ESPN draft guru Mel Kiper Jr. is one of the top analysts when it comes to projecting talent to the next level, and on Wednesday he released his updated 2014 NFL Draft big board. Despite the recent concerns surrounding South Carolina Gamecocks star Jadeveon Clowney, he remains the top player in Kiper’s rankings.
As the rest of the rankings go, Kiper has some pass rushers rising, including Clemson star Vic Beasley.
Here are Kiper’s current top three players in the nation:
Jadeveon Clowney, defensive end, South Carolina
He sat out last week with bad ribs, and I hope Clowney and his coaches continue to err on the side of his health. When he’s 100 percent, Clowney combines exceptional strength and quickness as well as strong hands to quickly shed blocks. He’s not just an edge-rusher looking to quickly turn the corner, as he beats average tackles both inside and outside, which causes double teams. He can occasionally play a little high, which allows teams to run at him, but he has improved there.
Teddy Bridgewater, quarterback, Louisville
Another efficient week against Temple, and we again wonder whether Bridgewater will be adequately tested this season before a bowl game. Bridgewater looks as comfortable as he should be against what he’s seen so far, typically with the time to scan the whole field. When he sees a target he has a quick release, plenty of arm strength and good ball placement. I really like how he calibrates his throws, not using too much arm when he doesn’t need to.
Anthony Barr, outside linebacker, UCLA
He has 8.0 tackles for loss through four games, and has been consistently disruptive. A former fullback, he has a powerful lower half and has a long frame and reach. Had 13.5 sacks last year and could have left for the NFL, but if he’s able to grow with another year of seasoning at the position, it’s only going to make him a more attractive talent.
To check out Kiper’s entire 2014 Big Board, be sure to head on over to ESPN.