NFL Draft: Power Ranking Top 10 Players To Build Around
Top Building Blocks Of 2014 NFL Draft
The NFL Draft is all about improving you team, and for some of the less fortunate franchises out there, it is about finding a player to build around. This draft provides a multitude of quarterbacks to build around and is one that will likely be remembered as one of the deepest QB classes in NFL history.
For the teams looking to add a quarterback or two, this is the draft to do it in. Other teams, however, are set at the quarterback position, but will be looking elsewhere for a superstar.
The players making up this list come from both sides of the ball to give some variety, and are ranked on their ability to impact and take over games. This are guys that can make an impact on their own, but if surrounded by other talented players, they can make a real difference and lead their teams to victory.
Although there are plenty of talented players that I think will be successful at the NFL level that aren’t on this list, like A.J. McCarron, the players I determined to be the top building blocks for an organization are ones that have something special about them, making them stand out in some way. While the rankings and players included are arbitrary, the fact that these players will make an impact at the NFL level is not.
10. Mike Evans
Many people consider Sammy Watkins to be the top wide receiver in the upcoming draft, but Mike Evans has the physical characteristics that Watkins lacks, making him an elite talent. Evans stands at 6-foot-4 and 220 pounds, and he has shown at the collegiate level to be a tough player to take down. Evans also is a red zone threat with his height, and has ridiculously impressive ball skills that could make him a slower, less athletic Calvin Johnson.
9. Louis Nix III
Louis Nix III is the top-rated nose tackle in the upcoming draft, and weighting in at 357 pounds, its easy to see how he can be a dominant run-stopper, which he is. Nix has also shown the skills to be an above-average pass rusher for such a big defensive linemen. He is the type of player a team can stick in the middle of their defensive line and build the next dominant run stopping unit, like the Detroit Lions have done with Nick Fairley and Ndamukong Suh.
8. De'Anthony Thomas
There’s no question about it -- De’Anthony Thomas is the most versatile and electric player in the upcoming draft class. Known for his insane touches to touchdown ratio which currently stands at 8.7:1, Thomas is the type of player who should make an immediate impact for whichever team selects him. The current junior could play running back, return man and wide receiver at the next level, and be even more dangerous than Darren Sproles. Whichever offense has Thomas on their roster next season will be able to give him the ball in creative ways that defenses will have a tough time adjusting to, making him one of the elite building blocks in the 2014 draft.
7. Brett Hundley
Brett Hundley is likely the most controversial player on this list as the redshirt sophomore quarterback hasn’t improved in the areas scouts had hoped. Hundley is brimming with potential and a huge arm, and has one of the highest ceilings of any quarterback eligible to be drafted. The real question with Hundley is if he will enter the ranks of the NFL or return to UCLA for his junior season, which I think is the right choice. The Bruins are a young team this year, and not only could Hundley benefit from another year in college, but he could lead the Bruins to a BCS Bowl Game as well.
6. Derek Carr
Derek Carr, quarterback of the Fresno State Bulldogs, looks like one of the most NFL-ready quarterbacks in this upcoming draft class. Although Carr plays against lesser competition each week than the other guys on this list, arm strength and accuracy translate to the next level, and those are just two of Carr’s many strengths. Carr is able to put the ball anywhere he wants, and has the arm strength that really makes your jaw drop. He is one of the most underrated quarterbacks in the draft because of where he plays, and if a 32:4 touchdown to interception ratio this season doesn’t convince you, watch the 15th-ranked Bulldogs play a game and you will come away ready to see Carr playing in your favorite team's colors.
5. Jake Matthews
Jake Matthews is the top offensive linemen in the upcoming draft class. He was good enough to be a first-round pack last season. but elected to return to school so he could play with his brother, who is a sophomore offensive linemen. Matthews can actually play both tackle positions, but will likely be used as an elite strong side run blocker. The extra year in college allowed Matthews to become even more comfortable at the right tackle position, making him and Taylor Lewan the top tackles in the coming draft. Without good blocking, its tough to have a solid passing attack and near impossible to have a decent run game, making Matthews a crucial part of any offensive line.
4. Johnny Manziel
For as much as I like Johnny Manziel and think he will be a superstar in the NFL, it was hard to list him as fourth on this list and not higher. That, however is more a testament to the three players ahead of him than it is of the redshirt sophomore's football skills. Manziel is a great player to build around as he is a quarterback who can create when a play breaks down, and knows how to get the ball to his best receiver, Mike Evans. His quick and high delivery will work just fine in the NFL and takes away from any height concerns people may have, but the real reason Manziel is on this list is because of his elite scrambling ability, combined with his drastically improved passing and confidence.
3. Teddy Bridgewater
Teddy Bridgewater could very well end up as the no. 1 draft pick, but I have him as the third best college player to build a team around. This is because Bridgewater, although possessing all the physical tools to succeed, fails to have that wow factor and hasn’t been that productive against lesser competition. How can you name a player a building block if he is unable to lead his vastly superior Louisville Cardinals team to an undefeated season in the American Conference? Manziel almost beat Alabama single-handedly, but Bridgewater couldn’t even lead his Cardinals past the now 8-1 UCF Knights. Bridgewater will succeed on Sundays, but he won’t be the franchise-changing quarterback many expect him to be.
2. Jadeveon Clowney
Despite not lighting up the box score with sacks this season like many expected, Jadeveon Clowney is still the best defensive player in the draft and will drastically improve whichever defensive unit drafts him next spring. Clowney is a player that will likely see double-teams in the NFL, and when he does, it will open up the opportunity for his teammates to get into the backfield easier. Clowney is big enough to take down any running back currently in the league, and has the hit power that already is making NFL players nervous. Although defensive end isn’t always a sexy pick early in the draft, Clowney will change the face of the defense for whichever team he lands on.
1. Marcus Mariota
Marcus Mariota headlines this list because he's the best dual-threat quarterback eligible for the upcoming NFL Draft, and he allows whichever team that drafts him to design an offense specifically for him. Mariota will be a threat both running and throwing the ball in the NFL, and if he can develop like many think he can, he could turn out to be the best dual-threat quarterback we’ve seen since the early days of Michael Vick. Mariota opens a plethora of opportunities on the offensive side of the ball, so it’s only fitting that he is the top player in the upcoming draft class to build a team around.