Big Board Preview: The 27 1st Round Grades

Jonathan Daniel

Going over the 27 players in the 2014 NFL draft that graded out as a 1st round

We're 5 weeks away from the NFL draft, and to change it up from the scouting reports that I've been doing, I decided to show a preview of my 1st round big board. As the weeks go on, I'll be finalizing more and more grades, and come the draft week I'll have a full big board put together. My 1st rounders are pretty much set in stone. My final big board will be players I would assume will be on San Diego's radar. Obviously, this one isn't exlusively for the Chargers. You'll see a couple quarterbacks and a tight end on here. It's just a fun excercise to keep things fresh, so without furth ado:

Transcendent Talents

1. Jadeveon Clowney-Edge Rusher-South Carolina

The most talented player in the draft. Much has been made about him "taking plays off", but it's rarely mentioned how disruptive he was, even on plays where he was double & triple teamed. Will be best suited in space, as a 3-4 OLB. He's a transcendent talent.

2. Greg Robinson-OT-Auburn

Robinson has everything you're looking for in a tackle, with unmatched strength, and exceptional quickness and size. His issues in pass protection are simply due to lack of reps or awareness. For the old school crowd, he could be what Orlando Pace was for the St. Louis Rams.

Phenomenal Players

3. Sammy Watkins-WR-Clemson

Watkins just missed being a transcendent talent, due to his limited exposure of the full route tree, and some minor route running issues. Watkins has incredibly strong hands, and is one of the more explosive players in the draft. Think a combination of Josh Gordon and Percy Harvin.

4. Jake Matthews-OT-Texas A&M

"Don't forget about me." Matthews does everything you want from a techniuqe stand point. He gets to the 2nd level, can pick up stunts, and mirrors as well as anyone. Only issue is functional strength.

5. C.J Mosley-ILB Alabama

Mosley does the little things like run his feet on contact, and play under control that you can't help but appreciate. His ability in coverage is incredible. He has the ability to read, react, and work through the trash in the run game, and knows how to finish plays. If his health holds up, Mosley should be a very good pro.

6. Kyle Fuller-CB-Virginia Tech

If you didn't know his injury history, he's a top 10 player in this class, with ease. Fuller literally has every skill you look for in a corner. I love the risks that he takes, and he also doesn't make mental mistakes. Fuller is the best corner in this class.

7. Anthony Barr-Edge Rusher-UCLA

Many have cooled on Barr, but for someone whose played the position for 2 years, and to have the production he has, the sky is really the limit. He can set the edge, get in coverage, and with his first step & athletic ability, I have a hard time seeing how he's not one of the best players in this class 3 years from now.

8. Odell Beckham Jr.-WR-LSU

Higher on him than most, but there's not a situation I can imagine where Beckham fails at the next level. One of the more dynamic players in the class, Beckham has shown he can play "above the rim", as well as take a slant the distance. Beckham Jr. will be a stud.

9. Teddy Bridgewater-QB-Louisville

Bridgewater isn't perfect by any means, he has a low release, the ball sails on him at times, and he could anticipate better. But as far as poise, pocket presence, and intermediate velocity, Bridgewater is hands down the best QB in the class.

10. Khalil Mack, Edge Rusher, Buffalo

Mack is a complete player that is stout against the run, with above average tacke on skills. My only real issue is his lack of an explosive 1st step. I still expect Mack to be a very valuable player at the next level.

Impact Day 1 Starters

11. Brandin Cooks-WR-Oregon State

Cooks isn't just limited to the slot, despite his frame. He attacks the ball in the air, is a creative route runner, and has the speed you have to account for. He's a 90 catch player in the NFL.

12. Darqueze Dennard-CB-Michigan State

Dennard has very good instincts and route recognition. He has a natural feel for the game. Ironically, he gets too grabby at times and he might be at his ceiling. But his physicality and ball skills tell me he'll be a good starter in the NFL.

13. Aaron Donnald, DT, Pittsburgh

For the longest I had a hard time projecting Donald, until the senior Bowl. He wins with leverage. From there, you can see the quickness, hands, and even power. Donald will continue to have an impact in the NFL.

14. Jason Verrett, CB, TCU

Verrett's ability to change directions, and react to the play is very good. Combine that with his athleticism and awareness and it's easy to see why Verrett will be sucessful in the NFL.

15. Ryan Shazier, OLB, Ohio State

Shazier has the ability to read the play, and go get it. And at 4.36 speed he has, he makes those plays. For an undersized linebacker, he does a good job of working through the trash and finishing plays. Put him on the weakside, and let him run.

16. Xavier Su'a-Filo, OG, UCLA

The best guard in the class. Great movement skills with immense upside. Player that you can tell will be good.

17. Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M

Arguably the most polarizing player in the draft. Manziel's improvement from last year to this year was as impressive as any. He see's the whole field, and is much better in the pocket than given credit for.

The Best of the Rest

18. Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan

Many of the same deficiencies in Lewan's game are ones I saw in D.J. Fluker's, albeit Lewan shows better athleticism & agility. Lewan has the length, awareness, and untapped strength that's needed to play tackle.

19. Mike Evans-WR, Texas A&M

I have Evans lower than most because I don't see the suddenness to create separation both early on and in the intermediate parts of his routes. That said, he's a nightmare at the catch point and will be a great bail out target.

20. Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma State

Players who can run like he can at his size, with his natural coverage ability, are just hard to find. However, he'll have to refine his footwork and play with more aggression.

21. Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina

Can naturally separate due to his athleticism. Has the ability to take an out route the distance. If he develops as a route runner, look out. Needs to cut the drops out, it's a big issue.

22. Timmy Jernigan, DT, FSU

Jernigan has jaw dropping power, and is a monster in the run game. There's upside as a pass rusher, and he has an effective swim move and closing burst. He he continues to develop as a pass rusher, he'll be a force in the NFL.

23. Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, S, Alabama

Clinton-Dix takes too wild of angles, and I don't trust him as a single high safety just yet. But his man to man skills and anticipation push him just enough past the next player to make him the best safety in the class.

24. Bradley Roby, CB, Ohio State

Roby is a great athlete that reads and reacts well in the run game, and has good instincts in zone coverage. He'll need to stop peeking in the backfield, and refine his technique in order to be a complete corner.

25. Zack Martin, OT/OG, Notre Dame

An average athlete, but a guy that flat out wins. For the physical limitations, like strength, he combats that with technique and effort.

26. Jimmie Ward, S, Northern Illinois

Ward has the versatility to excel at safety. Even at his size, he can guard tight ends. He's strong in run support. Ward showed impressive lower body explosiveness that showed in his tackling. He has exceptional ball skills, and has underrated range.

27. Morgan Moses, OT, Virginia

Moses has issues playing high, and making contact when he's on the move or at the second level. Like Martin, all he does is win. His technique, hand placement, and ability to win make me feel he'll be successful in the NFL.

27 players earned a 1st round grade from me. I'm sure many will agree/disagree, and that's what makes this enjoyable, to get different takes. 10 people can watch the same play and you'd come away with 10 different take aways. Next week, I'll have my list of 2nd rounders.

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