The 2014 NFL Scouting Combine is over, and we’ve learned quite a bit over the past week. But here are the five most important Combine conclusions (opinions subject to change).
1. Jadeveon Clowney should be the first overall selection
Clowney has been regarded as the nation’s top defensive prospect for nearly a year and nothing that happened (or didn’t happen) at the Combine has changed that. He projects to be a once-in-a-generation player at a premium position in the NFL, and his time in the 40-yard dash in Indianapolis has only reassured us of his freakish athletic ability. Sure, some have raised questions about attitude and work ethic. But it’s almost as if we’re overthinking things if we try to come up with a way Clowney’s name is not the first one called in May.
2. I’m not convinced three quarterbacks will go in the top 10
It’s as if we’re conditioned to believe that quarterbacks should be selected early and often in the NFL draft. Yes, I believe it’s the most important position in all of sports, but I also believe there can be a draft class that doesn’t produce a handful of first-round picks at the position. If you look at the consensus top three – Johnny Manziel, Blake Bortles, Teddy Bridgewater – you can find ways to poke holes in each of their resumes. Take a step back and ask yourself: Are they all really top 10-like selections? Maybe they are, but I’m not convinced of that yet.
3. It’s a great year to need a wide receiver
Both Mike Evans (Texas A&M) and Sammy Watkins (Clemson) should go in the first 11-15 picks, if not sooner, and any receiver-needy teams after that shouldn’t even be that disappointed to miss out on those two because there are a handful of other talented receivers who are worthy of an early selection. If speed is your preferred flavor in a receiver, take your pick between Odell Beckham (LSU) and Brandin Cooks (Oregon State). If you love size in a receiver, both Kelvin Benjamin (Florida State) and Jordan Matthews (Vanderbilt) might be for you. Plus, there are many other talented prospects who could go in the first few rounds to consider, such as Davante Adams (Fresno State), Josh Huff (Oregon), Jarvis Landry (LSU), Marquise Lee (USC), Kevin Norwood (Alabama), and Paul Richardson (Colorado).
4. 2014 offensive tackle group is better than 2013’s
NFL Network’s Mike Mayock met with reporters at the Combine on Sunday and raved about this draft’s top three offensive tackle prospects – Taylor Lewan (Michigan), Jake Matthews (Texas A&M) and Greg Robinson (Auburn). He even said this year’s trio could be better than last year’s top three, whom all went in the draft’s first four selections. Throw in Alabama’s Cyrus Kouandjio and Notre Dame’s Zach Martin, and you have an extremely talented crop of offensive tackles in this draft.
5. Draft’s depth should make trading back appealing to the Vikings
Many are calling this one of the deeper drafts in recent memory, and Mayock actually called it the deepest draft he’s seen in 10 years. The Vikings are looking to add a young quarterback and they have holes to fill on defense. Combine those first two statements together, and trading back should be an appealing option for the Vikings at No. 8.Remember, in 2013 the Bills acquired a first-round pick (No. 16), a second-round pick (46), a third-round pick (78) and a seventh-round pick (222) in exchange for the eighth overall pick and a third-round pick, and in 2012 the Rams acquired a first-round pick (14) and a second-round pick (45) in exchange for the sixth overall pick. Presuming a highly-coveted player such as one of the top three quarterbacks or Watkins is still on the board at No. 8, the Vikings may be in a position to trade back, acquire multiple early draft picks for doing so, and still get a top-rated player at his position, such as one of the top two defensive tackles or cornerbacks, the top-rated safety or a top five-rated defensive end or linebacker.