1. Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford, 6’4 235
2. Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor, 6’2 220
3. Ryan Tannehill, QB, Texas A&M, 6’4 220
4. Nick Foles, QB, Arizona, 6’5 235
5. Brandon Weeden, QB, Oklahoma State, 6’4 215
Overall: The quality at the top of the class took a hit when Matt Barkley and Landry Jones decided to return to school for their senior years. Both prospects were likely to be first round picks in April. Teams looking for early franchise caliber quarterbacks will have to hope they’re drafting in the top 5, or are willing to give up plenty of picks to move up and select on of the top two prospects. The rest of the class offers the best value in the early to middle rounds (3-5) with developmental prospects that have pro ability but will need time to acclimate.
Boom or Bust: Robert Griffin III. I’m a fan of Robert Griffin. I like his accuracy, arm strength, and athleticism. But I’m also aware that he played in a simplified spread system at Baylor, that didn’t ask him to make progression reads against multiple coverages or to make many throws in the middle of the field. The early success of rookie quarterbacks in similar systems last year should give some teams more confidence, but the shoe doesn’t always fit everyone.Griffin will be expected to play early, so his coaching staff and supporting cast will be critical to his development.
Highest Upside: Brock Osweiler. At 6’7, 240 pounds, Osweiler has all the physical tools to be a productive NFL quarterback. The former basketball player from Arizona State is still learning the position and will be coming to the NFL from a simple one-read passing offense. His ability will make it hard for teams to put a value on him, as he has first round talent but limited experience (15 starts) and is still unpolished to the mental aspects of the game. If properly developed the team that drafts him has a franchise quarterback.
Sleeper: Kellen Moore. Moore holds the all time wins record for an NCAA quarterback at 50-3. He’s limited physically and won’t ‘wow’ teams in workouts, but he has a great feel for the pocket, understanding of the game, and possesses all the intangibles teams want in a quarterback.
Class Grade: C
1. Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama, 5’11 225
2. Lamar Miller, RB, Miami(FL), 5’11 212
3. David Wilson, RB, Virginia Tech, 5’10 205
4. Chris Polk, RB, Washington, 5’11 225
5. LaMichael James, RB, Oregon, 5’9 195
Overall: Quality running backs can be found in any round of the draft. Looking at NFL rosters we see franchise tailbacks drafted in the 1st round (Adrian Petersen,), 5th round (Michael Turner), undrafted (Arian Foster) and everywhere in between. But even still elite runners will always be highly valued. This class shows one proven elite talent in Trent Richardson who can do it all. He’s physical, can run inside and out, catch, and is reliable with blitz pick up. After Richardson, there are plenty of prospects that have room to grow into long term NFL running backs. Teams will like the overall value of this group.
Boom or Bust: LaMichael James. James will be entering the NFL with a laundry list of awards and accolades achieved in the NCAA. He’s a dynamic player who thrives in space, showing the quickness to make NFL linebackers over-pursue. But he lacks the ability to run between the tackles and needs an open crease to be effective. It will be important for him to be placed in the right situation to reach his full potential; a perfect fit in an option/spread style offense.
Highest Upside: Lamar Miller. I felt Miller could’ve used another year in college to refine his skills and improve his blitz pick up. He’s a homerun threat from anywhere on the field and is an effective inside runner; has the frame to add 10-15 pounds. He should add to the long list of successful running backs from the University ofMiami.
Sleeper: Bryce Brown. This Kansas State running back has the prototype size (6’0 220), speed, vision, and playing strength to be an early round pick. But injuries, school transfers, and academic issues led to unrealized potential in the NCAA. If given a shot in the NFL he could surprise.
Class Grade: B
1. Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State, 6’1 215
2. Alshon Jeffery, WR, South Carolina, 6’4 229
3. Michael Floyd, WR, Notre Dame, 6’3 225
4. Kendall Wright, WR, Baylor, 5’10 195
5. Mohamed Sanu, WR, Rutgers, 6’2 215
Overall: If the NFL team you support needs a wide receiver this would be a good year to draft one. Teams will find that it isn’t absolutely necessary to select a prospect early as there is talent into the middle rounds that grade out closely; good players to be found in the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th round- even later. It’s an excellent class in terms of value and depth.
Boom or Bust: Kendall Wright. The wide receiver position is generally a tougher transition for players due to a more complicated route system and coverage adjustments on the fly. Wright is an explosive downfield threat in the mold of DeSean Jackson and possesses the ability to be a difference maker early. But he played in a pass friendly, simplified offense at Baylor and wasn’t asked to make site adjustments or run many NFL routes. He’ll have to improve against the press and add strength. The team that drafts him and how high he’s selected will go a long way in determining his initial impact.
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