NFL Draft 2014: Highlighting Biggest Winners of Extended Process

Chris Roling@@Chris_RolingFeatured ColumnistApril 30, 2014

Pittsburgh quarterback Tom Savage throws during a drill at the NFL football scouting combine in Indianapolis, Sunday, Feb. 23, 2014. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)
Michael Conroy/Associated Press

The extended wait for the 2014 NFL draft is horrible for fans.

It's hard to say the same for some prospects.

Now, teams, experts and anyone else with access have had a chance to go back through the film and available media on each player with a fine comb and re-evaluate where players are ranked on boards.

On one hand, it has led to a ton of ridiculous overreactions. Conversely, some of the hype for prospects is deserved, and it has only been made possible by the extended excruciating wait.


Dominique Easley, DT, Florida

Fans know about the Aaron Donalds of the world, but Dominique Easley is a name that has slowly gained steam as of late thanks to the lengthy process.

It's what may turn out to be a classic example if the draft continues to reside in May, as injured players have a longer time to recover and show off what they have to offer.

Easley tore up both ACLs while playing for the Gators, but he has come on as of late in the minds of the media, as Bleacher Report's Matt Miller illustrates:

It's easy to say this now, but were it not for two ACL injuries (to opposite knees), Dominique Easley would be a top-15 talent. Much like Tank Carradine last year, his value will be skewed because of injury, but Easley has incredible ability to penetrate and pressure offenses from the interior. He's a Sheldon Richardson clone when healthy. His stock could fluctuate depending on how teams view his readiness after surgery, but a late first-round grade is in order.

As Tony Pauline of Draft Insider notes, Easley has started to make the rounds late in the process:

Easley is a force in the trenches who can collapse pockets quickly thanks to his incredible first step—when healthy. Early second round isn't that outlandish at this point, and he has the longer-than-normal wait to thank.


Tom Savage, QB, Pittsburgh

Let's allow NBC Sports Network's Ross Tucker to take it away for a moment:

Maybe NFL teams are just trying to find that proverbial diamond in the rough. Perhaps they're bored. Either way, there's a buzz around Tom Savage he wouldn't have had if the draft had already occurred. Peter King of the MMQB helps to explain:

The stunner this draft season is a quarterback who threw 83 passes as a Rutgers sophomore in 2010, then didn't play college football in 2011 or 2012 as he transferred from Rutgers to Arizona to Pitt. 'The hottest guy in the draft,' Brandt of Tom Savage. How hot is he? Late last week Savage's agent, Neil Schwartz, had to tell two teams who wanted to set up a visit or meeting with the quarterback that he didn't have any time left to do so. 'There are literally no days left on his calendar for him to go see any other teams,' Schwartz said Saturday.

King went on to report that Savage would have visited with "24 or 25 teams" by the time the deadline for private workouts (April 27) had passed.

Let's be clear—most couldn't name Pittsburgh's starting quarterback from a season ago until about a week ago. Not that stats are a major component of the process, but Savage did complete 61 percent of his passes last year for 2,958 yards, 21 touchdowns and nine picks.

The hype is difficult to explain. Some, such as Chris B. Brown of Smart Football, just don't see it:

There's an outside chance every team has pegged Savage as that smokescreen guy, but any publicity is good publicity for him at this point. His rise has directly occurred in tandem with the extra time.


Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M

Unlike Savage, Mike Evans didn't need a lot of help via extra time before the draft. Wildly hailed as the second receiver to come off the board on draft day, he got it anyway.

After consistently trailing behind Sammy Watkins for most of the process, the public perception has suddenly changed. CBS Sports' Dane Brugler helps to explain: 

One person who isn't surprised? Evans, per, via's Chase Goodbread:

I get a lot of Vincent Jackson comparisons, and that's a great comparison. But I think Brandon Marshall. He's vicious after the catch. A big, physical guy, can go up and get it, blocks real well. So I've modeled my game after him since high school.

That would be the reason Evans has separated himself from the pack in some circles. Thanks to a little extra time, don't be shocked if Evans is the first wideout to hear his name called on draft day.


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