2014 NFL Draft: 15 Thoughts from Mike Loyko

With three days until the draft, Mike Evans’ stock is on fire.

NEPD Editor: Mike Loyko

We finally made it to NFL Draft week! A process that officially started for me back in January at the Senior Bowl is now only a few short days away. Regardless of what happens Thursday, Friday, or Saturday there will be hundreds of surprises and moves that shake up the NFL Draft.

As we count down the hours until the draft, here are my final thoughts leading up to this year’s draft.

1) There is a 10% chance Johnny Manziel doesn’t go in the top 5. The latest talk has St. Louis at pick #2 interested in Manziel, but I’m not sure I buy that. It’s been known for awhile that Jacksonville and Cleveland are extremely interested in Johnny Manziel. By spreading the word that they are thinking about taking Manziel at #2 it is sure to get teams behind them nervous. St. Louis is trying to build interest in the second pick, forcing Jacksonville or Cleveland to trade up if they want to get their hands on Manziel.

2) As a fan of another AFC team I hope Houston is stupid enough to pass on Jadeveon Clowney at #1. If GM Rick Smith passes on the opportunity to pair All-World DE JJ Watt up with Jadeveon Clowney it will be a monumental mistake. Whether they trade down to take or Quarterback or opt to select Khalil Mack over Clowney the decision will ultimately come back to haunt Rick Smith. There is no Quarterback worthy of the #1 overall pick this year and any passer Houston takes in a trade down to #6 isn’t going to be dramatically better than a QB they can pick at #33. The best case scenario is to stand pat take Clowney at #1 and then take the best QB on the board at #33. If they pass on Clowney it will be another case of a GM outsmarting themselves and that doesn’t usually end well.

3). As of right now I think the Patriots will make a selection at #29 unless the board blows up on them. Based on first round projections the Patriots will get to choose from a talented group of players, many of whom fill critical needs on the roster. Looking at the first 28 selections as many as 5 Offensive Tackles could come off the board before the Patriots pick (a position the Patriots won’t use a first round pick on). There could be as many as 4 Quarterbacks and at least 5 receivers selected before pick #29. If you do that math that’s about 14-15 players coming off the board that won’t affect the Patriots draft strategy. Unless the Patriots get blown away with an offer, similar to last year with Minnesota, I think it’s likely they sit tight and pick on Thursday night.

4) Two players whose draft stock remains a mystery are Texas Tech TE Jace Amaro and Florida State DT Timmy Jernigan. Things have been eerily quiet surrounding Amaro since his average combine performance and it’s tough to peg exactly what his draft range is at this point. Things are equally quiet around Jernigan who appears has been leap-frogged by DL such as Aaron Donald, Dominique Easley, and perhaps even Ra’Shede Hageman. Jernigan was invited to the draft in New York, but backed out late last week, further clouding his draft status. Heading into the combine in February both players were near locks to get drafted in the first round. While neither is a lock, I still see a scenario where both players end up in the first round. For Amaro teams picking in the 20’s such as Green Bay, Kansas City, and New England should all have interest.

5) Now that the pre-draft process is over it’s easy to pick out the “winners” and losers”. From my perspective no player has solidified their draft stock more than Texas A&M WR Mike Evans. He entered the draft process with questions about his speed, his ability to be an NFL route runner, and as a late first round selection. Fast forward to now and Evans is a lock to go in the top ten selections. His pro day performance with Johnny Manziel was one of the most impressive I’ve seen from a Wide Receiver. He ran much faster than anticipated and has some of the best hands to come out of college in a long time. He’s a rare breed in terms of size, speed, and ball skills. Teams throughout the top half of the first round will be battling for draft position in order to pick him. Evans’ draft range begins with the Oakland Raiders at pick #5, if he gets past Oakland the Buccaneers at 7, the Bills at 9, and the Lions at 10 are all potential landing spots.

6) There is no doubt that the 2014 NFL Draft is one of the deepest drafts in history, however Tight End and Edge Rusher are two positions where there is a huge drop off in talent after the 2nd-3rd Rounds. For a team like the Patriots that need impact at both positions, they are put in a situation where they need to use early picks on the the position or risk missing out. Tight End especially is very “top heavy”. Once the top 5 come off the board (Ebron, Seferian-Jenkins, Amaro, Niklas, Fiedorowicz) there is a steep decline in talent, in fact there isn’t another sure thing in the entire draft.

