NFL Draft Stock: Who is Rising and Falling?
T.O. Whenham of Doc's Sports Predictions
The Combine is fading in the rear-view mirror, and we are almost into the last month before the NFL Draft. Things seem to be changing almost every day. Houston's acquisition of QB Matt Schaub from Atlanta changes their draft priorities, and the ripple effects of that move could change the needs of others as well. With free agency prices going absolutely through the roof, some teams are now looking to the draft to fill vacancies that they were originally planning to fill with veterans. The closer we get to the draft, the more intense the scrutiny is over the players, and the more fluid the opinions of the prospects seems to be. A player that seems to walk on water one day can suddenly seem to be unable to walk and chew gum, much less play football, the next day. Here's a look at eight players that have seen their draft stock change significantly in recent days:
Calvin Johnson - From what we have heard about the Georgia Tech wideout, I can only assume that he would have the ability to turn straw into gold, water into wine, and to cure both cancer and world hunger in his spare time. In the last six weeks or so he has gone from the best receiver in the draft to the best player in the draft to, seemingly, the best player of all time. I fully expect he'll skip the playing part and just head right into the Hall of Fame. He was so good at the Combine, and so impressive since, that it seems possible that Oakland may even trade for David Carr or another quarterback so that they can draft Johnson in the top spot instead of JaMarcus Russell.
Michael Bush - The best thing that has happened to Bush is the trade of Willis McGahee. Not only does that move further show that a running back can have tremendous value after coming back from a serious leg injury, but it also means that the Bills have the need for a franchise running back, and the seeming desire to pick one early on the first day. Bush hasn't run yet, and won't until his Pro Day at the end of the month, but his impressive playing resume and the mystery and intrigue of his position has made him more attractive.
Drew Stanton - JaMarcus Russell and Brady Quinn are clearly the top two quarterbacks, and no player has emerged as the third choice. Drew Stanton seems to be making the best statement lately. He worked out well at the Combine, and drew rave reviews at his Pro Day. It seems now that Stanton is viewed as having low-first round talent, and his emergence could ease much of the urgency of teams needing a quarterback and considering moving up for one of the top two.
Darrelle Revis - Pittsburgh's cornerback has long been seen as one of the top two cornerback prospects along with Michigan's Leon Hall. The knock against Revis has been that he may not have the speed needed to be the true shutdown corner that teams value so highly. He shattered that illusion at his Pro Day, running the 40 in a speedy 4.38 seconds. Hall hasn't had a brilliant postseason, so Revis may even move to the top of the list with this run.
Dwayne Bowe - Behind Johnson there are an absolute mess of talented wide receivers, and none have been able to differentiate themselves through the process. Bowe seems to have helped his own case. He's a senior, so the added experience and maturity is an asset if he has the other tools to match. Over the last month, Bowe has shown that he has some of those key assets - speed and determination. After a somewhat disappointing Combine in which he ran a 40 as slow as 4.61 seconds, he showed the desire to improve, and he ran a 4.40 at his Pro Day less than a month later.
Alan Branch - Branch is the prototypical moron athlete. The Michigan defensive tackle was viewed as the best at his position by a wide margin, and he was on course to be a certain top 10 pick. All he had to do was get into the best shape of his life and prove he was worth the attention and the millions of dollars. Instead, he showed up at his Pro Day overweight and out of shape, and has shown flashes of lousy attitude. Because of his incredible skill, Branch is still likely to go high -- probably to San Francisco -- but if he falls at all he has no one to blame but himself.
Jamaal Anderson - The NFL loves guys who can pile up the sacks, and the defensive end from Arkansas can certainly do that. He's among the best prospects in this draft at his position, but this doesn't seem to be a great year for end rushers. His problems emerged at his Pro Day. His numbers were fine - 4.75 seconds for the 40, and 22 bench presses. Those numbers weren't eye-popping, though, and they certainly didn't blow scouts away. Given the fact that he wasn't a lock going into those drills, he hasn't helped his draft case.
Rufus Alexander - The Big 12 is a tough conference, so being the Defensive Player of the Year in the conference means something. Oklahoma's outside linebacker was deserving of those accolades, but he hasn't shone since. He ran slowly at the Combine, and he didn't improve enough at his Pro Day. Given that his worth is tied so closely to his athleticism, this setback could cause Alexander to plummet out of the first round. Some reports even speculate that he won't even hear his name in the second round.
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