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Old 02-13-2014, 01:47 PM  
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WF Position Reviews

By far my favorite thing about that site:

http://walterfootball.com/draft2014positionreviewOT.php

2014 NFL Draft Position Review: Offensive Tackles
Charlie lays out an overview at the top players from each position for the 2014 NFL Draft. For further information, check out our in-depth analysis of 2014 NFL Draft Prospects by Position.
By Charlie Campbell.

Position Review: Offensive Tackles

Offensive Tackle Class
Early-round talent: A+
Mid-round: B+
Late-round: B-
Overall grade: A

2014 prospects vs 2013
Jake Matthews > Eric Fisher
Greg Robinson > Luke Joeckel
Taylor Lewan < Lane Johnson
Zack Martin < D.J. Fluker
Antonio Richardson < Justin Pugh
Cyrus Kouandjio > Menelik Watson
Morgan Moses > Terron Armstead
James Hurst < Brennan Williams

This year's draft class has a stronger group of tackles than the 2013 class, and that is saying something considering five went in the top-20 picks of the first round last year, including the No. 1-overall pick, No. 2-overall pick and the No. 4-overall pick. However, the 2013 draft class was weak, and those players were pushed higher as a result. The 2014 class has more talented tackle prospects, but they won't get selected as high because of the strength of other positions. The 2014 NFL Draft could have anywhere from four to seven first-round picks at tackle.

If you were to merge the two classes, Matthews and Robinson are still the top tackle prospects. Fisher, Joeckel, Johnson and Fluker would go behind Robinson but ahead of Lewan. Pugh and Martin are practically identical twins as prospects. Richardson and Kouandjio would be rated ahead of Watson. Moses would go after Watson and ahead of Armstead. Williams meanwhile was a better prospect than his former teammate Hurst.

It will be interesting to see how these prospects perform at the NFL Scouting Combine. We'll do a tackle update after the Combine as well.

Safest Pick: Jake Matthews, Texas A&M
Matthews is a very safe pick. He proved that the past four seasons as he was rock solid for Texas A&M going up against good talent in the Big XII and SEC. Matthews is a very good athlete with quick feet, good length, strength and agility. He is a well-rounded blocker and looks like a lock to turn into a good starting left tackle in the NFL. Plus, he has a great pedigree with Hall of Fame bloodlines. It would be shocking if Matthews was a bust.

Biggest Bust Potential: Cyrus Kouandjio, Alabama
Kouandjio could be a top-20 pick, which seems risky to me. There is no doubt that he is a strong run-blocker, but he gave up too many sacks during the 2013 season. His pass blocking improved over the past two years, but it is still a weakness as evidenced by Oklahoma's Eric Striker in the Sugar Bowl.

If Kouandjio can't turn into a good pass-blocker, he may have to move to right tackle or inside to guard.

Offensive Tackles Rankings by Attributes


Pass Protection:
NFL prototype: Joe Thomas, Browns
1.Jake Matthews
2.Antonio Richardson
3.Zack Martin
4.Greg Robinson
5.Taylor Lewan
6.James Hurst
7.Morgan Moses
8.Cyrus Kouandjio


Recap: Franchise left tackles have to be rock solid in pass protection. Most teams feature a right-handed quarterback, so the left tackle has to be trusted to shut down pass-rushers coming from the blind side. Joe Thomas is the top offensive tackle in the NFL and is the current gold standard for a franchise left tackle.

Matthews looks very similar to Thomas in terms of skill sets. Both are lights-out pass-protectors, and Matthews looks like a safe bet to be a franchise left tackle. He was dominant for four years at Texas A&M.

You might be surprised to see Richardson this high, but he was great for Tennessee. He also did very well against Jadeveon Clowney in their two matchups. Richardson was tremendous for Tyler Bray as a sophomore and followed it up with a good junior year in 2013. He did well in his rematch against Clowney and the Missouri tandem of Kony Ealy and Michael Sam. Richardson's pass-protection ability is being underrated.

Martin really elevated his pass blocking in his final season and was phenomenal at the Senior Bowl. Robinson has the athletic ability to be a superb blind-side protector. He is more raw, but with good coaching he should turn into an asset at left tackle.

Lewan also improved as a senior, but he could have some issues in the NFL with speed rushers.

Hurst's best trait is his pass protection. He was a quality pass-blocker for North Carolina during the past few years. Hurst also held his own when matched against Jadeveon Clowney last season. Hurst did a decent job against Georgia Tech's Jeremiah Attaochu, although Attaochu did beat him for a sack. Hurst is currently dealing with an injury during the leadup to the draft.

Moses moved to left tackle as a senior and performed well. In the long run, he could be more effective at right tackle in the NFL. As stated above, Kouandjio needs to improve his pass-protection skills, but he has the physical talent to be good.

Run Blocking:
NFL prototype: Joe Staley, 49ers
1.Greg Robinson
2.Taylor Lewan
3.Cyrus Kouandjio
4.Antonio Richardson
5.Jake Matthews
6.Morgan Moses
7.Zack Martin
8.James Hurst


Recap: Robinson is definitely the best run-blocking tackle in the 2013 NFL Draft. He is an animal in the ground game and has the ability to blast open holes. His power allows him to push defensive linemen around and move them out of their gap with ease. Robinson's hands are extremely strong, and when he locks on, the defender is done. Robinson should be an impact run-blocker immediately in the NFL.

Over his collegiate career, Lewan was a good run-blocker for Michigan. He is strong at the point of attack and did his job to open up holes for ball-carriers.

Kouandjio's strength is in run blocking. He does well in man, power and zone plays. Kouandjio can push around defenders and is able to get to blocks on the move.

WalterFootball.com knows scouts who have said that Richardson's run-blocking ability is underrated. He showed improved run blocking in his final season for the Volunteers as he did a nice job of opening up holes for Rajion Neal.

Matthews was a good run-blocker for Texas A&M in all four of his seasons. The Aggies had a lot of success running behind him when he was on the right side as well.

Both Martin and Moses were reliable run-blockers in college. Martin's technique is very developed. At the college level, Hurst had his best success as a run-blocker during his junior year, but he also had Jonathan Cooper next to him at left guard and Giovani Bernard as his tailback. Hurst isn't overly strong, so he doesn't project to be bulldozer as a run-blocker in the NFL.
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Old 02-13-2014, 01:49 PM   #2
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http://walterfootball.com/draft2014positionreviewDT.php

2014 NFL Draft Position Review: Defensive Tackles
Charlie lays out an overview at the top players from each position for the 2014 NFL Draft. For further information, check out our in-depth analysis of 2014 NFL Draft Prospects by Position.
By Charlie Campbell.

Position Review: Defensive Tackles

Defensive Tackle Class
Early-round talent: A
Mid-round: A-
Late-round: B+
Overall grade: A

2014 prospects vs 2013
Louis Nix < Sheldon Richardson
Timmy Jernigan < Star Lotulelei
Ra'Shede Hageman = Sharrif Floyd
Aaron Donald = Sylvester Williams
Ego Ferguson < Kawann Short
Anthony Johnson < Johnathan Hankins
Will Sutton > Bennie Logan
DaQuan Jones < John Jenkins

Last year, I had the 2013 defensive tackle class graded with an A+, B+, B- and an overall grade of an A. Therefore, it was really tough to say some of the 2013 prospects are better than the 2014 players who are also an A-grade class. There also are some apples and oranges comparisons. Louis Nix and Sheldon Richardson are completely different kinds of defensive linemen, so that makes it hard to say that Richardson is a better prospect than Nix because they would go to teams looking for different things.

If you were to merge the two classes, there is more equality. Nix would go behind Richardson and be about even with Lotulelei. Jernigan and Hageman would be about equal to Floyd. The same goes for Donald and Williams as late first-round or early second-round prospects. Short is a better prospect than Ferguson. Those two would go behind Hankins but ahead of their former teammate Logan. Sutton would go ahead of Logan, and Jones would go behind Jenkins.

