The most known part of these rankings: the inclusion of quarterbacks. They are not just thrown in among other positions; there is a thought process behind their slotting. If I securely believe a quarterback is a quality starter, they transcend the table and jump to the top. The next tier, which includes prospects I think have a good chance of becoming quality beginners, follows first-round talents.
Make sure you do not take these comparisons actually. In many cases, I tried to find a comparable athlete, play style, and/or role within the NFL.
* denotes jr, ** denotes redshirt sophomore
1 . QB Teddy Bridgewater, Louisville*
NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE Comparison: Russell Wilson , but three inches taller.
Where He Wins: Excellent pocket movement. Bounces off his back foot in order to step up against edge pressure plus isn’t afraid to slide side to side when faced with an interior rush. Retains eyes up to survey coverages plus works to multiple reads. Placement plus touch are there, but has the velocity to hit vertical routes on the move. Not really afraid to give a covered receiver in single coverage a chance to win. Reports have stated he takes care of many checks at the line of scrimmage.
Where He Fits: He fits any offense. Sustains success from the pocket but additionally has mobility which isn’t exhibited often. Hits every level along with placement and timing.
2014 Draft Projection: No . 1 or 2 pick.
2 . QB Marcus Mariota, Oregon**
NFL Evaluation: A more sophisticated Colin Kaepernick out of Nevada.
In which he Wins: Does not get enough credit for his success in the pocket. Quick decision maker on short to advanced routes, which is exactly what up-tempo crimes need. Not afraid to change off that first read, reset, and fire to another target while inside or outside of the pocket. Positioning is improving and obviously has the velocity to hit any throw on the rope. He offers a read option/zone read element as well.
In which he Fits: Provides plenty of experience in an up-tempo offense, but his pocket skills will certainly translate for any team. Creativity can help use his talents in the simplest way.
Draft Projection: No . 1 or 2 pick.
3. SOBRE Jadeveon Clowney, South Carolina*
NFL Comparison: Uses a J. J. Watt like swim move, athleticism might be Julius Peppers-esque.
Where He Wins: Predominantly lines up at right defensive end in the three-point stance as a five, 7, or nine technique. His huge increase off the snap is ridiculous, getting an instant advantage against his competitors. Obviously the swarming wingspan plus closing speed is there, and he loves finishing hits with force. Provides frequently taken the inside line this season, likely due to the shorter distance to the backfield. Loves to utilize an arm over swim and athletic hard work is on displays when avoiding cut blocks. Loops inside without difficulty. A rare power and speed sportsman.
Where He Fits: Most experience in a four man front, but his talent could be used in any defensive scheme.
Draft Projection: The first non-QB off the table. Top-5 pick.
4. Pass rushing OLB Anthony Barr, UCLA
NFL Comparison: Athleticism could be similar to Bruce Irvin.
Where He Wins: The lightning-quick pass rusher is able to gain an advantage on the advantage and keep it thanks to his broken off the line, ability to cut off possibly foot towards the quarterback, and versatility to bend around the corner. He closes distances quickly, which can be effective from the variety of alignments, and Barr is a punishing finisher.
Where He Suits: Experience being a stand up rusher next to a 3 man front. Able to loop within.
Draft Projection: Top-5 selection. Has a opportunity to be drafted over Clowney.
5. T Jake Matthews, Texas A& M
NFL Comparison: Jordan Gross
Where He Wins: Doesn’t sit back and wait, finds contact through his hands and it is an aggressive blocker. Obtains within hand positioning and adjusts if required. Athletic feet to keep proper glenohumeral joint alignment, which prevents bending from your waist. Displays ability to bend on the knee to absorb and redirect. Creates cut blocks and drives through with force. Moving from right to left tackle.
Where He Suits: Has experience and played at a high level from left or right tackle.
Draft Projection: The top offensive tackle off the table. Top-10.
6. LB C. J. Mosley, Alabama
NFL Comparison: Sean Lee
Where He Wins: Very little wasted movement. Lines as inside linebacker behind three plus four man fronts. Has a lot range, chases down athletic quarterbacks to the edge. Same range is visible in pass coverage. Contacts crossing routes and keeps footwork in order to sustain and trail. Works over top of blocks with quick procedures. Keeps nice vision at the 2nd level by strafing then assaults uphill. Will finish tackles.
Where He Fits: Has transitioned from a coverage linebacker to the complete package. Scheme flexible at inside linebacker. Could potentially see time on the weakside.
Draft Projection: Quite dependent on how teams react to his injury history. Top-20.
7. WR Sammy Watkins, Clemson*
NFL Evaluation: The current Torrey Smith .
Where He Wins: The combination of burst and easy movements in and out of his pauses or after catch moves is great. Hands catcher away from his entire body. An explosive player with the golf ball in his hands, gets up to higher gear very quickly. Will go across the middle and catch passes in restricted windows. Cuts routes off in a short time. Has balance to stay up further than first defender. Wins from slot or outside.
Where He Suits: Will help in a variety of ways, including yards after the catch, top to bottom routes, and in the return video game.
