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NFL Draft Field Of 64

by David Seigerman
Mar 20, 2014 7:36 PM EDT



Mock Drafts tend to run off the tracks for the same reason actual drafts do. Whenever need trumps value, bad decisions get made. 

It's important to remember that every draft starts not by identifying positions of need but by assembling a Big Board -- a ranking of all available prospects, assembled not in the heat of a live draft but shaped mindfully over the months of evaluation. When teams reach for prospects to fill their holes, they wind up missing far more often than not.

Take Houston, for example. The Texans have a need at quarterback. But if their board doesn't have a quarterback at the top (or reasonably near the top), then taking a quarterback first is a bad move. They're more likely to find a value pick at No. 33 than with No. 1 overall.

Keep that in mind when you're reading Mock Drafts or filling out one of your own. Are you giving the Browns a quarterback at No. 4 because they need one or because you have a quarterback ranked among your five best prospects, who would represent a responsible pick for Cleveland so early in the draft? Are you giving Carolina a receiver or left tackle at No. 28? That should depend on what your board tells you to take.

Here's a look at the top two rounds' worth of prospects on my Big Board as it stands on this last day of winter, my field of 64 exactly seven weeks in advance of the draft:

1. Jadeveon Clowney DE South Carolina Best player available, and the most intriguing front seven defensive prospect to come out since Lavar Arrington in 2000.
2. Jake Matthews T Texas A&M Safest pick in the draft: size, strength, experience, technique -- even pedigree -- are all ideal.
3. Greg Robinson T Auburn Already a monster in run blocking, will develop to be as dominant in pass protection.
4. Sammy Watkins WR Clemson Best prospect at the deepest position in the draft.
5. Khalil Mack OLB Buffalo Not just a pass rusher, Mack will be an effective three-down linebacker.
6. C.J. Mosley ILB Alabama Most complete linebacker prospect available; only concern is that he's slightly undersized. Can he withstand the pounding he'll take being invovled on so many tackles?
7. Eric Ebron TE North Carolina Plays more like a big receiver than a tight end; will run a receiver's full route tree -- just don't ask him to stay in and block.
8. Aaron Donald DT Pitt When Warren Sapp calls you an ideal 3 technique tackle, it's a pretty telling endorsement.
9. Taylor Lewan T Michigan The No. 3 tackle this year is a better prospect than any of the three tackles taken in the first four picks last year.
10. Odell Beckham Jr. WR LSU Terrific athlete with hands to match, he'll make acrobatic plays as well as the conventional ones. Special teams dimension adds to his value.
11. Anthony Barr OLB UCLA Like Dion Jordan in 2012, Barr will come into the league as a promising work in progress. Has the athleticism and instincts to grow into a consistently distruptive force.
12. Teddy Bridgewater QB Louisville Shaky Pro Day notwithstanding, Bridgewater remains the most NFL-ready of the QB Class of 2014. His accuracy in games far exceeded what he showed in his Pro Day.
13. Calvin Pryor S Louisville Every time I watched a Louisville game to evaluate Bridgewater, the guy I came away even more impressed with was Pryor, my No.1 safety.
14. Darqueze Dennard CB Michigan State Best cover corner in the draft. His measurables don't compare to Justin Gilbert's, but he's the far more developed corner.
15. Bradley Roby CB Ohio State I suspect Roby grew up a lot as a prospect this season, which was subpar by everyone's expectations -- especially his own. Tremendous athlete with potentially elite instincts.
16. Mike Evans WR Texas A&M A big, physical, playmaking receiver. He will need to prove he can get separation, as he was at his best in college on broken plays.
17. Ha'Sean Clinton-Dix S Alabama The top pure free safety in the draft; lacks Pryor's skills in coverage and run support.
18. Marqise Lee WR USC Once considered the top WR prospect in this class, Lee remains a big-play threat who can line up anywhere in the formation.
19. Justin Gilbert CB Oklahoma State Gilbert is a far better athlete than cornerback at the moment, far better suited to play zone than man. His special teams contributions are a big plus.
