2014 NFL Draft: Tajh Boyd Makes Statement and Rises on September Big Board
The first weekend of college football finally started up this weekend, and it was an exciting—albeit relatively unimportant—weekend for the NFL draft landscape.
Not much can be told from the first game of the season, especially when lots of major programs are playing easy games against smaller schools.
So this, my first big board for the 2014 draft, is going almost exclusively off of previous seasons' tapes and scouting reports, which is why I kept it at 30 players. But it's a good starting point for the new season.
Remember, this is not a mock draft; it is just ranking the 30 best draft-eligible college football players.
*1. Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina
He's the consensus top player in college football, and for good reason. Clowney is absolutely dominant. He's a true physical specimen at 6'6" and 274 pounds.
2. Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M
Matthews is the best offensive lineman in college football, although he will need to prove himself on the left side after switching over to fill Luke Joeckel's big shoes. I anticipate Matthews will be more than up to the task.
3. Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan
His development and maturity from last year to this year will be the biggest factor in his draft stock, which has potential to stay in the top three all season. He's a beast of a left tackle who could have been a top-five pick had he declared for the draft last year.
*4. Marqise Lee, WR, Southern California
It would not be a surprise at all if Lee ended up as a top-three pick in the draft. He is that talented and explosive. This is a great read from Grantland about Lee's background and how it turned him into the competitive monster he is today.
*5. Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville
The consensus top quarterback prospect, Bridgewater possesses everything you want in a franchise quarterback: arm strength, poise, accuracy, size and leadership.
*6. Cyrus Kouandjio, OT, Alabama
He isn't quite a sure thing like Matthews and Lewan, but the 'Bama left tackle is a deadly mix of strength and athleticism. His upside is immense, and it would not be a shock to have a second straight draft with three of the top four picks being left tackles.
7. Louis Nix, DT, Notre Dame
Nix is an absolute house at about 342 pounds, but he moves extremely well for such a big guy. He takes on double-teams routinely and was a major factor in Manti Te'o's success at Notre Dame. He is by far the best pure 3-4 nose tackle in the country.
8. Anthony Barr, OLB, UCLA
A big-time riser and hot draft prospect last year, Barr ended up making the smart decision to come back to a very good UCLA team. The super athletic pass-rusher is a converted running back who will look to solidify a top-10 selection this year.
*9. Austin Seferian-Jenkins, TE, Washington
He has had some off-the-field and injury issues recently, but Seferian-Jenkins is a freak of nature who played basketball for the Huskies as a freshman. If he can straighten things out, he will be a very high pick next spring.
*10. Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson
Watkins was one of the most explosive players in the country two years ago as a true freshman, but he had a rough sophomore year. He made a statement that he's back to form against Georgia on Saturday, catching six passes for 127 yards and a touchdown.
*11. Stephon Tuitt, DE, Notre Dame
Tuitt is a strong defensive end who can both get to the passer and stuff the run. His potential NFL role will be determined with a heightened focus on him this season, but he looks to be a 3-4 DE.
12. C.J. Mosley, OLB, Alabama
One of the leaders of another great Crimson Tide defense, Mosley could have been a first-round pick had he decided to enter the draft last year. He's a complete outside linebacker who does everything well.
13. Tajh Boyd, QB, Clemson
Already a highly touted prospect, Boyd started his senior year off with a bang by leading Clemson to its massive victory over Georgia. He was 18-of-30 for 270 yards and three touchdowns while rushing for 42 yards and two more scores.
*14. Bradley Roby, CB, Ohio State
The top cornerback in the class heading into the season, Roby dealt with some off-the-field issues this summer. But that seems to all be behind him. He's a super-fast, quick-twitch athlete who can be a major weapon in the secondary.
*15. Loucheiz Purifoy, CB, Florida
Even after getting suspended for the season opener, Purifoy is hot on Roby's coattails to be the top corner in this class. Purifoy is an outstanding athlete with big-play potential who also gets time as a returner and wide receiver.
16. Khalil Mack, OLB, Buffalo
The third-ranked outside linebacker heading into this season, Mack was a virtual unknown until he started getting some attention after a great opener against Ohio State. Keep Mack high on your radar.
*17. Aaron Lynch, DE, South Florida
An interesting story, as Lynch lit it up two years ago as a freshman for Notre Dame before transferring to be closer to home. He had to sit out a year, but look for the pass-rusher to storm back onto the scene at USF.
18. Kyle Van Noy, OLB, Brigham Young
Van Noy was rising quickly up draft boards at the end of last season until he announced that he would return. Now, the versatile linebacker has high expectations to lead BYU's defense in 2013.
19. Gabe Jackson, OG, Mississippi State
The best guard in the country, Jackson has started every game of his collegiate career dating back to his redshirt freshman season in 2010. The senior is a well-rounded mauler who can open massive gaps on the left side of the line.
*20. Ryan Shazier, OLB, Ohio State
Shazier is a tremendous weak-side linebacker in the mold of Lavonte David. He is extremely quick and instinctive. He's at his best when he can pursue the ball and make plays in space.
*21. Brett Hundley, QB, UCLA
*22. Colt Lyerla, TE, Oregon
*23. Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, S, Alabama
24. Jordan Matthews, WR, Vanderbilt
25. Will Sutton, DT, Arizona State
26. David Yankey, OG, Stanford
*27. Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, CB, Oregon
28. Brandon Coleman, WR, Rutgers
*29. Timmy Jernigan, DT, Florida State
*30. Stephen Morris, QB, Miami
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