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Depending on who you talk to, the 2014 quarterback class is rather exciting or just full of question marks. There are at least five teams that are starving for quarterback talent: Houston (pick one), Jacksonville (pick three), Cleveland (pick garopfour), Oakland (pick five), and Minnesota (pick eight). The NFL team needs and your dynasty team needs sometimes don’t exactly mimic each other. Let’s take a quick look at my top seven rookie quarterbacks.

1. Teddy Bridgewater, Louisville
Despite the poor performance on his pro day, I have Bridgewater as my number one quarterback. He is calm, cool, and collected in the pocket. Makes good decisions, can use his feet when he needs to, and doesn’t turn over the football. Sure his deep ball accuracy isn’t a strong suit, but he can make any throw within 20 yards of the line of scrimmage. Bridgewater isn’t exciting, but he is as safe as you can find in this year’s class. Read More »

The 2014 running back class is not as deep or as good as the 2014 wide receiver class, but don’t be in despair just yet.  There are a few talented runners that not many people are discussing.  One of the best runners is the not often used d freemanDevonta Freeman of Florida State.  The young back was a part of a three-man committee so he did not see the normal wear and tear that most runners see in their college careers.  He isn’t the biggest back at 5’ 8” 206 lbs., nor is he one of the fastest timing out at a 4.58 40 in Indianapolis.  I watched four of his 2013 games: Duke, Auburn (national championship game), NC State, and Bethune-Cookman so I could better evaluate the skill set that he brings to the NFL. Read More »

We have already heard that this year’s draft class is weak at running back, so why bother with ranking more backs?  Beauty is in the eye of the beholder as every runner on this secondary list has some of the same skills that you can find in thecrowell top seven backs.  Some of them don’t have a lot of experience at the position, didn’t get the carries, or were too slow/injury prone.  Many of these backs will get pushed down your rookie drafts into the third, fourth, and fifth rounds with the talent found elsewhere.  That doesn’t mean that they can’t help you win, if you grab the right one.  These rushers got ranked by skill set before we all get caught up in what NFL team selects them in the draft.

8. Storm Johnson, Central Florida

The junior hasn’t started many games as he was a transfer from the University of Miami, but he certainly put together an impressive year.  He has a slashing running style, possesses good balance, and is a good short yardage back.  Johnson didn’t get asked to pass block much; however, he is a good receiver out of the backfield.  He is raw, but malleable.  I see him having the body type that can hold up to the NFL punishment. Read More »

It’s quite rare in draft circles when two receivers from the same college (LSU) in the same year get viewed as favorably as Odell Beckham Jr, and the subject of this article, Jarvis Landry.  Landry is the technician to Beckham’s raw athleticism.landry  The young receiver came in at 5’ 11 ½” 205 lbs. with 10 ¼” hands (anything over 10 inches is quite good) at the Combine, but got injured running his first 40 yard dash.  He was never known for top end speed, but as a good, dependable route runner.  I reviewed four of his 2013 games to get a good idea of what talents he brings to the NFL: TCU, Auburn, Arkansas, and Ole Miss.

The first thing I noticed watching Landry is that he has the same stance and the same explosion with every snap of the ball.  Why is this important?  Whoever is in coverage against him has no idea where he is going to go with his route.  Too many college players and some NFL receivers give little clues and when a receiver hides it well, it deserves to be noticed.  Landry lines up a lot in the slot, but also lines up on the line of scrimmage.  He has quick feet and loose hips that he uses to get off the line quickly. When the receiver gets asked to block, he fires out and squares himself on his man.  He is always looking for someone to hit when the ball isn’t designed to be in his hands.  Read More »

As we continue with my trip around the rookie class, I took a look at former Penn State wide receiver Allen Robinson who has good size at 6’ 3” 220 lbs. and ran a 4.6 second 40 at the Combine (improved his time to the 4.5s at his pro day).  There are various feeling about him in the draftrobinson community, so I decided to watch five of his 2013 games against Wisconsin, Nebraska, Ohio State, University of Central Florida, and Syracuse to get a better idea of what he skills he can bring to the NFL.  Big Ten receivers have lost some credibility over the years, can Robinson reverse this trend?

The young wide receiver lines up all over the formation: in the slot, split out wide, and was occasionally sent in motion.  The first thing that jumped off the screen is that Robinson does a lot of looking around when he isn’t the primary target or when his team runs the ball.  His effort as a run blocker was lackluster.  While I understand this scouting report is more for fantasy purposes, keep in mind the better a receiver is a run blocker, the more time they will spend on the field.  The other part of his game that concerned me was his stance on the line of scrimmage.  It tipped off the defense at times which route he planned to run.  Robinson needs to get off the line of scrimmage the same way, every time.  That is not to say he could not improve in this area, but it is alarming off the bat. Read More »

Here is the link to Zach’s short article along with the link to the google hangout we did last night:

matthews2This rookie wide receiver class is one of the deepest in years.  The next eight wide outs that I will briefly discuss all have the ability to start in the NFL and be productive.  I have my doubts that more than one or two of them will become superstars, but they will be good depth for your dynasty team.  Each receiver has a wart or two that is pushing them slightly down the rankings. I have ranked them by skill level from the games and practices I have watched.

