January 1, 2014 Bowl Games: 2014 NFL Draft Prospects to Watch (Early Games)
by BigBlueInteractive.com Contributor Sy’56
#17 Ciante Evans – CB – 5’11/190
Fourth year senior with a lot of experience. Evans has steadily improved throughout his career. He is an aggressive, physical defender that stands out with his ability to tackle in space and defend the run. He spends a lot of time in the nickel position, and I think he can stick in the NFL there. While he is best known for his play against the run, Evans has shown the short area quickness to shadow receivers underneath. He can do lot for a secondary. He might have a shot at the 3rd/4th round area.
#16 Stanley Jean-Baptiste – CB – 6’3/220
Fifth year senior. Started off at WR but made the move to CB prior to 2011. Long, wiry frame that is becoming more sought after in the NFL these days. Jean-Baptiste is a rangy cover man that can play vertical with most receivers. He struggles to turn and change direction. There are a few schemes that covet a player with this size and style. Others will think he is too slow to play. Jean-Baptiste will get drafted somewhere between rounds 4-6 based on his size and ability to make plays on the ball.
#18 Quincy Enunwa – WR – 6’2/225
Fourth year senior that has improved every season of his career. Enunwa played in a run-heavy scheme that really hindered his ability to show his wide receiver skills. I think there is some talent here worth looking in to on day three of the Draft. He is big and physical. Very tough guy for corners to push around at the point of attack. Enunwa is also an asset on plays where just a few yards are needed. He has the quick movement skills to get himself open and he can box defensive backs out from making a play on the ball. Enunwa has shown, on a few occasions, some hidden ability that can make an impact in the NFL.
Potential UDFAs to Look For:
#71 Jeremiah Sirles – RT – 6’5/315
#63 Andrew Rodriguez – RG – 6’5/330
#41 Jake Long – TE – 6’3/240
#9 Jason Ankrah – DE – 6’4/265
#88 Arthur Lynch – TE – 6’5/254
Fifth year senior that wasn’t really a factor until 2012. Lynch is a block-first tight end that consistently gets the job done against both defensive linemen and linebackers. He has a nice combination of power and quickness to go with good technique to handle whatever is in front of him. As a receiver, I think Lynch has some hidden upside to be factor underneath and up the seam. He has sneaky athleticism and strong hands. Lynch won’t ever be a star that puts up the sexy numbers, but for the offenses that still use a tight end as both a blocker and receiver, he will have value. I expect to see him taken somewhere in the round 4-5 area.
#56 Garrison Smith – DE – 6’3/299
Fourth year senior. Plays outside in Georgia’s 3-4 front. Smith plays the role very well, consistently demanding attention from one or two blockers. He is a blue collar type defender that does a lot of little things well if you watch him individually. Smith had a big year in 2013, showing he can make some things happen behind the line of scrimmage. He plays low and strong, making him a tough guy to block. He has the upside of a solid rotational player for most schemes. Round 5-6 guy.
#72 Kenarious Gates – LT – 6’5/327
Fourth year senior. Mammoth blocker that can overwhelm opponents and drive block. Powerful hands and a strong punch at the point of attack. Too much of a leaner, bending at the waist and playing on his toes. Gates has experience at guard and tackle. I think his future resides inside. I project him to be a backup in the NFL that can provide depth for a few spots along the line. He has some bad weight on him that impedes his ability against the quicker defenders. Developmental guy that needs time. Late day three prospect.
#68 Chris Burnette – RG – 6’2/314
Fifth year senior. Has been starting three years now and looks like a low ceiling/high floor prospect. Might project as a career backup but Burnette has been a consistent performer that past two years. He doesn’t dominate or get a big push, but he gets the job done. He is a much better run blocker than he is a pass blocker. His feet get heavy and he’ll lean forward too often. He is an impressive kid off the field and appears to be the player that can be a reliable second stringer. Late day three here.