As for edge rushers, I believe there will be a run on DE/OLB types starting in the mid-20’s lasting until the middle of the second round. As these pass rushers come off the board teams will get nervous and be forced to reach a little bit to get their guy. For this reason players such as Scott Crichton, Kareem Martin, and even Jeremiah Attaochu (to some extent) will be picked earlier than they probably deserve. When and where these edge rushers come off the board is one of the aspects I’ll be paying closest attention to on Thursday-Friday night.

7) Jason Verrett continues to be one of the safest players in this draft class, but it’s tough to place him in mock drafts. In fact, it’s tough to place any of the corners in recent mock drafts. For Verrett his lack of size and the fact he recently had shoulder surgery are the only negatives on his resume. Besides that he is a clean prospect with few things to pick apart on film. It will be interesting to see where the corners come off the board on Thursday night. While many project corner needy teams such as Detroit, Pittsburgh, and San Diego to select a Cornerback in the first round, I think teams with established depth will pull the trigger if the right corner is on the board. A player like Verrett who can play in the slot and doesn’t need much development time will attract almost every team from 22-32, even Seattle and Denver.

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19 Responses to “2014 NFL Draft: 15 Thoughts from Mike Loyko”

  1. Victor Kiams ghost says:

    After much procrastination and a modicum of research, I humbly sumbit my Pats draft picks.
    1) Kelvin Benjamin Wr/Te he has size speed and versatility
    2) Kareem Martin De because Nink, Will Smith aren;t getting younger
    3) Christian Kirksey Lb a cover linebacker and athletic
    4) Travis Swanson C
    4) Trey Burton Qb/Rb/Te/Wr versatile offensive player
    6) Tyler Gaffney Rb
    7) CJ Barnett SS
    Of course Bill will trade all over the draft board end up with 10 more picks for now and next year. He will also draft some kid from East Southwest North Dakota Community College and turn him into a ProBowl player in 2 years….

  2. Dan Sullivan says:

    Patriot Predictions

    1 Trade for 2,3 and 5th round picks.
    2 Dominique Easley DL Florida
    2 Troy Niklas TE Notre Dame
    3 Marcus Smith DE/OLB Louisville
    3 Travis Swanson C Arkansas
    4 Billy Turner G/OT North Dakota St.
    4 Andre Williams RB BC
    5 Shamar Stephen DL Connecticut
    6 Lonnie Ballentine S Memphis
    6 De’Anthony Thomas RB/WR/KR Oregon
    7 Kenny Ladler S Vanderbilt

    • RMillette says:

      Do not see any possible way the patriots select 2 safeties and 2 players in a rb:wr role while only taking a player who would be a pass rusher. I’d be ety unhappy if this is how the draft turns out.

    • jim r says:

      Dan, I see you do a lot of these mocks, no knocks on any of them. I do however wonder what you base these mocks on. What do you think the prioritized needs are?

      • Dan Sullivan says:

        I am doing my last mock draft tonight and here is what positions I would

        1 Defensive line

        2 Offensive line

        3 Tight End

        4 Linebackers

        5 Safety

        6 Home Run threat either at RB or WR.

        Enjoy the draft as I know I will.


  3. Trev says:

    Great thoughts, Mike. Really a good read. Are you going to publish a final Patriots mock this week or are you done with those for the year? Keep up the good work.

  4. Kevan says:

    Great article. That’s all.

  5. Jack says:

    An annoying thing about a lot of the mocks is they have Rashede Hagemen or Easley going to the Pats. Hagemen had a horrible 3-cone time and that’s one thing the Pats always focus on. Easley is of course a risk and now I read that he watches cartoons

    There are a host of other players the Pats could draft there that would be better. Here’s a list of 33-60 from Mayock’s top 100. Trade down and grab one of these studs plus an extra in the 3rd. In particulary like Kony Ealy, Deone Bucannon and Sua-Filo and ASJ from the list below. One of them ought to be available if we trade down.

