Every NFL draft, there are players who shoot up draft boards. The 2013 NFL draft is not going to be any different.
Players are projected in the middle and later rounds of the draft for various reasons ranging from character issues, work ethic concerns or just raw talent.
Take a look at three guys who could find themselves rising up from the later rounds to a better landing spot.
Kenjon Barner, RB, Oregon
2012 season stats (12 gm.): 248 car., 1,624 yards, 21 TDs; 19 rec., 232 yards, 1 TD
The 2013 running back class doesn’t have many clear-cut, must-have backs. That will benefit the explosive Oregon Ducks back who electrified the nation as the primary ball carrier in the country’s best rushing offense.
Barner has decent size, but will need to get stronger and add weight to take the beating of an every-down back at the NFL level. He mitigates that in college by running low to the ground. While he is 5’11”, he runs much lower than that.
Then there’s the unrivaled explosiveness that allows him to hit holes with a head of steam and bounce plays to the outside. Game-changing speed isn’t a teachable skill. When you combine it with his ability to see openings in the defense and get to the second and third level, you have a special player.
The only thing holding Barner back will be an initial reluctance by scouts due to his production coming in Chip Kelly’s spread offensive scheme. Rest assured, Barner is not your average Duck.
Current Draft Stock: Rounds 3-4
Projected Draft Selection: Middle of Round 2
Da'Rick Rogers, WR, Tennessee Tech
2011 season stats (12 gm.): 67 rec., 1,040 yards, 9 TDs
2012 season stats (10 gm.): 61 rec., 893 yards, 10 TDs
Rogers, a first team All-SEC receiver in 2011, led the conference in receiving during that season. The following season, he was suspended indefinitely by Tennessee coach Derek Dooley for violating team rules.
Rule violations, especially multiple offenses as in Rogers’ case, are definite red flags for NFL teams when evaluating talent. However, it’s important to weigh the likelihood of repeat offenses with the level of talent of a prospect when making these types of decisions.
Rogers is the type of talent that is worth taking a risk on.
A good comparison to make is Josh Gordon of the Cleveland Browns. Gordon’s off-the-field indiscretions forced him to the Supplemental Draft last season. From the look of things, Cleveland couldn’t be happier as Gordon leads the team in receiving touchdowns and all rookie wide receivers in receiving yards.
Physically, Rogers has the ability to beat any NFL defensive back off the line of scrimmage. Pressing him will not hinder his ability to get off the ball and into his routes.
While that’s crucial in the NFL, it’s what he can do after initial contact that will make him rise on NFL draft boards this winter. His combination of size, speed and athletic ability give him the skills needed to make plays on the ball and get separation from coverage.
Current Draft Stock: Rounds 2-3
Projected Draft Selection: Bottom of Round 1
Tyrann Mathieu, CB, LSU
2011 season stats (12 gm.): 27 punt ret., 421 yards, 2 TDs; 70 tackles, 6 forced fumbles,
2012 season stats (0 gm.): DNP
The “Honey Badger” is the next in a long line of outstanding-caliber players who have fallen out of grace due to their off-field mistakes.
Before falling from grace, the Honey Badger earned a trip to New York as a Heisman Trophy finalist. He was also awarded the Chuck Bednarik Award, given to nation’s top defensive player.
After rising to those great heights following that breakout 2011 season, Mathieu was suspended from the LSU football team after failing a drug test prior to the start of the 2012 season (August).
He’s best acknowledged for his never-ending and tenacious effort on the field. That, along with a “swagger” and imposing physicality helps to make up for his smaller frame (5’9”).
Perhaps the best part of his game is his knack for finding the ball and either breaking up the pass or making a play on it and taking it back in the other direction. “Ball hawk” is a term that’s used loosely, but it definitely fits this prospect.
Current Draft Stock: Rounds 5-6
Projected Draft Selection: Top of Round 2