It happens every year: A player has the look of a surefire first-round pick, but come draft day he tumbles down the board and completely out of the round.
This phenomenon happens for a variety of reasons. Sometimes the very talented player has an injury concern that makes the league take pause. Other times it is a combination of things, such as a trend sweeping the league.
More often than not, the media and fans are just flat out wrong on how NFL front offices feel about a certain player.
For those who care to take the time, these players can also be unearthed like diamonds in the rough through careful analysis of trends and other factors. Three stand out in the 2014 class.
Kelvin Benjamin, WR, Florida State
A rare blend of size and speed, Kelvin Benjamin's stock fluctuates wildly from expert to expert.
For some, Benjamin's 6'5", 240-pound frame and great speed are simply unmatched and worth a gamble in the first round. For others, the Florida State product's drop issues at the collegiate level will not translate well to the pros.
Bleacher Report's Matt Bowen summed up the conundrum quite well recently:
I would give Benjamin a second-round grade at this point of the draft process. However, with his size and matchup ability, plus the red-zone issues he can give opposing defenses versus both zone/man schemes, there is a strong possibility that he could come off the board in the first round, as Bleacher Report's Matt Miller projects in his post-combine mock draft.
A team might make Benjamin a first-round pick, but the odds are not in his favor. With such a deep class of receivers on deck, teams content to actually take a receiver in the first—knowing full and well they can wait and still get quality in later rounds—will likely look to prospects who have a more well-rounded game.
In a draft littered with NFL-ready prospects, the league will not have a hard time waiting on Benjamin.
Carlos Hyde, RB, Ohio State
In the minds of NFL experts such as CBS Sports' Dane Brugler, Ohio State's Carlos Hyde is the only running back worth a remotely high pick in this year's draft:
3) There is only one RB I'd consider taking in the top-60 picks this year - #OhioState RB Carlos Hyde. Plenty of quality RBs in 3rd-5th rnds— Dane Brugler (@dpbrugler) March 10, 2014
Now combine this with the fact the NFL is down on the position as a whole thanks to the extremely popular committee approach, and there is seemingly no chance for any back to be taken in the first round this year.
Hyde was asked about this very trend at the combine and admitted it bugged him, according to Nate Davis of USA Today:
"It does kind of bother me. I feel like they are just down on us. They don't think we are capable of doing what we know we can do. They are kind of just downplaying us: 'We can just wait to get ya'll' (later in the draft).'"
Unfortunately, Hyde is right. The 6'0", 230-pound bruiser would have likely been in Heisman consideration last year had he not been suspended for the first three games of the season and he has a game that easily translates to the NFL.
But the NFL does not feel an imperative need for Hyde—or any back for that matter. He's the best in class, but he will take a big drop on draft day.
Cyrus Kouandjio, OT, Alabama
Once considered arguably the top tackle in the draft by many experts, Cyrus Kouandjio's stock has taken a major hit in recent weeks since some medical concerns popped up at the combine.
According to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport, Kouandjio was flagged by teams for knee issues:
Bad news for #Bama OT Cyrus Kouandjio. I’m told several teams have failed him on his physical. Arthritic knee from failed surgery. “Ugly.”— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) February 22, 2014
But since then, Dr. James Andrews has come to Kouandjio's defense, according to CBS Sports' Jason La Canfora:
Dr. James Andrews told me he's sending a memo to all 32 teams refuting an NFL Network combine report about Alabama T Cyrus Kouandjio's knee— Jason La Canfora (@JasonLaCanfora) March 6, 2014
What does all this mean? It's hard to say at this juncture. But before the uproar about a knee that may or may not be a serious issue, Kouandjio's impressive body of work as a mauling tackle who paved wide running lanes through the SEC spoke for itself.
And it still does. At this point, Kouandjio is still a fringe-first round pick.
Yet with so many talented tackles already poised to come off the board in the first round, it looks like the Alabama product will not hear his name called until the second round.