20. Ra'Shede Hageman DT/DE Minnesota Most versatile DL available; can play DT in a 4-3 front, but may be even better suited to play DE in an odd front.
21. Blake Bortles QB UCF Bortles has prototype size, presence and ability to handle an NFL offense. His decision-making sometimes will write checks his arm can't cash.
22. Louis Nix III DT Notre Dame The 2012 version of Nix was a top-10 prospect. He looked slower this past season, but he remains remarkably quick for a 331-pound nose tackle.
23. Austin Seferian-Jenkins TE Washington He's not the polished receiver that Ebron is. ASJ compensates by being a complete TE prospect, who will block as effectively as he makes plays in the passing game.
24. Zack Martin G Notre Dame Technique honed over tremendous college career. Lack of length moves him from tackle to guard at the next level.
25. Jordan Matthews WR Vanderbilt An inconsistent week of Senior Bowl practice should not undermine what we know -- Matthews is a solid route runner with thoroughly reliable hands. He could blossom once he finally has the chance to play with a talented QB.
26. Brandin Cooks WR Oregon State Has everything you'd want in a slot receiver: quickness, straightahead speed, reliable hands.
27. Jason Verrett CB TCU He lacks the size to be a boundary corner, but he has the skills and toughness to step in as slot corner from Day One.
28. Kelvin Benjamin WR Florida State Not sure why he's plummeting in public perception; he might not have the upside or speed that Evans does, but he's an immediate red zone threat and big-bodied possession receiver.
29. Ryan Shazier OLB Ohio State Like Mosley, he's a terrific LB prospect whose biggest drawback is lack of ideal size. I'd like to see him tackle more and hit less.
30. Kyle Fuller CB Virginia Tech Emerged as the best CB prospect from Va Tech, with the length and athleticism every team is looking for.
31. Jeremy Hill RB LSU I know all about the devaluation of running backs in general. But we saw last year the impact a talented rookie RB can have on an offense. Hill is a powerful runner with better speed and lateral agility than Eddie Lacy.
32. Derek Carr QB Fresno State Love the potential symmetry of Carr being taken by the Texans with the first pick -- of the second round.
33. Timmy Jernigan DT Florida State Bigger than Donald and about as quick, Jernigan will be solid against the run but might not put pressure on the QB as consistently as Donald.
34. Kony Ealy DE Missouri The 2nd-best 4-3 DE in the draft class, only because he has more prototypical size than Dee Ford, who is the more dangerous pass rusher of the two.
35. Dee Ford DE Auburn Unfortunately, a tweener -- his lightning first step is best utilized as a down lineman; his size suggests he should play standing up, though he lacks the full range of LB skills. Perhaps just a situational pass rusher early in his career.
36. Lamarcus Joyner CB Florida State Maybe a slot corner, maybe a free safety, absolutely a playmaker who will contribute wherever he lines up.
37. Gabe Jackson G Mississippi State At 6-3, 336, Jackson looks the way you would draw up a guard -- powerful lower body, quick first step, good reach.
38. Davante Adams WR Fresno State A sure-handed receiver who won't blow anyone away, Adams seems ideally suited for the spread offenses being played throughout the league. He'll be open, and he'll catch whatever's thrown his way -- even contested balls.
39. Jace Amaro TE Texas Tech Great size, great production, good hands and speed. Tested extremely well at the Combine, proving his overall athleticism.
40. Jeremiah Attaochu OLB Georgia Tech Georgia Tech didn't do Attaochu any favors developmentally by playing him at DE in 2013. He had a productive season (12.5 sacks), but he's clearly an outside backer at the next level. Poor man's Dee Ford.
41. Carlos Hyde RB Ohio State Powerful downhill runner who will break tackles but rarely shake them.
42. Stephon Tuitt DE Notre Dame Potentially the best natural 3-4 DE in the draft. Long and strong, he'll occupy opposing tackles, though he won't enjoy the same success he enjoyed rushing the passer in college (21.5 career sacks). May wind up a 4-3 DT.
