Feb 22, 2014; Indianapolis, IN, USA; South Carolina Gamecocks defensive end Jadeveon Clowney speaks to the media in a press conference during the 2014 NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

2014 NFL Draft Top 32 Big Board: Jimmie Ward Rising


Feb 22, 2014; Indianapolis, IN, USA; South Carolina Gamecocks defensive end Jadeveon Clowney speaks to the media in a press conference during the 2014 NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

It’s March, just about a week before free agency, and it’s time for my first big board of the 2014 NFL Draft season. This isn’t necessarily where players will go in the draft, just where I would rank them in terms of their ability and potential as prospects right now.

1. Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina

Potential to be an elite defender the minute he steps on to an NFL field.

2. Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn

Ultra-athletic tackle prospect who has a very high ceiling. Could be a cornerstone piece for a franchise’s offense.

3. Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M

Steady tackle prospect who should be a perennial Pro Bowler and stalwart left tackle.

4. Khalil Mack, LB, Buffalo

Mack’s overall game is one of the most impressive in the draft. Pass rusher who makes plays all over the field.

5. Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M

QB prospect I believe to have the highest ceiling of any at his position in the draft. Hype is real.

6. Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson

Speedy playmaker at WR can also return punts. Not elite size but top level 1A talent at WR.

7. Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville

Bridgewater is the safest QB pick in the draft, in my opinion. Can do it all. Great athlete.

8. Blake Bortles, QB, UCF

Poor man’s Ben Roethlisberger could be the number one overall pick this year.

9. Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M

Insane catch radius, Evans has elite #1 receiver potential in the NFL. Might take him some time, still very young.

10. Anthony Barr, LB, UCLA

Playmaker at LB and can move around the formation. Still pretty raw but very talented.

11. Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan

Big, athletic tackle prospect. Following in footsteps of great Wolverine tackles before him.

12. Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina

Extremely athletic and speedy TE prospect. Can play in line or as a WR. Should be a valuable weapon.

13. Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan State

Dennard was arguably the best player on the best defense in college football last year.

14. Aaron Donald, DT, Pittsburgh

Smaller DT but packs a huge punch, and is an elite athlete. Has Tommie Harris potential on the defensive interior.

15. Zack Martin, OT, Notre Dame

Versatile offensive lineman who some believe is a future starter at LT in the NFL.

16. C.J. Mosley, LB, Alabama

Best non pass rushing LB in the draft, rumors of medical concerns but should still be drafted high.

17. Odell Beckham Jr., WR, LSU

Beckham has become one of my favorite prospects in the draft. Big hands, versatile playmaker.

18. Louis Nix, DT, Notre Dame

Huge DT prospect who is explosive for his size and can anchor either 4-3 or 3-4 defense.

19. Kony Ealy, DE, Missouri

Great frame and I think a future double-digit sack producer on a consistent basis.

20. Marqise Lee, WR, USC

Not the biggest receiver, but a playmaker after the catch and a phenomenal punt returner.

21. Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma State

Elite return specialist and developing skills as a CB. Playmaker for the Cowboys’ defense could go top 12.

22. Jason Verrett, CB, TCU

Has potential to be an elite nickel defensive back. Physical player who shut people down in college.

23. Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, S, Alabama

Aggressive safety prospect reminds some of Earl Thomas. Could be the first S off the board.

24. Timmy Jernigan, DT, Florida State

Very good athlete at DT who uses his hands well and if he can improve his timing could be an elite DT in the NFL.

25. Jimmie Ward, S, Northern Illinois

Rangy safety who can make plays everywhere, can line up as nickel CB, and do everything. Love his skill set.

26. Jace Amaro, TE, Texas Tech

Big TE prospect who catches everything. Not the fastest but knows how to get open and put points on the board.

27. Brandin Cooks, WR, Oregon State

Fast, sure-handed receiver who really emerged as a junior. Could be a guy that really rises come draft day.

28. Dee Ford, DE, Auburn

Explosive pass rusher who put on a show at the Senior Bowl. One of the most improved players in the country.

29. Calvin Pryor, S, Louisville

Hard-hitting safety has put himself on the map as a first round safety. Great size and physical style of play.

30. Kelvin Benjamin, WR, Florida State

Massive receiver prospect who is still developing. Great potential if he works at it.

31. Derek Carr, QB, Fresno State

Strong-armed QB has franchise potential, but needs some work on his footwork at times.

32. Ra’Shede Hageman, DT, Minnesota

Hageman has top 15 potential. Big DT prospect who has great burst and strength.

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