Boyd riding high in early 2014 projections

When Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd got his draft evaluation back late last year, he was told he would be a mid-round pick. In a relatively weak class, no less.

Boyd said thanks but no thanks, and decided to return to school.

As we sit here today, Boyd stands to rake in millions upon millions more.

His draft stock has shot up the charts -- this despite being a part of a much stronger quarterback class in 2014. A guy who was told he is too short, has to work on his footwork and make better decisions all of a sudden looks like a can't-miss draft prospect. Funny what a gritty performance over highly regarded LSU will do for a guy.

ESPN Insider Brock Huard has Boyd as the No. 2 quarterbackInsider available for the 2014 draft, right behind Teddy Bridgewater of Louisville. Huard writes, in part:

Boyd became the face of Clemson's program in 2012 and has first-round upside heading into 2013. The LSU finale and the punishment Boyd endured while delivering in the clutch time and again turned heads. Plus, his third-down tape is better than any prospect in the 2013 class.

Clemson's opening game against Georgia will pit Boyd against the next top prospect on our list, Aaron Murray, and could serve as a platform to greatly boost one or both of their draft stocks.

Huard is not alone. Way too early mock drafts from CBSSports.com and SI.com list Boyd as the No. 3 player off the board, behind Bridgewater and South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney.

The disclaimer, of course, is that these mock drafts and projections mean absolutely diddly squat in May. And they will mean diddly squat next February, and next March, too. Draft stocks slide up and down. There is an entire season to play. Nobody knows how Boyd will play this year. Look at what happened to Matt Barkley a year ago. He went from surefire first-round pick to fourth-round selection in the span of a few months.

But these mocks clearly show a level of respect Boyd has only recently earned. He is now on the national radar as an elite quarterback. That was not the case a year ago. Boyd wants all eyes on him. He wants to be the best quarterback in the country, and he certainly wants to be rated higher than his good friend, Murray. During my spring trip to Clemson last month, Boyd told me, "I want to be able to outperform him. I don’t want question marks about my game after the season."

He is off to a good start without having played a down.