Well, we've turned the corner. The Rams' 2013 draft class are no longer prospects. They're rookies.
So for those of us whose eyes are always fixated on the draft with Sauron-like discipline, the 2014 NFL Draft is plainly in sight. I'm working up my own 2014 mock and big board, but who better to kick things off than ESPN's Mel Kiper.
The Worldwide Leader's Orginial Guru of All Things Draft offered up a top 50 big board (insider only...we live among demons, yanno...) with a couple surprises to yours truly.
First off, the top two are pretty much conventional wisdom at this point -- South Carolina DE Jadaveon Clowney and Louisville QB Teddy Bridgewater. For my money, there's no way you can put Bridgewater atop Clowney on a big board. Clowney's as good as any DE prospect of the last...look, he's elite. I mean reaaaaaaaally elite. Bridgewater? Good QB prospect. Heck, a really good QB prospect. But do I project him out in the class of Andrew Luck or RGIII at the end of the season? That's asking for a lot this year. Possible, though not probable in my book. Still, I can see persuasive arguments to be made that Bridgewater's in line for the No. 1 overall pick in the '14 draft. But boardwise, that's a Clowney question bro (sorry).
Akin to how the 2013 draft ultimately shaped out, Kiper's got tackles up front contributing to four of his top 11 overall: Alabama LT Cyrus Kouandjio, Texas A&M's Jake Matthews (who is moving from RT to LT following Luke Joeckel's exit), Michigan LT Taylor Lewan and Tennessee LT Antonio Richardson, a behemoth of a tackle whose space opened up because Dallas Thomas (now a Miami Dolphin) kicked inside to LG.
At WR, Kiper has USC's Marqise Lee at 3, Clemson's Sammy Watkins at 16, A&M's big wideout Mike Evans at 18, Rutger's equally large human being Brandon Coleman at 27, and Vanderbilt WR Jordan Matthews at 48. Interesting class to keep an eye on this year.
Defensive line prospects are shaping up to provide an embarrassment of riches for the 2014 draft...if potential proves possible. There are some serious bodies at this point: Clowney (1), Notre Dame's NT Louis Nix III (7) and DE Stephon Tuitt (13), Florida St. DT Timmy Jernigan (15), South Florida DE Aaron Lynch (20) and LSU DT Anthony Johnson (22)...and that's just the top half of the board.
Another position that's shaping up to have a strong class is cornerback. You've got the smaller, athletic options of Ohio St.'s Bradley Roby (9) or Oregon's Ifo Ekpre-Olomu (14) vs. the bigger, more physical types like Florida's Loucheiz Purifoy or Oklahoma's Aaron Colvin (36). Cornerbacks are very tough to gauge a year out (see: NC State's David Amerson), but I see this class' stock rising throughout the year.
For Rams fans looking to the future to add a safety next to T.J. McDonald, things look a bit thin in May. Alabama's heavy hitter Ha'Sean "HaHa" Clinton-Dix is the consensus top prospect at #30; the only other safety to make Kiper's list is Stanford FS Ed Reynolds. Personally, Va. Tech SS Kyshoen Jarrett would be in the mix for me. I'm a fan of Louisville's strong Hakeem Smith as well.
As for ol' Johnny Football, he wraps up the top 25 for Kiper...you didn't think ESPN would let him get away without putting him in the top half, did you? WE HAVE VIEWERS TO CATER TO!
As a note of reference, make sure you stay tuned to MTD or whatever we're calling our draft coverage at the mothership. Dan's reax piece to Kiper's board is worth a quick read.
So for those of you who can break through the paywall with Juggernautiestness of ease, who surprised you on Kiper's board? What prospects do you think are being over/undervalued right now? And most importantly...
Who would you want to see in a Rams uniform in 2014?