It will be interesting to see how this year's prospects perform at the NFL Scouting Combine. We'll do a tackle update after the Combine as well. Some other defensive tackles who could be second-day picks include South Carolina's Kelcy Quarles, USC's George Uko, Tennessee's Daniel McCullers, Princeton's Caraun Reid and California's DeAndre Coleman.

Safest Pick: Louis Nix, Notre Dame
The heavy Nix looks like a very safe pick to pan out in the NFL. He is a load at the point of attack who can cause a lot of disruption. Even when Nix is kept out of the backfield, he is nearly impossible to move off the line of scrimmage. Nix won't ever put up a big sack total in the NFL, but he should be an excellent run-stuffer, eat up a lot of blockers and get some push down the pocket. It would be very surprising if Nix was a bust.

Biggest Bust Potential: Anthony Johnson, LSU
One has to wonder if Johnson will ever put it all together. He was nicknamed "The Freak" because of his size, strength and speed combination, but that never turned into production at LSU. 2013 was supposed to be the season when the junior became dominant, but it didn't happen. He had 35 tackles with three sacks and was inconsistent again. Johnson was outperformed by teammate Ego Ferguson. In the NFL, one has to wonder if Johnson will be able to put it all together.

Defensive Tackles Rankings by Attributes


Pass Rush:
NFL prototype: J.J. Watt, Texans 1.Aaron Donald
2.Will Sutton
3.Timmy Jernigan
4.Ra'Shede Hageman
5.Ego Ferguson
6.Anthony Johnson
7.DaQuan Jones
8.Louis Nix


Recap: The NFL is always searching for interior linemen who can get after the quarterback. They are a hard commodity to find, and one can make a massive impact on a teams' ability to rush the passer. Tackles who can rush the quarterback set up a lot of sacks for edge rushers via disruption and double-teams. The fastest way to get to a quarterback is from the middle.

Not only does Donald have the biggest 2013 sack total of this group with 11, he was very consistent with 27.5 sacks over the past three seasons. That is a real accomplishment and Donald showed overwhelming pass rush ability at the Senior Bowl. He has speed, strength and moves. His pass rushing is his best attribute.

Sutton is a very good pass-rusher as well. In 2012, he beat linemen with explosive speed and a nice repertoire of moves. Sutton had 13 sacks as a junior, but saw his production and speed go down as a senior after he gained 15 pounds of bad weight. Once Sutton loses it, he should be back to his old ways.

Jernigan had 4.5 sacks in 2013, and he also is a good pass-rusher. Jernigan applied consistent pressure on the quarterback throughout the season and was very disruptive. In the NFL, he should be a fine interior rusher and probably will produce bigger sack totals than in college.

Hageman is a good pass-rusher who is better than his 2013 total indicates (two sacks). He was constantly double-teamed. Hageman can beat blockers with power or speed.

Ferguson and Johnson can be dangerous pass-rushers, but are more streaky. Either can beat guards with speed but both have to become more consistent.

Jones flashed some pass rush at times and has some quickness. He needs to improve his repertoire of moves. Jones can be disruptive.

While Nix is ranked last, he isn't bad in pass defense. Nix helped create a lot of sacks the past two seasons by getting push down the middle and forcing the quarterback out of the pocket.

Run Defense:
NFL prototype: Haloti Ngata, Ravens 1.Louis Nix
2.Ra'Shede Hageman
3.DaQuan Jones
4.Ego Ferguson
5.Timmy Jernigan
6.Aaron Donald
7.Will Sutton
8.Anthony Johnson


Recap: Nix is an excellent run-defender. He is extremely strong at the point of attack and stuffs runs that come his direction. Nix regularly ate up double-teams in 2012 to make tackles close to the line of scrimmage or set up Manti Te'o for a tackle of a short gain. Nix also can bust into the backfield to make tackles for a loss. He is very good in short-yardage situations as well.

Hageman is a superb run-defender. He holds his ground when runs come straight at him and also has the ability to shed his block to chase down ball-carriers.

Coming from the Big Ten, Jones has developed ability as a run-defender. He is tough at the point of attack. Ferguson also is active as he had a nice tackle total (58) in 2013. Jernigan (6-2, 298) is undersized, but he is very strong for his size and uses that along with his speed to be a good run-defender in and out of his gap. The junior had 63 tackles in 2013.

Donald (6-0, 288) is similar to Jernigan. He is undersized, yet very strong for his size. Donald showed his run-defense potential in 2013 by leading the country in tackles for a loss with 28.5. He also had 59 tackles. However, I have Donald lower because at sub-290 pounds, he could have some run-defense challenges in the NFL when he has bigger, stronger and heavier guards going straight at him. That will be the most important test for Donald as pro.

The only good thing about Sutton's weight gain was he was more stout at the point of attack last year. It will be interesting to see how his run defense is impacted by the weight loss.

Johnson has the potential to be a good run-defender, but he wasn't consistent enough as a junior.

Motor:
NFL prototype: J.J. Watt, Texans 1.Aaron Donald
2.Timmy Jernigan
3.DaQuan Jones
4.Louis Nix
5.Ra'Shede Hageman
6.Will Sutton
7.Ego Ferguson
8.Anthony Johnson


Recap: The top-three players - Donald, Jernigan and Jones - all have excellent motors. None of them is as good as Sheldon Richardson last year. He was utterly relentless to chase down wideouts downfield. Donald and Jernigan don't quit, and each fights through the whistle. Jones can be blocked, but he doesn't give up until the play is over.

A lot of heavier defensive linemen are prone to taking plays off because of not being in as good of shape, but Nix gives good effort. He hustles after the ball and isn't one to quit.

Hageman has a good motor, and you don't see him dogging it. Sutton is similar, but as stated above, he can wear down at times.

Ferguson doesn't have a bad motor, but he doesn't blow you away either. Johnson looks like he takes some plays off. Johnson can fall quiet for stretches.

Speed:
NFL prototype: Gerald McCoy, Buccaneers 1.Timmy Jernigan
2.Ego Ferguson
3.Anthony Johnson
4.Aaron Donald
5.Ra'Shede Hageman
6.Will Sutton
7.Louis Nix
8.DaQuan Jones


Recap: Jernigan is the fastest defender in this group. He is the most explosive off the snap with great closing speed. Jernigan can flatout run to get to plays outside of his gap. Ferguson and Johnson aren't far behind. They both show special quickness off the ball and some times their speed can be overwhelming. However, neither Ferguson nor Johnson were as consistent as Jernigan. Donald also is very fast. Speed is an asset attribute for all of the top four.

Hageman has quickness to his game, and nobody would say he's a plodder.

A year ago, Sutton would have been ranked first or second in this category, but his weight gain sapped him of his explosiveness. He'll have to live and die by his speed in the NFL after dropping that weight. If you reranked these players in the speed attribute in a year's time Sutton could be near the top.

Nix flashes a burst as well, but isn't as quick as the other tackles. Size and power are his strengths. Nix does have a nice get-off. Jones has some quickness. Even though he's ranked last, speed isn't a weakness of his game.

Strength:
NFL prototype: Ndamukong Suh, Lions 1.Louis Nix
2.Ra'Shede Hageman
3.DaQuan Jones
4.Timmy Jernigan
5.Aaron Donald
6.Ego Ferguson
7.Anthony Johnson
8.Will Sutton


Recap: Nix is definitely the strongest of the defenders. He can hold his ground against double-teams and has the strength to toss blockers to the side. Against one-on-ones, Nix can be impossible to hold up.

Hageman is very strong as well. Offensive linemen can't push him around, and he could get better if he improves his ability to shed blocks. Hageman shown the ability to beat some double-teams as well.

Jones, Donald and Jernigan are all strong for their size. They also play with good leverage. Donald has massive arms and shoulders, but his frame looks maxed out at 288 pounds. Ferguson has deceptive strength for a speedy tackle. He holds his ground well and flashes some ability to push offensive linemen around.

Johnson flashes some power at times, but doesn't show it enough for it to be considered an asset. Sutton was stronger in 2013, but he won't be a power player in the NFL.

