December 31, 2013 Bowl Games: 2014 NFL Draft Prospects to Watch
by BigBlueInteractive.com Contributor Sy’56
*#25 Ka’Deem Carey – RB – 5’10/198
Third year junior. Carey is currently my top graded running back in this class if he declares, which most assume he will do. He led the nation in rushing in 2012 (1,929 yards) while also breaking the school’s single season record. He had another big year in 2013 despite being suspended for game one as a result of some trouble off the field during the offseason. Those issues are considered minor and I don’t think it will affect his grade. Carey is a statistical compiler in some ways because of how many carries he gets over the course of a season (averaging almost 30 per game). Even with that in mind, I love his ability with the ball in his hands. He is a tough, hard nosed runner that knows how to finish. He has agile hips and light feet. Very impressive after contact with good vision and instincts. Carey is an established pass catcher and blocker to boot. He’ll need to add some bulk to his frame but Carey is a rare every down horse with big play ability. He’ll finish with a top 45 grad eon my board and has a good shot at being the first running back taken.
#5 Shaquille Richardson – CB – 6’1/186
Fifth year senior. Richardson has a sketchy past that needs to be looked in to, but it seems he has matured. Richardson is a height/length/speed guy that is becoming more and more popular in the NFL these days. He gets his hands on a lot of passes. He is a light-footed player with long speed but I question his ability to cover underneath. Quickness has beat him time and time again in the 4 games I saw this year. While I see the physical side to his game, he is a poor tackler and will often screw up his assignments. He has some tools to work with though and I think a team will come after him in early day three.
#2 Marquis Flowers – OLB – 6’3/230
Fourth year senior. Former safety that made the full time move to LB in 2012. Flowers is a great athlete for the position that moves well in space. He is a pursuit linebacker with coverage skills. He has the short area explosion to make powerful hits and tackles. He has come a long way in terms of taking on blocks, but he still has a lot of work to do. Too often did I see him overwhelmed by a lone blocker at the second level. He creates massive cutback lanes with his style of play and has shown to be a liability as much as an asset to their defense. Flowers will impress with his workouts and coaches will want to work with him, but I don’t see him being taken before day three.
Potential UDFAs to Look For:
#33 Jake Fischer – MLB – 6’0/225
#98 Tevin Hood – DT – 6’0/302
#44 Andre Williams – RB – 6’0/227
Fourth year senior. Williams was a nice power back his first three years at BC but broke out in a huge way this season. He led the nation in rushing yards (2,102) while also setting school and ACC single season records. While he did have a lot of carries, Williams is an impressive back that is more than impressive statistics. At 6’0”, he can run with a low pad level, giving him maximum power behind every run. He is thick, country-strong ball carrier that rarely goes down on initial contact. He is a no-nonsense runner that works best in between the tackles with minimum lateral movement and cutting. He won’t time well in workouts but Williams has a shot at being a day two pick. Teams will love his potential as an inside/power runner.
#24 Kevin Pierre-Louis – OLB – 6’1/218
Fourth year senior that has started every game of his college career minus the games he missed with injuries. He is a quality, rangy linebacker that plays bigger than his listed size He has the strength and pop to take on blocks without giving ground. Pierre-Louis works through traffic well and can factor against the inside run. As a cover man, he shows instincts in zone coverage. He shows nice flow to the action and makes quick breaks on the ball. I think he can be a quality weak side guy at the next level down the road. Day three pick that will stick somewhere.
#83 Alex Amidon – WR – 5’11/186
Fourth year senior. Amidon has had a very productive career that has set a few school records for receptions and yards. When I watch him, I fail to see a guy that will make a big difference in the NFL. A receiver with such a slender frame needs to have elite speed and/or quickness, neither of which Amidon has. He shows nice ball skills and NFL-ready routes, but I think the lack of talent is going to really hurt him at the next level. He could be a solid 4th or 5th receiver down the road if he can find the right situation.
#77 Matt Patchan – LT – 6’6/305
Has been in college football since 2008. Has had a very circuitous path to where he is now. Started off at Florida as a DT, but made the move to OT early in his career. Overall he started 8 games for the Gators but was in and out of the lineup because of injuries to his leg, shoulder, and pectoral. Patchan is an under the radar prospect that I think has some starting potential at the next level. He has a nice frame with great length and good enough flexibility. His heavy hands give him a nice advantage at the point of attack. I’m not sure he has the feet and balance to play the left side. He was consistently late on reacting to blitzes and stunts in the games I saw. All in all, Patchan put together a healthy year in 2013 and we got to see that he is capable of fulfilling his potential that many used to think was very high. He’ll be a late day three guy worth taking a chance on.
