2014 NFL Draft: Top 20 Prospects for 2014

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Top 20 2014 NFL Draft Prospects

NFL Draft
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The 2013 NFL draft is in the books, and at this point it’s time to start looking ahead to 2014. It’s never too soon to start thinking about who the best players will be next season. When you cover the NFL draft, it’s always the next draft that matters, and there are some tremendous players to look forward to next season.

2013 started off as a season where most fans expected the draft to be deep and heavy with top end talent. But by the time the actual draft came around the elite top end talent was gone and that gave way to mass confusion about who the top players were, and which teams would draft them.

But I think the next draft promises much more. There are some exceptional quarterbacks in the upcoming draft, and we understand that quarterbacks always drive the draft. In 2013, there was almost no consensus about what order the quarterbacks were going to come off the board, and when the actual draft came around nothing went according to plan.

2013 saw the top of the first round dominated by offensive tackles, and you could see a repeat of that in 2014, but the difference could be that while no quarterback went in the top 15 of the first round, there could easily be five quarterbacks in the first round in 2014. The golden rule to build a team is to get a quarterback, protect the quarterback and get after the other team’s quarterback. Many NFL teams still haven’t figured the first part out, and so this could be the draft for them.

So, here are my top 20 draft eligible players for the 2014 NFL draft.

Curt covers the Pittsburgh Steelers, the NFL draft, and college football for Rant Sports. Connect with Curt on Twitter @nfldraftboard.

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Players 1-4

NFL Draft
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1-Tajh Boyd, QB Clemson

2-Jadeveon Clowney, DE South Carolina

3-Marqise Lee, WR USC

4-Jake Matthews, OT Texas A&M

This group is highlighted by Boyd, who I consider the top prospect in the upcoming draft class. The value of a franchise quarterback trumps the value of even the best defensive end, so the best Clowney can be is No. 2 on my board.

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Players 5-8

NFL Draft
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5-Taylor Lewan, OT Michigan

6-Teddy Bridgewater, QB Louisville

7-CJ Mosley LB Alabama

8-Louis Nix III, DT Notre Dame

Again, the theme of a quarterback, someone to protect them and players to get after them, carries this foursome. Bridgewater is a fabulous player, and Lewan could end up being the top tackle in the draft.

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Players 9-12

NFL Draft
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9-Adrian Hubbard, LB Alabama

10-Cyrus Kouandijo, OT Alabama

11-Sammy Watkins, WR Clemson

12-Kyle Von Noy, DE BYU

More pass rushers and pass protectors here. Watkins might be a bit high, but I am counting on a huge season from him this year, similar to what he did as a freshman as the focus of that offense.

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Players 13-16

NFL Draft
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13-Bradley Roby, CB Ohio State

14-David Fales, QB San Jose State

15-Anthony Barr, LB UCLA

16-Stephon Tuitt, DE Notre Dame

Many will say I have Fales too low here, but I want to see more out of him in terms of polish. Barr is another of those hybrid pass rush types who could really fly up the board, and Roby is easily the top defensive back in this draft class.

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Players 17-20

NFL Draft
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17-Austin Sefarian-Jenkins, TE Washington

18-Jackson Jeffcoat, DE Texas

19-Aaron Murray, QB Georgia

20-Aaron Colvin, CB Oklahoma

Sefarian-Jenkins could be higher if not for off-field concerns, and Murray would likely be higher if he were taller. Jeffcoat is returning from an injury, but looks to be full strength and Colvin is a big physical cornerback so many teams covet.