We left the Indianapolis scouting combine with a lot of information to digest when it comes to re-stacking the board for the 2014 draft. Following conversations with NFL teams over how the hundreds of players' workouts, medical evaluations and interviews went, we have a better idea how to slot our "best available" list as we close in on the May 8-10 draft.
This is not a list of what order the players will go off the board, but rather one of the top talents available without regard to individual team scheme fits. Mock drafts are fun, but prior to free agency they are extreme crapshoots without knowing which teams will have filled what pressing needs or lost key players to other teams.
So in order to slake your perpetual thirst for quality draft fodder, we present you the Shutdown Corner Top 50 list:
1. South Carolina DE Jadeveon Clowney — A strong 40 time, jumping numbers still don’t answer whether his motor runs hot or not.
2. Clemson WR Sammy Watkins — Great run-after-catch ability could turn a tame offense into an explosive one instantly.
3. Auburn OT Greg Robinson — Ryan Clady clone has most upside of this tackle group, and only minor flaws.
4. Texas A&M OT Jake Matthews — Most technically sound lineman in draft seldom was beaten one on one last season.
5. Buffalo DE-OLB Khalil Mack — He’s not quite Von Miller as a rusher but can do just about everything else as well.
6. Alabama LB C.J. Mosley — There isn’t a major hole in his game, but recent Alabama defenders haven’t translated as well as hoped.
7. Central Florida QB Blake Bortles — Size, physical gifts and upside could convince Texans he’s worth the top pick.
8. Pittsburgh DT Aaron Donald — He blew it up at the Combine. He blew it up at the Senior Bowl. He blew it up at Pitt. Anything else needed?
9. Texas A&M WR Mike Evans — Ran well enough in Indy to think he can be a special second option, or a very good first.
10. UCLA DE-OLB Anthony Barr — Physically speaking, few are more impressive, and he’s still so new to playing defense.
11. North Carolina TE Eric Ebron — The Vernon Davis comparisons make a lot of sense for this rare talent.
12. Oklahoma State CB Justin Gilbert — Underestimated him based on a few rough games but has the look of a No. 1 corner.
13. Michigan OT Taylor Lewan — Aggressive, defensive mentality but could be best on right side.
14. Texas A&M QB Johnny Manziel — Have to be willing to live with negative plays, durability concerns, but no better playmaker, innovator.
15. Louisville QB Teddy Bridgewater — Wants to be great and has very good skills across the board.
16. Ohio State LB Ryan Shazier — Super athletic, four-down player whose only real drawback is lacking ideal size.
17. USC WR Marqise Lee — Ran a 4.4 40 at the scouting combine, and the tape shows he plays that fast, too.
18. Louisville S Calvin Pryor — Nasty, aggressive hitter whose temperament could help change a defense.
19. Florida State DT Timmy Jernigan — Not everyone is sold on his ability to take on tandem blocks, but he can penetrate gaps in slanting scheme.
20. Alabama S Hasean “Ha Ha” Clinton-Dix — Rangy safety made more plays in 2012 than in 2013 but projects well as deep center fielder.
21. Notre Dame OT-OG Zach Martin — Better player than physical specimen who has the look of a 10-year starter.
22. Michigan State CB Darqueze Dennard — Answered some of the speed questions at combine and has tape to back it up.
23. Notre Dame NT Louis Nix III — Mass, feet and personality remind some of B.J. Raji.
24. Minnesota DT-DE Ra’Shede Hageman — Physical marvel is a boom-bust player; if light comes on, watch out.
25. LSU WR Odell Beckham Jr. — Had great combine and has look of Day 1 contributor as receiver and returner.
26. Missouri DE-OLB Kony Ealy — Has some scheme flexibility and nose for ball but sometimes wore down late in games.
27. Fresno State WR Davante Adams — Slipped through the cracks a bit, but terrific short and intermediate target with good upside.
28. Auburn DE-OLB Dee Ford — Not every team sees this much upside, but has great get-off and Trent Cole-like motor.
29. Notre Dame DE-DT Stephon Tuitt — If he passes medical tests, performs well at pro day, could be late Round 1 pick.
30. Florida State WR Kelvin Benjamin — Polarizing prospect who could overcome flaws because of rare size, skills.
31. Oregon State WR Brandin Cooks — Insane combine workouts only whet evaluators’ appetites for this smallish burner.
32. Ohio State CB Bradley Roby — Early struggles last season, but man-coverage potential is very strong.
33. Boise State DE Demarcus Lawrence — Long-limbed pass rusher needs just a little refinement in his game.
34. Fresno State QB Derek Carr — Admittedly, we bumped his value higher previously. Very solid but maybe not special.
35. Mississippi State OG Gabe Jackson — We admit, we overlooked him early. Flashes of serious dominance in his game.
36. UCLA OG Xavier Su’a-Filo — Motivated, athletic guard who could be a fixture for the next decade.
37. Ohio State RB Carlos Hyde — Eddie Lacy comparisons make sense; could be perfect cold-weather bruiser.
38. Mississippi WR Donte Moncrief — Might be drafted lower with deep WR class but physical marvel who is on upswing.
39. Virginia OT Morgan Moses — Fared well at the Senior Bowl and could slide into late Round 1 to a tackle-needy team.
40. Texas Tech TE Jace Amaro — Can threaten the seam, but one-year production, college scheme has some a little leery.
41. Florida State S-CB Lamarcus Joyner — Plays bigger than his small frame; bears some resemblance to Tyrann Mathieu.
42. BYU LB Kyle Van Noy — Scheme flexibility, plus athleticism could make him a versatile, intriguing playmaker.
43. TCU CB Jason Verrett — Always around the ball, very athletic; might be limited to playing the slot, however.
44. Notre Dame TE Troy Niklas — Not all the way there yet, but has highest upside among the bigger tight ends in this draft.
45. Stanford OG David Yankey — Blue-collar, smart competitor who can help bring a unit together and make it better.
46. Northern Illinois S Jimmie Ward — Not every team has him this high, but aggressive mentality, playmaking ability will push him up in the draft.
47. Auburn RB Tre Mason — Fumbling, size, durability are concerns, but he hits the hole quickly and could be instant impact rookie.
48. Washington TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins — Health will be key when scouts recheck him in April; talent is there but stock is lukewarm right now.
49. Wisconsin LB Chris Borland — Likely to slide with size, but there’s a starting spot waiting for his immeasurable intangibles.
50. Alabama OT Cyrus Kouandjio — Bad workouts, medical evaluations from combine almost certainly will drop him out of Round 1.
Just missed the cut: Tennessee OT Ja’Wuan James, Florida DT Dominique Easley, Georgia Tech DE-OLB Jeremiah Attaochu, Florida CB Marcus Roberson, LSU WR Jarvis Landry, Oregon State DE Scott Chrichton, Washington State S Deone Bucannon, Penn State DT DaQuan Jones, Stanford DE-OLB Trent Murphy, Eastern Illinois QB Jimmy Garoppolo, Wyoming CB-FS Marqueston Huff.
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