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USA Today Sports Weekly

Top 50 Update

Updated: 02/08/2014 11:32PM ET
Underclassmen*

PickPlayerPos.SchoolHTWT40 Time
1
Jadeveon Clowney*DE
South Carolina 
60642754.65
.Physically, Jadeveon Clowney can come off the edge like a Lockheed SR- 71 Blackbird and must be game planned for. He looks like the prototype NFL defensive end from his long athletic build to his Chinese dragon arm length. If only his flashes were graded you would think he was from another planet. But the whole film is graded and you rarely get the production his physical gifts warrant. Made many plays when he was unblocked. He was on a play count most of the year because of injury. Has an explosive arm-over move that you seldom see. Can completely dominate a portion of a game or can be walled off by a tight end. His 40 tackles, 3 sacks, and 11.5 tackles for loss are underachieving for the rare talent
2
Jake MatthewsLOT
Texas A&M 
60503104.95
Four-year starter who played right tackle in 2012. The second pick in the 2013 draft, Luke Joeckel, played on the left side. Moved to left tackle in the spring. Matthews is the middle son of Hall-of-Famer Bruce Matthews. A knee bender who plays with attitude and effort. Competes for an up-tempo offensive team. Good athletic ability and is consistently effective as a run blocker and pass protector. Smooth lateral shuffle in pass protection. Plays square with his long torso and takes advantage of his long arms. Uses his quick hands efficiently in his punch, stab, placement, and extension. Good six-inch pop. Can redirect and shift his weight quickly. Moves quickly off the ball as a zone blocker in the run game. Solid stance and foot quickness. Effective on combination and second level blocks. Stays balanced with good body control when blocking on the move. Plays with good leverage to anchor versus power. A top-5 talent. First-team All-American by the Football Writers of America Association.
3
Sammy Watkins*WR/RS
Clemson 
60102054.45
Video game runner Sammy Watkins leaves evaluators at a loss for descriptive adjectives. A competitive and explosive hand catcher who will reach and extend to catch a ball at the high point. He can freeze a defender’s feet, then accelerate by them. A double move magician. He can win in transition and separate against the best corners. Explosive on kickoff returns.
4
Greg Robinson*LOT
Auburn 
60503145.10
Greg Robinson, a declared junior, emerged as one of the draft’s top left tackle prospects during Auburn’s national championship run. Athletic with good lateral quickness to cut off the inside go. Can stone a bull rush. Powerful on down blocks. Locks out his long arms on a pass rusher’s breast plate, carrying them up the field.
5
Anthony BarrOLB
UCLA 
60402454.48
Two-year starter. Moved to linebacker in the spring of 2012 after playing running back and Pistol fullback for two years. Projects as a 3-4 right outside pass rushing linebacker. Can beat an offensive tackle with his athletic ability. Sets the edge in the running game. Plays with knee bend and leverage. Gets under a tackle’s pads and can run him back to the quarterback. Has the speed to run down screen passes from behind. Plays square, locks out, and skates down the line of scrimmage. Explosive and sudden quickness off the ball on a speed rush. Tough to block on twist stunts. Can bend the corner. Equally as quick in a three or two point stance. Has a burst to the quarterback after he gets off the block. Quick change of direction in space. A four down linebacker who is effective dropping into coverage or breaking up on checkdowns. Has the strength to close and stack the off tackle seams. A natural that is still learning the position.
6
Teddy Bridgewater*QB
Louisville 
60301964.65
Good poise in the pocket,arm strength,quick release,ability to gun a ball into tight spots. Moves around well in the pocket,throws receivers open, good anticipation & accuracy throwing to a spot not a receiver.
7
Stephon Tuitt*DE
Notre Dame 
60503034.95
Stephon Tuitt is a country strong versatile 4-3 or 3-4 tackle or end. Sets the edge with technique and guile. Can press the pocket as a pass rusher then make the quarterback throw out of the well by getting his long arms up. Hustles and takes good downfield angles in pursuit. Can stack the line of scrimmage and force the ball to bounce. Recorded 49 tackles, 9 tackles for loss, 7.5 sacks, and 13 quarterback hurries.
