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              === Sneak peak at potential 2014 NFL Draft class ===
 
 By Phil Neuffer, Associate College Football Editor
 
 Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - The 2013 NFL Draft just ended but that
 doesn't mean we can't start looking ahead to next year's annual event.
 
 The 2013 class was considered by many to be one that lacked the flashier names
 and potential superstars of past years. That won't be the case a year from now
 with a ton of star power likely to be available.
 
 Chief among those players is South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney.
 The 6-foot-6 junior was an absolute force in 2012, terrorizing quarterbacks
 while playing in the SEC. To put that in perspective the conference set a NFL
 Draft record with 63 selections this year. Clowney has already been cutting
 his teeth against NFL-ready competition and with another year under his belt
 the transition to the professional level may be as seamless as any player
 before him.
 
 In 2012, Clowney was sixth in Heisman voting and finished tied for second
 nationally with 13.0 sacks. Clowney made a big statement in important games as
 well, such as when he recorded 4.5 sacks in a 27-12 win over rival Clemson.
 Perhaps his most memorable effort was the punishing hit he laid on Michigan's
 Vincent Smith in the Outback Bowl that was still making the rounds on
 highlight shows in April.
 
 Perhaps the only name that would grab more headlines next year than Clowney
 would be that of defending Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel. With the
 moniker 'Johnny Football' the Texas A&M freshman lit up the college football
 world last season en route to earning a trophy case full of awards and honors
 including the nation's highest. A stellar athlete with speed and an ability to
 make plays on the run, Manziel would bring instant excitement and publicity to
 any NFL team willing to make the pick. Manziel will be just a sophomore next
 season but after seeing Matt Barkley slip to the fourth round in this year's
 draft, Manziel may opt to come out in 2014.
 
 Another Aggie, offensive tackle Jake Matthews, might actually go higher than
 the quarterback he will be protecting this season. Offensive linemen are never
 considered the 'sexy' pick but every team is in constant need of talented
 players in the trenches. Matthews may just be the best option for any team
 trying to rebuild up front, especially if he can repeat as a First-Team All-
 SEC member.
 
 Another offensive linemen to watch is tackle Cyrus Kouandjio from the
 defending national champion Alabama Crimson Tide. At 6-foot-6 and 310 pounds
 he is the ideal height and size for the professional level and as was
 mentioned with Clowney, is already seeing some of the talent he could come up
 against once he starts playing on Sundays.
 
 Staying in the SEC, which seems to be the closest thing to an NFL feeder
 program at this point, another defensive player that could be picked day one
 in 2014 is Alabama's C.J. Mosley. The senior linebacker was a Consensus First-
 Team All-American and All-SEC performer in 2012 and a finalist for the Butkus
 Award. Mosley wasn't just great as an individual performer as he was one of
 the key cogs in the Crimson Tide's National Championship winning defense that
 ranked at the top of the nation in most statistical categories.
 
 Though they would like to make you think so, the SEC is not the only
 conference in college football and won't be the only conference to have
 players drafted early in the first round.
 
 Wide receiver Marqise Lee went into last season at USC as second fiddle to
 Robert Woods and without the name recognition of Matt Barkley. By year's end
 Lee was without a doubt the most dangerous offensive weapon for the Trojans
 and arguably of any team in the country. Lee won the Biletnikoff Award and was
 a consensus All-American selection in a sophomore season in which caught a FBS
 best 118 passes for 1,721 yards and 14 touchdowns.
 
 The Pac-12 will also have some defensive players at the top of many NFL team's
 draft boards ,especially if UCLA defensive end Anthony Barr lives up to the
 considerable hype he has accrued. Under first-year head coach Jim Mora, Barr
 really strived in his junior season as he recorded 13.0 sacks and 21.5
 tackles for loss en route to a First-Team All-Pac-12 selection. A talented and
 versatile athlete, Barr can shift from the end to outside linebacker which
 would make him extremely attractive to any professional squad.
 
 Speaking of defensive playmakers, cornerback Bradley Roby of Ohio State is
 another first-round lock if he continues to play to the degree he did in 2012.
 Though he did not post eye-popping numbers (63 total tackles, 17 passes
 defended, 2 INTs) in 2012, he still considered entering this year's draft.
 Buckeye fans will be thrilled to see him back on the field this season though,
 especially after he was such an integral part of an Ohio State team that went
 12-0.
 
 Next year might just be dominated by the state of South Carolina as Clemson's
 Tajh Boyd and Sammy Watkins could join Clowney at the top of the national
 rankings and in the top 10 of the 2014 NFL Draft.
 
 Like Roby, Boyd had to think before deciding to return to the Tigers for his
 senior season. After seeing fellow ACC member E.J. Manuel of Florida State be
 selected as the first quarterback in this year's draft, Boyd may be regretting
 that slightly but should also feel tremendously optimistic about 2014. Like
 Manuel, Boyd is a dual-threat quarterback that can run and pass. In 2012 alone
 he threw for 3,828 yards and 33 touchdowns, while rushing for 218 yards and
 five more scores. Like Manuel, Boyd was extremely accurate (67.2 completion
 percentage) but unlike Manuel, Boyd was actually named ACC Player of the Year.
 
 Watkins however, did not enjoy similar success in 2012. After smashing records
 and gaining national attention as a freshman in 2011, Watkins missed the first
 two games of 2012 due to an arrest and then once he returned, played in the
 shadow of DeAndre Hopkins for most of the year. Hopkins, and his 1,405
 receiving yards, were taken 27th overall in the 2013 Draft by the Houston
 Texas. That leaves a hole in the Clemson receiving corps that Watkins is more
 than capable of filling. Though his production suffered last season (57
 receptions, 708 yards, 3 TDs) Watkins is a freakish athlete with lethal speed
 that should return to form and in doing so, raise the eyebrows of a number of
 NFL scouts.
 
 There will be another signal caller that many teams may consider as the
 building block for their franchises in Louisville's Teddy Bridgewater. The
 knock against Bridgewater is of course that he played in the diluted Big East
 Conference and even worse this season will be in the American Athletic
 Conference. Those aren't exactly the same leagues as other star players on
 this list. However Bridgewater seemed just fine against some of the nation's
 best in January when he led the Cardinals to a steam-rolling of the SEC's
 Florida Gators in the Sugar Bowl. Bridgewater threw for 266 yards and two
 scores and was named the game's MVP, all while dealing with the country's No.
 1 pass defense. Bridgewater was sixth in the nation in completion percentage
 during the regular season and could be even better this fall.
 
 
 
 04/30 09:39:44 ET