There's no such thing as a sure thing in the NFL draft. There are, however, safer picks than others.
Clowney is the near-consensus No. 1 prospect in the draft. He's a physical freak that has shown he can be a dominant player on the college level. The problem is, he hasn't always been consistent, especially with effort. When you've been talked about as a once-in-a-decade type player, the bar has been set high, maybe even unrealistically high.
Manziel has been hyped so much, for so long, that anything less than NFL stardom could be viewed as a letdown. He's got star qualities on and off the field, but will his free-styling college game translate to the next level? And will his off-the-field issues follow him to the NFL? The answers to these two questions will go a long way in determining what category -- boom or bust -- Manziel will belong to five years from now.
Benjamin, who left school early after catching the game-winner for FSU in the National Championship Game, is a late bloomer and something of a one-year wonder. He has the potential to become a legitimate No. 1 receiver. He's anything but a finished product, but teams love his size (6-foot-4, 240 pounds) and competitiveness.
A converted basketball player and tight end, Hageman has started at defensive tackle for only two years at Minnesota. Maturity issues have held him back, but he has a ton of upside.
Henderson was a five-star recruit coming out of high school, but he never put it all together at Miami where he was a perennial disappointment. He revealed at the Senior Bowl what many had suspected for a long time: His college suspensions were related to failed drug tests. He has first-round talent but is now considered a late-round pick.
A year ago at this time, Thomas was viewed as a potential top-five pick for 2014, but his stock plummeted after a mysterious senior season at Virginia Tech in which accuracy was his biggest issue. He has a lot of attributes NFL teams look for at QB (height, arm strength, mobility), but his overall talent is crude. He'll need a good quarterback coach in the NFL who has patience. The payoff could be big.
Some will tell you that Lyerla has as much, maybe more, talent and potential as Eric Ebron, a sure-fire first-round pick. But things have gone so awry for Lyerla over the last 12 months that he has been removed from several team draft boards and might go undrafted altogether. If Lyerla could ever straighten out his life, he could end up being a big-time steal for some team.