Top of the Class: Marc’s Best Offensive Prospects at Each Position

Teddy Bridgewater is the census #1 QB prospect, but another passer tops this list (Photo: US Presswire)

By Marc Sluis, Staff Writer

Each NFL prospect will be examined fully before Roger Goodell reads their names. The Senior Bowl and Combine help scouts get a complete picture of a prospect’s ability to play football as well as his character and professionalism off the field. Until then, all we can go on is tape. Based on their performances to date as well as how their skill sets project at the next level I’ve ranked the top two offensive prospects at each position.

#1 QB Derek Carr, Fresno St.
6’3 205

Yes, I’m sure this ranking will surprise some people. Probably not because its Derek Carr but because its not Teddy Bridgewater (who comes in at #2). Clearly a tough call as both signal callers are poised to go in the top ten, Carr gets the slight edge because of his arm strength and Bridgewater’s slender frame. The Fresno St. quarterback has the biggest arm in the class unleashing both a potent deep ball and the velocity on intermediate routes necessary at the next level. His mobility isn’t at the level of Bridgewater but he’s not a stationary target for the defense either. While arm strength can be overvalued his maturity and character cannot.

 

#2 QB Teddy Bridgewater, Louisville
6’3 218

One of the very few holes you can poke in his game is the lack of strength on his barely 200 pound frame (I don’t care what the program says). Will he be able to hold up against defenders far superior to what he’s seeing in the American Athletic Conference? We’ve seen RGIII set the league on fire and then struggle with injuries as well as the Rams Sam Bradford never reach his potential because of durability issues. What Teddy does boast is a will to win, more than enough arm strength, a fluid throwing motion, tremendous accuracy and the athleticism outside of the pocket to beat teams playing man coverage.

 

#1 RB Lache Seastrunk, Baylor
5’10 210

The former five star recruit has been passed on most running back rankings, but no other back has his combination of speed and power. Not only can he plant his foot and explode up field but his massive lower body allows him to power through arm tackles with ease. The one question is whether he can become a better receiver out of the backfield given his 9 career receptions.

 

#2 RB Melvin Gordon, Wisconsin
6’1 207

It’s a very close race between Washington’s Bishop Sankey, Ohio St.’s Carlos Hyde, Arizona’s Kadeem Carey but the explosive Gordon has the most big play ability. Averaging over 8 yards per carry the speedy Badger has proven to be capable of providing that dynamic change of pace ability so valued in today’s two back league.

 

#1 WR Sammy Watkins, Clemson
6’1 200

The electric Watkins is lethal in the open field showing sharp change of direction ability, quick acceleration and the elite top end speed to break away from a defense. Not only that but he has the size and ball skills to line up at split end, flanker and in the slot.

 

#2 WR Mike Evans, Texas A&M
6’5 225

When you watch the 6’5 Evans track the ball and out jump defenders you can’t help but picture a power forward reaching up to snatch a rebound. His combination of long arms and tremendous strength reminds some of the Bucs Vincent Jackson. Lack of speed and the struggle to separate from defenders is concerning but he still projects as a dangerous red zone weapon. Plus, his blocking ability and core strength make him a versatile enough to play a hybrid tight end role as well.

 

#1 OT Jake Matthews, Texas A&M
6’5 305

Matthews has been able to move to the left side and impressively fill the void left by #2 overall selection Luke Joeckel. When you look for a potential franchise left tackle attributes like strength, length and quick feet are at a premium and Matthews has them all. It’s the mastery of his technique and overall consistency that gives him the edge over bigger and slightly more athletic prospects. His outstanding work ethic and pedigree are just the icing on the first round cake.

 

#2 OT Cameron Erving, Florida St.
6’6 310

Erving was a defensive tackle just a few years ago and is making a seamless transition to the offensive line. He has the requisite size and strength but its his quick feet and smooth athleticism for his size that stands out the most to scouts.

 

#1 OG Cyril Richardson, Baylor
6’5 335

During his Heisman winning season RGIII’s blindside was protected by the massive 330 pound Cyril Richardson. Bringing that tackle athleticism inside to pair with his guard worthy strength and bulk makes Richardson a potentially elite guard prospect.

 

#2 OG David Yankey, Stanford
6’5 301

Another former tackle for a top 2012 draft pick in Andrew Luck Yankey, like Richardson, goes from a decent tackle prospect to an elite guard prospect. Yankey doesn’t have the sheer bulk of Richardson but is extremely mobile and would fit perfectly in an up tempo zone blocking scheme due to his versatility.

 

#1 C Travis Swanson, Arkansas
6’4 305

The Razorback’s center has enough athletic ability and strength to warrant a first round look but is more of day two talent. Last year he was named Second-Team All-SEC selection in 2012 and could very well earn First Team honors as a senior this year.

