Winter is coming.

BACK TO PROSPECTS 1-20

40.  Blake Bortles- QB, Central Florida  (SI 15, CBS 6, DJ 19)

The most consistent comment we hear about Bortles is that he is "big" and "looks like an NFL quarterback."  There are about a half dozen guys in the last few years that fit that description, all of whom we said weren't first round picks and none of whom are starting any longer.  Remember Blame Gabbert?  How about Christian Ponder and Brandon Weeden and Jake Locker? Oopsy daisy.  Bortles certainly looks the part and his best attribute is that when posing for a picture he bears a striking resemblance to Andrew Luck.  He's big and strong and should be durable, but Blame Gabbert was pretty durable.  So was Ryan Leaf and David Carr.  Gabbert Bortles has an average arm and we don't like his mechanics or his ability to read safeties.  In 2013 besides three games against the UConn's of the world, he had 14 touchdowns and 10 picks.  Those are the numbers of a guy who shouldn't be drafted at all.  We agree he has plenty to work with but guys who are drafted in the top ten aren't given that time to develop, and he needs some time.  As a second rounder we're all for him.  As a top 10 pick, he's a franchise killer.

39.  Louis Nix- DT, Notre Dame  (SI 12, CBS 25, DJ 28)

Nix has the size at 6'2", 340 pounds, to play nose tackle in a 3-4 for defensive tackle in a 4-3.  He also has nice feet.  Only bench pressing 24 reps at his weight is a concern as is his injury history and a sub-par 2013 campaign.  Oftentimes the jumbos get better as they get older (usually on someone else's team) which is another reason we would hesitate to take him in the first round.

38.  Tajh Boyd- QB, Clemson  (SI N/R,  CBS 298, DJ N/R)

Had Boyd entered the draft in 2012, we would have had him as our top prospect.  He owns the ACC single season touchdown record (38), he's won the ACC Championship MVP, the Chic-Fila Bowl MVP, the ACC Player of the Year and has been a First team All-American.  His passing stats rival Johnny Manziel's and are significantly better over his career than Blake Bortles'.  He's also a great runner.  He's had a terrible off season which is why we have thrown the brakes on, a little, since the season ended.  He was bad at the Senior Bowl and bad at the Combine but the guy's a gamer with years of quality performances that should preempt his recent foibles.

37.  Kony Ealy- DE, Missouri  (SI 29, CBS 35, DJ 31)

We are one of the few scouts who don't think Ealy is a first rounder.  Everyone gushes about his athleticism and though he looks a little quicker on tape, he didn't test well at the Combine throwing up a 4.92 forty at 270 pounds.  He didn't really have a monster year at Missouri until 2013.  He should be an effective player and a starter, but we don't see stardom in his future.

36.  Jimmie Ward- S, N. Illinois (SI 64, CBS 41, DJ 45)

Ward is a fluid athlete with the ability to change direction that few defensive backs have.  He's had a highly productive career but we are concerned about injuries as he is slightly built and only benched 225, 9 times.  He's listed as a strong safety even though he's under 200 pounds.  We like him as a free safety with nice up side.

35.  Gabe Jackson- G, Mississippi St.  (SI 45, CBS 73, DJ N/R)

Jackson is huge at 6'3", 335 pounds and while he's not a great athlete he's almost impossible to move making him a perfect fit for a power running team.  He reminds us of Larry Warford who has already developed into one of the NFL's best interior players.

34.  Kelvin Benjamin- WR, Florida State  (SI 24, CBS 56, DJ 25)

Benjamin has had the benefit of two first round quarterbacks throwing to him and with his measurables (6'5", 240, 4.61 forty) you would expect to see monster numbers which he finally produced in 2013 with 1,000+ yards  and 15 touchdowns.  He has a penchant for the moment and at a minimum should be a red zone beast with the upside of Vincent Jackson.

33.  Morgan Moses- OT, Virginia  (SI 37, CBS 37, DJ 29)

Moses certainly looks the part and Virginia has the best recent history of producing NFL ready left tackles.  He's got great feet when moving side to side and there is more than enough to work with, but he is far from a finished product at times struggling to stay on balance and absolutely brutal (that's brutally bad) at the second level.  He will need to go to the correct team if he is to ever reach his high ceiling.

32.  Xavier Sua-Filo- G, UCLA  (SI 27, CBS 36, DJ 46)

Sua-Filo wins over all draftees in the "oddest shaped body" category.  He looks like a pear.  When he moves around on the field, however, he looks like a star.  He's agile and physical and delivers when he gets on his man.  He played left tackle at UCLA and could probably get the job done there in the NFL if he was asked.  We like his versatility and his tenacity and would be surprised if he wasn't a good starter as a rookie.

31.  Bradley Roby- CB, Ohio State  (SI 51, CBS 32, DJ 27)

Roby is in the same category as Benjamin, Moses and Ebron.  He has ability worthy of a top ten pick but....*  Roby's asterisk is mainly related to consistency.  If he stays healthy he should be a solid, if not spectacular, #1 corner with decent size.

