Top 32 NFL draft prospects for 2014
Jadeveon Clowney remains at No. 1. Plus, a new QB, plenty of DTs and more
With the 2013 season just around the corner, we have a Top 32 that has shifted just a bit since our last Top 32.
South Carolina's Jadeveon Clowney is still No. 1. This is no surprise at the top as he probably would have been No. 1 had he been eligible to be drafted in 2013. Of non-QBs, Clowney has the highest preseason ranking I have ever given a player. He is one of 17 defensive players -- defensive tackles (five) and defensive ends (four) dominate -- in our Top 32. On the offensive side, we have five tackles, three QBs (none named Manziel) and three tight ends on the list, with Louisville's Teddy Bridgewater retaining his spot at No. 2 overall.
As usual, draft-eligible non-seniors are denoted with an asterisk.
Analysis: Clowney would have been the No. 1 overall pick in this year's draft, and he's the clear favorite to be the top pick in 2014. He possesses a rare blend of size, athleticism, upper-body power and playmaking instincts. I'd like to see him improve his lower-body strength and play with more consistent leverage, but Clowney was unblockable when playing at full strength last season. His tape from the Georgia game is one of the most dominant individual defensive performances I've seen in recent years.
Analysis: Bridgewater has a quick release, above-average accuracy and is a good athlete who can buy time and pick up the occasional first down with his feet. He's at his best in the pocket, though, from where he can pick apart defenses with his brain and arm. He sees the entire field and does not get stuck on his primary target. Bridgewater is also tough -- he played through a wrist injury in 2012 -- and has the right temperament for the position.
Analysis: Nix is a massive nose tackle with the size and strength to be a two-gap plugger in the NFL. He was one of the only Notre Dame defenders who consistently held his own against Alabama in the national title game, and the Fighting Irish were not nearly as effective against the run when he was out of the lineup. Nix also shows surprising quickness and agility for his size.
Analysis: Lee is a burner with big-play ability both as a vertical route runner and after the catch. He showed the ability in 2012 to consistently separate from double coverage, and, while you'd like to see him get a little stronger, there's no doubting his competitiveness. Lee is the top draft-eligible wide receiver prospect entering the 2013 season and projects as a top-10 pick.
Analysis: Kouandjio developed into a complete left tackle last season and still has room for improvement. He has the frame and feet to excel in the NFL and is ready to follow in the footsteps of former teammates Chance Warmack (Tennessee Titans) and D.J. Fluker (San Diego Chargers), who were selected 10th and 11th overall, respectively, in the 2013 draft.
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