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Khalil Mack, Ohio State Bobcats (November 5, 2013)

Khalil Mack – © USA TODAY Sports Images

December 21, 2013 Bowl Games: 2014 NFL Draft Prospects to Watch

by BigBlueInteractive.com Contributor Sy’56

WASHINGTON STATE

#20 Deone Bucannon – S – 6’1/198

Bucannon is one of the most well rounded safeties in the nation. However, few have ever heard his name because of the school he plays for. Make no mistake, this kid is a legit NFL prospect that has starter potential. He is a four year starter that led the team in tackles in 2010, 2012, and 2013 while snagging 14 career interceptions. His playing strength and power are elite for his position. He can close a 10-15 yard window as fast as any safety in the country and he knows how to finish once he reaches the ball carrier. He doesn’t have the ability to turn and run with receivers down the field, but he is a savvy zone defender that can anticipate and pounce. He is an asset against both the run and pass. He has the potential to be a legit day two prospect.

#1 Vince Mayle – WR – 6’3/240

Mayle has one of the more interesting paths to the draft that you will find in 2014. He played basketball for a community college in 2009 and 2010 before sitting out in 2011 because of a family sickness and academic issues. He then proceeded to Sierra College where he dominated for a season, getting him multiple offers from schools around the country. He settled on Mike Leach’s offense at Washington State and has had a solid, but unspectacular year. He didn’t put together any eye-popping games statistically, but I saw some things on tape against California, Arizona State, and Oregon that raised my eyebrows. He has a natural tool set that NFL coaches want to work with. He has a unique ability to high point the football, using his body and timing to his advantage. He lacks the quick twitch that I look for and his ball skills need some work, but he has a few things that cannot be taught nor acquired by others. He is a late round project type that teams will look at when considering adding a versatile weapon to the passing game.

Potential UDFAs to Look For:

#77 John Fullington – RT – 6’5/301
#6 Damante Horton – CB – 5’10/178
#95 Ioane Gauta – NT – 6’3/285

COLORADO STATE

#70 Weston Richburg – C – 6’4/300

4 Year starter that has played Center, Guard, and Tackle with the most of them being at Center. Richburg is a good mover that can be attractive to teams that like to move their interior linemen laterally. He is an all out hustler that will play through the whistle for the entire game, every week. He lacks the ideal tools and doesn’t display a lot of ability but he produces and gets the job done. He’ll need more power and girth before he can handle the NFL defenders, making him a late round/UDFA prospect. Teams like guys in the wings that can play multiple spots and have the frame for more comfortable weight. Those will help him in his grading process.

Shaquil Barrett – OLB – 6’2/250

4th year senior that exploded on to the scene in 2013 with 20.5 TFL and 12 sacks. I saw him play against Alabama and Utah State and his ability to disrupt the opposing passing game is legit. He is strong and explosive and plays with a low center of gravity, making him a tough block for any kind of offensive lineman. He understands how to play the game with his hands and feet. He lacks the ideal length and size for the edge and won’t jump off the tape when it comes to speed and agility. But I think Barrett is a prospect worth taking late in the draft and seeing if he can develop in to a situation player against the pass. In a draft class that lacks depth at the pass rushing positions, Barrett could surprise some and be taken in the middle rounds.

Potential UDFAs to Look For:

#10 Crockett Gilmore – TE – 6’6/255
#78 Jared Blair – RT – 6’7/315

FRESNO STATE

#4 Derek Carr – QB – 6’3/218

Three year starter that has a legit shot at being the first overall selection. From what I’ve seen in 5 games, Carr has the best arm talent of any quarterback in this upcoming class. The power and accuracy are there, but what stood out to me in studying his tape was the ability to maintain that accuracy with altered arm angles depending on what was going on around him. He has great athletic ability within the pocket and understands how to avoid the pressure. Carr is a fiery athlete that is constantly praised for his leadership and toughness. The brother of former number one overall pick David, Carr comes from a strong football background and you have to think he has it all together between the ears. Combine that with some elite throwing ability and big time production, Carr has the opportunity to be a big time player at the next level.

