The 2014 NFL draft is still a few weeks away, which means there’s plenty of time for the draft process to pump up the hype for a few more prospects.
Speculation is especially running rampant over which quarterbacks other than the top tier of Teddy Bridgewater, Blake Bortles and Johnny Manziel have attracted teams’ attention.
There’s also been plenty of noise about a few cornerbacks that have started to make their ways up draft boards.
Read on to find out exactly which players are rising up draft boards around the league.
Bradley Roby, CB, Ohio State
There are a variety of teams with needs in the secondary this year, and that’s buoyed the stock of several cornerbacks.
One who seems to be doing particularly well right about now is Bradley Roby of Ohio State.
Roby has decent height for a corner at 5’11”, but it’s speed that’s really getting him attention—he ran a 4.39 second 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine, the top mark at the position.
ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. even said that “If you graded Roby purely on upside at the position, you're talking about a possible top-10 pick,” but projected him going at No. 24 to the Cincinnati Bengals (subscription required).
Todd McShay agrees with that assessment, but it seems like the prevailing wisdom on Roby is shifting.
In fact, NFL.com’s Daniel Jeremiah’s most recent mock pegged Roby at the 15th overall spot to the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Not only do the Steelers have a big need at corner, but it seems like the team is interested in Roby. Ray Fittipaldo of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported that they recently hosted Roby for a visit.
Predraft visitors today for the Steelers: CB Bradley Roby of Ohio State, LB Kevin Pierre-Louis of BC and LB Carl Bradford of Arizona State.— Ray Fittipaldo (@rayfitt1) April 11, 2014
With the growing sense that Michigan State cornerback Darqueze Dennard’s stock is slipping a bit, Roby is in perfect position to fill the need some teams have in their secondary.
He might not be a huge name, but as the draft approaches, expect his stock to rise even higher.
Tom Savage, QB, Pittsburgh
There’s always at least one quarterback in each draft who undergoes a meteoric rise through the draft process, and in 2014, it would seem Savage fits the bill.
Savage had an up and down college career, spending a year apiece with Rutgers, Arizona and Pittsburgh, but never really dazzled anywhere.
Now, scouts can’t seem to stop talking about his arm strength and his size.
Savage does have a nice frame at 6’4” and 228 pounds, but it’s his arm that’s earning rave reviews.
One anonymous scout told the NFL’s Ian Rapoport that Savage had the strongest arm in the draft and that “He's got a really strong arm, but erratic.”
The scout said he was a “late-round type,” but that no longer seems to be the case.
According to Jeremiah, Savage keeps rising up boards across the league.
The Tom Savage buzz is legitimate. His name keeps coming up when I talk to decision makers.— Daniel Jeremiah (@MoveTheSticks) April 8, 2014
The hype just seems relentless for Savage right now, but that doesn’t mean he’s perfect. Mike Huguenin of NFL.com points out that there are plenty of reasons for teams to avoid getting too carried away with Savage.
While Savage has a strong arm, decision-making and accuracy have been issues. He also lacks mobility and that issue was exacerbated in 2013 because Pitt had a young offensive live. He was sacked eight times in a loss to Virginia Tech and seven times in a win over Virginia. When he faces pressure and is forced to move around in the pocket, his mechanics frequently go awry and he makes bad decisions.
However, in the heat of the draft process, details like these tend to be overlooked.
He seems like a lock to keep impressing scouts, and if he does, there’s no telling how high he can go.
Roby’s rise might not be quite as steep, but he, too, could inch even higher on draft boards as the big night nears.
The draft process may be unpredictable at times, but this much seems certain: Roby and Savage will be two names called early on this year.