As I was saying, it’s never too early to talk about the 2014 NFL Draft. And I bring this up because NFL Draft Scout’s Dane Brugler recently ranked the Hokies’ draft prospects through CBSSports.com.
He has plenty to say about each, so I suggest clicking on the link, but the order was what was striking to me. Here it is:
- 1. DE James Gayle
- 2. CB Antone Exum
- 3. CB Kyle Fuller
- 4. QB Logan Thomas
He then lists six other Hokies who could be in consideration to be drafted, with safety Kyshoen Jarrett the only underclassman on the list.
A couple thoughts about the rankings …
– The first thing that jumps out is that Thomas is fourth. Once prematurely considered a potential No. 1 pick in the draft prior to his junior season, this shows just how much his stock has fallen in the last year. Granted, he could have a resurgence in his senior year under new coordinator Scot Loeffler, but some of his faults are out there now, and when it comes to NFL Draft stock, that’s tough to recover from. Making matters tougher for Thomas is the fact that the 2014 draft could be loaded at quarterback, possibly with Louisville’s Teddy Bridgewater, Clemson’s Tajh Boyd, Alabama’s A.J. McCarron, Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel, Oregon’s Marcus Mariota, Georgia’s Aaron Murray, Ohio State’s Braxton Miller and North Carolina’s Bryn Renner. He’ll need to have a good year to jump back up into that first-round discussion, but given his measurables, it’d be foolish to think it’s impossible.
– Interesting to see Gayle No. 1. EPSN’s Mel Kiper Jr. had Gayle as one of his defensive ends to watch just outside of the top five at that position. After back-to-back second-team All-ACC years, Gayle could use a big season in sacks to raise his stock considerably. He had seven in 2011 but only five last year. A double digit performance would help him immensely.
– Brugler mentions that Exum could have been No. 1 on the list if not for the ACL injury he suffered in January. That makes sense. Having played both safety and cornerback, he has a versatility that NFL teams are looking for. And he really adapted to the cornerback position by the end of the last year, establishing himself as one of the best in the league. If he can come back from the ACL — and he appears to be on his way — his draft stock might not be irreparably damaged, especially with how common it is for players to come back from such an injury.
– Looking at the whole list, Virginia Tech should have a pretty good defensive line and secondary this year. Brugler lists Gayle, J.R. Collins and Derrick Hopkins to watch on the line and Exum, Fuller and Jarrett in the secondary. That’s three-quarters of both of those starting units.