NFL draft: A look at this year's top prospects
In this Nov. 30, 2013 photo, Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel warms up before the start of an NCAA college football game against Missouri in Columbia, Mo. (AP Photo/L.G. Patterson, File)
Darryn O’Malley, CTVNews.ca
Published Thursday, May 8, 2014 8:03AM EDT
Last Updated Thursday, May 8, 2014 3:50PM EDT
Football fans have been counting down to the NFL draft for some time now.This year’s draft class possesses a wide range of talented players, and there are 32 teams looking to fill voids on their rosters.
The top prospects in this year’s draft are some of the more thrilling, head-turning playmakers the draft has seen in a very long time.
The draft kicks off Thursday evening at Radio City Music Hall in New York City.
Here are some top prospects to keep an eye on:
The Texas A&M quarterback is one of the more polarizing quarterbacks to enter the draft in a long time. His quick manoeuvrability and ability to make passes while on the move made him one of the most dynamic and exciting college football players in recent years. He broke numerous NCAA records, which include becoming the first freshman ever to pass for 3,000 yards and rush for 1,000 yards in a single season. Although the Heisman Trophy winner was involved in some off-field controversy for his party-going lifestyle, there is no doubt Johnny Football could provide the spark so many teams are in need of.
The defensive end from South Carolina is a gifted athlete who has seemed pre-destined for superstardom since his high school playing days. Clowney has been turning heads with his size, speed and explosiveness. Clowney lived up to the hype at the NFL scouting combine when he ran the 40-yard dash in 4.53 seconds -- not bad for someone who tips the scales at 266 lbs. He has the best height-weight-speed ratio. The majority of scouts say Clowney is a sure-thing when it comes to getting selected as the number one overall pick in the draft. If taken first overall, the Houston Texans would instantly become a scary force in the AFC South with Clowney and J.J. Watt on defence. Watch out, quarterbacks.
The outside linebacker from the University of Buffalo holds the all-time NCAA record for forced fumbles. He is a relentless pass rusher and is often described as ‘violent’ in his pursuits. Mack flew under the radar in his younger years, but he quickly made his way up the rankings with his powerful and versatile style of play. Many scouts predict Mack will be drafted in the top five. This linebacker could wreak serious havoc on opposing teams’ offence with his intimidating acceleration and strong strikes.
The tall, strong and big-bodied offensive tackle from Auburn University is the top-rated offensive lineman in this year’s draft. A past right meniscus surgery hasn’t deterred scouts from praising this young talent’s power and outstanding ability to block the run. The St. Louis Rams are in need of an offensive tackle, and Robinson could be a good fit.
Many scouts are torn as to which quarterback will get drafted first, but Bortles’ strengths in the pocket and excellent field vision make him one of the highly sought after quarterbacks in this year’s draft. The tall QB from Central Florida led his team to an upset of sixth-ranked Baylor in the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl. Bortles could improve his arm mechanics, but he can throw accurately under pressure and make plays with his feet.
The top-rated wide receiver out of Clemson University has been impressing scouts with his exceptional speed and body control. Watkins has sharp footwork off the line of scrimmage and has demonstrated good ball-tracking abilities. An all-around receiver with a solid set of skills, Watkins could make an immediate impact on the team that drafts him.