed.
By the time he's eligible for the draft, Hand should weigh in the 260-pound range and be one of the best DEs available in his draft.
Leonard Fournette, RB
Leonard Fournette is a special runner and could be the best prep RB prospect since Adrian Peterson. He has a 6'1", 232-pound frame right now and still shows great speed, agility and vision.
Also, Fournette can simply line up on the perimeter, run routes and catch passes like a WR. He's a phenomenal talent and a player who should only be in college for three seasons.
As stated earlier, projecting recruits to make it into the NFL is not an ideal thing to do, but Fournette has obvious pro potential.
Edwin Weathersby is the College Football Recruiting Analyst for Bleacher Report. He has worked in scouting/player personnel departments for three professional football teams, including the New York Giants and Cleveland Browns.