At this point of the 2014 NFL season (and just like the 13 that came before it), it's all over but the crying. No playoffs, our rookie QB sitting out, and a likely movement by the coaches to put some of our younger prospects on the field to see what they've got in the cupboard for next season.
So for the sake of momentarily diverting our attention away from what could be an ugly end to the season, why not look at a few of my favorite prospects before the combine, underclassman declarations for the draft, and anything else that actually matters happens? This draft is already looking to be loaded with talent at the QB, DL and OL positions. Here are a few guys I've noticed throughout the NCAA season that I'll be keeping an eye on until Draft Day arrives:
C.J Mosley ILB; Alabama - This draft isn't very deep in top-end LB talent, and if they chose to address this position with an impact player they'd want to do it early. I'll admit I've got some Crimson Tide bias, but as an Alabama fan I got plenty of opportunities to watch him play, and I'd love to see him next to Kiko in the middle of this defense. Being a 3 down linebacker capable of manning the "Will" ILB or OLB positions, putting up impressive stats and making plays in big moments, I feel like he'd be a nice addition to this defense. He's better in run diagnosis and defense than most of the LB's currently on our roster, and his speed and coverage smarts allow him to defend the pass very well. Though he's not the most physically imposing player, he would be an upgrade and a welcome addition to our squad.
C.J Fiedorowicz TE; Iowa - While the draft community obsessed with the ASJ's and Amarco's of the world (tight ends that play more like over-sized WR's), I see a lot I like from this guy out of Iowa. While not in the spotlight in the way the two aforementioned players are, he's proven to be a large, athletic and productive player who doesn't shy away from contact, has shown above average hands and speed for a TE of his size, and is quite effective in the blocking department. He would seem to represent a big red zone target and welcome addition to our offense. Possible 2nd-3rd round prospect at this point, unless he wows at the combine.
David Yankey OG; Stanford - Interesting day 2 prospect from one of the schools that I've watched time and time again use their running game to literally grind defenses into submission, control the clock and keep their defense fresh. The LG position was an absolute tire fire at times for the Bills this season, and Yankey was a bull for the Cardinals and their 23rd ranked rushing attack . Effective in both run and pass blocking, played superbly at multiple OL positions, and is adept at getting to the 2nd level and manhandling smaller defenders. He'd seemingly fit right in with Woods, Urbik and Glenn, possibly stabilizing our O-line and helping us employ the kind of power-run scheme that Marrone seems to want to use. As he's a relative unknown to many, I found a few videos for you here and here. Enjoy!
So, there they are. My shallow, absurdly early and likely inconsequential musings about some prospects from the 2014 NFL draft class. What do you guys think? What is our most glaring position of need? Is there anyone specific you Rumblers out there are interested in?
Don't be shy, let's get this 2014 NFL Draft party started!