Top 32 prospects for 2014 draft
Clowney maintains No. 1 spot, but a pair of top prospects slide in rankings
With two weeks of college football games in the books, we've updated our ranking of the top 32 prospects for the 2014 NFL draft.
Although there hasn't been a ton of movement out of the gate, a trio of top prospects slid in the rankings based on early performances, and three new names joined the list. Jadeveon Clowney maintains his No. 1 ranking based on some strong early play, overcoming some unfair criticism and expectations (more on that in a bit).
Note: The scouting reports will largely stay the same for each edition of these rankings, but we'll update as needed based on recent performances and upcoming matchups.
Draft-eligible non-seniors are noted with an asterisk.
Analysis: Clowney has taken some criticism for his play through the first two weeks, but I think the expectations being set for him are unrealistic. We're so used to the TV cameras focusing on the stars who touch the football on every play and fill up the highlight reel, and that's not how it works for defensive linemen. If you really go back and study the numbers, the impact he has made on the field through two weeks ranks up there with any defensive player in the country. And that's while dealing with brutal heat in the opener against UNC and double- and triple-teams on almost every snap in both games (when the offenses weren't firing off quick throws or running the play away from him altogether). There's not a defensive player in the country physically capable of doing a better job under those circumstances than Clowney did in those two games. He remains the best prospect on this list and the favorite to be the No. 1 pick in 2014, and he possesses a rare blend of size, athleticism, upper-body power and playmaking instincts.
Analysis: Bridgewater has started the 2013 season on fire (albeit against less-than-stellar competition), solidifying himself as the top quarterback prospect at this point in the season (he has a 96.8 QBR through two weeks). He 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, picking 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 and has the right temperament for the position.
Analysis: Nix was double-teamed often against Michigan, but I thought he still played well. He 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.
To read Todd McShay's full ranking of the top 32 prospects for the 2014 NFL draft, you must be an ESPN Insider.
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