30. Jeremiah Attaochu- DE, Georgia Tech  (SI N/R, CBS 48, DJ N/R)

This pick was originally Tre Mason but some late injury news has sent him to the rail. Athletically Attaochu is as gifted as any player in this draft, including Jadeveon Clowney.  He's 6'3", 255 pounds and he reportedly ran in the high 4.5's and posted a 37.5 inch vertical.  His 1.55 ten yard split was the best of any linebacker, though we think he's best suited as a hand in the dirt 4-3 defensive end.  Attaochu's athletic ability translated to the field where he leaves as Georgia Tech's all time sack leader.  He's nowhere near being ready to play outside linebacker in the NFL so he's not scheme versatile.  He's also still rough around the edges and undisciplined at times.  If he isn't asked to do too much we expect him to be a force in the passing game, though we wouldn't be surprised if it takes at least a year for him to develop.

29.  Anthony Barr- DE, UCLA  (SI 6, CBS 12, DJ 6)

We seem to be comparing a number of defensive players to Bruce Irvin and Barr joins that list, but with a caveat.  Barr shows flashes of being a complete player, he's simply far too inconsistent when taking on blocks.  Also, we don't like players who didn't physically dominate in the Pac-10.  He's like a number of the players we have late first round grades on who have the physical ability to be top 10 picks but are not finished products.

28.  Taylor Lewan- OT, Michigan  (SI 18, CBS 8, DJ 10)

There is a lot to like about Lewan and in spite of a down year in 2013 we think he will be a good lineman.  He won't be great which is why we have him here in our countdown.  He plays with a mean streak that we love and his athletic ability shows up on tape in pass protection.  As a run blocker he's mediocre and best suited for a zone blocking scheme.

27.  Cody Latimer- WR, Indiana  (SI N/R, CBS 31, DJ N/R)

Latimer is the draft's fastest riser and for good reason.  He's big (6'3", 215), fast (4.44) and strong (23 reps).  He was productive for two years (1,900 yards and 15 touchdowns) and with a high ceiling he should attract first round interest.

26.  Zack Martin- OT, Notre Dame (SI  21, CBS 16, DJ 22)

Martin's profile is a lot like Riley Reiff's a few years ago.  He's a scrappy competitor who was a successful left tackle in college but projects to guard in the NFL because of short arms.  We think Martin is a better prospect than Reiff, but there is still a projection involved and a guard isn't as valuable as a tackle.  We have a suspicion that he could play right tackle in the NFL but what is certain is that his versatility will attract a team in the first round.

25.  Ha Ha Clinton Dix- S, Alabama (SI 23, CBS 17, DJ 16)

It is always more difficult to evaluate Alabama defensive players than players from other schools.  Oftentimes the Alabama defender isn't asked to do as much because he is surrounded by All-Americans.  Those All-Americans can also cover up weaknesses in a player. Clinton-Dix has the size and speed combo that a great safety needs to be successful.  He's a willing hitter who is solid in coverage.  The reason we have him a little lower than most people is, ironically, Nick Saban.  The coach who everyone lauds as a defensive back's guru.  He may be a guru in college but his star defensive backs have been notable flops thus far in the NFL.  All of them.  None of Kareem Jackson, Javier Arenas, Mark Barron, Dre Kirkpatrick or Dee Milliner have lived up to their lofty draft position.  We sense Clinton-Dix will be good, but we don't see greatness.

24.  Darqueze Dennard- CB, Michigan St.  (SI 11, CBS 14, DJ 20)

We like Dennard, just not quite as much as most people.  He has some of the characteristics of Darrelle Revis but he's not as explosive an athlete.  He's sometimes overly physical which we expect will draw some penalties at the next level.  He, like several other corners in this class, is a very good, willing tackler who should thrive if he goes to a black and blue division like the AFC North.

23.  Jace Amaro- TE, Texas Tech  (SI 26, CBS 38, DJ 36)

The only reason Amaro isn't rated in the top 10 is that he has an injury history and there are rumors that he's a bit of a knucklehead.  Amaro is 6'5", 260 and has good, not great speed at 4.74.  He's at the very high end of any tight end to ever come out of college in terms of hands and route running.  As a sophomore he was on pace to become the NCAA all-time single season leader in receptions and receiving yards before getting injured.  He averaged over 16 yards per catch.  He came back his junior year and proceeded to break the single season receiving record with over 1,352 yards, including 6-100 yard games.  He's probably the next Jason Witten and with the emphasis on tight end in the NFL he should be a top-20 pick. 

 

22.  Jason Verrett- CB, TCU   (SI 28, CBS 29, DJ 37)

Verrett's main limitation is his size at 5'9", 189.  He makes up for that with high end pound for pound strength (19 reps of 225 pounds), elite speed (4.38) and leaping ability (39.5).  He looks like the next Brent Grimes and and we expect him to be a day one starter.

21.  C.J. Mosley- LB, Alabama  (SI 7, CBS 22, DJ 9)

Mosley has everything necessary to be a sideline to sideline beast at the next level.  He's big, fast and has good instincts.   As a prospect he probably deserves to be a little higher than this but his positional value and injury history (which we frown upon even more with regard to Alabama players) places him just outside of the top 20.