Seven 2013 NFL Draft Prospects Whose Stock Is Plummeting
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Will the real Logan Thomas please stand up? In just three weeks of action, Thomas' supreme physical skill set has been unable to mask his flaws as a quarterback, putting in doubt the preseason hype that set him among the top 10 overall prospects eligible for the 2013 NFL draft class.
Beyond Logan Thomas, however, are a multitude of other well-known prospects whose draft stock has dipped dramatically in the opening month of the college football season.
Whether injury, off-the-field concerns, or on-field play have been the problems with these players, here are seven prospects whose draft stock has plummeted through the first three weeks of the season.
Quarterback Logan Thomas, Virginia Tech
Throwing mechanics have been the culprit for Thomas' struggles
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Possessing exceptional arm talent, movement skills to work outside the pocket and plus size, Logan Thomas reminded talent evaluators of two former first-round picks: Cam Newton and Ben Roethlisberger.
The blend of size, power and talent cannot be denied, and it’s only a matter of time before Thomas realizes his full potential. However, it seems more likely that the Hokie signal caller will return to school for his senior season.
Logan Thomas' issues begin with inconsistencies involving his setup and delivery. Because his three-step and five-step drops are not always in sync with the called route concept, Thomas rarely exhibits the timing or chemistry with his receivers that the NFL game requires.
Dropping back with slow and methodical steps, locking his lead foot into post-snap decisions, and arming the football through the throwing zone, Thomas has struggled with scattershot accuracy in the short-to-intermediate passing game.
The subtle flaw with Logan Thomas deals with his weight transfer or lack thereof. Still developing continuity between his upper and lower halves, Thomas is consistently a split-second late in separating his hands from the football to begin his throwing motion.
Going hand in hand with the timing of his three-step and five-step drop footwork, Thomas has a difficult time releasing the ball at the peak of his drops and as such, struggles to get his lower half into and through the throw.
Additionally, Thomas has been unable to consistently level his shoulders to the target line, causing him to miss high on throws outside the numbers and low on throws between the numbers.
The silver lining here is that Logan Thomas has yet to reach his full potential and remains a remarkably talented specimen. That being said, mechanical issues are easily the most difficult to assess, address, and correct, as they involve muscle memory.
Though it's early, I would advise Logan Thomas to stay in school for another season.
Defensive End Margus Hunt, SMU
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Grading Margus Hunt as a first rounder, based off of his sheer physical ability, high upside, and flashes of pass rush ability, proved to be my biggest mistake in preseason draft studies.
While inability to rush the passer consistently or to remain an active force have plagued the first few weeks for Hunt, it's been a lack of effort more than anything that has disheartened evaluators.
Giving up at the line of scrimmage and being complacent with holding his gap responsibility alone, Hunt has not shown a willingness to pursue to the football, chase the play from the backside, or fight through the whistle.
Physically unlike any other prospect to enter the NFL, Margus Hunt topped CBS Sports’ Bruce Feldman’s annual draft article, “The Freak List: The 10 craziest athletes in college football.” Feldman’s article can be found here on CBSSports.com.
Beyond the beastly size and strength, Margus Hunt has only played three full seasons of college football, entering his fourth and senior season, and will be a 26-year old rookie.
The unimproved hand usage at the point of attack, disengage technique and overall instincts as a football player have to be alarming for NFL teams. The question now is whether he can develop an NFL-ready game by next April.
Hunt has yet to display the initial burst, power to jolt and bench press blockers, or surprising bend that made me so eager to grade him as Optimum Scouting's third best senior defensive end.
Offensive Tackle Chris Faulk, LSU
Chris Faulk will miss the remainder of the 2012 season
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Projected to be a first-round pick in the 2013 draft as an early declarer, LSU’s starting left tackle Chris Faulk began the season as one of the top underclassmen to watch in the SEC. Preseason acclaim aside, Faulk’s season essentially ended before it began.
Only able to play one game in 2012 (vs. North Texas), Chris Faulk suffered what was called “a major knee injury” in the practice week leading up to a Week 2 matchup with Washington.
Adding insult to injury, Faulk appeared slow-footed and not nearly as athletic as he did in 2010 or 2011. Continually overextending at the point of attack and losing his balance prior to engaging the defender, Faulk allowed North Texas defensive ends to pressure the quarterback.
Already taking a medical redshirt, Faulk will not be entering the 2013 draft and instead, will be facing a long road to recovery.
With Faulk being a five-star talent with the size, girth, strength and ability to start on the right side for many years in the NFL, one has to hope he can progress back to full health without any setbacks.
