Dec 282013
 
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Eric Ebron, North Carolina Tar Heels (September 7, 2013)

TE Eric Ebron – © USA TODAY Sports Images

December 28, 2013 Bowl Games: 2014 NFL Draft Prospects to Watch

by BigBlueInteractive.com Contributor Sy’56

RUTGERS

*#17 Brandon Coleman – WR  6’6/220

Fourth year junior that has already declared for the NFL Draft. Has been a big play threat since becoming a part of that offense in 2011. His upside after the 2011 season was being discussed as if he was eventually heading to the first round tier, but that is no longer the case. His size/speed/strength numbers are off the charts, no doubt. But Coleman lacks quickness and agility. He is a guy that really struggles to get open in man coverage. His acceleration is below average and simply lacks the quick twitch that is needed to react to speed. He will get drafted based on his upside and physical style of play. He is a terror or defensive backs to tackle in the open field, and he does pose as a deep threat. Coleman can be molded in to a receiver that creates matchup problems for the opposing defense, but I don’t see him being an every down contributor in the NFL.

Potential UDFAs to Look For:

#75 Antwan Lowery – G – 6’4/305
#18 Jeremy Deering – S – 6’2/200
#37 Jamal Merrell – OLB – 6’4/225
#92 Jamil Merrell – DE – 6’4/255

NOTRE DAME

*#7 Stephon Tuitt – DE – 6’6/312

Third year junior that has not declared for the draft yet, but I expect him to. Tuitt is one of the most unique players I have ever scouted. At his size, he moves exceptionally well when rushing the edge. Combining that with a top-level power grade leads me to the Richard Seymour-comparison. I am very careful about comparing players to Seymour, whom I believe was one of the top defensive linemen of his era. But Tuitt has that kind of body and movement ability, and I expect his services to be in high demand next spring. His power presence against the run and dynamic pass rush ability against the pass can be used in so many ways. He will likely end up in the top 15 on my sheet, and that is being conservative.

#70 Zack Martin – LT – 6’4/304

Fifth year senior that has been the top offensive lineman on the ND roster for a few years now. He has started every game of his career, mainly at left tackle. Because of his size and style of play, I think Martin will make the move to guard at the next level, where he projects to be a very good player. Mechanically, Martin is very sound and consistent with his form and approach. Excellent knee bender that shows flexibility from his ankles all the way up through his shoulders. Very good athlete in space that is balanced, maintaining power and strength. Martin has all the tools and skills you want in an offensive lineman. I think he’ll be a starter within a year or two, and a very good one at that. Expect to hear his name called as soon as the second round.

#55 Prince Shembo – OLB – 6’1/255

Fourth year senior with a ton of starting experience for a team that has had a very good defense over the past four years. Shembo is a high-motor edge player that always hustles, always plays through the whistle. He is a strong athlete that bends well and gets under the pads of his opponent consistently. He has a quick jump off the snap, but doesn’t have that next gear to strike fear in to opponents. He also doesn’t have the ideal height and length. With that said, Shembo can be a nice backup/rotational guy because of how hard he plays combined with his tools. I can see him being a middle round pick that a team ends up being very happy with.

#66 Chris Watt – G – 6’3/321

Fifth year senior, three year starter. May not be the prospect that Zack Martin is, but Watt is a different kind of player. He has great size for the position, carrying his weight well and really get the most out of himself. He is a little inconsistent with his weight distribution, playing on his toes too often and getting beat by the quicker defensive linemen. But when Watt has his mechanics and technique lined up, he can win the one on one battles against anyone. Watt has the upside of a quality starter at the next level. I think he gets called somewhere between rounds 4-6.

#2 Bennett Jackson – CB – 6’0/195

Fourth year senior, two year starter. Jackson stood out to me in the games I watched. I think he is a prime candidate for a move to safety at the next level. He has the size and tackling ability to be a factor in the middle of the field. What he struggles with his the quick twitched receiver that runs underneath routes. He is an ultra-aggressive downhill defender that knows how to finish. He can make due at cornerback with a strong jam at the line and ability to diagnose routes and throwing lanes, but he struggles to turn and run. A good defensive mind can find a role for him. I think he goes somewhere in rounds 4-6.