3-4 Defensive End:
NFL prototype: J.J. Watt, Texans 1.Ra'Shede Hageman
2.Louis Nix
3.Ego Ferguson
4.DaQuan Jones
5.Will Sutton
6.Anthony Johnson
7.Timmy Jernigan
8.Aaron Donald


Recap: This group doesn't have a lot of natural 3-4 ends, but Hageman could be the exception. Being 6-foot-6 and 318-pounds means he has the height, length and strength to be a five-technique. It wouldn't be surprising if Hageman is drafted in the first round by a 3-4 team to play end or nose tackle. He is very versatile.

Some 3-4 teams play heavy players at end, so Nix could get consideration there. He definitely has the power to overwhelm tackles, especially the light pass-protectors at left tackle.

Ferguson has some speed and length to play at end. Jones could be a 3-4 end as well. He has the power to execute as a five-technique.

Sutton, Johnson, Jernigan and Donald are all poor fits as 3-4 ends. They are 4-3 tackles.

Three-Technique:
NFL prototype: Geno Atkins, Bengals 1.Aaron Donald
2.Timmy Jernigan
3.Will Sutton
4.Anthony Johnson
5.Ego Ferguson
6.DaQuan Jones
7.Ra'Shede Hageman
8.Louis Nix


Recap: Good three-techniques are generally hard to find, but this draft class has a bunch of them. The first five above have all shown the ability to be skilled three-techniques. Donald's speed, pass-rush ability and motor give him the top spot. He is a natural three-technique who has a game that flashes similarities to Geno Atkins, Warren Sapp and John Randle. Ditto for Jernigan, but Donald was a more productive pass-rusher, so he gets the top spot.

Sutton is just a hair below Jernigan. In 2012, Sutton was a great three-technique given the way he fired into the gap off the guard's outside shoulder. The speedy tackle was disruptive, which is what a three0technique needs to do more than anything else. If Sutton gets back to that, he could be a steal.

Johnson and Ferguson are both good fits as three-techniques with their speed and athleticism. Both prospects have a lot of upside to develop. Atkins did as well when he fell to the mid-rounds.

Jones has some quickness, but lacks the pure explosion to be an elite three-technique. Hageman could be more of a power three-technique. He is more of a nose tackle, but could play three-technique if needed. Nix isn't a three-technique.

3-4 Nose Tackle:
NFL prototype: Vince Wilfork, Patriots 1.Louis Nix
2.Ra'Shede Hageman
3.DaQuan Jones
4.Aaron Donald
5.Timmy Jernigan
6.Will Sutton
7.Ego Ferguson
8.Anthony Johnson


Recap: A good nose tackle in a 3-4 defense is a tough commodity to find. Someone like Vince Wilfork sets the tone for the pass rush and the run defense by blasting the center into the backfield. An effective zero-technique stuffs the run and occupies interior blockers to open up lanes for blitzes up the middle.

Nix played nose tackle for years and is very skilled at it. A few seasons from now, he could easily be the player who replaces Wilfork as the prototype. Nix is a natural with his power, burst and body type. He should be a perfect fit manning the zero-technique in a 3-4 defense.

Hageman also has experience playing nose tackle. He can line up over centers and overwhelm them. As stated above, Hageman would be a good fit in a 3-4 that bounces between the five- and zero-techniques. Jones has enough beef to get consideration as a nose tackle.

Some 3-4 teams like smaller and squatty nose tackles. Those teams might like Donald, Jernigan and Sutton for those roles, but all of those prospects will probably get drafted by 4-3 teams. Ditto for Johnson and Ferguson. Neither one of them showed the ability to man the middle of a 3-4 at LSU as the Tigers run a 4-3 defense.
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Old 02-13-2014, 01:52 PM   #3
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Jake Matthews was far from dominant this year. Though he is a bit harder to evaluate because of the system he was in for two years.. I think Joeckel was the superior prospect. Ive heard people are waiting on his arm length, and it appears that some teams view him as a RT or C.
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Old 02-13-2014, 01:53 PM   #4
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Hageman interests me.
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Old 02-20-2014, 11:08 AM   #5
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Excellent look-over of the top WR talent.

http://walterfootball.com/draft2014positionreviewWR.php

2014 NFL Draft Position Review: Wide Receivers
Charlie lays out an overview at the top players from each position for the 2014 NFL Draft. For further information, check out our in-depth analysis of 2014 NFL Draft Prospects by Position.
By Charlie Campbell.

Wide Receiver Class
Early-round talent: A+
Mid-round: A-
Late-round: B+
Overall grade: A

2014 prospects vs 2013
Sammy Watkins > Tavon Austin
Mike Evans > DeAndre Hopkins
Marqise Lee > Cordarrelle Patterson
Kelvin Benjamin > Justin Hunter
Odell Beckham, Jr. > Robert Woods
Jarvis Landry > Aaron Dobson
Allen Robinson < Keenan Allen
Jordan Matthews = Terrance Williams

Last year, the wide receiver class was a B-grade class. There were some quality receiver prospects last year, but that class doesn't matchup with this year's group. This is an excellent class of wide receivers that could have a handful of wide outs go in the first round.

If you were to merge the two classes, Austin would go behind Watkins but ahead of Evans. Hopkins and Patterson would go behind Benjamin but head of Beckham. Woods and Landry are about equal. Dobson would go behind Landry and Robinson. Terrance Williams and Jordan Matthews are equal. Robinson will probably be selected earlier than where Allen was selected, but that was because Allen was injured leading up to the draft.

It will be interesting to see how this year's prospects perform at the NFL Scouting Combine. We'll do a wide receiver position-review update after the Combine as well.

Safest Pick: Sammy Watkins, Clemson
This was a tough choice as Watkins, Evans and Lee all look like safe selections. I went with Watkins because there is no doubt that he is a mismatch weapon for the NFL. Similar to Percy Harvin, Watkins is extremely explosive and could make plays in a variety of ways. He can score any time he touches the ball, so that makes him very dangerous on simple bubble screens, reverses, other carries and special teams - if used there. Watkins looks very safe as a vertical deep threat to stretch a defense. His presence alone can impact the game by opening up running lanes and underneath routes for other receivers.

Biggest Bust Potential: Kelvin Benjamin, Florida State
There is a lot to like about Benjamin with his combination of size and speed, however he needs refinement. There have been many talented first-round athletes who didn't pan out because they didn't work hard enough to refine their game. That would be the trap for Benjamin. He needs to improve his route-running and hands in particular. Benjamin drops too many balls, and his routes aren't crisp enough. He's too reliant on being bigger and faster than everybody else. I don't think Benjamin will be a bust, but I don't think he is as safe of a pick as the other definite first-round wide outs like Watkins, Evans or Lee.

Wide Receiver Rankings by Attributes

Separation:
NFL prototype: Calvin Johnson, Lions 1.Sammy Watkins
2.Odell Beckham, Jr.
3.Marqise Lee
4.Jarvis Landry
5.Kelvin Benjamin
6.Mike Evans
7.Allen Robinson
8.Jordan Matthews

Recap: A few wide receivers coaches told me that the ability to separate from coverage is the first trait they looked for in scouting draft prospects. Watkins is the best in this draft class at getting space from defensive backs. He does it with sheer speed and explosion out of his breaks, but also has the strength to fight off defenders. Watkins' separation skills are NFL ready.

Beckham and Lee aren't all that far behind. They are both fast receivers who can burn defensive backs with their deep speed and get wide open running down the field. Beckham could have issues with getting off jams at the line of scrimmage in the NFL.

Landry consistently gained separation via quickness and route-running in college, but he isn't as explosive as the top-three in this class. Benjamin is fast running down the field and gets open, but he is more of a long-strider. Evans is similar, but Benjamin looks slightly faster, although he played a weaker caliber of defensive back.

The big question for Robinson and Matthews is the ability to get separation from NFL defensive backs. Scouts have told WalterFootball.com that they really question Matthews' speed for the NFL. Both players could help themselves by running well at the Combine.

