Matt Miller's 2014 NFL Draft Big Board

Matt Miller@nfldraftscoutNFL Draft Lead WriterAugust 21, 2013

Matt Miller's 2014 NFL Draft Big Board

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    Already excited about the 2014 NFL draft? Good.

    Scouting players for the NFL draft is a yearlong process. As soon as one draft ends, research begins on building a watch list and then a Big Board for the next year's class. That's where we're at now.

    As the summer comes to an end, my research of which players to watch gets prioritized, leaving me with a list of the top 500 draft-eligible players in college football. Not every player listed will declare for the draft or live up to expectations. There will be surprises, letdowns and newcomers along the way.

    This is not a final list, but a look at where players are projected to find themselves drafted at the current time. Throughout the year, I will update this list every two to three weeks to give you a fresh look at the draft positioning of the best of the best in college football. If there's someone missing, it's likely because of limited time to evaluate prospects before the season kicks off.

    Be patient. Great players will find their way onto the Big Board.

    *Updated November 12, 2013*

Top 32 Players

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    Our own Josh Zerkle called the 2013 NFL draft "The Year of the Fatty." The 2014 crop may again be plump.

    Headlined by superstar defensive end prospect Jadeveon Clowney, this season's draft class is anchored by four linemen in the top 10 compared to just one quarterback, no running backs and only one secondary player. Clowney, Taylor Lewan and Jake Matthews each have a chance to earn "top player of the decade" honors as draft prospects at their respective positions.

    There is depth here to match the star quality, with notable names and college football stars littered throughout the top 150 players I have scouted heading into the season. And there's always room for surprise players and late bloomers.

    Here's a look at my top 32 players as they sit currently.

    Top 32 Rankings
    1Teddy BridgewaterQBLouisville6'3"210
    2Marcus MariotaQBOregon6'4"214
    3Jadeveon ClowneyDESouth Carolina6'5"270
    4Jake MatthewsOTTexas A&M6'5"305
    5Anthony BarrOLBUCLA6'4"248
    6Sammy WatkinsWRClemson6'1"205
    7C.J. MosleyLBAlabama6'2"232
    8Taylor LewanOTMichigan6'7"315
    9Khalil MackDE/LBBuffalo6'3"248
    10Mike Evans
    WRTexas A&M6'5"225
    11Ryan ShazierOLBOhio State6'2"226
    12De'Anthony ThomasRB/WROregon5'9"170
    13Antonio RichardsonOTTennessee6'6"332
    14Tajh BoydQBClemson6'1"225
    15Cyrus KouandjioOTAlabama6'5"310
    16Johnny ManzielQBTexas A&M5'11"210
    17Derek CarrQBFresno State6'3"215
    18Cameron ErvingOTFSU6'5"320
    19Hasean Clinton-DixFSAlabama6'1"208
    20Cyril RichardsonOGBaylor6'5"340
    21Marqise LeeWRUSC6'0"195
    22Louis NixDTNotre Dame6'2"345
    23Ifo Ekpre-OlomuCBOregon5'10"185
    24Bradley RobyCBOhio St.5'11"192
    25Stephon TuittDENotre Dame6'6"312
    26Vic BeasleyDE/LBClemson6'2"235
    27Will SuttonDTArizona St.6'0"305
    28Jason VerrettCBTCU5'10"176
    29Jace AmaroTETexas Tech6'5"260
    30Trent MurphyDE/LBStanford6'6"261
    31Michael SamDE/LBMissouri6'2"255
    32Zach MettenbergerQBLSU6'5"235

2014 Quarterback Rankings

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    After a year in which only one quarterback (EJ Manuel) was selected in the first round, the 2014 NFL draft class looks strong.

    Thanks largely to a very good group of underclassmen, we'll see a better crop of passers coming into the NFL over the next two or three seasons. The biggest question is, which underclassmen will head to the NFL?

    The clear favorite for the top quarterback spot is Teddy Bridgewater, and there's little reason to think he would skip out on the 2014 draft. Marcus Mariota has Colin Kaepernick-like qualities and could also push for a top-10 selection. Senior quarterback Tajh Boyd has played his way into a Top 15 spot, and Derek Carr and Zach Mettenberger are pushing themselves up as the season progresses.

