Ryan Lownes’ Initial Top 25

Written by Ryan Lownes on August 30, 2013

Top 25 2014 NFL Draft Prospects
1. Jadeveon Clowney - DE - South Carolina
A dominant force from the moment he stepped on the field for the Gamecocks, Clowney is a physical specimen with the look of an elite NFL pass rusher. Equipped with length, speed, and brute strength, look for him to cement his top-pick status as a junior.
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2. Teddy Bridgewater - QB - Louisville
Breaking on to the scene as a sophomore, Bridgewater looked like a franchise quarterback in leading the Cardinals over Florida in the Sugar Bowl. A poised signal-caller with ideal arm strength, accuracy, and mobility, expect him to challenge the aforementioned Clowney for the honor to be the first overall pick.
3. Jake Matthews - OT - Texas A&M
Despite losing Outland Trophy Award winner and second overall pick Luke Joeckel, the Aggies' left side is in good hands. A technically sound player with excellent feet and balance, Matthews comes from a long line of NFL talent.
4. Taylor Lewan - OT - Michigan
The Wolverines’ massive All-American left tackle is a strong run blocker who engulfs defenders at the point of attack and opens gaping holes. Lewan is also fairly athletic, neutralizing pass rushers with good technique and a wide base.
5. Louis Nix III - DT - Notre Dame
Despite the loss of Manti Te’o, you can expect Notre Dame’s defense to remain among the best in the country. The Fighting Irish front four, led by Nix inside, is a terrifying group. A disruptive penetrator with impressive awareness, Nix wins at the line of scrimmage with a blend of power and quickness.
6. Marqise Lee - WR - USC
Though lacking the size or blistering speed of many superstars, Lee has the game of an NFL #1 wide receiver. Blessed with elite body control and natural athleticism, he is able to make plays all over the field. Unlike many top receivers, Lee is more than willing to do the little things, like block for his teammates and play on special teams.
7. CJ Mosley - LB - Alabama
An athletic playmaking backer with sideline-to-sideline range, Mosley is the heart and soul of the strong Alabama defense. He is a sound tackler who not only displays strong leadership skills, but also wows scouts with acceleration and speed.
8. Sammy Watkins - WR - Clemson
While his production may have been down from a monster freshman season, Watkins continued to display the same game-breaking ability that inspired early first round discussion. A strong receiver with a muscular build and dynamic athleticism, his game resembles that of Julio Jones.
9. Anthony Barr - OLB - UCLA
A converted running back, Barr turned heads last season when he finished second in the nation in sacks. Many feel he would have been a first round pick had he declared for the draft as a junior, but the extra year at school (playing linebacker) should be beneficial for his development. If he continues to progress at this rate, Barr will be a very high pick come next May.
10. Bradley Roby - CB - Ohio State
Following in the footsteps of great Buckeye defensive backs, Roby looks to be the next worthy of first round consideration. He always appears to be around the action, utilizing good recognition ability and excellent closing speed. A tough, competitive corner, he attacks the line of scrimmage and makes an impact against the run.
11. Aaron Lynch - DE - South Florida
One of the big mysteries on this list, it remains to be seen whether the once promising Notre Dame freshman All-American can pick up where he left off. Lynch jumped off the tape during his time in South Bend, showcasing tremendous length and athleticism. He is dynamic in his movement, pressuring quarterbacks with exceptional quickness at the line of scrimmage and closing speed.
12. Cyrus Kouandjio - OT - Alabama
A key member of the Rolling Tide offensive line that abused opponents last season en-route to another BCS National Championship, Kouandijo is living up to his five-star billing. Equipped with ideal size and athleticism, he looks the part of an NFL franchise left tackle.
13. Marcus Mariota - QB Oregon
In a Ducks offense loaded with NFL talent, quarterback Marcus Mariota is the centerpiece, the driving force of an up-tempo assault. While he lacks the same extraordinary arm strength, the mobile Mariota reminds me of Colin Kaepernick in many ways. He possesses an innate feel in the pocket and delivers the ball with impressive accuracy and velocity.
14. Jason Verrett - CB - TCU
