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Stacking The Final Draft Board

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Clemson receiver Sammy Watkins is the most promising offensive playmaker in the 2014 NFL Draft. Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images.
Clemson receiver Sammy Watkins is the most promising offensive playmaker in the 2014 NFL Draft. Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images.

I have to come clean. I never read "The Canterbury Tales." Or maybe I did (I was an English major back in college, a hundred or so years ago) and I just blacked it out.

That could be, because when I first heard a reference to "the Chanticleer's Lorenzo Taliaferro," I figured it sounded like one of Chaucer's pilgrims. 

I was wrong. 

Turns out, Lorenzo Taliaferro is a running back from Coastal Carolina. I learned that almost by happenstance, flipping on Montana's second-round game in the FCS playoffs to catch a glimpse of Jordan Tripp, a draftable prospect I was interested in watching. I watched Taliaferro, made a few notes (more about his willingness as a blocker than anything that impressed me as a runner, even on his 51-yard touchdown to put the game out of reach) and reminded myself to do a little more digging on him after the season. 

Since then, I've seen game film of Taliaferro against Presbyterian and Liberty (which would never have been possible without the incredible efforts from the folks at DraftBreakdown.com). I watched him enough to form an opinion on Taliaferro's strengths and weaknesses as an NFL prospect, and can now say with confidence he's one of the top 211 prospects in this year's draft.

Now, at long last, after about eight months of such film study, watching everyone from Abbrederis to Zumwalt, I am able to stack my own seven-round Draft Board, which is exactly what every NFL team does to prepare for the draft.

They rank every prospect they have scouted, so that when the draft comes, they are prepared to make a decision in the heat of the moment. During the live draft, utilizing the Draft Board is all about value, not about need. If you're the Titans, say, and you're picking 11th and you need a cornerback, and you have no cornerback with a grade that warrants being picked at No. 11, then your Draft Board urges you to go in another direction -- or suffer the inevitable consequences of having reached to fill a need.

Sticking to your draft board is not easy, not when names are flying off it, especially at positions you know you have to fill. That's why runs on a particular position happen. Once the first quarterback comes off the board, whenever it is, teams start panicking that one they like won't be left when they're on the clock. They don't want to be the one left standing when the music stops, so they grab the first available quarterback on their board, even if his grade doesn't validate the selection there. In cases like that -- which happen all the time -- you' wind up taking a quarterback too early, which doesn't help you, and you've left better prospects on the table, which also will hurt you.

Every decision is born of a carefully constructed Draft Board (or should be). And so, in our final preparations for the 2014 NFL Draft, I give you the final Football.com Board of 2014, and encourage you to keep referencing it to see whether your team is reaching on Thursday night or right on target.