    2014 Quarterback Rankings
     RankPlayerSchoolHeightWeightOverall Rank Class
    1Teddy BridgewaterLouisville6'3"2101Jr
    2Marcus MariotaOregon6'4"2142rSo
    3Tajh BoydClemson6'1"22514rSr
    4Johnny ManzielTexas A&M5'11"21016rSo
    5Derek CarrFresno St.6'3"21517rSr
    6Zach MettenbergerLSU6'5"23532rSr
    7Aaron MurrayGeorgia6'1"22068rSr
    8Brett HundleyUCLA6'3"22285rSo
    9David FalesSan Jose St.6'2"22093Sr
    10A.J. McCarronAlabama6'3"21494rSr
    11Stephen MorrisMiami (Fla.)6'2"215121Sr
    12Jimmy GaroppoloEastern Illinois6'2"222152Sr
    13Jeff MathewsCornell6'3"225159 Sr

2014 Running Back Rankings

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    For the first time since 1963, not one running back was selected in the first round. That may not change in 2014.

    There are talented running backs available, but as of now, not one player you would regret missing out on in the first round. Lache Seastrunk has amazing speed, but his vision and scheme versatility have to be proven. Ka'Deem Carey and Marion Grice are potential starting running backs, but each has flaws that could push them outside the first round, where the priority now is on quarterbacks, offensive linemen and defenders.

    Here are the top draft-eligible running backs for 2014.

    2014 Running Back Rankings
     RankPlayerSchoolHeightWeightOverall RankClass
    1Marion GriceArizona St.6'1"20440Sr
    2Lache SeastrunkBaylor5'9"21047rJr
    3Melvin GordonWisconsin6'1"20751rSo
    4Ka'Deem CareyArizona5'10"19865Jr
    5Bishop SankeyWashington5'10"20086Jr
    6Andre WilliamsBoston College6'0"22796rSr
    7Carlos HydeOhio State6'0"242128Sr
    8Charles SimsWest Virginia6'0"213139 
    9James Wilder, Jr.FSU6'1"229141Jr
    10Damien WilliamsOklahoma5'11"214151Sr
    11Ladarius PerkinsMiss. State5'10"195163rSr
    12James WhiteWisconsin5'10"198175Sr
    13Antonio AndrewsWKU5'11"212191Sr
    14Jerome SmithSyracuse5'11"218195rJr
    15Alfred BlueLSU6'1"222205Sr

2014 Wide Receiver Rankings

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    Not since A.J. Green and Julio Jones were available in the 2011 NFL draft have we seen a one-two duo like Sammy Watkins and Marqise Lee.

    The two talented juniors have top-10 ability and, with continued success, could push themselves up the board even higher. It's remarkable considering that neither has amazing size, and yet they're considered can't-miss prospects.

    Outside of the top two, there's good depth here. Rutgers' Brandon Coleman is a big, physical target with speed to move after the catch, and Vanderbilt's Jordan Matthews is a premier possession receiver. And we can't forget about Oregon offensive weapon De'Anthony Thomas. He'll likely be lining up at receiver (as well as running back and return man) in the NFL.

    Here are the top draft-eligible wide receivers for 2014.

    2014 Wide Receiver Rankings
     RankPlayerSchoolHeightWeightOverall RankClass
    1Sammy WatkinsClemson6'1"2056Jr
    2Mike EvansTexas A&M6'5"22510rSo
    3De'Anthony ThomasOregon5'9"17011Jr
    4Marqise LeeUSC6'0"19521Jr
    5Jordan MatthewsVanderbilt6'3"20535Sr
    6Jarvis LandryLSU6'0"19539Jr
    7Allen RobinsonPenn State6'3"20444Jr
    8Odell Beckham, JrLSU5'11"19346Jr
    9Paul RichardsonColorado6'1"17250rJr
    10Brandon ColemanRutgers6'5"22055rJr
    11Brandin CooksOregon St.5'10"18657Jr
    12Donte MoncriefOle Miss6'2"22670Jr
    13DeVante ParkerLouisville6'2"20578Sr
    14Kasen WilliamsWashington6'2"21288Jr
    15Jared AbbrederisWisconsin6'1"18898rSr
    16Mike DavisTexas6'2"195104Sr
    17Josh HuffOregon5'11"205106Sr
    18Devin StreetPittsburgh6'3"192108rSr
    19Cody HoffmanBYU6'3"215134Sr
    20Jalen SaundersOklahoma5'9"157118Sr
    21Jeremy GallonMichigan5'8"184119rSr
    22Rashad GreeneFSU6'0"180144Jr
    23Tevin ReeseBaylor5'10"172165Sr
    24Robert HerronWyoming5'9"187173rSr
    25TJ JonesNotre Dame6'0"195176Sr
    26Eric WardTexas Tech5'11"206187rSr
    27Tracy MooreOklahoma St.6'1"215192rSr
    28Shaq EvansUCLA6'1"210194rSr