8
Johnny Manziel*QB
Texas A&M 
51152054.55
Johnny Manziel has innate running and passing instincts as well as a feel for the pass rush. He completed 73% of his passes from the pocket, best among quarterbacks from BCS automatic qualifier conferences. Only one first round quarterback had a better down the field throwing percentage than Manziels, 48% of passes 25 yards or longer in the past three years – that was Robert Griffin III. Despite his lack of height, he only had 12 of 864 passes batted down. Teams that missed the boat on Russell Wilson because of measurables will be giving Manziel the once over twice.
9
Louis Nix III*DT
Notre Dame 
60203265.30
Louis Nix has the talent to be the next Vince Wilfork. Stout at the point of attack. Gets push up the middle as a pass rusher. Explosive space occupier who absorbs blockers and keeps his linebackers free. Disruptive enough to force plays deep. Gets his hands up in the throwing lane. Quick off the ball and locks out and sheds. Finishes plays.
10
Khalil MackOLB
Buffalo 
60302454.65
Four-year starter. Has played both outside linebacker and a four-man front defensive end. Projects to outside linebacker for the next level. Good balance and change of direction. Long arms to lock out, play square, and shuffle laterally down the line of scrimmage. A good athlete who can dip his shoulder, penetrate and pressure the quarterback. Experience dropping into coverage and playing on or off the line of scrimmage. Will finish backside pursuit. Good effort player with a non-stop motor. Doesn’t stay blocked. Explosive first step when rushing the passer. Uses his hands on blockers like a shiver board. A disruptive playmaker.
11
Taylor LewanLOT
Michigan 
60703155.25
Four-year starter with long arms and a wide body. Reminds us of former Wolverine Jon Runyan, long-time Eagles’ right tackle. When he gets his mitts on you, it’s all over. Plays left tackle from a preset two-point stance. Good mirror and slide in pass protection. Slides his feet while squaring up the pass rusher. Sits down and locks out. Must work to bend his knees and not grab a speed rusher. Aggressive in his play. Good position and sustain. Question anchor strength at times if he loses his knee bend. Physical on down blocks. May be best suited to play right tackle on Sundays. Can be beat inside at times. Had a good battle with Jadeveon Clowney in the 2012 Outback Bowl.
12
CJ MosleyOLB
Alabama 
60202324.65
Three-year starter. Blessed with all the tools of the linebacker trade. Quick hands, quick feet, pass rush quickness, fluidness with good flexibility, acceleration, balance, the ability to redirect, and top level instincts. After all that, the best thing he may do is excel in pass coverage. Good route awareness. Plays square. Works through traffic instinctively. Wrap tackles. Is disruptive as a blitzer and is an impact hitter. He also has returned three interceptions for touchdowns in his career. Plays on all special teams.
13
Marqise Lee*WR/RS
USC 
60001954.45
Marqise Lee was nicked up in 2013 but flashed glimpses of his previous two highlight reel years at Southern Cal. Sudden quickness out of his breaks. Competitive at the ball. Has elite speed to run by corners on deep vertical routes. Explosive kickoff return specialist averaging 28.5 yards per return. He owns or shares 22 USC records.
14
Darqueze DennardCB
Michigan State 
51102004.50
Three-year starter. One of the team captains. Smooth athletic backpedal and lateral movement. Good change of direction. Sticky in man-to-man coverage. Has his hands all over the receiver in press cover two. Can reroute wide out and keep position on him. Has been known to grab a jersey or compete in close quarters. Has a burst when asked to blitz off the edge. A heady corner who can come off a receiver and make a play in run support. Wrap tackler. Aggressive in his play.
15
Mike Evans*WR
Texas A&M 
60502254.55
Mike Evans is a big athletic target who will reach and extend for high passes and out jumps most defensive backs. Averaged 20.2 yards per catch on his 69 catches. Tough to jam at the line of scrimmage because of size and strength.