Hands:
NFL prototype: Larry Fitzgerald, Cardinals 1.Jordan Matthews
2.Jarvis Landry
3.Allen Robinson
4.Marqise Lee
5.Odell Beckham, Jr.
6.Sammy Watkins
7.Mike Evans
8.Kelvin Benjamin

Recap: This is a nice crop of sure-handed receivers. Some would probably disagree with me and put Landry first, and I would say they're basically tied. I have Matthews rated first because he showed great hands while playing with quarterbacks who didn't throw as catchable of passes as Zach Mettenberger. Both Landry and Matthews have superb hands.

Robinson, Lee, Watkins and Beckham all have reliable hands. Lee and Robinson were extremely reliable during the past two seasons with a high number of targets. Watkins' hands were much improved in 2013 after having some drops during a rough 2012 season. After working hard to improve his hands in the offseason, being healthy and in the groove from the start of the season made all the difference for Watkins.

Evans doesn't drop many passes, but it happens. Benjamin drops far too many. Those two have room for improvement and should develop into having steady hands in the NFL.

Deep Speed:
NFL prototype: Mike Wallace, Dolphins 1.Sammy Watkins
2.Odell Beckham, Jr.
3.Marqise Lee
4.Kelvin Benjamin
5.Mike Evans
6.Jarvis Landry
7.Allen Robinson
8.Jordan Matthews

Recap: There are a number of receivers in this group who have the ability to stretch the field vertically. Watkins is the most explosive receiver available and is a threat to burn double-coverage on any route. He has the speed to beat double-teams over the top and is a threat to score on any reception. Defenses have to account for him in the deep part of the field.

Beckham is a burner as a well. He is explosive out of his release and while making cuts. Beckham also has a second gear in the open field to pull away from the defenders. Lee showed more deep speed when he was healthy as a sophomore. If I wrote this a year ago, Lee could have been ranked first.

Benjamin and Evans are also dangerous deep receivers. They aren't as explosive as the top-three wide outs, but both are extremely difficult to cover downfield because of their height. They go up to make receptions over defensive backs even when the defenders have good coverage. Evans and Benjamin made a lot of long receptions in 2013 and will be vertical weapons as pros.

Landry has some quickness to make receptions downfield, but he isn't a true burner and doesn't have the size to make up for it. Robinson and Matthews look like possession receivers for the NFL.

Route-Running:
NFL prototype: Reggie Wayne, Colts 1.Marqise Lee
2.Jordan Matthews
3.Sammy Watkins
4.Jarvis Landry
5.Allen Robinson
6.Odell Beckham, Jr.
7.Mike Evans
8.Kelvin Benjamin

Recap: Route-running is a critical part of gaining separation in the NFL. Receivers who get sloppy in their routes have a hard time getting open. Extra steps allow defensive backs to maintain coverage or more time to recover. In my opinion, Wisconsin's Jared Abbrederis is in the running as the best route-runner in this draft class, but he isn't in the top-eight receiver prospects heading into the Combine.

Lee is a superb route-runner. He is sudden in and out of his breaks with quickness. Lee does well in all levels of the field. The junior had a drop in his receptions in 2013, but that was because of injuries and shaky quarterback play. He got open despite not being 100 percent. His route-running as a sophomore was top notch.

Matthews really developed his route-running at Vanderbilt. He isn't the fastest receiver, but his route-running helps make up for it as he is very polished.

Watkins really improved his route-running from his sophomore to his junior season. He has great feet, doesn't waste steps and uses his quickness to consistently get open.

Landry is very good as well. He's on a par with Matthews and Watkins. Throughout the 2013 season, Landry used route-running to get open and really does a nice job in the middle of the field of getting into windows between corners and safeties.

Robinson and Beckham are also good route-runners. Neither one of them should be knocked on that attribute.

Evans and Benjamin could stand to improve their route-running. They need to study bigger receivers like Calvin Johnson, A.J. Green, Larry Fitzgerald and Julio Jones. Both Evans and Benjamin can have some wasted steps and could stand to be more crisp.

Yards After the Catch:
NFL prototype: Julio Jones, Falcons 1.Sammy Watkins
2.Odell Beckham, Jr.
3.Marqise Lee
4.Kelvin Benjamin
5.Mike Evans
6.Jarvis Landry
7.Allen Robinson
8.Jordan Matthews

Recap: The ability to turn a short reception into a big gain can make a receiver elite. Among the eight receivers above, all of them have nice run-after-the-catch ability. There is no doubt that Watkins is the best yards-after-the-catch (YAC) receiver in the 2014 NFL Draft. He is electric in the open field. Watkins has the speed and explosion to run by defenders while also having serious elusiveness. Watkins is tough for defensive backs to chase down and bring down.

Beckham and Lee are very good after the catch. They are elusive in the open field. Beckham showed better YAC last year, but Lee wasn't 100 percent. Both should be very dangerous in the NFL to break off big gains whenever either makes a reception.

Both Benjamin and Evans are very good with the ball in their hands. Each of them has enough quickness to move, but both are extremely tough for defensive backs to bring down. Benjamin and Evans can fight off tacklers and extend gains, too. Their respective size and strength allows them to break a lot of tackles from defensive backs.

Landry was a dangerous yards-after-the-catch receiver in 2013. He broke a number of nice runs off his receptions. As stated above, Robinson and Matthews are quality YAC receivers. Both can break tackles and rip off extra yards. However, it will probably be diminished with the speed of NFL defensive backs.

Red Zone:
NFL prototype: Calvin Johnson, Lions 1.Kelvin Benjamin
2.Mike Evans
3.Allen Robinson
4.Jordan Matthews
5.Jarvis Landry
6.Sammy Watkins
7.Marqise Lee
8.Odell Beckham, Jr.

Recap: This was a tough category to rank because so many of the receivers were excellent point producers in college. Benjamin led them all with 15 touchdowns in 2013. He was tremendous in the red zone with his ability to make catches in traffic and leap over defenders. Benjamin makes it safe for quarterbacks to throw high for him as it will either be a touchdown or an incompletion. Evans is very similar to Benjamin, and that's why the former Aggie is second.

Robinson and Matthews both have size to them with the ability to make contested catches. Landry is tremendous at out-fighting defensive backs for the ball, but he isn't as big. It will be harder to do that in the NFL, but Landry is also adept at getting open in the condensed part of the field.

Watkins can also win in the red zone. He gets open of course, but also has underrated strength and leaping ability to make the catch.

Lee only had four touchdowns in 2013, but he's better in the red zone than that total indicates. Beckham doesn't have much size, but he can get open in the short part of the field.

Contested Catches:
NFL prototype: A.J. Green, Bengals 1.Mike Evans
2.Kelvin Benjamin
3.Jarvis Landry
4.Jordan Matthews
5.Allen Robinson
6.Sammy Watkins
7.Marqise Lee
8.Odell Beckham, Jr.

Recap: Throwing windows in the NFL are very small, and receivers have to be trusted to outbattle defensive backs for the ball. Lacking the ability to win contested catches results in more interceptions.

Evans is the receiver most likely to make a reception while a defender is playing the ball as well. He is very strong and attacks the ball. Evans made a habit of bailing out Johnny Manziel when Manziel would do some circus play and throw the ball up for grabs. Evans put on a clinics of making catches over defensive backs along the sidelines in 2013.

Benjamin has the strength and size to beat defensive backs. His superb athleticism allows him to make highlight-reel receptions over defenders. He should win his contested catches in the NFL, assuming he competes as aggressively as the defenders.

Even though Landry (6-1, 195) isn't the biggest receiver, he is reliable at making receptions with defenders close by. Landry really stood out last season with his ability to outbattle defenders for the ball. He just has a knack for making catches with corners draped on him.

Robinson and Matthews are also very good at out-fighting defenders for the ball. Both are smart with how they position themselves to shield the ball and make receptions.

Watkins was typically open for Clemson, but he occasionally showed an impressive ability to get physical for the football. Even though Watkins isn't ranked as high as others, he is definitely able to make contested catches.

