By: Derek Havens
Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick has made some big moves this offseason, but there are more holes to be filled in this years draft. (USA TODAY Images)
With the NFL Draft only days away, here are my final position-by-position top five rankings for 2014:
1. Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M
2. Blake Bortles, Central Florida
3. Zach Mettenberger, Louisiana State
4. Teddy Bridgewater, Louisville
5. Derek Carr, Fresno State
– There’s no Andrew Luck type quarterback in this class, but there are several prospects that offer intriguing upside. For teams in need of a QB, it will come down to evaluations and fits, but there’s no telling who the first guy off the board will end up being.
1. Ka’Deem Carey, Arizona
2. Tre Mason, Auburn
3. Bishop Sankey, Washinton
4. Jeremy Hill, Louisiana State
5. Andre Williams, Boston College
– I’m sticking to my guns. Arizona’a Ka’Deem Carey is my top overall tailback this year. Ignore the 40 time, put on the tape. After watching him play for the last few years, I see a productive NFL running back.
Last year was the first time in over a decade no running back was taken in the first round. Could we see a repeat? I wouldn’t rule it out. While there are some talented prospects, I’m not sure any player is worth taking in the top 32.
1. Sammy Watkins, Clemson
2. Mike Evans, Texas A&M
3. Odell Beckham Jr., Louisiana State
4. Brandin Cooks, Oregon State
5. Marquise Lee, USC
– Watkins and Evans will be the first two wide receivers taken. After that, Beckham, Cooks and Lee could all go in the first round. The receiver class is tremendously deep and there will be players taken in the second, third and fourth round that could end up being starters early on. If you need a wide out this year, you’re in luck.
1. Eric Ebron, North Carolina
2. Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Washington
3. Jace Amaro, Texas Tech
4.Troy Niklas, Notre Dame
5. C.J. Fiedorowicz, Iowa
– Ebron is head and shoulders above the rest, but I tend to believe he will go much higher than he should. Good top overall prospects, but not a very deep position. After the top there’s a significant drop off in talent. There are some red flags around several players, however, there’s a lot of potential.
1. Jake Matthews, Texas A&M
2. Greg Robinson, Auburn
3. Taylor Lewan, Michigan
4. Zack Martin, Notre Dame
5. Joel Bitonio, Nevada
– Flip a coin for Robinson or Matthews, either could be the top tackle taken this year. I rank Matthews higher because he is more well-rounded and polished at this point. Martin offers tremendous versatility and Lewan is now slouch either. A very good group of top offensive tackles this year. Nevada’s Bitonio has been a fast riser and could sneak into the first round.
1. Xavier Su’a-Filo, UCLA
2. Trai Turner, Louisiana State
3. David Yankey, Stanford
4. Gabe Jackson, Mississippi State
5. Brandon Jackson, Clemson
– Unlike last year, I wouldn’t expect a guard in the top 20 overall — which speaks to the talent available at more important positions — but nevertheless, Su’a-Filo, Turner and Yankey seem to be a cut above the rest. Clemson’s Brandon Jackson remains in my top five despite injury his knee during a workout and will have to sit out this upcoming year.
1. Weston Richburg, Colorado State
2. Marcus Martin, USC
3. Travis Swanson, Arkansas
4. Bryan Stork, Florida State
5. Tyler Larsen, Utah State
– Richburg is my top prospect, with Martin right behind. Both guys much more impressive than the rest. Not a sure-fire center in this class, but some guys who should be able to develop.
1. Aaron Donald, Pittsburgh
2. Louis Nix III, Notre Dame
3. Timmy Jernigan, Florida State
4. Dominique Easley, Florida
5. Ra’Shede Hageman, Minnesota
– A talented group that offers some versatility in multiple fronts. Florida’s Dominique Easley could be a top 20 selection if he wasn’t coming off a knee injury, he’s that talanted. Arizona State’s Will Sutton, South Carolina’s Kelsey Quarles and Penn State’s Daquan Jones are three players sitting outside the top five that could be solid as well.
1. Jadeveon Clowney, South Carolina
2. Kony Ealy, Missouri
3. Dee Ford, Auburn
4. Stephon Tuitt, Notre Dame
5. Scott Crichton, Oregon State
– Clowney is the biggest name, but there are some quality pass rushers available in this class. Ford has been very impressive throughout the pre-draft process and Crichton has been rising as of late. Unlike the interior defensive line, the defensive end group is not exceptionally deep.
1. Khalil Mack, Buffalo
2. Anthony Barr, UCLA
3. Ryan Shazier, Ohio State
4. Kyle Van Noy, BYU
5. Demarcus Lawrence, Boise State
– Some highly rated prospects on the edge this year. Mack has been talked about at the no. 1 overall selection, while Barr could also land in the top 10. There are some athletic linebackers in this group that should translate well to NFL defenses looking for answers in a pass-happy league.
1. C.J. Mosley, Alabama
2. Chris Borland, Wisconsin
3. Max Bullough, Michigan State
4. Preston Brown, Louisville
5. Shayne Skov, Stanford
– The inside linebacker position is much thinner than some of the other positions in this year’s class. Mosley is by far-and-away the top rated prospect. While Mosley will almost certainly go in the first round, it wouldn’t be a surprise if another inside linebacker waited until the late-second or early-third round before they hear their name called.
1. Justin Gilbert, Oklahoma State
2. Darqueze Dennard, Michigan State
3. Kyle Fuller, Virginia Tech
4. Jason Verrett, TCU
5. Bradley Roby, Ohio State
– After Dennard and Gilbert, there’s some debate over the next cornerback this year. Even though those two players are listed as the top prospects, there are plenty of questions about how good they can be from day one. In a pass happy league, however, cornerback is a highly-coveted position — so look for teams to reach if the need is there.
1. Calvin Pryor, Louisville
2. Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Alabama
3. Deone Bucannon, Washington State
4. Lamarcus Joyner, Florida State
5. Jimmie Ward, Northern Illinois
– The safety class isn’t as strong as some of the others, but the top five is a solid group. Pryor and Clinton-Dix seem to be first round talents. Bucannon is an ascending talent that has put his name in first-round discussion. Joyner could be listed at CB, but despite his small frame, is being looked at to play safety; his versatility on the nation’s top team stood out in 2013.
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