For the last few months, NFL draft prospects have been analyzed from every angle imaginable.
Whether they were having their college highlight tapes critiqued, being put through drills at the combine or asked personal questions bordering on intrusive, each and every one of them found out firsthand how seriously NFL teams take the predraft process.
While the goal of every team's scouting department is to predict as closely as possible what type of NFL player each prospect is going to be, sometimes it can be broken down to a much simpler question.
Is Player X the next Player Y?
Here are some pro comparisons for the top offensive skill players in the 2014 NFL draft class.
Blake Bortles, Quarterback
Pro Comparison: Ben Roethlisberger
From a physical standpoint, Bortles and Roethlisberger looked almost identical heading into their respective drafts. They're both big quarterbacks who possess tremendous athleticism for their size.
|Bortles vs. Roethlisberger Upon Entering Draft|
|Player||Height||Weight||40-Yard Dash Time|
That combination makes them serious threats in the open field. Even more so, it allows both of them to buy time in the pocket and keep plays alive.
When watching Roethlisberger play, I often find myself in awe of his pocket awareness and constantly reminded of how large he is.
After watching Bortles' highlight film, you have those same reactions. Bortles' big arm matches that of Roethlisberger, and he has the mobility and footwork to enable him to improvise like Big Ben.
Johnny Manziel, Quarterback
Pro Comparison: Brett Favre
I kind of cheated here, but there is simply no current NFL quarterback that compares to Manziel.
Some people like to compare him to Russell Wilson because of his playmaking ability and speed, but they are totally different types of playmakers. While Wilson turns broken plays into positive gains routinely, he doesn't thrive off of them like Manziel does.
Or like Favre did.
Johnny Football is unique, so comparing him to anyone is a tad bit ridiculous. However, if we are going to pick one guy it has to be the Favre. He's the only other quarterback with the ability to make the types of miracle plays Manziel does.
See the resemblance?
Ka'Deem Carey, Running Back
Pro Comparison: Ahmad Bradshaw
Though Ahmad Bradshaw was injured last season, he was a key figure in two New York Giants Super Bowl runs. He's become well known around the NFL for his physical running style and cutting ability.
Ka'Deem Carey, out of Arizona, has the chance to be known for those same things. He's a physical runner who doesn't shy away from contact. He's also very explosive and could possess better breakaway speed than Bradshaw.
If Carey is drafted by a team with a need at running back, there's no reason to believe he won't lead all rookies in yards next season. Plus, the fact that he never missed a game due to injury in college despite finishing his career with nearly 750 carries, means he could be Ahmad Bradshaw-esque for longer than the injury-riddled Bradshaw was able to be himself.
Tre Mason, Running Back
Pro Comparison: Ray Rice
Both Mason (5'8", 207 pounds) and Rice (5'8", 212 pounds) are on the smaller end of the spectrum when it comes to running backs. However, both guys possess skill sets that more than make up for their shorter stature.
Ray Rice has become one of the most productive backs in the NFL and a top pick in most fantasy leagues because of his pass-receiving ability and knack for finding the correct hole.
While Mason wasn't a pass-catching machine in college—he had just 12 catches last season, but that was mainly due to Auburn's offensive style—he has shown good hands. Additionally, his vision, like Rice's, is arguably his greatest strength.
One of the most jaw-dropping plays in the NFL in recent memory was Ray Rice's 4th-and-29 conversion against the San Diego Chargers in 2012. During that play, Rice's ability to cut on a dime and fight through contact was on full display.
In the following video of Mason's touchdown run in the BCS National Championship Game, you'll notice those same abilities:
Sammy Watkins, Wide Receiver
Pro Comparison: Torrey Smith
Sammy Watkins is commonly thought of as an incredibly fast receiver who is most dangerous after the catch. The same could be said about Torrey Smith.
However, they are also both legitimate No. 1 receivers because of their ability and, perhaps more importantly, their willingness to go up and get the ball.
Check out this video of NFL scout Bucky Brooks breaking down these similarities even further:
Mike Evans, Wide Receiver
Pro Comparison: Marques Colston
Very few people knew about Mike Evans prior to Texas A&M's game against Alabama last season. Then he did this to the defending national champions:
|Mike Evans vs. Alabama|
From a statistical standpoint, Evans had one of the most impressive games of the college football season. However, it was his total domination—physically—that really caught the eye of NFL scouts.
Standing 6'5" and weighing 231 pounds, Evans is going to be a matchup nightmare in the NFL. He isn't incredibly fast, but he knows how to use his body to shield defenders and come up with spectacular catches.
That's because Evans has a clone in Saints wide receiver Marques Colston (6'4", 225 pounds). Colston is also lacking in the speed department, but he too makes up for that with his ability to use his height to his advantage against much smaller NFL cornerbacks.
With the 2014 NFL draft less than a month away, teams have undoubtedly narrowed their focus down to a handful of prospects.
Predicting whether those prospects will become as successful as the current NFL players they most closely resemble will be key on draft day.