Cedric Ogbuehi (T, Texas A&M)
Unlike Jake Matthews, Ogbuehi hasn’t made an easy transition from right to left tackle. Last season he did a manful job watching speed rushers off the edge — controlling Dee Ford and others in an impressive debut season as a starter. This year Ogbuehi hasn’t been a turnstile, but he’s getting there. He’s closing in on double digit sacks conceded for the season against a modest group of SEC pass rushers. So what are the issues? Ogbuehi has a tendency to get too wide in his stance, leaving him open to an inside move. He also gets too high at times and his hand placement needs to be better to ward off blockers. Yes these are fixable technical issues, but this is the only tape teams have of Ogbuehi at left tackle. People are already anointing him as a sure-fire top-five pick. He might be the third or fourth left tackle off the board at this rate.
Leonard Williams (DE, USC)
I’m not sure how Williams has earned such a brilliant reputation. Don’t get me wrong, he’s certainly intriguing. He’s 6-5 and 300lbs and moves well for the size. I’ll happily eat my words if he explodes at the combine and shows himself to be a big-time athlete with huge upside potential. On tape, however, it’s still a real mystery what his best position is. When he lines up inside he can be a liability against the run. Against Fresno State he was pushed around on two red zone TD runs. He’s not a great interior rusher either. As a defensive end he’s certainly got that J.J. Watt act of swatting the ball down to a tee. And yet he’s not a great speed-to-power rusher. He doesn’t live in the backfield. He’s busy rather than relentless. He looks like he might be a 5-technique in the 3-4. Based on his athletic qualities, I’m positive someone will take him in round one. Yet I’m not totally convinced the tape warrants such lofty reviews (eg being touted as a potential #1 overall pick).
Leonard Floyd (DE, Georgia)
Not every tall, skinny pass rusher is going to turn into Aaron Maybin. Floyd, however, reminds me so much of the former Penn State flop. Barkevious Mingo competed with ferocity and just had a knack of making plays. In terms of undersized pure edge rushers, Mingo is the best to enter the NFL in recent memory. Even he has struggled to make an impact. Floyd is skinnier than Mingo and looks about 225lbs on tape. ESPN currently lists him at 6-3 and 226lbs. When he has to take on a block it’s over. He has no anchor against college OT’s and no way of countering when he gets blocked. Essentially he either wins with the first step, lean and speed or he doesn’t have an impact. He’s a very active player and he puts himself about — but he just doesn’t look ready for the NFL. He’d be best served returning for a junior season and working on getting stronger (upper and lower body), developing some counters and learning to use his hands.
Ifo Ekpre-Olomu (CB, Oregon)
Not having a great season. Might be best suited working in the slot.
Brett Hundley (QB, UCLA)
Erratic, poor decision maker who shouldn’t be taken early. Best served as a developmental prospect in the middle rounds.
Connor Cook (QB, Michigan State)
Why do people think he’s going to be an early pick?
Ameer Abdullah (RB, Nebraska)
He’s made some nice plays this year but he won’t be a regular feature for a NFL running attack and will do well to go in the middle rounds.
Nelson Agholor (WR, USC)
He’s made some clutch plays for the Trojans over the years but it’s hard to judge him as anything more than a limited pro prospect.
Rob Crisp (T, NC State)
I’ve not watched an offensive tackle as polished as Crisp this year. Technically he’s quite accomplished and always looks in control. Combine that with ideal size (6-7, 295lbs) and he looks the part. I’ve no doubt at all that with the right coaching he has a future in the league. You can count the number of tackles who performed well against Clemson’s Vic Beasley over the years on one hand. Crisp had a sensational game against Beasley — who only managed his sack/fumble/TD when lined up, unwisely, against a tight end 1v1. Given how much praise other big name left tackles are getting, Crisp receives almost no attention in comparison. Keep an eye on this guy.
La’el Collins (T/G, LSU)
Out of all the big name college offensive linemen, Collins has shown the most progress this year. He plays with a cool authority — he’s all business. In terms of run blocking he shows the power to drive people off the ball and technical know-how to turn a defensive lineman and create big running lanes. His kick-slide could still use some work and he might not be the best athlete — but he holds his own in pass protection. He could’ve been a first round pick last year but the strides he’s taken in 2014 completely justify the decision to return to LSU. If you draft Collins early the worst case scenario is you’ll end up with a very good guard. In fact, teams might consider drafting him in the top-15 as a pure guard anyway. Don’t rule him out as a top tackle prospect though — he’s shown this year he’s up to the task.
Chuka Ndulue (DT, Oklahoma)
He won’t be an early pick, but Ndulue is already a NFL prospect handling over-matched college players. It was tough to watch him abuse Tennessee’s freshman riddled O-line. He’s a grown man — an absolute beast up front who can make plays from various positions. Put him at end in a three man front, sit him in the middle as an interior rusher. He has supreme strength and will add a great deal to a NFL rotation. He’s helped by a very talented Oklahoma front line that also includes freaky nose tackle Jordan Phillips. But this is the type of player you rely on for those key divisional games. He’s going to get out there ready for war. Great character, great leader. You could see him playing for the Ravens or Steelers.
Kevin White (WR, West Virginia)
We’ve talked about White all year and he’s finally starting to get some attention. You could argue he’s no longer underrated, but I wanted to include him on the list because he deserves all the plaudits he’s getting. There’s no other receiver in college currently playing with his attitude, grit and playmaking quality. You can’t cover the guy. Throw it up — he’ll make the play. He has the lot — size, body control, hands catcher, ability to high point the football. He’s flashed the ability to make yards after the catch. He’s an intense competitor and the heartbeat of his team. White is probably the most fun player to watch in college football this season and if he continues to perform he will win the Biletnikoff and he will be a first round pick.
Markus Golden (DE, Missouri)
Team mate Shane Ray gets a lot of attention, but Golden might be a better pro-prospect. He’s a brilliant athlete — powerful, fast off the edge. He’s capable of using his hands and fighting his way to the quarterback. Like Kevin White he’s a JUCO transfer with all the physical qualities you look for at the next level. He was slowed this year by a hamstring strain but still found a way to make plays. Ray and Golden could both land in the first round, but only Ray seems to be getting the focus right now. Ja’Wuan James absolutely deserved to go in round one this year despite a lot of surprise when Miami picked him. Only one player unsettled James throughout the entire 2013 season. Markus Golden. Do not sleep on him as an early pick.
Jordan Phillips (DT, Oklahoma)
Could be tempted to declare after missing last year through injury. Really moves for a nose tackle. Exciting talent.
Benardrick McKinney (LB, Mississippi State)
Just a tackling machine and a significant piece of the current #1 team in college football.
Shaq Thompson (LB, Washington)
Could go in the top ten or fifteen — and I include him here for that reason.
Denzel Perryman (LB, Miami)
Really controls the middle of the field and has an impact every week.