Stock Up, Stock Down for 2013 NFL Draft Prospects, Week 3 Edition
Who wants to be the top quarterback prospect in the 2013 NFL draft class? After three weeks, it would seem that no one wants the pressure of being the top man.
Matt Barkley, Logan Thomas and Tyler Wilson make up the large majority of quarterbacks picked to be the No. 1 overall player at the position, but each had a bad outing, and their stock could be harmed in unfixable ways.
Which players are moving up the board to overtake the Big Three at quarterback? Here's our weekly stock report on 10 names to know for the 2013 draft.
Stock Up: Geno Smith, West Virginia
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Not only is the West Virginia quarterback the leader in the Heisman race right now, but his draft stock is shooting through the roof.
Geno Smith is an intriguing prospect, and one who is very tough to scout. Smith's strengths are magnified by a smart West Virginia offensive scheme, and it's tough to see if Smith is truly great or if he's just found a perfect fit in a scheme.
What's for sure is that Smith's stock is rising each week. Some of that is due to the poor quarterback play from the other top prospects (more on that later), but Smith is dominating in his own right. NFL teams will see a fast, strong quarterback who has the arm to thread the ball downfield and you can't blame them if they see a little of Robert Griffin III in Geno Smith.
Smith has dominated in 2012 without facing marquee competition. That will change once West Virginia faces Texas on October 6.
Stock Down: Sean Porter, Texas A&M
Before the 2012 season began, it was easy to talk about Sean Porter filling the role of Von Miller in the Texas A&M defense. The athletic, rangy outside linebacker looked like the next Aggie defender to dominate the scene in college football.
And then Kevin Sumlin did something odd—he changed Porter's position and responsibilities.
Primarily a pass-rusher before the 2012 season, Porter is now lining up more as an inside linebacker. Playing behind the defensive tackles, Porter is no longer attacking the edge and rushing the quarterback, instead he's dropping into coverage and playing read-based football.
Porter's strength was his pass-rushing skill set, and while developing in coverage will help him become a better all-around player, his draft stock is sinking as he escapes the spotlight.
Stock Up: Johnathan Franklin, UCLA
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When you put up two straight 200-yard rushing performances, people are going to take notice. When one of those games is against Nebraska, your draft stock is going to see a rise.
Johnathan Franklin entered the year as a late-round running back prospect on my board. He didn't show great skills in 2011 but was seen as a solid running back who could be a change-of-pace guy at the next level. Franklin has flipped his script so far in 2012.
Where Franklin didn't stand out in 2011, he's breaking tackles and running past defenders en route to jaw-dropping statistics against good defenses. If Franklin can keep this up, his stock could move from Round 7 into the Round 3 range.
Stock Down: Andre Ellington, Clemson
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Andre Ellington burst onto the scene with a 228-yard performance in the season opener against Auburn, setting him up for a season that many thought would propel him into the first round of the NFL draft. And then reality set in.
Since his 228-yard game, Ellington has rushed for totals of 41 and 59 yards against Ball State and Furman, respectively. Not good.
Ellington's stock has cooled considerably. His hot start goes to show that raising a player based on one game is a dangerous habit to fall into—good or bad.
Stock Up: Chase Thomas, Stanford
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USC's loss to Stanford for the fourth straight year should be no surprise to anyone who has spent time watching Chase Thomas dominate in the Cardinal defense.
The outside linebacker prospect doesn't have flashy measurables, but he's a solid football player who doesn't make mistakes. Thomas' read-and-react talent has a way of putting him around the ball, especially in big moments.
Thomas is more Courtney Upshaw than Whitney Mercilus, meaning he's not a great athlete but instead an overall all-around player. That ability will get him drafted in the early rounds of the 2013 draft.
Stock Down: Aaron Murray, Georgia
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There are three starting quarterbacks in the NFL right now who are under 6'2". Drew Brees, Russell Wilson and Michael Vick. All three are incredibly mobile, not to mention rare in a league of giants at the position.
Aaron Murray is listed at 6'1", but he doesn't look that size on the field. Murray's height will be the preeminent issue with his draft stock. Much like Russell Wilson last year, Murray is smaller than anyone would like, but unlike Wilson he's not displaying the field vision to overcome his lack of height.
Murray is a very good college quarterback, but realistically that's his ceiling. His struggles to scan the field and find targets outside the intermediate zones will be the death of his NFL potential.
Stock Up: Chance Warmack, Alabama
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Being the best offensive lineman on the Alabama Crimson Tide line is quite the accomplishment, and Chance Warmack is clearly the best of the pro prospects on this starting five.
Warmack ranks as the top interior offensive lineman in the country right now. His strength and agility make him an ideal prospect for a man or zone-blocking system at the NFL level. His mean streak makes him dominant when he engages defenders, and that's a small trait that NFL scouts will fall in love with.
Warmack has a shot to be drafted higher than David DeCastro was in 2012, and he even has a chance to be the better all-around draft prospect.
Stock Down: Matt Barkley, USC
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One of my fundamental beliefs in player evaluation is that statistics really don't matter in the big picture. Whether Matt Barkley throws for 500 yards in a game or 200, much of that depends on the players around him and the defense he's playing. Statistics do not matter to me.
What matters is actual performance. How does Barkley get to his 500 yards, or what good decisions did he make? Every game can tell us something about a player, and Barkley's meltdown against Stanford tells us a lot.
It's incredibly tough to teach pocket presence when a quarterback doesn't want to be hit, and after watching Barkley play the Stanford defense it's evident he doesn't want to be hit. Barkley, in my estimation, looked afraid of the pass rush. The poor decisions to follow were all a result of Barkley fading from the pocket and trying to avoid the Cardinal pass rush.
The belief that Matt Barkley is this elite quarterback prospect never computed for me, and after Saturday's debacle, that should be clear to all watching.
Stock Up: Justin Hunter, Tennessee
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Justin Hunter is back.
After missing most of the 2011 season with an ACL injury, Hunter has proved that the potential we saw flashes of last season are legit. Hunter has been on a tear so far this season, showing the burst and body control that will make him a very high pick in the 2013 class.
Hunter probably can't challenge Keenan Allen as the top wide receiver prospect, but he can push Robert Woods for the No. 2 spot. Hunter's size and speed combination, plus his ability to pick up yards after the catch, makes him a nice alternative to the more possession-styled Woods.
Stock Down: Logan Thomas, Virginia Tech
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There is no shame in admitting you were wrong, and when it comes to Logan Thomas' draft stock, I was definitely off base.
Thomas was always listed as the No. 1 prospect with the notation that it was based on potential. Thomas has the size, strength and makeup of an elite quarterback, but he's yet to put those talents together. It's not that he can't or won't become an elite passer, but to date Logan Thomas is too erratic and too undisciplined to remain as the top overall player.
The issue with Thomas is that you see so many boom-or-bust type throws from him. Thomas can go through four straight series with no positive plays and then shake off the rust and look like an All-Pro for one drive. That inconsistency is both maddening and frightening.
More than any player in the 2013 draft, Thomas represents a player who could be either an All-Pro or a massive bust at the next level.