Potential UDFAs to Look For:
#91 Kasim Edebali – DE – 6’3/246
#11 Chase Rettig – QB – 6’3/206
#49 Steele Divitto – ILB – 6’3/238
#96 Kaleb Ramsey – DT – 6’2/285
#17 Kyle Fuller – CB – 6’0/189
Fourth year senior with a lot of experience and production. Considered one of the hardest workers on the team, winning several offseason team awards. Fuller is one of my favorite players in the draft. He does it all from the cornerback position and he really doesn’t have a glaring weakness to his game. He has the body control in coverage with superb ball skills. He is one of the few corners that shows an all out effort when tackling on running backs downhill. He has the short area burst and long speed to stick with receivers all over the field. Fuller tore a muscle in his groin, forcing him to miss 5 games but it looks like he will be ready for the bowl game. Despite playing in just 7 games, he was still voted 1st Team All ACC by the coaches. He may grade out as one of the top 3 CBs in this draft on my sheet.
*#34 Kyshoen Garrett – S – 5’11/198
Third year junior that has not declared, but did file paperwork to the advisory board. Garrett plays a SS-type role. He is an effective run defender that tackles well. He has the speed to play in deep coverage as well, showing wide lateral range. Overall, he isn’t a great pass defender though. He doesn’t show the anticipation and quick breaks on the ball to be considered an asset. I think he needs to return for his senior year because he will grade out as a 3rd-5th rounder at best.
#99 James Gayle – DE – 6’4/255
Fifth year senior. Best known for his elite workout numbers across the board. Fiery player that has not loved up to his strength/speed numbers. Gayle shows average explosion out of his stance and average quickness when trying to use moves to reach the quarterback. He has such a think lower half and I don’t think he has the power to handle the 4-3 DE role. With that said, he did improve as the 2013 season progressed. If he continues to progress, the tools are there to be a solid DE or OLB. I see him as a 4th/5th rounder.
#98 Derek Hopkins – DT – 6’0/311
Fourth year senior, three year starter. Hopkins is a bit undersized but I really like his game. I think he can stick somewhere at the next level. He has strong hands, quick feet, and a very high on-field-IQ. He anchors against the double teams well and plays much heavier than what he is listed at. He is more than a space eater though. Hopkins can make plays between the tackles, showing a nice burst to the ball. Coaches have always thought there was some big time talent here and I think he is starting to blossom. Someone will take him day three and get a great value.
#3 Logan Thomas – QB – 6’6/254
Fifth year senior. Thomas came to Virginia Tech as a TE/WR recruit, but made the move to QB full time in 2011 (he was a high school QB as well). He was considered to be a potential first round pick after an impressive 2011. Scouts have always loved his combination of size, speed, and throwing ability. The tools are there, nobody can argue that. However Thomas has failed to take the next step and if anything, he has gone backwards since 2011. Thomas fails to make quick reads and decisions. He has had stretches where his accuracy was woefully awful. Even with all the failure he has had, I think someone will take a chance on him. He has the tools and worst case scenario is he gets moved back to TE. He does have the athletic ability to make a move. Day three prospect here.
#1 Antone Exum – CB – 6’1/224
Fifth year senior. I’m not sure if Exum will play because of a serious ankle injury. But he is a guy that teams will look to steal late in the draft with the hope he will bounce back from his injuries. He was a good player for their defense in 2011 and 2012. He was all over the defensive backfield, playing S, CB, and Rover. At his size, he can play in the box and make an impact as a downhill run defender. He is very strong, very powerful. While he doesn’t have the ideal hip movement when covering receivers in space, he can still factor in with his ability to press them at the line. Exum played in just 3 games this year because of that ankle injury and long recovery from a torn ACL that occurred while playing basketball in the offseason. When watching his 2012 tape, there is a lot that jumps out at you. Day three guy that could pay enormous dividends in the right scheme.
#42 JR Collins – DE – 6’2/252
Fifth year senior. Collins is a versatile edge player that can be moved around to exploit matchup problems. He is a strong player with good short area quickness. He took a step back in 2012 and there were some rumblings about a poor work ethic and dedication. He turned it around last offseason and coaches raved about his improvement with the little things. Collins is a sleeper prospect that may be undervalued as a result of average game tapes in 2012. Late day three guy.
