The close of the evaluation period for the Class of 2014 produced only a couple big changes near the top of the Rivals100; but as the players jockeyed for position, the Rivals.com team of analysts saw the highlights and lowlights of each prospect.
Generally, the most difficult aspect of ranking players is making comparisons and projections, but it is the task most asked of analysts. With just days left until National Signing Day, the Rivals.com team has broken down the best of the best by comparing them to players on the NFL level.
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Today is the final installment of the series as we examine the nation's top two prospects, Da'Shawn Hand and Myles Garrett.
No. 1 Da'Shawn Hand, defensive end, Woodbridge (Va.) Woodbridge Senior
Da'Shawn HandClick THE HAND FILEHere to view this Link.
Position: Defensive end
Attributes: 6-foot-4, 260 pounds
Top Schools: Committed to Alabama
NFL Comparison: DeMarcus Ware, Dallas Cowboys
Tale of the Tape: There are a number of similarities between Ware and Hand. They're both about the same size right now and Hand will add more mass at Alabama. Rushing the passer off the edge is their specialty, but both are very strong at the point of attack and employ a number of different hand techniques to beat their man. One of the other things that makes Hand and Ware mirror images is their impressive athleticism, which allows them to be playmakers in the open field. Both of them have the speed and agility to drop into pass coverage and make plays in the open field.
When we saw him last: Hand was on a mission at the Under Armour All-America Game. Hand was mostly dominant on the practice field and turned in a very strong game. His strength surprised many of the offensive linemen and coaches throughout the week. Hand even took some snaps at defensive tackle for Team Nitro during the game. Hand's pass rushing techniques were extremely advanced and he played with such great leverage that many of the offensive linemen weren't able to move him off of his spot.
Analyst's take: "What is left to say about Hand that we haven't already said? He went wire to wire as the nation's top rated recruit after having an excellent camp season, junior and senior season and all-star game performance. Hand has a very big frame with room to fill out and is a tireless worker off the field that should do well at Alabama next year. Hand plays with great pad level and is very explosive off the line, which makes it very difficult for offensive linemen to stop him. He also has extremely advanced hand technique, which helps him shed blockers and make plays in the backfield." -- Adam Friedman, Rivals.com Mid-Atlantic analyst
Final word: "Hand and Ware are similar because they can play in a down position or standing up. At Alabama, Hand could be a Jack linebacker or a defensive end in a 3-4 defense or play many other roles. He has the frame of a large defensive end, the athleticism of an elite linebacker and he has an amazing work ethic. While Ware played with his hand down this year for the first time since college, he showed he could be effective any way you use him. I expect the same of Hand." - Mike Farrell, Rivals.com National Recruiting Director
No. 2 Myles Garrett, WDE, Arlington (Texas) Martin
Myles GarrettClick THE GARRETT FILEHere to view this Link.
Position: Weakside defensive end
Myles Garrett videosClick High school: Arlington (Texas) MartinHere to view this Link.
Attributes: 6-foot-4, 245 pounds
Top Schools: Committed to Texas A&M
NFL Comparison: Quinton Coples, New York Jets
Tale of the Tape: Coples has the size advantage between the two, but they are both long, athletic defenders who are capable of playing several positions on the defensive side of the ball. Both bring the size, strength, and athleticism to thrive in the trenches, and they are also comfortable and capable in space. Garrett will eventually grow to the same size as Coples. He just might be an inch or two shy.
When we last saw him: What Myles Garrett did in Florida at the Under Armour All-America game week was well-documented. He was a force to be reckoned with off the edge and he quickly handled his competition. He showed top level athleticism, strong technique and the ability to overwhelm and counter what the competition had in store. Then on game day, he continued to make impressive play after impressive play. He finished the game with six tackles (four for loss) and a sack, but the most impressive came on special teams as he ran down Isaiah McKenzie on a kickoff return to make a touchdown-saving tackle.
Analyst's take: "It does not take long to spot Myles Garrett in a crowd. He is a large individual and he does not have any bad weight on his frame. Once he steps on the field, he is quick to show he is an explosive playmaker capable of handling multiple blockers as well as being a dominant speed rusher off the edge. There were questions about his consistency as a playmaker over the years, but he put those questions to rest as a senior. He has established himself as a playmaker on each and every play and he has the athleticism to be used in a variety of way on the defensive side of the ball. It is easy to see he has the opportunity to be a difference-maker as soon as he arrives on campus." - Jason Howell, Rivals.com Midlands/Southwest analyst
Final word: "Coples is an elite and long pass rusher who used outside and counter moves to get to the quarterback, held the edge well, made plays with his length in the run game and disrupted passing lanes in college. And he has the elite athleticism to transition to a linebacker and hybrid role in the NFL, something coveted greatly these days. Garrett will be equally effective at Texas A&M and as he adds strength and weight, he will be even more difficult to deal with. Coples came out of high school as an elite prospect, but Garrett's upside is even greater and it wouldn't be a surprise to see him in the NFL as a 285-pound linebacker in a 3-4 set wreaking havoc everywhere." - Farrell
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