FIRST ROUND SECOND ROUND THIRD ROUND
1. Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina 33. Xavier Su'a-Filo, G, UCLA 65. Donte Moncrief, WR, Mississippi
2. Jake Matthews, T, Texas A&M 34. Jeremiah Attaochu, OLB, Georgia Tech 66. Scott Crichton, DE, Oregon St.
3. Khalil Mack, OLB, Buffalo 35. Lamarcus Joyner, CB, Florida State 67. Telvin Smith, OLB, Florida St.
4. Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson 36. Jordan Matthews, WR, Vanderbilt 68. David Yankey, G, Stanford
5. Greg Robinson, T, Auburn 37. Zach Mettenberger, QB, LSU 69. Weston Richburg, C, Colorado St.
6. C.J. Mosley, ILB, Alabama 38. Dee Ford, DE, Auburn 70. Gabe Jackson, G, Mississippi St.
7. Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina 39. Davante Adams, WR, Fresno St. 71. Antone Exum, CB, Virginia Tech
8. Aaron Donald, DT, Pitt 40. Timmy Jernigan, DT, Florida St. 72. Brandon Thomas, G, Clemson
9. Taylor Lewan, T, Michigan 41. Stephon Tuitt, DE, Notre Dame 73. Brandon Coleman, WR, Rutgers
10. Odell Beckham Jr., WR, LSU 42. Jace Amaro, TE, Texas Tech 74. Phillip Gaines, CB, Rice
11. Anthony Barr, OLB, UCLA 43. Jarvis Landry, WR, LSU 75. A.J. McCarron, QB, Alabama
12. Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville 44. Kony Ealy, DE, Missouri 76. Marcus Martin, C, USC
13. Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M 45. Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M 77. Antonio Richardson, T, Tennessee
14. Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan St. 46. Trent Murphy, OLB, Stanford 78. Keith McGill, CB, Utah
15. Bradley Roby, CB, Ohio St. 47. Kareem Martin, DE, North Carolina 79. Caraun Reid, DT, Princeton
16. Zack Martin, G, Notre Dame 48. Kyle Van Noy, OLB, BYU 80. Martavis Bryant, WR, Clemson
17. Calvin Pryor, S, Louisville 49. Chris Borland, ILB, Wisconsin 81. Trai Turner, G, LSU
18. Marqise Lee, WR, USC 50. Cody Latimer, WR, Indiana 82. Ka'Deem Carey, RB, Arizona
19. Ra'Shede Hageman, DT, Minnesota 51. Joel Bitonio, T, Nevada 83. Allen Robinson, WR, Penn State
20. Ha'Sean Clinton-Dix, S, Alabama 52. Marcus Roberson, CB, Florida 84. Shayne Skov, ILB, Stanford
21. Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma St. 53. Paul Richardson, WR,  Colorado 85. Pierre Desir, CB, Lindenwood
22. Austin Seferian-Jenkins, TE, Washington 54. Troy Niklas, TE, Notre Dame 86. Jimmy Garoppolo, QB, Eastern Illinois
23. Ryan Shazier, OLB, Ohio St. 55. Cyrus Kouandjio, T, Alabama 87. Marcus Smith, DE, Louisville
24. Kyle Fuller, CB, Virginia Tech 56. Jimmie Ward, S, Northern Illinois 88. Stanley Jean-Baptiste, CB, Nebraska
25. Brandin Cooks, WR, Oregon St. 57. Morgan Moses, T, Virginia 89. DaQuan Jones, NT, Penn State
26. Blake Bortles, QB, UCF 58. Bruce Ellington, WR, South Carolina 90. Tre Mason, RB, Auburn
27. Jason Verrett, CB, TCU 59. Dominique Easley, DT, Florida 91. Kelcy Quarles, DT, South Carolina
28. Jeremy Hill, RB, LSU 60. Craig Loston, S, LSU 92. Bashaud Breeland, CB, Clemson
29. Kelvin Benjamin, WR, Florida State 61. Terrance Brooks, S, Florida St. 93. Brent Urban, DT, Virginia
30. Louis Nix III, NT, Notre Dame 62. Demarcus Lawrence, OLB, Boise St. 94. Bishop Sankey, RB, Washington
31. Derek Carr, QB, Fresno St. 63. Ja'Wuan James, T, Tennessee 95. Tom Savage, QB, Pitt
32. Carlos Hyde, RB, Ohio St. 64. Deonne Bucannon, S, Washington St. 96. Jaylen Watkins, CB, Florida
FOURTH ROUND FIFTH ROUND SIXTH ROUND
97. Jared Abbrederis, WR, Wisconsin 129. Devonta Freeman, RB, Florida St. 161. Stephen Morris, QB, Miami
98. Billy Turner, T, North Dakota St. 130. Marcel Jensen, TE, Fresno St. 162. Bryan Stork, C, Florida St.
99. Dri Archer, RB, Kent St. 131. John Brown, WR, Pittsburg St. 163. Tre Boston, S, North Carolina
100. Dakota Dozier, G, Furman 132. Terrance West, RB, Towson 164. Deandre Coleman, DT, Cal
101. Lamin Barrow, ILB, LSU 133. Travis Swanson, C, Arkansas 165. Andrew Jackson, ILB, W. Kentucky