*#15 Davante Adams – WR – 6’2/215

Redshirt sophomore that appears to be all but declared for the 201 Draft. Has had two monster years statistically in Fresno State’s pass-happy offense. He has been the go-to guy for Derek Carr over the past two seasons, showing the ability to make tough catches against single coverage down the field as well as dynamic run-after-the-catch skills. He has long speed but can make guys miss with quick cuts a decisive movement. There is a lot to like here and he is one of the receivers in this class that has Pro-Bowl potential. However his lack of physical play and hustle stood out to me. Little-to-no effort as a blocker in a scheme filled with screen plays and a lack of willingness to get after it with safeties bearing down on him stick out in my mind. Can he handle the physical side of the NFL? Speed helps but it will only go so far. Likely a second day pick should he come out.

#89 Marcel Jensen – TE – 6’6/270

2 year starter. At first glance, most will think Jensen played the role of the blocking tight end for Fresno State. But he was far from a single-role player and I think there will be several teams attracted to his potential. He’s tall, thick, strong, and has surprising speed up the seam. He can be a tough guy to cover and even tougher to bring down in the open field. His production won’t jump out at you but keep in mind the scheme he played which was very wide receiver-friendly. The upcoming months will be huge for Jensen. He needs to show he can start with his hand in the dirt and effectively control a defender at the point of attack. His athleticism and receiving skills are on tape, but the other nuances to the tight end position need to be worked on. I view Jensen as a mid rounder at the moment but this tight end class as a whole has a ton of question marks. Jensen has a legit shot at being a day two pick.

Potential UDFAs to Look For:

#1 Isaiah Burse – WR – 6’0/187
#72 Austin Wentworth – LT – 6’5/306

SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA

*#9 Marqise Lee – WR – 6’0/195

Lee is a classic “used to be overrated, but is now underrated” story. His career got off to a special start, especially in 2012 when he went 118/1,721/14 while nearly averaging 30 yards per kick return. He was being discussed as a top 5 pick prior to the 2013 season but inconsistent QB play and a knee sprain has put him in to the shadows of some receivers that simply don’t grade out the way he does. Lee has elite acceleration and agility. He has shown the ability to run away from defensive backs once he gets the ball in his hands. He can also run pro-caliber routes and run himself open all over the route tree. He is an every down weapon that can fill multiple roles within the passing and return games. His knee will have to check out in the coming months, but expect to see him taken somewhere in the first round, most likely in the top 20.

#25 Silas Redd – RB – 5’10/200

Well known for his transfer from Penn State to USC following the 2011 season as a result of the Sandusky scandal. Came to USC with high expectations after a promising start to his career, but has failed to stand out among a crowded USC backfield. He has had injuries to both knees over the past year but neither has been too serious. On tape, Redd doesn’t stand out in any facet of the game but he is a solid all around back. He is decisive and can locate running lanes quickly. He may be best suited for a zone-blocking scheme because of that. He lacks game breaking speed and doesn’t break a lot of tackles. That’s a tough combination to work with in the NFL. Some believe he still has some untapped upside that is worth gambling on later in the draft.

#77 Kevin Graf – RT – 6’6/295

Fifth year senior that has been starting since 2011 at right tackle. Has come a long way since his freshman year. Has developed big time weight room strength and has the frame for more bulk. He will need it before he can handle the physical side of the NFL trenches. Graf doesn’t make it look pretty, but he gets the job done more often than not. He is a hard nosed, gritty player that can move his feet and keep himself between the defender and the ball carrier. As a pass blocker, he doesn’t reach the edge well and lacks controlling power in his hands. I don’t see a lot of upside here so if Graf gets drafted at all, it will be late.

*#18 Dion Bailey – S – 6’0/200

Third year junior that has not yet declared, but I think he will. While I scouted safety TJ McDonald last year (71st overall selection by St. Louis), Bailey was a guy hat kept jumping out at me. He is nicely put together and has the blend of size, speed, and power that you want in a guy in the middle of the secondary. He defends the run well but can also turn his hips and cover receivers one on one. I think there is an upside here that a lot of safety prospects don’t have. If he comes out, I think he could be a day two pick.

*#90 George Uko – DT – 6’3/295

Another junior that hasn’t declared yet. Personally, I think he should return to USC for his senior season because he has the tools to be a very good player, but has yet to put a lot of quality tape out there for scouts. Uko is a long and almost slender 295. The frame is there for more bulk and combining that with his athletic ability, most notable speed and explosion, he can be molded in to a first round caliber player. The one thing he lacks the most is the ability to anchor himself in to the ground against double teams. Too often was he knocked back a few yards. He can rush the passer and disrupt the backfield though. Very good hands and feet allow him to win a lot of one on one battles throughout a game. Right now I see him as a 4th/5th rounder with enormous upside.

