Nov 2, 2013; Columbia, SC, USA; South Carolina Gamecocks defensive end Jadeveon Clowney (7) stands on the sidelines during a timeout against the Mississippi State Bulldogs at Williams-Brice Stadium. The Gamecocks defeated the Bulldogs 34-16. Mandatory Credit: Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports
Plenty of talented prospects fill the 2014 NFL draft class. So which ones might become popular trade commodities?
Jadeveon Clowney – DE – South Carolina
He may have the athleticism to play in any defense but Jadeveon Clowney was born to play defensive end in a 4-3 scheme. He excels with his hand in the dirt, firing off the snap to create havoc in the backfield for his opponents. After him though the board is rather light on similar defensive ends of his type, which makes him all the more valuable for the team who needs help at that position. The Buffalo Bills could try to move up and get him, sensing the chance to pair him with Mario Williams on an already stout defensive line. Given the state of the New York Giants pass rush, they might make a surprise play as well.
Louis Nix III – DT – Notre Dame
Finding big bodies might sound easy, but find ones that retain a certain degree of freakish athleticism is the hard part. That is why 3-4 nose tackles are often coveted. There is none better, or even close to Louis Nix III of Notre Dame. The 340-lbs nose tackle has helped the Irish defense in so many ways. His size makes running at him impossible but his quickness and leverage allow him to swallow double teams, open the door for linebacker and ends to clean up the runner or the quarterback. He might not go in the top ten, but with a multitude of 3-4 teams waiting in the second half of the first round one of them is bound to consider going after him.
C.J. Mosley – OLB – Alabama
There is an abundance of outside linebackers in the 2014 NFL draft, but what is different about Alabama leader C.J. Mosley is he’s not restricted to that position. His all-around ability from speed, to power and intelligence makes him viable inside or outside. Coupled with his leadership qualities and experience he is the best natural linebacker in his class, by far. There isn’t a thing on the field he can’t do. Somebody is bound to recognize that. The St. Louis Rams might look to pair him with James Laurinaitis and Alec Ogletree. Or the Dallas Cowboys may seek to give Sean Lee a wingman.
Sammy Watkins – WR – Clemson
As it stands there are three clear cut first round wide receivers of note with maybe one or two fringe option. What sets Sammy Watkins apart from them all is he can do everything. He not only has good size at 6’1″ but also the speed and acceleration to give defenses headaches over the top. His powerful lower body allows him to create big plays after the catch too. There is no question the word “playmaker” must go along with his name. Several teams including the Baltimore Ravens and Carolina Panthers would love a chance to get their hands on him and might unload an extra pick to make it happen.
Jake Matthews – OT – Texas A&M
The offensive tackle class of the 2014 NFL draft might arguably be as good or even better than the star-studded 2013 version. As many as six players at the position are good enough to go in the first round. So why is Jake Matthews considered a prime trade target. For the simple reason that he has no major questions about his game. Other top prospects like Taylor Lewan and Cyrus Kouandjio are still battling doubts about their overall ability. Matthews has no such problem. He has the size and quickness to handle any pass rusher, along with the strength and mean streak to get downhill and pave the road for running backs. He’s also very experienced at both tackle spots, making him highly versatile. Any team with remote offensive line needs would love to have that.