Potential UDFAs to Look For:
#64 Dallas Lee – LG – 6’4/295
#17 Rantavious Wooten – WR – 5’9/176
#35 Tim Cornett – RB – 6’0/215
Fourth year senior. All time leading rusher at UNLV by a pretty wide margin. Cornett is a size/speed prospect that will get a few looks after round 4. He doesn’t have the wiggle in his hips to be elusive. And I don’t see the girth to his lower half needed to handle a full load in the NFL. With that said he can be a guy that sits on the bottom of the depth chart for a couple years and tries to develop in to a quality rotational back. He has some tools and I like his style of play. Great blocker that takes pride in that part of the game. There is a spot for him somewhere.
Potential UDFA to Look For:
#8 Caleb Herring – QB – 6’3/200
#8 Marcus Trice – DB – 5’8/193
Fourth year senior that started off at Oklahoma. He was a solid player without a true position for the Sooners, being moved all over the defensive backfield and even to WR for a little bit. He is mostly a S for North Texas and is a fun player to watch. He is brick house that can handle the physical side of the game. He explodes downhill and makes a violent impact on the running game. Trice also shows a lot of range as a cover man. He shows the ability to cover half the field as well as stick with receivers in man-based schemes. Trice will be fighting up an uphill battle because of his height and low level of competition. But keep in mind he played a great game against Georgia this year and has been coming up big for two years straight. I’m going to have him graded out as a top 150 overall guy.
Potential UDFAs to Look For:
#24 Brandon Byrd – RB – 5’10/223
#3 Breian Chancellor – WR – 5’9/186
#44 Chris Borland – LB – 5’11/246
One look at him prior to the game starting and I would say close to 90% of the public would state he had no shot at making an impact in the NFL. I think he is even shorter than his listed 5’11” with stubby arms and a lack of upper body strength. With that said, I’ve seen Borland more than enough to believe he will be a starting linebacker in the NFL, and a very good one to boot. He has out-produced expectations every season of his career, turning himself in to one of the most accomplished and well rounded linebackers in the nation. Borland is incredibly smart and decisive. He is constantly moving in the right direction, rarely caught out of position. He moves exceptionally well in pursuit, easily displaying true sideline-to-sideline range. He’s been a dominant blitzing linebacker because of his ability to time snap accounts and sneak under the pads of much taller, less agile blockers. Borland can be overwhelmed in traffic because of the size deficiency, but he is a guy that simply finds a way to get it done week in, week out. I’ll have him graded much higher than where I expect to see him selected. But even then, I can’t see him available after the 3rd or 4th round.
#4 Jared Abbrederis – WR – 6’2/190
It seems like Abbrederis has been around forever. I can remember watching Russell Wilson in 2011 throwing deep balls to Abbrederis, clearly looking like these two were above the level of every opponent they faced. I’m not sure how well he will test out in workouts, but he is an overachiever and I see that translating to the NFL. He is a reliable hands-catcher that rarely drops balls within his radius. He doesn’t have the top tier explosion, but he constantly runs himself open and can make things happen with the ball in his hands. The game he played against Ohio State’s Bradley Roby (whom some believe is a top 64 pick himself) was one of the more dominant one-on-one performances I saw all year. The lack of tools may hurt his grade when all is said and done, but he’ll be taken somewhere in the middle of the draft and could be an early contributor at the next level.
#20 James White – RB – 5’10/195
Fourth year senior. White was the primary backup to Montee Ball for three seasons and split carries in 2013 with Melvin Gordon. He is a lesser prospect than both but something needs to be said for a back that has averaged more than 6 yards per carry for his career. He isn’t big and lacks the runaway speed, but White shows quick feet, agile hips, and easy vision. I question his ability to handle the physical part of the game. He doesn’t break a lot of tackles and has shown to be a non-factor as a blocker. White will get drafted late.
