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Old 05-21-2014   #1
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Default Mel Kiper on 2015 draft

Too-early 2015 Big Board
Quote:
An asterisk denotes a junior for the 2014 season; two asterisks denote a redshirt sophomore.

1. **Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State Seminoles

As remarkable as Winston's freshman campaign was -- massive individual totals, a BCS title, a Heisman Trophy -- he'll improve as a football player. He'll anticipate better, move with better precision in the pocket, and he'll do so while again being surrounded by a ton of talent. The question is whether he'll mature and find a way to move past what I personally consider major character concerns. He's a great football prospect, but he has a great deal of work to do to prove he's a player worthy of leading an NFL franchise. Maybe 2014 shouldn't be his final year in Tallahassee.

2. Cedric Ogbuehi, OT, Texas A&M Aggies

Recent No. 6 overall pick Jake Matthews stayed at Texas A&M for his senior season and made the move from right tackle to left tackle. The moved paid off. Now Ogbuehi will do the same and hopefully get a similar payoff next spring. He has great length and athleticism, and certainly could have factored into the first-round mix in 2014 had he entered the draft.

3. *Randy Gregory, DE/OLB, Nebraska Cornhuskers

He lines up at defensive end for the Huskers, but Gregory, listed at 6-foot-6 and 245 pounds, is a special athlete who could easily profile as a 3-4 outside linebacker. He piled up 10.5 sacks last year, but isn't bad against the run and will improve in that area. He can really jump off the screen. Major talent.

4. *Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon Ducks

I thought Mariota could have pushed to be the top QB taken in the 2014 NFL draft, but I like his decision to come back. Remember, this is a kid who could technically play two more seasons. He's a special athlete and makes so few mistakes -- just four INTs in 386 passing attempts last year -- the key now is to improve his anticipation and become less reliant on his legs. It would not surprise me if he overtakes Winston as the top QB prospect.

5. *Leonard Williams, DL, USC Trojans

He moves extraordinarily well for a kid playing at 6-5 and 290 pounds, and don't be surprised to see the Trojan coaches move him around on the defensive line. He could see time at defensive end as well as D-tackle, and he's going to cause problems for offenses in either spot. He had 12.5 tackles for loss last year and will increase that total in 2014.

6. *Amari Cooper, WR, Alabama Crimson Tide

He averaged 16.4 yards per reception in 2013, which actually represented a drop from the 17-plus he posted as a freshman. Cooper measures between 6-1 and 6-2, but plays bigger, making contested catches and consistently helping his QB. He has been a high-level talent at the position since he came out of Miami Northwestern, and could be the top WR in the 2015 draft if he keeps it up.

7. Brandon Scherff, OT, Iowa Hawkeyes

As a run-blocker, Scherff is legitimately fun to watch. He would have been my top-rated run-blocker in the 2014 draft, but he'll return to Iowa and work on his skills as a pass-blocker, anchoring Kirk Ferentz's O-line. He's an absolute mauler, but also a good athlete at 6-5 and 320 pounds.

8. *Dante Fowler, DE, Florida Gators

A very good pass-rusher with good size at 6-3 and about 270 pounds, Fowler has great quickness and a developing arsenal of pass-rushing moves. He's in line for a big season, as he's just hitting his stride.

9. *Andrus Peat, OT, Stanford Cardinal

Has great length at 6-7, and is an easy mover. Peat was steady at left tackle for Stanford in 2013, and has looked like an NFL prospect since his high school days in Arizona. He has NFL bloodlines, as his father, Todd Peat, played six NFL seasons. Andrus will anchor what figures to again be a very good Stanford offensive line in 2014. The Cardinal are churning out linemen at this point.

10. *Shilique Calhoun, DE, Michigan State Spartans

The Big Ten Defensive Lineman of the Year in 2013 really burst onto the scene with his big-play ability -- he actually notched three touchdowns on returns, which included a pick-six. Calhoun has good length at 6-4 and has a lean-looking frame even at 260 pounds, but he anchors well at the point of attack and isn't just a guy flying into the backfield looking for the big play.

11. Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, CB, Oregon Ducks

Had a real shot to be the first CB taken in the 2014 draft. Ekpre-Olomu plays fast, exploding out of his backpedal to make plays when the ball is in front of him, and he's a really easy mover as he turns to run with and mirror receivers. Hard to see him dropping if he's healthy.

12. **Devonte Fields, DE, TCU Horned Frogs

He exploded on the scene as a freshman in 2012, with 18.5 tackles for loss. While he lost pretty much all of last season because of injury, Fields should be back and, based on what I'm told, better than ever. There's some projection here for a player making a comeback, but it's not as if Fields wasn't exceptionally productive when healthy.

13. Vic Beasley, OLB, Clemson Tigers

A converted running back, Beasley piled up 13.0 sacks last season. He had a stretch late in the season where it looked as though offenses had figured out how to keep him blocked more consistently, but he finished strong and with a year of experience he should be better in 2014. Given the needed experience on defense, I don't mind the decision to come back, though I think he could have gone in Round 1 two weeks ago.

