The Super Bowl is behind us. The 2014 NFL draft season is here. Teams will now continue compiling their own evaluations while prospects prepare for the combine and pro day workouts.
With the Senior Bowl and Shrine Game in the books, we have a little bit more information about some prospects, but neither game has any significant impact on the overall prospect pool.
Underclassmen declarations are now also completed, which means there is some significant shuffling since I released my January Big Board.
We will collectively be crushed with mock drafts leading up to the actual draft, and I think they are often pretty useless because it's impossible to predict trades and their potential impacts later in the first round and beyond.
So remember, this is not a mock draft; it is simply ranking the 60 best draft-eligible college football players.
1. *Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina
It's amazing how much less the media has discussed Clowney at this point, isn't it? He was the most talked-about football player in the country all last spring and summer, and now we hear barely a peep. So many draftniks now have that caveat in their summaries of him: "motivation issues." But I have yet to hear one good article that gives in-depth, behind-the-scenes insight on this perceived lack of motivation.
2. Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M
Not much has changed over the past month or so for Matthews, who didn't compete in the Senior Bowl and is preparing for the combine. He's got everything you want in a left tackle, and it would be a mistake for him to not be the first tackle selected.
3. *Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson
While many people simply just say that he's incredibly fast (which he is), it's hard to pinpoint exactly what makes Watkins so good because he brings so much to the table. He is a good route-runner, has excellent hands and underrated strong, and shows a competitiveness that helped him absolutely dominate and carry Clemson to an Orange Bowl victory.
4. Khalil Mack, OLB, Buffalo
Mack has been rising up boards all year, and I finally moved him ahead of Barr this month after debating it for some time. He's truly a do-everything outside linebacker. The senior is instinctive, strong, quick, explosive and will immediately start and produce in the NFL.
5. Anthony Barr, OLB, UCLA
Barr has fallen back into the shadows a bit as other prospects finished the year stronger and then impressed in the Senior Bowl. The senior definitely showed that he still needs some polishing, but we can't forget that he's an athletic freak who has the ability to take over games. I expect him to tear up the combine and force everyone to jump back on the bandwagon.
6. *Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville
People are starting to get bored of Bridgewater and are getting enamored with the athleticism and upside of Johnny Manziel and Blake Bortles. The new report from Russ Lande that the Houston Texans are only considering those two seems pretty baseless, and I wouldn't take anything seriously in February. Bridgewater is still the most fundamentally sound and NFL-ready quarterback of the bunch, yet he still has a high ceiling.
7. *Marqise Lee, WR, Southern California
Don't sleep on Lee. He dealt with injury and quarterback issues in 2013, and his stats suffered as a result. But the true junior is an unbelievable athlete and competitor who will come into the draft process with a bang and remind everyone of how special he is.
8. C.J. Mosley, ILB, Alabama
Mosley won't jump out at most people on tape, but if you appreciate a smart, instinctive, athletic tackling machine at inside linebacker then you will love watching Mosley play. He's versatile enough to play inside in a 3-4 defense and also SAM or WILL in a 4-3.
9. *Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn
A big riser recently, Robinson deserves all the hype he's getting, although I think people who rank him ahead of Matthews are a little overzealous. At 6'5", 320 pounds, Robinson is one of the bigger tackles in this class, yet he is arguably the quickest. This rare combination will have scouts salivating, but he still needs to develop a lot.
10. *Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M
Evans is, like Robinson, a redshirt sophomore who has elite physical tools but still needs to work on refining his game in the pros. Evans is 6'5" with long arms, but he has actually filled out pretty well and is already a compact, agile athlete whose speed and leaping ability will make him a star for years to come if he gets the right coaching.
11. *Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M (scouting report here)
Possibly the most divisive college player (and NFL prospect) in the past decade, Manziel really won many draftniks over with his improved mechanics and consistent results in 2013. There are still people who will doubt his maturity coming into the NFL as a top pick, and those concerns may be warranted, but I'm still firmly on the side that believes he has a bright future ahead of him.
12. *Blake Bortles, QB, Central Florida
Just a shade behind Manziel in my book, Bortles is an impressive physical specimen who has an NFL build but does not yet possess the mechanics to go with it. Bortles' upside will enamor some teams, and he will almost certainly be one of the first three quarterbacks taken. But he also needs the most coaching and development of the three to be a successful NFL quarterback.
