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2015 NFL DRAFT

Big Board: Judging on quality or depth, this draft class impressive

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The 2014 NFL draft class is a pick-your-flavor group with few consensus leaders atop each position. It does boast six blue-chip prospects who would rank among the first players selected in any draft. Unfortunately for quarterback-needy teams picking at the top, there isn't a passer among them.

Pass rushers Jadeveon Clowney and Khalil Mack, offensive tackles Greg Robinson and Jake Matthews and wide receivers Sammy Watkins and Mike Evans headline a deep and talented class that some longtime NFL scouts have characterized as the best they have ever seen. I've been covering the draft professionally since 2001 and it is certainly the most gifted class I have come across.

Below is my personal ranking of the top 100 prospects available in the 2014 NFL Draft.

* Denotes underclassmen

1. DE Jadeveon Clowney, South Carolina (6-5, 266, 4.53)*: There is no question Clowney failed to live up to expectations in 2013 from a statistical standpoint but as he demonstrated in Indianapolis and again April 2 at his pro day, the South Carolina star possesses a once-in-a-generation combination of size and explosiveness. Whether at defensive end or outside linebacker in a 3-4 alignment, he'll make an immediate impact in the NFL -- precisely why he has been my top-rated prospect since last spring.

2. OT Greg Robinson, Auburn (6-5, 332, 4.92)*: Physical and tenacious, Robinson is a grizzly bear in the running game, mauling opponents with an exciting blend of size, strength and athleticism. Auburn's reliance on the running game, however, provided Robinson few opportunities in pass protection. With some polish, he could prove to be an Orlando Pace-like presence in the NFL.

3. OLB Khalil Mack, Buffalo (6-3, 251, 4.65): With an FBS-record 16 career forced fumbles and record-tying 75 career tackles for loss, Mack's statistics jump off the page. Against the most gifted opponents he faced last season (Ohio State, Baylor, Connecticut), it was his game that jumped off the screen. Whereas Clowney is largely a projection as a rusher from two-point stance, Mack is a proven commodity in this regard. As I've been reporting since January, he is a very legitimate candidate for the Texans at No. 1 overall and isn't likely to get by Jacksonville at No. 3.

4. OT Jake Matthews, Texas A&M (6-5, 308, 5.07): The son of Hall of Fame offensive lineman Bruce Matthews, Jake proves the cliche true that the apple doesn't fall far from the tree. He played well at left tackle last season after starring at right tackle for three years, and like his father, projects well to any position along the offensive line. Matthews isn't an elite athlete but may just be the safest prospect in the draft.

5. WR Sammy Watkins, Clemson (6-1, 211, 4.43)*: Watkins lacks the elite size that helped A.J. Green, Julio Jones and Calvin Johnson earn top six selections since 2007, but he does possess virtually everything else, including instant acceleration, impressive body control and the natural hands to pluck the ball outside of his frame. Watkins could go as high as No. 2 to the St. Louis Rams.

6. WR Mike Evans, Texas A&M (6-5, 231, 4.53)*: In dominating SEC competition the past two seasons, Evans has earned comparisons to Tampa Bay Bucs star Vincent Jackson, exhibiting a shocking combination of size, strength and deceptive speed. He is a nightmare to defend in jump-ball situations, a trait teams are finding increasingly valuable with the increasing size of NFL cornerbacks.

7. DT Aaron Donald, Pittsburgh (6-1, 285, 4.68): Given the way he dominated competition in the ACC and at the Senior Bowl and combine, no player has enjoyed a steadier rise up draft boards this year than Donald. His size likely limits him to a three-technique role in the 4-3 alignment, but given the NFL's increasing reliance on the pass, he is entering the league at the perfect time to star in just this capacity.

Anthony Barr boasts as intriguing array of tools, but comes with questions. (USATSI)
Anthony Barr boasts as intriguing array of tools, but comes with questions. (USATSI)
8. OLB Anthony Barr, UCLA (6-5, 255, 4.66): Barr's emergence as one of the nation's elite NFL prospects after languishing as a running back early in his career has been well documented. He exploded in 2012 in his first season on the defensive side of the ball and backed it up with another spectacular campaign in 2013, though he didn't make the gains in technique to match his hype. Questions about his physicality are legitimate, but so are his burst, bend and size. Pass rushers are worth gambling on, especially those with Barr's upside.

9. QB Teddy Bridgewater, Louisville (6-2, 214, 4.67)*: Bridgewater's pro day struggles are often used as the rationale for why he could slip in the draft, but the red flags have more to do with his lack of size. As one GM put it to me, Bridgewater has the build of a wide receiver rather than that of a franchise quarterback. I have concerns about his relatively slim frame, but Bridgewater has shown toughness, poise and accuracy -- traits I believe make him the most pro-ready quarterback of the class.

10. QB Blake Bortles, Central Florida* (6-5, 232, 4.93): A prototypically-built pocket passer with good awareness, athleticism and arm talent, Bortles looks the part of an NFL star quarterback. He also played well against top talent (including South Carolina, Penn State and Baylor) and showed impressive gains in his technique throughout the offseason workouts. I like Bortles' game and believe he has the most upside of any quarterback in this class. I would still have reservations using a top 10 pick on any player I believe would be best served watching from the sideline as a rookie (as I do with Bortles).

11. OLB C.J. Mosley, Alabama (6-2, 234, 4.65): While a bit undersized, Mosley might be the best pound-for-pound player in the country. Athletic and instinctive, he is a true three-down linebacker capable of making plays against the run and pass. Mosley lacks the bulk scouts want in a pass rusher but his awareness in coverage is special. While the tape is phenomenal, Mosley has undergone multiple surgeries (knee, shoulder) over his career and could be the latest Alabama player to receive medical red flags from some evaluators.

12. OL Zack Martin, Notre Dame (6-4, 308, 5.22): The vast majority of Martin's school career-record 52 starts came at left tackle but his square-ish frame and 32 1/4-inch arms will earn him a projection inside to guard for many. Regardless of where he lines up, Martin plays with the controlled aggression I love along the offensive line, latching on and dictating the action.

13. CB Darqueze Dennard, Michigan State (5-11, 199, 4.52): Quick feet, loose hips and a fluid turning motion make Dennard a classic cover corner capable of shutting down half the field and he plays with an aggressive, physical mentality against the run. Dennard allowed only three completions in 31 passes of 15-plus yards targeted against him last season, and was recognized with the Thorpe Award as the nation's elite defensive back. He is a better athlete than some give him credit for and is poised with the ball in the air.

14. CB Justin Gilbert, Oklahoma State (6-0, 202, 4.37): With the NFL increasingly favoring offenses, the value of playmakers on either side of the ball has never been higher. Gilbert led the Big 12 with seven interceptions in 2013 and returned six kickoffs for touchdowns over his career. There are other defensive backs in this class who offer a more well-rounded game, but in terms of size, agility and speed, no cornerback offers a more intriguing skill-set than the Cowboys star.

15. OLB Ryan Shazier, Ohio State (6-1, 237, 4.58)*: Shazier may lack elite size, but his instincts, speed and bone-jarring hits make him a fearful defender offenses must account for on every snap. Statistics don't always tell the story, but they do with Shazier, whose 143 tackles, including an eye-popping 22.5 tackles for loss, not only led the Big Ten last season, they combined to rank among the best seasons from any Buckeye defender over the past quarter century.

16. OT Taylor Lewan, Michigan (6-7, 309, 4.87): Massive, durable and ridiculously athletic for the position, Lewan's talent is obvious. The former defensive lineman plays with the tenacity and physicality you'd expect but remains overly reliant on his natural tools. Further, he sometimes allows his emotions to get the better of him, too often drawing silly penalties. Lewan has top 10 talent, but in order to maximize his potential, he'll need to show improved maturity in the NFL.

17. QB Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M (6-0, 207, 4.68)*: Manziel's vision, elusiveness and accuracy while on the move make him a magician in the improvisational game but I have concerns about his accuracy when penned in the pocket. The team that selects Manziel better have a plan for him. To force him to adapt to a rhythm passing attack would be to take away the very backyard-style which makes him special.

18. FS Calvin Pryor, Louisville (5-11, 207, 4.58)*: Pryor was overshadowed a bit by Bridgewater while with the Cardinals, but he could easily wind up being selected ahead of his more well-known former teammate. Pryor didn't run as well in workouts as I would have liked but he plays fast because of terrific instincts, has good hands for the interception and is an intimidating hitter.

19. DT Louis Nix III, Notre Dame (6-2, 331, 5.42)*: Though neither his combine nor pro day workouts necessarily drew oohs and ahhs from scouts for aesthetic (or athletic) qualities, the portly nose guard proved during drills that he is fully recovered from the knee injury that ended his collegiate career prematurely. Stout, strong and surprisingly quick, Nix is not only the run-stuffer his frame indicates, he's also an effective interior rush threat.

20. TE Eric Ebron, North Carolina (6-4, 250, 4.60)*: Ebron possesses a jaw-dropping combination of size and athleticism that has earned comparisons to 49ers star Vernon Davis. Like Davis, however, Ebron struggles with consistency, relying too much on his athleticism rather than dedicating himself to learning the finer techniques of the position. Some team may very well gamble earlier on Ebron's incredible upside than my ranking indicates, but he drops too many easy passes for a spot in the top 15 for me.

Kony Ealy has improved his fortunes with impressive postseason showings. (USATSI)
Kony Ealy has improved his fortunes with impressive postseason showings. (USATSI)
21. DE Kony Ealy, Missouri (6-4, 273, 4.92)*: While teammate Michael Sam generates more media attention, scouts are increasingly intrigued by Ealy due to his impressive combination of size and athleticism. He led all defensive linemen at the combine with a 6.83-second time in the 3-cone drill, a test designed to show change-of-direction ability, and shaved more than a fifth of a second off of his combine 40-yard dash time (4.92) at his pro day (4.70). He remains a bit rough around the edges, but Ealy is a highly versatile defender who projects well to the 4-3 and 3-4 alike.

22. WR Brandin Cooks, Oregon State (5-10, 189, 4.33): Cooks has enjoyed quite the past six months, first winning the Biletnikoff as the nation's top receiver and then $100,000 at the combine from adidas for running the fastest 40-yard dash time for anyone wearing a pair of the company's cleats. The real winner, however, could be the NFL team that takes the dynamic athlete in the first round.

23. FS Hasean Clinton-Dix, Alabama* (6-1, 208, 4.58)*: While Pryor ranks as my top all-around player at the position, Clinton-Dix possesses the fluidity, instincts and ball-skills (seven interceptions in 19 career starts) to earn the title of the draft's best coverage safety. Clinton-Dix isn't without red-flags, however. He flashes rather than dominates and wasn't as athletic during combine drills as expected. It is also worth noting how few of Alabama's highly-regarded defensive backs have lived up to their draft status since leaving Nick Saban's tutelage.

24. WR Odell Beckham Jr., LSU (5-11, 198, 4.43)*: Given the competition he faced in the SEC, it is a testament to Beckham's athleticism that he stood out as a big-play threat throughout his career. It is the overall improved concentration and consistency he demonstrated in his first season in Cam Cameron's pro-style offense, however, that makes him such an easy projection to the NFL. Beckham's well-built frame and explosiveness make him potentially dynamic as a receiver and returner.

25. DE/OLB Demarcus Lawrence, Boise State (6-3, 251, 4.80)*: A gifted pass rusher with enough athleticism to occasionally slip inside or drop back into coverage, Lawrence is eerily reminiscent of Bruce Irvin, the Seattle Seahawks "surprise" first round pick in the 2012 draft. His length and varied pass rush skills are enough to intrigue 4-3 and 3-4 teams, alike.

26. DT Timmy Jernigan, Florida State (6-2, 299, 5.06)*: Jernigan played a critical role in the Seminoles' run to the BCS title, showing a unique burst to penetrate gaps as well as the leverage and strength to hold up against the run. He possesses a powerful frame that makes him well-suited to handling interior duties in the 4-3 or 3-4 alignment and possesses exciting upside. Only one starting season, however, makes him a gamble in the first round.

27. WR Marqise Lee, Southern Cal (6-0, 192, 4.52)*: Lee looked like a future Pro Bowler during his first two seasons at Southern Cal but a nagging left knee injury hampered him for much of the 2013 season, robbing the 2012 Biletnikoff Award winner of his trademark elusiveness and acceleration and his production plummeted as a result. When healthy, he has proven himself to be a dynamic weapon but in a draft as blessed with receiver talent as this one, Lee's stock is very much on the bubble.

28. CB Jason Verrett, TCU (5-9, 189, 4.38): Verrett lacks the size so in vogue in today's NFL, but agility and ball-skills never go out of style for cornerbacks. While light, Verrett is scrappy and tenacious, making him an ideal nickel corner with the tackling ability to threaten on an occasional blitz. Inch for inch, Verrett is the best cornerback in the 2014 draft.

29. QB Derek Carr, Fresno State (6-2, 214, 4.69): Carr's staggering production (68.2 completion percentage, 50 TDs, 8 INTs) was certainly inflated by head coach Tim DeRuyter's QB-friendly spread attack and legitimately talented receiving corps, but any questions about his talent were put to rest with a stellar Senior Bowl week and an eye-popping pro day workout. In short, there is no doubt Carr is the most gifted thrower in this year's draft class. But there are questions about his poise, in part due to the fact that he was 0-2 in bowl games with the Bulldogs.

30. DE/OLB Dee Ford, Auburn (6-2, 252, 4.67): Ford dominated the Senior Bowl with his burst off the edge and surprising power. He has also shown intriguing agility when asked to drop into coverage, making him a candidate for virtually every team in the NFL. Medical red flags were raised at the combine due to an old back injury, but he worked out quite well at his March 4 pro day.

31. OG Xavier Su'a-Filo, UCLA (6-4, 307, 5.04)*: Despite playing out of position at left tackle due to injuries to teammates, Su'a-Filo was voted the top offensive lineman in the Pac-12 by those who'd know: the conference's defensive linemen. Quick, powerful and balanced, he's equally effective driving defenders off the ball in the running game or settling in pass protection.

32. OLB Kyle Van Noy, BYU (6-3, 243, 4.71): Van Noy plays with more of a finesse rather than forceful style that will turn off some scouts but in terms of versatility and production, he ranks among the elite defenders in the entire class.

33. DE Scott Crichton, Oregon State (6-3, 274, 4.84)*: Crichton (pronounced CRY-ton) is a blue-collar pass rusher who combines initial burst off the snap, heavy hands and a high-revving motor to generate consistent pressure. Fits best as a 4-3 defensive end due to some lower body stiffness.

34. CB Bradley Roby, Ohio State (5-11, 194, 4.39)*: Roby boasts all of the athletic traits scouts are looking for including size, speed, fluidity and physicality. In terms of tools, in fact, Roby is the most intriguing corner in the class. He struggled with consistency in 2013, however, perhaps in part because he was often asked to play off coverage, negating his athleticism and aggression.

35. OT Cyrus Kouandjio, Alabama (6-5, 322, 5.59)*: Boasting a natural skill-set very similar to former teammate D.J. Fluker, Kouandjio scared off some with a poor showing in drills and in medical exams conducted at the combine. He boasts great length and functional strength, however, as well as surprising agility when blocking on the move.

36. FS Jimmie Ward, Northern Illinois (5-11, 193, 4.59): Ward starred at cornerback and safety in the MAC and proved just as athletic and instinctive while splitting time at the two positions in Senior Bowl practices. Given the NFL's increasing focus on the passing game, it isn't out of the question that Ward sneaks into the first round, despite less-than-ideal size.

37. OL Joel Bitonio, Nevada (6-4, 302, 4.97): Dominated at left tackle the past three seasons and made a seamless transition inside to guard at the Senior Bowl, impressing with his physicality and underrated athleticism. Seen by some as a poor man's Zack Martin and may join him as a first-round pick.

38. WR Donte Moncrief, Mississippi (6-2, 221, 4.40)*: Stood out against SEC competition throughout his career and wowed at the combine with his raw athleticism. Has the upside to warrant a first-round gamble but remains a better athlete than football player to this point and may require some patience.

39. OT Morgan Moses, Virginia (6-6, 314, 5.35): Played well at right tackle early in his career but enjoyed his best season after making the switch to the left side as a senior. Helped his cause with a stellar performance in Mobile, showing balance, long arms (35 5/8 inches) and strong hands to latch onto opponents.

40. DL Stephon Tuitt, Notre Dame (6-5, 304, 4.92)*: There is no questioning Tuitt's talent. He has shown a combination of size, strength and athleticism to earn comparisons to Richard Seymour from some scouts. However, there are plenty of red flags with the talented defender, not the least of which was his decision to turn pro a year early despite a disappointing junior campaign that began with him clearly playing his way into shape.

Allen Robinson offers size, speed and athleticism as one of the top wideouts available. (USATSI)
Allen Robinson offers size, speed and athleticism as one of the top wideouts available. (USATSI)
41. WR Allen Robinson, Penn State (6-2, 220, 4.60)*: Boasting size, acceleration and leaping ability, Robinson looks like a classic WCO split end -- precisely how Houston Texans head coach Bill O'Brien used him while both were with the Nittany Lions.

42. CB Kyle Fuller, Virginia Tech (6-0, 190, 4.49): Quick, instinctive and physical, Fuller may be the best zone corner in the draft. Concerns about his relatively slim build, however, could push him outside of the draft's top 32.

43. OG Gabe Jackson, Mississippi State (6-3, 336, 5.51): Like 2013 first-round pick Chance Warmack, Jackson is a mauler in the running game with surprising balance and lateral agility to mirror in pass protection.

44. WR Davante Adams, Fresno State (6-1, 212, 4.56)*: Dominated in 2013, leading the country with a staggering 24 touchdowns receptions. Adams is a broad-shouldered, physical receiver who consistently beats corners in jump-ball situations because of his size, body control and leaping ability.

45. WR Cody Latimer, Indiana (6-3, 215, 4.45)*: Intriguing developmental prospect whose experience on the basketball court shows with his fluidity, balance and soft hands. Plays with the grit that endears him to coaches, blocking well for teammates and showing rare strength at the combine (WR-leading 23 reps in the bench press).

46. OT JaWuan James, Tennessee (6-6, 311, 5.34): The best offensive lineman no one seems to be talking about; four-year starter with the length, power and agility to plug and play immediately.

47. DT Ra'Shede Hageman, Minnesota (6-6, 310, 5.02): A true gamble on greatness, Hageman (pronounced Hayg-men) is an athletic freak capable of dominating the line of scrimmage but too often disappears. Undeniable upside and scheme versatility could earn him a spot in the first round but that's too rich for me.

48. DE Marcus Smith, Louisville (6-3, 251, 4.68)*: Athletic, instinctive and aggressive edge rusher who initially signed with the Cardinals as a quarterback. Impressive fluidity to attack off the edge or drop back and is well respected for his passion and work ethic.

49. TE Troy Niklas, Notre Dame (6-6, 270, 4.84)*: A throwback tight end at his best paving lanes in the running game and serving as a security blanket rather than as a seam threat. Given a second-round grade from the Advisory Committee and may prove a better player in the pros than in college.

50. QB Jimmy Garoppolo, Eastern Illinois (6-2, 226, 4.97): Proved a man among boys at the FCS level and stunned observers by performing just as well at the East-West Shrine Game, Senior Bowl and combine. Makes quick decisions and has a snappy release, making him a nice fit in a rhythm-based offense.

51. DT Will Sutton, Arizona State (6-1, 303, 5.36)
52. OC Weston Richburg, Colorado State (6-3, 298, 5.10)
53. CB Marcus Roberson, Florida (6-0, 191, 4.61)*
54. RB Bishop Sankey, Washington (5-10, 209, 4.49)*
55. RB Tre Mason, Auburn (5-9, 207, 5-07, 207, 4.50)*
56. DE Kareem Martin, North Carolina (6-6, 272, 4.72)
57. TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Washington (6-6, 272, 4.75)*
58. DT DaQuan Jones, Penn State (6-4, 322, 5.35)
59. SS Deone Bucannon, Washington State (6-1, 211, 4.49)
60. TE Jace Amaro, Texas Tech (6-5, 265, 4.74)*

61. OC Marcus Martin, Southern Cal (6-3, 320, 5.28)*
62. WR Bruce Ellington, South Carolina (5-09, 197, 4.45)*
63. RB Carlos Hyde, Ohio State (6-0, 230, 4.66)
64. DT Ego Ferguson, LSU (6-3, 315, 6-3, 315, 4.98)*
65. ILB Carl Bradford, Arizona State (6-1, 250, 4.76)*
66. OLB Jeremiah Attaochu, Georgia Tech (6-3, 252, 4.68)
67. CB Jaylen Watkins, Florida (6-0, 194, 4.41)
68. FS Terrence Brooks, Florida State (5-11, 198, 4.42)
69. DT Dominique Easley, Florida (6-2, 288, 4.93)
70. DT Kelcy Quarles, South Carolina (6-4, 297, 5.03)*

71. CB Phillip Gaines, Rice (6-0, 193, 4.38)
72. WR Jarvis Landry, LSU (5-11, 205, 4.77)
73. WR Kelvin Benjamin, Florida State (6-5, 240, 4.61)*
74. RB Jeremy Hill, LSU (6-1, 233, 4.66)*
75. QB Aaron Murray, Georgia (6-1, 207, 4.84)
76. OT Billy Turner, North Dakota State (6-5, 315, 5.16)
77. WR Martavis Bryant, Clemson (6-4, 211, 4.42)*
78. CB/FS Lamarcus Joyner, Florida State (5-08, 184, 4.55)
79. OG David Yankey, Stanford (6-6, 315, 5.48)*
80. OG Dakota Dozier, Furman (6-4, 313, 5.42)

81. DE/OLB Trent Murphy, Stanford (6-5, 250, 4.86)
82. OLB Trevor Reilly, Utah (6-5, 245, 4.70)
83. DE Will Clarke, West Virginia (6-6, 271, 4.77)
84. WR Paul Richardson, Colorado (6-0, 175)*
85. OT Antonio Richardson, Tennessee (6-6, 336, 5.30)*
86. ILB Chris Borland, Wisconsin (6-0, 248, 4.83)
87. QB Zach Mettenberger, LSU (6-5, 224, 5.0)
88. OLB Telvin Smith, Florida State (6-3, 218, 4.52)
89. TE C.J. Fiedorowicz, 6-6, 265, 4.76)
90. RB Ka'Deem Carey, Arizona (5-09, 207, 4.70)*

91. OT Jack Mewhort, Ohio State (6-6, 309, 5.37)
92. CB Pierre Desir, Lindenwood (6-1, 198, 4.59)
93. WR Jordan Matthews, Vanderbilt (6-3, 212, 4.46)
94. CB Bashaud Breeland, Clemson (5-11, 197, 4.62)*
95. QB A.J. McCarron, Alabama (6-3, 220, 4.94)
96. RB Terrance West, Towson (5-09, 225, 4.54)*
97. QB Tom Savage, Pittsburgh (6-4, 228, 4.97)
98. RB Andre Williams, Boston College (5-11, 230, 4.56)
99. ILB Shayne Skov, Stanford (6-2, 245, 4.85)
100. CB Rashaad Reynolds, Oregon State (5-10, 189, 4.51)

Rob Rang (@RobRang) is a senior analyst for NFLDraftScout.com


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