NEPD Editor: Mike Loyko
Every year prospects are ranked and put into categories based on a variety of traits: talent, style of play, or position. Among the most popular ways to group players are to label them “Busts”, “Overrated” or “Risky”.
Since I often get asked about the prospects I believe are overrated, underrated, or risky, I’ve decided to make one comprehensive post that includes all the lists and rankings relevant to the 2014 NFL Draft, including the players “Most likely to become Patriots”.
Most Overrated Prospects
1. Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma State – Still a very good CB prospect, but he gives up too much separation and is far from the top ten talent that some are projecting him to be.
2. Ra’Shede Hageman, DL, Minnesota – Everything with him is upside and potential. He has too many flaws in his current game to warrant his middle-late first round status.
3. Blake Bortles, QB, Central Florida – Too many mechanical flaws and not enough “wow” film to justify a top ten selection. A project that will struggle if forced to start from day one.
4. Jordan Matthews, WR, Vanderbilt – Will struggle to separate vs. NFL caliber cornerbacks and lacks a standout skill to make him standout from the pack. Likely never more than an NFL “average” receiver. If he goes in the first round, yikes!
5. Marcus Roberson, CB, Florida – His tape leaves a lot to be desired and his timed measurables are among the worst in the entire draft. Bad tape plus bad workouts equal a bad combination.
6. Dan McCullers, DT, Tennessee – Mike Mayock and others still have this guy ranked in the day two mix. I’ve seen him live and on film and he’s a very underwhelming prospect.
Most Underrated Prospects
1. Lamarcus Joyner, SAF, Florida State – If he were 5’11” or 6’0″ tall he’d be a first round pick. Without a doubt one of the most impactful defenders in the 2014 Draft Class. He’s not the Honey Badger, but he’ll make a ton of plays at the next level.
2. Trai Turner, OG, LSU – Flying under the radar by most because he entered the draft after his Redshirt Sophomore season. Turner is one of the most talented interior linemen with massive long term upside.
3. Marcus Smith, OLB, Louisville – Versatile and fluid Linebacker. Can be deployed as a pass rusher, but also has the movement skills to become an impact coverage linebacker.
4. Bruce Ellington, WR, South Carolina – A “clean” prospect that boasts an impressive draft resume. He’s better than a lot of the Wide Receivers that will go before him. Fully committed to football for only a year, the sky is the limit with the proper development.
5. Kevin Pierre-Louis, OLB, Boston College – He’s been Boston College’s best defender the last two season. He has a nose for the football and is the fastest linebacker in the draft. KPL won’t go very high, but he’s a starting WLB in due time.
6. Justin Ellis, DT, Louisiana Tech – Not receiving much hype or buzz, but he had as good of a “post-season” as anyone in the draft. Went to the Shrine Game and to the Senior Bowl, and turned heads at both events.
Most Likely to be Picked Too Early
1. Tom Savage, QB, Pittsburgh – Appears to be a lock to be picked in the first 40 selections, despite average film and poor decision making. The team that reaches for him better be prepared for the growing pains he will inevitably face.
2. Stanley Jean-Baptiste, CB, Nebraska – Teams will fall in love with his size-speed measurables, but his production and skill-set doesn’t warrant an early second round pick. He’s bounced around, is overage, and had few games where he makes an impact.
3. Allen Robinson, WR, Penn State – Buzz surrounding Robinson is that he could go in the first round. Another WR that lacks a standout skill and a player I believe will have trouble separating from coverage in the NFL.
4. Ra’Shede Hageman, DT, Minnesota – There is talk that he may go in the top 20 picks, which is a hefty price to pay for this player. If you get him in the 2nd round that’s fine, but the top 20 picks is way too rich for my liking.
5. Kareem Martin, DE, North Carolina – Despite great production at UNC and good workout numbers, this is someone I believe will have trouble generating pass rush on his own at the NFL level. He’s more of a late 3rd-early 4th round prospect in my mind.
Riskiest Draft Pick
1. Colt Lyerla, TE, Oregon – Lyerla has more character red flags than any player in the draft, but he’s also one of the “freakiest” athletes. The team that picks him has to weigh the risks and be prepared if it backfires rather quickly.
2. Loucheiz Purifoy, CB, Florida – The talk around Purifoy is that he’s tough to coach, self-centered, and not the best teammate. Getting arrested for bath salts a month before the NFL Draft only reinforces all the negative things written about him over the last two years.
3. Seantrel Henderson, OT, Miami(FL) – On pure talent and natural ability there isn’t a better player in the draft. The problem is Henderson doesn’t care, isn’t dedicated, and has yet to fully embrace his god given talent. He can be as good as he wants to be and so far that has been “mediocre”. Henderson will either be a Pro Bowl player or out of the league in three years.
4. Will Sutton, DT, Arizona State – Sutton is coming off a very disappointing Senior Season in which he played overweight, out of shape and lethargic. He lacks prototypical size and has more questions than many teams are willing to deal with.