13. Ra'Shede Hageman, DT, Minnesota
After putting up moderate production at Minnesota, there was not too much hype surrounding Hageman heading into the Senior Bowl. But Hageman's incredible athleticism at his size (6'6", 311 pounds) and his aggressive style caught people's attention.
People may be catching on late, but he's been ranked 11th and 10th on my previous two boards.
14. *Cyrus Kouandjio, OT, Alabama
A hulking left tackle, Kouandjio is a solid athlete who isn't an overly quick or fluid player but can hold his own blocking on the edge. His experience against SEC pass-rushers will allow him to come in and start right away, even if it's on the right side at first.
15. Kyle Van Noy, OLB, Brigham Young
Van Noy has been one of my favorite prospects for some time, and had a great senior season despite not getting much attention. He's one of the best athletes at any position in this entire class, and his versatility will be a huge asset in the NFL.
16. Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, S, Alabama
I feel like I've had Clinton-Dix ranked in almost this exact spot since my first board back in the fall, but that's because he's just a consistent performer who isn't quite skilled enough to warrant a top-10 grade.
Still, he's clearly a cut above every other safety in this class.
17. Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan State
After deliberating about the top cornerbacks for some time, Dennard finally came out on top, although that could very well change after the combine. He's an aggressive, rangy cornerback who absolutely dominated receivers in 2013.
18. Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan
Lewan isn't the top-five talent he once was, but he's still solidly a first-rounder. There are concerns about his quickness and flexibility, but he still has good footwork, excellent strength and is an extremely physical player who will hold up against anyone in the NFL.
19. *Ryan Shazier, OLB, Ohio State
Shazier makes a small jump up the board after failing to get out of the 20s throughout the actual season. He's a sideline-to-sideline player who isn't a great pass-rusher and will fit in better as a WILL linebacker in a 4-3 defense.
20. Jason Verrett, CB, Texas Christian University
Verrett is only 5'10", 176 pounds, but he plays a lot stronger than he looks and has exceptional ball skills. He won't wow people with his measurables at the combine, but his positional drills will prove to scouts that he's got the tools to succeed.
21. Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma State
Gilbert is the big-play guy in the top three cornerbacks, and is more of a tall speed guy who is less physical but can still lock down top receivers. He's also a great returner and could light up the combine with his 40-yard dash and shuttle-run times.
22. *Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina (scouting report here)
The best receiving tight end in the class, Ebron is an exceptional athlete who looks more like a wide receiver when he has the ball in his hands. He's a decent blocker at this stage, but still needs to improve a lot in that facet.
23. Antonio Richardson, OT, Tennessee
Richardson is a massive tackle in the mold of San Diego's D.J. Fluker, who struggled a lot in pass protection on the right side this year as a rookie. Richardson is a little quicker than Fluker, but he may have to start on the right side as well in the NFL. His combine will be important for his stock.
24. *Xavier Su'a-Filo, OG, UCLA
I may be higher on Su'a-Filo than most, but he's a truly impressive football player. He's been a star at both tackle and guard and played both in 2013 for UCLA. His frame is more conducive to playing guard, and his athleticism makes him a good fit in a zone-read offense.
25. *Kony Ealy, DE, Missouri
Ealy is the flavor of the month, but I'm not 100 percent sold on him as a top-15 pick. People are excited about his raw athleticism, but there's no guarantee he'll correct his pad level and start going all-out on every play.
26. Derek Carr, QB, Fresno State
There are a lot of people who got high on Carr really quickly, and his huge 2013 season was certainly impressive. But he folded in his bowl game and has the tendency to get happy feet even when there isn't that much pressure. That lack of patience may not be fixable and could cause him to continue falling down the board.
27. *Louis Nix III, DT, Notre Dame
Nix is an absolute load, and it'll be interesting to see how he performs at the combine. His effort there will be pivotal after a down year on the field. There are a few really talented defensive tackles stepping up, and Nix could lose ground if he doesn't bring his "A" game.