Lee is similar to Watkins, but Lee's down junior season disguised this ability to a degree. Beckham (6-0, 187) is probably smaller than those listed numbers, and he won't be a receiver who out-physicals NFL defensive backs. Beckham could get pushed around and out-muscled for position on passes up for grabs.

Blocking:
NFL prototype: Reggie Wayne, Colts 1.Jordan Matthews
2.Allen Robinson
3.Sammy Watkins
4.Marqise Lee
5.Mike Evans
6.Jarvis Landry
7.Kelvin Benjamin
8.Odell Beckham, Jr.

Recap: Coaches love receivers who give a big effort as blockers. Almost every long touchdown run in the NFL has a receiver making a block to prevent the ball-carrier from being chased down. Some receivers are more aggressive about it. They seek out defenders to hit blocks when a fellow wide out catches a pass. There are also receivers who are lazy when it comes to blocking. Coaches hate it, which hurts a player's ability to be on the field in the red zone.

The best blocker in this draft class is Matthews. He is a tough blocker who can push defenders around and never hesitates to get physical. Robinson is a good blocker, too. He does well doing the dirty work.

Even though Watkins isn't that big, he can pack a punch. Watkins really fights for his blocks and one wouldn't think he would be so aggressive. Watkins is an asset as a run-blocker.

Lee, Evans and Landry were all quality blockers last fall. All three could use work for the NFL, but they have good starting points.

Benjamin has the potential to be a good blocker, but he needs work. Beckham can display a willing attitude and does pretty well for being a smaller receiver, but blocking won't be his calling card in the NFL by any means.
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Old 02-21-2014, 12:34 PM   #6
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2014 NFL Draft Position Review: Safeties
By Charlie Campbell.

Position Review: Safeties

Safety Class
Early-round talent: B+
Mid-round: B
Late-round: B
Overall grade: B+

2014 prospects vs 2013
HaHa Clinton-Dix > Kenny Vaccaro
Calvin Pryor > Eric Reid
Dion Bailey < Matt Elam
Jimmie Ward < Jonathan Cyprien
Craig Loston < D.J. Swearinger
Deone Bucannon < T.J. McDonald
Ed Reynolds > J.J. Wilcox
Ahmad Dixon < Shawn Williams

Safety was one of the strongest positions in the 2013 NFL Draft class. There was talent for the first round and some superb depth on the second day that spilled into Day 3. The 2014 class is a respectable year for safeties. There could be five who are selected in the first two rounds this season. This year, two should go in the top 32.

If you were to merge the two classes, I think Clinton-Dix is the best safety. Vaccaro and Pryor are about equal. Reid, Elam and Cyprien would go behind Pryor but ahead of Bailey. Swearinger would go between Bailey and Ward. McDonald would go after Loston. Wilcox would go after Reynolds and Dixon would be behind Williams.

There are a number of other safeties who could get second-day consideration as well. That group entails Florida State's Terrance Brooks, Wisconsin's Dezmen Southward, North Carolina's Tre Boston and others. All of them could be worthy mid-round picks.

Safest Pick: HaHa Clinton-Dix, Alabama
This was a tough call because I believe that Clinton-Dix, Pryor, Bailey and Ward will all be good pros if they can stay healthy. However, Clinton-Dix looks like a perfect fit for the passing-driven NFL. He is a rangy free safety who covers a lot of ground in the deep part of the field. Clinton-Dix can match up on wide receivers and tight ends. He has displayed some ball skills to go along with his size, speed, intelligence and instincts. Clinton-Dix was prepared well by Nick Saban, and it would be shock if he didn't turn into a reliable cover safety.

Biggest Bust Potential: Ed Reynolds, Stanford
Reynolds had a strong 2012 season and was one of the top safeties in college football. He followed that up with a disappointing 2013 season. Reynolds had a number of games in which he made mistakes in coverage and allowed completions downfield. In run support, Reynolds also had some missed tackles. His splash plays fell dramatically as well. He should have returned to school, but entered the 2014 NFL Draft. If Reynolds plays like he did in the 2013 season, he could end up never developing into a starter and being a bust.

Safety Rankings by Attributes

Man Coverage:
NFL prototype: Earl Thomas, Seahawks 1.HaHa Clinton-Dix
2.Jimmie Ward
3.Dion Bailey
4.Calvin Pryor
5.Ed Reynolds
6.Craig Loston
7.Deone Bucannon
8.Ahmad Dixon

Recap: The NFL is a passing-driven league, and safeties with the ability to play some man coverage are a hot commodity. Many safeties are too stiff to match up against a slot receiver, a tight end or a receiving running back. Offenses seek out those mismatches, so good safeties have some man-coverage ability.

Clinton-Dix was an easy choice as the top man-cover safety in this draft class. He regularly had successful man coverage for Alabama. Clinton-Dix picked up slot receivers in man and did a masterful job of covering receivers running deep down the field. His fluid coverage is ideal for the NFL.

Ward's coverage ability at the Senior Bowl was extremely impressive. There were plays that made one ponder whether he could play some cornerback. Ward is fast and agile. He was good at covering slot receivers and other wide outs deep down the field at Northern Illinois.

Bailey and Pryor both flashed the ability to cover receivers in college. That isn't what either does best, but both players are quick and athletic enough to get the job done. They should work to improve their coverage skills, but each has the capacity to play some man at the next level.

Loston didn't show a lot of man-coverage ability in college, but he flashed at the Senior Bowl. Loston doesn't quite look as fluid as the higher-ranked safeties, and LSU had him in a lot of zone. He has some potential to develop.

Bucannon and Dixon don't have much man-coverage ability that should translate to the NFL. They are both straight-line defenders. However, Bucannon showed improved coverage skills as a senior, but he doesn't look like he has the athleticism to be put in man coverage on receiving tight ends or slot receivers.

Zone Coverage:
NFL prototype: Jarius Byrd, Bills 1.HaHa Clinton-Dix
2.Jimmie Ward
3.Dion Bailey
4.Calvin Pryor
5.Ed Reynolds
6.Craig Loston
7.Ahmad Dixon
8.Deone Bucannon

Recap: The ability to play well in zone coverage is a must in the NFL. There are teams that weigh this heavier than others due to scheme. Zone safeties need to be intelligent and cover a lot of ground while playing disciplined and instinctive football. They have to be able to pick up receivers who work through the short and intermediate part of the field.

Clinton-Dix is also the top zone safety in the 2013 NFL Draft. He covers a ton of ground because of his quickness and his instincts. Ward is very good in zone coverage. His reaction skills are superb, and he was all over the field for Northern Illinois during the past three seasons.

Bailey was very good in zone coverage in 2013 and showed that he is well prepared having played a few seasons for one of the zone-coverage gurus in Monte Kiffin. Zone schemes will like the fit with the Bailey. Pryor is fast and physical with the instincts to make big plays. He should be an asset as a zone safety in the NFL.

Reynolds looked like a good zone safety in 2012, but not so much in 2013. If he can get straightened out, he might be a nice value.

Loston does better in zone than man, but he could have issues picking up the NFL's speed receivers in the deep part of the field. Dixon and Bucannon can execute in zone and are better there than they are in man.

Deep Help:
NFL prototype: Eric Berry, Chiefs 1.HaHa Clinton-Dix
2.Jimmie Ward
3.Calvin Pryor
4.Dion Bailey
5.Ed Reynolds
6.Craig Loston
7.Ahmad Dixon
8.Deone Bucannon

Recap: This is a must to be a good safety in the NFL. Safeties are the last line of defense, so excelling in the deep part of the field can keep points off the board. Those who are beaten downfield, frequently find their way to the bench in a hurry. Defending the deep part of the field also includes stopping running backs who break free. Thus, safeties need to be good tacklers in the open field. Luckily for teams seeking this type of defender, there are some good options in the 2014 NFL Draft.

The past two seasons, Clinton-Dix made a plethora of clutch tackles down field. He made so many touchdown-saving tackles that led to Alabama's defense keeping points off the board. Not only did he make big tackles, but he was so good at picking up deep receivers that he took away deep ball attempts and forced a lot of incompletions. Clinton-Dix's deep help should be an immediate asset.

