EDITOR’S NOTE: This post is part three of five in my NFL Draft series, leading up to the draft on May 8. Each Wednesday I’ll post a new NFL Draft related post. In case you missed it, here’s last week’s post: my NFL Mock Draft 6.0: The Penultimate Mock and two week’s ago I posted NFL Mock Draft 5.0: Scenario Mock. Over the next two weeks I’ll be posting my defensive player rankings and my final NFL Mock Draft.
We are inching closer and closer to the NFL Draft, starting on May 8. Pro days have been completed and teams are finishing up their private workouts with prospects.
Teams are finishing their player rankings, with their boards plastered up in the war rooms, ready for the second Thursday in May.
Is Johnny Manziel the best quarterback in the draft class? Who’s the best offensive lineman? Who’s the best fullback? How highly rated is Ohio State cornerback Bradley Roby?
Teams are answering these questions in preparation for the big day, so that when they are on the clock, they can decide who to select, based on their rankings.
But who is the best quarterback in this draft class? Who is the best offensive lineman? Here are my Offensive Player Rankings, so you can find out.
For the sake of time and clarity, I’m only ranking those prospects who I give a first-round grade, meaning the prospects that I think have first round talent.
- Blake Bortles, QB, University of Central Florida: Bortles, a junior out of UCF, has the stereotypical build for a NFL quarterback at 6’5” and 232 pounds. An athletic passer, Bortles has good mobility and presence in the pocket and is able to maneuver around the pass rush, not panicking when under pressure. Bortles has decent, but not elite arm strength, and his throwing mechanics could use some refinement. He is aggressive with some of his throws, but can lock onto receivers at times, leading to interceptions. This past year at UCF, he completed 67.8 percent of his passes for 3581 yards, 25 touchdowns and nine interceptions. Overall Bortles has the potential to be an excellent QB, somewhere between an Andrew Luck and a Ben Roethlisberger, having only scratched the surface on his game. Projection: Early First Round.
- Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M: An incredibly dynamic player, Manziel combines both great passing and rushing ability, having passed for over 4000 yards and rushed for over 700 yards his sophomore year with the Aggies. A playmaker, Manziel has proven production in one of the biggest collegiate conferences and is ultra-competitive. But there are questions about his size, as he is 6’0”, a bit undersized for a quarterback and can play reckless, leading to durability concerns. There are also numerous off field questions, pertaining to his “celebrity lifestyle.” Manziel could be a superstar quarterback or a bust. Projection: Early to Mid First Round.
- Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville: Bridgewater is the safest and most-NFL ready quarterback in this year’s class. Coming from a pro-style offense at Louisville where he completed 71.0 percent of his passes for 3970 yards, 31 touchdowns and four interceptions his junior year, Bridgewater can stand in against the rush and has the ability to manipulate the defense with his progressions. With great mechanics and good mobility, Bridgewater is a mature quarterback who’s good but not great, due to durability concerns and because he doesn’t have the greatest arm and needs to improve his ball placement. While a poor pro-day has hurt his draft stock, Bridgewater’s college play speaks for itself and should translate to the NFL. Projection: First Round.
- Second Round Grades:
- Jimmy Garopollo, QB, Eastern Illinois.
- A.J. McCarron, QB, Alabama.
- Zach Mettenberger, QB, LSU.
- Derek Carr, QB, Fresno State.
- Second Round Grades:
- Carlos Hyde, RB, Ohio State.
- Tre Mason, RB, Auburn.
- Bishop Sankey, RB, Washington.
- Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson: Watkins might be the best offensive player in the draft, a player with few weaknesses. Watkins is a receiver that defenses have to plan for week in and week out, due to his speed and playmaking ability. Watkins has strength, speed, size and quickness that compares to any great wide receiver in the NFL. A 3-year starter at Clemson, Watkins is a versatile, athletic playmaker, but also a great route runner. His junior year at Clemson, he had 101 receptions for 1464 yards and 12 touchdowns, as he shredded opposing defenses en route to an Orange Bowl victory over Ohio State. Projection: Early First Round.
- Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M: At 6’5” and 231 pounds, Evans is a gigantic receiver that can use his size and length to make catches over cornerbacks. Evans has great body control, enabling him to make tough receptions and get jump balls. Evans’ size also helps him to be great after the catch, dragging tacklers for extra yardage, and blocking down field for teammates. While Evans was able to dominate collegiate corners with his size, he could have some trouble with NFL-caliber corners, as he does not have a good burst and struggles to gain separation. With 69 receptions for 1394 yards and 12 touchdowns his sophomore year, Evans is a dangerous deep ball threat, who should be an excellent receiver at the next level. Prediction: Early First Round.
- Brandin Cooks, WR, Oregon State: The 2013 Biletnikoff Award winner, given to the nation’s top receiver, Cooks amassed 128 receptions for 1730 yards and 16 touchdowns this past year at Oregon State. Cooks compares to Rams wide receiver Tavon Austin, only a slightly bigger and slower version of the St. Louis wideout. While Cooks lacks the idea size for a wide receiver at 5’10” and 189 pounds, he makes up for it with his athleticism and speed. He’s an explosive athlete, with great open field ability. Due to his size he can be overpowered by physical corners, and needs to eliminate his drop and fumbles. But overall, he’s a special receiver, with return abilities as well. Projection: Mid to Late First Round.