8. Jordan Matthews, Vanderbilt

He is a physical player who can battle defensive backs up and down the field.  Matthews knows how to use his body to create space and has good hands.  His 2013 numbers were more of a result of a lack of other offensive weapons as he played more successfully with Jordan Rodgers (Aaron’s younger brother) throwing him the ball and Zach Stacy (now starter for St. Louis) running it.  He plays a bit stiff and is a long strider, but is athletic enough to be a great WR2 in the NFL.  If he ends up being a receiver in a target rich environment like Carolina or Oakland, Matthews could have even greater value than some on my first list. Read More »

niklasThe next rookie tight end I want to discuss is the underrated Notre Dame Golden Domer Troy Niklas. In recent years, his college has pumped out some good NFL tight end talent in the Bengals’ Tyler Eifert and the Viking’s Kyle Rudolph. After watching five of his 2013 games against Michigan, USC, Rutgers, Temple, and Arizona State, I think that not only is Niklas the best tight end prospect of the three, but he is also the most complete tight end. There are a lot of things that are impressive about this young man as he measured in at 6’ 6” 270 lbs. and ran a respectable 40 yard dash time of 4.80. The tight end is also cousins with all-pro linebacker Clay Matthews III.

He, like the three tight ends I ranked before him, lines up all over the field: traditional tight end, the slot, split out wide, and in the backfield. At this time, I think he has the most upside of the guys in front of him: Eric Ebron, Jace Amaro, and ASJ. Niklas is clearly a talented blocker, but he has some rawness as a receiving threat. He attacks his defender in the run game, trying to maul them as he squares up, holds his position, but sometimes struggles to knock them back. Unlike the other tight ends in his class, he helps secure the block on a double team and will then move on and find the next player to hit. Read More »

ebronAs far as complete tight end prospects go, you can’t get better than North Carolina’s Eric Ebron.  He is one of the most versatile players in his class.  It would be easier to name the places I didn’t see him line up (quarterback and the five interior linemen spots) than where he did. The great thing about this tight end is that he fits every offensive scheme and will see the field immediately wherever he lands.  Ebron impressed at the Combine measuring at 6’ 4” 250 lbs., and ran a quick 4.6 40 yard dash.  To get a better idea of his skill set, I watched five of his 2013 games against Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech, Duke, Miami, and East Carolina to get a better feel of what he will bring to the NFL.

The tight end is a high energy, high effort player.  He is the best run blocker in his class as he squares his shoulders, takes control of the defender, and seals the edge when he is lined up in the traditional tight end spot. Ebron is even better as a blocker after the ball is caught down the field by another receiver.  He gets good leverage and keeps a good pad level to clear a lane.  When he lined up in the backfield in shotgun situations, he excelled at opening up an initial hole on the line of scrimmage.  The tight end is such a good athlete that he got used on a reverse sweep and looked like Percy Harvin running with the ball!  He will work his way back to the quarterback to bail them out if he senses quick pressure and is a good special team player as well. Read More »

cj fiedorThis year’s rookie class of tight ends isn’t the deepest class, but unlike most year’s this one has plenty of two-way traditional tight ends.  Traditional tight ends tend to see the field a lot more as they are good at blocking and catching the ball, so they have use on every down.  There is a good chance that two or three of these players will not see the field right away as sometimes tight ends struggle as they need to perform well in two worlds.  This is a quick peak as to where I feel they compare against each other and this may change dramatically after the NFL Draft.  To get more detailed insights, please read their individual scouting reports.

1. Eric Ebron, North Carolina

He is my favorite tight end of this class.  Ebron has a big catch radius, great hands, and lines up all over the field.  The tight end dealt with double teams his entire college career and was still highly productive.  Even though he plays like a big receiver, Ebron can block well enough to stay on the field three downs.  He could vault up to a dynasty TE1 this year. Read More »

One of the most discussed wide receivers in the 2014 draft class is Jordan Matthews.  There is a certain amount of excitement already built into this player.  He is the cousin of Hall of Famer receiver Jerry Rice and he had an awesome bowl matthewsgame despite having one of the worst backup quarterbacks in all of college football throwing him the pigskin.  I reviewed three of his 2013 games: Houston (bowl game before mentioned), South Carolina, and Ole Miss.  Because some of his quarterback play was so atrocious in 2013, it was also important to see how he played with a better quarterback, Jordan Rodger’s (Aaron’s little brother and Jacksonville backup), so I watched two of his 2012 games against NC State and Wake Forest.

When you first look at him, Matthews is a physical specimen.  He is 6’ 2” 212 lbs., but plays larger than that.  The receiver ran a good 40 time of 4.46 that surprised many of his critics as most expected him to be in the 4.60 range.  He was the first player ever to ask for tape of his opponents when he got invited to the Senior Bowl.  It’s his work ethic and competitive nature that will have to separate the wide out from the other talented receivers in his class. Read More »


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