D.J. Hayden and Kyle Long were two big surprises in the draft last year. Who might take that same route in the 2014 NFL draft?
Ja’Wuan James – OT – Tennessee
Offenses of this modern era don’t care much for run blockers at the tackle position. It is a throwing league built around the quarterbacks, so tackles that can pass protect are at a premium. That is why the buzz is picking up on Tennessee tackle Ja’Wuan James. Despite playing for the Volunteers on the right side, scouts viewing his tape saw a big, nimble kid with long arms and good balance. Such skills are often better served on the left side where guarding the quarterback is most important. If that is true, then some team at the bottom of the first round in need of help at left tackle won’t fear taking him.
Martavis Bryant – WR – Clemson
Big receivers who can run fast are becoming higher and higher in demand by coaches around the league and the 2014 NFL draft is somewhat light on them. That is why Clemson receiver Martavis Bryant has jumped up boarded. Not only does he stand a rangy 6’4″ but he also posted a flat 4.4/40 at the scouting combine. He’s big enough to go up and get the football but fast enough to take over the top. That kind of talent might be worth the risk of him being considered the second best receiver on his team.
Keith McGill – CB – Utah
Watching the Seattle Seahawks dominate the Super Bowl thanks to a star-studded secondary pretty much put the copycat virus in full effect. Teams are almost certain to put taller, longer cornerbacks on a higher pedestal given the dominance of Richard Sherman. That is great news for Utah prospect Keith McGill. At 6’3″ he fits the mold and has the athleticism to blanket receivers. If teams can look past his injury issues there is a great chance at least one team might look to swipe him early.
Jeremiah Attaochu – OLB – Georgia Tech
Physical ability won’t be the only thing GMs look for in the 2014 NFL draft. They value emotional and mental faculties just as much. Coaches especially pine for tone-setters, guys who demand more of themselves and teammates. Jeremiah Attaochu is a classic pain in the butt. He brings loads of intensity to the field that can annoy teammates and infuriate opponents. At the same time athleticism and pass rush prowess allow him to backup his words. A real spark plug that can develop into a true leader.