Safest Picks in the 2014 NFL Draft
Take this article with a grain of salt, as no matter how “safe” a prospect is projected as, there is always a chance they will bust. Even still, there are two kinds of players selected in every draft: those who are picked due to their potential, and those who are picked due to the skillset they already possess. The following players have the ability to be plugged in as starters their rookie year and immediately be successful.
1. Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina
Ignore concerns over Clowney’s work ethic and his dip in production in 2013. There is no player that comes close to the level of raw talent Clowney has. If Clowney plays up to his potential, he is the next Lawrence Taylor. If he fails to improve, he is already an above average pass rusher, even in the NFL. Clowney is a rare player: he has a high floor, yet he is still raw in many areas, giving him limitless potential.
2. Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M
This year there are two clear candidates for this draft’s best tackle: Matthews and Auburn’s Greg Robinson. This draws an eerily close parallel to last year’s top two tackles, Luke Joeckel and Eric Fisher.
Like Joeckel, who is also from Texas A&M, Matthews draws praise as an outstanding technician at the tackle position, while Robinson and Fisher are known for their nasty edge and aggressive style of play. While an injury sidelined Joeckel in 2013, look for both him and Matthews to become franchise left tackles sooner rather than later.
3. Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson
The only knock on Watkins is that, at 6’ 1”, he is not as tall as most teams would like for the “basketball on grass” the NFL has become. But other than his height, there are no flaws to Watkins as a prospect; he has everything a wide receiver needs. His speed and agility (4.43 s forty yard dash, 6.95 3-cone drill) paired with his route running and catching skills should translate into immediate success in the NFL.
4. Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville
A lot of people are down on Bridgewater after his pro day, which piled on top of concerns many had already with his thin build and weak level of competition. But there is one factor that matters more than any of these concerns: how Bridgewater plays during games.
This is where Bridgewater shines; his intermediate-range accuracy and poise in the pocket are unparalleled in this year’s draft class. He has a low ceiling, but he is ready to start right away. Like Atlanta’s Matt Ryan, he may never be sensational, but he is an above average starter you can build a team around.
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