#7 Jones, TJ – WR – 5’11/195

Fourth year senior, three year starter. Jones has been a consistently productive receiver that shined in 2013. Despite some poor quarterback play, he had his best year and some believe he could be a mid-round pick. I like Jones and his ability to run routes and make things happen after the catch, but I think he is merely average across the board. Average size, average speed, average quickness. Jones doesn’t stand out as an athlete at the college level. A lot of his production was a result of being matched up against mediocre defensive backs and the defenses attention elsewhere. I view him as a late round guy that will struggle to stick somewhere.

Potential UDFAs to Look For:

#48 Dan Fox – ILB – 6’3/245
#44 Carlo Calabrese – ILB – 6’1/250
#11 Tommy Rees – QB – 6’2/215

CINCINNATI

#51 Greg Blair – LB – 6’2/252

Was a junior college transfer prior to the 2012 season. He started right away and opened some eyes with a 138-tackle season. His main issue revolves around athletic ability. Even though he lost 15 pounds prior to the 2013 season opener, he appears to be too slow to play every down. He struggles to reach the sideline on outside runs and doesn’t make an impact in coverage. With that said, it’s hard to find a linebacker in this class with the power presence of Blair. He can impact an inside run defense at the next level right away. I think Blair will be drafted on day three, most likely in round 6 or 7.

#10 Jordan Luallen – FB – 6’3/240

Little bit of a shot in the dark here, but I think Luallen is an athlete worth gambling on in round 7. He started off at Georgia Tech, but opted to transfer after just one year. Luallen has mainly been a rushing quarterback out of the wildcat package for Cincinnati. But whenever I saw him play in 2013, his tool set jumped out at me and I think he could be a prime candidate for a move to TE, FB, or even LB at the next level. He is a physical player with that plays hard and fast. Throw him on a practice squad for a year or two and I think he can blossom in to something that helps an NFL team.

Potential UDFAs to Look For:

#94 Jordan Stepp – DT – 6’1/285
#76 Austen Bujnoch –LG – 6’4/290
#11 Brendon Kay – QB – 6’4/228
#60 Sam Longo – RG – 6’5/305
#11 Deven Drane – CB – 5’11/187

NORTH CAROLINA

*#85 Eric Ebron – TE – 6’4/245

Third year junior that has already declared for the NFL Draft. Has been a big play threat ever since coming to UNC in 2011. Ebron is a weapon for any passing scheme in the league, as he creates matchup problems with his size/speed combination. He has shown some freakish ability when leaping for balls away from his body. In addition, Ebron has elite speed for the TE position once he has the ball in his hands. He has Kellen Winslow-type tools without the overhype. As a blocker, Ebron’s effort and technique are both there but he will need simply add some weight room strength to his lower half. He can still make a difference there, however. What he has shown on tape over the past two years could land him somewhere in the first round, possibly even within the top 20 overall.

#93 Kareem Martin – DE – 6’6/265

Martin is a little under the radar among the draft-analyst-public. He has always been a tool-rich player with upside, but lacked the quality level of play week to week. Well I have seen Martin play five times in 2013, three of which in the past size weeks, and I am a believer he is going to be a quality starter in the NFL. He has all the size, length, speed, and skills required to play the 4-3 DE role at a high level. Martin makes a lot of things happen behind the line of scrimmage. He can cover a lot of ground in just a few steps. I’ve seen him completely take over games and I think it starting to really click with him. There are little technique aspects to work on with his pad level and hand work, but NFL coaching will elevate him to a high level. Don’t be surprised to see him taken in round one.

#68 James Hurst – LT – 6’7/305

There is a ton of talk regarding the abundance of quality left tackle prospects in this draft class, and rightfully so. What often happens as a result, however, is the second and third tier or players at that position get overlooked. I think that is what happens with Hurst. Hurst was a 5 star recruit out of high school that has been starting at left tackle for four years now, grading out as the team’s best performing lineman every season (Ahead of 2013 first round pick Jonathan Cooper for three years). Hurst is a reliable, powerful blocker that can handle speed and/or strength. He is not an elite-tools guy. He does struggle in pass protection the further out in space he gets, often leaning forward on to his toes and being susceptible to inside moves. But when his mechanics and balance are there, he can play with anyone. He showed some signs of struggle against Clowney early in the year, but I thought he did a good enough job to hold on to his round two or three projection. He’ll be a starter in the NFL at some point.