2014 Tight End Rankings

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    Draft fans and analysts have been blessed with a nice run of tight ends lately. The 2013 class included Tyler Eifert and Zach Ertz—two big, tall, long receiving tight ends with major route-running upside. The 2014 class will give us another close call for the top spot with Austin Seferian-Jenkins and Colt Lyerla.

    The two Pacific Northwest tight ends are both big, and with their length, they present matchup nightmares for defensive coordinators. They'll provide a must-watch battle for the No. 1 tight end spot all season long.

    Here are the top draft-eligible tight ends for 2014.

    2014 Tight End Rankings
     RankPlayerSchoolHeightWeightOverall RankClass
    1Jace AmaroTexas Tech6'5"25729Jr
    2Eric EbronUNC 6'4"24534Jr
    3A. Seferian-JenkinsWashington6'6"27643Jr
    4C.J. FiedorowiczIowa6'6"26576Sr
    5Xavier GrimbleUSC6'5"255109rJr
    6Arthur LynchGeorgia6'5"258114rSr
    7Colt LyerlaOregon6'5"246124Jr
    8Marcel JensenFresno St.6'5"257162rSr
    9Gabe HolmesPurdue6'5"248201rSr

2014 Offensive Tackle Rankings

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    Following a year in which four of the first 11 draft picks were offensive tackles, you would think a drop-off in talent level is expected. It's not.

    Instead, the 2014 class may be even better than those drafted in 2013. Taylor Lewan, Jake Matthews and Cyrus Kouandjio all rank higher at this time than Eric Fisher, Luke Joeckel or Lane Johnson did heading into the 2012 college football season.

    And there's depth. Antonio Richardson, James Hurst and Cameron Erving are legitimate first-round prospects. At the University of Miami, former prep star Seantrel Henderson has the goods to make a D.J. Fluker-like impact on the draft class.

    All in all, this is an incredibly strong group. Here are the top offensive tackles.

    2014 Offensive Tackle Rankings
     RankPlayerSchoolHeightWeightOverall RankClass
    1Jake Matthews Texas A&M6'5"3054Sr
    2Taylor LewanMichigan6'7"3088rSr
    3Antonio Richardson Tennessee6'6"33213Jr
    4Cyrus KouandjioAlabama6'5"31015Jr
    5Cameron ErvingFSU6'5"31018rJr
    6James HurstUNC6'6"30542Sr
    7Cedric OgbuehiTexas A&M6'5"30052rJr
    8La'el CollinsLSU6'5"31561Jr
    9Sean HickeySyracuse6'5"291100rJr
    10Jack MewhortOhio State6'6"308102rSr
    12Seantrel HendersonMiami (Fla.)6'7"325110Sr
    13Morgan MosesVirginia6'6"325123Sr
    14JaWuan JamesTennessee6'6"318143Sr
    13Billy TurnerNDSU6'5"310156Sr
    14Cornelius LucasKansas St.6'8"328171rSr
    15Jeremiah SirlesNebraska6'5"310183rSr
    16Kenarious GatesGeorgia6'5"318198Sr

2014 Guard Rankings

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    The 2013 NFL draft saw two guards drafted in the top 10 picks—something I never thought I would witness in the modern draft era. While we won't see that level of talent in this year's class, there are several guard prospects who will receive first-round consideration.

