It’s never too early to peek ahead at the next class, especially when it comes to the popular NFL Draft. This time next year all 32 pro franchises will be clamoring for South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney. He’s a freaky good edge guy that at this point looks like the clear cut No. 1 ranked eligible prospect in the FoxSportsNext/Scout.com 2014 NFL Draft rankings.
Clowney, now 6-foot-6 and 280-pounds, has speed, quickness and great length. His athleticism is off the charts. He can rush the passer and play the run. And his production in his first two seasons in Columbia matches his measurables. When it’s all said and done he may be the highest rated non-quarterback in some time. Clowney is a game changer that teams will definitely have to game plan against. If he would have been eligible for the 2013 draft there’s no doubt in my mind he would have been the first player taken.
Checking in at No. 2 is wide receiver Marquise Lee. He’s the best wide receiver in college football since A.J. Green and Julio Jones. He may lack their size but Lee is their equal when it comes to making big plays. This kid is so explosive and is truly an elite talent.
There is another pair of offensive tackles that are very highly regarded in Jake Matthews and Taylor Lewan. Matthews is another talent from Texas A&M on the offensive front. In fact, he almost came out this season with his bookend and good friend Luke Joeckel. This kid excels in run blocking and can be flat out overpowering at times. Meanwhile, Lewan more than held his own against the talented Clowney when they met in January at the Outback Bowl. This kid has size and great feet.
Two quarterbacks headline the 2014 top 100, Louisville’s Teddy Bridgewater and A&M’s Johnny Manziel. Of course Manziel is the Heisman Trophy sensation who took college football by storm this past season. Manziel is an electric play maker at the quarterback position. With the way the game is evolving at the NFL level he looks like a great fit. Same can be said for Bridgewater only he’s bigger.
Anthony Barr makes the list as the top rated linebacker prospect. In fact, he may be a better player right now than Oregon’s Dion Jordan, who was selected third overall this past Thursday night. Barr is from UCLA.
Staying out west DeAnthony Thomas has to make this list. Nicknamed “Black Mamba”, he should be college football’s most explosive talent in 2013 and he’s every bit the player Tavon Austin is. Again, with the way football is changing his game translates exceptionally well in the NFL. He’s lightning fast and has unreal versatility. Just get him his 12-15 touches a game and he will make his way to the endzone a time or two.
Two defensive players round out the top ten in Bradley Roby from Ohio State and Stephon Tuitt from Notre Dame. Roby is a cornerback with good size and outstanding speed. He shows cover skills and the ability to support the run. Then you have Tuitt from South Bend. He’s an enormous defensive end that has NFL game written all over him.
Click on the link below to check out the entire 2014 NFL Draft Top 100.
FoxSportsNext/Scout.com 2014 NFL Draft rankings