The 2014 NFL Draft class is deep with talented players at just about every position. Some positions are deeper from top to bottom like the offensive tackles and wide receiver classes. While others are not loaded at the top but have plenty of prospects from the middle to the bottom of the position such as the linebackers class. While the focus is on the top portion of the QB class, Day 2 of the 2014 NFL Draft may produce a QB who might become the best of the class.
The first and second rounds of the NFL Draft are usually the money rounds. That is where teams usually find their future starters and future Pro Bowlers. This year the 3rd thru the 5th rounds should produce some Day 1 starters.
I have put together a list of players who I believe will have success at the next level. These young men have the skill set at their prospective position to make an immediate impact for whatever team that draft's them. Remember it's not always who is the most talented or physically gifted, but who can handle the physical and mental demands on and off the field at the professional level and transitions well, they tend to have success for a long period of time.
10. Darqueze Dennard -- Cornerback -- Michigan State
Darqueze Dennard -- This young man plays the position with physicality. He excels in run support and is a very good tackler. He does not have blazing speed, but has the playing speed to recover when beaten and make a play on the ball. He has the playing strength to re-direct receivers when in bump and run coverage. Off coverage may not be his strong point, but he gives good effort on every snap. Will lay the wood to you if you are not watching. Reminds me of Antrel Rolle and may be a better free safety than cornerback down the road.
9. Aaron Donald - Defensive Tackle - Pittsburgh
Aaron Donald -- He is the best 3-technique defensive tackle in this draft. He is in the mold of a Warren Sapp and Geno Atkins. Donald has good foot quickness to shoot gaps and uses his hands well to disengage from blocks. He may struggle in a two gap system because of his overall size and strength which causes him to get engulfed by larger offensive lineman on running plays. He has very good speed for a defensive tackle. He reminds me of a bigger Dwight Freeney that plays defensive tackle. Has a variety of pass rush moves. A prime example of his foot quickness and speed is his 28.5 tackles for a loss in the 2013 season alone. WOW. He stays in the opposing teams backfield.
8. Taylor Lewan - Offensive Tackle - Michigan
Taylor Lewan -- At the 2014 NFL Combine Lewan showed he was one of the most athletic big men there. He has all of the physical tools: Size, foot quickness, strength, and long arms to be a starting tackle in the NFL for a long period. He had some off the field troubles recently that may impact his draft position, but up to that point has only showed aggression on the field not off it. We tend to forget sometimes these young men are just that, Young! Everyone makes mistakes and as long as it has not been a pattern, move on. He will make someone's team better at tackle day one.
7. Justin Gilbert -Cornerback- Oklahoma State
Justin Gilbert -- He has the speed, fluid hips, and foot quickness to be a shutdown corner. He plays the ball well in the air and can break on routes quickly. He has the playing strength to play bump and run coverage and the speed to recover. Solid tackler and good effort in run support.As an extra bonus he has a knack for returning kicks for scores. The best cornerback in this draft with his overall talents.
6. Eric Ebron --Tight end-- North Carolina
Eric Ebron -- The best tight end in his class. Ebron's speed and athleticism stands out on film.He is a big time weapon attacking linebackers underneath and in the red zone. Ebron needs to use his size advantage more often to shield smaller defenders, but that comes from him still learning the position. He started his career at North Carolina as a defensive end. That alone shows what kind of athlete he is to make himself into a first round prospect at another position in less than 3 years. Kudos to his coaches. Whoever draft's him will get a very good receiving tight end, but he needs some technique work as a blocker.
5. Khalil Mack -- Hybrid linebacker -- Buffalo
Khalil Mack -- Awesome specimen. Mack has a great combination of speed and strength. Has plenty of experience in a 3-4 scheme playing a hybrid linebacker at Buffalo. He set school records in a career with 28.5 sacks, 75 tackles for a loss, and 16 forced fumbles. One man offensive backfield wrecking crew. Highly versatile, has a great motor, and plays with an attitude.
4. Greg Robinson -- Offensive tackle -- Auburn
Greg Robinson -- His length, power, and mauler type attitude makes him perhaps the best run blocking tackle in his class. Needs more polish to his pass protection, but his quick feet and long arms are a plus and should be easily cleaned up with better coaching. Great balance and plays well over his feet. Will instantly upgrade a team's running game with his presence.
3. Sammy Watkins -- Wide receiver -- Clemson
Sammy Watkins -- This young man is a candidate to attract double teams which happens to the top number one receivers on NFL teams. He has very good size, vertical speed, and acceleration to be effective anywhere he lines up. When in the open field he plays like a running back and will lower his shoulder to initiate contact and run thru the defender. Good ball skills and can adjust his body to poorly thrown passes to make the catch. Can also keep his feet in bounds on sideline passes. Very shifty and has great change of direction ability. A true difference maker for any team.
2. Jadeveon Clowney -- Defensive end -- South Carolina
Jadeveon Clowney -- The athletic freak of the draft. Clowney's high school film may be more impressive than his college film. He was like your boss at work, always in your face. He will be a nightmare to game plan against. He can rush the passer from anywhere on the defensive line with his speed, playing strength, explosiveness, burst, and wicked sixth sense to find the quarterback and get him down on the ground quickly. Only reason why he is not number one on this list is because of questions about his work ethic and a drop off in production during his final year at South Carolina. Concerns about his focus and if big money will hinder his game. Has all of the physical tools to succeed at the next level, but will that be enough?
1. Jake Matthews -- Offensive tackle -- Texas A&M
Jake Matthews -- Like the boxer, Floyd Mayweather, Matthews is "Born Ready." He comes from a family of great former and current football studs. His father is former NFL great Bruce Matthews who was one of the best versatile offensive lineman in NFL history. Jake could have came out his junior year after the 2012 season, but decided to go back to school and compete for a National Championship. He is the most polished offensive lineman in the 2014 NFL Draft class. He has started at right and left tackle and been dominant at both. He is technically sound and once locked on to his target it's a wrap. Great run blocker and understands leverage. Quick out of his stance to set up for pass protection. Can handle speed and bull rushers. Looks the part to be a solid tackle for years like his father.