Stock Up, Stock Down for NFL's Most Talked-About Young Players
NFL teams remain successful because of their ability to develop young players. The offseason is where these players improve and earn opportunities to be a part of the game plan. This is why it's important to monitor the offseason stock of each player.
Off-field distractions and lack of participation in workouts will have a major impact on the contribution from a specific player. Conversely, dedication and hard work could change the course of a player's career.
Stock Up: Titus Young, Detroit Lions
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
According to Anwar Richardson of MLive.com, Titus Young has looked unstoppable in OTAs. This is some positive news after Young's physical altercation with a teammate that cost him some practice time. The Detroit Lions need Young to develop into a legitimate option opposite Calvin Johnson.
In order for the Lions' offense to continue running on all cylinders, they must have multiple options in the passing game. Young's quickness and big-play ability make him the most likely to fill this role. Opposing defenses must ensure they respect Young's speed.
Maybe those few missed practices are what Young needed to get his head on straight.
Stock Down: Justin Blackmon, Jacksonville Jaguars
Rick Dole/Getty Images
Justin Blackmon's recent arrest is a major concern for the Jacksonville Jaguars. These types of poor decisions are what will stop him from reaching his full potential. Jacksonville's need for a playmaking wide receiver makes Blackmon's off-field issues even more troublesome.
The Jaguars are counting on Blackmon to come in and immediately provide Blaine Gabbert with a reliable target. Gabbert's development depends on having the proper weapons in place. Neither the team nor Gabbert can afford Blackmon missing time because of a suspension.
This issue already appears likely to cost Blackmon some money, as the Jaguars are reworking parts of his contract.
Stock Up: Jarvis Jenkins, Washington Redskins
An article in the Washington Post outlines how Jarvis Jenkins appears fully recovered from last season's knee injury. Jenkins has a good combination of quickness and size that allows him to play multiple positions. I expect him to be a major contributor this season on a defense that continues to improve.
Jenkins' versatility will allow the Washington Redskins to use him at all three defensive line spots. However, his best fit will be at the 5-technique spot. A fully healthy Jenkins will improve the Redskins' run defense, as well as give them a disruptive player in the passing game.
Ourlads Scouting Service has a great breakdown of every team's depth chart. These are not official team depth charts, but what Ourlads has projected. As it stands, they have Jenkins slated to start ahead of Adam Carriker.
Stock Down: Montario Hardesty, Cleveland Browns
Jason Miller/Getty Images
According to Terry Pluto of the Plain Dealer, Montario Hardesty could be on the roster bubble this year. The Cleveland Browns didn't draft Trent Richardson with the No. 3 pick to have him share carries. Richardson will receive the bulk of the carries, which limits the need for a great number of running backs on the roster.
The fact that Hardesty doesn't contribute much on special teams only hurts his chance to stick on the roster. Hardesty's injury history also impacts the Browns' ability to keep him on the roster. Teams prefer to keep durable players rather than those that are injury prone.
Even if Hardesty does remain on the roster, he figures to have a limited role in the offense.
Stock Up: Ryan Mathews, San Diego Chargers
Jeff Gross/Getty Images
According to Peter King of Sports Illustrated, Norv Turner and the San Diego Chargers plan on feeding Ryan Mathews the ball this season. This, combined with the fact that Mike Tolbert signed with the Carolina Panthers, will give Mathews a chance to rack up some big-time numbers.
One concern is Mathews' health, as he has suffered some injuries during his career. An increased workload opens the possibility of injuries and durability issues. Mathews needs to seize this opportunity and start to live up to his high draft status.
A solid running game would go a long way toward balancing the Chargers' offensive attack.
Stock Down: Vladimir Ducasse, New York Jets
Bob Levey/Getty Images
ESPN New York lays out how Vladimir Ducasse's career has been a major disappointment, and it only continues to go downhill.
The New York Jets selected Ducasse in the second round with the hopes that he could develop into an effective starter. However, Ducasse hasn't been able to overtake players like Wayne Hunter and Matt Slauson for a starting role.
It appears the Jets might have reached for a player incapable of succeeding in the NFL. Ducasse was seen as a project player who needed time to develop, but at this point, he should have shown more development.
It's possible that Ducasse may never get another legitimate shot with the Jets.
Stock Up, Eric Hagg, Cleveland Browns
Matt Sullivan/Getty Images
As of now, Eric Hagg has the upper hand to win one of the starting safety positions, according to Mary Kay Cabot of the Plain Dealer. Hagg will be battling Usama Young in training camp for the right to begin the season as the starter.
The fact that he'll head into training camp receiving first-team reps means it's his job to lose. A steady performance is all he needs to keep hold of the job.