#42 Devon Kennard – OLB – 6’3/255

Coming in to 2013, the one thing Kennard had to prove was that he was at least capable of playing an entire season at one position while maintaining a starting spot. He has been bounced around from defensive end, to middle linebacker, to outside linebacker, and back to defensive end. In addition, he has a long list of serious injuries in his past including torn knee ligaments, torn cartilage in his hip, a torn pectoral muscle (forced him to miss all of 2012), and a thumb injury that required surgery. There is a lot to look in to with Kennard, but at the end of the day he has had an impressive 2013 campaign. He is physical player that has good power presence and range as a run defender. He gets off blocks well and can close a gap with speed and explosion. Kennard won’t test out in workouts exceptionally well nor does he jump off the tape but I liked what I saw in what was his first real complete season since 2011. Edge players with potential always get a second look and I think some 3-4 fronts will look at him late in day three.

Potential UDFAs to Look For:

#24 Demetrius Wright – S – 6’1/295
#4 Torin Harris – CB – 6’0/190

BUFFALO

#46 Khalil Mack – OLB – 6’3/248

One of the best players to ever come out of the University of Buffalo. Has 75 TFL for his career, which is tied the NCAA all time record. Mack has played the hybrid OLB/DE role over his four year career and developed in to a potential top 10 pick in 2014. Mack has the short area burst/explosion that you almost always see in the elite edge rushers in the NFL. In addition to that, he has a strong base that bends well with light feet and heavy hands. Those tools combined with his ability to use a wide variety of rush moves leads me to believe he will be highly sought after on day one of the draft. This is a class without a lot of edge rushing talent, thus there could be a lot of teams looking to gamble on him earlier than you would think. He is coming from a lower level of college football and he may need some more power output before he can be thrown in to the NFL trenches, but his upside is enormous. I see some Cameron Wake in him down the road.

#32 Branden Oliver – RB – 5’8/208

Under the radar prospect based on the lower level of college football and his size. I watched Oliver four times this year and I simply can’t ignore him. He is a hard nosed runner that is tough to tackle. I compare him to another overlooked back (for the same reasons) that I really liked coming out of Western Kentucky 2012, Bobby Rainey. Oliver runs with a similar style where he can diagnose running lanes before they really open up and has the burst to sneak through them. His low center of gravity is used to his advantage and he will surprise some with his willingness to lower his shoulder and break tackles. Oliver finished the season among the nation’s leading rushers despite missing one game early in the year. I think his performance has pushed him in to late round consideration.

Potential UDFAs to Look For:

#19 Alex Neutz – WR – 6’3/205
#34 Colby Way – DE – 6’4/293
#30 Okoye Houston – S – 6’0/209

SAN DIEGO STATE

#27 Eric Pinkins – S – 6’3/215

Some believe that Nat Berhe is the only draft-able player on this team, but I think Pinkins has a better shot at having his name called. Pinkins plays a lot of safety, but I saw him play a good amount of CB in two games this year and I liked what I saw. Pretty fluid hips and solid press coverage at this size can open eyes when scouts are looking for developmental defensive backs. The pre-draft process will be very important for him.

#78 Bryce Quigley – LT – 6’5/300

Well balanced athlete with the length and frame to be a developmental guy for the offensive line. I really like Quigley’s technique and understanding of mechanics. He almost always seems to be in the right position. The learning curve for him at the next level will be less mental, more physical. That is a safer gamble more often than not when drafting guys in the later rounds.

Potential UDFA to Look For

#20 Nat Berhe – S – 5’10/200

TULANE

#3 Ryan Grant – WR – 6’0/191

I have only seen Tulane once this year, hoping to get another couple tapes in the coming months. Grant is a quick, easy change of direction guy that can make things happen after the catch. He lacks the size/speed that you look for in an ideal NFL prospect, but he has a good chance to stick somewhere. Good hands and good routes from what I saw. Looking forward to seeing another game of his tonight.

#19 Cairo Santos – K – 5’8/160

I don’t scout kickers but Santos is considered to be the top, if not one of the top kickers in this draft class.

Potential UDFA to Look For:

#26 Orleans Darkwa – RB – 6’0/210

LOUISIANA-LAFAYETTE

Potential UDFA to Look For:

#34 Justin Anderson – LB – 6’2/235

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