 

#2 C Bryan Stork, Florida St.
6’4 312

Stork is another blocker who has improved each year and has the strength and run blocking prowess to get a look at guard as well as center.

 

#1 TE Jace Amaro, Texas Tech
6’5 260

The NFL is a passing league and Amaro is the prototype receiving tight end so in vogue. With his long arms and soft hands he’s able reel in passes outside his frame and his athletic ability and speed is evident in his ability to get open like a receiver. When you add to the equation his solid blocking skills Amaro looks like an immediate difference maker and top 15 selection.

 

#2 TE Eric Ebron, North Carolina
6’4 245

There should be a quick disclaimer before bringing on the praise. Ebron drops far too many easy catches. If he can improve on that the sky is the limit. The Tar Heel tight end runs like a receiver and uses his tight end frame to high point the ball and brings in some really tough catches. His body control is incredible and has all the ability to be a dynamic receiving threat and really attack defenses up the seam. He is still developing as a blocker but the natural strength and understanding of leverage points to him having all the tools to be great.

 

Tags: 2014 NFL Draft Prospect Rankings, Cameron Erving, Derek Carr, Jace Amaro, lache seastrunk, Melvin Gordon, Teddy Bridgewater, Travis Swanson

22 Responses to “Top of the Class: Marc’s Best Offensive Prospects at Each Position”

  1. J H TARBORO says:

    In doing lots research and game watching this season and according to Draftek.com’s Big Board 400 players deep, this draft class loaded with talent. Our picks 1,2,3,4,6,6,7 (5th round to Eagles for Sopoga + 6 round in return ) Personally i would trade out of 1st round for something similar to last year because of this years depth and in thinking about how our vets on IR may or may not get back to form. 1st round last year was traded for 3,5,7,7.

    • steve earle says:

      Good pionts JH, Now it may not come down to a TE in the first if the big 3 are already gone and as you point out CJ Fiedorowicz would be a good alternate at TE plus if Bill felt he wanted more insurance Jacob Pederson Wis 6′ 4″ 240#, a good blocker and receiver in a run oriented off. could be available later also. rather Pederson then Layerla even in the 7th. If big 3 are gone I’ve said I thought BB will trade down though I’d like a 2nd and 3rd min and think in a QB seeking draft we should get that. With two 2nds and two 3rds and the 4th Bill should be able to fill some holes and get good talent. Also heard talk Pat’s expect to get up to 3 comp picks later in draft 6th/7th rounds. Things could get interesting. Still, if one of the top 3 TE’s are available it would not be the worst thing to grab him because I see OC as the greater need on the O-line.

      • J H TARBORO says:

        Steve E. If you can remember in last years draft only the first 6-8 players went in their collective spots and then the draft went crazy, 4-5 QBs should have been gone in the 1st round but only 1 went etc. Essentially what i’m trying to say is look at the landscape of NFL this year with all the injuries, players that we target should be there ie. TEs etc. This years draft will be same way! OL,DL,QB,and WR heavy this year . Personally i would pick up a TE, but in terms of thinking in X and Os and thinking a little outside the box, i would redo our backfield on keeping Ridley and Vereen and i would replace (Blount, Bolden, FB Devlin) for BC RB Andre Williams 6’0 220lbs. OKLA. FB Trey Millard 6’2 256lbs. and LSU FB/DT J.C. Copeland 6’0 280lbs. and develop a screen game similar to the N.O Saints. If you are an opposing team i would be very afraid on many different levels and Brady would have a lot of protection. Sounds very unconventional but do research on 3 players that i mentioned and we will talk! The FBs would be 5th-7th round picks.

        • steve earle says:

          Yes I see what you mean and I like Williams from BC and Millard from Okla too, but are they really how we should spend our limited draft picks because as you have mentioned before we have so many needs? So far I like Devlin from the limited number of snaps we’ve seen of him. Thinking out of the box is good it broadens our perspectives, still we have to make pratical decisions too. I’d be more inclined to go with upgrades inside the O-line then with RB’s on the idea better blocking makes both RB’s and QB’s more effective. Love to see us take Stark, Fla St. or Swanson, Ark OC’s for that. (only one I mean)
          As for injuries the year has been bad all over the NFL and yea last years draft did go a little crazy but look at how the QB class was rated so I wasn’t really surprised how that went. Every draft has it’s crazy stuff it’s a matter of how much and when. If Bill does trade down then we get maybe 2 more meaningful picks because I’m usually unimpressed with 6th or 7th rounders as udfa usually have about the same values.
          Your ideas are great and keeps me thinking, thank you and please continue I need the stimuli.