#10 Tre Boston – S – 6’1/205

Fourth year senior that started his career off at cornerback, but made the move to strong safety in 2011. He has led the Tar Heels in interceptions each of the past three seasons. Boston is an aggressive hustler that is always around the action, but lacks some of the necessary tools to be considered a top safety in this class. He does not have the catch up speed downfield, nor does he intimidate receivers over the middle. He makes a lot of tackles with is ability to attack downhill and make plays in space against quicker ball carriers, but he doesn’t have a big power presence. Boston has the versatility to be a factor at the next level, but I’m not so sure he can be a quality starter. I project him to be taken between rounds 4-6.

#4 Jabari Price – CB – 6’0/200

Fourth year senior that has been a productive player over the course of his career with a lot of experience. Price is intriguing from the size/speed perspective. He is put together nicely and has shown the willingness to be a physical player. He is a straight line athlete, one that can turn and run down the field with anyone. He appears to be a little uncomfortable with some technique-based aspects to the position. He isn’t very fluid with facing the action, struggling to efficiently turn his hips and change direction. He doesn’t make a big difference with his jam at the line, and his ball skills need to be worked on. Price is a good athlete with an intriguing tool set that coaches want to work with. I think he gets drafted late because of the upside.

Potential UDFAs to Look For:

#93 Tim Jackson – DT – 6’5/285
#15 AJ Blue – RB – 6’2/215

MIAMI

*#52 Denzel Perryman – LB – 6’2/243

Third year junior that has started games at OLB and MLB for the Hurricanes. Has not yet declared but many think he will after a strong 2013 campaign. I’ve seen Perryman four times in 2013 and I think he is ready for the NFL. He has a country-thick frame that plays with power and short area explosion. I think he is an ideal fit for the MIKE or WILL position in certain 4-3 schemes, but could also play inside within a 3-4 defense as well. Perryman is hard nosed, physical tackler that can make things happen. For the teams that want an enforcer inside, Perryman is your guy. He doesn’t make a big difference in coverage and won’t rush the passer, but his ability against the interior running game is draft-able by itself. I can see him being a 2nd/3rd round pick that makes an immediate impact at the next level.

#1 Allen Hurns – WR – 6’3/195

Fourth year senior. Hurns was an afterthought heading in to 2013 but his big senior season has helped his draft stock quite a bit. Hurns is tall, long, and fast. He showed good ball skills and some quality route running skills this year. He has a wiry frame that struggles to handle physical corners. He doesn’t like contact and that was obvious when watching him go across the middle. All in all, Hurns looks like a diamond in the rough at the WR position. He really stepped up when the team needed him the most. A lot to like here. He could be a day two pick if he works out well.

#77 Seantrel Henderson – OT  6’8/345

Fourth year senior. It’s been quite the roller coaster for Henderson, the nations top rated high school prospect in 2009. Since the start of his career, he has been bouncing between the injury list, coach’s doghouse, the bench, and the starting lineup. There will need to be a lot of extensive looks in to his off the field issues. With that said there are very few people on this earth that stand 6’8”/340+ pounds and move the way Henderson does. His movement ability in space is almost unbelievable. He is a dominant run blocker with easy knee bend, strong hands, and explosive hips. His pass protection issues are technique-based and can be improved. Despite the character issues, Henderson will be drafted somewhere on day three. His tool set is something that won’t come by very often.

#65 Brandon Linder – RG – 6’6/317

Fourth year senior that has been starting since his freshman year. Big, physical mauler that loves to run block. He is a straight ahead, no-nonsense player that can dominate the point of attack. Linder struggles with his weight distribution, often leaning on his toes making him susceptible to quicker defenders. Linder has the frame and power to get him drafted on day three. He can be a starter down the road if he works on his skill set.

#51 Shayon Green – DE – 6’3/262

Fifth year senior. Former middle linebacker that has a couple of torn ACL’s on his resume. Was the team’s leading tackler in 2012 despite playing defensive end. Green doesn’t jump out at me play-to-play, but he is a guy that makes things happen over the course of a game. He is a disruptor against the run, getting in to the backfield and pursuing down the line. Green is not an elite pass rusher from a tools or skill perspective, but his aggressive style of play and strong hands will get him a second look from some teams. I think Green has a shot at being a 6th or 7th round pick.

