Ben Natan's Top 50 NFL Draft Prospects

The true “Draft Season” is upon us with the College Bowl Games coming up and the NFL regular season coming to a close. At this point, draft rankings are becoming more and more set and people have a good idea of who they believe are the best players in the draft are. This ranking ranks the top fifty draft eligible players who have not stated they are going back. Also, this is a ranking of what the tape tells, not character and not health.

  1. Jadeveon Clowney (DE, South Carolina): Don’t believe the hype, Jadaveon Clowney is still the physical freak defensive end he was a year ago. He just needs an opportunity to get healthy and he will show us all the once in a generation defensive prospect he is.
  2. Teddy Bridgewater (QB, Louisville): Bridgewater may not blow anyone away with any single measurable, but he has the mental makeup of a ten year player. His accuracy, decision making and pocket presence is going to make a franchise very happy for the next 15 years.
  3. Jake Matthews (OT, Texas A&M): Matthews is an elite tackle prospect who moves very well in space and has the technical soundness in pass protection. An elite tackle prospect.
  4. CJ Mosley (LB, Alabama): An instinctual linebacker who is a great run defender and even better in coverage, Mosley is by far the best linebacker prospect in this draft. He will sure up the middle of a defense for years.
  5. Dominique Easley (DL, Florida): Before going down with a knee injury, Easley was putting on a season worthy of a top five selection. His quickness, strength and versatility along the defensive line make him a valuable prospect heading into the draft.
  6. Khalil Mack (LB, Buffalo): Primarily used as a pass rusher at Buffalo, Mack has the physical and mental skill set to play almost any linebacker position in the NFL. He is a great pass rusher, solid in coverage and can make stops in the run. He can be a moveable chess piece in the NFL and make a defensive coordinator very happy.
  7. Ra’Shede Hageman (DL, Minnesota): Athletic freak of a defensive tackle, Hageman has the quickness and hulk strength to be a terror in the middle of a defensive line. He is still a bit raw, but with development, he has the ability to be one of the best.
  8. Louis Nix (DL, Notre Dame): Hindered by a knee injury all season, Nix still has enough on his resume to warrant being a top ten talent. He is quick, strong and good with his hands. He has the ability to play nose tackle, but his quickness makes him more attractive at a 1-tech where he can be allowed to create pressure.
  9. Jason Verrett (CB, TCU): Verrett is not going to wow anyone with blazing speed, but his physicality and savvy of the position is what makes him so great. He is very physical in man coverage but his agility and range make him even better in zone. He has phenomenal ball skills and to top it all off will play the run with mettle. A complete corner.
  10. Eric Ebron (TE, UNC): Ebron is the perfect fit in today’s NFL as a tight end. His is big, strong and with blazing speed. In the NFL, he will become a matchup nightmare where ever he is all over the field. A special weapon.
  11. Jordan Mathews (Vanderbilt): One of the safest wide receiver prospects in the draft, Mathews can do it all. He has a big frame that he has been using much better this year and has a strong set of hands. Not only that, he is a great route runner and has solid speed to make plays down field or after the catch. He is the type of player that may not wow anyone in one area, but he will do everything well.
  12. Jeremiah Attoachu (DL, Georgia Tech): The athletic edge defender has experience as a down lineman and a stand up end and both have greatly enhanced his resume as a prospect. His athletic ability make him a monster in space and he even can drop into coverage while his experience as a down lineman has helped him take on blocks a lot better. He still has to refining to do, but he has massive potential.
  13. Sammy Watkins (WR, Clemson): Watkins is a strong receiver but where he gets it done is after the catch. He has blazing speed and great open field moves to terrorize a defense with. He has the physicality to play the perimeter but also the short area quickness to play in the slot.
  14. DaQuon Jones (Penn State): Jones is a huge force in the middle and his size and his quickness wreaked havoc all year long from the defensive line. His frame ideally puts him at 1-Tech but he has the quickness to play 3-Tech as well and the strength to maybe play 5. He needs to be more consistent out of his stance, but he is a monster when his mechanics are there.
  15. Derek Carr (QB, Fresno State): Carr has all the tools one would want from a franchise quarterback and he will vie for a top five pick. He is not the quarterback that Teddy Bridgewater is mentally, but he has great tools. Strong arm, great athletic ability and a strong build make him a prospect that NFL scouts will drool over.
  16. Demarcus Lawrence (DL, Boise State): Lawrence is a long defender with great athletic ability and a high motor. He uses his tools to dominate offensive lineman and make play after play in the back field. In a league in need of more pass rushers, Lawrence will become a high commodity come draft day with his special ability to edge rush.
  17. Brandin Cooks (WR, Oregon State): Albeit a bit small, Cooks is lightening in a bottle player who plays two times his size. He tracks the ball incredibly well, runs very good routes and attacks the ball in the air. Not only that, but he has blazing speed and very good open field moves to make him dangerous from any position of the field.
