A competitive two weeks on the college circuit are over, and top players on the nation's top teams are moving on my draft board—some for good, some for bad

By Andy Staples
November 12, 2013

This is not a mock draft. This doesn’t take into account NFL teams or positions of need. This is a list of college football players—made by someone who covers college football—who, based on their skills and success at the college level, project well to the next level. This list exists so you don’t fall in love in March with some guy who was mediocre for three or four years and then ran fast in his underwear one time.


The showdowns of the past two weeks are over, and a few players took great advantage of their time on a big national stage. In the Stanford-Oregon game, Cardinal guard David Yankey and linebacker Trent Murphy showed why they deserved to rise on this list. In the Alabama-LSU game, Alabama offensive tackle Cyrus Kouandjio and linebacker C.J. Mosley made their cases for being the nation’s best at their positions, while LSU receiver Jarvis Landry looked great until Mosley and the Alabama defense stopped letting the Tigers throw.


On the flip side, some of the top prospects did not respond well to the brightest lights. Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota gets a bit of a pass because of a knee injury that hampered his mobility against Stanford, but Michigan offensive tackle Taylor Lewan is no longer the top tackle on the board after abysmal games against Michigan State and Nebraska. Lewan didn’t drop far—after all, he got a high first-round grade after last season for a reason—but he did raise at least one giant red flag.


2014 NFL Draft Big Board

Teddy Bridgewater

QB; Junior; Louisville; 6-3, 196

(Last Week: 1) Thanks to UCF’s win against Houston, Bridgewater probably won’t get a BCS bowl showcase at the end of the season. In last Friday’s win at Connecticut, Bridgewater completed 21 of 37 passes for 288 yards with a touchdown and an interception.


Jadeveon Clowney

DE; Junior; University of South Carolina; 6-6, 274

(Last week: 2) Florida quarterback Tyler Murphy is still in pain from a sprained shoulder suffered against LSU. If he can’t play, redshirt freshman Skyler Mornhinweg—son of Marty—would start in his place Saturday at South Carolina. If this happens, expect Clowney and his teammates to feast.


Anthony Barr

LB; Senior; UCLA; 6-4, 245

(Last Week: 3) Barr, a converted running back, must have watched UCLA freshman linebacker Myles Jack’s six-carry, 120-yard cameo in Saturday’s win at Arizona and wondered when Bruins offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone will write him into the gameplan. Barr has a pretty good thing going on defense, though.


Jake Matthews

OT; Senior; Texas A&M; 6-5, 305

(Last Week: 5) Matthews and the Aggies offense will have to score in bunches to compete in their remaining games at LSU and Missouri, because Texas A&M’s defense is offering no help.


Mike Evans

WR; Redshirt Sophomore; Texas A&M; 6-5, 225

(Last Week: 7) Evans caught five passes for 116 yards in Texas A&M’s win against Mississippi State on Saturday.


Cyrus Kouandjio

OT; Junior; Alabama; 6-6, 310

(Last Week: 8) Kouandjio manhandled LSU’s linemen Saturday, and he and his linemates were especially impressive in the second half. The push they got allowed Alabama to control the clock and suck the life out of the Tigers.


Marcus Mariota

QB; Redshirt Sophomore; Oregon; 6-4, 211

(Last Week: 6) Mariota was bottled up on the ground against Stanford because of a sprained knee, and it crippled Oregon’s offense for three quarters. He’ll have to be better at winning games with his arm, but in the NFL, his linemen probably won’t be so overmatched.


Taylor Lewan

OT; Senior; Michigan; 6-8, 308

(Last Week: 4) A few bad games shouldn’t drop Lewan off the radar entirely, but Michigan’s line play has been horrendous in recent weeks. More troubling is the video of Lewan yanking the facemask of Michigan State safety Isaiah Lewis after a play as Lewis lay on the ground on his stomach. Teams want aggressive players. They like a mean streak. They don’t necessarily want to invest millions in a dirty player. Because if Lewan does that to the wrong guy in the NFL, that guy is taking out one of Lewan’s knees, and there goes some team’s investment.


C.J. Mosley

LB; Senior; Alabama; 6-2, 232

(Last Week: 12) From a sheer collegiate production standpoint, Mosley is the best player on the No. 1 team in America. He deserves Heisman Trophy consideration, and he deserves a high draft pick.


Johnny Manziel

QB; Redshirt Sophomore; Texas A&M; 6-1, 200

(Last Week: 9) No one has figured out how to stop Manziel yet except possibly Manziel. Saturday against Mississippi State, he threw three interceptions. He also threw five touchdown passes.


AJ McCarron

QB; Senior; Alabama; 6-4, 214

(Last Week: 10) The Crimson Tide ran only 62 plays Saturday, and McCarron threw on only 20 of those. He completed 14 passes, three of them for touchdowns.


