Comprehensive Ranking of the 2014 and 2015 NFL Draft Classes: 4/17/2014 Update

Texas A&M College Football, Johnny Manziel

Comprehensive Ranking of  the 2014 and 2015 NFL Draft Classes: 4/17/2014 Update
Is the 2014 NFL Draft actually that strong when compared to 2015?

With a record number 103 early entrants declaring for the 2014 NFL draft and claims that this is the deepest draft in many years (Steelers GM Kevin Colbert has called the 2014 class the deepest that he has seen in 30 years), it made me think that while there are a record number of underclassmen coming out for this draft, there were also some substantial returnees who combined with the other eligible players for the 2015 draft that would make it a close contest as to which group is actually the deeper class.

An explanation as to the 103 early entrants is that the NFL announced that there were 98 underclassmen that declared for the 2014 draft. But that didn't include five players who had graduated while still retaining eligibility which makes for the 103 early entrants figure.

As for the strengths between the 2014 and 2015 classes, one advantage for the 2014 class is that these players are more well known at the present time. While one advantage for the 2015 draft group is that these are more players that are eligible but may not all declare for the draft.


2014 and 2015 Comprehensive Comparisons by Position
QuarterbacksDefensive Ends
Running BacksDefensive Tackles
FullbacksMiddle-Inside Linebackers
Tight EndsOutside Linebackers
Wide ReceiversCornerbacks
Slot ReceiversFree Safeties
Offensive TacklesStrong Safeties
Offensive Guards

A (C) after a player's name in the 2014 group indicates a combine invitation.  It will be interesting to see how many of the combine invitees (335) get drafted in this 2014 draft of 256. That means that there are at least 79 players at the Combine who will not be drafted. Conversely, it will also be interesting to see how many players who were snubbed by the combine that get drafted.

A (P) listed after a player indicates some type of problem, either an arrest record or suspension from the team or school for undisclosed reasons or any other issue which puts a team on notice to a character issue. An asterisk * after the player's year indicates he was redshirted, such as Jr.*.  An (I) is for an Injury or Injuries.

It is always intriguing to venture into selecting sleepers, or under the radar players who lack the big time reputations and thus have to be considered long shots.  I have designated at least one player at each position as a sleeer in the 2014 group with a pound sign (#) after their names.  These are players who were not invited to the NFL Combine, or the Senior Bowl and, with two exceptions, were also not invited to the East - West Shrine Game.  I should mention that some of these players were underclassmen and while eligible for the Combine, were not eligible for those all-star games.  Many of these players may not even be drafted, but at one time or another have flashed outstanding ability which, with more consistency, would have elevated their draft status. And in some cases they were simply overlooked.  Most of these are the really long shot type of sleepers.

Aaron Donald has been placed with the Defensive Ends rather than Defensive Tackles as his explosive charge MIGHT be better utilized there; much like Elvis Dumervil, Hugh Douglas and Dwight Freeney. Although it could be argued that his quickness rather than size would work at DT like Hall of Famers John Randle and Warren Sapp.

I have put a plus sign (+) before each position group that appears to be the deeper or stronger group between the 2014 and 2015 draft classes.  The obvious strength of the 2014 class is WR, OLB and CB and, even though I gave the nod to the 2014 wide receiver class, I am not so sure that it will really be better than the 2015 class.