The Cleveland Browns are looking to get younger and build a foundation. Hagg is four years younger than Young and possesses more upside.
Cleveland knows what to expect from Young, but it has yet to see all Hagg has to offer.
Stock Down: Nick Fairley, Detroit Lions
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
Nick Fairley's off-field issues have really raised some questions about his future. One of the main reasons Fairley fell to the Lions was because of concerns about his maturity. At this point, it's safe to say those concerns were warranted.
Despite some flashes, Fairley's NFL career has been more about injuries and poor decisions than dominant play. This year will be important to Fairley's future in the league, and it hasn't started off on a great note. There's no doubting his upside, but he'll need focus and determination to fulfill his potential.
The combination of Fairley and Ndamukong Suh has the potential to be a dominant force in the league, but only if Fairley can hold up his end of the bargain.
Stock Up: Quinton Coples, New York Jets
Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images
According to Rich Cimini on ESPN New York, defensive coordinator Mike Pettine says the New York Jets will feature some 4-3 alignments this season. This is great news for Quinton Coples, who will be featured at defensive end in that alignment. New York's plan to use him at the 5-technique spot might not be the best use of his talents.
However, utilizing him in the 4-3 will give him better opportunities to succeed. In that role, he'll have more opportunities to rush the passer. His quickness and size combination gives Coples the potential to be a dominant pass-rusher in the NFL.
In the 5-technique role, Coples will have fewer opportunities to attack the edge.
Stock Down: Michael McAdoo, Baltimore Ravens
Patrick Smith/Getty Images
Ravens beat writer Aaron Wilson tweeted that Michael McAdoo ruptured his Achilles tendon and will miss the entire 2012 season. Injuries are always terrible to see, especially when they happen to a player who has a chance to earn significant playing time.
Other injuries and losing players to free agency have opened up plenty of opportunities on the Baltimore Ravens' defense. McAdoo would have been one of the players given a shot to significantly increase his playing time. The Ravens could have used him at both outside linebacker and defensive end.
With the injury to Terrell Suggs, McAdoo's ability to generate pressure would have been beneficial.
As it stands, other players now get the opportunity to seize an increased role. McAdoo could find himself on the roster bubble because of this injury.
Stock Up: Kendall Wright, Tennessee Titans
Al Bello/Getty Images
Kendall Wright has caught the eye of Matt Hasselbeck, and he appears on the way to earning a major role in the offense.
The Tennessee Titans drafted Wright to provide an explosive element to the offense. His addition not only benefits Hasselbeck, but also helps players like Kenny Britt and Chris Johnson.
However, it's Jake Locker who should get the most benefit from the addition of Wright. Locker is the future in Tennessee, and the more weapons at his disposal, the better chance he has to succeed.
Wright brings a lot of versatility, as he's able to play on the outside and in the slot. He'll help the Titans stretch the field and work the underneath routes.
Stock Down: Jonathan Baldwin, Kansas City Chiefs
Jamie Squire/Getty Images
According to the Kansas City Star, Jonathan Baldwin has been suffering from migraines that have cost him some practice time. Migraines are an unpredictable ailment and could force a player out of the lineup at any time.
The most current example of migraines affecting a player is Percy Harvin. The Minnesota Vikings are constantly dealing with the possibility that Harvin could be forced out of the lineup.
Baldwin's issues with migraines seem to have just surfaced, and the severity of them isn't known. However, this is something the Kansas City Chiefs must keep an eye on.
Stock Up: Jake Locker, Tennessee Titans
Andy Lyons/Getty Images
Mike Munchak is giving Jake Locker a fair shot to win the starting quarterback job. Matt Hasselbeck might win the battle, but the fact that Locker is getting a chance means he is showing development.
The Tennessee Titans just missed making the playoffs last season, and they might feel that Locker has the ability to take this team to the next level.
The biggest concern with Locker coming out of college was his accuracy and ability to read defenses. However, the time spent learning and observing Hasselbeck should have helped him improve in these areas.
It's also worth noting that Tennessee will feature the same offense as last season. Locker's familiarity with the playbook should help him understand the game plan. Feeling comfortable with the playbook will allow Locker to play without hesitation.
Stock Down: Ramses Barden, New York Giants
Jim Rogash/Getty Images
Ramses Barden's chances to earn a role within the New York Giants' offense are running out. When the Giants drafted Barden, many felt that he could develop into the next Plaxico Burress. However, inconsistency has kept him from making an impact.
The Giants' decision to draft Rueben Randle in the second round has put Barden on notice. Randle's presence means Barden must have a stellar offseason if he hopes to see the field. New York wouldn't have invested such a high draft pick if it felt that Barden was primed for a breakout season.