One of the most fun parts of the run-up to April's NFL Draft is watching the "stock" of prospects as it rise and falls between the end of the college football regular season and the draft. Between bowl games, all-star games, and the NFL Combine, players positions will move up and down the board in a miniature version of Wall Street. Let the fun begin.
The Stanford running back finished with 27 TDs and over 1,800 yards, and while he still isn't projecting as a first-rounder in most mock drafts, that has more to do with a draft that seems to be shaping up to be focused on defense than with his abilities.
Gerhart could be among the best available running backs in the second round—and he could even sneak into the first—thanks to his size and his stats. The knock on him is that his blocking skills are average at best, and while he is a competent pass-catcher, Stanford didn't ask him to do it often.
Some would say Bradford's stock would fall, due to the time he missed in 2009. But with Jimmy Clausen skipping the NFL Combine, Bradford's stock could actually rise. He was the most dominating QB in college when healthy, and the NFL will remember that, especially if he's deemed fully healthy.
Tate's productivity on the field and reputation as one of Jimmy Clausen's favorite targets will help him in this draft. So will the fact that this year's draft isn't loaded with receivers. Playing a pro-style offense can't hurt, either.
Rolando McClain has already made a strong case for himself with his play on the field—101 tackles and four sacks in 2009—and with the Crimson Tide playing for the national championship, his stock could continue to rise with a good game under the bright lights tonight.
Now that he's declared for the draft, Aaron Hernandez could jump onto the radar screens of NFL teams looking for a tight end late in the first round or early in the second. One Web site has him ranked as the second best tight end in the draft, and certain teams—like the Jets—may be taking long looks at Hernandez.
Clausen will still be one of the top two quarterbacks taken, but his stock will likely take a slight dip since he's skipping the combine, and the emphasis on defense by many teams in this draft could hurt him, too.
Dunlap is still one of the most skilled defensive ends in the game, but a DWI charge he received right before the SEC Championship game could hurt his chances with those teams that value character.
Dez Bryant received a suspension for lying to the NCAA about his contact with former NFL player Deion Sanders, and that could raise red flags with some NFL coaches and GMs.
Even he's considered one of the best defensive backs in the draft, he did struggle in 2009. He also misses some tacklers he should make. This will give teams pause unless they absolutely need a safety.
Spikes could drop because of the eye-gouging incident against Georgia earlier this year—he was suspended for one game for that misdeed. Character counts in the NFL, and some teams may be wary.