Potential UDFA to Look For:

#96 Curtis Porter – DT – 6’1/316

LOUISVILLE

*#5 Terry Bridgewater – QB – 6’3/196

Fourth year junior that has been re-writing the record books at Louisville, a program that has had its fair share of accomplished collegiate signal callers. Bridgewater has been considered the top quarterback in this draft class for a long time. The majority of the analysts believe he will be the first overall pick of the draft, but I don’t see it and I never have. Bridgewater doesn’t jump off the tape to me and I think his career in the NFL will eventually will reside as a backup. He doesn’t great size, doesn’t have great arm strength, doesn’t make a ton of plays with his feet. How is he considered “The” guy at the most vital position in sports? He does throw with tremendous accuracy and has a quick release, but so did Sam Bradford in college. Bradford is the guy I always think of while watching Bridgewater, and I think they will have similar careers. Neither are built to handle a lot of contact and neither can take over a game and elevate the level of play of those around them. I’ll grade him similar to the level where I had Geno Smith last year. He is a 2nd or 3rd round prospect that will get a shot in the NFL, but is best utilized as a quality backup type.

*#29 Calvin Pryor – S – 6’2/205

Third year junior that has not yet declared for the Draft. I watched Louisville twice in September and both times Pryor jumped off the screen. He is a do-it-all safety that gives the defense a lot of options. As the year progressed, every time I saw him play he appeared to just get better and better. Pryor will likely end the grading process as the best, or second best, safety in this class. He is an explosive downhill athlete that can fly in to the box and make physical tackles on ball carriers. He has tremendous ball skills and breaks on the ball in a way that you will usually only see in cornerbacks. He is such a reliable player that does all the little things right, but will make eye—opening plays as well. I think Pryor can be a star at the next level if he comes out. He could sneak in to the end of round 1.

#2 Preston Brown – MLB – 6’2/260

Fourth year senior that has played every game of his career, starting since 2011. He is a thickly built, powerful run stuffer that has more range than you would think. He makes a lot of tackles all over the field and I think he can be a quality player at the next level. I think he will eventually need to lose some weight if he wants to be an every down guy, but he has quick/agile hips and light feet to move around. Brown appears limited but he can be a contributor in most schemes. I am thinking rounds 5-7 here.

*#9 DeVante Parker – WR – 6’3/209

Third year junior that hasn’t declared yet. Parker has been the go-to-guy for Bridgewater over the past few years and I think his decision will be tied to what his quarterback does. As a prospect, I don’t think Parker stands out enough to earn a high grade. He has the size but he struggled to run himself open in almost every tape I saw. He isn’t physical and he won’t make things happen after the catch. I feel there are a lot of receivers just like Parker available every round of every draft. I’d rather go after a receiver with more upside and/or a tool that can be worked off of. 5th-7th rounder here.

#91 Marcus Smith – DE – 6’3/252

Fourth year senior. Smith was a high school quarterback that made the move to LB right away in 2010. His time was short-lived there, transitioning to DE in 2011 and going on to leading the team with 5.5 sacks. He has evolved in to a nice player and his breakout 2013 campaign may get him drafted in the first five rounds. Smith has average get off and flexibility. He isn’t a pure edge rusher. The Louisville scheme has him roaming around pre-snap, letting him rush the passer from numerous angles and positions. Smith is a good athlete in space, and I think his fit will be in a 3-4 scheme at the next level. He has the power and strength to mix it up with the OL, but also the athletic ability to cover and pursue. Solid player here.

#7 Damian Copeland – WR – 6’1/182

Under the radar receiver despite being a productive player over the past two years. Copeland lacks size and speed, and doesn’t exactly jump off the screen when it comes to agility and acceleration. But every time I watched this offense go, I found myself jotting positive things about Copeland. He is tougher than nails that will get after balls running straight in to the teeth of a defense. He is a hard nosed player that runs reliable routes and catches the ball with his hands. Copeland is likely a 6th or 7th rounder but I think he sticks somewhere and has a nice little career.