5. James Wilder Jr., RB, Florida State – Big, physical runner with multiple arrests on his record. Wilder won’t be drafted until late in the draft, but even then there is a lot of risk involved. His off the field decisions are highly questionable and lead to questions about his maturity.
Most Likely to become a Patriot(no particular order)
1. Troy Niklas, TE, Notre Dame – There is a good probability the Patriots select a Tight End at some point early in the draft and when they do the name most likely to be called is Troy Niklas.
2. Dominique Easley, DT, Florida – All the talk I am hearing leading up to the draft is the Patriots are looking for versatile Defensive Linemen. Easley is the most versatile lineman in the draft and a player projected to go in their general range.
3. Bruce Ellington, WR, South Carolina – The Patriots have had extended pre-draft contact with the South Carolina product. He graduated in three years, is extremely smart, and has great personal character.
4. Brandon Coleman, WR, Rutgers – Coleman is really the only Rutgers player worthy of being drafted in 2014. Besides the fact he went to Rutgers he provides a skill-set sorely lacking on the Patriots offense, size on the outside and in the red zone.
5. Demarcus Lawrence, DE, Boise State – At some point in the draft the Patriots have to add a pass rusher. There is a significant drop off in pass rushers after the second round, so it benefits them to add one early. Lawrence’s versatility to rush from multiple positions and the fact that he’s just barely scratching the surface make him the best fit.
6. Da’Quan Jones, DT, Penn State – If the Patriots miss out on a Defensive Tackle in the first round, Jones is a solid fall back option. While he lacks the versatility and disruption potential he’s a solid player that can improve the interior run defense.
7. Weston Richburg, OC, Colorado State – Even though Ryan Wendell was resigned his contract is structured so he can be released without any reprocussions. Richburg’s experience, football character, and toughness make him a better fit than other Centers.
8. Vinnie Sunseri, S, Alabama – Coming off an ACL injury, Sunseri is the son of a coach and a futre Special Teams captain in the NFL. He can be a value pick in the later rounds and has the intangibles Bill Belichick looks for in a Safety.
9. Marion Grice, RB, Arizona State – I feel confident the Patriots will add a pass catching RB at some point in the draft. With so many talented runners available in the middle rounds it makes sense to wait until day three to select a Running Back. Grice is one of the best receivers out of the backfield and the price to acquire him will off-set any risk associated with his injury.
10. Wesley Johnson, OL, Vanderbilt – When Bill Belichick comes to you personally to work you out it raises eyebrows. Johnson is tremendously versatile and very smart. His best position is probably Center, but he has vast SEC starting experience at Left Tackle.
11. Connor Shaw, QB, South Carolina – The Patriots spent time and effort evaluating all the Quarterbacks this year making it likely they choose one or sign one after the draft. They won’t uses a pick in the first three rounds on a QB unless another “Ryan Mallett Situation” unfolds. Shaw reminds me a little bit of Brian Hoyer coming out of Michigan State and can provide a viable back-up to Tom Brady. It’s too early to start planning for Brady’s successor and using a high draft pick on a QB who will sit behind Brady is unwise in my opinion.
Most Likely to be “Traded Up For”
1. Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina – By far the best player at a position many teams can use help at. Ebron’s rare athleticism and receiver like skills make him a fit for all 32 NFL teams. One team is likely willing to pay the price to go up and get him.
2. Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, SAF, Alabama – Clinton-Dix is a fit for just about every single team between picks 10 and 20. With the Safety position becoming more valuable HHCD is likely to have teams jockeying for position in the middle of the draft.
3. Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M – Evans and Sammy Watkins have clearly separated themselves from the rest of the Wide Receiver pack. Sammy Watkins is out of reach for most NFL teams, which means a handful of teams will be scrambling to ensure they get a legitimate #1 WR out of this draft.
4. Derek Carr, QB, Fresno State – Assuming Manziel and Bortles are gone by the mid 20’s Quarterback needy teams sitting at the top of the 2nd Round will be working trades at the end of Day One to secure Carr’s services.
5. Aaron Donald, DT, Pittsburgh – Donald possesses a rare skillset and has upwards of 20 teams interested in his services. He’s worked his way to the top of the draft and we could see a team leapfrog into the top ten to get their hands on Donald.
Most Likely to pull a Da’Rick Rogers (Player that slips further than anyone expects)
1. Antonio Richardson, OT, Tennessee – Richardson gained more exposure at Tennessee than his bookend tandem Ja’Waun James. On draft day things will be reversed. James could potentially go in Round One (2nd Round at the latest), while Richardson could tumble all the way into the 4th-5th Rounds.
2. Shayne Skov, ILB, Stanford – Skov tried his hardest to get through the draft process without running a 40 yard dash. That dream came to an end this week and it was rumored he “struggled to run under 5.2”. If that is true Skov will plummet deep into the third day and could even go undrafted.