16
Justin GilbertDC
Oklahoma State 
60002004.49
Three-year starter. Long arms. Good hip flexibility. Has short and long acceleration. Hard to shake. Natural reactions. Can jam a receiver then turn and run. Good quickness, agility, and balance. Closes and wraps up the ball carrier quickly. Always in position to make a play on the ball. Good range down the field or up in run support. Finishes play – was cut, bounced up and made tackle for one yard gain. Holds the Big-12 record for 5 kickoff returns for touchdowns. Career average is 26.5 yards per return. Covers well on punt and special teams’ units. Good mental toughness.
17
Blake Bortles*QB
Central Florida 
60402274.75
Junior Blake Bortles is a prototype looking drop back NFL quarterback. He stands tall in the pocket and was the game manager in a run based offensive scheme. He ranked 21st in the country in total offense with 296.4 yards per game. He completed 67.8% of his passes and averaged 9.4 yards per attempt.
18
Cyrus Kouandjio*LOT
Alabama 
60503105.10
Cyrus Kouandjio, Alabama’s left tackle, had an up and down year, but is oozing with talent. Locks on defender with his big hands and long arms. Aggressive in the run game and moves his feet well as a pass protector. Had a rough go in the Sugar Bowl when Oklahoma put a small speed linebacker on his outside edge and he gave up two sacks.
19
Aaron DonaldDT
Pittsburgh 
6010v288v4.89e
Aaron Donald is a scheme specific 4-3 under-tackle who explodes off the ball and is a slippery leverage player. Long arms to bat down passes. Works hard every play from snap to whistle. Always puts in a good day’s work. Good flexibility to dip and bend. Won the defensive player of the year sweepstakes collecting the Bednarik, Lombardi, Outland Trophy, and Nagurski Awards. Was unanimous All-America plus ACC Defensive Player of the Year.
20
Tim Jernigan*DT
Florida State 
60202985.00
Timmy Jernigan is an inside running lane road block. Top level inside instincts and agility. Good lateral quickness and hand use to stack and shed head-on running plays. Plays low and with leverage to hold his ground. A one-gap disruptive penetrator.
21
Eric Ebron*TE
North Carolina 
60402454.65
Declared for NFL draft in January and should be an early selection with his combination of athletic ability and skill set. Caught 46 passes this fall and set a Tar Heel record for receptions and yards (690) in a season by a tight end. He also holds the career record of 96 catches for 1522 yards, passing former Terp Vernon Davis as the ACC tight end yardage leader. Lines up all over the formation. A hand catcher who can make the first tackler miss. Blocking is marginal.
22
Zack MartinOG/OT
Notre Dame 
6041v305v5.15e
Four-year starter at left tackle. Two-year captain who projects inside at guard. Plays in a three point stance along with a two point preset stance. Gets a good two arm extension in pass protection. Cuts off the inside go. Good awareness on blitz pickups. Works to sustain and finish his blocks. Effective as a pass protector and run blocker. Knee bender who plays with flat feet. Plays with balance and body control. Can pivot, turn, and run. Effective use of hands to lock up the pass rusher’s breast plate. Concentrates and focuses on his job. Good reactions. Gets depth in pass protection. Smooth feet to mirror and slide. Smart and instinctive player who can sit down and anchor a bull rush. A four-for-one player.
23
Trent MurphyDE/OB
Stanford 
6053v252v4.86
Three-year starter. Team captain. A good combination of intelligence and intensity. A hybrid standup linebacker/defensive end who is disruptive and explosive in his play. Disciplined within the defensive scheme. He does it all – rushes the passer, drops into coverage, plays receivers man-to-man in the slot, can power rush on stunts up the middle, and play the run off tackle. Quick off the ball. Uses his hands well. Can get an offensive tackle back on his heels. Very good hand and grab strength to knock the tackle off balance. Can dip and lean around the corner. Contains the edge well. Hits with an explosive force. A good effort player who is alert for traps and draws. Finds the ball quickly. Teams usually run away from him.
24
Jason VerrettDC
TCU 
51001784.50
Three-year starter. Junior college transfer. Active and disciplined in his play. Good foot quickness and hip flexibility. Contests every throw in his area. Good timing to break on the ball. Athletic with a quick burst. A solid tackler despite his size. Dependable getting the ball carrier down. No hesitation on run support. Plays with confidence and toughness. Plays in TCU’s 4-2-5 defensive scheme.
