2014 NFL Draft: Updated Stock Report at Start of Free Agency
Free agency may have stolen the headlines away from the NFL draft process, but it hasn't completely faded away during the early days of March. And after a flurry of activity in free agency in one of the most active starts to the deadline in recent memory, the bombardment of news stories will subside, like it does every year, and draft talk will re-emerge as the focal point of NFL discussions.
While executives are managing their salary cap and signing veterans, scouting departments are still on the road, travelling from pro day to pro day to gather as much information as possible as they work toward finalizing their scouting reports.
In the early part of the pro-day circuit, here's whose stock is up and whose may be trending down.
Stock Up: Brandon Coleman, WR, Rutgers
After a wildly impressive sophomore season, Rutgers receiver Brandon Coleman entered the 2013 season with high expectations, despite the offense lacking a top-end quarterback and losing a majority of the top weapons from 2012.
However, after a productive performance against Fresno State to start the year, his surgically repaired knee from an injury that occurred last March gave him issues all season long. Despite those struggles, Coleman declared early for the draft.
Scouts flocked to his pro day, with the hopes that he'd showcase that high upside he displayed as a sophomore, despite going through even further rehab. While he stood on his 4.56 combine 40-yard dash time, he did impress during positional drills, according to Dan Duggan of NJ.com.
Thanks to his size, vertical ability and upside as a potential feature receiver, he'll be in the top-64 mix despite coming off a down season.
Stock Down: Marqise Lee, WR, USC
While Lee didn't do too much to hurt his actual draft grade over the past few weeks, in such a deep receiver class, not working out or adding to potential injury concerns can push him down as many as two or three spots for some teams in their receiver rankings.
Standing on his good, not elite, combine times, Lee did put up 11 reps on the bench press, but his unwillingness to improve on his 4.52 40 time was a bit disheartening for scouts in attendance. According to CBS Sports' Rob Rang, his decision not to run may have stemmed from the past leg injuries that he dealt with all season long.
Stock Up: Morgan Breslin, DE/OLB, USC
One of the biggest reasons that schools hold pro days is to support their players who don't get invited to the NFL combine. At the USC pro day, the biggest combine "snub" was Morgan Breslin, one of the country's top pass-rushers as a junior who was forced to miss most of his senior season due to a hip injury.
Measuring in at 6'1", 240 pounds, he put up a 33.5" vertical jump and 26 bench reps, per USCTrojans.com—both solid to above-average numbers for a pass-rusher, compared to his peers who performed at the combine.
While the injury concern will still be a factor for some teams, his testing numbers should do enough to place him back in the fifth to seventh round of the draft.
Stock Down: Will Sutton, DT, Arizona
After one of the best pass-rushing seasons in the country as a junior, Arizona State's Will Sutton struggled to match his production and week-to-week impact as a senior. While other factors may have been at play, his weight gain, from 260 to more than 300 pounds between his 2012 and 2013, was the presumed culprit.
After dropping his weight over the course of the draft process, going from 315 at the Senior Bowl to 303 at the combine, Sutton weighed in at 297 at his pro day, closer to what his playing weight in the NFL should be. However, despite the weight loss, he failed to improve his combine numbers, particularly in the 40-yard dash. His 5.30 wasn't far off from his Indianapolis performance.
Athletic tests aren't usually the final determining factor for defensive linemen, but for a pass-rusher like Sutton who utilizes his quickness for success, not improving some of his numbers is going to prevent evaluators from standing up for hi in draft rooms come early May.
Stock Up: Anthony Barr, DE/OLB, UCLA
Already considered one of the premier talents in the 2014 draft class, Anthony Barr had been slipping on draft boards (here's where Josh Norris of Rotoworld had him going) because of his rawness and need for long-term development in the NFL.
After a good, not great, NFL Scouting Combine performance, he didn't do much to assert himself as a top-10 lock, especially for a prospect whose athleticism is the biggest plus on his scouting report.
However, according to head coach Jim Mora Jr., Barr ran a 4.45 electronic 40-yard dash and showcased his athleticism in individual workouts to reassure teams that his elite upside on film is reflected in workouts. I'd be surprised to see him fall outside the top 13 picks, with the top 10 certainly realistic.
Stock Down: Aaron Lynch, DE, South Florida
Aaron Lynch was one of the country's best defensive freshmen at Notre Dame in 2011. His future looked bright, and he was already emerging onto evaluators' radar. However, he opted to transfer after his freshman season to South Florida.
Forced to sit out last season, he was a hotly discussed "sleeper to watch" coming into the year after being nearly forgotten during his transfer season. However, after a lackluster junior season that didn't highlight the wowing skill set he showed in South Bend, Lynch was once again pushed down in the minds of evaluators.
Now, after posting an adequate but not stellar 40-time of 4.68 and a lackluster 29" vertical jump, according to Tony Pauline of DraftInsider.net, scouts may begin to question his overall athletic upside and if he's worthy of taking a chance on in the first three rounds.
Stock Up: Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan State
Justin Gilbert of Oklahoma State is the freak athlete of the cornerback class, but Darqueze Dennard is considered the top prospect and for good reason. After an NFL combine that saw many cornerbacks exceed expectations, most of the impressive numbers posted by the players at the position were a bit forgotten.
While Dennard stood on his 40-time from Indianapolis, he did improve his draft stock by putting up a 36" vertical jump and a 11'2" broad jump, per Michigan State's Twitter. Both were among the best numbers for cornerbacks at the combine or during pro days.
With teams like the Lions, Rams, Steelers and Jets possibly looking for the cornerbacks in the first round, don't rule out Dennard using his pro day to vault into the top 15.
Stock Down: Yawin Smallwood, ILB, UConn
The UConn program isn't known as a college football powerhouse, but it does have a habit of producing NFL prospects each and every year. This draft season, the Huskies feature defensive tackle Shamar Stephen and linebacker Yawin Smallwood.
While Stephen didn't do much to affect his draft grade, Smallwood was unable to perform in workouts due to a hamstring pull, according to Jim Fuller of the New Haven Register, which frustrated both him and the evaluators in attendance.
The 2014 lackluster linebacker class is good news for the talented Smallwood, but after being injured for some of his combine workouts and now missing his pro-day opportunity, he may end up being a tough sell on draft day.