28. *Stephon Tuitt, DE, Notre Dame
Tuitt is still the best 3-4 defensive end in the class, but his stock dropped along with Nix's as Notre Dame's defense lagged in 2013. He might need to slim down a little to get quicker in the NFL, but he's still got a lot of upside as a disruptive force on the line.
29. Jordan Matthews, WR, Vanderbilt
Matthews has held steady in my eyes after choosing not to play in the Senior Bowl. He's a steady, strong pass-catcher who won't light up the combine but will impress scouts who do their homework and look through his tape. His upside isn't that high but he can produce right away.
30. *Allen Robinson, WR, Penn State
While he wasn't the highest-profile guy heading into the 2013 season, Robinson carried Penn State's offense and developed into one of the most dangerous players in the country. He's an incredible athlete who could put up some big numbers in the shuttle run and vertical jump. He has the potential to climb even higher here.
31. David Yankey, OG, Stanford
Yankey climbs a bit back up the board despite not playing in the Senior Bowl. I also took away his previous OT/G label because he really only projects as a guard in the NFL, even though he excelled at tackle as well at Stanford.
32. Jace Amaro, TE, Texas Tech
While he's technically a tight end, Amaro essentially played slot receiver for Texas Tech this season. He's going to measure in around 6'6" at the combine, and he'll show off his impressive athleticism, but he's not going to come in and be able to do anything in the NFL at first other than catch passes.
33. *Kelvin Benjamin, WR, Florida State
When I ranked Benjamin as the eighth overall receiver back in early December, I said that "he has the potential to be a top-15 pick if he does well through the draft process." I still stand by that because of his raw athletic tools, especially if his hands look strong at the combine.
34. *Jarvis Landry, WR, LSU (scouting report here)
Landry isn't quite as high-upside as guys like Benjamin, Robinson or Evans, but he's an incredibly strong and athletic player who will be able to come in and make an impact right away. His size is a bit of a concern, but he overcomes that with his strength.
35. *Deone Bucannon, S, Washington State
Bucannon is an animal in the secondary. He's a big, rangy, powerful hitter who comes at receivers like a missile. His ball skills aren't exceptional, but he is one of the most explosive athletes at any position in this draft.
36. *Austin Seferian-Jenkins, TE, Washington
Seferian-Jenkins has been hanging around the early-second round since his production stalled at the beginning of this past season. He proved to be a special athlete but is more of a complete tight end who can block and catch instead of a big-play threat like we thought he could develop into.
37. *Timmy Jernigan, DT, Florida State
Jernigan is a beast up the middle, although he isn't without his flaws. He gets off the line too late and doesn't always get a good push, but when he does, he is absolutely dominant. He was an unheralded piece in Florida State's dominant defense.
38. Zack Martin, OT/G, Notre Dame
A big riser after his solid performance at the Senior Bowl, Martin is a guard/tackle tweener who is about 6'4", which is right on the cusp between the two positions. He's been good enough at tackle that some teams may give him a shot there, but others will force him inside. That disparity will dictate where he's selected.
39. Jimmie Ward, S, Northern Illinois
Ward is still a pretty unknown prospect, but that could change after the combine. He already built a little momentum for himself at the Senior Bowl, and the do-it-all safety is a true gamer who could sneak up into the first round.
40. Lamarcus Joyner, S/CB, Florida State
Joyner has drawn a lot of comparisons to Tyrann Mathieu, and while I don't normally like comparisons, I think this is actually a pretty good one. He's an explosive, undersized ballhawk who has excelled at both safety and corner and could play either in the NFL.
41. Calvin Pryor, S, Louisville
Another big riser in the past couple weeks, Pryor is a really good talent, but I'm going to hold off on bumping him too high until I get a look at his frame and strength at the combine. There's nothing that has really jumped out at me so far with him.
42. Trent Murphy, DE/OLB, Stanford
Murphy was arguably the best defensive player in the Pac-12 this past season, but that doesn't necessarily translate to NFL success. There are legitimate concerns about his potential effectiveness as a stand-up pass rusher from the linebacker position in the NFL, as he isn't super quick and doesn't have a great bend around the edge.
43. Aaron Donald, DT, Pittsburgh
Donald, like Murphy, absolutely dominated college football in 2013. But there were questions about his size even as he racked up awards, yet it seems like everyone is suddenly calling him a lock first-rounder after a good Senior Bowl. I want to watch his tape closer, but I'll hold off on the hype train for now.
