It ain't easy bein cheesy.

2015 Matriculator Countdown

           4,3,2,1, earth below us.  Drifting, falling, floating weightless. Some people just don't get it. Year after year they fail to heed to advice of their elders.  As with every year we've done the countdown we have destroyed, objectively speaking, not only every draft pundit, but every NFL team.  In 2014 we called #12 overall pick Aaron Donald the prospect of the decade.  He won the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year and was the highest graded defensive tackle (according to PFF) in the NFL.  If the Atlanta Falcons had heeded our draft analysis they would have drafted the best defensive tackle in the history of the franchise with the #6 pick instead of Jake Matthews, who graded out as the worst tackle in the NFL.  We wish it were some other way. Believe you me it ain't easy bein' cheesy.  People also get upset with us when we say Peyton Manning is the worst post-season quarterback in NFL history.  It's just a fact damnit!  If you don't want to hear the facts just turn on Fox "News".

           In 2011 we had five players in our top 15 that didn't get drafted in the top fifteen.  They would finish, in a redraft, as five of the top ten players. Remember that guy we had at #12?  He didn't get drafted until the second round.  He's played in 27 career games and led his team to an NFC Championship and a Super Bowl in back to back seasons. Goes by CK.  And then there was the last pick in the second round who we had rated at #15, Randall Cobb.  2012 we had 4 guys in the first round that no scouting service on the web or in the NFL had as first rounders.  Our ranking that year is the greatest single scouting analysis since the Steelers 1974 draft.  T.Y. Hilton was the 13th receiver selected and went in the third round.  We had him as the 7th overall player.  He's been the NFL's best receiver drafted in the past two years and is already one of the NFL's top 20 receivers.  We also had 2nd round pick Lavonte David rated 10th overall.  He has outproduced every defensive player drafted in the last two years including his more ballyhooed top ten pick Luke Kuechly. We rated 2nd round pick Keleche Osemele as a first rounder.  He was the Ravens dominant offensive lineman in 2012 and yes, that was him starting at guard and winning a Super Bowl as a rookie.  Then there was this third round cat named Russell Wilson who we, and only we, had rated as a first rounder. You might know him as the NFL's best player.  The guy drafted in the third round who is the only quarterback in NFL history to post a 100+ passer rating in his first two seasons.  Not Johnny Unitas or Peyton Manning or Drew Brees or Joe Montana.  Two years ago we raised some eyebrows when we rated Sheldon Richardson as the top defensive player in the draft.  He finished second in the Defensive Rookie of the Year balloting though he was not only the best rookie, but one of the top five defensive players in the entire NFL. Anyway, we'll stop beating a dead Bronco. This year we have at least 5 players not in anyone else's first round.  We'll be correct again we suspect, but who's counting.  We wish we could just throw our analysis one year, but it's not in our genes. So without further adieu, and we've already had a doo thank you, here is the list every NFL GM now awaits with baited breath.    We include in parantheses the player's ranking on Daniel Jeremiah's top 50 list, Rotoworld's top 50 and CBS Draft Scout top 50 ranking.

The Matriculator's Top 40 Players in the 2014 NFL Draft

The Matriculator's Top 32 Players in the 2013 NFL Draft

The Matriculator's Top 32 Players in the 2012 NFL Draft

The Matriculator's Top 15 Players in the 2011 NFL Draft

 

    Click Here to See Players 21-40 in the Countdown

20. Laken Tomlinson- G, Duke

Tomlinson is huge, but his forte is actually the pass game.  He's also good as a run blocker.  He reminds us of Larry Warford a few years ago, and we expect him to be a plug and play starter from day one.  (DJ N/R, CBS N/R, Roto N/R)

19. Davis Tull- LB/DE, Chattanooga

Tull checks in at 6'2", 245 pounds and produced at the high end of the spectrum at the Combine with a Combine best 42-inch vertical as well as an impressive 26 reps of 225 and 11 foot broad jump.  He was dominant in the Southern Conference, winning the SoCon Defensive Player of the Year for three consecutive seasons. He was unblockable against inferior competition. There will be a learning curve for Tull coming from such a small school,  but we expect him to become a starter and impact player by year two.  Tull is not ranked in the top 100 by any of the other services. (DJ N/R, CBS N/R, Rotoworld N/R).