The leader of a stingy Horned Frogs defense, Verrett epitomizes toughness. What he lacks in size, listed at 5’10", 176 lbs., he more than makes up for with physicality and willingness to defend the entire field. A third team All-American in 2012, the rangy ball-hawk ranks among the elite returning defenders in all of college football.
15. Gabe Jackson - OG - Mississippi State
Overshadowed by nationally recognized linemen at Alabama and Texas A&M, this unsung Bulldog has fared as well as any against the rigors of SEC conference play. Jackson is massive, possessing ideal width and long arms. He engulfs defenders at the point of attack in the run game and neutralizes pass rushers with great length and balance.
16. Will Sutton - DT - Arizona State
While he is undersized even for college standards, the tape does not lie. Sutton was among the most disruptive forces in all of college football last season, dominating the interior with devastating quickness and an array of pass rush moves. He may not anchor very well against the run, but the penetrating 3-tech utilizes great leverage and lives in the backfield.
17. Austin Seferian-Jenkins - TE - Washington
A huge target capable of making contested grabs over the middle of the field and in the redzone, “ASJ” is a prototypical pass-catching tight end. While lacking ideal blocking and route technique, his blend of size, ball skills, and athleticism give him considerable upside.
18. Seantrel Henderson - OT - Miami
Despite being named a backup this summer, expect the slimmer (332 lbs., down from 345) Henderson to win a starting job and emerge as a hot NFL prospect. An enormous tackle with a massive wingspan, he flashes a powerful punch and surprisingly light feet on tape.
19. Khalil Mack - OLB - Buffalo
With Central Michigan tackle Eric Fisher coming off the board first overall in April, anything appears possible for talented players from the MAC. Khalil Mack is a name all college football fans will know by season’s end. The versatile, athletic edge rusher lives in opponents’ backfields, as evidenced by 56.0 career tackles for loss. He dominates with great range, closing speed, and finely tuned instincts.
20. Craig Loston - S - LSU
A heat-seeking missile that explodes through ball-carriers with incredible force, Loston is among the nation’s most intimidating defenders. He is a physical specimen with a very impressive combination of size and speed. One of the few drawbacks, however, is that he will be 24 years old before the end of the season.
21. Ra'Shede Hageman - DT - Minnesota
Though buried on a largely mediocre Gophers team, Hageman is the type of intriguing talent that will draw crowds of scouts in Minnesota. Blessed with a coveted blend of size and athletic ability, he is quietly coming into his own. His technique requires some work, but at 6’6", 311 lbs., he has the type of quickness and change-of-direction that cannot be taught.
22. Ifo Ekpre-Olomu - CB - Oregon
Having garnered third team All-American honors last season on a talented Oregon defense, young cornerback Ekpre-Olomu is well ahead of the curve. Though lacking elite size, he remains effective due to exceptional timing and ball skills. As a junior, he must continue to make strides against the run and tackle with more consistent form.
23. Stephon Tuitt - DE - Notre Dame
After experiencing a breakout sophomore season, some would expect Tuitt to rank higher on this list. Despite twelve sacks, however, I see a player unlikely to be an edge rusher at the next level due to a lack of flexibility and closing speed. That being said, he possesses an ideal frame for the 5-tech position in a 3-4 alignment and displays an impressive motor.
24. Anthony Johnson - DT - LSU
Nicknamed “The Freak”, Johnson flashed often during his first two years in Baton Rouge. Now, with much of the LSU front moving on to the NFL, he figures to shine with increased opportunity. His catchy moniker refers to extraordinary athleticism and disruptive ability inside.
25. Jordan Matthews - WR - Vanderbilt
A nephew of NFL legend Jerry Rice, Matthews is creating quite the legacy himself in college football’s most competitive conference. A long-strider with a wiry build, he shows the ability to win both before and after the catch. On tape, he demonstrates good concentration and a wide catch radius, along with impressive acceleration.

Ryan Lownes

Ryan is currently an undergraduate student at Ohio University pursuing a degree in Sport Management. He has been attending the NFL Draft in New York City since 2005 and has aspirations of a career in scouting. He is currently a draft writer and analyst on the Draft Breakdown team, posting his latest rankings, mock drafts, scouting reports, and more. Be sure to follow Ryan on twitter for year-round NFL Draft analysis.

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