    The top of the 2014 class is a throwback to the days of big, powerful, nasty interior line play. Cyril Richardson and Gabe Jackson are both huge, earth-moving men in the middle. For zone-running teams, Zack Martin and Xavier Su'a-Filo offer quicker, more agile options. No matter your scheme, this class has a projected starter for you.

    Here are the top guards available for the 2014 draft.

    2014 Guard Rankings
     RankPlayerSchoolHeightWeightOverall RankClass
    1Cyril RichardsonBaylor6'5"33520rSr
    2Gabe JacksonMiss. State6'3"33538rSr
    3Zack MartinNotre Dame6'4"30559rSr
    4Xavier Su'a-Filo UCLA6'3"30574rJr
    5Anthony SteenAlabama6'3"31283rSr
    6Spencer LongNebraska6'3"315122rSr
    7Chris BurnetteGeorgia6'2"322149rSr
    8Brandon ThomasClemson6'3"305154rSr
    9Zach FultonTennessee6'5"324171Sr
    10Chris WattNotre Dame6'3"312184rSr

2014 Center Rankings

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    Travis Frederick was the only center drafted in the first round last year, and even that was a surprise. It would also be a surprise for any of these centers to hear their names called before the third round.

    Travis Swanson, Russell Bodine and others have strengths, but also enough flaws to keep them out of the top two rounds. Unless technique and strength have been added over the offseason, we could see a year in which no centers are drafted in the top 100 picks.

    Here are the top center prospects in the 2014 NFL draft.

    2014 Center Rankings
     RankPlayerSchoolHeightWeightOverall RankClass
    1Hroniss GrasuOregon6'3"29571rJr
    2Travis Swanson Arkansas6'4"31482rSr
    3Tyler LarsenUtah State6'3"312115Sr
    4Weston Richburg Colorado St.6'4"298120rSr
    7Bryan StorkFlorida St.6'3"312150rSr
    8Gabe IkardOklahoma6'3"298167rSr
    9B.J. FinneyKansas St.6'3"305179rJr

2014 Defensive End Rankings

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    Everyone in college football and the NFL knows about Jadeveon Clowney, and we'll be watching closely all season to see if the man can live up to the myth. Chances are, he can—he's that good. Clowney ranks as the top defender I've ever scouted—just ahead of Von Miller and Ndamukong Suh. But he's not the only talented pass-rusher in this class.

    Former Notre Dame end Aaron Lynch is at South Florida now, and his athleticism is very appealing. He's also raw, so his stock could fluctuate depending on how well he plays early. Stephon Tuitt is a premier 3-4 defensive end coming out of Notre Dame, while Kareem Martin and Scott Crichton are solid 4-3 ends.

    A sleeper to keep an eye on? Utah's Trevor Reilly.

    2014 Defensive End Rankings
     RankPlayerSchoolHeightWeightOverall RankClass
    1Jadeveon Clowney S. Carolina6'5"2703Jr
    Stephon Tuitt Notre Dame 6'5" 303 25 Jr 
    3Vic BeasleyClemson6'2"23526rJr
    4Trent MurphyStanford 6'6" 261 30 rSr
    5Michael SamMissouri6'2"25531rSr
    6Jackson JeffcoatTexas6'4"24549Sr
    7Ed StinsonAlabama6'4"28279rSr
    Chris SmithArkansas 6'2" 266 87Sr 
    9Kareem MartinUNC6'5" 26590rSr 
    10 Taylor HartOregon6'6" 287 91rSr 
    11George UkoUSC6'3" 247 107rJr 
    12Kony EalyMissouri6'5"275125rJr
    13 Demarcus LawrenceBoise State 6'3" 245 127rJr
    14 James GayleVirginia Tech6'4" 255 129rSr
    15 Scott CrichtonOregon St.6'3" 265 130rSr 
    16Trevor ReillyUtah6'5"255138rSr
    17Chaz SuttonS. Carolina6'3" 256 158 rSr 
    18Josh MauroStanford6'6"282190rSr

2014 Defensive Tackle Rankings

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    If you love watching the War Daddies on the middle of the defensive line, you're going to like this class.

