2013 NFL Draft: College Football's Top Risers and Fallers of the 2012 Season

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2013 NFL Draft: College Football's Top Risers and Fallers of the 2012 Season
Joe Nicholson-US PRESSWIRE

NFL mock drafts can be very entertaining, often humorous—especially if you follow them throughout the season from start to finish.

The names dance around, up and down and sometimes disappear as the weeks fly by. I call it the Mock Draft Shuffle, a dance craze sweeping the nation—or at least I like to think so.

Why all the chaotic movements? Well, it's simple. If a player impresses, his stock goes up; if not, the opposite happens. 

Here are a few notable risers and fallers of the college football season thus far.   

 

Risers

 

TE Levine Toilolo, Stanford

Toilolo made the most of limited opportunities in a backup role behind Coby Fleener in 2011—25 receptions for 343 yards and six touchdowns. Now listed as the co-starter (with Zach Ertz), he has collected 13 receptions for 278 yards and two touchdowns through five games, including 141 yards and a score in Saturday's 54-48 overtime thriller over Arizona.  

Expect those numbers to increase as he is featured more in the offense. Toilolo's blend of size and athleticism—he's 6'8", 265-pounds and runs a 4.65 forty-yard dash—poses a multitude of problems for defenses, even at the NFL level. Corners are too short, linebackers too slow. Think Jimmy Graham. 

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DE/OLB Ezekiel Ansah, BYU

From Accra, Ghana to the United States; from a member of the BYU track team to trying out for the football team, a sport he had never played before his sophomore year; from the bottom of the depth chart to a starting (and starring) role on defense.

The story of Ezekiel "Ziggy" Ansah is truly remarkable.

And it's nowhere near to being over. He's just now starting to learn the game—which is bad news for opposing quarterbacks and good news for salivating scouts. The 6-foot-6, 270-pound defensive end/linebacker with sprinter speed, a 39-inch vertical leap and endless wingspan has drawn comparisons to Tamba Hali and Jason Pierre-Paul.

Looks like the next chapter of The Tall (and Ripped) Tale of Ziggy will be a lengthy NFL career.  

 

QB Geno Smith, West Virginia

If a spot higher than No. 1 overall existed, Smith would be well on his way. He has put up absurd numbers this season—81.4 completion percentage for 1,996 yards with 24 touchdowns and zero interceptions—and passed his biggest test on Saturday at Texas with flying colors. He threw for 268 yards and four touchdowns against a top defense in a 48-45 win.

Charles LeClaire-US PRESSWIRE

Smith displays the full package under center: leadership, decision-making, poise in the pocket, accuracy, a strong arm, touch  and mobility. On top of the mountain of positive attributes sits an unmatched work ethic. He is a film junkie, playbook addict and a player who is always trying to improve.

Last year it was Suck for Luck; this year it is Blow for Geno.  

 

RB Joseph Randle, Oklahoma State

Randle is making a strong case to be the second running back selected in April—you know, behind that kid over at South Carolina.

After an impressive sophomore campaign—208 rushing attempts for 1,216 yards and 24 touchdowns, 43 receptions for 266 yards and two touchdowns—Randle has taken his game to another level. Through four games he has 75 rushing attempts for 534 yards (7.1 average) and six touchdowns. He has the size and durability to be a workhorse, blazing 4.4 speed, great patience and vision and reliable hands out of the backfield.

His steady climb up draft boards could result in an early second-round selection. 

 

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Also considered: DE Bjeorn Werner, Florida State; WR Cordarrelle Patterson, Tennessee; DE Morgan Breslin, USC 

 

 

Fallers

CB David Amerson, North Carolina State

A possible top-five pick after last season—repeat after me, 14 total interceptions—Amerson has struggled against NFL-type receivers. In an opening weekend loss to Tennessee, Amerson was burned by Justin Hunter for nine receptions and 73 yards. He then recovered to pick off a pass in three consecutive games, but looked shaky again against Miami's receiving corps.

Though scouts covet his length and athleticism, there are concerns about his physicality and ability to tackle in run support.   

 

QB Logan Thomas, Virginia Tech

My how things change fast. Once considered a No. 1 overall draft pick candidate, Thomas has seen his stock plummet out of the first round entirely, possibly further, depending on how the season plays out. 

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He's an indescribable talent, both good and bad. One minute I'm watching him sling an effortless 50-yarder to a receiver in stride, and thinking "Wow, how did he do that?" A second later I'm watching him throw into obvious triple coverage, and thinking "Wow, why did he do that?"

So it goes for Thomas—a prospect with just as much potential as flaws. Another season would do him justice in the progress department.   

 

CB Carrington Byndom, Texas

Selected to the preseason Bronko Nagurski Trophy Watch List (per cbssports.com)—an award presented at the end of the season to college football's best defensive player—Byndom has shown that he's not quite ready for the big stage. Yet. He struggled mightily against the West Virgina passing attack on Saturday, especially Stedman Bailey (his main assignment).

Byndom often loses focus, is caught out of position and misses too many open-field tackles. 

The potential to be a star is there, sure. He runs a 4.3 forty-yard dash, is sharp in and out of breaks and fluid in the hips, but needs further polishing.     

 

Also considered: RB Knile Davis, Arkansas; QB Landry Jones, Oklahoma; WR Marquess Wilson, Washington State; OT D.J. Fluker, Alabama; DE Margus Hunt, SMU

 

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