Scout: Cream of Crop, Overrated, Underrated

Looking ahead to the 2014 draft, longtime NFL scout Dave-Te' Thomas puts names to those categories for the quarterbacks, wide receivers, running backs and — perhaps importantly for the Packers — tight ends. The linemen, linebackers and defensive backs will be in Parts 2 and 3 of this series.

Quarterback


Cream of the Crop: Teddy Bridgewater*, Louisville – Considered the top quarterback in the draft, and maybe the top overall pick, Bridgewater led the Cardinals to a 12-1 record and threw for 3,970 yards and 31 touchdowns in 2013, completing 71 percent of his passes.

Most Underrated: Brett Smith*, Wyoming – Smith surprised some when he declared for the NFL draft after his junior season, but completed 62 percent of his passes for 8,834 yards and 76 touchdowns and ran for 1,531 yards and 20 touchdowns in his three-year career.

Most Overrated: Johnny Manziel*, Texas A&M – To the surprise of no one, Manziel declared for the NFL draft after throwing for 4,873 yards and 37 TDs and rushing for 759 yards and nine TDs with a 69.9 completion percentage in 2013 – all school records. But how will his playing style and demeanor fit at the NFL level?

Wide receiver


Cream of the Crop: Sammy Watkins*, Clemson – At 6-foot-1, 205 pounds, Watkins set school records with 101 catches for 1,464 yards.

Most Underrated: Odell Beckham*, Louisiana State – He's under 6 feet tall, but he produces with the big boys, tallying 2,222 all-purpose yards in 2013 and catching 57 passes for 1,117 yards and eight TDs.

Most Overrated: Mike Evans*, Texas A&M – He has the measurables at 6-5, 225 and led the Aggies with 65 catches for 1,322 yards and 12 TDs, with the yardage total setting the school record.

Jordan Matthews is a cousin of Jerry Rice.
Marvin Gentry/USA TODAY

Cream of the Crop: Marqise Lee*, Southern California – Injuries limited him to 57 receptions for 791 yards and four TDs in 2013, but in 2012 he led the nation with 1,721 yards and 14 TDs.

Most Underrated: Jordan Matthews, Vanderbilt – A cousin of Jerry Rice, Matthews set an SEC record with 107 catches for 1,334 yards.

Most Overrated: Donte Moncrief*, Mississippi – The 6-3, 226-pound Moncrief ranked third in school history with 150 career receptions, fourth with 2,258 receiving yards and third with 19 TD catches, including 59 for 938 yards and six TDs in 2013.

Tight end


Cream of the Crop: Austin Seferian-Jenkins*, Washington – He already has an NFL body at 6-6, 266 and won the John Mackey Award as the nation's top tight end after catching 110 passes for 1,390 yards and 13 TDs.

Most Underrated: Joe Don Duncan, Dixie State – At 6-4, 270, he had 71 catches for 1,045 yards and 13 TDs in 2013. Will his small-school success translate to big-league production?

Most Overrated: Colt Lyerla*, Oregon – He is considered a gifted athlete, but he skipped his 2013 season and pled guilty to cocaine possession in December. Character risks are a major concern.

Tailback


Cream of the Crop: Bishop Sankey*, Washington – Only 5-10, 200 pounds, Sankey was ultra-productive in his junior season at Washington, rushing for 1,870 yards and 20 touchdowns.

Most Underrated: Charles Sims, West Virginia – A versatile rusher and receiver, he ran for 1,095 yards and 11 TDs on 208 carries and caught 45 passes for 401 yards and three touchdowns in 2013.

Most Overrated: De'Anthony Thomas*, Oregon – A member of Oregon's track team, he holds the school record for kickoff return yards (1,885) and punt return average (17.1) and leaves the Ducks with 5,345 career yards.

Fullback


Cream of the Crop: J.C. Copeland, Louisiana State – A rare rusher (only 13 times in 2013), Copeland is more of the true lead blocker at 275 pounds.

Most Underrated: Nikita Whitlock (DT), Wake Forest – At 250 pounds, he's too light for defensive tackle in the NFL and had only 13 tackles in 2013, but he could be up for a position change.

Most Overrated: Chris Coyle, Arizona State – As a tight end, his catches were nearly cut in half from his junior season to senior year, to 29, when he had 423 yards and four touchdowns.

* Underclassman

Note: Category selections by Dave-Te' Thomas, text by Tim Yotter.

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