Ben Natan's NFL Draft Top 20 Prospects: 2012-2014

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After the 2011 draft, I made the decision to start doing my own research into prospects in order to have a good idea of what my team’s options were heading into the offseason. As of May, I will have my third draft under my belt and will have hundreds of prospects that I have watched, ranked and researched. Every year, people love to throw around phrases like “elite” and “blue chip” without even knowing what those terms even mean. In order to contextualize my top rated players in this class, I am mixing them in with my top prospects from the past two drafts. This are my Pre-Draft rankings and have nothing to do with players’ current success.

  1. Andrew Luck (QB, Stanford): This one is somewhat of a given. Luck is easily the best QB I have ever watched and was a once in a generation prospect. His combination of build, smarts, athletic ability and a special arm talent in terms of accuracy, Luck had all the making of a franchise QB.
  2. Jadaveon Clowney (DE, South Carolina): Much like Luck was a once in a generation QB, Clowney is that same kind of special, defensively. He has a rare blend of size, speed and strength and can bend the edge in a very scary way as a pass rusher. His instincts are a phenomenal compliment to his physical tools and any questions about his motor or effort are completely overblown.
  3. Russell Wilson (QB,  Wisconsin): Every time I flipped on tape of Wilson, it was evident he was special. While there were height concerns, it was clear he played  to compensate for his height. He had very good physical tools but I was just impressed with how advanced he was mentally. He stood in the pocket like a pro and his decision making was top notch, better than Andrew Luck’s. If he was a bit taller, there would be a discussion for him going No. 1.
  4. Fletcher Cox (DT, Mississipi State): Cox was a freak for the Bulldogs, using a rare blend of quickness and size to absolutely blow up the middle of a defense. He had a relentless motor and flashed unreal strength. He wasn’t a perfect player, but upside was evident.
  5. Teddy Bridgewater (QB, Louisville): Everything you hear about Teddy Bridgewater not being the top quarterback in this class is wrong. Bridgewater has the best combination of arm strength and accuracy, he is a great decision maker and has the pocket presence of a ten year veteran. He is going to make an NFL team very happy.
  6. Robert Griffin III (QB, Baylor): Griffin had some ridiculous physical tools but I had serious concerns with his pocket presence  and how reckless he was with his diminutive build. Those fears unfortunately proved true as he has been banged up a lot in the NFL, but I still think he can be very good with the right management.
  7. Chance Warmack (OG, Alabama): My number one overall player in 2013, Warmack brought a ridiculous combination of size, strength and quickness to the guard position. While he had some work to do as a pass blocker, he was the most dominant run blocker I have ever watched.
  8.  Matt Kalil (OT, USC): Another great technician at the tackle level, Kalil was a very quick player who worked beautifully in pass protection and his quickness and intelligence made him a very effective run blocker. Similar to Matthews, I hoped he would add strength in the NFL, but he is coming on very nicely for the Vikings.
  9. Melvin Ingram (DE, South Carolina): Melvin Ingram may have been short, but he definitely was not small. He was a thick, strong and athletically gifted player that South Carolina played all over the front seven. His versatility and his athletic ability made him an incredibly attractive NFL prospect.
  10. CJ Mosley (LB, Alabama): Mosley is the best linebacker I have scouted. His combination of his athletic ability and his top notch instincts make him a great run defender and a very impressive player in coverage. He is very scheme versatile and will be able to step onto the field and have an immediate impact.
  11. Dion Jordan (LB, Oregon): Jordan was viewed by a lot as a pass rusher but he was really so much more. He was a freak athlete who could speed rush but also could cover tight ends and receivers. He could be great at linebacker if Miami just gave him a chance.
  12. Dominique Easley (DT, Florida): Before he got injured, Easley was having a truly special year at Florida. His quickness off the ball paired with violent hands and great instincts made him a dominant player who wreaked havoc all over the defensive line. He will fall due to his injury, but at full health, Easley is a special player.
  13. Khalil Mack (LB, Buffalo): Mack is a do it all linebacker. He is fluid in coverage, works well against the run and can rush off the edge like a mad man. He could play any linebacker position in any scheme and is going to be a big problem for offenses in the NFL.
  14. Luke Joeckel (OT, Texas A&M): Joekel was incredible in how fundamentally sound he was and was a top notch pass protector. He did not have great strength and that showed from time to time, but his technical ability made him an impact player.
  15. Jake Matthews  (OT, Texas A&M): Matthews is a perfect combination of superb fundamentals and great open field quickness. While he needs to add strength, his work as a technician will make him an immediate impact at tackle in the NFL.
  16. Jonathan Cooper (OG, UNC): Cooper was a great pass protector in college and his agility in the open field made him an impact run blocker. His game was not predicated on strength, but his amazing athletic ability and fundamentals were too much to look over at guard.
  17. Sheldon Richardson (DT, Mizzou) / Star Lotulelei (DT, Utah): Both defensive tackles were tied in my rankings but for different reasons. Richardson moved incredibly well and exploded off the ball and his penetrating ability made him a top notch 3-Tech player. As for Star, his quickness paired with unreal strength made made him an interesting prospect that could play all along the defensive line.
  18. Louis Nix (DT, Notre Dame): Nix is a very quick, instinctual man in the middle, who, when healthy, is a great run defender and is even better at creating interior pressure. I worry about how his weight affects his game, but his sophomore tape displayed a truly special player.
  19. Eric Ebron (TE, UNC): The NFL is all about creating favorable match ups on both sides of the ball and Ebron is a match up nightmare. He has great size and has better speed than most wide receivers. He is incredible with the ball in his hands and though he needs to be more consistent catching the ball, he has the ability to dominate at the catch point. Even better, as dangerous as a receiving threat that he is, he is a very good blocker to go with it. Hopefully he can improve his hands because Ebron can be one of the best at his position with the tools he has.
  20. Jason Verrett (CB, TCU): Verrett is not going to wow a team with measurables but his physicallity and his fundementals make him a special player. He is very physical in man coverage and even better in zone. He plays the ball very well and, despite a smaller frame, loves going up and creating a stop in the run game. He might fall down in the draft because teams go with a higher upside player, but he is going to make teams very, very happy.

 

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