Orange Bowl 2014: Top NFL Prospects to Watch in Ohio State vs. Clemson

David DanielsSenior Writer IDecember 9, 2013

CLEMSON, SC - NOVEMBER 14:  Sammy Watkins #2 of the Clemson Tigers during their game at Clemson Memorial Stadium on November 14, 2013 in Clemson, South Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

NFL scouts will be in abundance at the 2014 Orange Bowl.

Both Ohio State and Clemson are loaded with prospects who will hear their names called over the first two days of next April's draft.

Here are the most promising Buckeyes and Tigers to watch.


Ohio State

3. CB Bradley Roby

Roby was part of a not-so-stellar secondary on Saturday that Michigan State's Connor Cook torched for 304 yards and three touchdowns. He hasn't had an outstanding year, but he's had flashes of brilliance. Roby leads the Buckeyes in passes broken up and interceptions on the season.

While he's been inconsistent, at 5'11", 193 pounds with blazing speed, he has the measurables to earn a Day 2 pick. With his high ceiling, a team with a confident secondary coach will roll the dice. He'll get a chance to show that ceiling against Sammy Watkins.


2. RB Carlos Hyde

Hyde improve dramatically his senior campaign. He actually carried the football two times fewer than he did last season thus far, but he's rushed for 438 more yards. The 6'0", 242-pound bulldozer is averaging 7.7 yards a pop and has found paydirt 16 total times.

Hyde accumulated 1,408 rushing yards and all of those touchdowns this season despite the fact that he missed the first three games. He's eclipsed the century mark, and the shaky Clemson defense will struggle to stop his streak. Hyde doesn't have the greatest vision or patience, but like Roby, his physical ability will attract a team early.


1. LB Ryan Shazier

Sep 28, 2013; Columbus, OH, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes linebacker Ryan Shazier (10) pumps up the crowd during the fourth quarter against the Wisconsin Badgers at Ohio Stadium. Buckeyes beat the Badgers 31-24. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports
Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

Shazier isn't at fault for the 34 points that the Buckeyes surrendered to the Spartans. He had 12 tackles on the night, 10 being solo takedowns. He's been their best defender all season long.

The 6'2", 222-pound junior leads the team in tackles and tackles for loss. He's also second on Ohio State in sacks, only behind Noah Spence, with 7.0. Unlike Hyde and Roby, he isn't notably physically gifted, but his instincts and motor make up for a lack of size and speed.



3. QB Tajh Boyd 

Boyd arguably regressed in 2013, amassing 664 yards and eight touchdowns fewer than he did last season. However, he's still an explosive talent who, if on, will give the Buckeyes fits. He completed 67.9 percent of his passes this season for 3,473 yards, 29 touchdowns and just nine interceptions. On the ground, he's found the end zone nine times.

No longer is Boyd a candidate to go first overall, but he could sneak back into first-round consideration with an impressive performance in the Orange Bowl. At just under 6'1", he makes up for a lack of length with top-notch quickness for his position. The three-year starter is a high second-round pick at worst.


2. DE/OLB Vic Beasley

CLEMSON, SC - OCTOBER 20:  Vic Beasley #3 of the Clemson Tigers goes after Logan Thomas #3 of the Virginia Tech Hokies as he tries to pass the ball during their game at Clemson Memorial Stadium on October 20, 2012 in Clemson, South Carolina.  (Photo by St
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

The 6'3", 225-pound Beasley may be better fitted as a 3-4 outside linebacker in the NFL. But whatever defensive scheme he lines up in, he has the potential to be a feared pass-rusher. He leads Clemson in sacks, racking up 12.0 this season including 2.0 against South Carolina. 

Beasley also leads the team in tackles for loss. He has yet to declare for the draft. If he does, though, he could be selected in the first round.


1. WR Sammy Watkins

NFL scouts have been drooling over Watkins since he was a freshman. He's compiled over 3,000 receiving yards in his Clemson career, including 1,237 this season. His 2013 stat line also features 85 receptions for 10 touchdowns.

Watkins would be even more accomplished if he hadn't had an injury-plagued 2012 campaign. If the 6'1", 205-pound receiver blazes the track in workouts as he's expected to, he could be the first wideout taken in next year's draft. If he declares, expect him to be the talk of the NFL Scouting Combine.


David Daniels is a breaking news writer at Bleacher Report and news editor at Wade-O Radio.