3. Tajh Boyd, QB, Clemson – Once thought of as a 2nd-3rd Round selection, Boyd will have to wait a long time on draft day. I don’t foresee a scenario where he’s selected before the 6th Round, which is his best case scenario.
4. Yawin Smallwood, LB, UConn – Smallwood ran slow and suffered an injury during the combine. There isn’t much precedent for Linebackers that run 5.00 or over. Smallwood could drop into the middle-late parts of day three.
5. Victor Hampton, CB, South Carolina- Hampton has a laundry list of off-field problems including a NYC Nightclub incident in April. On top of that he’s slow and undersized. It still boggles my mind how he’s mentioned inside some “experts” top 100 prospects, he’ll drop like a anchor on draft day.
1. Marquis Flowers, LB, Arizona – Converted Safety that brought his game to another level at Outside Linebacker. Combine snub that can flat out fly (4.50) and cover ground. Profiles as a sub-package linebacker that can match up with Running Backs and Tight Ends in man coverage.
2. Khyri Thornton, DT, Southern Mississippi – Thornton had to endure some brutal seasons at Southern Miss. Despite the struggles he played hard and found a way to impact games. Even if he doesn’t go before the late rounds he’ll make his presence felt. Thornton can disrupt the run game and get into the backfield to make plays.
3. Ben Gardner, DL, Stanford – I’ve long been a fan of the Stanford Defensive Lineman. He can play defensive end or slide inside to rush. He’s not very fast, but he’ll beat you with effort and strength. Gardner has great football instincts and acted as another coach when he went down for the season with pectoral injury.
4. Laurant Duvernay-Tardiff, OL, McGill – The Canadian medical student is going to surprise people at the next level. He’s strong as an ox and absolutely devastated players up in Canada. One of the smartest players in the draft, he’s transformed himself into an NFL talent while getting ready for medical school and working in a number of community outreach projects.
5. Kendall James, CB, Maine – Undersized and fast corner prospect. James is one of the few “quick-twitch” defensive backs that can be found later in the draft. He’s a project, but has the raw athelticism to develop into a quality NFL cover corner.
Best “Football Players” (Players who Excel regardless of size or measurables)
1. Chris Borland, ILB, Wisconsin – Smart, instinctive, and active linebacker. If he’s 6’2″ we’re talking about a top 20 NFL Draft selection. Depsite his size, Borland is likely to go in the 2nd Round and will have a long, impactful NFL career. He’s a thrownback player that understands how to play the game and impact all phases.
2. Lamarcus Joyner, SAF, Florida State – Joyner can play multiple positions in the secondary and despite being only 5’8″ tall he’s been one of the most important defenders on a top tier FBS defense. If he’s 6’1″/210, he’s the best Safety prospect in this draft class and would have probably come out after his Junior Season.
3. Jason Verrett, CB, TCU – Verrett has very few flaws in his game. One of the best cover corners in the draft. He’s feisty, aggressive, and can play multiple coverages. He isn’t limited by his lack of height, he maximizes it. Verrett can play for my football team any day.
4. Telvin Smith, LB, Florida State – Smith weighed 218 pounds at the Senior Bowl and NFL Combine. He’s since bulked up to 224 pounds and will continue to put on more weight. His lack of bulk concerns NFL teams, but there is no denying his playmaking ability on defense. At worse he will be a long time Special Teams standout in the NFL.
5. Michael Campanaro, WR, Wake Forest – Campanaro finds a way to continue making plays despite lacking height and length. He understands how to run routes, read coverages, and exploit seams as a returner. Campanaro will make an impact in the NFL as a slot receiver.
Most Likely UDFA to Make a 53 Man Roster
1. Dexter McDougle, CB, Maryland – McDougle missed most of his Senior season with a shoulder injury. The third day of the draft is loaded with corner prospects and McDougle could go undrafted. Either way he has the talent to make an NFL roster and provide depth in the secondary.
2. Derrell Johnson, OLB, East Carolina – There is a chance Johnson sneaks into the end of the draft and even if he doesn’t he’ll be playing on Sunday. He’s a strong, powerful pass rusher that can control the edge and put pressure on edge blockers. He has enough bend to win with speed, but makes his money through his power.
3. Damien Williams, RB, Oklahoma – Williams has his share of off-field issues including getting kicked off the Oklahoma football team as a Senior. Despite that Williams has the size and speed to win an NFL roster spot in camp. Every year a few Running Backs emerge from the undrafted ranks to make an impact in the NFL, Williams is a candidate this year.
4. Donald Hawkins, OT, Texas – Hawkins was a two year starter at Left Tackle for the Longhorns. He really struggled as a Junior, but made great strides with his lower half technique and consistency as a Senior. NFL teams like this developmental Tackle prospect and he has a chance to stick.
5. Rajion Neal, RB, Tennessee – Neal has a well-rounded skill-set that translates to the next level. He can catch the ball, has good speed, and has the size NFL teams covet. Despite being snubbed for the NFL combine, he’ll have a longer career than most RB picked before him.
Tags: 2014 NFL Draft