Yes we know, the dust from the 2013 draft has barely settled, but these days the NFL draft constitutes year round coverage. One of the best in the business at providing that coverage is ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper, who’s famous for two things — his big board and his unmovable hair.
Kiper has released his first big board for the 2014 draft. As you’d imagine there are quite a few SEC players in the top 50.
There are 17 SEC players in the top 50 to be exact.
It’s probably no surprise that South Carolina defensive end, Jadeveon Clowney, is first overall on Kiper’s board. Clowney will be the consensus number one draft pick next year, barring a catastrophic injury.
Kiper also has three Vols in his top 50.
Anotonio “Tiny” Richardson, a junior offensive lineman, is the number 11 player on Kiper’s list. Richardson was one of the few offensive lineman last season to contain Clowney. Richardson did not give up a sack while blocking Clowney in the Vols loss to the Gamecocks.
Senior defensive tackle, Daniel McCullers, is 43rd on Kiper’s big board. McCullers is a beast of a tackle, standing 6’8″ and weighing 360 lbs. Last year was McCullers’ first season with the Vols, after transferring from Georgia Military College. McCullers started in seven games last season, racking up 39 tackles, including 5.5 for a loss.
The Final player in Kiper’s top 50 is Tennessee linebacker AJ Johnson. As a sophomore last season Johnson led the SEC in tackles (138) and had the fourth most in the country. Johnson’s 138 tackles were the most by a Vol since Jerod Mayo’s 140 in 2007. In addition to leading the team in tackles, he also led the team in rushing touchdowns with six. The team used Johnson in a “beast wildcat formation”, from which he gained 21 yards on 12 carries.
A lot can change in a year, as we saw with Tyler Bray going from a possible first round pick to undrafted free agent. Typically lists like these are a good barometer of the talent on a team, but rarely do they play out the same way they were predicted.
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