#29 Hakeem Smith – S – 6’1/179

Fourth year senior that has been a bit of a disappointment. He was the Big East Rookie of the Year in 2010 and came back strong in 2011, earning 1st Team all conference. Since then, however, Smith’s role has diminished and his level of play never took that next step. He has a thin frame that doesn’t make an impact in the power game nor does he run downfield with speed receivers. There isn’t anything to his game that jumps at you and I think he’ll be just another guy at the next level. His experience and early success will get him drafted late day three.

MICHIGAN

#77 Taylor Lewan – LT – 6’8/315

Fifth year senior that took over the starting left tackle job in week four of 2010 and hasn’t looked back since. Lewan’s grade has been an up and down experience for me. I’ve seen games where he looks like another Jake Long with his dominant straight ahead run blocking and overpowering hands as a pass blocker. Last year when he was considering leaving early for the NFL, I didn’t have a 1st round grade on him. I thought he was too stagnant against speed rushers and struggles to adjust to double moves in space. He came back strong in 2013, proving to be much more technically sound and efficient. When a guy with this much power plays with mechanics, big things can happen. However, as the year progressed Lewan got a little banged up and seemed to lose his dominance. He really struggled in the final two games that I saw. I head in to the draft process still unsure about how good he can be on the left side in the NFL. He warrants a first round grade but I don’t think he is a top 10 guy in this class.

#21 Jeremy Gallon – WR – 5’8/184

Fifth year senior. Gallon’s primary roles early in his career resided on special teams as a return specialist. His quickness and ability to get open were too good to ignore in 2012, however. He made his way on to the field and led the team with 49 receptions, 829 yards. I think Gallon is an excellent slot receiver prospect. His body control and agility give him the tool set the be an outstanding route runner. Teams need a receiver underneath that can run the quick routes and get that separation. Gallon does that well and has the toughness and reliable ball skills to be a factor there. The size will limit him, but he has the look of a guy that turns in to a quarterback’s best friend on third down. I see a 4th/5th rounder here.

#75 Michael Schofield – RT – 6’7/304

Fifth year senior that has starting experience at LG and RT. Schofield is mechanically sound with outstanding footwork. He is a balanced athlete with solid weight distribution. Coaches at the next level will like how ready he is for NFL action right off the bat. I think he will struggle against the speed of the league, however. His reaction time is slow, as he was often playing catch up in the games I saw. I think he grades out as a 5th-7th rounder but can be a quality backup in the NFL.

Potential UDFAs to Look For:

#28 Fitzgerald Toussaint – RB – 5’10/200
#76 Quinton Washington – DT – 6’4/301
#55 Jibreel Black – DT – 6’2/278

KANSAS STATE

#12 Ty Zimmerman – S – 6’1/204

Fourth year senior that has been starting since his freshman season. Zimmerman has had a very productive career (13 career INTs) that has been a steady presence in the middle of the field for that defense from the beginning. He is the son of a football coach and excelled as a high school QB. With that in mind and by simply watching him play, it is clear that he gets by with his on-field intelligence. He is a student of the game and it can make up for physical shortcomings. Although he has good size and length for the position, Zimmerman doesn’t have a big physical impact on the game. In addition, he doesn’t run with the speed receivers downfield nor does he have the short area explosion and reaction to hang with them in underneath coverage. I think Zimmerman is a nice player to have on special teams, backing up the safeties. Other than that, I think he would be a liability for a defense more than an asset. 5th-7th rounder.

#79 Cornelius Lucas – LT – 6’9/328

Fifth year senior that didn’t start until 2012. Made an immediate impact, earning 1st Team All conference his junior year. At his size, I am surprised to see his ability in space. He is an excellent run blocker at the second level. He covers a lot of ground in just a few steps and with his length, he can overwhelm linebackers. He does have issues as a pass blocker, however. He struggles to play with consistent knee bend and is often trying to play catch up. Lucas gets really sloppy with his hands and feet and is a candidate for the practice squad before he is trusted to protect an NFL quarterback. Unique tool set however, and I think it gets him drafted late day three.

Potential UDFAs to Look For:

#86 Tramaine Thompson – WR – 5’8/167
#33 John Hubert – RB – 5’7/191
#79 Keenan Taylor – RG – 6’4/290

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