Each draft season, I do four top-50 draft boards: one after the All-Star games, one post-combine, one after most pro days and then a final one in the days leading up to the draft in May.
The 2014 NFL combine is in the books and as we sift through the 40-yard dash times and bench press reps, it's important to not lose sight of the base opinions that were derived from the game tapes that got us to this point. There are some minor tweaks to my updated top-50 draft board, but nothing major and no changes in my top-10.
There is one new addition to my top-50 draft board as Boise State DE Demarcus Lawrence checks in and Washington TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins falls out from my first draft board. Here's a look at my initial top-50 Draft Board.
Top-50 Draft Board 2.0
1. Teddy Bridgewater QB, Louisville (6-2, 214, 4.67, JR)
While disappointing that he didn't throw at the Combine, Bridgewater remains at No. 1 on my draft board. His natural passing talent and ability to digest and process information above the neck are the reasons he is still my top prospect in this draft class.
2. Jadeveon Clowney DE, South Carolina (6-5, 266, 4.53, JR)
With a 4.53 40-yard dash and 37.5” vertical, Clowney confirmed what we already knew – he's a freak athlete. But the football character concerns are still there and while he has immense potential, does he have the motivation to reach his NFL ceiling?
3. Greg Robinson OT, Auburn (6-5, 332, 4.92, rSoph)
While we expected good numbers from the athletic marvel, Robinson impressed us all with a 4.92 40-yard dash, showing off his strength as well with 32 reps on the bench press. Yes, he's still developing in pass protection, but his athletic upside is awesome.
4. Khalil Mack OLB, Buffalo (6-3, 251, 4.65, rSR)
A versatile, relentless pass rusher, Mack was extremely productive in college and holds several career NCAA records, including forced fumbles (16) and tackles for loss (75). He is always around the ball with his combination of speed, power and awareness.
5. Jake Matthews OT, Texas A&M (6-5, 308, 5.07, SR)
Probably the “safest” prospect in this class, Matthews started three seasons at right tackle before moving to the left side in 2013. He had a solid performance at the Combine, which confirmed his athleticism, fundamentally-sound technique and high football character.
6. Anthony Barr OLB, UCLA (6-5, 255, 4.66, 4SR)
A former running back, Barr moved pass rusher last season and excelled at backer for the Bruins, totaling 41.5 tackles for loss the past two seasons. He needs to refine some technical aspects of his game, but his speed/strength off the edge is exciting.
7. Sammy Watkins WR, Clemson (6-1, 211, 4.43, JR)
With a 4.43 40-yard dash, Watkins showed off his athleticism at the Combine and backed up what his tape tells us as well. He needs some polish in a few areas, but he has above average vision and acceleration and projects as a borderline WR1/WR2 in the NFL.
8. Eric Ebron TE, North Carolina (6-4, 250, 4.60, JR)
A wide receiver in a tight end's body, Ebron is a freakish athlete with the ability to make highlight-reel catches look easy. He is a work-in-progress as a blocker and will drop some easy ones, but his fluid athleticism and playmaking ability at the position are near elite.
9. Blake Bortles QB, UCF (6-5, 232, 4.93, rJR)
With the other top quarterbacks choosing not to throw, Bortles took advantage of the big stage in Indianapolis and performed well, tossing strikes and looking comfortable doing so. He remains the favorite to be the No. 1 pick to the Houston Texans in my mind.
10. Mike Evans WR, Texas A&M (6-5, 231, 4.53, rSoph)
A physical, imposing target, Evans was Johnny Football's No. 1 target and safety valve in College Station the past two seasons. He isn't the fastest or most fluid athlete, but he boxes out defenders and has a large catching radius to dominate at the catch point.
11. Taylor Lewan OT, Michigan (6-7, 309, 4.87, rSR)
While he shows his light feet on tape, Lewan backed it up at the Combine with excellent numbers in the agility and positional drills. He needs to keep his emotions under control on the football field and play with more consistency, but he has all the tools to start at left tackle in the NFL.
