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 offensive and defensive lines in Part 2 of this three-part series. The Packers have free-agent considerations at center and across the defensive line.

OFFENSIVE LINE


Center


Cream of the Crop: Travis Swanson, Arkansas – He already has NFL size at 315 pounds and experience after starting all 50 games of his career, but he is tall for a center at 6-foot-5.

Most Underrated: Gabe Ikard, Oklahoma – At 6-3, 298, his athleticism is a plus as he tries to impress at the East-West Shrine Game practices this week.

Most Overrated: Russell Bodine*, North Carolina – He brings experience at center, but also played some guard for the Tar Heels. Has strength and athleticism.

Offensive tackle


Is Jake Matthews the next Luke Joekel?
John David Mercer/USA TODAY

Cream of the Crop: Jake Matthews, Texas A&M – He proved to be a strong run blocker at right tackle and then proved he can be a blindside protector after Luke Joeckel left the school. 

Greg Robinson*, Auburn – Played only two years of college ball, but quickly proved his worth as an athletic blocker leading the way for 1,000-yard rushers Tre Mason and Nick Marshall

Most Underrated: Billy Turner, North Dakota State – His stock is on the rise and his technique may not be refined yet coming from a smaller school, but he will get the chance to prove and learn at the Senior Bowl.

Wesley Johnson, Vanderbilt – Played more games (50) at Vanderbilt than anyone in school history and was flagged for holding only twice.

Most Overrated: Taylor Lewan, Michigan – At 6-7, he has the size to play tackle and a mean streak to go with it, but does too much aggression get in his way?

Antonio Richardson*, Tennessee – With ideal tackle size (6-6, 332), he flashes athleticism but can also be technically inconsistent and therefore overpowered.

Offensive guard


Cream of the Crop: Xavier Su'a-Filo*, UCLA – He's a powerful 6-3, 305 and started 38 games before declaring for the draft early.

Cyril Richardson, Baylor – Has great size at 6-5, 340 and played both left guard and left tackle, but his strength and his demeanor both point to a prototypical guard.

Most Underrated: Joel Bitonio (OT), Nevada – At 6-4, he may not be able to remain at left tackle in the NFL, and if he is asked to move to guard that would lower his draft value.

Brandon Thomas (OT), Clemson – Some view him as a mid- to late-round pick, but he played 35 straight games for a team that averaged more than 40 points and 500 yards per game in 2013 and he was an All-ACC first-team selection.

Most Overrated: Chris Watt, Notre Dame – Started 47 straight games, including 34 at left guard, but knee injuries muddled the end of his senior season. 

Anthony Steen, Alabama – Linemen for the Crimson Tide often get the acclaim, but Steen could be hurt by a shoulder injury late in the season and his size (6-2, 310).

DEFENSIVE LINE


Defensive end


Cream of the Crop: Jadeveon Clowney*, South Carolina — After placing sixth in the Heisman Trophy race in 2012 with 13 sacks and 23.5 tackles for losses, Clowney managed three sacks and 11.5 tackles for losses in 2013. 

Stephon Tuitt, Notre Dame* — Tuitt had 12 sacks as a sophomore — the second-best season in school history — in 2012 and 7.5 sacks and a pick-six as junior. 

Most Underrated: Chris Smith, Arkansas — Smith had 8.5 sacks and 11.5 tackles for losses as a senior and 17 sacks and 24.5 TFLs during his final two seasons. 

James Gayle, Virginia Tech — The three-year starter tallied 22 sacks and 40.5 tackles for losses for his career, including six sacks and 10.5 TFLs as a senior.

Most Overrated: Clowney* — His inconsistent final season and two speeding tickets are reasons why he's not the slam-dunk No. 1 overall pick. 

Aaron Lynch, South Florida* — Lynch, who sat out last season after transferring from Notre Dame and had two years of eligibility remaining — had six sacks and 12.5 TFLs during his only season at South Florida.

Defensive tackle


Ra'Shede Hageman gives the University of Minnesota a rare first-round prospect.
Tony Taormina/USA TODAY

Cream of the Crop: Ra'shede Hageman, Minnesota — The former tight end had two sacks and 13 tackles for losses to earn first-team all-Big Ten honors. 

Timmy Jernigan, Florida State* — Jernigan finished third on the team in tackles, including 4.5 sacks and a team-high 11 tackles for losses.

Most Underrated: Will Sutton, Arizona State — Sutton is just the second player in conference history to be a two-time Defensive Player of the Year. He had four sacks and 13.5 TFLs as a senior. 

Ego Ferguson, LSU* — After skipping the bowl game, Ferguson declared for the draft a year early. In his only year as a starter, he tallied one sack and 3.5 TFLs. 

Most Overrated: Dominique Easley, Florida* — Easley tore the ACL in his right knee during a September practice but decided to turn pro a year early. He tore the ACL in his left knee in 2011. 

Anthony Johnson, LSU* — Johnson had three sacks and nine tackles for losses in 2013 and seven sacks and 22 TFLs for his career.

Nose guard


Cream of the Crop: Louis Nix III, Notre Dame* — A three-year starter, Nix had no sacks and two tackles for losses in 2013. He was limited to eight games by a knee injury.

Most Underrated: Ryan Carrethers, Arkansas State — Carrethers, voted the best player in Arkansas, finished third among all NCAA defensive linemen with 93 tackles. He had four sacks and blocked two kicks.

Most Overrated: Daniel McCullers, Tennessee — The junior-college transfer had 72 tackles, including 1.5 sacks and 10 TFLs, in two seasons with the Vols.

* Early entry to the draft

Category selections by Dave-Te Thomas. Text by Tim Yotter and Bill Huber.


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