A strategy general managers and front offices like to use when preparing for a draft is figuring out which positions have the best depth. This afford them a better chance of landing a quality player later on while focusing on another position of need earlier. With that in mind, where do the positions line up for the 2014 NFL Draft?
Quarterback – Top Names: Teddy Bridgewater and Marcus Mariota
Much of the impact of this particular position really hinges on the decision of several underclassmen to declare early or not. Louisville junior Teddy Bridgewater is the top choice expected to come out but right behind him are a serious of sophomore studs including Marcus Mariota, Johnny Manziel and Brett Hundley who could add so much firepower to this position. However, even if the majority of them return to school the group remains deep. Other quality names like A.J. McCarron, Aaron Murray, Derek Carr and Tajh Boyd round out a starter-worthy list that could stretch into the third round.
Depth Rank: A-
Running Back – Top Names: Lache Seastrunk and Bishop Sankey
It’s ironic. Just when the league could use a couple of star running backs to remind fans how much it can dominate, the talent level slips into complete mediocrity. Indeed there are not many names pushing for first round status, if any at all. The closest contenders are Lache Seastrunk from Baylor and Bishop Sankey of Washington. Both are great runners but have particular parts of their game that limit their overall value. Teams may choose to wait until the third or fourth rounds before they start making picks.
Depth Rank: C
Wide Receiver – Top Names: Sammy Watkins and Mike Evans
There’s no question this position group has begun to assert itself through the main part of the college season. Leading the way are Mike Evans from Texas A&M and Sammy Watkins of Clemson. Each offers a ton of first round quality. Add in the speedy Marqise Lee and productive big men like Allen Robinson (PennState) and Jordan Matthews (Vanderbilt) and the first round has plenty of favorable options. After that it should not taper off until the tail end of the third round, hinting strongly that this group could take full advantage of the quarterback class its joining.
Depth Rank: B+
Tight End – Top Names: Eric Ebron and Austin Seferian-Jenkins
Unfortunately this group took a hit when news broke the fast-rising Jace Amaro out of Iowa plans to return to school rather than enter the 2014 NFL draft. That puts a dent in the depth but overall this group has a number of solid options. Eric Ebron is the current new age type favorite, a former basketball player at North Carolina he has since developed into another successful case of trading the hard court for the gridiron. He’s tall, fast for his size and boasts the leaping ability and hands to bring down passes in congested areas. Austin Seferian-Jenkins is more of a classic two-way type. His athleticism and speed allows him to offer a big target but he also possesses the length and power to block up front effectively. There are others joining them with similar promise.
Depth Rank: C+
Offensive Tackle – Top Names: Jake Matthews and Taylor Lewan
People thought 2013 was an anomaly as far as the incredible number of quality offensive linemen in the first round. It seems those thoughts were premature. The 2014 class seems every bit as talented and deep as last year. From the tackle position, big names like Jake Matthews of Texas A&M and Taylor Lewan from Michigan have solified their stocks as top ten pick. The big and lengthy Cyrus Kouandjio of Alabama and mountainous Antonio Richardson of Tennessee also could go in the top 20. Indeed ten well known names are considered good enough to go in the first two rounds alone. That speaks to excellent depth for the second year in a row.
Depth Rank: A
Offensive Guard – Top Names: David Yankey and Cyril Richardson
It’s not the most glamorous position on the field but even fans have learned to appreciate the value of a stout guard up front. While not as star powered as their 2013 brethren, the 2014 group is loaded with plenty of power and nastiness. David Yankey of Stanford is a converted tackle with loads of intelligence. Cyril Richardson is a mammoth coming out of Baylor who is almost impossible to bull rush and can pave the way in the run game. It’s still difficult to figure out how strong the group is but four names on the board could go in the first round if the conditions are right.
Depth Rank: B