De'Anthony Thomas

RB; Junior; Oregon; 5-9, 176

(Last Week: 11) Thomas still doesn’t seem himself since returning from an ankle sprain. But even though he didn’t do much against Stanford, NFL scouts probably are watching quite a bit of his tape this week after fellow mighty-mite Tavon Austin rolled up 314 all-purpose yards for the Rams against the Colts.


Stephon Tuitt

DE; Junior; Notre Dame; 6-6, 303

(Last Week: 13) Tuitt was ejected from Notre Dame’s loss to Pittsburgh for this hit on Panthers quarterback Tom Savage. Obviously, Tuitt disagreed with the call, and he intends to use it as motivation for the rest of the season.


James Hurst

OT; Senior; North Carolina; 6-7, 305

(Last Week: 15) Hurst has helped the Tar Heels to a three-game win streak. The schedule has helped, but so has the fact that the three linemen alongside Hurst have grown up.


Aaron Murray

QB; Senior; Georgia; 6-1, 208

(Last Week: 16) Murray had an easy day Saturday in a blowout of Appalachian State. It won’t be so easy this week against Auburn’s excellent young pass rushers.


Sammy Watkins

WR; Junior; Clemson; 6-1, 205

(Last Week: 17) In Clemson’s last game—a win at Virginia on Nov. 2—Watkins caught eight passes for 169 yards and two touchdowns. He’ll get a showcase Thursday against Georgia Tech.


Louis Nix III

DT; Junior; Notre Dame; 6-3, 340

(Last Week: 14) Nix missed games against Air Force and Navy with a knee injury. He returned and made five tackles in the Fighting Irish’s loss at Pittsburgh.


Zach Mettenberger

QB; Senior; LSU; 6-5, 235

(Last Week: 29) Mettenberger looked sharp in the first half against Alabama, completing 15 of 19 passes for 173 yards and helping the Tigers convert six of seven third downs. Then Alabama turned up the pressure. Mettenberger completed only one of four passes in the second half, and he left the field limping after yet another hit from a Crimson Tide rusher.


Tajh Boyd

QB; Senior; Clemson; 6-1, 225

(Last Week: 18) Boyd rallied the Tigers well after a crushing loss to Florida State. Now, he has to keep them winning if they want to play in a BCS bowl.


Michael Sam

DE; Senior; Missouri; 6-2, 255

(Last Week: 19) Sam had a quiet game against Kentucky, but he still leads the SEC in sacks (10) and tackles for loss (16).


Ryan Shazier

LB; Junior; Ohio State; 6-2, 222

(Last Week: 20) With 11, Shazier is half a tackle for loss off the Big Ten lead.


David Yankey

OG; Senior; Stanford; 6-5, 311

(Last Week: 25) Yankey dominated Oregon last Thursday, pulling on Power to blast open holes for Stanford’s backs.


Will Sutton

DT; Senior; Arizona State; 6-1, 305

(Last Week: 21) Sutton had a tackle for loss and an interception in Saturday’s win at Utah. This week, he should have a chance to boost his sack total against Oregon State, which passes 65.6 percent of the time.


Cyril Richardson

OG; Baylor; 6-5, 335

(Last Week: 28) Richardson briefly left the Oklahoma game with an injury, but he returned to help pave the way for No. 3 tailback Shock Linwood to run for 182 yards.


Kyle Van Noy

LB; Senior; BYU; 6-3, 245

(Last Week: 22) Van Noy snared one of the easiest interceptions in football history Saturday at Wisconsin when a ball literally fell into his hands while Van Noy lay on his back. That’s OK. Given the effort Van Noy puts forth on every play, he earned a little good luck.


Braxton Miller

QB; Junior; Ohio State; 6-2, 215

(Last Week: 23) Miller hasn’t been challenged much lately. In Ohio State’s last game—a blowout of Purdue on Nov. 2—he completed 19 of 23 passes for 233 yards with four touchdowns and an interception.


Jason Verrett

CB; Senior; TCU; 5-10, 176

(Last Week: 24) Verrett missed the Horned Frogs’ win at Iowa State with a shoulder injury, and he’ll be a gametime decision for Saturday’s game at Kansas State.


Ha Ha Clinton-Dix

S; Junior; Alabama; 6-1, 208

(Last Week: 26) Clinton-Dix had five tackles in Alabama’s win against LSU.


Timmy Jernigan

DT; Junior; Florida State; 6-2, 298

(Last Week: 27) Jernigan made six tackles in Saturday’s win against Wake Forest. A week earlier, he pushed the pocket well against a pretty good Miami offensive line.