43. Kyle Van Noy OLB BYU Good instincts against the run, solid in coverage, will be an effective blitzer. If he were a bit bigger and faster, he'd be considered a candidate for first-round selection.
44. Dominique Easley DT Florida Like Donald and Jernigan, a promising 3 technique tackle. Big question: will torn ACL affect his quickness and burst, which are his best traits?
45. Johnny Manziel QB Texas A&M Deadly combination of size, style of play and reckless attitude will make it impossible for him to stay on the field at the next level. All-time college great whose game doesn't translate to the NFL. Anyone taking a chance in the first round is reaching.
46. David Yankey G Stanford Equally adept in run and pass situations, Yankey limited mobility is offset by technical soundness; he seemed rarely to be out of position.
47. Jimmie Ward SS Northern Illinois Tremendous production (3+ seasons of at least 95 tackles, 11 career INTs) for an undersized strong safety. Only nine bench press reps at the Combine could be a red flag.
48. Trent Murphy OLB Stanford Looks far better on film than he did in Senior Bowl or at Combine. Not the most fluid athlete, he still should be able to rush the passer and stop the run as a 3-4 Will backer.
49. Cyrus Kouandjio T Alabama Didn't develop as expected during his junior season. He's still raw, but has the size, reach and balance to step in as a right tackle; might never have the quickness to move to the left side.
50. Craig Loston S LSU Similar style to Pryor, though Loston may be even better in coverage. Aggressive, physical defender always around the football.
51. Chris Borland ILB Wisconsin Classic Mike backer who will make tackles everywhere. He'd benefit tremendously playing in a 4-3 scheme, behind two DTs who will keep blockers off him, and Borland's lack of size and length threatens to get him erased once engaged by OL.
52. Jarvis Landry WR LSU Beckham was the more sensational of the LSU receivers in 2013; Landry was just as steady. Possesses NFL hands and a tenacity in competing for contested throws.
53. Troy Niklas TE Notre Dame More a classic two-way TE than a vertical threat (like Ebron); will make catches in traffic and a willing blocker. Still learning the position after coming to South Bend to play defense.
54. Donte Moncrief WR Mississippi Tested well and excelled in drills at Combine; inconsistent junior season during which he showed glimpses of No. 1 receiver potential.
55. Terrance Brooks S Florida State Highly athletic hybrid safety who supports the run as capably as he can cover the deep middle.
56. Kareem Martin DE North Carolina Further along as run-stopper than pass rusher at the moment, but has the strength, instincts and initial burst to develop into either DE spot in an even front.
57. Marcus Roberson CB Florida Disappointing 2013 season, during which he never took the next step forward, followed by a poor Combine. He flashed shutdown corner traits often enough to give me hope there's a big leap to come at the next level.
58. Telvin Smith OLB Florida State When he ran a 4.58 at the Combine (same as Pryor), it confirmed what I suspected all along -- Smith will make the transition from OLB to safety, where his lean build (6-3, 218) will not be a detriment.
59. Morgan Moses T Virginia Like Kouandjio and Tiny Richardson, has the size, strength, reach and limited mobility that suggests a move to right tackle.

60. Scott Crichton

DE Oregon State Perfect size and skill set to play LDE in a 4-3 front. Stout run defender, just don't expect much as pass rusher.
61. Zach Mettenberger QB LSU Classic big-bodied, big-armed pocket passer who showed signs of real promise under Cam Cameron's tutelage. Can handle an NFL playbook. I can see the Broncos or Patriots taking him late Day Two and grooming him for the future.
62. Deonne Bucannon S Washington State Has the tenacity and explosiveness to play strong safety; lack of quickness and recovery speed may get exposed in certain coverages.
63. Antonio Richardson T Tennessee Has ideal size (6-6, 336) and strength (36 reps at the Combine), but struggled against speed rushers. Likely will move to right side to begin NFL career.
64. Xavier Su'a-Filo G UCLA Probably better technically as a pass blocker than in the run game at this point; move inside to guard should boost his draft stock.