2014 NFL Combine Results: 10 Strongest Players Across All Positions
2014 NFL Combine Results: 10 Strongest Players Across All Positions
This year's draft has plenty of talent at every position and that will benefit numerous teams in the NFL. Some teams will build on a winning formula they've already established and some will look to make a whole new winning tradition this season. If they draft wisely, most teams have a chance to majorly improve their rosters via the draft. Based on needs, some of the top players on the draft board will be gone right away and others might have to wait until later in the first round. Regardless of where they're taken in the early rounds, there were several players who performed admirably at this past weekend's scouting combine in Indianapolis.
While there aren't many elite running back prospects, there are elite prospects at pretty much every other skill position, especially on the defensive side of the ball. In terms of defense, this is one of the stronger drafts in years and that's good news for teams looking to improve the defensive side of the ball. Defensive backs are also plentiful this season as there could be as many as four go that realistically go in the first round. That's somewhat unusual, but the ball skills and speed that they all possess make it make sense.
On the offensive side of the ball, this is a draft very deep at the quarterback position and it's very top-heavy at receiver. There are a couple of playmaking receivers who could help take a team to the next level, and those two guys will be discussed later on in this list. Players from major programs as well as some lesser known programs are well-represented in draft projections and that should be exciting. Talent is coming from throughout the entire country, not just from power conferences and big programs.
At this past weekend's scouting combine, there were plenty of players who blew scouts away. Whether that meant confirming what scouts already thought about them or surprising everyone, it caused different players' stocks to rise and fall. After all, the entire point of the scouting combine is to help give teams a better idea about what type of player everyone they may be considering drafting is. That's why it is essentially a player's first pro job interview and why it's so important to do well.
There were actually several great performances at the combine this year, but there were some that stuck out. These 10 elite prospects did the best job of bolstering their already impressive resumes.
10. ILB C.J. Mosley, Alabama
Mosley is one of the top linebackers heading into the draft and he didn't disappoint at the combine. He needs to work on his hands, but the 6' 2" and 234 pound linebacker displayed his vertical quickness by recording a 4.40 20-yard shuttle time. That's an impressive mark that shows his potential in the league.
9. OT Jake Matthews, Texas A&M
Likely to be the top offensive lineman taken in the draft, Matthews didn't do anything to hurt that status over the weekend. He was clocked at 5.07 seconds on the 40-yard dash, which isn't bad for a lineman. He also got 24 repetitions on the bench, which showed the strength he has to go along with his size and lateral quickness.
8. CB Darqueze Dennard, Michigan State
It's possible that Dennard will be the first cornerback taken in the draft and there's no reason he shouldn't be. He ran a 4.51 in the 40 and his college track record speaks for itself. While he didn't blow scouts away, he maintained his status as an elite defensive back prospect heading into the draft.
7. TE Eric Ebron, North Carolina
One of the most talented tight ends to enter the draft in a couple of years, Ebron really impressed scouts with his speed. He ran a 4.50 40 time, which is elite for a tight end. It's a fact that Ebron is of the receiver hybrid mold much like Jimmy Graham is at the position. Whether he can produce at that same level remains to be seen, but he has scouts convinced that he can at least come close.
6. QB Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M
Johnny Football, who may be the first overall pick in the draft, replicated his speed on film by running a 4.68 40, but he didn't throw at the combine. This isn't unusual, but tools-wise, it didn't help him set himself apart. Knowing that the speed and quickness is there should make the Texans or anyone else considering him, more confident.
5. OLB Khalil Mack, Buffalo
An unknown player to the football laymen, Mack has freakish size and athleticism coming out of Buffalo. At 6' 3" and 251 pounds, he ran a 4.65 40, which is extremely good for someone of his size. He can fit as an outside pass rusher in a 3-4 defense or as a traditional outside linebacker in a 4-3 defense. Don't expect him to make it out of the top 10.
4. DE Jadeveon Clowney, South Carolina
Another candidate to be the top pick in the draft, Clowney's combination of size, speed and athleticism is off the charts. While his work ethic has been suspect, scouts saw firsthand that it may not be as big an issue as they initially thought. For his position, his speed and quickness is almost unheard of and that's why he will almost surely be the first defensive player off the board in April.
3. WR Brandin Cooks, Oregon State
An extremely speedy receiver, Cooks improved his draft stock at the combine by impressing with his quickness. He ran a 4.33 40, which was the fastest for a receiver and second fastest overall. Cooks has the ability to take the top off the defense and is a home run threat every time he touches the ball. Expect him to have similar production to that of Tavon Austin last season. He actually has better ball skills than Austin does, so he has a much higher ceiling as well.
2. WR Sammy Watkins, Clemson
One of the best receiver prospects in quite some time, Watkins somehow managed to impress scouts at the combine even more than he did during the regular season. He ran a 4.43 40, a very good time for his size and he has 32-inch arms, which are far above average for a receiver. What that adds up to is a very productive receiver in the NFL who can use size and speed to get open downfield. He has all the makings of a future star in the league.
1. QB Blake Bortles, UCF
His draft stock continues to rise and Bortles' performance at the combine might just be enough to convince the Texans to take him over Johnny Manziel with the first pick in this year's draft. According to Bortles, he set personal bests in every drill other than the 40 and he was the only elite quarterback prospect that threw during drills over the weekend. A relative unknown going into this season, Bortles just continues to impress and that might result in him being the first player taken this April.
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