Draft Prospects Most Likely to Fall Down the Board
No one will ever forget the draft day misery that Aaron Rodgers went through in 2005.
Rodgers attended the draft in person and was expected to be a very early selection, possibly even the first pick of the draft.
But the San Francisco 49ers passed over Rodgers for Alex Smith. After that, a number of teams simply didn’t need a quarterback.
So Rodgers waited and waited while all the other players in attendance heard their names and went to the podium. Rodgers didn’t hear his name until pick No. 24, when the Green Bay Packers chose him to be Brett Favre’s backup and heir apparent.
In the end everything worked out for Rodgers, but that might not be the case for these 10 draft prospects who might fall down the board this weekend at the 2013 NFL draft.
Keenan Allen, California
Even though he didn’t play a full four seasons at California, wide receiver Keenan Allen left the school as its top career receiver. He has great quickness and a tall, 6’2” frame that should be the envy of many NFL teams.
Allen is a good route-runner and could eventually turn into a No. 1 receiver.
He was expected to be a first-round pick, but a knee injury (Allen suffered a Grade 2 PCL tear in October) forced him to the sideline and caused him to miss the NFL Scouting Combine.
But now the troubles with his knee are the least of his worries.
Allen was red-flagged for a drug test at the scouting combine, according to ESPN. As the receiver tries to bounce back from his knee injury, the results of his drug test could be a deterrent to teams on draft day.
Don’t be surprised if Allen falls well into the back of the second round.
Eddie Lacy, Alabama
If recent history is an indication, the best running back in the NFL draft class should get paid and be an early-round pick.
Not so fast for this year’s top rusher, Eddie Lacy.
Lacy powered Alabama’s ground attack in 2012, posting 1,322 rushing yards and scoring 17 times. He’s a prototypical three-down running back and a proven winner.
But Lacy’s draft stock has been falling because he showed fatigue at his April 11 pre-draft workout and appeared generally out of shape, according to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.
Lacy picked the wrong year to not shine in workouts leading up to the draft. Because the NFL is trending toward a passing league, running backs have been devalued of late. Without the poor showing at his workout, Lacy still might not have been a first-round pick in the 2013 draft.
Now he may plummet even farther down draft boards.
Bjoern Werner, Florida State
The New England Sports Network believes that Florida State defensive end Bjoern Werner could fall to the No. 29 overall pick in Thursday’s NFL draft. If so, the New England Patriots could pull the trigger on him there.
Operative word: “could.”
Werner is the fourth-ranked defensive end in the draft, according to Matt Miller's NFL Draft Big Board, and he was generally considered for some time to be a sure first-round pick.
But over the last month, Werner’s moved from a sure first-rounder to late first-round pick to a hopeful. If he slides past the Patriots at No. 29 and the Atlanta Falcons at No. 30, he may fall out of the first round.
Werner’s speed—he ran a 4.83 40-yard dash—at the combine didn’t do much to help his cause, but it was his vertical jump (31 inches) that is causing alarm.
Werner never showed top-end speed, but he has always played with superb quickness and has fantastic short-burst speed. The poor showing in the vertical jump could call into question Werner’s ability to continue using that quick burst at the NFL level.
Dee Milliner, Alabama
As soon as the Alabama Crimson Tide won the national championship and cornerback Dee Milliner decided to leave school early for the NFL, he’s been the top target for teams looking for help in the secondary.
Most mock drafts have Milliner going to the Detroit Lions at No. 5 in the first round or the Cleveland Browns at No. 6. It’s been general consensus that there’s no way Milliner would fall past the Browns at No. 6.
But ESPN reported Tuesday that Milliner has undergone five surgeries, including "a right knee scope, sports hernia, right tibia stress fracture and both shoulders."
We’ve all known that Milliner’s most recent injury—the shoulder injury that was surgically repaired in March—slowed him down during pre-draft workouts. It’s also no surprise that Milliner might not be ready for training camp.
But now the buzz is that Milliner’s readiness might force him down the board a bit.
I’m not sure I buy Milliner falling because he won’t be ready for training camp. Most teams look at early picks as long-term investments, and Milliner’s skills and intangibles are drool-worthy. Then again, most teams also try to avoid risk in the first round.
Manti Te’o, Notre Dame
You only need to mention the fake girlfriend debacle as reason some teams may shy away from Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o early in the draft.
Being duped as he allegedly was should call into question Te’o’s decision-making skills and his off-field intelligence. Sharks everywhere are looking to take advantage of a young NFL star with a bag of money.
Who needs that nightmare?
Take Te’o’s love life out of the picture entirely, however, and two recent showings also marred his draft stock.
In the national championship game against Alabama, Te’o was a non-factor, and that’s putting it nicely. On one of the biggest national stages available to a college football player, Te’o didn’t shine.
