After last year's draft, Kevin Colbert said there were 6 to 8 "special" players in that draft. He thought Jarvis Jones was one of them. I did not (although that's not the point of this topic). I'm sure we're all interested in who he will think the "special" players are this year. It seems obvious that a team will draft a player they think is special if given the opportunity, but what it is that makes a player "special" is sometimes a bit of a mystery.
Sometimes it's easy to spot a "special" player. Take Calvin Johnson, aka Megatron, for example. In 2007, he backed up his impressive play on tape with freakish numbers at the combine. At 6'5" 239, he ran a 4.35 forty and had a 42" vertical. You would literally have to be blind not to notice that he was special.
Typically, what deems a player special is a freakish (or at least superior) athletic ability compared to an average player at his position coupled with excellence demonstrated on game tape. A player who is a "freak" athlete but doesn't back it up on tape is often called a "project" or a "high upside" guy. Likewise, a player who looks good on tape, but only has average athletic ability for the positon is sometimes called a "hard-worker" or "high motor guy" or he has a "good football IQ", or "just a football player". Both of these types, however, are typically not labelled as special in terms of where they rank on the draft board. So, in the Colbert example above, these would be the guys outside of the top 8 but probably somewhere in the top 40 or so.
So, who are the special guys this year? I will throw out some possibilities, and I'm sure you can add a few or agrue a few off of this list...
DE Jadeveon Clowney - at 6'5 1/4" 275 he is expected to blow up the combine drills (including running a 4.5ish forty). I think most will agree he's a prototype 43DE in the mold of JPP or the original "freak" Jevon Kearse.
OLB Anthony Barr - at 6'4" 248, like Clowney, he is expected to blow up the combine (and run a sub 4.5). He was productive in '13 but is still a bit unpolished.
QB Johnny Manziel - one of the most productive college players ever even if he's short for a QB at 5'11 3/4" 210. With the success of Russell Wilson, who's similar in size, love him or hate him "Johnny Football" will likely be considered specia.l He's faster than most RBs yet he has an NFL caliber arm.
WR Sammy Watkins - even though at 6'0 1/2" 205 he isn't considered a "big" WR, and even though he might not run a sub 4.4 (although it would be shocking if he doesn't run a sub 4.5), he has shown elite skills in his ability to get open, make the catch, and seperate after the catch. Given his resume of game tape, it would be hard not to call him "special".
OT Jake Matthews - now here is where it gets harder. Jake has average size at 6'5" 305 and likely won't blow anyone away with his combine numbers. However, his pedigree (son of HOFer Bruce) and his textbook technique seem like he was literally born to play OT in the NFL (like the Manning's were to play QB).
Ok, time now for you to chime in!