As the NFL and college football seasons get closer to completion, college underclassmen are declaring their intentions for the 2013 NFL draft class. As those names are added and removed from our database, big changes take place.
You might think that the dead time between the end of college football's regular season and bowl season is slow for NFL draft analysts, but it's generally one of our busiest times. During this month-long "break," analysts are able to catch up on film (especially important for those of us who also cover the NFL), talk to scouts and follow up with school officials. Players may earn their draft grades in the season, but those changes are most often reflected in the offseason rankings.
With Week 15 of the NFL season almost here, let's check out five players who moved up and five who moved down this week.
Last Week: No. 47 | This Week: No. 27
In an otherwise questionable year for cornerbacks, Oregon State's Jordan Poyer has a chance to shoot up the draft board.
There are many things to like about Poyer when you see him on film. He's big enough at 5'11" and 195 pounds to stick with the larger wide receivers in the NFL, but he also has the quickness to stick with the shorter, faster variety as well.
Many have Poyer slotted to run in the low 4.5 range in the 40-yard dash, but we've talked to people who expect Poyer to run in the 4.4 range once late February and the NFL Scouting Combine comes.
Last Week: No. 36 | This Week: No. 44
The North Carolina redshirt sophomore is officially in the 2013 draft, and by all accounts, he'll be one of the top backs in the 2013 class.
What's to like about Bernard? He doesn't have the high number of carries as some of the other backs in this class, which is a positive considering the low wear and tear his frame has taken. He's also explosive, showing off an ability to break plays as both a runner and a return man.
There will be questions about his size—he's just 5'9" and 205 pounds—and his health after a torn ACL in 2010, but if Bernard checks out medically, there are enough positives to warrant an early to mid-second-round pick.
Last Week: No. 10 | This Week: No. 7
Another week, another move up the board for Jake Matthews.
You might be wondering why a three-point move is significant enough to mention here, but it is because this puts Matthews as the No. 2-ranked offensive tackle in this year's class should he declare as a junior. And Matthews has a chance to become the top-rated tackle if his teammate Luke Joeckel stays at Texas A&M for his senior season.
Matthews has the balance, agility and strength to make the move from the right side over to the left side should his NFL team so desire. He has a finished skill set, especially in pass protection, that will be very appealing come draft day.
Last Week: No. 21 | This Week: No. 30
Keenan Allen went under the microscope for us last week once he declared his intentions for the draft. That uncovered some concerns in Allen's game that we hadn't previously seen.
Of course, the knee injury that ended his 2012 season will be an issue. How quickly he recovers from that will be a big part of where Allen is drafted come April. Outside the knee issue, it's important to note that Allen isn't a very fast runner.
While you may have visions of Allen outrunning Pac-12 defenders in your head—I certainly did—his on-field speed doesn't match the highlights. Allen is shifty, but it will be a surprise if he clocks under 4.49 once the scouting combine comes in late February—and that's if he can run by then.
Allen is an interesting, dynamic wide receiver, but he's not the flawless player many expect him to be.
Last Week: No. 12 | This Week: No. 5
As part of my film study this week, I wanted to take a closer look at North Carolina State quarterback Mike Glennon. That meant watching Glennon against Florida State. That meant being overwhelmed by Bjoern Werner in that game.
The NC State offensive line isn't full of future NFL players, but it sparked my interest in Werner (again) and caused me to go back and look at extra FSU film. When doing so, I saw a dynamic, fast, athletic pass-rusher who has the skills to dominate at the NFL level. Werner has the metrics, film and production to quickly catch the attention of NFL scouts.
If any one player has the skills to jump up and surprise folks this offseason, I'd be willing to bet on Werner being that player. He's a more complete option than Barkevious Mingo, a more explosive option than Damontre Moore, and a stronger option than Dion Jordan. Werner has top-five potential.
Last Week: No. 6 | This Week: No. 14
A slight move down the board this week, but this is as much on the talent around Wilson in this year's class and not just poor play or potential from the Arkansas quarterback.
There are some concerns with Wilson—mainly his height (6'2") and the number of hits he's taken over the last two years. While others may be concerned with his lack of production in 2012, that's not something that bothers me, considering the circumstances surrounding the year. Wilson lost his head coach to a scandal (Bobby Petrino) and his three top wide receivers to the NFL draft. That's a big hurdle for any quarterback to leap over in his final season.
Wilson has a chance to really help himself at the Senior Bowl and scouting combine. In a year with no truly defined top quarterback, Wilson could rise up the boards and beat his No. 14 ranking here and be a top-10 pick.
Last Week: No. 4 | This Week: No. 2
Who the No. 1 overall pick in 2013 will be is yet to be determined—unlike last year when we all knew it would be Andrew Luck. With that in mind, the first overall pick will depend heavily on which team holds the pick.
No matter who does "earn" the top spot in the draft, one player they'll have to consider for the pick is Utah defensive tackle Star Lotulelei. The big defensive lineman has been a stellar impact player in the middle of the Utes defense over the last two seasons, earning high praise for his ability to split blockers and push the offensive line back into the pocket.
It's widely considered that a quarterback will be the first player off the board, but with the impact Lotulelei can have on the defensive line, he'll be a top-five pick if all goes well in the offseason.
Last Week: Not Ranked | This Week: No. 238
I have a standard rule that it's good for college running backs to leave school early if they are a lock to be drafted in the top four rounds. That's not the case for Tennessee State's Trabis Ward.
You can understand Ward's logic in thinking that he'll be better off earning an NFL salary in 2013 instead of trying to raise his draft stock at a small school with few NFL prospects. That's valid. What isn't valid is Ward's draft stock.
Ideally, small-school prospects need to get into an All-Star game like the Senior Bowl or East-West Shrine Game to get in front of NFL scouts and general managers. But, as a junior entry, Ward won't have that luxury.
This may be a decision that pays off if Ward is drafted, but the stock report on him right now is as an undrafted free agent.
Last Week: Not Ranked | This Week: No. 15
The Alabama redshirt sophomore would be considered a surprise entry into the 2013 NFL draft, but until he makes it known that he'll stay at Alabama, he's too good to not rank.
Hubbard has told us that he's not focused on the NFL, instead putting all his efforts into the team's national championship game against Notre Dame, but when watching Crimson Tide game film to evaluate other prospects, Hubbard keeps flashing his ability.
What's interesting is that Hubbard played very well against two of the best tackles in the country—Luke Joeckel of Texas A&M and Taylor Lewan of Michigan. While Nick Saban doesn't unleash Hubbard as a pass-rusher, he does use him as a spy. Against the two running quarterbacks in those games, Hubbard was asked to generate pressure, and he did it well.
We're not sure if Hubbard will be a 2013 or 2014 draft prospect, but he's on our radar.
Last Week: No. 15 | This Week: No. 19
I was asked this week to take a closer look at Barkevious Mingo by a friend who works for an AFC South team's football operations department. The word on Mingo is that he's a fantastic, raw athlete with very high upside and untapped potential as a weak-side pass-rusher. That doesn't quite compute with what you see on film.
Mingo is a quick-twitch athlete with good burst off the line and above-average hand use, but I don't see this prodigy of a pass-rusher that many are hyping. Mingo's quickness is lost by the lack of strength when engaged, and the fact that he has no counter-move. He'll often try and lock up an offensive tackle and bull rush, but the strength just isn't there from the 240-pound Mingo.
When you see Mingo on film—not highlights—you see a raw player who could become a very good pass-rusher in the right scheme. He'll need to add strength and be coached up, but there is good potential here. But that potential, to me, isn't worth a top-15 pick.