The consensus seems to be growing: 2014 could have the deepest draft class in (pick your number) years.
The fill-in-the-blank might be "ever," according to one NFL general manager and another draft analyst for NFL Network.
"This is the best draft – I've been doing this for 30 years, and this is the deepest draft that I've ever seen," Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert said. "We felt that way even before – I wouldn't say the deepest draft before the underclassmen came in – but even during the fall our scouts were talking that the senior class was a pretty good class. You don't know what the junior class will be, so you anticipate and try to predict what that will be until you know for sure."
The underclassmen, however, poured into the draft in overwhelming numbers – easily record-setting. The NFL had 98 early entrants into this year's NFL draft, not including four players that graduated early and weren't considered early entrants.
While that surge in underclassmen adds more talent, it also might add more risk, according to Colbert.
"The one thing that we talk about with these juniors, or any of the underclassmen, the redshirt sophomores, we are very cautiously optimistic about their emotional and physical readiness for this. This is a huge jump," Colbert said. "Even though it's a more talented group, or the most talented group that I have seen, I am also worried that it's probably the most immature group. We have to be prepared for more player development type of programs or maybe enhancing your player development to get the most out of these younger players."
NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock believes that offensive tackle and cornerback are positions that are particularly deep this year. He thinks starting offensive tackles can be found in the third and fourth rounds, and he believes some good cornerbacks can be found after the first two days of the draft.
"From my perspective, this is the deepest and best draft class I've even seen in probably ten years," Mayock said. "That's been reinforced by most of the general managers and scouts I've talked to throughout the league. I had one GM tell me the other day that having a top-20 pick this year is very similar to having a top-10 pick last year.
"So I think there's more depth. I think there are certain positions that are stacked this year and you can get a quality player through three or four rounds."
Colbert took it a step further, saying that, in his opinion, the depth is better at nearly every position.
"You can look across the board. I can't see a position where there isn't more depth than there has ever been," Colbert said. "Sometimes you talk about interior offensive linemen, but again, that is a solid group. It might not be as solid as the tackles or the wide receivers or cornerbacks, but it's more solid than it has been in the past. It's exciting when you are picking players out of this group."
Maybe that's why Vikings general manager Rick Spielman has stated his desire to have 10 draft picks (they currently have eight).
Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.
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