Potential UDFAs to Look For:
#24 Tariq Edwards – OLB – 6’2/234
#18 DJ Coles – WR – 6’3/234
#58 Jack Tyler – MLB – 6’0/234
#98 Derek Hopkins – DT – 6’0/312
#11 Anthony Barr – OLB – 6’4/245
Fourth year senior that has an interesting story. Barr was a RB/FB for the first two years of his career. He wasn’t used a lot and the coaching staff wanted to get his athleticism on the field, moving him to LB prior to the 2012 season. He flourished right away and has put himself in to round 1 discussion, possibly even top 10 overall. Barr has elite closing ability. He can explode downhill with the best of them with powerful strides and agile hips. He has excellent reaction skills with the necessary suddenness to his game. Barr is an awful pass defender, however. I think he will need to play the rush linebacker position but I don’t think it will hurt his grade too much. He is only in year two at this position, this his upside could be in the elite area. Barr has the tools and the skills to be a demon behind the line of scrimmage. In a weak edge rushing class, he could be a top 10 pick.
*#17 Brett Hundley – QB – 6’3/223
Third year junior with two seasons of experience. Hundley has not yet declared for the draft, and many think he will return. I think he needs to, as there are too many glaring weaknesses to his game that result from simple inexperience. Hundley has all the physical tools that teams look for. He is a strong-armed, thick, well put together athlete with a nice bend of movement and throwing ability. Hundley lacks the presence within the pocket and tries too hard to make plays when his mechanics aren’t lined up. Hundley was often late to react to the defense in 2013. His issues are correctable though and he could be a top 10 pick in 2015. Right now, he might be a 2nd/3rd round guy.
*#56 Xavier Su’a-Filo – LG – 6’3/304
23 year old junior that started at LT his freshman season in 2009. Then took off two years for a Mormon mission, returning in 2012 to play LG. He has bounced back and forth between G and OT, but his NFL future likely resides inside. Su’a-Filo is a little awkward when it comes to his technique. He plays too high and has issues with weight distribution and hand work. He doesn’t play low enough to anchor his position in to the ground, often getting pushed back in to the pocket. He is, however, a superb athlete in space that can pull out and lead block with the best of them. I think he is a solid prospect for a zone blocking scheme. As a pass blocker, he really struggles with the speed rushers that play low. He could benefit from another year but his age may force him to leave early, especially if he gets a nice grade from the advisory board. Right now, I see him as a 3rd/4th round pick.
#99 Cassius Marsh – DE – 6’4/260
Fourth year senior. Marsh has steadily progressed throughout his career. He has a nice frame for the 4-3 DE position and can easily add 10-15 pounds of good weight over time. He has the length needed to effectively play with his hands. Marsh is a physical player that plays angry. He shows quick movement skills out of his stance and is equally effective against the run and pass. I’m not sure he has starting potential at the next level, but he can be a quality backup. 4th-6th rounder here.
#1 Shaquelle Evans – WR – 6’1/204
Fifth year senior that started off at Notre Dame but transferred after just one season. Evans has led UCLA in receptions and receiving yards each of the past two seasons. He isn’t an overly impressive athlete, nor does he have an special size attributes. Evans is a reliable pass catcher that runs good routes and can get himself open underneath. He is a savvy receiver that can fool a defensive back and set them up throughout the game. He doesn’t jump off the screen but I think some teams will be attracted to his NFL-ready skill set. Backup-type in the NFL that can be taken in rounds 5-6.
Potential UDFAs to Look For:
#29 Jordan Zumwalt – ILB – 6’3/235
#40 Keenan Graham – OLB – 6’1/255
#98 Seali’I Epenesa – DT- 6’1/310
#61 Gabe Jackson – LG – 6’4/335
Fifth year senior. Has been the starting LG since week one of his freshman year. Jackson is a very well rounded guard that will do well in the NFL. He is a hard guy to move backwards. Jackson is more than a straight ahead mauler. He shows good technique as a pass blocker and is pulled laterally often. I like Jackson, but not as much as most out there do. He isn’t as powerful as you would think when looking at him. Linebackers get off his blocks easily in space. Even though he shows good drive and strong hands, he doesn’t sustain his position and/or blocks very well. I think he will be drafted somewhere in the 3rd or 4th round. He can be a solid but unspectacular starter at the next level.
#1 Nickoe Whitley – S – 6’1/208
Fifth year senior, four year starter. Whitley has an outstanding tool set and I like his aggressive style. He has had a couple injuries slow him down (Knee, Achilles) though. Whitley has a lot of experience as a single high safety as well as an extra linebacker in the box. He brings a lot of versatility to the table. I want to see some more of him in the coming months because I think there may be some hidden talent here. He may not be far off from the top safeties in this class.