14. Bryce Petty, QB, Baylor Bears

It's not a surprise to see a Baylor QB with ridiculous totals, and Petty's 4,200 passing yards and 32-3 TD-INT ratio are no exception. But he's more than a product of his system, with a good arm and good size (6- 3 and 220 pounds), and an extra offseason of work and another year in college football will have him ready to help a team early in his NFL career.

15. Tre' Jackson, G, Florida State Seminoles

He's a moster at 6-4 and nearly 340 pounds, and if he stays healthy he'll have 40-plus starts under his belt by the time he enters the draft process. Has a chance to be the first guard taken next spring.

16. *Brett Hundley, QB, UCLA Bruins

He already has 27 games under his belt, and the production has been great. But Hundley made a good decision to return to school and continue to develop as a passer. I think ball placement is a key area for him, but he's got a great feel for the pocket and has outstanding footwork. The arm is also really good. The tools are there, and Hundley has a chance to push his way into the conversation as the top QB in a draft class.

17. *P.J. Williams, CB, Florida State Seminoles

The defensive MVP of the BCS title game will step into a starring role this season. He quietly led the Noles in passes defended last season, and though he came to Tallahassee as a player capable of playing either cornerback or safety, his ability to cover and good size for the position (6-0, 196 pounds) make him a solid prospect at CB.

18. *Kyler Fackrell, OLB, Utah State Aggies

Many people haven't seen him play, but Fackrell is a big-time athlete at 6-5 and about 250 pounds, and he's already started 27 games as he enters his junior season. He had 13.0 tackles for loss last season and could have had more on what was a very good Aggies defense.

19. *Marcus Peters, CB, Washington Huskies

Among the better corners in a conference with a number of good ones, Peters has good size and athleticism, and is a willing tackler. He also picked off five passes last season to lead the Huskies.

20. *Landon Collins, S, Alabama Crimson Tide

Collins was a big-time prospect, and after waiting in line as a freshman in 2012, he came into his own last season, finishing second on the team in tackles behind recent first-rounder C.J. Mosley. Collins is a great athlete and has great football instincts.

21. *Trae Waynes, CB, Michigan State Spartans

Mark Dantonio felt he had the best pair of cornerbacks in the nation last season with Waynes and Darqueze Dennard, and while Dennard will now take his game to the Cincinnati Bengals, it's Waynes' time to shine in East Lansing. He'll actually test out better than Dennard when that time comes (NFL combine, etc.) and should help keep the Sparty defense pretty stacked in 2014.

22. *Jaelen Strong, WR, Arizona State Sun Devils

A junior college success story, Strong piled up 75 catches for more than 1,100 yards in his first season in the Pac-12, and is in line for another big season given the presence of Taylor Kelly at QB. Strong has good size at 6-4 and 200-plus pounds, and can run away from defenders.

23. *Mario Edwards Jr., DE, Florida State Seminoles

It's not fair to say Edwards is still living on his stellar high school reputation, as he ranked second on the Noles last season in tackles for loss with 9.5, but there's room for improvement. He's an outstanding athlete and could play at 290-plus pounds this season, which raises questions about his ultimate position, but Edwards can be special, and we saw flashes of that in the BCS title game.

24. *Nelson Agholor, WR, USC Trojans

It was actually Agholor who led the Trojans in receiving yards last season, not recent second-round pick Marqise Lee (though to be fair, Lee missed three games). Still, Agholor is a very good player, a glider with good top-end speed and the ability to create separation. He'll see a lot of attention in 2014, and the question for me is whether he can add some strength. He's smooth, but he'll need to hold up physically, too.

25. *Todd Gurley, RB, Georgia Bulldogs

This isn't a prediction for his ultimate draft position -- we've seen how the drafting strategy at running back has shifted -- but Gurley is big, powerful and fast in space, and deserves this slot based on his talent level and production. The key will be staying healthy.

Also considered (not in any order):

Cameron Erving, OT, Florida State Seminoles
An experienced tackle prospect who could have entered the mix in 2014 but will help make the Noles' O-line really good in 2014.

Michael Bennett, DE, Ohio State Buckeyes
A productive defensive lineman who had 11.5 tackles for loss in 2013 and will help make the Buckeyes' D-line a potentially dominant force in 2014.

Shaq Thompson, OLB, Washington Huskies
A special athlete, the converted safety could become a star at OLB and also could see some reps on offense, where he could mimic UCLA's Myles Jack. (Thompson was a star at RB in high school.)

Noah Spence, DE, Ohio State Buckeyes
Had a breakout season as a sophomore, finishing second to Ryan Shazier in tackles for loss. He, Bennett and Joey Bosa will be tough to tame in 2014.

Ronald Darby, CB, Florida State Seminoles
A burner, Darby has acquitted himself well since being forced into significant reps as a true freshman. This could be a big year.
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