Quarterback Jordan Rodgers, Vanderbilt
Following a loss to Northwestern, Jordan Rodgers was benched
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Showing positive signs in Vanderbilt's season-opening loss to South Carolina, Jordan Rodgers appeared to have a better grasp of the offense, as well as improved decisiveness with coverage reading.
The poor footwork in the three-step passing game remained, yet Rodgers continued to display a playmaking skill set and a newfound confidence in hitting his check-down option, as the defense dictated.
Fast forward one week and the Jordan Rodgers of 2011 reared his head, as the brother of Aaron Rodgers struggled with his release and spin all night vs. a well-coached Northwestern defense.
More of a sight thrower, whose first reaction to pressure is to tuck the ball and run, Rodgers will lock onto his primary target with no intentions of backing off the throw.
This gunslinger mentality lends itself to big plays, for sure. But in taking a holistic approach, Rodgers cannot be counted upon to take care of the football, evidenced by his fumbles and interceptions down the stretch.
Playing the quarterback position requires more than the ability to run and throw, and given Rodgers' inability to convert simple pass reads into completions, NFL teams have no reason to believe him to be a next-level starter.
A project with talent and pedigree, Rodgers certainly will get an opportunity to play in the league; however, his recent benching for Austyn Carta-Samuels (transfer from Wyoming) only worsens his chance to be selected in the NFL draft.
Running Back Knile Davis, Arkansas
Knile Davis' tentative running may keep him out of the first round
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Earning rave reviews from NFL Draft analysts and scouts, myself included, Knile Davis entered the 2012 season with a great deal of momentum despite missing all of 2011 with a broken ankle.
Reported to have recovered remarkably well, Davis excelled in spring workouts by posting a 4.33 40 time, a 415-pound bench press, and a 570-pound squat max. The simple fact that he did not receive full contact until the final week of practicing seemingly went unnoticed until the season commenced.
Not running with the patience, vision and decisiveness he exhibited in his breakout 2010 campaign, Davis has appeared hesitant, tentative and even lethargic at times.
His burst to and through the hole is noticeably different this season, and this lack of decisiveness could be a major concern for scouts in attendance.
A potential mid to late first-round projection based off 2010 tape, Knile Davis has slipped to the second day of the draft as a second- or third-rounder.
Wide Receiver Da'Rick Rogers, Tennessee Tech
Da'Rick Rogers excelled as Tennessee's primary target in 2011
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Earning the platform to shine on Tennessee’s offense in 2011 due to a season-ending injury to wideout Justin Hunter, Da’Rick Rogers exploded onto the NFL draft scene with an All-SEC campaign.
With Rogers showcasing a unique combination of power, balance and strength at the point of the catch, one could make the case that he was the premiere possession receiver eligible for the 2013 NFL draft.
Enter the 2012 season and Rogers faced an indefinite suspension from head coach Derek Dooley, stemming from his attitude with the coaching staff and multiple failed drug tests.
Apparently an ongoing issue, Rogers wasted no time in heading out of town, transferring to Tennessee Tech within the following week.
Two major flags shoot up for NFL teams now regarding coachability and personal responsibility. As Janoris Jenkins showed in last year’s draft (selected in the second round), it is very much possible to regain trust from NFL teams with productivity and a strong predraft season of all-star camps, pro days, and interviews.
It’s a long road for Rogers to climb; however, he certainly has the skill level to climb back into the third-round range.
Defensive End Ronald Powell, Florida
Ronald Powell suffered a setback in his ACL recovery
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Bursting onto the national scene with his 2011 production of 6 sacks and 9 tackles for loss, Ronald Powell was primed for a big junior season. Entering his first season as a draft-eligible prospect, Powell unfortunately will be unable to play a single down in 2012.
Suffering an ACL tear during spring ball, Powell was expected to miss a good portion of the 2012 season; however, after reinjuring the knee during his rehab, Powell will not be able to return until the 2013 season.
It's a crushing blow not only to Powell’s draft status, but also the Florida Gators’ defense as a whole will miss their most natural pass rusher at the BUCK, 3-4 rush outside linebacker position.
Playing the dynamic BUCK position requires a rangy defensive end prospect that can equally set the edge and rush the passer, from either a three-point (hand in the dirt) or two-point stance (standing up).
At his best when working from a two-point position, Powell put on display an NFL-ready skill set. Shooting his hands at the blocker, Powell creates a snap at the point of attack and locks out with long, powerful arms, while bending and leveraging effectively at the peak of his pass rush to finish with a sack.
A natural pass rusher who continually wins in one-on-one situations, Powell certainly has a place in the NFL game; the question now is whether he can recover from this most recent setback.