This year’s draft class boasts an immense group of talented players that have their sights set on making an impact in the NFL. For this first part, I, Eddie "Hash Marks" Harris, will list QBs and TEs that I think will become household names in the NFL for years to come.
Johnny Manziel (Texas A&M) – Arguably the biggest name in this year’s draft, Manziel had a freshman season for the ages in 2012, and he capped it off by becoming the first redshirt freshman to win the prestigious Heisman Trophy Award. He didn’t disappoint in 2013, as he threw for more than 4,000 yards, rushed for more than 700 yards, threw 37 touchdowns and rushed for nine touchdowns. What makes him special is that he isn’t afraid to sling the ball downfield, and he isn’t shy about getting a first down on the ground. Also, he went toe-to-toe with some of the best teams in the nation on a weekly basis, playing in the SEC. That should translate well as he enters the NFL ranks.
Blake Bortles (UCF) – 6-3, 230. His physical attributes alone are perfect for an NFL quarterback. But he’s also a very accurate passer. Bortles finished his career 585-for-891, which is a completion percentage of 65.7. He had just 19 interceptions to 891 attempts, which is the lowest interception-to-pass attempt ratio (.213) in school history. Last season, Bortles led the Knights to a 12-1 record and a season-ending victory over Baylor in the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl. Despite having a body suited for pocket passing, Bortles managed to score 15 rushing touchdowns in his career at Central Florida. His skill set is unique and is well-suited for the NFL.
Tom Savage (Pitt) – In the last month, his status has gone sky high, and he’s projected to go by the end of the second round. Not too bad for a kid that attended three universities. Savage, like Bortles, is a big kid, 6-3, 245. And he has an even bigger arm. Draft analysts have said he has one of the, if not the strongest arm in this draft. In his final collegiate season, Savage led the Panthers to a victory in the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl, and finished the season with 21 touchdown passes and 2,958 passing yards. He also tied an ACC single game record by throwing six touchdowns in a win at Duke. His name has been all over social media in the past few weeks, as he’s visited numerous NFL teams for pre-draft visits. I guess he can’t even be called a “sleeper” selection.
Just missed the cut – Teddy Bridgewater, Aaron Murray and Logan Thomas
Eric Ebron (North Carolina) – He’s been compared to Vernon Davis of the San Francisco 49ers, and he is a projected first-round pick, and there is good reason. In 2013, he led the Tarheels with 62 receptions for 973 yards with three receiving touchdowns. He had at least 100 receiving yards in three games and recorded a single game school record 199 receiving yards vs. Miami. For his career, he established school records for a tight end with 112 receptions for 1,805 yards. His career receptions are second in ACC history for a tight end and his career receiving yards are the most by a tight end in ACC history. His size and speed will create matchup problems for opposing defenses in the NFL.
Jace Amaro (Texas A&M) – Amaro did not “line up” like traditional tight ends do, but he fits the mold of a hybrid, big-body tight end, 6-5, 265. In 2013, he became the first tight end in Big 12 history to record 100 receptions in a single season and register more than 1,000 receiving yards in a single campaign. He also recorded at least eight receptions in nine straight games last season, including five straight games with at least nine receptions. And, he set an FBS record for receiving yards by a tight end in a single season, totaling 1,352 receiving yards in 2013. Besides Ebron, he is the best tight end in the draft.
C.J. Fiedorowicz (Iowa) – He caught 91 passes for 899 yards and 10 receiving touchdowns, and he ended his career by recording at least one reception in his final 31 games played, which was the second-longest active streak in the FBS. What makes him even more dynamic is that Fiedorowicz is known for his exceptional blocking skills. Last season, Iowa averaged nearly 180 yards per game on the ground. He’s a big, physical blocker that picks up linebackers and safeties well. His blocking ability and his size coupled with his pass catching skills will present problems for defenders at the next level.
Just missed the cut – Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Arthur Lynch and Jake Murphy