Te’o couldn’t shed blockers and missed several tackles against the Crimson Tide. And even though the talent level at Alabama is top notch, it’s nowhere close to the NFL.
With a chance to redeem himself a little, Te’o showed up at the NFL combine and ran a slow 4.82 40-yard dash and did little to impress in Indianapolis.
There’s a possibility that Te’o will fall completely out of the first round of the upcoming draft, but at minimum he’ll be selected at the back half of the first round, which is far lower than expected after what he did on the field during the 2012 regular season.
Matt Barkley, Southern California
Southern California quarterback Matt Barkley could have entered the draft after his 2011 season and no one would have argued. He had the skills and the track record to be a high draft choice.
But Barkley stayed in school, and that decision may cost him.
Barkley injured his shoulder during the 2012 college football season and missed some of his opportunity to polish his NFL resume. He told USA Today that he wasn’t sorry he stayed at USC, but how could he not replay that fateful decision to not turn pro?
After a good showing at his pro day, Barkley seems to be past his shoulder injury, but how high will he be taken?
Greg Cosell, an NFL Films analyst, isn’t sure Barkley will be a first-round draft pick. Cosell calls into question Barkley’s athleticism, his heavy feet and poor decision making when rushed and calls him “not as strong a prospect as Mark Sanchez was when Sanchez came out of USC in 2009.”
That Sanchez comment could be the kiss of death.
Damontre Moore, Texas A&M
Damontre Moore went through the decision-making process that most underclassmen do when trying to decide whether to enter the NFL draft or return to school for his senior season.
Feeling he was a top-10 pick in the NFL, Moore decided to skip his final year at Texas A&M and go pro.
But Moore’s top-10 status is no longer a certainty. In fact, neither is being taken in the first round at all.
NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock said in a recent teleconference that Moore struggled against good college tackles and must work hard to develop as an NFL pass-rusher. But Mayock also questioned Moore’s work ethic.
“What kind of worker is he?" asked Mayock. "How consistent is he?”
ESPN’s Mel Kiper left Moore out of the first round in the 4.0 version of his mock draft, pushing him all the way back to pick No. 58 to the Denver Broncos.
Falling from a certain top-10 pick to late in the second round is a huge and devastating decline.
Johnthan Banks, Mississippi State
Mississippi State cornerback Johnthan Banks was once seen as a top-three cornerback in the NFL draft, and he hasn’t done much to force his stock down.
But his stock has fallen nonetheless.
Projected as a sure first-round draft pick early in pre-draft season, Banks now might not even be taken in the first hour of Day 2.
Banks is still a highly regarded cornerback with great size and strength. He is an intelligent on-field thinker with good leadership skills.
The problem for Banks is that other cornerbacks have really come on of late.
Washington’s Desmond Trufant absolutely exploded at the combine and has passed Banks. Houston’s D.J. Hayden, who almost died after a collision in practice last season, has also surpassed Banks.
Even Jamar Taylor from Boise State now may be taken ahead of Banks.
Banks is not guilty of falling off, but he hasn't been doing enough to keep himself ahead of the pack.
Giovani Bernard, North Carolina
No one could stop North Carolina running back Giovani Bernard last season as he rushed for 1,228 yards and 12 touchdowns.
Now no one can stop Bernard from falling down draft boards.
ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper once had Bernard as the top running back in the draft class. He’s quick and has exceptional cut-back skills.
Because of the devaluation of the running back in the NFL, Bernard may not be a first-round pick, but he also may fall into the second, or possibly all the way to the third round.
Alabama’s Eddie Lacy should be the first running back selected, and even he isn’t a sure first-round pick. After Lacy, teams are going to try to find value in their running back selections. It may be a long waiting game for Bernard after Lacy goes off the board.
Sam Montgomery, LSU
LSU defensive end Sam Montgomery will forever be used as a textbook example of how not to execute an interview at the NFL combine.
Montgomery admitted to needing extra incentive when playing weaker teams on LSU’s schedule, as reported by ProFootballTalk. He got that extra bit of incentive by waging bets with teammate Barkevious Mingo on who could perform better on the field.
You know, some weeks when we didn’t have to play the harder teams, there were some times when effort was not needed. But when we had the big boys coming in, the ‘Bamas or the South Carolinas, I grabbed close to those guys and went all out.
It’s always been competitive for me and Mingo and it makes us better in the end. He’s a fast defensive end, I’m more physical. We have to switch over in those realms, so putting big stakes on it makes us more dominant players in the end.
Montgomery and Mingo were both thought to be first-round picks, but now Mingo is the only likely Thursday selection. Montgomery still needs some work on the field to be more productive, but someone needs to teach the kid when not to open his mouth.
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