Ward was excellent about defending the deep part of the field at the Senior Bowl. He is quick to break over to the sideline to reach speed receivers. Ward also has the tackling technique to take down ball-carriers in the open field.

There is a slight drop off to Pryor from the top two. Pryor is more of an in-the-box safety, but he did flash some play-making in the deep part of the field in 2013. Plus, he intimidates receivers with his propensity to punish receivers down field.

Bailey was quick and instinctive in the deep part of the field for USC. The reason that he is lower is because he played linebacker early on in his career and enters the NFL with less experience. Loston and Reynolds both were solid deep defenders in their career, although Reynolds had some problems in 2013.

Bucannon has straight-line speed to cover ground, but he isn't that agile or fluid in the deep part of the field, which holds him back. Dixon is an in-the-box safety rather than a deep-field defender.

Run Defense:
NFL prototype: T.J. Ward, Browns 1.Calvin Pryor
2.Craig Loston
3.Dion Bailey
4.Deone Bucannon
5.Jimmie Ward
6.Ahmad Dixon
7.HaHa Clinton-Dix
8.Ed Reynolds

Recap: The NFL doesn't have as large of a need for the big, physical safeties of the '80s and '90s, who were mini linebackers. Still, coaches want safeties who are good tacklers and run-defenders who are capable of playing in the box. There are a lot of good run-defenders in this draft class. In fact, all eight of these safeties have shown the ability to be quality run-defenders.

Pryor is a physical safety who has no issues playing in the tackle box. He totaled over 200 tackles over the past three seasons and can lay some wood. Pryor does a nice job of moving through traffic to make tackles.

Loston, Bailey and Bucannon are all really good at defending the run. They are physical and good tacklers. Bailey played linebacker for a time, so it isn't surprising that he looks especially comfortable in the tackle box.

Ward produced nice tackle totals in his career and does a good job serving as a run-defender. The reason he's rated behind the others is that being 5-foot-10, 191 pounds makes him undersized for the NFL. That could be a problem as the eighth man in the box.

Dixon's run defense was strong in 2013. He made some crushing hits on the perimeter. It might surprise you to see Clinton-Dix lower in this category. He isn't a terrible run-defender, but Alabama didn't expose him much as the eighth man in the box. Clinton-Dix lined up deep as Vinnie Sunseri, Robert Lester and Landon Collins served as the Crimson Tide's strong safeties over the past two seasons. Reynolds had some rough moments in run defense in 2013 with missed tackles and bad angles.

Ball Skills:
NFL prototype: Ed Reed, Free Agent (Ravens) 1.Dion Bailey
2.Jimmie Ward
3.HaHa Clinton-Dix
4.Deone Bucannon
5.Ed Reynolds
6.Craig Loston
7.Calvin Pryor
8.Ahmad Dixon

Recap: The NFL is always on the look out for safeties with a knack for picking off passes. Safeties with the ball skills to catch errant throws or slap passes away from receivers are a great asset. Elite safeties have a knack for creating turnovers.

In my opinion, Bailey has the best ball skills of any safety in this class. He can be a straight-up ballhawk in the middle of the field. Bailey is always around the ball, which leads to good things for his defense. He is very adept at reading the quarterback's eyes and breaking on the ball. Over the past three years, Bailey amassed 11 interceptions with five coming in 2013.

Ward isn't far behind; he had seven interceptions as a senior and totaled 11 over the past two seasons. Ward also did a nice job of racking up passes broken up in his collegiate career. His ball skills are one of his selling points.

Clinton-Dix had five interceptions as a platoon player in 2012. He didn't get many opportunities in 2013, but he has good ball skills for the NFL.

Bucannon doesn't look like a ballhawk, but he has a knack for causing turnovers. Bucannon snatched six interceptions in 2013 and came close to a number of others. He collected 10 picks across the past two years, so he has a nose for the football.

Reynolds had six interceptions in 2012, but only one last year. Loston didn't show a lot of ball skills, but he had three picks in each of the past two seasons.

Pryor totaled five picks across the past two years, but he has more ball skills than that total indicates. Dixon wasn't a ballhawk for Baylor.

Hitting Ability:
NFL prototype: Donte Whitner, 49ers 1.Calvin Pryor
2.Deone Bucannon
3.Craig Loston
4.Ahmad Dixon
5.Dion Bailey
6.HaHa Clinton-Dix
7.Jimmie Ward
8.Ed Reynolds

Recap: Even though the NFL is trying to reduce the knockout shots that have put some safeties in the Hall of Fame, a safety who is a hard hitter and can separate the ball is loved by coaches. There are a few safeties who really swat in this class.

Pryor is an absolute missile on the field and is looking to blow up offensive players. He delivers massive shots in every game. Pryor is a ferocious hitter, and I was surprised he didn't land more targeting suspensions last year.

Bucannon, Loston and Dixon all are very physical players. All three of them are hard hitters who can blast offensive players when given the opportunity. Bucannon has a well-earned reputation for laying the wood, which is why he ranks second.

Bailey and Clinton-Dix can all flash some hard hits. Ward will throw his body around, but he doesn't pack the same punch as the others.

Tight End Defense:
NFL prototype: Earl Thomas, Seahawks 1.HaHa Clinton-Dix
2.Dion Bailey
3.Calvin Pryor
4.Jimmie Ward
5.Ed Reynolds
6.Craig Loston
7.Ahmad Dixon
8.Deone Bucannon

Recap: Coaches are looking for safeties who can match up against the dangerous receiving tight ends who have become a rage in the NFL. Starting with the likes of Tony Gonzalez and Antonio Gates, there is currently a pursuit of receiving tight ends. Ron Gronkowski, Jimmy Graham and Vernon Davis have been so effective that defensive coordinators have to come up with game plans to defend them. Safeties who can cover tight ends are one of the best ways to defend those play-makers.

Clinton-Dix has a real ability to defend tight ends. He has some quickness, size and agility. Clinton-Dix not only can run with tight ends downfield, but he also has the strength to battle them. Clinton-Dix could be a big asset to guard the receiving tight ends in the NFL with his skills in man coverage.

Bailey demonstrated real coverage ability on tight ends during the past few seasons. He has enough size, speed and agility to defend tight ends in the middle of the field.

Ward is good in coverage and can blanket tight ends, but he is undersized. NFL tight ends could make receptions over him as they will have a big height advantage. Pryor has the physical tools to cover tight ends with size and speed, but he will need more development in his man-coverage skills.

Reynolds and Loston have occasionlly flashed some ability in defending tight ends. Loston was making strides in this category as a senior. Reynolds also got good practice preparation going against the good tight ends who have come out of Stanford in recent years.

Bucannon and Dixon look like they would be mismatched going against tight ends in man coverage.

Tackling:
NFL prototype: Troy Polamalu, Steelers 1.Deone Bucannon
2.Craig Loston
3.Dion Bailey
4.Jimmie Ward
5.Calvin Pryor
6.HaHa Clinton-Dix
7.Ahmad Dixon
8.Ed Reynolds

Recap: Every year, it seems that tackling is getting worse in the NFL. It isn't hard to see why; players don't get to practice tackling very often. Even in the rare padded practice, players very rarely take a ball-carrier to the ground. The NFLPA has restricted contact, plus teams want to avoid injuries. Tackling is becoming a lost art.

Bucannon, Loston and Bailey are good form tacklers who have the strength to deliver the hit. Each one is reliable. Ward is an excellent tackler and could be rated first if he were larger. Still Ward has good technique to take the legs out from under ball-carriers.

Pryor is a good tackler as well, but in the NFL, he's going to have to be careful of hits that will draw suspensions. Pryor can't help his team win if he's forced to watch the game on TV. Pryor needs to temper his desire to always deliver a knockout blow and work on wrapping up.

Clinton-Dix is a reliable tackler, but he hasn't played in the box much. Dixon is a good tackler, but he can get overly aggressive at times - like Pryor. Reynolds is inconsistent.
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Old 02-21-2014, 11:51 PM   #7
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So do we take Ward?
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Old 02-22-2014, 12:10 AM   #8
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We need deep help. That's our primary need.