    Louis Nix is a massive nose tackle prospect and all-around stud for Notre Dame, but he'll be pushed by pass-rushers like Timmy Jernigan, Will Sutton and Anthony Johnson for the top defensive tackle spot all season long. It will come down to the personal preference of each NFL team, but the early money is on Nix holding on to the top spot.

    The depth at tackle is impressive, and in most years, second-round prospects Sutton and Ra'Shede Hageman would be first-round prospects at this point.

    2014 Defensive Tackle Rankings
     RankPlayerSchoolHeightWeightOverall RankClass
    1Louis Nix Notre Dame 6'2"32622rJr
    2Will SuttonArizona St.6'0"29027rSr
    3Michael BennettOhio State6'3" 285 37Jr 
    Ra'Shede HagemanMinnesota 6'5" 310 45rSr
    Anthony JohnsonLSU 6'2" 295 69Jr
    6Dominique EasleyFlorida6'2"28377Sr
    7DaQuan JonesPenn State6'3"33380Sr
    8Daniel McCullers Tennessee6'6" 365 84Sr 
    9Danny Shelton Washington 6'1" 318 111Jr 
    10Timmy JerniganFSU6'2"298 117Jr 
    11Aaron DonaldPittsburgh 6'0" 285 134Sr 
    12Ryan CarrethersArkansas St. 6'2" 328 137rSr 
    13Calvin BarnettOklahoma St. 6'2" 300 168Sr 
    14DeAndre ColemanCalifornia6'5" 315 172rSr 
    15Khyri ThorntonSouthern Miss6'3"308197Sr
    16Bruce GastonPurdue6'2"310199rSr

2014 Inside Linebacker Rankings

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    The 2014 draft class at inside linebacker may be a letdown after years of top-notch inside linebacker prospects. So far, there is no Luke Kuechly or Manti Te'o here. 

    The top is led by senior Shayne Skov, but others are capable of pushing up the board with solid play in their final seasons. It's too early to establish anyone as the clear-cut leader and likely first inside linebacker drafted.

    2014 Inside Linebacker Rankings
     RankPlayerSchoolHeightWeightOverall RankClass
    1Shayne SkovStanford6'3"24441rSr
    2Chris Borland Wisconsin5'11" 248 58rSr 
    A.J. JohnsonTennessee6'2" 243 67rSr 
    Yamin SmallwoodUConn 6'3" 236 73rJr 
    Lamin BarrowLSU6'2" 232 103 rSr 
    Max Bullough Michigan St. 6'2" 241 126Sr 
    7Andrew JacksonWestern Kentucky6'0" 258 133rJr 
    Jack TylerVirginia Tech6'0"228193 rSr 

2014 Outside Linebacker Rankings

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    The outside linebacker position has risen to the limelight thanks to the rejuvenation of the 3-4 defense and marquee pass-rushers from the standing position. It is this trend that has led to the transition of some defensive ends to the OLB position.

    Former running back Anthony Barr looks like the next great prospect on the edge as a do-it-all linebacker for UCLA. C.J. Mosley can play inside or outside linebacker and may be best suited on the inside at the next level. He could be a top-10 pick himself.

    The depth of this group is amazing, with six players carrying a first-round grade heading into the season. 

    2014 Outside Linebacker Rankings
     RankPlayerSchoolHeightWeightOverall RankClass
    1Anthony BarrUCLA6'4"2455Sr
    C.J. Mosley Alabama6'2" 232 Sr 
    3Khalil MackBuffalo6'2"2459rSr
    4Ryan ShazierOhio State6'2"23012Jr
    5Kyle Van Noy BYU 6'3" 235 36rSr 
    6Adrian Hubbard Alabama 6'5" 252 48rJr 
    7Christian JonesFSU6'3"23260rJr
    8Morgan BreslinUSC6'1" 250 64 Sr 
    9Denzel PerrymanMiami (Fla.)6'0"240 71Jr 
    10 Jeremiah AttaochuGeorgia Tech6'3" 242 92 Sr 
    11Boseko LokomboOregon6'3"23297rSr
    12Carl Bradford Arizona St. 6'1" 241 105rJr 
    13Prince ShemboNotre Dame6'1"252131Sr
    14Dee Ford Auburn 6'2" 238 146 rSr 
    15 Jonathan BrownIllinois6'1235 153Jr 

2014 Cornerback Rankings

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    The cornerback position continues to dominate the wish lists of every NFL general manager. In a league that's becoming more reliant on the passing game, a great cornerback is invaluable. 