  18. Greg Robinson (OT, Auburn): Due to the nature of Auburn’s offense, Robinson is still a bit unproven as a pass protector. However, his size strength and athletic ability come to play in the run game in a dominating fashion and if those can consistently translate to pass protection, we are talking about a top ten pick.
  19. Stanley Jean Babtiste (CB, Nebraska): Babtiste is a bit raw at this point, but his natural skill set is phenomenal and he is a very good player despite lack of development. He has a big, strong frame and moves very well down the field and has the physicality to completely blanket a receiver. He attacks the ball very well and has flashed great ability as a run defender.
  20. Davante Adams (WR, Fresno State): Adams was on the receiving end of Derek Carr’s highly productive season. Adams has size, speed and extraordinary leaping ability to be a great NFL receiver. He needs to improve his hands, but his natural ability is mouth watering.
  21. Ha Ha Clinton Dix (S, Alabama): Dix can play either safety position in the NFL because of his range, tackling ability and ball skills, but he is not without fault. He has some issues with taking poor angles in coverage and in run defense. The ability has flashed constantly, but this is no perfect safety prospect.
  22. Kony Ealy (DL, Missouri): Any team looking for an athletic edge rusher will be pleased with Ealy. He is quick off the ball, quick to move upfield and he has the strength to take on blocks. He is a bit raw, but still a great talent.
  23. Kyle Fuller (CB, Virginia Tech): Fuller is another physical corner who loves to get into it with the receiver. He has solid ball skills, but he lacks great range and agility. I love what he brings as a tackler, as the Hokies would occasionally line him up as a linebacker in nickel packages. Teams are going to love his versatility.
  24.  Jarvis Landry (WR, LSU): Landry has a lot of things someone would want from a receiver, great hands, route running ability, body control and good speed. He was phenomenal for the Tigers this year and best translates to the slot where he can be dependable and make tough catches over the middle.
  25. Bradley Roby (CB, Ohio State): The athletic cover corner is coming off a down year that saw him get lost on the field sometime, but that does not completely negate his overall body of work. He has elite athletic ability and can man up with the best of them and has an aggressive mentality when it comes to run defense. He just needs the right scheme in the NFL.
  26. Will Sutton (DT, Arizona State): A phenomenal technician, Sutton added weight in order to be more disruptive but it did slow him down a bit. He was still very good this year, but I prefer him at his 2012 playing weight. He is great at using his hands, using great leverage, and having a high motor in dominating an interior. He has size concerns, but when you watch him play, his measurables disapear in my mind.
  27. Pierre Desir (CB, Lindenwood): Don’t let the small school label fool you, Desir is a big time player. He is athletic with great size and plays the ball very well. His tape holds hours of him completely blanketing the competition. Expect to hear his name a lot in the coming months because he is going to blow people away at the All-Star games and the combine.
  28. Darqueze Dennard (CB, Michigan State): Another one of the nasty, physical corners in this draft. Dennard is a great technician and uses his hands and great footwork in coverage. My only big question about him is his long speed. It is something he can compensate for with his physicality, but I have seen a number of plays where the receiver blows by him.
  29. Gabe Jackson (OG, Mississipi State): Jackson is a big, strong, nasty defensive lineman who loves to steam roll as a run blocker but looks even better in pass protection. He is a powerful presence who will make a quarterback very happy in the NFL.
  30. Yawin Smallwood (LB, UConn): Smallwood is an instinctual, attacking linebacker who has the high playing IQ to breakdown and disrupt a play. He comes down hard in the running game while using his smarts in coverage. A perfect fit in the middle of a 4-3 defense.
  31. Xavier Su’a Filo (OG, UCLA): Filo has a great combination of quickness and strength and has shown the ability to play both guard and tackle. He moves well in the open field and shows strength to anchor well. There are some questions about his use of leverage but that is a coachable issue.
  32. Marquise Lee (WR, USC): Hindered by injury and a bad case of the drops, Lee’s stock plummeted throughout the year as countless wide receivers made their case and rose through the ranks. Despite his issues, it is hard to ignore what Lee can do with the ball in his hands. He is phenomenal in the open field and is dangerous from anywhere. I question his ability to be a featured receiver on a team, but has the ability to be an elite number two.
  33. Cyrus Kouandjio (OT, Alabama): Kouandjio has a lot to like physically and he is downright nasty in the run game. As a pass blocker, he is inconsistent due to poor footwork that often has him off balance. His issues are coachable but there is some speculation about a possible move to guard. Regardless, if he lands with a good coaching staff who can exploit his talents, he is going to be very good.
  34. Colt Lyerla (TE, Formerly from Oregon) Lyerla has made the headlines for all the wrong reasons recently. First he was dismissed from the Ducks and then was arrested for possession of Cocaine a few months later. Teams are going to have big questions about Lyerla’s character, but there is no denying his talent. He is a great athlete, solid blocker and an animal to bring down in the open field. He has solid hands as well so he could function as a very good safety valve for a quarterback.  Teams will question his character, but no one will question his talent.
