2012 NFL Mock Draft: 4 Players Who Have Increased Stocks Through Bowl Games
The College Bowl season is one of the last chances for prospects to make a strong impressions on NFL teams.
Finishing on a strong note is a very important part of the draft process; so much of a player's draft stock depends on hype and buzz.
One of the best examples of the importance of a strong bowl appearance is JaMarcus Russell. He used his strong performance in the 2006 Sugar Bowl as a spring board to earning the No. 1-overall selection. In that game, he passed for over 350 yards and helped defeat Notre Dame 41-14
Jeff Fuller: Wide Receiver, Texas A&M
Texas A&M's Jeff Fuller has first-round talent, but injuries and inconsistency really lowered his draft stock.
However, Fuller's seven catches, 119 yards and one touchdown in the Meineke Car Care Bowl will help turn things around.
This performance shows that a healthy Fuller has the capability to make explosive plays. His combination of size and speed makes him a great target. NFL quarterbacks love receivers like Fuller because they can make plays on poorly thrown balls.
Fuller hasn't completely made up the ground he lost, but his strong bowl performance has him going in the right direction.
Whitney Mercilus: Defensive End, Illinois
Illinois' Whitney Mercilus capped off a breakout season by recording two sacks in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl.
This season, Mercilus proved to be a disruptive force, compiling 14.5 sacks and 19.5 tackles for loss.
Due to his quickness and motor, he is one of the top pass-rushing prospects in the 2012 NFL Draft. His ability to fire off the ball and attack the edge really makes things difficult for opposing offenses.
NFL defenses are always looking for the next great pass-rusher., and Mercilus is a potential fit for either a 4-3 or 3-4 defensive system.
Tyler Eifert: Tight End, Notre Dame
Notre Dame's Tyler Eifert saved one of his best performances of the season for the final game. His six-catch, 90-yard performance in the Champs Sports Bowl was very impressive.
His play elevated his stock enough that Eifert is now considering declaring for the draft. Eifert's athleticism and reliable hands have put him squarely in the second-round discussion.
The NFL has seen a resurgence of the tight end position. Players like Jimmy Graham and Rob Gronkowski show that tight ends can make major impacts.
Isaiah Pead: Running Back, Cincinnati
Cincinnati's Isaiah Pead quietly had a great senior season, rushing for over 1,200 yards and 12 touchdowns.
However, he used the bright lights of the Liberty Bowl to get his name out on more of a national level. He finished the game with 28 carries, 149 yards and one touchdown.
Pead is a quick-twitch athlete who possesses great quickness. He does a great job pressing the hole and exploding into the second level. Due to his speed, he is able to out run most defensive angles.
Pead's ability to score from anywhere on the field will make him a hot commodity come April.
Full First-Round 2012 NFL Mock Draft
1. Indianapolis Colts: Andrew Luck, Quarterback, Stanford
2. Miami Dolphins (from STL): Robert Griffin III, Quarterback, Baylor (*projected trade)
3. Minnesota Vikings: Jonathan Martin, Offensive Tackle, Stanford
4. Cleveland Browns: Trent Richardson, Running Back, Alabama
5. Jacksonville Jaguars: Matt Kalil, Offensive Tackle, USC
6. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Morris Claiborne, Cornerback, LSU
7. Washington Redskins: Justin Blackmon, Wide Receiver, Oklahoma State
8. St. Louis Rams (from MIA): Alshon Jeffery, Wide Receiver, South Carolina (*projected trade)
9. Carolina Panthers: Quinton Coples, Defensive End, North Carolina
10. Buffalo Bills: Courtney Upshaw, Linebacker, Alabama
11. Kansas City Chiefs: Riley Reiff, Offensive Tackle, Iowa
12. Arizona Cardinals: Zach Brown, Linebacker, North Carolina
13. Philadelphia Eagles: Luke Kuechly, Linebacker, Boston College
14. Seattle Seahawks: Landry Jones, Quarterback, Oklahoma
15. San Diego Chargrs: Vontaze Burfict, Linebacker, Arizona State
16. Chicago Bears: Michael Floyd, Wide Receiver, Notre Dame
17. Tennessee Titans: Dre Kirkpatrick, Cornerback, Alabama
18. Dallas Cowboys: Janoris Jenkins, Cornerback, North Alabama
19. New York Jets: Melvin Ingram, Linebacker, South Carolina
20. Cincinnati Bengals (from OAK): David DeCastro, Guard, Stanford
21. New York Giants: Mike Adams, Offensive Tackle, Ohio State
22. Denver Broncos: Devon Still, Defensive Tackle, Penn State
23. Houston Texans: Brandon Thompson, Defensive Tackle, Clemson
24. Cincinnati Bengals: Alfonzo Dennard, Cornerback, Nebraska
25. Cleveland Browns (from ATL): Kendall Wright, Wide Receiver, Baylor
26. Detroit Lions: Stephon Gilmore, Cornerback, South Carolina
27. Pittsburgh Steelers: Cordy Glenn, Offensive Line, Georgia
28. New England Patriots (from NO): Whitney Mercilus, Defensive End, Illinois
29. San Francisco 49ers: Peter Konz, Center, Wisconsin
30. New England Patriots: Mark Barron, Safety, Alabama
31. Baltimore Ravens: Zebrie Sanders, Offensive Tackle, Florida State
32. Green Bay Packers: Ronnell Lewis, Linebacker, Oklahoma