18. Phillip Dorsett- WR, Miami

Dorsett, like a number of NFL prospects at Miami, didn't seem to maximize his talent under Al Golden.  Dorsett led the Hurricanes in receiving as a sophomore and was on fire as a junior before injuring his knee.  He returned for his senior year in 2014 and only had 36 receptions, but averaged 24 YPC and scored 10 touchdowns.  He will enter the NFL as one of the league's fastest players and will be a big play waiting to happen. (DJ 47, CBS N/R, Roto N/R).

17.  Brandon Scherff- G/T, Iowa

Scherff is a mauler in the run game and brings an attitude that we think elevates his value above his grade.  He's also versatile as he can fill in at tackle if needed.  He will need to develop more as a pass blocker to become truly elite, but we see a Mike Iupati-like future.  (DJ 18, CBS 8, Roto 12).

16. Byron Jones- CB, Connecticut

Jones broke the world record in the broad jump at the Combine, which sent many a pundicator to the tape.  He looks impressive on tape and has experience at both safety and cornerback.  He finished with 222 career tackles and 8 interceptions so he's not simply a Combine wonder.  (DJ 45, CBS 44, Roto N/R).

15. Nelson Agholor-WR, USC

We have never been high on USC receivers, but with Agholor we like him better than most.  He's a polished route runner with great speed and good hands, but more importantly we like his attitude.  He is reportedly one of the hardest workers in this draft class which is a rare quality for a USC player.  (DJ 32, CBS 46, Roto N/R).

14. DeVante Parker- WR, Louisville

Parker checks off all of the boxes.  He's got good size (6'3", 208), good speed (4.45) and strength (17 reps) and he was very productive (33 TDs and 18 YPC).  We think he's going to be a very good NFL receiver.  Because he probably won't be selected in the top 5 picks, he has a chance to be better than Kevin White and Amari Cooper early in his career (because in theory he should have a better quarterback), but he doesn't have the qualities of a true number one NFL receiver when we watch his film.  He's not good enough to garner the A.J. Green comparisons he's been getting.  He's probably somewhere between Green and Michael Crabtree. (DJ 8, CBS 13, Roto 26).

13. Ereck Flowers- OT, Miami

We must admit we hate to have tackles this high on our Board unless we are overwhelmed by their tape.  Flowers tape is excellent against every opponent besides Randy Gregory.  He's huge (6'6", 329) and incredibly strong (37 reps), but sometimes he relies on those physical gifts rather than technique.  He's excellent at getting to the second level in the run game, but right now he's only average as a pass blocker.  What we like most about him is his attitude and effort.  At a minimum we think he's an elite right tackle.  (DJ 27, CBS 18, Roto 49).

12.  Randy Gregory- DE, Nebraska

Gregory would be about 5 spots higher on our Board had he not smoked a million dollar joint.  While the NFL punishment for marijuana has been lessened, the fact that Gregory tested positive twice during the 2014 college season and at the Combine is a real concern.  See Josh Gordon. As a prospect, Gregory has elite movement skills though with his thin waist and small lower body we have concerns about him holding up against the run as a 4-3 end. As a 3-4 rush linebacker where he operates in space, we think he could be a star.  (DJ 11, CBS 15, Roto 3).

11. Shane Ray- DE, Missouri

We struggle with having Ray both this high and this low.  His tape is great, but he reportedly injured his foot (and may need surgery), and he had a slower than expected forty time at his pro-day.  Was the slow forty time the result of an injury or is he just not that fast?  Either answer isn't that appealing.  And then of course he went and smoked a million dollar joint only days before the draft.  If his foot heals and he stays out of trouble, we think he should be the elite pass rusher in this draft class.  That's a lot of ifs and without accurate medical information we don't know how much to ding him for the foot injury.  (DJ 6, CBS 23, Roto 20).

10.  Todd Gurley- RB, Georgia

If Gurley hadn't suffered two knee injuries, he would be the top rated player in this draft.  He's fast and physical with great vision. He's a foundational type player with a skill set reminiscent of Adrian Peterson and Marshawn Lynch.  He's so good that in spite of his injury history and the fact that he might open his rookie campaign on the PUP list, he's still going to be a first round pick. (DJ 12, CBS 14, Roto 5).

