Glancing at the 2014 NFL Draft Prospects


November 3, 2012; Columbus, OH, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes linebacker Ryan Shazier (10) tackles Illinois Fighting Illini running back Donovonn Young (5) after a short gain at Ohio Stadium. Ohio State won the game 52-22. Mandatory Credit: Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports

When looking at this year’s crop of college football players who hope to become legitimate 2014 NFL Draft Prospects, several players at positions of potential need for the Cincinnati Bengals will be worth scouting this upcoming season as potential first-round targets.

If I had to project the 2014 needs for the Bengals at this moment, I’d say they end up being at safety, linebacker, and defensive end. Based on Pete Prisco’s initial rankings of the best 2014 prospects, here’s some of the best players at those positions:

"6. Adrian Hubbard, OLB, Alabama (Jr.): When studying the Alabama tape this year, my eyes were drawn to him. He can be a special edge rusher in a 3-4.11. Kyle Von Noy, OLB, BYU: When studying Ziggy Ansah, this kid showed up a ton on tape. I was shocked he went back to BYU. He reminds me of Brad Van Pelt, an old-time Giants linebacker.13. Anthony Barr, OLB, UCLA: He is an edge rusher who is ideal for any 3-4 team. Those guys always have great value. He is a great athlete who can run at 6-5, 245.15. C.J. Mosley, OLB, Alabama: From a talent standpoint, he might be the most talented of the Alabama players. But his position doesn’t have the value of the others.21. Ha’Sean Clinton-Dix, S, Alabama (Jr.): He has good size at 6-1, but he also has the speed and range teams no crave on the back end.22. Jackson Jeffcoat, DE, Texas: The son of former NFL defensive end Jim Jeffcoat might have been in this year’s draft if he didn’t get hurt last season. He has good speed and power off the edge.23. Gabe Jackson, G, Mississippi State: We saw two guards go in the top 10 this year, and this kid has a chance to go in the top half of the first round next year.31. Ryan Shazier, OLB, Ohio State (Jr.): He is a run-and-chase linebacker who can also rush the quarterback. His size at 225 pounds might be a concern."

Of those players, I actually like Van Noy the most. He was easy to spot when watching film of Ezekial Ansah this offseason, as Van Noy was BYU’s best defender for the beginning of 2012 until Ansah began to emerge. He’s a more of blitzer though in the mold of Sean Porter, whom the Bengals drafted this year.

I think the best fit and likeliest to be on the board when the Bengals (hopefully) pick late in the first-round is Ohio State’s Shazier. He’s more of an “all-around” solid prospect, not necessarily excelling at any one thing, but doing good at a lot of things like run defense, pass coverage, and blitzing. The Bengals don’t really have that “do-it-all” linebacker, so maybe Shazier can finally be that answer next year.

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