*** Updated: Monday, May 20th ***|
The 2013 NFL Draft class lacked the kind of excitement at the top that we saw back in 2012 with Stanford's Andrew Luck and Baylor's Robert Griffin III.
The 2014 class of draft-eligible prospects will certainly generate more buzz than this year's group.
Here are my top 25 draft-eligible prospects for the 2014 NFL Draft:
1. Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina
If Clowney were eligible for the 2013 NFL Draft, he would have likely been the No. 1 overall pick. In fact, there was some debate in the media whether Clowney should sit out the 2013 college football season in order to not allow the potential for injury to risk his draft stock for 2014.
As the top recruit out of high school, Clowney has lived up to the hype since stepping on the field for the Gamecocks. During the span of his two years as a student-athlete, Clowney has 21 sacks. The only three players with more sacks during that stretch have either graduated or left early for the NFL.
Last season, he was tied for third in the nation in sacks (13.0) and second in tackles for loss (23.5).
[Related: Check out my early 2014 NFL Mock Draft.]
2. Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville
With the prototypical size (6'3" and 220 pounds) for the position, Bridgewater has all of the tools to be successful at the next level: a strong arm, intelligence, toughness and mobility.
Bridgewater, the Big East Offensive Player of the Year, led the Cardinals to an 11-2 record and a win over the Florida Gators in the Sugar Bowl.
The sophomore completed 68.5 percent of his pass attempts last year and finished with a 27-to-8 ratio of touchdowns to interceptions.
3. Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan
Lewan was a first-team AP All-American last year with Luke Joeckel, who was the No. 2 overall pick in the 2013 draft, and has the prototypical size (6-8 and 309 pounds) and athleticism to play left tackle at the next level.
4. Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M
As half of college football's best pair of bookend tackles last season, Matthews will move to the left side this year to protect Johnny Football's blind side. Some believe Matthews has the potential to be even better than Joeckel. Matthews' father Bruce was a 14-time Pro Bowler and a first-ballot Hall of Fame inductee.
5. Anthony Barr, OLB, UCLA
A converted running back from his first two seasons at UCLA, Barr flourished as a pass-rusher and finished second in the nation with 13.5 sacks in 2012. In addition, he finished tied for seventh with Texas A&M's Damontre Moore in tackles for loss (21.0). With continued development, Barr has the potential to be a top-five pick in next year's draft.
6. Bradley Roby, CB, Ohio State
Tied for third in the country in passes broken up (17) and seventh in passes defended (19), Roby was a second-team AP All-American as a sophomore and has the chance to be the top cornerback selected in the 2014 draft.
7. Marqise Lee, WR, USC
Lee, who is also a sprinter and high jumper on USC's track team, had a monster season as a sophomore as he posted his second consecutive 1,000-yard season. Lee, the Biletnikoff award winner, led the nation in receptions (118), finished second in receiving yards (1,721) and scored 14 touchdowns.
8. Cyrus Kouandjio, OT, Alabama
Playing left tackle for the most talented offensive line in the country, Kouandjio was a five-star prospect coming out of high school. Although he tore his ACL in the middle of his freshman season, Kouandjio made big strides ("leaps and bounds" as ex-teammate Chance Warmack called them) in his sophomore campaign.
9. Tajh Boyd, QB, Clemson
Boyd, the ACC Player of the Year, made nice strides as a junior. His completion percentage increased to 67.2 percent (from 59.7 percent), his yards-per-attempt average increased to 9.12 (from 7.67) and his rating increased to 165.6 (from 141.2).
10. C.J. Mosley, LB, Alabama
If he declared early and entered the 2013 draft, Mosley would have likely been a first-round pick last year. Along with Jarvis Jones and Manti Te'o, Mosley was a first-team AP All-American selection at linebacker in 2012.
Not only did Mosley lead the national champions in tackles (99) last season, but he has the versatility to play multiple spots within the linebacking corps and excels in coverage.
11. Austin Seferian-Jenkins, TE, Washington
Seferian-Jenkins is a matchup nightmare and the top tight end prospect in this year's draft class. In addition to tight end, Seferian-Jenkins has lined up at defensive end on pass-rushing situations and has also played basketball for the Huskies. He won't be playing basketball for them this season, though.
Although he was arrested for DUI back in March and is currently suspended from the team, he is expected to play this season and he has 11 months to stay out of trouble and put all of this behind him.
