2014 NFL Draft: Stock Up, Stock Down Following BCS National Championship

Garrett BakerSenior Analyst IJanuary 7, 2014

Jan 6, 2014; Pasadena, CA, USA; Florida State Seminoles defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan (8) reacts to a play against the Auburn Tigers during the second half of the 2014 BCS National Championship game at the Rose Bowl.  Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports
Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

With the conclusion of the BCS National Championship Game ending bowl season, the 2013 college football year is officially over.

Talk will shift completely to the NFL draft at this stage, with the draft order solidifying further every week while teams lose in the playoffs and fall into their respective slots.

Underclassmen have also been making decisions about whether or not to enter the draft, and they have up to Jan. 15 to finalize their plans.

With all of this in mind, it's time to look back and see which draft-eligible players helped themselves at the end of the season and who may have hurt their stock.

Stock Up

Timmy Jernigan, DT, Florida State

Some people may point and stare at Tre Mason's and Rashad Greene's big numbers in this game, but Jernigan did the most to help his draft stock.

He is a physical specimen, but many people have been split in their opinion on Jernigan throughout this season. But nobody can deny how he dominated Auburn's offensive line and wreaked havoc all night.

He finished with nine tackles in the game, which is extremely high for a defensive tackle. The junior has yet to declare, but he could take this momentum in stride and head for the draft.

Cody Hoffman, WR, Brigham Young

In a stacked wide receiver class, some players are bound to fly under the radar. But Hoffman is 6'4" with impressive athleticism and pretty solid numbers on an average offense.

In the Fight Hunger Bowl, his last collegiate game, Hoffman went off for 12 catches and 167 yards against Washington's solid defense. That game is sure to get the attention of scouts, and don't be surprised if you hear Hoffman's name mentioned as a potential riser.

Stephon Tuitt, DE, Notre Dame

Tuitt had been pretty disappointing all season, but he was a menace in the Pinstripe Bowl against Rutgers, registering 1.5 sacks and four tackles.

While he had an uninspiring season, he will still very much be considered in the first round because of his size and versatility. He's probably the best 3-4 defensive end prospect in the nation and could try to ride this late-season momentum into the combine.

Blake Bortles, QB, Central Florida

He has been rising for a while now, but Bortles really took advantage of a major opportunity in the Fiesta Bowl and shredded No. 6 Baylor for 52 points.

In the biggest game of his life, the junior went 20-of-31 passing with 301 yards and three touchdowns, and he added 93 rushing yards and a score on the ground as well.

That versatility will impress scouts and has cemented Bortles as a first-round prospect since declaring for the draft.

Jeremy Hill, RB, LSU

He's dealt with a lot of off-the-field issues that will be questioned during the draft process, but the draft-eligible true sophomore finished the season in style.

Jan 1, 2014; Tampa, Fl, USA; LSU Tigers running back Jeremy Hill (33) runs past Iowa Hawkeyes defensive lineman Louis Trinca-Pasat (90)  during the second half at Raymond James Stadium. LSU Tigers defeated the Iowa Hawkeyes 21-14. Mandatory Credit: Kim Kl
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Hill dominated Iowa's staunch defense in the Outback Bowl, rushing for a career-high 216 yards on just 28 carries and adding two touchdowns. His blend of power and speed will be tantalizing despite his legal troubles.

While I think he's likely to declare, he has yet to do so.

Dion Bailey, S, Southern California

In a weak safety class. there's a ton of room to move up behind Ha Ha Clinton-Dix. Bailey has stated his case this season and turned in a great performance in the Las Vegas Bowl.

Bailey, who has since declared for the draft, flew around the field and had four tackles, two tackles for loss and held Derek Carr to just 217 passing yards.

Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn

Some have said that Robinson was the most dominant player on the field during the National Championship, and with all due respect to Jernigan, it's hard to disagree.

While he's still only a redshirt sophomore, Robinson has all the tools you want in a premier left tackle, he and was outstanding in pass protection as well as run-blocking. 

There's a lot to like about Robinson and his upside. He recently tweeted his declaration for the 2014 NFL draft. 

Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson

If there was any doubt that Watkins is the top receiver in this class, it was completely eradicated Friday night in the Orange Bowl.

Watkins essentially carried Clemson to victory against Ohio State, setting multiple records with his 16-catch, 227-yard, two-touchdown performance. He was all over the field, and he showcased both his breakaway speed and bulldozing ability while fighting through a minor knee injury. 

Watkins has declared for the draft and is the front-runner to be the first receiver selected.

Vic Beasley, DE/OLB, Clemson

Watkins carried Clemson, but he was helped a lot on the defensive side of the ball, primarily from Beasley terrorizing Braxton Miller and Carlos Hyde.

MIAMI GARDENS, FL - JANUARY 03: Braxton Miller #5 of the Ohio State Buckeyes is sacked in the first quarter by Vic Beasley #3 of the Clemson Tigers during the Discover Orange Bowl at Sun Life Stadium on January 3, 2014 in Miami Gardens, Florida.  (Photo b
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

Beasley's quickness off the edge was impressive, and he destroyed another solid prospect in left tackle Jack Mewhort. He finished with a sack and an incredible four tackles for loss, while narrowly missing out on another one or two.

Beasley proved that while he may be on the lighter side, he can still be very effective against NFL-caliber offenses, although he has not declared for the draft yet.

Stock Down

Ahmad Dixon, S, Baylor

Dixon, the best player on Baylor's defense, was utterly helpless to stop Blake Bortles and UCF's offense in the Fiesta Bowl. I already mentioned the weak safety class, and Dixon certainly did nothing to help his case here.

Despite UCF not having any highly ranked skill players on offense, Baylor was shredded for 556 total yards and 52 points. UCF was running free in the secondary, and I saw Dixon get out-worked or run over too many times.

Derek Carr, QB, Fresno State

In the biggest game of his career, Carr came up incredibly short. He looked antsy in the pocket, and his mechanics and decision-making collapsed when he was put under any pressure.

The senior finished with just 217 yards through the air, and his interception and 53.7 completion percentage are just as unimpressive as his team's 45-20 loss. 

Carr's stock won't necessarily take a big hit from the game, but he really missed out on a major opportunity to climb further up boards.

LAS VEGAS, NV - DECEMBER 21:  Quarterback Derek Carr #4 of the Fresno State Bulldogs scrambles under pressure from J.R. Tavai #58 of the USC Trojans during the Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl at Sam Boyd Stadium on December 21, 2013 in Las Vegas, Nevada. USC
Ethan Miller/Getty Images

LSU Wide Receivers

Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham Jr. were practically nonexistent in the Outback Bowl. They each caught just two passes and were both unable to find the end zone.

In this deep receiver class, both of them are vying to jump into the first-round discussion and failed to make an impact on a big stage at the end of the year.

They have both declared for the draft and will be counting on their larger body of work to keep their stocks high.

Max Bullough, ILB, Michigan State

In what would have been his last game as a Spartan, Bullough was suspended for an unknown violation of team rules.

This is not the first time he's been suspended, so there will certainly be a big mark next to his name on most team's boards. There's also the fact that Michigan State's defense was still very strong without him on the field.

All in all, while it may not be an enormous deal in the long run, those circumstances will certainly not help Bullough's stock.


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