The 2014 college football season has arrived, and NFL scouts will have no shortage of top prospects to scout as the first week of games kick off.
This summer we studied more than 130 players on tape, producing scouting reports and rankings evaluating their NFL potential. This preseason scouting process will provide a valuable foundation for our prospect rankings as the season unfolds and we're able to track how each player performs. Last week, we provided our ranking of the top prospects at every position, and here we present our preseason edition of the Top 32 (drawing on those same scouting reports, and making changes only where necessary).
As the season progresses it's a given that some players will rise up into the rankings while others will drop out, but this provides a good snapshot of the players with the most NFL potential as we enter the 2014 campaign.
Here is our ranking of the Top 32 prospects for the 2015 NFL draft.
(Note: Underclassmen are noted with an asterisk.)
Mariota surprised many by returning for his redshirt junior season, and he enters 2014 as our No. 1-ranked prospect. He is a dynamic athlete who puts stress on a defense with his mobility both as a runner and a thrower. He has above-average elusiveness and rare straight-line speed, reminiscent of Colin Kaepernick with his long stride. Mariota has a quick, compact, over-the-shoulder release with well-above-average arm strength, so he can make all the NFL throws. While he needs to become more consistently accurate, he has made big improvements in that department since showing up on campus in Eugene. Continued progress with his footwork and balance will be important for scouts to see in 2014. And yes, Mariota benefits from the Ducks' up-tempo spread offense, which simplifies reads and creates bigger throwing windows, but he still rates highly in terms of his decision-making and overall mental makeup. His intangibles are outstanding.