Clinton-Dix in the 1st or Ward in the 3rd/4th seem like the best fits.

I'd like to see Ward do drills, though. Rumor is he runs a 4.6 40, which is not exactly ideal.
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Old 02-22-2014, 12:13 AM   #9
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And, again, I'd like to mention that Antone Exum is essentially Sandwrs Commings, and will no doubt attract Dorsey's attention.
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Old 02-22-2014, 01:08 AM   #10
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Quote:
The past two seasons, Clinton-Dix made a plethora of clutch tackles down field. He made so many touchdown-saving tackles that led to Alabama's defense keeping points off the board. Not only did he make big tackles, but he was so good at picking up deep receivers that he took away deep ball attempts and forced a lot of incompletions. Clinton-Dix's deep help should be an immediate asset.
Anyone think that this might help us?
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Old 02-22-2014, 04:05 PM   #11
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I love Eric Berry, but is he really the NFL prototype for deep help?
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Old 03-05-2014, 12:37 PM   #12
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Position Review: Tight Ends

Tight End Class
Early-round talent: A+
Mid-round: B
Late-round: B-
Overall grade: A-

2014 prospects vs 2013
Eric Ebron > Tyler Eifert
Austin Seferian-Jenkins > Zach Ertz
Jace Amaro > Gavin Escobar
Troy Niklas > Vance McDonald
Xavier Grimble < Travis Kelce
C.J. Fiedorowicz < Jordan Reed
Marcel Jensen < Dion Sims
Arthur Lynch < Levine Toilolo

Tight end is one of the most talented positions in the 2014 NFL Draft class during the early rounds. There is elite talent with some rare prospects. In most years, the top-four tight ends from this class would be the No. 1 tight end prospect. The 2013 class didn't have the elite talent that this class does, but the 2013 group had good depth.

If you were to merge the two classes, I think Eifert and Ertz would be around the same level as Amaro. As prospects, they aren't as good as Ebron or Seferian-Jenkins in my opinion. Escobar and McDonald would go behind Niklas and ahead of Grimble. Same with Kelce. Jordan Reed could end up being one of the best steals from last year's draft, and he should have gone higher. Fiedorowicz, Jensen and Lynch are all about equal to Sims and Toilolo.


Safest Pick: Eric Ebron, North Carolina
This was a tough call because I believe that both Ebron and Seferian-Jenkins are safe picks. I went with Ebron because the NFL is a passing-driven league and Ebron is one of the best receiving tight ends to enter the NFL in years. He's the best receiving prospect since Rob Gronkowski and Jimmy Graham came into the league, but even then, teams missed on the evaluations of those players, or those two would have been first-round picks. Ebron's speed and athletic ability makes him look an instant weapon in the passing game. He should have a long career as a pass catcher.

Biggest Bust Potential: Jace Amaro, Texas Tech
WalterFootball.com knows some teams that aren't high on Amaro. They feel that he doesn't have enough speed to separate in the NFL and needs work as a blocker. I like Amaro, but those issues are concerning. If his receiving doesn't translate as well, he doesn't have anything else to fall back on. Amaro isn't a blocking, short-yardage player. He should go in the first couple of rounds, but among the top-four tight ends, he has the most boom or bust potential.


Tight End Rankings by Attributes


Pass Receiving:
NFL prototype: Jimmy Graham, Saints 1.Eric Ebron
2.Jace Amaro
3.Austin Seferian-Jenkins
4.Troy Niklas
5.Xavier Grimble
6.Marcel Jensen
7.C.J. Fiedorowicz
8.Arthur Lynch


Recap: The NFL has evolved to the point where tight ends are a critical part to a potent passing attack. Some teams have better receiving weapons at tight end than they do at receiver. The league is driven by passing, so if a tight end can't contribute as a receiver, he could have a hard time seeing the field. The 2014 NFL Draft has a nice group of receiving tight ends.

Ebron is the clear-cut top of the class. He has rare athletic ability to possibly be one of the elite pass-receiving tight ends in the NFL. Ebron is like having another wide receiver on the field. He is very fast with mismatch speed to get separation and run away from defensive backs. Ebron can burn man or zone coverage with the ability to produce long touchdowns. In college, he killed teams down the middle of the field with his speed and athleticism. Ebron is a matchup nightmare for the NFL.

Behind Ebron is Amaro. Last year, Amaro caught over 100 passes and dominated the Big XII. He has some quickness and is a good route-runner. Amaro is dangerous down the middle of the field and is too big for defensive backs.

Seferian-Jenkins could have been listed above Ebron and Amaro a year ago. Seferian-Jenkins' sophomore season was statistically similar to Ebron's 2013 season. Seferian-Jenkins has been a tough receiver for three years, and in the NFL, he should be a dangerous weapon in the passing game.

Niklas had only 32 receptions last year, but he's a better receiver than that total indicates. If Niklas had had a solid quarterback, his production could have been doubled. Niklas has surprising speed and quickness for a big tight end.

Grimble is another tight end who was held back by his quarterback - and injuries - but Grimble has a lot of athleticism. He has upside as a receiver and could be sleeper pick who rewards the team that drafts him.

Jensen was a good receiver for Derek Carr, but they beat up on some weak competition. Fiedorowicz has some surprising athletic ability and quickness. He will mainly be a blocking tight end, but he could be a bit of secret receiving weapon because teams will concentrate on others. Lynch is also more of a blocking tight end for the NFL.

Blocking:
NFL prototype: Heath Miller, Steelers 1.C.J. Fiedorowicz
2.Troy Niklas
3.Arthur Lynch
4.Austin Seferian-Jenkins
5.Eric Ebron
6.Jace Amaro
7.Xavier Grimble
8.Marcel Jensen


Recap: Blocking ability is still important for NFL tight ends; not just in the ground game, but in pass protection. Teams like their tight ends to have the ability to help tackles when they're going against an elite edge rusher. The top blocking tight end in the 2014 class could be Marshall's Crockett Gilmore, but the tight ends above are more well rounded and are higher-rated consensus prospects than Gilmore.

The best blocker of the group above is Fiedorowicz. He was a strong edge blocker for Iowa over the past few seasons. Fiedorowicz is strong at the point of attack and can push defenders out of the play. He can also tag-team with an offensive tackle to seal the edge. Fiedorowicz definitely has the capacity to be a tough blocking tight end who will be an asset in short-yardage and goal-line situations.

Niklas is also a very good blocker who was prepared well at Notre Dame. He is strong and blocks with some power. Georgia coached up Lynch well. He is a good technician as a blocker and contributed to Todd Gurley having good holes on the ground.

Some media have dinged Seferian-Jenkins for his blocking ability, but I think that criticism is off base. I felt Seferian-Jenkins did an overall good job last year blocking for Bishop Sankey. Seferian-Jenkins showed improvement over his career, and he has good size to be a blocker in the NFL. I think Seferian-Jenkins could develop into being an extremely well-rounded tight end for the next level.

Ebron has blocking potential as well. He has some natural strength and gets to blocks on the second level. Ebron should be a solid contributor as a blocker.

Amaro has to improve his blocking for the NFL. He needs to make big strides there, but he has size and strength to work with. It isn't all his fault as Texas Tech's spread offense really didn't prepare him for pro blocking. Grimble and Jensen both have to add strength. They both need to develop their blocking ability for the NFL.

Red Zone:
NFL prototype: Tony Gonzalez, Falcons 1.Austin Seferian-Jenkins
2.Troy Niklas
3.C.J. Fiedorowicz
4.Jace Amaro
5.Eric Ebron
6.Arthur Lynch
7.Xavier Grimble
8.Marcel Jensen


Recap: Tight ends are critical players in the red zone. Multiple tight ends are needed for goal-line packages. Many teams also like to use double-tight end sets inside the 20-yard line. A tight end who is a big target with sure hands and leaping ability is a good weapon to help produce touchdowns instead of field goals. In last year's tight end review I wrote this, "The best red-zone tight end in the 2013 NFL Draft class is UCLA's Joseph Fauria. The 6-foot-7 Bruin had 11 touchdowns last year. He is a third-day pick." Teams undervalued Fauria's red-zone prowess in the 2013 NFL Draft - much to the delight of the Lions. This year, there are some good red-zone weapons, but different from Fauria.

