It’s been about 72-hours since the 2013 NFL Draft concluded, but since professional football is talked about 365 days a year, the 2014 draft is already a topic of conversation.
Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater very well may have been the top quarterback taken in the 2013 draft had he been eligible. College players can’t go pro until after their junior season.
1) Teddy Bridgewater*, QB, Louisville: To observers not already familiar with the best pure passer in college football, the Sugar Bowl served as Bridgewater’s coming-out party. He displays elite arm strength, touch and accuracy, though he is most impressive as the unquestioned leader of the Cardinals.
2) Jadeveon Clowney*, DE, South Carolina: Clowney’s ferocious hit on Michigan running back Vincent Smith in the Outback Bowl made the South Carolina beast an internet sensation. However, astute followers of college football were already quite familiar with one of the most dominant defenders in the country. Clowney’s freakish combination of size, strength and athleticism is rare, and his natural rush skills have NFL scouts salivating about his pro potential.
3) Marqise Lee*, WR, USC: After playing in the shadow of Robert Woods for a season, Lee emerged as the most explosive receiver in college football as a sophomore. He is a speedster with remarkable burst and ball skills. Lee is a dangerous open-field runner with the capacity to turn short passes into big gains. Speed and playmaking ability are coveted at a premium in the NFL; Lee’s electric game is already creating buzz in scouting circles.
4) Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan: It is quite possible that Lewan bypassed a chance to be a top-five selection by electing to return to Michigan for his senior season. However, another year of development could vault him into consideration as the top prospect in the 2014 class. Lewan is big, physical and athletic on the edges, making him a natural fit at left tackle in the NFL.
5) Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M: Matthews possesses the game and bloodlines (his father, Bruce, is an NFL Hall of Famer) to develop into a perennial Pro Bowler at the next level. The Texas A&M standout has spent the past three seasons capably manning the right tackle spot, but he’ll get a chance to showcase his skills as a blind-side blocker when he moves to Luke Joeckel’s old position as a senior. If he continues to shine against SEC competition, he’ll make it tough for NFL evaluators to bypass him at the top of the charts.