  35. Shaquil Barrett (DL/OLB, Colorado State): Barrett is a complete package as an edge defender. He attacks the run almost as well as he rushes the passer and, despite lacking in length, his blend of strength, speed, motor and bend make him a very good edge presence.
  36. Jimmie Ward (S, NIU): Ward is a phenomenal prospect at free safety. He has phenomenal range and recognition skills and has greatly improved at coming up in the run. He plays the wall incredibly well and is a dangerous player with the ball in his hands.
  37. Chris Borland (LB, Wisconsin): Borland is the “Honey Badger” of linebackers. Yes, he may be a bit smaller than other linebackers, but he flies all over the field and will basically punch the other team in the mouth. He is a great athlete who is very strong and uses his hands very well to shed blocks. He has shown he can hold up in coverage and also has value as a blitzer. He is an every down linebacker that teams should not overlook because he is small.
  38. Mike Evans (WR, Texas A&M): Mike Evans is a huge (6’5″, 230 lbs.) wide out and teams are going to fall in love with this ability to dominate the catch point. He has solid athletic ability and his his strength makes him a bull to tackle in the open field. There are some worries about how he separates in the NFL and he has too big an issue with press coverage for a man his size. I would prefer him as a slot receiver who can work underneath and make those tough catches.
  39. Carlos Hyde (RB, OSU): Hyde has a great combination of size, strength and speed. He needs to be a little bit more decisive as a runner, but once he gets going, his ability make him very difficult to bring down.
  40. Billy Turner (OL, NDSU) Watching Turner dominate at the FCS level is too much fun to watch. He is an athletic freak whose strength would make him a dominant guard, but his agility makes him a viable tackle prospect as well.
  41. David Fales (QB, SJSU): Fales is a smart, accurate quarterback who makes up for his lack of elite arm strength with great mechanics and touch. He is a quick decision maker and works the pocket very well. He is best suited for a west coast offense but has the makings of a very good quarterback.
  42. Travis Swanson (C, Arkansas): Swanson is a terrific athlete and uses his quickness and strength in pass protection and is even better as a run blocker. He could add some strength, but the natural ability is there for him to be a very good interior lineman in the NFL.
  43. Anthony Barr (LB, UCLA): Here comes the controversy. Despite being labeled a top five pick by many, Barr just does not look the part of the elite defender he is being painted as. Yes, he has all of the speed in the world and for someone his size, it is enticing, but that does not make him a great prospect. He has issues taking on blocks, cannot bend the edge, lacks awareness when he is defending the run and has can not consistently tackle. A lot of production is him beating tackles with pure speed or him coming off unblocked. There are things to like and ways to use his athletic ability, such as using him in coverage, but he is not going to consistently edge rush. He fits much better as a weak side linebacker in a 4-3 scheme where he can blitz and drop into coverage.
  44. Brett Smith (QB, Wyoming): Smith is exactly what everyone thinks Johnny Manziel will immediately be in the NFL, albeit a lot bigger, stronger and with a better arm. Smith is a great athlete who can outrun some of the best. Even better, he is very good passer who displays good accuracy and a solid arm. He needs some refinement with his mechanics and needs to settle down in the pocket, but he could develop into a very good player.
  45. Seantrel Henderson (OT, Miami): Henderson has all the talent in the world but his on field effort is poor at times. He has, at times, displayed phenomenal strength and agility as both a run blocker and a pass blocker. However, he has seemed lackadaisical on the field and that is a huge issue going forward.
  46. Sean Parker (S, Washington): Despite being a tad diminutive, Parker has great potential as a strong safety in the NFL. He is a very good run defender and possibly one of the best tacklers in the class. He also has displayed very good range and ball skills in coverage. He has the athletic ability to play deep and plays a lot bigger than he is. A very solid player who will be an immediate upgrade for a safety hungry team.
  47. Aaron Donald (DL, Pittsburgh): Another player teams might pass on because of size concerns, Donald uses short area quickness and phenomenal technique to create havoc in the opponents backfield. He is a very high motor player, who, at the very least, will give a team a very good nickel  lineman.
  48. Telvin Smith (LB, FSU): Smith is a highly athletic, aggressive linebacker who does a great job coming up in the run, but his best asset is in coverage. He moves very well in space and shows very good instincts against the pass. Teams may view him as undersized, but I don’t see that affecting him with the way he plays.
  49. Jace Amaro (TE, TTU): Amaro is listed as a tight end but is basically a very big receiver. He uses his size to create matchup nightmares and dominate one on one and is a good athlete who can continue to cause problems after the catch. My main issue with him as a tight end is that he fails to make catches in traffic which is a necessity of a tight end in my opinion and he has a small sample size of blocking. He can be productive as a receiver in the NFL, but he is not a complete player.
  50. Lemarcus Joyner (DB, FSU): Joyner does not have impressive size, but he is a very impressive player. He flies all over the field but is also very physical in man to man coverage and a good athlete to work in zone as a safety. He also has the ability to come up and lay the wood as a run defender. He is a very similar player to Tyrann Mathieu and will find himself in a very similar role in the NFL.

Tags: 2014 NFL Draft

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