44. Dominique Easley, DT, Florida
A potential enormous steal, Easley tore his ACL early on in the 2013 season, and his draft stock suffered as a result. His recovery will dictate where he ends up on boards, but from a talent standpoint alone, he's a top-20 guy. Hopefully he can return to form sooner rather than later.
45. *Odell Beckham, Jr., LSU (scouting report here)
Beckham, Jr. is a multitalented athlete who is arguably the top big-play threat in this draft. He is elusive and has great breakaway speed, which makes him dangerous as both a receiver and a returner. His lack of consistency is what keeps him here for now. He and the next two receivers on this list are all rated pretty equally.
46. *Brandin Cooks, WR, Oregon State
Cooks won the 2013 Fred Biletnikoff Award as the best receiver in college football after an unbelievable statistical season. He's very undersized and will be looked at as a slot receiver. He can take end-arounds as well and could be used in the Percy Harvin mold.
47. *Donte Moncrief, WR, Ole Miss
Moncrief has remained under the radar throughout the year and this winter, but he's an exceptional athlete who could blow up the combine and generate some real buzz for himself.
48. *Jimmy Garoppolo, QB, Eastern Illinois (scouting report here)
I did a detailed report on Garoppolo, which you can read by clicking the link next to his name, but it basically says that he's a great prospect with an unbelievably quick release and solid footwork who could easily be an NFL starter.
49. *Troy Niklas, TE, Notre Dame
Niklas surprised some people by declaring for the draft, but he is almost certainly going to be a Day Two selection because of his incredible size (6'6", 270 pounds) and solid blocking ability, along with his upside as a receiver.
50. Cyril Richardson, OG, Baylor
Richardson had a so-so Senior Bowl, which seemed like a sort of microcosm for his season. Sometimes he looks overpowering and dominant, but other times he just looks slow.
51. Kyle Fuller, CB, Virginia Tech
Fuller reappears on the board here after dropping out last month. He isn't a big-time playmaker, but he's extremely strong and physical and could be a great pick for a team whose defensive backs are asked to press lot.
52. *Brandon Coleman, WR, Rutgers
This may sound crazy, but Coleman actually could have the most upside of any receiver in this class. Don't look at his poor 2013 stats, because they were mostly a result of terrible play around him. His mix of size, speed and hands is exceptional.
53. *Lache Seastrunk, RB, Baylor
The first running back to appear on my board this year, Seastrunk is the top back in this class because of his exceptional quickness and ability as both a receiver and a runner.
54. Yawin Smallwood, ILB, Connecticut
Smallwood isn't a guy who will stand out for any one attribute, but he's a heck of a player who does all the little things right. He takes good angles, is quick in pursuit and wraps up consistently.
55. *Bradley Roby, CB, Ohio State
Roby came into the year as a first round pick, and finished it closer to the third. What happened? Roby was unbelievably inconsistent, and his technique was often poor.
56. Charles Sims, RB, WVU
Sims is right behind Seastrunk right now after showing the nation how good he is at the Senior Bowl (like I said he would). His ability to catch the ball and gash up defenses with cuts and changes of speed will make him valuable to many teams.
57. *Davante Adams, WR, Fresno State
Adams is criminally underrated around the country. He was Carr's favorite target at Fresno State, and showed the athleticism and hands to consistently make plays all around the field.
58. Dee Ford, DE/OLB, Auburn
Yet another Senior Bowl riser who I'm laying off of a little, Ford is a great athlete who can really explode off the edge as a 3-4 OLB. But he doesn't have any great moves, has some strength issues and is a complete liability against the run.
59. Brent Urban, DE, Virginia
There aren't many 6'7", 295-pound football players walking around, and so scouts will take notice when they see Urban going through drills. He's got the size, length and quickness to play defensive end in either a 3-4 or 4-3, and I think he could end up being a riser over the coming months.
60. Shayne Skov, ILB, Stanford (scouting report here)
Skov is a super instinctive, hard-hitting enforcer and field general who bounced back tremendously in 2013 after a slow post-ACL injury 2012 season. If he's durable and 100 percent healthy, he could impress teams at the combine both on and off the field.
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