#79 Ryan Groy – LG – 6’5/320
Fifth year senior. Saw some spot duty early in his career before starting every game in 2012 and 2013. He is a guard, but has some experience playing left tackle. Groy’s greatest asset is his size and length. He can overwhelm defenders when his balance and mechanics are right. Groy is a solid run blocker because he can move forward quickly with power. As a pass blocker, he is slow out of his stance, slow to react, and leans forward too much. I think he has the tools to be a contributor but I wouldn’t spend a pick on him until day three. I project him as a backup.
Potential UDFAs to Look For:
#48 Jacob Pederson – TE – 6’5/240
#96 Beau Allen – DT – 6’3/325
#12 Dezmen Southward – S – 6’2/210
*#7 Jadeveon Clowney – DE – 6’6/274
No secrets or surprises here. Clowney has been destined for the top, or near the top of this draft class for years now. I firmly believe he would have been a first round pick after his freshman season had it been allowed. He has the tool set that comes around once every 5-6 years. He is the top defensive end prospect since Julius Peppers and will likely grade out above him when all is said and done. Clowney is the Calvin Johnson of defensive ends. The main red flag surrounding him has been hovering all year. His lack of hustle and conditioning have made his 2013 game tape look pedestrian for the most part. Even with that in mind, Clowney showed more than enough signs that he is still the most elite defensive talent that has come around in a long, long time. People need to stop attempting to be the black sheep when evaluating him. He is better than everyone. He isn’t a bad kid. I think he simply tried to protect himself from injury after watching what happened to Lattimore last season. He’ll be a dominant force from day one for whichever team selects him.
*#27 Victor Hampton – CB – 5’10/202
Third year junior that has already declared for the Draft. Hampton is a unique player that is incredibly strong and thick for the position. He is a little tight in the hips, but I think he can handle the speed and quickness of the NFL. He will need to shore up some technique because he is almost too physical, draping receivers down the field. Hampton brings a physical style that most teams want. I think he can be a quality nickel back and possibly even a starter down the road if he works at his craft. The talent is there, the skill set has potential. 2nd/3rd rounder.
*#99 Kelcy Quarles – DT – 6’4/298
Third year junior that has not yet declared, but his stock may be higher now than it ever will be. Quarles is a very nice prospect in his own right, but a lot of his production can be attributed to the presence of Clowney. The light came on for him towards the end of 2011, and he has shown signs every week of being a quality NFL starter. At 300 pounds, Quarles is a guy that can chase quarterbacks, and even some running backs from behind. Inside the trenches, he displays hand strength to control the engagement and the lower body power to create a new line of scrimmage. He can play a couple different roles inside, but I think teams looking for a pass rushing three-technique will have a high grade on him. He could even grade out as a 2nd rounder in a sub-par DT class.
#90 Chaz Sutton – DE – 6’5/263
Sutton looks like a player when you turn on the tape and see him prior to the action starting. Great height and length with a filled out frame and long arms. Once the game starts however, he looks pedestrian despite the majority of the opposing team’s attention on Clowney and Quarles. Too often was he overmatched by a single blocker. His run defense was especially poor because he can’t anchor. He is pushed where the blocker wants to push him. He has nice tools and can move in space, so I think there will be teams willing to gamble on him late in the draft.
Potential UDFAs to Look For:
#14 Connor Shaw – QB – 6’1/209
#67 Ronald Patrick – RG – 6’2/315
#15 Jimmy Legree – CB – 5’11/187
#86 CJ Fiedorwicz – TE – 6’7/265
Fourth year senior. Took over the starting spot with 5 weeks to go in 2011 and hasn’t looked back since. Fiedorwicz is about as balanced as it gets in this draft class when it comes his attributes. He shows dominant ability against defensive linemen. He fires off the ball well and has a strong pair of hands and light feet. He carries 260+ pounds very comfortable. As a receiver, he is better than you would assume. He has reliable hands that can pluck the ball out of the air. Very good underneath route runner that can shield defenders from making a play on the ball. Underrated ball skills, can really be a weapon in the red zone. Fiedorwicz will most likely be a solid contributor at the next level but he won’t be a star. 3rd/4th rounder.