Draft Projection: Expected to be the first receiver off the board, unless a team goes for a taller target who specializes winning at the catch point. Top-10.
8. S Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Alabama*
NFL Comparison: Reshad Jones
Where He Wins: Has excellent length for the position. Controlled aggressiveness when closing towards the line of scrimmage. Not a watcher, this individual gets in the action. Reads run and reacts quickly, even from single high. Has seen time from free or strong safety. Able in playing man and area situations, either near or off the line of scrimmage. A really, really good security.
Where He Fits: A likely interchangeable security that can play near the line of scrimmage or in the deep half.
Draft Projection: Top-15 selection.
nine. OLB Khalil Mack, Buffalo
NFL Comparison: Akeem Ayers
Where He Wins: Displays a unique combination of size plus strength. Has quickness to get underneath an offensive lineman’s pads after which use his strength to drive that will lineman into the backfield. Controls run blockers, maintaining outside leverage plus resetting the line of scrimmage. Provides enough athleticism to be a factor in insurance coverage and can avoid cut blocks.
Where He Fits: As a stand up weakside pass rusher alongside a three man line or could play a strong part linebacker in a 4-3 under.
Draft Projection: Has off-field question stemming from the suspension, but likely top-20 choose.
Fulton: Mack vs . Miller
10. OLB Ryan Shazier, Ohio State*
NFL Comparison: Lavonte David , but with more length. What many want Alec Ogletree to be.
Where He Wins: Long and lean. Projects to weakside linebacker. His speed to the edge is excellent. There are some wasted movements when working the backside, but once the target plus ally are located he gets right now there in a hurry. Zone drops are easy. Asked to blitz from inside and the edge. Takes tight angles into the backfield on edge runs.
Where He Fits: Likely as a weakside linebacker who will stay on in nickel situations.
Draft Projection: First-round.
11. DT Dominique Easley, Florida
NFL Comparison: Jay Ratliff or Earl Mitchell
Where He Wins: Easley’s success within compared to when on the edge is a no contest. His quickness in order to force his opposition off balance or shoot face up gaps causes instant disruption, displaying energetic hands to keep separation and a forwards momentum. He impacts games when gaining promising positioning.
In which he Fits: Just about everywhere. Has experience as a five technique end but thrived in a much more zero technique role this season. Might be a disrupting, upfield nose tackle.
Draft Projection: This is difficult. Easley is a top-10 talent but has two ACL tears to his name on opposite knees. Played at a high level this season after the first one. I still think top-40, like Cornelius “Tank” Carradine.
12. TE Jace Amaro, Texas Tech* (UP)
NFL Comparison: Does some Jimmy Graham-like things, but more along the lines of what many want Vance McDonald to be.
Where He Wins: A matchup nightmare. Uses his frame against corners and safeties to gain a positional advantage. Can do the same with safeties while producing space with fluid routes. An easy mover against linebackers. Has always been the willing blocker in space, but he has added an inline preventing element to his game. Obtaining stronger at the catch point when climbing the ladder. Presents several yards after catch skills.
Where He Fits: A receiving tight end in 12 personnel. Can play out on the edge, in the slot, and has added an inline blocking element to his game.
Draft Projection: Mentioned he would come back for his senior season, but that could change in January. Experienced a major injury in 2012. I anticipate a top-32 selection.
13. T Cedric Ogbuehi, Texas A& M* (UP)
NFL Comparison: Tyron Smith
In which he Wins: Exceptional length with footwork to reflection. Does not possess the strongest punch, but he bends in all the right areas (knee, ankles). Finds contact through his hands, obtains a latch, and keeps his opposition under control. Understands to ride edge rushers around the pocket and inside armbar prevents a shorter distance upon inside rush.
Where He Suits: Has experience at guard and right tackle, but he is more than capable to perform left tackle in the NFL.
Draft Projection: Has stated he will return, but that could draft with a projection from your draft advisory board. First-round.
14. CB Darqueze Dennard, Michigan State (UP)
NFL Comparison: Aqib Talib
In which he Wins: An extremely physical corner who loves to press at the line of scrimmage. Frequently individual with his jam, not overextending but instead allowing the receiver to enter contact area. Rides inside cool downfield while sustaining position. Hand fights and flips his mind quickly when receiver looks back again for the football at the top of their route.
Where He Fits: Press corner or a couple of yards off on the edge. Will be physical in run support. Matches up at the catch point within contested situations which is critical.
Draft Projection: Might run a slow forty, that will lead to overreaction. Top-40.
15. DT Louis Nix, Notre Dame*
NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE Comparison: Flashes of Vince Wilfork
In which he Wins: Ranges up as a nose tackle or shade in a three man front side. Can work over top of a block and create penetration at the same time. Stops momentum very quickly and changes direction properly for a big man. Has the lower-leg drive to penetrate face up and strength to shed it close spaces. Can disrupt the run upfield or hold his spot with anchor versus the run. Has some Vince Wilfork to your pet.
Where He Fits: Likely a one or absolutely no shade in a three man front side, but don’t rule him from four man fronts.
Draft Projection: Has been a letdown at times this season, but most likely top-32.