Trent Murphy

LB; Redshirt Senior; Stanford; 6-6, 261

(Last Week: 36) Murphy had half a sack in Stanford’s Party in the Backfield on Thursday against Oregon. Want to know more about Murphy? Read Stewart Mandel’s excellent profile.


Vic Beasley

DE; Redshirt Junior; Clemson; 6-2, 235

(Last Week: Not Ranked) Beasley has fallen off his scorching early-season pace, but he remains third in the nation in sacks with 10.


Loucheiz Purifoy

CB; Junior; Florida; 6-1, 189

(Last Week: 30) Purifoy might be the last healthy player on Florida’s roster. No word on whether he can play quarterback.


Derek Carr

QB; Senior; Fresno State; 6-3, 218

(Last Week: 31) In Saturday’s win at Wyoming, Carr completed 33 of 46 passes for 360 yards and four touchdowns.


Eric Ebron

TE; Junior; North Carolina; 6-4, 245

(Last Week: 37) Ebron currently leads the Tar Heels with 46 catches for 690 yards and three touchdowns.


Marqise Lee

WR; Junior; USC; 6-0, 195

(Last Week: 35) Lee returned from a knee injury against Oregon State with a five-catch, 105-yard performance. He followed that with a one-catch, 13-yard performance against Cal.


Jared Abbrederis

WR; Redshirt Senior; Wisconsin; 6-2, 190

(Last Week: 33) Abbrederis had eight catches for 67 yards in the Badgers’ win against BYU on Saturday.


Bradley Roby

CB; Redshirt Junior; Ohio State; 5-11, 192

(Last Week: 34) It would be nice to see Roby against an effective offense to gauge where he is, but that won’t happen against Illinois this week. He should be challenged the following week against pass-happy Indiana, though.


Zack Martin

OT; Senior; Notre Dame; 6-4, 304

(Last Week: 38) Martin is having a solid senior season, but he isn’t getting much help from his offensive teammates.


Ifo Ekpre-Olomu

CB; Junior; Oregon; 5-10, 190

(Last Week: 32) Ekpre-Olomu intercepted a pass against Stanford, but that interception was negated by a pass interference on Ekpre-Olomu. Stanford scored its second touchdown two plays later.


Adrian Hubbard

LB; Redshirt Junior; Alabama; 6-6, 252

(Last Week: 39) Hubbard had a sack as the Crimson Tide pounded Mettenberger late in Saturday’s win against LSU.


Antonio Richardson

OT; Junior; Tennessee; 6-6, 327

(Last Week: 41) Richardson and Tennessee’s offense played fairly well against Auburn, but the Vols didn’t stand a chance with a defense allowing 8.4 yards a carry.


Khalil Mack

LB; Senior; Buffalo; 6-3, 245

(Last Week: 41) Mack had half a sack, a forced fumble, a fumble recovery and three hurries in the Bulls’ win against Ohio last week.


Allen Robinson

WR; Junior; Penn State; 6-3, 210

(Last Week: 42) Robinson caught 11 passes for 165 yards against Illinois, then followed that with a seven-catch, 63-yard performance against Minnesota.


Melvin Gordon

RB; Redshirt Sophomore; Wisconsin; 6-1, 207

(Last Week: 44) Gordon carried 19 times for 86 yards in Saturday’s win against BYU, but teammate James White was the star with 147 rushing yards, two rushing touchdowns and a receiving touchdown.


Aaron Donald

DT; Senior; Pittsburgh; 6-0, 285

(Last Week: Not Ranked) In Pittsburgh’s loss to Georgia Tech on Nov. 2, Donald racked up six tackles for loss. In the Panthers’ win against Notre Dame, he only had a tackle and a hurry.


Cam Erving

OT; Redshirt Junior; Florida State; 6-6, 320

(Last Week: Not Ranked) This former defensive linemen has turned into the best player on a very good Florida State offensive line.


Jordan Matthews

WR; Senior; Vanderbilt; 6-3, 205

(Last Week: 45) The Commodores barely had to play offense to win with Florida just handing them the ball with favorable field position. Matthews caught five of Vanderbilt’s six completed passes for 45 yards.


Ka'Deem Carey

RB; Junior; Arizona; 5-10, 207

(Last Week: 46) Carey carried 28 times for 148 yards and a touchdown in a loss to UCLA.


Odell Beckham Jr.

WR; Junior; LSU; 6-0, 193

(Last Week: 47) Beckham caught three passes for 42 yards before Alabama’s defense clamped down Saturday.


Jarvis Landry

WR; Junior; LSU; 6-1, 195

(Last Week: 49) Landry was having an even better night, catching five passes for 90 yards. But the Tigers only completed one pass in the second half of their loss at Alabama.

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