#19 BJ Lowery – CB – 5’11/193
Fourth year senior. At this time last year I spoke highly of Iowa CB Micah Hyde. He was graded out as a day three prospect by pretty much everyone. I loved what I saw on tape in 2012 and put him in to my top 45 overall. Since then, he has played in every game of the 2013 season for division-winning Packers. I see something similar going on here with Lowery. Maybe it has something to do with the system, I’m not sure. But I think Lowery might be one of the top 5-6 CBs in this class, and he will likely be available on day three. He has good length for the position. Very good at press coverage with a blend of a physical and easy moving style. I’ll watch a couple more tapes in the coming months, but this is a guy that will outplay a lot of CBs that are drafted ahead of him.
#20 Christian Kirksey – OLB – 6’2/233
Fourth year senior. Team captain known for incredible intangibles and leadership. Rangy linebacker that pursues well and consistently takes down the ball carriers. Kirksey is a little weak with his lower half and he will need to bulk up before he can be an every down guy in the NFL. However he has great athletic ability and is comfortable in coverage. He has made a lot of big plays over the past few years. I think some teams will see him as a developmental guy that can be a star on special teams and an extra pass defender early on. There is a high ceiling with him.
#31 Anthony Hithcens – OLB – 6’0/233
Fourth year senior. Led the team in tackles each of the past two years. Hitchens is undersized and it will hurt him at different points of the game. He easily gets engulfed by blockers who come straight at him. If he doesn’t get an early break towards the action, he can easily be ridden out of a play. With that said, he shows quick reaction and finds himself in the right spot at the right time consistently. Hitchens can pursue well and make plays sideline-to-sideline. His biggest struggle is coverage. He lacks awareness of whats going on around him and it really hurt the Iowa defense in games I watched. I’m not sure he can handle every down duty but I think he can be drafted for special teams/backup duty. Day three guy here.
#70 Brett Van Sloten – RT – 6’7/300
Fifth year senior. Tight end in high school that made the to move to OL when he arrived at Iowa. I can see the movement skills here. He has light feet and quick reaction. The issue is a lack of power though. A guy this big and this fast should be able to move people and he simply doesn’t. He has the frame for more weight and perhaps he can add the power game once he gets put in to an NFL weight training program. Practice squad type prospect with the upside of a solid starting RT. Day three prospect.
Potential UDFAs to Look For:
#44 James Morris – MLB – 6’1/240
#59 Connor Boffeli – LG – 6’5/295
#5 Tanner Miller – S – 6’1/207
*#3 Odell Beckham – WR – 6’0/190
Third year junior that hasn’t declared yet. I think Beckham is a legit first round talent with big time upside. He is more than a speed/quickness guy. He is incredibly strong and tough. It will be hard to find a 190 pounder that plays with the power and brute force of Beckham. He has the speed to get behind a secondary and the quick twitch/agile hips to get open underneath. Very dangerous with the ball in his hands that will get a lot of yards after the catch with his toughness and ability to miss contact from defenders. What stood out to me in 2013 was the improvement with his ball skills. He can make a lot of tough catches away from his body in traffic. Over the past three years, I’ve seen as much LSU as any school in the nation and I am impressed with how Beckham has improved from a great athlete to a great player. If he comes out he will be a top 20 overall guy on my board.
*#70 La’el Collins – LT – 6’5/315
Third year junior. Has not declared yet and I think he will return to school. But just in case, I wanted to get a few thoughts out on him. I think Collins has the upside to be the top OT in this class. The former guard made the move to LT this year and has absolutely shined. He holds 315 pounds with ease, minimal bad weight. He is a punishing straight ahead blocker that consistently creates a new line of scrimmage. He bends well and can lower his pad level against anyone when necessary. Collins will surprise you with his ability in space. While his footwork needs refining, he can be an immediate upgrade along several starting offensive lines right away. His experience inside only helps. If he comes out I will likely have him in the top 25 overall.