9. Danny Shelton- DT, Washington

Shelton won't generate the buzz because he plays the least glamorous position on the defense.  Ndamakong Suh's and Haloti Ngata's contracts speak to the value of having a player who can clog the middle, and Shelton can surely do that at around 350 pounds. Shelton will probably be more like Ngata than Suh because he won't generate consistent pressure as a pass rusher.  His 90+ tackles and 25.5 BFS in 2014 are incredible numbers for a man his size.  If he posts 50+ tackles and 5 sacks as a rookie he will have been worthy of a top 10 pick.  (DJ 9, CBS 10, Roto 23).

8.  Dante Fowler- DE, Florida

We have heard a steady diet of, "Fowler is the safest prospect in this draft."  We agree on some level, but we're not a fan of taking "safe" prospects in the top five.  Last year the safe pick (who all three pundicators had ranked as the 5th overall prospect) was Jake Mathews who was drafted 6th overall.  We didn't have him in the top ten.  He graded out as one of the worst tackles in the NFL.  Fowler should  be a very good player which is why we have him in our top ten.  He's big enough to hold up against the run and should be a good, not great, pass rusher.  We like to see BFS (backfield stops a/k/a tackles for loss plus sacks) at 30 or above and Fowler only posted 14 and 23.5 his last two years.  (DJ 4, CBS 4, Roto 19).

7.  Vic Beasley- DE, Clemson

Beasley has a little of Bruce Irvin and Dee Ford in him, and that's not good.  Like the aforementioned, he didn't post significant tackle numbers and that tends to mean pass rushing specialist only.  If he doesn't develop the ability to stop the run than this is too high for him, even if he is a great pass rusher.  Beasley added about 15 pounds after the college season ended and certainly looks like a player who could hold up against the run.  It might be a question of motivation more than anything.  He could be an elite, Cameron Wake type who generates 10-15 sacks a year and draws a constant double team.  That upside is too much to ignore. (DJ 16, CBS 6, Roto 10).

6.  Jake Fisher- OT, Oregon

Fisher is a doppleganger for Lane Johnson as a prospect.  Other than Johnson's spectacular 4.70 forty (Fisher was about 5.00), they tested similar and are the same size.  Fisher has elite movement skills for a big man.  He will occasionally make a mistake and get beat, but the rest of the time he is mauling his competition.  He's got a nasty demeanor and there aren't many NFL players who have that in this era.  Like Brandon Scherff, we think his value may be higher than his grade because of the toughness he brings.  When Joey Bosa flattened Marcus Mariota in the National Championship game it was Fisher who got the personal foul.  (DJ 45, CBS 33, Roto 25).

5. Amari Cooper- WR, Alabama

Cooper is one of the safer picks in the draft.  He's got good size and speed (6'1", 210, 4.42) and he's had a very productive career at Alabama.  He's a polished route runner with great hands, and while we don't see him as a top 5 receiver in the NFL, we expect him to come in and be productive immediately.  Look for several 1,000-yard seasons before his rookie contract expires. (DJ 3, CBS 4, Roto 9).

4.  Cameron Erving- C, Florida State

Erving is versatile enough that he could step in at left tackle if needed and be serviceable.  As a center, however, we expect him to start day one and earn a few pro bowls before his rookie contract expires.  (DJ 40, CBS 24, Roto 41).

 

3.  Leonard Williams- DT, USC

Statistically he's superior to every interior player besides Danny Shelton, but keep in mind for both of them that there aren't many starting-caliber NFL lineman in the Pac-10.  Still, it's hard to ignore Williams ability at 6'5', 310 pounds to shed blockers.  His only real negative is a slow first step, but that should be correctable and the comparisons to Richard Seymour are valid.  (DJ 1, CBS 3, Roto 3).

2.  Kevin White- WR, West Virginia

White and Amari Cooper are about the same size, but White plays a much more physical game than Cooper.  We think White is better suited to be a true number because of that.  He wins at the catch point, has break away speed and great hands.  (DJ2, CBS 7, Roto 8).

1.  Marcus Mariota- QB, Oregon

Mariota is quiet and doesn't project as much confidence as Winston, but his teammates say he's a tremendous leader.  He only lost a few games in three years at Oregon and almost delivered them their first National Championship.  He can run, he's got a solid NFL arm and he takes care of the ball.  He will not be as good in a traditional drop back, pocket passer offense, but any offensive coordinator should be able to tailor a system that allows him to take advantage of his skills.  (DJ 7, CBS 3, Roto 1).