With the conclusion of the 2013 NCAA football season and the deadline for underclassmen to declare for the 2014 NFL Draft fast approaching, it is time to take a look at the best of the best heading into the draft process. We will be bringing you the top 50 draft prospects in installments of ten throughout the week. Today we look players 30-21.
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30: Donte Moncrief* – WR – Mississippi
A big-bodied receiver, Moncrief does not have the power and upside of his SEC counterpart Mike Evans, but he does exhibit more burst and brings more savvy and experience right away. Moncrief’s ability to separate despite his large frame and lack of elite speed sets him apart from the big plodders who normally possess his kind of frame. Moncrief plays like a power RB after the catch, showing the ability to plow through would be tacklers in the secondary.
29: Jordan Matthews – WR – Vanderbilt
While not the type of athlete you imagine when thinking of first-round wideouts, Matthews is an NFL ready player, who has great route running ability and attention to detail, along with the tenacity to maximize his ability. Matthews can work the outside or the inside, showing off valuable versatility, though he could improve catching the football more consistently, as he is not a burner who can get away with dropping passes.
28: Eric Ebron* – TE – North Carolina
The undersized Ebron will make ridiculous one-handed touchdown receptions on one play, and let the ball get into his body on the next. He has elite speed for a tight end and can separate downfield, but will need to improve his blocking capabilities.
27: Allen Robinson* – WR – Penn State
Already the holder of Penn State’s single season receiving yardage, Robinson has a very good shot to be drafted just three seasons removed from his high school career. He lacks great playing speed, but Robinson is a phenomenal pass-catcher with the ability to high-point make the spectacular grab.
26: Jace Amaro* – TE – Texas Tech
Amaro has the rare form of athleticism that can allow him to play as almost exclusively as a slot receiver in a college offense. Amaro has the best skills as a receiver among eligible TEs which makes him especially intriguing, along the lines of a Jimmy Graham or an *ahem* Aaron Hernandez. What he really needs work with is his inline blocking, but a team will likely want to pair him with another TE and play him off the line to maximize his athletic talent.
25: Timmy Jernigan* – DT – Florida State
Like nearly all defensive players who have played for the Seminoles in the past few decades, Jernigan is a slightly undersized DT. He fits best as a three-technique at the next level based upon his elite athleticism for a big man, as well as his ability to slip blocks, penetrate, and make plays in the backfield, whether its sacking the QB or stuffing the RB.
24: Darqueze Dennard – CB – Michigan State
A player whose strength and physicality belies even his even above-average size, Dennard is an ideal corner for a predominately press coverage team. Dennard possesses great instincts and technique, but lacks good long speed, which could hinder his ability to develop into an elite NFL corner.
23: Scott Crichton* – DE – Oregon State
A player who will never be mistaken for Barkevious Mingo, Crichton is highly productive but does not have the elite athletic explosion typically associated with double digit sack artists (despite the fact that guys like J.J. Watt and Jared Allen are stronger than they are quick). Crichton is a true professional, who has a highly polished game, even as a junior, and can be solid both against the run and getting after the quarterback.
22: Ra’Shede Hageman – DT – Minnesota
One of the rare high level prospects to play for the Golden Gophers, Hageman has the frame and talent reminiscent of former Alabama standout Marcell Dareus. Hageman has a great first step off the line, and is one of the best pass rushing and run stopping DT prospects in this year’s draft.
21: Cyril Richardson – OG – Baylor
A surefire first rounder in my book, Richardson has manned the blind side at Baylor but is a perfect fit for the interior in man-blocking power scheme, though he may take time to adjust to this style of play, as opposed to the pass-happy style in Waco. Richardson has rare size and strength, but could get lost in the shadow of the elite guards that have come out in the past few years.
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