NFL Draft Stock Report Heading into the Scouting Combine
With the NFL Scouting Combine only days away, we take time here to list the players whose stock has been on the move as of late.
There may not be any football to be played, as all-star games have long concluded, but as scouts dig deeper into film and whisper their thoughts into the ears of their media connections, trends by way of groupthink begin to swirl around the draft community.
Projecting the value of prospects is a continuous process that constantly evolves as new information is disclosed and/or discovered.
This particular stock report comes just before the scouting combine, which is a huge draft pivot for many prospect projections, as it has historically proven to significantly shake things up in the days that follow. Knowing which direction a player's momentum is heading beforehand could provide interesting contrast in how these tests can turn the tides of the draft.
To determine a stock report, it becomes necessary to familiarize oneself with the pulse of the draft community; this includes media speculation, league rumors and talking with current and former members of pro personnel departments.
For this slideshow, the change in a player's stock is not based on older information, although such past information may be referenced for context. This stock report is geared more toward changes within the last couple of months at the latest.
DT Sharrif Floyd, Florida
This 20-year-old underclassman is flying up draft boards. Analysts and scouts seem to be falling more in love with Sharrif Floyd every day. Though he was projected to be a first-round draft pick the minute he declared, he was not supposed to compete for the top defensive tackle spot with guys like Star Lotulelei.
According to NFL.com's group of mock draft experts, of the five mocks that were published in the month of January, none of them had Sharrif going in the top 10. In fact, Charles Davis, expert analyst for the NFL Network, didn't even have Floyd projected to go in the first round.
Nowadays it seems every expert is calling his name in the top 10 or even top five overall. Both of the most recent mock drafts from NFL.com have Floyd going third to the Oakland Raiders.
LB Alec Ogletree, Georgia
Alec Ogletree was already heading to the NFL Scouting Combine with several character concerns he'll have to explain during team interviews. But recently, Ogletree was charged with a DUI (per NFL.com) while driving in Arizona.
This is bad news for one of the top linebackers in the draft.
Before this incident, Ogletree was projected to be a mid-first-round selection—now he may fall out of the first round entirely. This is not his first incident with off-field issues, as columnist Russ Lande from the National Football Post describes.
QB Ryan Nassib, Syracuse
Syracuse quarterback Ryan Nassib has seen his stock rise recently as several new mocks, including Russ Lande's of National Football Post, have him going high in the first round of the draft. According to Lande's big board prospect rankings, he has Nassib as the No.1 overall prospect in the entire draft.
Nassib failed to light up the message boards during Senior Bowl week, but in a weak class of signal-callers with several teams in desperate need of a franchise quarterback, Nassib might be climbing the charts due to lack of elite competition.
QB Matt Barkley, USC
Once upon a time, this Heisman hopeful was on top of the world counting stacks of unearned cash, as he entered his senior season projected to be a lock for the No. 1 overall pick in the draft. Unfortunately for him, his final year at USC left scouts with more questions than answers.
Barkley has gone from the top overall selection to perhaps a second- or even third-rounder in just a few months. If it wasn't bad enough, he may see even more of a plummet if he fails to impress at the scouting combine or during his pro day workout.
LB Manti Te'o, Notre Dame
We all know who Manti Te'o is by now; unfortunately, his growing profile is mainly the result of the same off-field issues that are currently affecting his stock negatively.
Te'o has been on a media tour as of late in attempts at some serious damage control. The Heisman runner-up was hoping to repair his public image by telling his side of the girlfriend hoax story. Te'o now must convince organizations and coaches that this entire hoax was nothing for them to be concerned about.
Even if he's able to alleviate any and all character concerns, there are still growing questions about Te'o's value as a football player. After all, the BCS National Championship Game did leave a bad taste in everyone's mouth.
DE Bjoern Werner, Florida State
It seems to be the consensus that Florida State defensive end Bjoern Werner is finally starting to edge more in the direction of reason. This productive pass-rusher was projected by most mocks to be taken as early as the top five overall. Werner simply is not the athlete or high-motor guy that would justify such a top-level selection.
More recent mocks are beginning to reflect at least some degree of compromise.
According to Josh Norris and Daniel Jeremiah's mocks, Werner is now slated to go 13th and 15th overall, respectively. I wouldn't be surprised to see Werner fall even further before draft day comes around.
G Larry Warford, Kentucky
With elite prospects at guard like Chance Warmack and Jonathan Cooper, there's little room in the first round for a third guard. But rumors are beginning to circulate around the draft community that Larry Warford is closing ground on Cooper and Warmack.
Based off of his consistency during the Senior Bowl and his strong performances against elite prospects such as Sharrif Floyd and Sheldon Richardson, it has become more apparent that Warford belongs on the shortlist of best interior offensive linemen in this draft.
When you can look like the better player against guys like Floyd and Richardson, that's saying something.
WR Justin Hunter, Tennessee
Justin Hunter's stock was headed in an upward direction following his highly productive final collegiate season, as he is equipped with prototypical NFL size.
However, upon closer review, Hunter seems to lack explosiveness in his game and doesn't really have the ability to separate. He also lacks elite hands and struggled with drops all year long.
Hunter was once a first-round prospect in a deep class of wideouts. The more accurate and up-to-date scenario is to expect Hunter to be drafted in the second or even the third round. There are too many receivers competing for homes in the early rounds, and each one should experience a value reduction to some degree.
DE Datone Jones, UCLA
Datone Jones' stock began to rise as early as Senior Bowl week, when he showed up looking built, healthy and in tip-top shape. But Jones' visual traits were much more than just window shopping.
Jones has been creeping up drafts boards consistently since the Senior Bowl and doesn't seem to be showing any signs of slowing down. Many projections out there are indicating this rising value, as his appearances in the first round of mocks are becoming more frequent.
DE Damontre Moore, Texas A&M
Though many analysts still have Damontre Moore going ahead of Datone Jones, the gap between these two is shrinking significantly. Moore's athleticism, explosion and technique are more limited than his January projections by NFL mocks would suggest; multiple analysts had him going second overall.
Currently, Moore is slipping into the middle of the first round and is likely to fall even further after the combine reveals he has only marginal measurables. Datone Jones could end up going before Moore come draft day.
WR DeAndre Hopkins, Clemson
Few wide receivers in this draft are rising up the big boards due to the sheer volume of talent at the position. When talent becomes plentiful at any one position, the need for teams to snag a player early begins to decline.
With that said, DeAndre Hopkins is finally getting some serious first-round love. Of the four January mock drafts from NFL.com, only two of those even had Hopkins projected in the first. Lately, all the mock drafts I've studied have the Clemson wideout going in the first round.
Hopkins is a fantastic route-runner who excels in pressure situations. He has true No. 1 receiver potential and may have the best intangibles of any receiver in the draft.
TE Zach Ertz, Stanford
Only a month or so ago, everywhere I turned, I was seeing the hype about Zach Ertz as the best tight end in the draft. I couldn't understand where this was coming from. Apparently, many "experts" in the draft community became enchanted by the guy's production at Stanford, along with his 6'6" frame.
In reality, Ertz was a poor blocker who had terrible technique and worrisome functional strength. Although he does have quick feet and the instincts to find voids in coverage, he often failed to utilize his big frame.
NFL Network's Daniel Jeremiah has recently flip-flopped on which tight end he believes will be drafted first. In his most recent mock, he has Tyler Eifert going to the Falcons with the 30th pick overall. Based on my assessments of the two tight ends, I agree with Jeremiah.
I would like to think Jeremiah listened to my case for Eifert over Ertz during my conversation with him via Twitter.