102. Daniel McCullers, NT, Tennessee 134. Lache Seastrunk, RB, Baylor 166. Daniel Sorensen, CB, BYU
103. Vic Hampton, CB, South Carolina 135. Kevin Norwood, WR, Alabama 167. Jeofrrey Pagan, DE, Alabama
104. Robert Herron, WR, Wyoming 136. Christian Jones, OLB, Florida St. 168. Josh Huff, WR, Oregon
105. Aaron Murray, QB, Georgia 137. Jeff Janis, WR, Saginaw Valley St. 169. Cameron Fleming, T, Stanford
106. Jackson Jeffcoat, OLB, Texas 138. Zach Fulton, G, Tennessee 170. Howard Jones, OLB, Shepherd
107. Dion Bailey, S, USC 139. Anthony Johnson, DT, LSU 171. Ross Cockrell, CB, Duke
108. Jordan Tripp, OLB, Montana 140. Dez Southward, S, Wisconsin 172. Ronald Powell, OLB, Florida
109. Preston Brown, ILB, Louisville 141. Brandon Linder, G, Miami 173. Jake Murphy, TE, Utah
110. Jack Mewhort, T, Ohio State 142. Ed Stinson, DE, Alabama 174. Kasim Edebali, DE, Boston College
111. Trevor Reilly, OLB, Utah 143. Aaron Colvin, CB, Oklahoma 175. Josh Mauro, DE, Stanford
112. Russell Bodine, C, North Carolina 144. Andre Williams, RB, Boston College 176. Ahmad Dixon, S, Baylor
113. James White, RB, Wisconsin 145. Nevin Lawson, CB, Utah St. 177. John Urschel, G, Penn St.
114. Brock Vereen, S, Minnesota 146. Zach Kerr, NT, Delaware 178. Terrance Mitchell, CB, Oregon
115. Aaron Lynch, OLB, South Florida 147. Chris Watt, G, Notre Dame 179. James Hurst, T, North Carolina
116. Marqueston Huff, CB, Wyoming 148. Will Clarke, DE, West Virginia 180. Larry Webster, DE, Bloosmburg
117. Logan Thomas, QB, Virginia Tech 149. Taylor Hart, DE, Oregon 181. Avery Williamson, ILB, Kentucky
118. Seantrel Henderson, T, Miami 150. Chris Smith, OLB, Arkansas 182. Ryan Grant, WR, Tulane
119. James Gayle, DE, Virginia Tech 151. Jalen Saunders, WR, Oklahoma 183. Antonio Andrews, RB, Western Kentucky
120. Carl Bradford, OLB, Arizona St. 152. Shamar Stephen, DT, Connecticut 184. Christian Kirskey, OLB, Iowa
121. Ego Ferguson, DT, LSU 153. Rashaud Reynolds, CB, Oregon St. 185. Jordan Zumwalt, OLB, UCLA
122. Loucheiz Purifoy, CB, Florida 154. Max Bullough, ILB, Michigan State 186. E.J. Gaines, CB, Missouri
123. Charles Sims, RB, West Virginia 155. Yawin Smallwood, ILB, Connecticut 187. Nat Berhe, S, San Diego St.
124. C.J. Fiderorowicz, TE, Iowa 156. Will Sutton, DT, Arizona St. 188. Mike Davis, WR, Texas
125. Dontae Johnson, CB, NC State 157. Jemea Thomas, CB, Georgia Tech 189. Hakeem Smith, S, Louisville
126. Cyril Richardson, G, Baylor 158. Michael Schofield, T, Michigan 190. Walk Aikens, CB, Liberty
127. Ed Reynolds, S, Stanford 159. Crockett Gilmore, TE, Colorado St. 191. Jerick McKinnon, RB, Ga. Southern
128. Justin Ellis, NT, Louisiana Tech 160. Devin Street, WR, Pitt 192. Bene Benwikere, CB, San Jose St.
SEVENTH ROUND
193. Ben Gardner, DE, Stanford
194. Trey Millard, FB, Oklahoma
195. Jonathan Brown, OLB, Illinois
196. Khryi Thornton, DT, Southern Miss
197. Kevin Pierre-Louis, OLB, Boston College
198. Matt Hazel, WR, Coastal Carolina
199. Marlon Grice, RB, Arizona St.
200. Shaquille Barrett, OLB, Colorado St.
201. De'Anthony Thomas, RB, Oregon
202. Richard Rodgers, TE, Cal
203. J.C. Copeland, FB, LSU
204. Shaq Evans, WR, UCLA
205. Denicos Allen, CB, Michigan St.
206. Beau Allen, DT, Wisconsin
207. Ricardo Allen, CB, Purdue
208. Devon Kennard, OLB, USC
209. Tyler Gaffney, RB, Stanford
210. Cassius Marsh, DE, UCLA
211. Lorenzo Taliaferro, RB, Coastal Carolina
212. Michael Campanaro, WR, Wake Forest
213. Michael Sam, OLB, Missouri
214. David Fales, QB, San Jose St.
215. Prince Shembo, OLB, Notre Dame
216. A.C. Leonard, TE, Tennessee St.
217. Tyler Starr, OLB, South Dakota
218. Chris Davis, CB, Auburn
219. Kenny Ladler, S, Vanderbilt
220. Wesley Johnson, C, Vanderbilt
221. Damian Copeland, WR, Louisville
222. Connor Shaw, QB, South Carolina
223. Storm Johnson, RB, UCF
224. Colt Lyerla, TE, Oregon