Potential UDFAs to Look For:
#27 LaDarius Perkins – RB – 5’9/195
#11 Deontae Skinner – OLB – 6’2/250
#6 Ross Cockrell – CB – 6’0/190
Fourth year senior, four year starter. Cockrell has a wiry frame and plays with an aggressive style. He isn’t afraid to mix it up with blockers and shows the willingness to tackle a downhill running back. He doesn’t have a big power game, however. Cockrell also struggles to turn and run downfield. He doesn’t have the movement skills to factor as a man defender. I can see him being a solid zone coverage cornerback. He sees the field well and can anticipate routes. He is a 4th/5th rounder.
#84 Kenny Anunike – DE – 6’5/260
Sixth year senior. Scouts like the natural tools here. He has the size, length, and frame to develop in to a big 4-3 DE. The main issue with Anunike has been his left knee. He has had four surgeries on it since 2008. He did play a full season in 2013 but that history with his knee will hurt his grade a significant amount. Anunike is a fun player to watch. His motor is always on and he shows relentless pursuit every play. He has average get off and struggles to beat blockers with moves though. Against the offensive tackles that are NFL bound, he appeared to be overmatched. Anunike has the potential to develop physically over the next few years if that knee remains intact. If he does so, I think there is a shot he can be an every down player in the NFL.
Potential UDFA to Look For:
#92 Justin Foxx – DE – 6’3/255
#75 Jake Matthews – LT – 6’5/305
Fourth year senior. Played RT until this past season. Widely considered to be the top OT in this class, a feat in itself. Son of former NFL great Bruce Matthews, Jake is a sure bet to succeed at the next level. He has top grades when it comes to power, quickness, balance, agility, and technique. His experience on both sides will help him early on if he enters a situation where the team that takes him already has an established left tackle. Matthews will be a top 5 pick.
*#2 Johnny Manziel – QB – 6’0/210
Third year sophomore. Has not yet declared but many expect he will. Manziel is no secret to anyone. He has a world of talent and may be the most unique QB prospect we’ve seen in recent memory. Hate him or love him for the off the field issues, Manziel is a player. It is hard to find a more competitive signal caller than Manziel. It equally helps and hurts him as a player. On tape, he has the arm to play in the NFL. He doesn’t have a cannon, but it’s strong enough to make NFL throws. He can fit the ball in to tight spaces and makes the back shoulder pass look easy. He is a magician with his feet. Very good at avoiding pressure and creating big plays with his scrambling ability. Do I think he is worth a first round pick? It all comes down to his maturity and work ethic. His antics won’t work in the NFL. His style of play will need to change a bit as well. QBs that run first, pass second simply don’t last. His mechanics are enough to make a QB coach throw up. I think Manziel has the swagger/confidence to win games though. He needs to grow up, but which of us didn’t say the same when we were in college ourselves? His path to the draft will be incredibly fun to watch.
*#13 Mike Evans – WR – 6’5/225
Third year sophomore that many expect to declare for the draft. 1st Team All American and record setting receiver has been Manziel’s go to guy over the past two seasons. Evans is an asset within any offense because he doesn’t need to be open when a QB throws him the ball. He has great ball skills with a huge catching radius. He is physical and tough, showing the ability to completely dominate smaller cornerbacks. His size and style of play creates matchup problems for opposing defenses. Evans doesn’t have elite speed nor does he have the quick twitch-suddenness to his game. I was a little let down in his performance against LSU this season. The physical corners really took him out of the game. He’ll see a lot of that in the NFL. Evans will need to work on the little nuances to the position if he is going to succeed much like Vincent Jackson has done since being drafted. Does he have that drive and dedication? That’s the biggest question that needs answering. Boom or bust pick here that can be taken in the top 15.
#70 Cedric Ogbuehi – RT – 6’5/300
Fourth year junior. Currently playing RT but played RG in 2012. Ogbuehi caught my eye in early September and I stated back then that he was a 1st round caliber player. He has said he will return for his senior season but a friend of mine has recently found out he is now 50/50. Ogbuehi has enormous upside. Athletically, he is better than both Matthews and Luke Joeckel. He shows proper technique and the position versatility will only help. The catch here is Ogbuehi could return to school, play a dominant left tackle in 2014, and put himself in to the #1 overall pick discussion for the 2015 Draft. As of right now we are talking about a 2nd round type guy in this loaded OT class.
#1 Ben Malena – RB – 5’9/195
Fourth year senior. Malena is a small but quick and elusive back that can make things happen in space. He doesn’t have elite speed but his ability to change direction and explode can be tough for a defense to handle. He shows good hands and has some return skills that teams will look for late in the draft. Malena has a good shot at being drafted late.
Potential UDFAs to Look For:
#11 Derel Walker – WR – 6’2/185
#81 Nehemiah Hicks – TE – 6’4/255
#8 Steven Jenkins – OLB – 6’2/220
#15 Travis Labhart – WR – 5’9/182