12. Louis Nix DT, Notre Dame (6-2, 331, 5.42, rJR)
An athletic nose tackle, Nix has monster ability, consistently making plays behind, up and down the line of scrimmage. A knee injury contributed to an up-and-down 2013 season, but he is very active for his size and a double-team magnet – impact doesn't always show in the box score.
13. Calvin Pryor FS, Louisville (5-11, 207, 4.58, JR)
A heat-seeking missile in the secondary, Pryor has physical take-on strength and wraps and drives through his target with violence. He will freelance too much at times, but he displays the athleticism and fluid change of motion to hold up in the deep half of the field.
14. C.J. Mosley OLB/ILB, Alabama (6-2, 234, 4.65, SR)
Mosley is a smart, assignment sound player who was the leader of the Alabama defense. He doesn't play a sexy position, but has an accurate first step with a consistently disciplined approach to the game, playing at the same speed and temperament on each snap.
15. Zach Martin OG, Notre Dame (6-4, 308, 5.22, rSR)
The top prospect in Mobile this year, Martin manned the left tackle spot the last four years at Notre Dame, but he projects best inside where he could be a future Pro Bowler. Martin keeps his frame square and low with the foot quickness to mirror and strong hands to punch.
16. Aaron Donald DT, Pittsburgh (6-1, 285, 4.68, SR)
While Clowney received most of the publicity, Donald had the best Combine performance among the defensive linemen with a 4.68 40-yard dash, 32” vertical jump and 35 reps on the bench press. He lacks ideal size, but uses his natural leverage to his advantage.
17. Darqueze Dennard CB, Michigan State (5-11, 199, 4.52, SR)
The 2013 winner of the Thorpe Award, Dennard has average speed and size for the position, but he is smart, competitive and confident. If he can cut down on the downfield contact, Dennard has a chance to be a very good cover man in the NFL for a long time.
18. *Hasean Clinton-Dix FS, Alabama (6-1, 208, 4.58, JR)
A rangy, fluid athlete, Clinton-Dix covers a lot of ground against both the pass and the run and projects to either free or strong safety. He has the aggressive nature to attack ballcarriers and shows the read/react quickness to diagnose and take accurate angles in coverage.
19. Carl Bradford OLB, Arizona State (6-1, 250, 4.76, rJR)
The top defender from an underrated Sun Devil defense, Bradford is an intense and energetic rusher who finds a way to get to the quarterback. He has some tweener traits and won't fit every defense, but he has the initial quickness and power to be effective as a stand-up rusher.
20. Brandin Cooks WR, Oregon State (5-10, 189, 4.33, JR)
A receiver with joystick athleticism, Cooks has lightning-fast feet and jitterbug quickness to create separation and do something after the catch. He'll have some drops with his smaller hands, but Cooks seems to be moving at a different speed than everyone else on the field.
21. Kony Ealy DE, Missouri (6-4, 273, 4.92, rJR)
A good-sized athlete with plus length, Ealy displays smooth acceleration off the edge and bends the arc very well. He is still a tad raw with ball awareness, but he is a forceful striker with the NFL tools to line up inside or outside at the next level.
22. Ryan Shazier OLB, Ohio State (6-1, 2367 4.58, JR)
One of the few bright spots on an inconsistent Ohio State defense, Shazier finished his 2013 season with 143 total tackles and 22.5 tackles for loss. He lacks ideal bulk and has some discipline issues, but his blend of explosive quickness and initial strength is awesome.
23. Scott Crichton DE, Oregon State (6-3, 273, 4.84, rJR)
Crichton has a powerful first step with impressive initial momentum to attack blockers and bully them backwards like a battering ram. He lacks ideal fluidity, but has some lower body explosion with a nonstop relentless motor to finish plays with hustle and motivation.
24. Kyle Fuller CB, Virginia Tech (6-0, 190, 4.49, SR)
A versatile defensive back, Fuller is aggressive and smart and the game appears to come natural to him. He is an inconsistent tackler and needs to stay healthy, but he has the smooth hips, transition skills and ballskills to be a NFL starter at cornerback.
