2014 NFL Draft: Rounding Up Latest Buzz After Start of Free Agency

Eric Galko@OptimumScoutingFeatured ColumnistMarch 15, 2014

2014 NFL Draft: Rounding Up Latest Buzz After Start of Free Agency

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    Free agency is rolling along, with the top prizes almost all off the shelf for teams still in need for top talents. Although players like Julius Peppers, Henry Melton and Michael Vick still are available, more than a few teams will now be turning their attention back to the draft process in their efforts to improve their teams this year and beyond.

    While it’s the only week of the offseason where current NFL players get substantial more buzz than future NFLers, there’s still some draft buzz to keep in mind during the pro day circuit.

Brett Smith Turns Heads at Pro Day

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    Teddy Bridgewater, Johnny Manziel, Blake Bortles and Derek Carr get most of the attention in this 2014 quarterback class, but in actuality, this is one of the deepest classes in recent memory in terms of finding potential starters. 

    One in particular is Brett Smith of Wyoming, who had his pro day on March 13th. An athletic, plus-velocity passer who boasts impressive film and great statistical numbers, Smith displayed his upside for NFL teams with 10" hands, a 4.51 40-time and a 10'8" broad jump, per Benjamin Allbright.

    After a workout like that, combined with his three years of film as a starter, Brett Smith may have moved from "sleeper" prospect to legitimate Day 2 option for some teams looking for a high-upside passer.

Despite Josh McCown Signing, Quarterback in Play for Bucs at #7

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    The Tampa Bay Bucs have been active in free agency thus far, adding defensive end Michael Johnson, offensive tackle Anthony Collins and cornerback Alterraun Verner in the early days of free agency.

    One of the reasons a non-playoff team is aggressive in free agency is to shore up needs early in the process so they don't need to rely on the draft to force their hands and fill needs with young players.

    Even after the Bucs signed quarterback Josh McCown, an experienced veteran but certainly not the long-term answer, NFL Network's Daniel Jeremiah said that he "wouldn't rule out QB at #7". 

    New Bucs offensive coordinator Jeff Tedford was David Carr's offensive coordinator at Fresno State. With that family connection, don't be surprised if the Bucs strongly consider Derek Carr with that seventh overall selection.

All 32 Teams at CB Justin Gilbert's Pro Day

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    Oklahoma State's Justin Gilbert is highly ranked on most boards around the internet, and it seems NFL franchise are in agreement that he's worthy of being the first or second cornerback on most draft boards.

    At his pro day this week, all 32 teams were in there to watch him workout, according to Bleacher Report's Matt Miller. The long, athletic defensive back fits the mold NFL teams seem to be desiring in today's NFL, and his experience in both off and in press coverage certainly helps his value. 

    Don't be surprised if teams feel Gilbert has the highest upside of any cornerback in this class and lands in the top-15 selections.

De'Anthony Thomas Impresses at Oregon Pro Day

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    Already considered one of the best playmakers/"chess pieces" in the 2014 draft class, De'Anthony Thomas chose to run all of his testing drills again at his pro day in Eugene this past week.

    Thomas improved on a good, not great, NFL Scouting Combine performance by posting a 4.34/4.35 40-time, a 3-cone drill of 6.83 seconds, a 34" vertical jump and a 10'3" broad jump, according to Gil Brandt of NFL Network.

    While those workout numbers won't vault him up draft boards, evaluators getting the chance to see him in person, at that speed, certainly eased some concerns on whether his playmaking ability will translate to the NFL level. He'll be battling with Dri Archer in this draft as a do-it-all, dynamic, speedy runner who can moved around an offense.

Jace Amaro Puts Up Solid Pro Day at Texas Tech

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    Every NFL team is looking to bolster their tight end position after seeing the way the NFL game is changing and the consistent value players like Jimmy Graham, Rob Gronkowski, Vernon Davis and plenty of young tight ends emerging in today's NFL.

    That's why there's plenty of intrigue for the near-consensus No. 2 ranked tight end, Texas Tech's Jace Amaro, who had his pro day workout this week. Posting sub 4.70 40-times, a 33.5" vertical jump and 24 reps on the bench press, all at or above the threshold for a top-2 round tight end prospect.

    According to Gil Brandt, Jets general manager John Idzik, two Packers scouts and the tight ends coach of the Saints were in attendance, adding to the perception that many teams feel he's a worthy first-rounder.