  2. J H TARBORO says:

    If we draft in the 1st round i would go with OG Cyril Richardson Baylor it would be the better investment, possibly having him for 10yrs. and protecting Brady! A TE in the 1st round is foolish and remember why we drated Gronk and Hernandez in the first place, we didn’t have receivers that could stetch the field and at that time also the combo worked because of their different skill sets. We have players that can stetch the field now, we need a TE that is role player first and foremost. I have a TE in mind that’s not a 1st rounder that could possibly lend more to Patriots offense in what we do than picking an ASJ, Ebron, or an Amaro it’s
    Kyle C.J. Fiedorowicz 6’7″ 260 Iowa Ferentz coached which has Belichick ties. The key here is a better blocking TE than the 3 listed above with a great wing span and catching radius and fit his role well here.
    1st round on a TE is what it sounds like Crazy! to many other needs.

  3. Jeff says:

    What do people think of these as top 4 picks?

    1st – CB Justin Gilbert
    2nd – G Xavier Su’a-Filo
    3rd – C Tyler Larsen
    4th – TE Arthur Lynch

    I’d like to see a DT, but with the number of DTs they’ll have on the roster already next year, it might not hurt to wait one more year unless someone really drops to them. This draft could land replacements for Talib, Wendell, and Connolly (FA in 2015) and give a 3rd TE option behind Gronk and the FA acquisition of Buffalo’s Chandler. Re-sign Fletcher and grab a couple of one-year vets at DE and RB and you’ve got a deep roster all around, with the exception of maybe WR where you will be banking on the continued emergence of Dobson, Thompkins, Boyce, and Harrison or Moe. You can use your late-round picks (including potentially a couple of comp. 6th rounders) to fill out your depth with likely practice squad members or special teamers.

  4. Henry Carmen says:

    Right now I would be satisfied with our draft class looking like this:
    1st: TE Austin Seferian Jenkins
    2nd: DT Daquan Jones
    3rd: QB David Fales
    4th: OLB/DE Jeremiah Attaochu
    6th: WR Jeff Janis
    6th: DB Dexter McDougle
    7th: OL Austin Wentworth

    • MarcSluis says:

      ASF and Gronk would be scary. Jones is exactly the guy they need in the middle to control the line of scrimmage I could so see BB take a guy like Fales in the 3rd

      • steve earle says:

        Nice breakdown of top players Marc. In your reply to Henry Carmen you said you could see BB taking Fales in the 3rd. You have greater resources then but I read in Draft scout that Fales “throws more rainbows then ropes”. That worries me when speaking of NFL QB’s. Does that bother you at all? What am I missing?

        • MarcSluis says:

          You bring up a great point. Personally I’m not a big Fales fan. He has decent arm strength but lacks velocity. When he throws deep he gets the distance but it really flutters, with too much air underneath it. He is mobile to a degree but nothing special. I like Bortles more than Fales to be honest.

          The only reason I say I could see BB take Fales in the third is because he is a “system” guy that would fit Bill’s gameplan (smart, accurate, enough arm to stretch the D at times) and based on the consensus he would be a great value. Plus he seems to be fine taking guys that other teams like with the mindset to leverage him for more picks later.

    • steve earle says:

      Good one! I could live with this but let me suggest,

      1) Austin Seferian-Jenkins, TE
      2) Travis Swanson OC
      3) Blake Bortles QB
      4) Ahmad Dixon SS
      6) Spencer Long OG
      6) Isaiah Lewis S
      7) bpa

      • MarcSluis says:

        All great values. Again, I could see BB take Bortles too. In such a QB rich draft, I can easily see Bill snag a guy with tools to develop behind one of the best or trade down the line. He plays with value so well

  5. John says:

    Would love to see something like this:

    1st: Eric Ebron (kind of a pipedream, at this point)
    2nd: DaQuan Jones
    3rd: Stanley Jean-Baptiste
    4th: Weston Richburg

    • MarcSluis says:

      Those picks would address some major needs and are all good fits. I like Stanley Jean-Baptiste especially for the Pats system defensively. He’s a tad risky but has excellent size and athleticism.

  6. Russell Easterbrooks says:

    Enjoy your articles Marc, thanks for your hard work! I’ve made some changes to my Patriots Mock, and I like this group of guys;

    1st; OC Travis Swanson
    2nd; QB A.J. McCarron
    3d; TE Arthur Lynch
    4th; CB/S Tre Boston
    6th; RB Tyler Gaffney
    6th; DT Zac Kerr
    7th; OG Spencer Long (injured)

    I still doubt QB McCarron will be available late 2nd round, and IF Ryan Mallett is the future of the Patriots (I think No) then this would change my Mock. CB Boston is a sleeper not given as good a scouting report by many, I disagree. The guy is around the ball all the time, had 4 picks last year at CB, and this year has 4 picks at S. Is a good tackler, and good size at 6’1″ 205 , runs a 4.5 40.

