With March Madness kicking into high gear this week and pro-day season in full bloom, here's a look at five 2014 NFL Draft slam dunks -- five beliefs about this year's prospects that I feel strongly about.
Sammy Watkins will not be latest top-10 WR bust
I'm usually very leery about drafting a wide receiver in the top 10 -- in the past decade, only a handful of WRs drafted that early have proven worthy of such an early selection. I'm not worried about Watkins flaming out, though. He's just so talented and checks off every box you want to fill when evaluating an elite receiver. He has the requisite size, strength, speed and hands, and he competes. He really worked at his craft last season and improved overall as a technician. Plus, he's so dynamic and explosive. I wouldn't think about pumping the brakes on him.
Khalil Mack will prove doubters wrong
A linebacker from the University of Buffalo in the Mid-American Conference being talked about as a top-five talent? He's just another fashionable fast-rising small-school sleeper, right? Not at all. The excitement about Mack gives some people pause, but not me. When you turn on the game film and watch him, he does everything you look for in an elite edge player. He plays the run like a linebacker should. He can rush the passer from the edge. He drops into coverage and makes plays on the ball downfield. Mack has been an overlooked guy (he was lightly recruited as a college prospect) who plays with an edge on the field. It's as if he still wants to prove something, and with some skeptics still remaining given his roots, I think he'll be able to keep that edge.
Andrew Luck isn't walking through that door
There is no Andrew Luck-type quarterback prospect in this year's draft, as this week's pro-day workouts by Teddy Bridgewater and Blake Bortles have only further confirmed. That said, Bridgewater, Bortles and Johnny Manziel might all still be drafted in the top 10, and one of them might still go No. 1 overall to the Texans. The need is there for teams drafting early, but none of the top quarterbacks available this year inspire the kind of confidence teams had in Luck two years ago.
Jake Matthews is draft's safest pick
It's almost been lost among the deservedly rave reviews for Greg Robinson and Taylor Lewan coming off their NFL Scouting Combine performances, but Matthews had a very good showing in Indianapolis, too. In fact, he actually outperformed Lewan and Robinson in the three-cone drills and 20-yard shuttle than. Despite that, Matthews, who was once considered the top tackle in this draft, hasn't received the same kind of buzz that Lewan and Robinson have this offseason. I still view Matthews, the son of Hall of Famer Bruce Matthews, as a plug-and-play guy that an NFL team will be very happy with for the next decade.
Teams will regret passing on Jason Verrett
I call Verrett the safe pick that isn't exactly safe because his situation reminds me of Alphonso Smith's in 2009. I was a big fan of Smith's coming out of Wake Forest that year, and just like Verrett, he was an undersized corner that I thought wasn't getting his due. The Broncos were apparently high on Smith, too, because they gave up a 2010 first-round pick to trade up and draft him in the second round, and he never lived up to that billing. I'm going back to the well again on Verrett, and I'm betting on him being a terrific player. He was highly productive in college and put on a show at the combine -- he tied for the second-best time among corners with a 4.38 40-yard dash and tied for third with a 39-inch vertical jump. He might not be drafted in the first round, though, and that's because he's 5-foot-9 at a time when NFL teams want longer, bigger corners. To me, there's no doubt he's a first-round talent.
Follow Charles Davis on Twitter @CFD22.