    33. Stephon Tuitt, DE, Notre Dame
    34. Marcus Martin, C, USC
    35. Timmy Jernigan, DT, Florida State
    36. Louis Nix, DT, Notre Dame
    37. Dee Ford, DE, Auburn
    38. Jimmy Garoppolo, QB, Eastern Illinois
    39. Joel Bitonio, OT, Nevada
    40. Zach Mettenberger, QB, LSU

    41. Demarcus Lawrence, LB, Boise State
    42. Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville
    43. Deone Bucannon, S, Washington State
    44. Xavier Su’a-Filo, G, UCLA
    45. Kony Ealy, DE, Missouri
    46. Scott Crichton, DE, Oregon State
    47. Morgan Moses, OT, Virginia
    48. Ra’Shede Hageman, DT, Minnesota
    49. Jeremy Hill, RB, LSU
    50. Cody Latimer, WR, Indiana

    51. Austin Seferian-Jenkins, TE, Washington
    52. Davante Adams, WR, Fresno State
    53. Marcus Smith, LB, Louisville
    54. Jimmie Ward, S, Northern Illinois
    55. Tre Mason, RB, Auburn
    56. Kyle Van Noy, LB, BYU
    57. Jarvis Landry, WR, LSU
    58. Troy Niklas, TE, Notre Dame
    59. Jack Mewhort, OT, Ohio State
    60. Ja’Wuan James, OT, Tennessee

    • J H TARBORO says:

      Jack, Mike Mayock is good analysis but terrible mocker!

      • Ken W says:

        This isn’t Mayocks mock draft, it is his list of top 100 prospects.

      • Jack says:

        Hi JH,

        That’s not really a mock, though. It’s just a selection from his top 100. I’m thinking, if they roughly fall in that order, one of those guys ought to be around even if the Pats trade into the middle of the second. The nice thing is they don’t have any one real desperate need, so they can afford more so than usual to grab the best athlete.

  6. J H TARBORO says:

    Mike Loyko, good article. Also can you publish the UDFA list directly after the draft? thank you!
    With all the comp picks around the league and lack of cap space, some teams don’t have 1st and 2nd round picks, there have to be some trade offers for the 29th pick.
    AFC East will be a division to be reckoned with this year!
    Seattle and Denver will not be as strong as it was this year, they lost too much in FA.
    Watch out for Arizona, San Diego, Oakland, Washington and i hate to say it, the NY Jets and Indy.

  7. trent says:

    Since I’ve noticed you sometimes read your article comments, I have a question for you, mike:

    It is obvious that from information you have that NE will be considering Easley, which is a perfect talent match to what we need at the moment IMO after signing will smith to help at end. Back at the combine, Easley did an interview in which he said that he has never watched a whole football game on tv, and that he preferred to watch cartoons. He defended that comment by noting that he still has a love for the game, but that studying film is enough to fuel that love.

    This comment immediately concerned me at the time, as I wasn’t sure that it was a comment that would sound good to patriots management, who I feel place a high value on players with a passion for the game. Would you agree? Do you think (or know) if something like this would pose a question mark to the team, or if they have already investigated and have checked off the box and marked it as a non-issue?

    Thanks mike, and thank you for all the valuable information this draft season.

    • Mike Loyko says:

      Yes that comment concerned me as well.

      • John says:

        Didn’t Matt Light saying something similar when he was playing, like he didn’t watch games growing up and didn’t watch other games during the season?

  8. trent says:

    Some of my quick thoughts on your thoughts, mike–

    3) one view I would have with the potential situation at #29 is that if they have quite a few of their preferred players reach them, why not consider a small drop down, and still see one or two of their guys fall to them. CLE and JAX both have extra picks in this draft and may want to jump some teams to pick their QB, and give up an extra 4th round pick to do so. I don’t think there will be too much of a difference between picks 29 and 35 for example, a few of those may be QB’s.

    4) now we know why jernigan backed out…

    12) I am still beating the drum for Aaron Murray if he makes it to the end of day 2 or day 3. He doesn’t fit the physical QB mold that NE typically looks for, but he has a lot of experience which IS highly valued by the patriots staff. Great poise and decision making. Hoping they hold on drafting a QB until at least the end of day 2 and if Murray is gone, look to trade a 4th round pick for mike glennon.

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