25
Calvin Pryor*FS
Louisville 
60102104.55
Calvin Pryor is a physical safety who breaks quickly on the ball and punishes the ball carrier when he arrives. Second leading tackler with 75 stops.
26
Kelvin Benjamin*WR
Florida State 
60502354.65
A big physical target who is not easy to tackle. Smooth for a big man. A long strider that picks up speed as he goes down the field. Basically a one-year starter who caught 30 passes as a redshirt freshman in 2012. He played in a five-receiver rotation. Not a nifty-footed receiver, but a powerful one. Can make the tough overhead catch by tracking the ball. Adjusts well to a poorly thrown pass. Can make the great catch or miss a routine ball. Inconsistent hand catcher and pass route runner. Does not catch the ball cleanly.
27
Ryan Shazier*OLB
Ohio State 
60202264.55
Ryan Shazier is a tall rangy inside linebacker who projects to the outside because of his lack of bulk. The long-armed blitzer is disruptive, quick, and always around the ball. He led the Buckeyes with 143 total tackles. He also collected 22.5 tackles for loss, 6 sacks, and had 4 forced fumbles.
28
Jace Amaro*TE
Texas Tech 
60502604.65
Moves like a wide receiver for a big man. Good run after catch ability dropping his shoulder and plowing over anything in his way. The prolific hand catcher has good contact balance. He has the route savvy to produce in a variety of alignments – slot, wide receiver, or on the line.
29
Ha-Ha Clinton-Dix*FS
Alabama 
60102104.55
Ha Ha Clinton-Dix is athletic enough and by scheme design does not let a receiver get on top of him. As the last line of defense, he lines up at 10-12 yards deep. Keeps good position on receiver and jumps a ball carrier once he crosses the line of scrimmage. Reads things quickly. Good ball skills and has the range of a center fielder.
30
Kyle FullerCB
Virginia Tech 
60001904.45
Kyle Fuller takes a direct line to the ball with no false steps. Athletic, confident, and competitive. Good football instincts and body control. Defended 12 passes despite missing 5 games with a torn groin muscle. Good feet and short area quickness. Sudden to read and react.
31
Deone BucannonSS
Washington State 
6007v216v4.55
Deone Bucannon led the Pac-12 in tackles with 109. A physical runthrough tackler that added 5 interceptions, 3 forced fumbles, and 4.5 tackles for loss to his resume‘ this year. Plays the ball well down the field.
32
Kony Ealy*DE
Missouri 
60502754.79
Two-year starter who has all the athletic height, weight, and speed numbers that scouts look for in a defensive end. Athletic with good body control and change of direction. Where Ealy is going to make his money is rushing the passer – he can bend and dip his inside shoulder and get up the field.
33
Cyril RichardsonOG
Baylor 
6044v343v5.35
Three-year starter who is thick and quick in his play. Long arms. Plays left guard in a high tempo no huddle offense. Powerful and aggressive. Quick enough to gain an advantage on run plays. Explosive on down blocks. Can stun and control a defensive tackle. Has had several “pancake” or “decleater” type blocks. Good surge in the run game. Can quick position a defender with base leverage. Has functional strength and balance. Has a tendency to lose his knee bend at times and can get bull rushed. Will also drop his hands and head in pass pro. Needs to be more technique conscious. Would like to see him stay engaged longer. There will always be a question about Baylor linemen who perform well in college but struggle on the next level. Has the talent to start as a rookie.. Has bench pressed 400 pounds and recorded 32 reps on 225-pound bench. Rough go in Senior Bowl leaves questions.
34
Kareem MartinDE
North Carolina 
6057v272v4.98
Three-year productive starter. Virtually double his tackle totals from his junior to his senior year. Long arms and big hands for the position. Long wing radius to grab and throw linemen and bat down passes. Moved around to take advantage of personnel mismatches. Disruptive player. Quick spin move to pressure the passer. Strong enough to get under a blocker and leverage them back to the quarterback. An ascending player who has all the tools to succeed on Sunday. Arm-34 3/8" Hand-10"
35
Ka'Deem CareyRB
Arizona 
51001964.50
Ka’Deem Carey declared junior who is a physical and violent runner. Generally needs to be gang tackled. After breaking the first tackle he refuses to go down. Strong enough to take a hit as well as deliver one. A natural hand catcher in the pass game.