    Luckily for scouts and fans alike, the 2014 class has exceptional depth at the position. With top-tier players Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, Bradley Roby and Jason Verrett all vying for the top spot, there are unique players and player types to be found in this class.

    After the first round there is still considerable quality to be found. If all expected underclassmen enter, this could be one of the stronger cornerback classes in recent memory.


    2014 Cornerback Rankings
     RankPlayerSchoolHeightWeightOverall RankClass
    1Ifo Ekpre-OlomuOregon5'10"19023Jr
    2Bradley RobyOhio State5'11"19224rJr
    3Jason VerrettTCU5'10"17628Sr
    4Justin GilbertOklahoma St.6'0"20033Sr
    5Aaron ColvinOklahoma6'0"18254Sr
    6Loucheiz PurifoyFlorida6'0"18556Jr
    7Marcus RobersonFlorida6'0"19562Jr
    8Kyle FullerVirginia Tech6'0"19066Sr
    9Darqueze DennardMichigan St.5'11"18875Sr
    10Antone ExumVirginia Tech6'0"22089rSr
    11Jaylen WatkinsFlorida5'11"18299Sr
    12E.J. GainesMissouri5'10"195101Sr
    13Pierre DesirLindenwood6'1"205112rSr
    14Rashaad ReynoldsOregon St.5'10"187136rSr
    15Ross CockrellDuke6'0"182142rSr
    16Bennett JacksonNotre Dame6'0"185145Sr
    17Deshazor EverettTexas A&M6'0"182155Jr
    18Carrington ByndomTexas6'0"180158Sr
    19Damian SwannGeorgia5'11"190164Jr
    20Deion BelueAlabama5'11"185167Sr
    21Wayne LyonsStanford6'1"193175Jr

2014 Free Safety Rankings

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    The overall talent at free safety in college football is tough to gauge right now, which is why you'll see that no safety has a preseason first-round grade. That can change, though, and quickly.

    Playmakers like Ha'Sean Clinton-Dix can show better vision and ball skills, two things that would quickly put him into the first round. C.J. Barnett of Ohio State has the overall ability to push himself up the board, too; it's just a matter of seeing the players take that next step from good to great once the pads come on.

    2014 Free Safety Rankings
     RankPlayerSchoolHeightWeightOverall RankClass
    1Ha'Sean Clinton-DixAlabama6'1"20819Jr
    2Lamarcus JoynerFSU5'8"19563Sr
    3Dion BaileyUSC6'0"20095rJr
    4Tre BostonUNC6'1"205113Sr
    5C.J. BarnettOhio State6'0"203132Sr
    6Terrence BrooksFlorida St.5'11"197135Sr
    7Jemea ThomasGeorgia Tech5'10"195170rSr
    8Kenny LadlerVanderbilt6'0"205177Sr

2014 Strong Safety Rankings

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    Much like the free safety rankings, you will see no first-round prospects at strong safety. At least not in the preseason.

    The good news, though, is that there's nice variety in this group of players. In an NFL that's valuing dual-threat safeties more and more, this is a class that can bring instant-impact ability. Guys like Craig Loston and Dion Bailey will straight-up hit you over the middle. If you want ball hawks, Ahmad Dixon and Hakeem Smith have good upside there.

    This isn't a top-heavy group, but I'm a fan of the overall talent and depth.

    2014 Strong Safety Rankings
     RankPlayerSchoolHeightWeightOverall RankClass
    1Craig LostonLSU6'2"20553rSr
    2Deone BucannonWashington St.6'1"21581Sr
    3Ahmad DixonBaylor6'0"205116Sr
    4Ty ZimmermanKansas St.6'1"205140rSr
    5Hakeem SmithLouisville6'1"188147rSr
    6Isaiah LewisMichigan St.5'10"210160Sr

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