Seferian-Jenkins (6-5, 262) was the most productive in the red zone of this group of tight ends. He used his big frame and leaping ability to make tough receptions for Washington. Seferian-Jenkins is also skilled at finding openings for his signal-caller running down the middle. He led them all of these tight ends with eight touchdowns in 2013. Seferian-Jenkins was remarkably consistent with 21 touchdowns over the last three years. He could be a red-zone stud in the NFL.

Niklas (6-6, 270) is a similar specimen to Seferian-Jenkins. Niklas had five scores last year, but it would have been more with better quarterback play. He should be a red-zone weapon in the NFL.

Fiedorowicz is an underrated red-zone contributor. He had six scores last year. Fiedorowicz is a good blocker as well, so he should be a big part of the red-zone offense in the condensed field. The 6-foot-5, 265-pounder has the size to beat defenders in the end zone.

Amaro's ability to go up and make contested catches makes him valuable in the red zone. The 6-foot-5, 265-pounder had seven touchdown catches last year, and if his blocking improves, he'll be a good tool for the red zone.

Surprisingly, Ebron had only three touchdowns last season. He has the leaping ability and acrobatic athleticism to be weapon on fade passes and working the back of the end zone. Ebron should produce more scores in the NFL. Lynch had five scores last year and caught some teams napping on him. Grimble only had two scores while Jensen had three.

Speed:
NFL prototype: Vernon Davis, 49ers 1.Eric Ebron
2.Austin Seferian-Jenkins
3.Troy Niklas
4.Xavier Grimble
5.Jace Amaro
6.Marcel Jensen
7.C.J. Fiedorowicz
8.Arthur Lynch


Recap: The NFL is all about mismatches, and tight ends with speed are going to provide a mismatch on a weekly basis. Few teams have linebackers or safeties who can match up against an elite tight end.

The fastest player in this group is Ebron. He has the speed to beat defenders in man coverage and get down the field quickly. For the NFL, Ebron's speed should be a big problem. He is too fast for linebackers and most safeties, while being too big for cornerbacks. Ebron's rare speed makes him a huge mismatch advantage for his offense.

You might be surprised to see Seferian-Jenkins second, but in 2013, he was banged up and didn't have the speed he displayed in previous seasons. I remember in one of his first games as a freshman, Lavonte David and Seferian-Jenkins were battling each other, and the speedy David was being challenged by Seferian-Jenkins. Seferian-Jenkins has some underrated speed and explosiveness.

Niklas and Grimble also have some good speed. Each one flashed that in college. Amaro's speed is a bit of a question mark, and his slow 40s at the Combine only added to that. He is quicker than he is fast.

Jensen, Fiedorowicz and Lynch aren't particularly slow, but they won't present speed mismatches in the NFL.

Hands:
NFL prototype: Jason Witten, Cowboys 1.Jace Amaro
2.Troy Niklas
3.Eric Ebron
4.C.J. Fiedorowicz
5.Austin Seferian-Jenkins
6.Marcel Jensen
7.Arthur Lynch
8.Xavier Grimble


Recap: Tight ends with bad hands don't get thrown the ball often in the NFL. They have a hard time seeing the field and end up only playing in goal line situations and on special teams. In the group above, there isn't a player that I would say has bad hands.

Amaro, Ebron and Niklas all have really good hands. I think Amaro is the most sure-handed of the three. There are plays where it seems like he has glue on his hands. A drop is a rare sight from any of these three.

Fiedorowicz's hands were steady in college and at the Senior Bowl. He should be reliable in the NFL. Seferian-Jenkins was a reliable receiver for Washington, but had a few drops last year. He could use some work with the Jugs machine in the NFL.

Jensen, Grimble and Lynch all had good hands last season. You wouldn't say that any of them had bad hands.

H-Back:
NFL prototype: Charles Clay, Dolphins 1.Eric Ebron
2.Xavier Grimble
3.Marcel Jensen
4.Jace Amaro
5.Austin Seferian-Jenkins
6.Troy Niklas
7.C.J. Fiedorowicz
8.Arthur Lynch


Recap: Many offensive coordinators like tight ends with the flexibility to line up as an h-back. That allows them to set up more mismatches and align blocking schemes differently. Not all tight ends have the athletic ability and quickness to pull off h-back responsibilities. Aaron Hernandez was superb at it for New England and was the prototype a year ago. Charles Clay and Jordan Reed could be the top h-back tight ends in the near future, unless Ebron is used in that role.

Ebron is the best h-back tight end of all the prospects in the 2014 NFL Draft class. He has experience lining up in a variety of places and is so versatile, he played some defensive end in 2012. Ebron is so athletic and tough could possibly play some fullback in the NFL.

After Ebron, Grimble (6-4, 257) would be the next best option to play as a h-back. He is lighter than the other tight ends, so he has more agility.

Jensen and Amaro could play some h-back, but aren't natural fits. It would be interesting to see if Seferian-Jenkins or Niklas could pull off some h-back plays, but they are oversized for that role.

Fiedorowicz and Lynch are also oversized and neither of them looks like a fit for h-back.

Downfield Threat:
NFL prototype: Jimmy Graham, Saints 1.Eric Ebron
2.Jace Amaro
3.Austin Seferian-Jenkins
4.Troy Niklas
5.Xavier Grimble
6.Marcel Jensen
7.C.J. Fiedorowicz
8.Arthur Lynch


Recap: Teams have had success in recent years with tight ends being used to stretch the field down the middle seam. Big plays through the air aren't limited to just receivers as there are a number of tight ends who can get vertical. Burning a secondary with a tight end is another weapon for offenses that make a defense's job much tougher.

Projecting to the NFL, Ebron is so fast he can hurt a defense downfield. He made a number of catches for long gains as he pulled away from defenders.

Amaro had similar success going downfield at Texas Tech, but he isn't as fast as Ebron. Seferian-Jenkins made some big catches downfield in college. He does a nice job of flashing into downfield openings.

Niklas and Grimble both have the quickness and athleticism to get downfield. They could've produced more in college if they had been given the opportunities.

Jensen has nice release off the line to along with some quickness. Fiedorowicz and Lynch are bigger and look more likely to be effective on short routes.

Yards After Catch:
NFL prototype: Ron Gronkowski, Patriots 1.Eric Ebron
2.Jace Amaro
3.Austin Seferian-Jenkins
4.Troy Niklas
5.Marcel Jensen
6.Xavier Grimble
7.Arthur Lynch
8.C.J. Fiedorowicz


Recap: There are some tight ends in the NFL who are very dangerous with the ball in their hands. Having the ability to pick up yards after the catch (YAC) is not an easy trait to find in tight ends. This class has some nice options.

Ebron is a natural runner with the ball in his hands and explodes down the field for extra yards. He has vision, shiftiness and knows how to weave through traffic. In the NFL, Ebron could be a nice weapon on screen passes.

Amaro, Seferian-Jenkins and Niklas all run well with the ball in their hands. Beyond their quickness, they are big loads who can be tough to bring down. Amaro got a lot of yards after the catch last year, and Niklas showed some impressive YAC in 2013.

Jensen and Grimble can pick up yards when hit on the run. Lynch and Fiedorowicz probably won't get a lot of yards after the catch as professionals. They are effectively lumberers going against the speed of NFL defensive backs and linebackers.
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Old 03-05-2014, 12:41 PM   #13
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Interesting that a guy that dropped 1 in 10 passes is the best TE prospect in years while the guy that caught over 100 passes is boom or bust.

To me, that's backwards.
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Old 03-05-2014, 12:45 PM   #14
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Old 03-05-2014, 12:46 PM   #15
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Whichever team drafts Niklas......they're going to get a versatile weapon.
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