With the NFL season now officially half over, many fans are looking ahead to the playoffs, while others are already thinking about how to fix their team's problems in the 2013 NFL draft. With draft season approaching, here's a look at 10 players making moves up and down our Top 300 players list.
Players are moved up weekly only if their play or an injury warrants a move. For most players, nothing changes from week to week, but for others like Cal wide receiver Keenan Allen, injuries or poor play see them moving down.
Just as players can move down, we're seeing other players emerge as stars in this year's class. If your favorite team is in need of defense, the 2013 draft will be kind to you.
Last Week: No. 6 | This Week: No. 1
The top overall player in any draft class should be that year's most dangerous football player. Despite my attempts to think outside the box, it's becoming more and more clear that Georgia's Jarvis Jones is that player.
Jones' ability as a pass-rusher has put him on a level unlike any other player in this year's class. He's violent, explosive and tough enough to stick against the run. His ability to bend the edge—to dip his hips and turn the corner on left tackles—will make him a dangerous asset on third downs in the NFL. As the league moves more to a passing league, players like Jones are more and more valuable.
Last Week: No. 13 | This Week: No. 17
Injuries have a way of knocking down a player's stock when nothing else can. Cal wide receiver Keenan Allen's knee injury has caused the top prospect at the position to take a tumble down the board.
Allen's injury could be a non-factor if he's healthy before the NFL Scouting Combine in late February. If he's healed up enough by then to run and work out for scouts in Indianapolis, then something like missing a few games late in the regular season will be a non-issue. If Allen's not healthy, this is a problem.
These days, running at the combine is a major component to the draft process—especially for media scouts—but NFL teams care more about production and than pro day workouts. If Allen is healthy enough to work out for teams pre-draft, he'll move back up the board.
Last Week: No. 12 | This Week: No. 7
Rarely does an offensive guard warrant enough attention to be considered a top-10 pick. Chance Warmack is a special individual.
The senior guard has a good chance to be the highest-rated senior prospect in this year's draft class. The fact that he's so highly ranked—and a guard—goes to show just how dominant Warmack is at the position.
Warmack's ability to roll off the line of scrimmage and get push in the run game is some of the best technique I've seen in my 10 years of evaluating. The quickness in his feet and how light he is when moving, makes Warmack as good in pass protection as he is in the run game.
More than any other offensive lineman prospect, Warmack is ready to dominate at the NFL level.
Last Week: No. 7 | This Week: No. 14
Sam Montgomery is having a good year as an all-around defensive end, but he's not having a top-10 prospect type of year.
One of the things I like best about Montgomery is that he can play left or right defensive end, and more times than not he's lining up on the right side of the LSU defense so that Barkevious Mingo can rush off the left edge. By playing left end, Montgomery has to be a better run defender, but it also asks less of him as a pass-rusher. That's the dilemma right now.
Montgomery has had trouble with elite pass protectors this year—notably D.J. Fluker and Luke Joeckel. The way these two first-rounders played against Montgomery has me concerned about his ability at the next level.
Last Week: No. 26 | This Week: No. 20
So many defenders this year are moving up the board, and the 2013 draft class is likely to set a record for most pass-rushers drafted in the first round. Sheldon Richardson figures to be one of those players.
The Missouri defensive tackle has played exceptionally well this season, and his stock continues to rise because of it. Richardson's quickness off the snap is an underrated aspect of his game, but he's also showing much better hand use—generating distance at the snap so he can counter against pass protectors. It's the little things that make Richardson so good.
It's tough for a defensive tackle to gain respect without elite numbers, but the athletic qualities that Richardson brings to the table will be exciting for a 3-4 or 4-3 defensive scheme.
Last Week: No. 17 | This Week: No. 22
The more I'm able to watch USC play, the less impressed I am with their top prospects. Take wide receiver Robert Woods as a prime example of a guy dominating the box score, but not showing up on film as a finished product at the position.
The USC scheme shelters Woods from a lot of the problems other college wide receivers face. Woods and Marqise Lee are running NFL-style route combinations, and for the most part Pac-12 defenders don't know how to handle them. Add in the timing Woods has with Matt Barkley, and they're a tough duo to stop at the college level. Not so much in the NFL.
Woods, in some ways similar to Justin Blackmon last year, doesn't show the required speed to accelerate out of a break in his route to get away from coverage. I don't see the speed in Woods' game to cut and run away from a defender on a crossing route. For a smaller wide receiver, that's where Woods needs to dominate, and so far that skill isn't showing up.
Last Week: No. 95 | This Week: No. 55
A fun part of evaluating players is watching a game to see one guy (Bjoern Werner) and then stumbling upon another guy who you end up watching 3-4 games of. That's what happened for me with Cornelius Carradine last weekend.
The FSU defense is loaded with pass-rushers, and Werner looks like a top-20 pick. But Carradine's raw ability kept jumping off the field to me. He's similar in some ways to a more raw version of Whitney Mercilus. With great athletic ability and a frame you can add weight to, Carradine's quick first step and vision are worthy of more than the third-round grade I had on him last week.
Carradine is moving up, and there's a good chance his stock will climb into the late-first-round range.
Last Week: No. 22 | This Week: No. 31
In NFL draft circles there is always a player or two who is more valued in the media than in the real world of football scouting. Matt Barkley is a great example of this.
His production at USC is astronomic, but his actually performance tells another story. Barkley struggles when pressured. He struggles when safeties force him to deliver deep balls on target. There are very few aspects of quarterbacking that Barkley has shown he can do without his elite talent around him. He has the accuracy to be a very good quarterback on underneath routes, but anything outside of 10 yards worries me.
There's time for Barkley to rehab his stock in the eyes of evaluators, but those who believe the USC quarterback is the No. 1 prospect—or even No. 1 quarterback—aren't paying attention.
Last Week: No. 24 | This Week: No. 12
I can't help but love Damontre Moore more every time I see him play.
The Texas A&M pass-rusher is truly dominating the box score—if you're into that kind of thing—but he's also showing a full repertoire of pass-rushing moves in the Aggie defense. Finding college pass-rushers who know how to use their hands is rare, and Moore does it as well as any edge rusher in this year's class.
A big positive for Moore is that he shows the versatility to play with his hand down or up. Unlike a lot of the pass-rushers in this year's draft class—and even last year's—you can visualize how Moore would work in a 3-4 or 4-3 defense. I wouldn't compare him athletically to Chandler Jones, but at least in scheme versatility the two remind me a lot of each other.
Last Week: No. 1 | This Week: No. 6
There's a change at the top as Geno Smith moves from No. 1 to No. 6 overall. Why the move?
I'm not a fan of looking at box scores, and you'll rarely see game-day numbers posted by me here or on Twitter. I couldn't tell you without looking how many touchdowns or interceptions Geno Smith has thrown, but I can tell you that since the Texas game he's been frustrated by defenses who have decided to get physical with his receivers.
Smith's timing is off, and when timing goes, accuracy soon follows. None of the flaws I've seen over the past few weeks are enough to worry about Smith's NFL prospects, but there are some fundamental issues that need ironing out.
He must learn to throw his receivers open instead of waiting to see a wide receiver alone. And in the West Virginia offense, too often Smith is throwing to wide-open receivers streaking deep or across the formation.
Once in the NFL, Smith has to learn to anticipate the route and the location of the receiver. Once he learns that, I still believe that Geno Smith can be a franchise quarterback.