36
Ego Ferguson*DT
LSU 
60203055.00
Ego Ferguson is a physical inside stack and shed tackle who draws double teams on a regular basis. Does a good job of exploding and extending low and crossing the face of a blocker. Good lateral quickness. Naturally strong at holding his ground.
37
Morgan MosesOT
Virginia 
6061v325v5.25
A four-year starter who projects to the right side from the left. Effective in pass protection and as a run blocker. Strong on down and combo blocks. Long arms for the position. Can look explosive at times and give good push in the run game. Plays with a mean streak. Lower body stiffness. Lacks quickness to block edge speed. Will drop his head and eyes in pass protection. Needs to improve his hand strength and use. Needs to elevate his technique. Plays high and without knee bend at times in pass pro. Can be driven back. ARM-34 3/4", Hand 9 3/4"
38
Bishop Sankey*RB
Washington 
50902004.50
Bishop Sankey declared junior averaged 5.72 yards per carry while racking up 1870 yards. A shifty and smart back who can make the jump cut, change of direction move in the hole. Has innate sudden lateral quickness. A disciplined runner who follows and cuts off his blocks. Can run over or shake a defender in the open field.
39
Tajh BoydQB
Clemson 
60102254.70
A record-setting three-year starter who matured in 2012 and demonstrated that he can beat you with his feet and his arm. A top level competitor. Runs a diversified zone read option attack that spreads out the defense. A good athlete who is very accurate short and medium. Steps into his throws when in the pocket. Good movement skills and throws accurately on the run, play action, and on roll outs. Snaps the ball out to the perimeter on the read option pass when the wide receiver is his target. Keeps his eyes down the field. Does a good job escaping the rush when the pass protection breaks down. Escapes with suddenness and has the ability to reset his body with balance to make the quick and accurate throw. Plays with confidence, good judgment, and poise. Impressive vs. LSU in 2012 Peach Bowl and opening season win over Georgia in 2013.First in school history in passing touchdowns, passing efficiency and touchdown responsibility; has nine of the top-11 single-game passing yardage totals in school history and has a 31-8 career record as a starter.
40
Carlos HydeRB
Ohio State 
60002424.55
Carlos Hyde is a big downhill ball control running back who is tough and durable. Good contact balance. A good lead blocker for Braxton Miller as well as a solid pass protector that attacks the blitzer. Patient, powerful, and strong as an inside runner. Can slide and burst off a defender’s tackle attempt. A workhorse type back.
41
Derek CarrQB
Fresno State 
6021v215v4.80
Derek Carr is one of the most pro ready quarterbacks in this draft and should make a quick adjustment to the next level. He led the country with 5083 yards passing, completing 68.9% of his passes for 50 touchdowns and only 8 interceptions.Hand-9 1/8"
42
Antonio Richardson*OT
Tennessee 
60603355.16
Junior Antonio Richardson is a wide-bodied left tackle who projects to the right side. “Tiny” plays with a good base and is stout at the point of attack. A major concern is his foot quickness to handle an outside speed rush consistently. Has tools to play a long time if he fine tunes his overall game.
43
Xavier Su'a-Filo*OG
UCLA 
60303055.20
Xavier Su’a-Filo a declared junior who has experience at both tackle and guard. Strong punch to the breast plate. Quick, aggressive, and physical in his play. Good lateral quickness to position the defensive end. Good feet and athletic ability in pass protection.
44
James HurstOT
North Carolina 
60603105.30
Four-year starter who plays left tackle. A competitor who gave Jadeveon Clowney a workout in the first game of 2013. Generally plays in a preset two point stance. Carolina plays a high tempo, fast paced offensive scheme. Aggressive and intense in his play. Plays with good knee bend. Good initial quickness coming off the ball when in a three-point stance. Plays low and with leverage. Not always smooth in his pass pro or combos to the linebackers but gets the job done. Physical on down blocks. Doesn’t give the defender an inside go. Very conscious of sealing off the inside lanes. Works to finish his blocks. Gets some push in the run game. Projects to a right tackle on the next level.