*#9 Ego Ferguson – DT – 6’2/309
Fourth year junior that hasn’t declared yet. Ferguson is an impressive player in my eyes, a far better prospect than his well known teammate Anthony Johnson. Ferguson is constantly fighting off blocks and making a difference against the run. He pursues well towards the sideline but he can also eat up the double team and anchor his position. He plays a similar style to Bennie Logan, currently of the Eagles. I like his ability with his hands the his consistent performance throughout an entire game. I don’t think Ferguson is a star, but he is a reliable player at a position that most teams are always looking to add to. Day two pick here.
*#80 Jarvis Landry – WR – 6’1/195
Another third year junior that hasn’t declared yet. Landry may not have the upside of some receivers in this class, but I am just as, if not more confident in saying he will be a productive player in the NFL in comparison to every other WR prospect. What stands out about him is his refined skill set. He is a pure hands catcher. He runs great routes. He comes back to the ball well. He times his leaps and lunges for the ball well. Everything he does is NFL-ready. He is pure toughness over the middle in traffic and tries to drive cornerbacks in to the ground when blocking to boot. Landry can be a reliable #2 at the next level, which has become more and more important in this era. Day 2 pick here that will out produce a few WRs taken in front of him.
*#33 Jeremy Hill – RB – 6’1/233
True sophomore but has been out of high school for three years, thus is eligible for the 2014 Draft. Several off the field issues with Hill and it will hamper his grade. As a running back, Hill is a downhill brick house with surprising speed in the open field. He is an angry runner that can take on a lot of contact before being brought to the ground. He’s been the top back for LSU, a team that always has an abundance of great college running backs. Hill is a 4th/5th rounder right now because of the issues off the field.
#8 Zach Mettenberger – QB – 6’5/235
Fourth year senior. Transferred to LSU prior to the 2012 season and had a disappointing first year, but came back strong in 2013. Mettenberger is an old school pocket passer with a strong arm that makes all the throws look easy. When it comes to throwing ability, he is right up there with the best QBs in this class. I’m not sold on his ability to start in the NFL, but I think he is worth a shot for teams that haven’t made a change to the zone-read offense. Mettenberger has had some of the best talent in the nation to work with at the skill positions. His rebound in 2013 can be partially attributed to that, but he made some big time throws in 2013 that will make you think he’s got a shot to be a good one.
#56 Anthony Johnson – DT – 6’3/294
Third year junior. Johnson hasn’t made a decision yet either, but he needs to go back to school. He has been a major disappointment since his arrival at LSU. The expectations were sky high and I can remember watching him as a freshman thinking he was already NFL caliber when it came to power and movement ability. However he has remained at the same level since the beginning. He fails to make an impact on the game, plain and simple. He has rare speed and quickness for the position but he doesn’t beat lone blockers. His technique is hit or miss. Just seems like he thinks his tool set is good enough to get him by. That doesn’t happen at defensive tackle in the NFL. If he comes out, someone may gamble on his athletic gifts on day 2 but I wouldn’t consider him until the 5th or 6th round.
#6 Craig Loston – S – 6’2/209
Fifth year senior. Physical, run defending safety that plays with angry intentions when playing downhill. Loston can make an impact on special teams and he could probably help defend the run right away. The problem with him is the fact that he is a major liability against the pass. He has such tight hips in coverage, failing to react in time to balls thrown in his direction. His movement skills are sub-par and in this era, that could be a major problem for his draft grade. Day three guy here.
#18 Lamin Barrow – MLB – 6’2/234
Fifth year senior. Barrow is another run defender that plays the inside gaps well. When he has a simple assignment, he can make a difference. The issues arise when he has to sit back, diagnose, and flow to the action. He doesn’t appear to be a quick thinker. If a blocker can reach him, its all but over for Barrow. He can’t shed blocks and his power doesn’t translate to that part of the game. He is an easy target for a lone blocker. There are a lot of technique-based issues with Barrow and he isn’t exactly a supremely gifted athlete either. Late rounder that fits best in a 3-4 ILB role.
Potential UDFA to Look For:
#44 JC Copeland – FB – 6’1/270