12. Stephon Tuitt, DE, Notre Dame
The top 3-4 defensive end in this year's draft class, Tuitt led the Irish in both sacks (12.0) and tackles for loss (13.0) last season.
13. Louis Nix, DT, Notre Dame
Strong at the point of attack, Nix was a huge reason (no pun intended) why the Irish ranked third in the nation in rushing defense. Despite his size (6-3, 340), Nix has excellent movement skills.
14. Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson
As a freshman, Watkins had 82 receptions for 1,219 yards and 12 touchdowns. His sophomore campaign was slowed by suspension and some minor injuries as he was overshadowed by teammate DeAndre Hopkins, but he has the talent to be the second receiver off the board and potentially a top-10 pick next April.
15. Jason Verrett, CB, TCU
A third-team AP All-American last year, Verrett led the Big 12 in interceptions (six) and passes defended (20). At only 5'10", Verrett does not have the ideal size and length most teams covet in cornerbacks. That said, he is an extremely smooth and fluid athlete with the ability to close and make a play on the ball.
16. David Fales, QB, San Jose State
Fales began his collegiate career at Nevada behind now-49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, but he transferred to a JUCO before ending up at San Jose State. In his first season with the Spartans, Fales threw for 4,193 yards and 33 touchdowns and completed 72.5 percent of his pass attempts.
17. Aaron Lynch, DE, South Florida
A former five-star recruit, Lynch led Notre Dame in sacks (5.5) as a true freshman in 2011. After transferring to South Florida to be closer to home, he sat the 2012 season out, but he has the potential to be a top-10 pick in 2014.
18. David Yankey, OT, Stanford
Yankey was a second-team AP All-American and winner of the Morris Trophy, best offensive lineman in the Pac 12, last season as a left tackle. He will move back inside to guard for Stanford this season and has played four of the five offensive line positions.
Stanford offensive line coach Mike Bloomgren has called Yankey the "best pulling offensive lineman in the country."
19. Jackson Jeffcoat, DE, Texas
Jeffcoat, the son of former Cowboys defensive end Jim Jeffcoat, saw his 2013 season end prematurely after he tore his pectoral muscle. Over his past 13 games (final seven games of 2012 and first six games last year), Jeffcoat has a total of 24 tackles for loss and 12 sacks.
20. Kyle Van Noy, LB, BYU
Especially after closing out the season with a dominant performance that included two defensive touchdowns in the Poinsettia Bowl, it was a bit of surprise that Van Noy returned to school for his senior season. Last year, Van Noy finished fourth in the nation in tackles for loss (22.0), tied for third in sacks (13.0) and tied for second in forced fumbles (six).
21. Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, CB, Oregon
Ekpre-Olomu was a third-team All-American that ranked sixth in the country in passes defended (20) to go with his four interceptions including one returned for a score. In addition, he was tied for the lead in the Pac 12 with six forced fumbles last year.
22. Loucheiz Purifoy, CB, Florida
With good size (6-1 and 189 pounds), Purifoy is an athletic corner that will be used as a two-way player in 2013. Gators coach Will Muschamp recently said, "Loucheiz is going to be a corner for us, but, at the end of the day, we've got to create a role for him because he is an explosive guy. He makes plays with the ball in his hands. He has tremendous ball skills."
23. Trent Murphy, DE/OLB, Stanford
A first-team All-Pac 12 choice at linebacker in 2012, Murphy had 10.0 sacks and 18.0 tackles for loss, both of which led the Cardinal defense.
24. Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M
With the success last season of Russell Wilson, who slipped to the third-round due to his height (5-10), Manziel has a shot of a being a first-rounder in 2014. Manziel, the first freshman Heisman Trophy winner, is listed at 6-1 and 200 pounds, but he set the SEC record for most yards with 3,706 passing yards and 1,410 rushing yards. In fact, he led all players in rushing — both yards and touchdowns (21) — in the SEC.
25. Adrian Hubbard, OLB, Alabama
As a sophomore in 2012, Hubbard led the Crimson Tide in sacks (7.0) and tackles for loss (11.0). With excellent length and athleticism, Hubbard has the potential to take a big step forward in 2013.
Check out our early 2014 NFL Mock Draft. For more mocks, check out our 2014 NFL Mock Draft Database.
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