- Odell Beckham Jr., WR, Louisiana State University: Beckham is a great athlete with dangerous and dynamic quickness and acceleration. He has good hands, footwork and field vision, and is an excellent punt returner. At 5’11” and 198 pounds, he’s a little small for the position, but should be able to get stronger. He does needs improvement on his down field blocking ability. A consistent producer at LSU, Beckham Jr. caught 59 balls for 1152 yards and eight touchdowns this past year for the Tigers. Projection: Mid to Late First Round.
- Marqise Lee, WR, University of Southern California: Lee, 6’0” and 192 pounds, is a great athlete with great speed and route-running ability that makes scouts compare him to Giants wideout Victor Cruz. Neither has the size to impress, but Lee, like Cruz, has great playmaking ability before and after the catch. Injuries this past year though, have raised questions about whether or not his body will be able to hold up against bigger and more physical NFL cornerbacks. Projection: Late First Round.
- Kelvin Benjamin, WR, Florida State: Best known for his game-winning catch in the BCS National Championship game over Auburn, Benjamin is a huge wide receiver with ginormous wingspan at 6’5” and 240 pounds, and is as big as many Tight Ends. Benjamin has good hands, a huge catch radius, and is tough to bring down in the open field. At Florida State this past year, Benjamin caught 54 receptions for 1011 yards and 15 touchdowns, but there are questions about his route running ability and drops. Additionally, it was reported that Benjamin skipped a workout because he was “too tired” opening up questions about his work ethic and responsibility. Projection: Late First Round.
- Second Round Grade:
- Davante Adams, WR, Fresno State.
- Jordan Matthews, WR, Vanderbilt.
- Jarvis Landry, WR, LSU.
- Cody Latimer, WR, Indiana.
- Allen Robinson, WR, Penn State.
- Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina: Ebron is an athletic specimen at 6’4” and 250 pounds with great hands and agility, making him tough to tackle in the open field and after the catch. A good blocker, Ebron fits the mold of large, tall tight ends who will continue to improve during their NFL careers. Even with his size, Ebron is still figuring out how to play the position, and could use improvement as a route runner. With 62 catches for 973 yards and three touchdowns his junior year at UNC, Ebron will follow in the footsteps of first round tight end selections. Projection: Early to Mid First Round.
- Second Round Grade:
- Jace Amaro, TE, Texas Tech.
- Austin Seferian-Jenkins, TE, Washington.
- Troy Niklas, TE, Notre Dame.
- Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn: Robinson, at 6’5” and 332 pounds has the combination of size, strength and power that makes scouts drool when looking at offensive lineman. A great run blocker and an improving pass blocker, Robinson is great prospect, but still just scratching the surface of his potential. Having only played the position since junior year of high school with only two years of collegiate experience is a bit of a concern, as is his troubles with speed, but Robinson is a physically imposing offensive lineman with few red flags. Prediction: Early First Round.
- Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M: Matthews comes from a great football family and while he isn’t an elite athlete like Robinson, Matthews is a solid all-around prospect. A great run and pass blocker, Matthews is one of those guys who can step in and protect a quarterback for the next 12 to 15 years barring injury. He isn’t going to wow scouts, but with no major weaknesses, Matthews will be in the NFL for a long time. Projection: Early to Mid First Round.
- Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan: Lewan, a four-year starter at Michigan, has good size and athleticism for an offensive tackle. Very strong, Lewan was known for his mean streak at Michigan but became a leader on the Wolverine squad as an upperclassmen. He needs to cut down on penalties and pending assault charges have raised character concerns. If he can improve his technique and not be a problem off the field, Lewan should be another excellent lineman from Michigan. Projection: Mid First Round.
- Zack Martin, OT, Notre Dame: Martin has good footwork and quickness and unexpected athleticism. A bit small for the position at 6’4” and 308 pounds, Martin’s length may force a move to guard as he doesn’t have great height or arm length. Overall Martin has great instincts and natural ability, leading to a solid career at the next level. Projection: Mid to Late First Round.
- Morgan Moses, OT, Virginia: At 6’6” and 314 pounds, Moses has the ideal size and length for an offensive lineman. A good pass blocker and decent run blocker, Moses makes good use of his hands and has good quickness. Moses has had some issues with technique and struggles with weight fluctuations. He has the potential to be an excellent blind side protector in the NFL. Projection: Late First Round.
- Second Round Grade:
- Cyrus Kouandjio, OT, Alabama.
- Joel Bitonio, OT, Nevada.
- Ja’Wuan James, OT, Tennessee.
- Antonio Richardson, OT, Tennessee.
- Jack Mewhort, OT, Ohio State.
- Xavier Su’a-Filo, OG, University of California-Los Angeles: With 38 career starts at UCLA, Su’a-Filo is the most experienced member of the Bruins top-notch offensive line. At 6’4” and 307 pounds, Su’a-Filo is strong and powerful off the line and has the versatility to play multiple schemes. A good pass and rush blocker, Su’a-Filo projects well at the next level. Projection: Late First Round.
- Second Round Grade:
- David Yankey, OG, Stanford.
- Brandon Thomas, OG, Clemson.
- Gabe Jackson, OG, Mississippi State.
- Second Round Grade:
- Marcus Martin, C, USC.
- Weston Richburg, C, Colorado State.