25. *Xavier Su'a-Filo OG, UCLA (6-4, 307, 5.04, JR)
Su'a-Filo lined up at left guard and left tackle this past season for the Bruins and played consistently well for the Bruins productive offense. He gets himself in trouble when he overextends himself, but he is an easy bender with a strong base to engage at the point of attack.
26. Jason Verrett CB, TCU (5-9, 189, 4.38, SR)
Although undersized with only good, not great, speed (plays more like 4.5, not 4.3), Verrett is a feisty and physical player with ballhawking read/react quickness. He is ideally suited to be an inside corner with his swivel hips and physical nature to cover the slot and be reliable vs. the run.
27. Jace Amaro TE, Texas Tech (6-5, 265, 4.74, JR)
Amaro played more of a slot receiver position in college and projects as a joker tight end at the next level. He has room to get stronger and mature both physically and emotionally, but his speed and toughness project well to the next level.
28. Marcus Roberson CB, Florida (6-0, 191, 4.61, JR)
A fearless, confident cover corner, Roberson battled through several injuries in 2013, most notably a left knee issue. But when healthy, he has the footwork, movement skills and competitive nature to blanket receivers along with the instincts to make plays on the ball.
29. Justin Gilbert CB, Oklahoma State (6-0, 202, 4.37, SR)
Gilbert had an excellent Combine, highlighted by a 4.37 40-yard dash, which will likely move him up draft boards, possibly into the top-10. However, he still has questions with his footwork and technique to be a consistent cover man up and down the field.
30. Derek Carr QB, Fresno State (6-2, 214, 4.69, rSR)
David Carr's little brother, Carr has top-shelf arm strength with the ability to make every NFL throw needed. His issues with pressure and footwork are easy to see, but he is ultracompetitive with enough size and mobility to start at the NFL level.
31. Cyrus Kouandijio OT, Alabama (6-5, 322, 5.59, JR)
With some lingering durability concerns regarding his knees, Kouandjio's draft stock is in flux right now as teams figure out the truth behind his past injuries. But if he's healthy, Kouandjio has the athletic and natural upside to start at the next level.
32. Kyle Van Noy OLB, BYU (6-3, 243, 4.71, SR)
The type of player who scratches and crawls his way to the ballcarrier, Van Noy is twitchy off the snap with smooth hips and footwork in space. He needs to get stronger and continue to develop his pass rush moves, but he can do a lot of things, not just rush the pocket.
33. Johnny Manziel QB, Texas A&M (6-0, 207, 4.68, rSoph)
A magician at the quarterback position, Manziel has the arm strength, competitive spirit and natural instincts that make him an exciting football player. But his decision-making and durability are strong questions marks, making his transition to the NFL difficult to predict.
34. Marqise Lee WR, USC (6-0, 192, 4.52, JR)
Lee set several program records for the Trojans over his career and is a fun player to watch with the ball. He does have some medical concerns with his knee and will have his share of drops, but Lee has cat-like quickness to get open and create as a ballcarrier.
35. Jarvis Landry WR, LSU (5-11, 205, 4.77, JR)
A pair of the strongest hands in the draft, Landry has big mitts to secure grabs and make the tough catches look easy. He's not an elite size/speed athlete, which was evident at the Combine, but he is a disciplined route runner with above average body control, ballskills and competitiveness.
36. Troy Niklas TE, Notre Dame (6-6, 270, 4.84, JR)
The best blocking tight end in this class, Niklas is a former defensive lineman who is still developing on offense. He is a long, lumbering athlete in the Kyle Rudolph mold, but still has room to develop as a receiver with his route running and ballskills.
37. Allen Robinson WR, Penn State (6-2, 220, 4.60, JR)
A fluid, flexible athlete for his larger frame, Robinson was extremely productive the past two seasons and leaves Penn State with several school receiving records. He needs to eliminate the drops, but he is physical with deceiving acceleration to be a dangerous catch-and-go target.
