The first round of the NFL draft can be a dream or a disaster for every elite college prospect.
Each athlete who attends the 2014 NFL draft will look dapper in their new suit and come in with hopes of going at the top of the board. But those aspirations can quickly be dashed as they gradually take a tumble down the board, at times all the way into the second round.
No one, and I mean no one, wants to be the prospect that shows up on draft day and has to stick around for the second round. Just ask Geno Smith, who did so last year and ultimately landed with the New York Jets.
With the draft just one week away, here's a look at some of the best college talent that will fall down boards when the selection process begins.
Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville
Once seen as a contender for the top overall prospect on nearly every board along with Jadeveon Clowney, Teddy Bridgewater has dropped down boards after not throwing at the 2014 NFL Scouting Combine and putting together a poor performance on his pro day.
Mike Mayock of NFL Network said on "Path to the Draft" that teams are questioning his potential as a franchise quarterback overall, per Bryan Fischer of NFL.com:
First and foremost, you want to say the tape is most important. We talk about that all the time, but at the quarterback position, you have to see the guy throw live. We all know that that pro day was below average for a top-level quarterback. I talked to a lot of teams, and I'm hearing a heck of a lot more second-round grades than first-round grades.
What I'm hearing is two things. Number one, when we saw him throw live we didn't see arm strength and didn't see accuracy. Number two, when you draft a quarterback in the first round you expect him to be the face of your franchise, you expect him to embrace the moment. I think people had some concerns about whether or not this young man is ready to step up and be the face of a franchise.
Despite the rapid dissension amongst draft analysts, Eric Adelson of Yahoo! Sports still believes Bridgewater will be successful for whatever team he winds up with:
Bridgewater isn't a big talker – there wasn't even a Heisman campaign for him – so he's not going to pump his own tires. That might be hurting him too, especially compared to the always-entertaining Johnny Manziel, who had a former U.S. president at his pro day.
But if you want an egoless, driven, smart and proven quarterback to lead your wayward franchise, you could do worse than to part with the growing majority of the draft experts and pick Teddy Bridgewater.
Matt Miller of Bleacher Report tends to agree with Adelson's analysis, noting that scouts are simply just making things up at this point:
The Bridgewater slander pisses me off because guys aren't saying, "Hate his film, no thanks." They're creating issues where there are none— Matt Miller (@nfldraftscout) May 1, 2014
Myself personally, I'm on the side of both Adelson and Miller. Bridgewater looked like the best quarterback early on in the draft process, and one flawed workout doesn't change the type of player that he has grown into at Louisville.
Just imagine this: the Houston Texans draft Jadeveon Clowney with the first overall pick, pairing him with J.J. Watt on the defensive line, and take Bridgewater in the second round. Bill O'Brien, you now have a playoff contender.
Anthony Barr, OLB, UCLA
Coming into the draft process, Anthony Barr and Khalil Mack were both seen as surefire top-10 selections. While Mack has ascended into the top five in most projections, Barr has slipped just outside of the top 10 and potentially out of the first 15 selections.
ESPN NFL draft guru Todd McShay has Barr at 25th overall in his latest projection (subscription required) and provides analysis on the former UCLA linebacker, per Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press:
I still have kind of a fringe first-/second-round grade on him. I like him. … I don’t want to give the impression I don’t like him, I just don’t think he’s as good as, maybe, where he is projected to go. I’ve seen recently and talked to people recently that said, ‘No, he’s a top-10 pick.’ That’s a reach. And I think you’re taking a big gamble.
Tell us how you really feel, McShay.
Then there's the fact that there's no true consensus on Barr. No scouts are right down the middle on the prospect, as Daniel Jeremiah of NFL.com points out:
Tough to find evaluators with middle of the road opinions on Anthony Barr. Love or hate.— Daniel Jeremiah (@MoveTheSticks) April 3, 2014
All it takes is one team to fall in love with a player, but if teams like the Detroit Lions or Dallas Cowboys skip over Barr, the teams in need start dwindling later in the draft.
Will Barr drop all the way down to the second round? Likely not. But after earning high first-round marks early in the process and still being seen as a fringe top-10 pick, Barr's tumble could be a huge one for this caliber of player.
Marqise Lee, WR, USC
Which player will most likely slide on draft day?
There once was a time when Marqise Lee was perceived as the No. 1 wide receiver in all of college football. The 2012 Biletnikoff Award winner couldn't be stopped and was the most explosive wideout in the entire class.
Nowadays, he's barely seen as a top-five receiver for some analysts with the emergence of players like Sammy Watkins, Mike Evans, Odell Beckham Jr. and Brandin Cooks, who won the Biletnikoff in 2013.
Ross Tucker of NBC Sports notes the disparity for Watkins and Lee over one season:
What a difference a year makes in draft value for Marqise Lee & Sammy Watkins— Ross Tucker (@RossTuckerNFL) April 30, 2014
As for Mayock, he believes the Trojans receiver could potentially slide out of the first round due to his offseason workouts and combine performance:
Mayock on @NFLNetwork's PTD tonight: "With Marqise Lee, I'm hearing late 1st, early 2nd."— CollegeFootball 24/7 (@NFL_CFB) April 30, 2014
Lee will be one of the record 30 players in attendance for the draft this season along with Bridgewater and Barr. While Barr might not slide outside of the top-20 selections, Lee and Bridgewater may be just a few of the faces waiting late to hear their names called.
Follow R. Cory Smith on Twitter: