We're passionate about the NFL Draft
By Dwayne Wilton
As the 2014 season approaches, I thought it would be fun to forecast the top five players at each position going into the season. It’s always interesting to go back after the season and see how many players that we thought were good had the type of season that would keep them in the top five rankings. This week I will start with the offensive players.
Analysis: Marcus Mariota may be the most dynamic quarterback in the country. He is a very good runner and an underrated passer. Mariota is the trigger man of one of the most dangerous attacks in the country, so he should put up big numbers. Jameis Winston is the reigning Heisman Trophy winner and led the country in passer rating. He is big, mobile and has a big arm. A few of his weapons left for the NFL, but he still has plenty of options to move the ball. Brett Hundley needs work on his footwork, but there is no denying his talent. UCLA has become a more dangerous team since he took over as the quarterback. Bryce Petty is in the second year of a high octane attack at Baylor. He threw for over 4,200 yards last year, so he should be much better this year. Sean Mannion was leading the country in touchdowns early in the year before tapering off towards the end. He doesn’t have great size, but he puts up good numbers.
Analysis: Todd Gurley is the real deal. He is the perfect combination of size and speed. If Gurley can stay healthy, he should easily be the first back taken. Melvin Gordon split carries with James White last year and still managed to gain to rush for more than 1,600 yards and 10 TD. Gordon will be “the man” this year, but will need to prove he can take the additional pounding. Mike Davis is a dark horse for the Heisman. He will be asked to carry the load for the Gamecocks. Davis has good size and should get more than 200 carries again this year. T.J. Yeldon is another big back that can break away once he gets into space. Yeldon should split carries with Derrick Henry and Kenyan Drake, so he should have less wear on his body. Duke Johnson is an explosive running back that can get you tough yards between the tackles or bounce it outside.
Analysis: Amari Cooper had a big freshman year. Last year, his numbers were down a bit, but he played hurt for most of the year. If he is healthy this year, he should bounce back to his freshman form where he was a deep threat for the Crimson Tide. Jaelen Strong is a big, physical receiver that knows how to use his size to create mismatches. He is the type of receiver that every NFL team wants. DeVante Parker has led Louisville in receptions the past two seasons. He runs very nice routes and has good body control and footwork. Ty Montgomery went from a very good return man to a 2nd team All-American receiver in 2013. He is dangerous in space and has breakaway speed. Rashad Greene has been the leading receiver for the Seminoles for three years straight. Each season, he has increased his receptions. Now that Kelvin Benjamin is gone, Greene should get even more opportunities in 2014.
Analysis: Devin Funchess is a big 6’5” 230 pound specimen. He is a big target that can also break tackles and get extra yardage after the catch. Funchess had 49 receptions in 2013 and with Jeremy Gallon gone, look for that to increase this year. Nick O’Leary is a scrappy tight end that does it all. He is good at both blocking and receiving. O’Leary is a versatile player that can line up as an inline tight end or go in motion. He is a dependable route runner that excels at moving the sticks. Tyler Kroft has good size and led the Scarlet Knights in receptions and receiving yards in his first year as a starter. He does a good job when he’s in motion and on the move. Clive Walford is a tough matchup. He is too fast for linebackers and too big for corners. He’s not a great blocker and he needs to improve his concentration, but he is one of the better tight ends available in the 2015 draft. The top five ranking on Koyack is based more on potential than production. In the last two years, the Fighting Irish have sent Tyler Eifert and Troy Niklas to the NFL. Now it is Koyack’s turn to impress. He is a good blocker with soft hands and he should be the security blanket for quarterback Everett Golson.
Analysis: Jalston Fowler is a load at 250 pounds. He is a devastating lead blocker and was even used at times to milk the clock or to move the sticks in short yardage situations. Derek Watt is the younger brother of Texans defensive lineman J.J. Watt. Younger brother Derek plays with a lot of the same intensity. Zach Zwinak is a versatile player that could either be a running back or fullback. He has the build of a fullback, but he has led the Nittany Lions in rushing the past two seasons. Hunter Joyer is a physical lead blocker. Joyer was a big part of the success of running Mike Gillislee two years ago. He is strictly a blocker and is not a threat rushing or receiving. Tyler Cierski is the same type of player as Joyer. He had a good 2012 season as a lead blocker, but he only played in 5 games last season.
Analysis: Brandon Scherff is a competitive beast at left tackle. Scherff is a freak in the weight room and has a very strong lower body. He is just a flat out nasty run blocker and does a good job in pass protection also. Another year, another Aggie left tackle in the top five. Cedric Ogbuehi follows in the tradition of Luke Joeckel and Jake Matthews, both 1st round picks and Ogbuehi should be as well. David Yankey was an All-American at Stanford as a left tackle in 2012. He was moved last year to guard. Why? To make room for Andrus Peat. Peat is a massive 6’7” 312 left tackle with a huge wingspan. He has the body type that every NFL team craves. Cameron Erving is a big, athletic left tackle. He was a 1st team All-American last season and decided to return to hone his craft. La’el Collins is an aggressive tackle that has strong hands. Once he gets his hands on a defender, it’s usually over. At times he gets too aggressive and defenders can use that against him, but that is coachable.
Analysis: Tre Jackson is a three year starter. He is a road grader in the run game, but he is also surprisingly nimble at getting to the second level to block linebackers. Vadal Alexander has massive size and he has slimmed down a bit in the offseason to improve his mobility. He is best as a road grader and can struggle when asked to pull or protect against speed rushers. A.J. Cann goes into his 4th year as a starter and has only missed one game in his career. Cann is the catalyst in the run game and is a big reason for the success of Mike Davis in the rushing game. Josue Matias teams with Cameron Erving to give the Seminoles a dominating left side of the offensive line. Matias is better at run blocking than in pass protection, but he is improving on protecting the quarterback. Laken Tomlinson anchored an offensive line that set school records in several categories. He is an experienced player that is starting his 4th season as the starter.
Analysis: Reese Dismukes anchored an offensive line for a record setting offense for the Tigers in 2013. He has a short center of gravity and plays with good knee bend and good feet. Hroniss Grasu is a player that uses his quickness to his advantage. At times he gets confused on blitzes but that can be corrected with coaching. Isaac Seumalo is a squatty, powerful player that is entering his 3rd year as a starter. He has good feet that allow him to pull and get into space to open up holes. Mike Matthews is part of the NFL Matthews family that includes, Clay, Bruce and Jake. He will be a big key to the Aggies offensive line now that Jake has moved on the NFL. Playing offensive line is the genes of the Matthews family and Mike continues that tradition. B.J. Finney does a good job in both run blocking and pass protection. He is a former walk-on that transformed himself into a Freshman All-American and two time All-Big 12 selection.
If you like what you read, like us on Facebook and tell your friends. Next week we will be looking at the top 5 at each defensive position. See you next Wednesday!