38. Dee Ford DE, Auburn (6-2, 252, 4.67, SR)
An athletic edge rusher, Ford has explosive quickness with natural bend, acceleration and flexibility to get around blockers with natural speed. He didn't participate at the Combine due to a few injury concerns, but is expected to be healthy for Auburn's pro day.
39. Lamarcus Joyner FS, Florida State (5-8, 184, 4.55, SR)
Despite his short stature, Joyner is the type of player who is impossible to ignore because of the way he jumps off the tape. His lack of size will show up in man coverage and run support, but he plays fast and decisive with violent attitude, projecting him to a nickel role.
40. Odell Beckham WR, LSU (5-11, 198, 4.43, JR)
An impact return man on special teams, Beckham is a speedy, smooth athlete who has improved his hands and route running since he arrived in Baton Rouge. He shows very good shake-and-burst out of his cuts with a large catching radius to elevate and attack the ball.
41. Antonio Richardson OT, Tennessee (6-6, 336, 5.30, JR)
A heavy waist bender who gets lazy at times, Richardson has exciting potential because of his wide base, stout frame and vines for arms. His inconsistent technique makes it tough for him to sustain, but if he irons out the wrinkles, Richardson has a high NFL ceiling.
42. David Yankey OG, Stanford (6-6, 315, 5.48, rJR)
A three-year starter at left guard, Yankey shows very good initial surge with natural explosion in his lower body to overwhelm defenders. He is a natural athlete and active puller with good coordination to square up his target on the move and open holes at the second level.
43. Dominique Easley DT, Florida (6-2, 288, 4.93, SR)
Easley has battled several injuries over his career, most recently an ACL that sidelined him for most of 2013. But when healthy, he has a sudden first step to attack gaps before blockers can set up with the natural athleticism to track and finish at the ballcarrier.
44. Ra'Shede Hageman DT, Minnesota (6-6, 310, 5.02, rSR)
A tall, well-built athlete, Hageman moves well for his size with range to make plays up and down the line of scrimmage. He pops too high off the snap and lacks overpowering strength, but he's at his best when he controls his leverage and length, maybe best fitting at the five-technique.
45. Jimmie Ward SS, Northern Illinois (5-11, 193, 4.59, SR)
The top senior safety on the board, Ward is a versatile defensive back with cornerback movement skills and the physical mentality of a safety. He takes aggressive, confident angles in zone, but also shows the feet and athleticism to play tight in man coverage.
46. Billy Turner OG, North Dakota State (6-5, 315, 5.16, rSR)
The starting left tackle for three-time FCS Champions, Turner has quick feet and natural body control to hold his own in space and combo blocks. If he can learn to sink his hips and not bend so much at the waist, he has Pro Bowls in his future, probably best inside at guard.
47. Timmy Jernigan DT, Florida State (6-2, 299, 5.06, JR)
Jernigan is a flexible, bendy athlete for an interior lineman who is a tough guy to slow down when he wins off the snap. He needs to improve his hand use to shed and combat blockers, but when all the cylinders are firing, Jernigan can be tough to handle.
48. Kelvin Benjamin WR, Florida State (6-5, 240, 4.61, rSO)
A tall, long athlete, Benjamin is a large target with his huge catching radius to highpoint and use his long arms to pluck the ball from the sky. He is still unrefined as a route runner and needs to better finish plays, but his size/athleticism/length makes him an intriguing prospect.
49. Demarcus Lawrence DE, Boise State (6-3, 251, 4.80, JR)
When talking to several offensive linemen at the Combine, there was a common theme - many said Lawrence was one of the toughest pass rushers they've faced. He led the Broncos his past season with 20.5 tackles for loss and 10.5 sacks.
50. Bradley Roby CB, Ohio State (5-11, 194, 4.39, rJR)
Despite a forgettable 2013 season, Roby has the impressive speed and swivel hips that can't be taught. But his lack of height and length along with streaky technique and awareness makes him a work in progress and a player in need of hard-nosed defensive coaching