Which college players are moving up and down NFL draft boards as we head into October?
Marquee players have been under the microscope in the last month, giving evaluators a clean look at their true ability. The hype of summer is gone—all that's left is production and ability. Some players have shown to be more talented than expected, while others are falling down draft boards due to poor play or injury.
Who is moving up and who moved down?
Stock Up: LSU Wide Receiver Jarvis Landry
Every season, it seems, an underclassman at wide receiver jumps into the national spotlight with huge early games.
This year, it's Jarvis Landry, and he looks like the real deal.
The 6'1", 195-pound junior has been amazing in his consistency, athleticism and vision. Landry has made several ridiculous catches so far this season, but that's just part of the story. He's shown the concentration to track the ball on deep routes and fight through traffic for the ball underneath. Landry has speed and toughness, making him an A.J. Green-style dual-threat receiver.
Landry has the look of a first-round prospect at this stage of the season—if he decides to enter the 2014 draft.
Stock Down: Florida Defensive Tackle Dominique Easley
Dominique Easley entered the 2013 season as an intriguing defensive line prospect. He had played both defensive end and defensive tackle at Florida, showing impressive quickness off the ball and pursuit skills on the edge. This was to be his breakout season after a knee injury ended his 2011 season.
And it was, for a while.
Easley looked at home playing defensive tackle, where his burst off the ball was a chore to handle for offensive linemen. But now the undersized tackle has suffered a second season-ending knee injury.
A 280-pound defensive tackle with two repaired knees? That's going to hurt his stock.
Easley was looking like a solid second-round prospect before suffering injury. Now that he's officially entered the 2014 class as a junior, Easley's stock will depend solely on his rehab and readiness. If he can run and work out at the NFL Scouting Combine in February, he could still be a top-50 pick. If not, the middle rounds look more realistic.
And like head coach Will Muschamp said, "I think that's the best move for him right now, to prepare himself for April and get ready for that." Now is the time for Easley to focus on his rehab and in preparing for the 2014 NFL draft.
Stock Up: Central Florida Quarterback Blake Bortles
The 2014 NFL draft is shaping up to be an amazing year for quarterbacks. With so much big-name, big-program talent at the top, it might be easy to overlook Central Florida quarterback Blake Bortles.
That is, until you turn on the film.
Bortles has prototypical quarterback size (6'4", 230 lbs) and the dual-threat athletic ability that has NFL scouts drooling right now. He did struggle against South Carolina with two interceptions, but on film you see a big, strong athlete with the arm to sling the ball to any quadrant of the field. He doesn't struggle with any physical attribute of the game, and for a junior, the mental aspect is solid, too.
Bortles would be a surprise to enter the 2014 draft, but he's carrying a solid Round 3 grade for me right now.
Stock Down: USC Wide Receiver Marqise Lee
The 2013 season has been one to forget for USC and their prized wide receiver, Marqise Lee.
The junior wideout entered the year as my No. 2 player at the position—behind Sammy Watkins—but has played his way down the board. While you may think that's related to bad quarterback play and statistics, it's more an indicator of dropped passes and poor concentration from Lee. And those are two things we saw from him last season, too.
Now a knee injury has sidelined Lee for an undisclosed amount of time. A lost season for the talented wide receiver could push him down to the second round in a situation very similar to what his former teammate, Robert Woods, experienced last year.
Stock Up: Utah State Quarterback Chuckie Keeton
Friday night football meant tuning in to check out San Jose State against Utah State in a game that featured two stud quarterbacks. You might be surprised to know that Utah State's Chuckie Keeton out-dueled David Fales—and it wasn't even close.
Keeton has been impressive this season, showing toughness, impeccable instincts and the arm talent to put the ball on a line to his targets all over the field. While he hasn't lit up elite competition, his quarterbacking traits are top of the line.
The biggest question will be Keeton's size. The junior is listed at 6'2" and 200 pounds. That's Robert Griffin III size, but Keeton looks smaller on the field.
If teams can get past his lack of ideal size, they'll have a gunslinging athlete under center. Keeton, as an underclassman, has a solid third-round grade right now.
Stock Down: Alabama Offensive Tackle Cyrus Kouandjio
It's become a foregone conclusion that starters on the Alabama football team will make good NFL players, but is that always the case?
Offensive lineman Cyrus Kouandjio was a top-tier prep player and is now a decorated college left tackle, but the film says something different. Kouandjio looks slow and stiff off the ball. He struggles to play in space against speed. He's part of an elite offensive line that minimizes mistakes as a unit, but as an individual, Kouandjio hasn't impressed.
The hype has been greater than the substance thus far, and Kouandjio looks more like a late-first-round prospect than a blue-chip tackle.
Stock Up: Ohio State Linebacker Ryan Shazier
Every Ohio State game viewed this season shows linebacker Ryan Shazier making plays.
With unbelievable first-step quickness and instincts, Shazier is a football magnet. No matter what the offense does, he can react and make an impact.
The big goal for Shazier this year was to play stronger and take on blockers better, and he's done that. Shazier will still get driven off the ball when facing an attacking offensive tackle, but otherwise he's setting the edge and forcing the play back inside. That's a huge improvement for him—and part of the reason NFL teams are falling in love with the Buckeye.
A top-20-caliber player, Shazier has first-rounder written all over him.
Stock Down: Oregon Tight End Colt Lyerla
My top-ranked tight end just weeks ago, Oregon's Colt Lyerla has seen his stock fall for a number of reasons.
First up, his play on the field has been inconsistent. Dropped passes against Virginia were reason for concern, considering this was a problem last season, too. Lyerla is a big, physically imposing player, and in the NFL he'll have to catch in traffic. A struggle to do that is an issue.
Up next, the curious case of his missed Week 3 game against Tennessee. Lyerla says he was sick; Oregon head coach Mark Herzlich says it was due to "circumstances."
Meanwhile, people close to the program have told me that Lyerla is a "mess" off the field. It's concerning enough that the uber-talented tight end is seeing his stock move from late first round to the second or third round.
Stock Up: Vanderbilt Wide Receiver Jordan Matthews
As Marqise Lee moves down the board, Vanderbilt's Jordan Matthews swoops in to take the No. 2 wide receiver ranking.
Matthews really hit the ground running this season, starting with his amazing performance against Ole Miss and continuing throughout the following weeks. Matthews always had the size and hands, but now he's showing improved speed and agility in space. That's dangerous considering how good he is as a matchup problem on the boundary already.
Matthews entered the year as a fringe first-round prospect, but he's moved himself solidly into the top 20 of the 2014 class.
Stock Down: Miami (FL) Quarterback Stephen Morris
Stephen Morris has not played up to expectations. At all.
Trumpeted by some as a potential No. 1 senior quarterback, Morris has looked inconsistent and unimpressive in each outing. As was the case in 2012, his ball placement is simply not good enough to warrant first-round consideration. Instead, Morris' struggles to find consistent placement and velocity make him look more like a fourth-round passer.
Morris is not a better prospect than Matt Barkley was, and look how far he fell in a class that lacked quarterback talent. As of now, it's safe to say that Morris' stock is bottoming out.
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