45
Kyle Van NoyOLB
Brigham Young 
6032v244v4.68
Three-year starter who played in every game as a freshman. An impact and disruptive player. Can quickly take on and shed an off-tackle block. Good athlete who gives a top effort every play. Contributes on special teams’ coverage units. Always near the ball. Sees, registers, and reacts quickly. Excellent outside speed and range. Can string out a blocker. Takes smart angles in pursuit. Hustles all out and has the speed to get in on the play. Not afraid to lay out blitzing or trying to block a punt. Can play in coverage.
46
Will SuttonDT
Arizona State 
6006v315v5.00
The Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year, Will Sutton, started out the year slow and sluggish because of the weight he thought he needed to gain. He lost his explosive quickness in the process – his biggest asset. Once he trimmed down again, he became the one-gap penetrator where he excelled. Has Geno Atkins’ type talent. ARM-30 5/8", Hand-9 5/8"
47
Lamarcus JoynerCB/SS
Florida State 
50801954.49
Three-year starter, two at strong safety. Moved to corner in the new FSU defensive package, but is still the same instinctive and aggressive player he was as a strong safety. A good athlete with good foot quickness and hip flexibility. Can stick his foot in the ground and drive quickly on the ball. No hesitation. Sticky man cover ability. Good speed, burst, and acceleration. Has cross field catch-up speed. Plays with confidence and poise. Highly competitive. Good vision and ball skills. A tough and explosive athlete who is a good tackler and situation blitzer. Was a national USA Today Defensive Player of the Year out of high school. Has returned kickoffs for four years..
48
Dee FordDE/OB
Auburn 
6021v243v4.65
An explosive playmaker who would fit nicely into a 3-4 rush linebacker position. Plays like his hair is on fire. Does his work on the other side of the line of scrimmage. A two-year starter who made his presence felt during the season, in the BCS national championship game, and the Senior Bowl – the scouts’ trifecta. Plays square on the line of scrimmage in the run game with good lateral quickness and change of direction. Can dip and bend the edge as he flattens down the line. Plays best with his hand on the ground. Will burst and launch to make a tackle.Undersized for a run playing defensive end. Needs more strength to hold up in the run game. ARM- 32 3/4", HAND-10"
49
Chris SmithDE/OB
Arkansas 
6011v266v4.75
Two-year starter who played in all the games as a sophomore. Plays like he enjoys the game with enthusiasm and intensity. A high energy athlete. Good change of direction with lateral quickness and speed. Does a good job cushioning back and folding inside to make plays on cut backs. Teams have game-planned for him and run away. Smith does a good job chasing from the backside and finishing plays. Possesses explosive edge speed. Jackrabbit starts off the edge. Plays with good outside arm free leverage. Shoulders and toes are square to the line of scrimmage. Plays up in a two point stance or down in a three point stance. Very conscious of not getting hooked. Disciplined. Speed and quickness are two of his best assets. Can cover a receiver in the slot. Good coverage awareness. Will be playing under a new defensive coordinator in 2013.
50
Bryan StorkC
Florida State 
6034v306v5.00
Bryan Stork earned the 2013 Remington Trophy as the outstanding center in the country. Our top rated center heading into the fall solidified his top ranking with his patient, yet physical play for the top ranked Seminoles. ARM- 31", HAND- 10 1/8"
52
Dominique EasleyDT
Florida 
60202854.90
MEDICAL ALERT: OUT FOR THE SEASON with an ACL tear. Three-year starter with experience at defensive tackle and end. Sudden and explosive to get penetration or gain an advantage upfield. Unlocks his hips with force. Plays with a good power base and lower body strength with knee bend to stack the point of attack. Plays all along the Gator defensive line. A one-gap player who is highly motivated to use his hands to control the blocker, close down inside with authority, and disrupt an offensive blocking scheme. Easley doesn’t have the gaudy stats of some players because he is part of a six-man rotation. A quick twitch athlete who is flexible and always around the ball.
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