    • MarcSluis says:

      Thanks, much appreciated. It looks like a lot of us are thinking TE, DT, C and CB are the major needs for the Pats. Boston is definitely a solid player who has been a little lost in the shuffle.

    • steve earle says:

      Another good one Russell. Question, think TE Lynch would be a 3rd where Pat’s would be picking? Also you think McCarron will be gone x bottom of 2nd. I suggest Bortles has a like upside. Another question, I’ve put TE Lyecla at the bottom of a couple of my test mocks, do you think he would be worth the risk even there? I have my own doubts.

      • Russell Easterbrooks says:

        Hi Steve, TE Arther Lynch, could be gone, as he’s the #4 TE in the class, but with the Gronk injury ( out for a year) and the likely hood the Patriots do not resign Talib, I’m re-thinking my Mock. I don’t like QB Bortles as good as McCarron, and wonder if Bortles will stay in school one more year.
        I’m not sure about using a draft pick on TE Lyecla, I would not. A guy I like later in the draft is TE Crockett Gilmore 6’6″ 255 (6th??)
        CB/S Keith McGill is moving up draft boards, I like him at 6’2″ 205lbs (4th??)

        • steve earle says:

          Hi Russell. I know you like McCarron but you also think he will likely be gone. Bortles should be around where Pat’s pick if he doesn’t stay in school which given the year he is having makes me think he will come out, but who knows? I do like the up-side he offers, strong arm, quick release and good reads plus he’s mobile but basically a pocket passer.
          About TE’s better, as of now, to pick Amaro or ASJ in 1st imo. Other options could be available later but given the TE importance to the offense I’d go with the former.
          I like this kid Devlin the more I see of him and would like to see him get more chances in games. He’s not Gronk but still gives us good match up advantages and is tough to bring down.
          I really like Swanson but given there are several OC options I’d hold out for taking him with the 2nd even if we had to move up into the mid 2nd round to do so. We both like Long, G from Neb, as later value pick but I’d look for him early 6th rd as we are probably not the only value seekers around.
          All for now, keep the ideas flowing Russel.

        • Russell Easterbrooks says:

          Well Steve to be honest I think #4 QB’s will picked BEFORE the Patriots 1st pick, McCarron, Bridgewater, Carr, and Bortles. Mettenberger in the Second, the lost guy is Murray maybe 3d round, so the Patriots may end up going with my earlier pick at QB Jeff Mathews 6th???
          The big name TE’s will all be gone before the Patriots choose, Amaro, Jenkins, and Ebron. Fedorwicz and Lynch are possiblities how ever. Patriots may look at Coleman from Rutgers 6’6″ 220 as a high-bred TE. We have Harrison 6’4″ 230 on IR as a high-bred possiblity at TE, So Bill may go with a high-bred type guy he can work out of the TE position. The reason I think Lynch works is he is a great blocker, so he can be on the field all the time. High-bred type guys don’t block near as good, so it tips the Offence’s hand if Bill Sub’s them for a blocker. Lynch doen’t compared to the top three as a pass catcher, but the potenial is there. Crockett Gilmore is an interesting prospect at TE 6’6″ 255, as a late pick 6th-7th?

        • steve earle says:

          I agree 4 maybe 5 QB’s going in the 1st rd. I see Bridgewater, Carr, Hundley, Manziel, and Boyd all possible 1st’s. The rest are 2nd day picks at best. About TE’s, not sure more then 2 go in 1st rd before we pick. Reasoning that Atlanta is also desperate for DE and OT may forgo the TE until their 2nd rd seems reasonable to me. The only other team besides Pat’s in great need may be GB though not saying someone else may not go with value pick at the position but that’s even odds so I’d expect one of the top 3 would be around for us to grab. I’d risk that because I see 3, 2nd day TE’s of good value. Besides we already have a couple blocking TE’s on the roster and there is always an OT that can be sent out to add some weight to the blocking. But thing is that if all 3 top TE’s are gone then I’d bet a coffee and doughnut Bill trades down again.

      • acm says:

        Lynch is one of the better prospects at TE this year but I don’t think he suits the Pats needs at the position given how heavily TE-dependent the O is with them. I think Lynch is a 4th rounder in general but his passing game is still very much developing and while he is a good blocker, I don’t think he would offer anything more than what Mulligan or Devlin or Hooman already are for at least another 2 years, quite possibly never. Just too limited an athlete and too limited in the passing game too in order to rest TE duties on his shoulders in the absence of Gronk, imo.

        With the latest developments surrounding Gronk’s injury and the recovery timeline, I’d go with a more accomplished TE early – Amaro/ASJ in the 1st or if none of those fall there, trade out of the 1st and get Fiedorowicz with the first pick in the 2nd and then Layerla in the 7th round.






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