2011 NFL Draft: 15 College Stars Who Will Face Draft-Day Free Falls
2011 NFL Draft isn't until next April, but we all know that it's really a year-round event.
Everyone, from NFL and college football analysts to fans, have been talking about it for months, and that chatter will continue until the first player is selected on draft day.
Of course, one of the most common debates leading up to the draft involves a player's draft stock.
Is it falling? It it rising? Is it pretty much always the same?
Well, with the exception of a few players, most players will see their stock move one way or the other.
But today we're here to look at the players whose stock could drop considerably by the time the draft rolls around.
So here they are: 15 college stars who will face draft-day free falls.
2011 NFL Draft: 15 College Stars Who Will Face Draft-Day Free Falls
Every draft professional, guru and couch football expert will tell you that the NFL draft is in inexact science.
But some players are bigger gambles than others.
Here are 15 college players who might suffer through a sobering draft day. Though some of them went into the season with big expectations, things didn't go as well for them as for some others.
15. Greg Jones, OLB, Michigan State
Greg Jones has had a remarkable career at Michigan State, racking up more than 450 career tackles as a Spartan.
But there continue to be questions about his size—he's 6'1", 228 pounds—and his uncertain draft status prevented him from entering the draft early last year.
Though Jones' production has been ridiculous at times—he had 153 tackles and nine sacks last year—it fell off considerably this year when he finished with less than 100 tackles and two sacks.
He'll have to prove himself at the combine.
14. Noel Devine, RB, West Virginia
Noel Devine will probably follow in the footstep of former Mountaineer Steve Slaton, who fell to Round 3 of the 2008 Draft because of his small stature.
Devine is tiny—at 5,8", 180 pounds, he's even smaller than Slaton—and will likely see his stock plummet as a result.
Shorter running backs just aren't drafted very high these days no matter how talented they are.
See: Darren Sproles and Maurice Jones-Drew
13. Kellen Moore, QB, Boise State
Throw out all the stats Kellen Moore accumulated at Boise State: the yards, the touchdowns, the lack of interceptions.
Moore is listed at just 6', 187 pounds, and NFL teams generally shy away from smaller quarterback prospects no matter what type of college careers they had.
If Moore was a better athlete, it would probably be a different story,
But he's not an overly athletic guy, so his lack of size and his reputation as "just a great college quarterback" will drop him to the late rounds or even out of the draft altogether.
12. Ras-I Dowling, CB, Virginia
Ras-I Dowling started the season as a first-round caliber prospect, but he's had multiple injuries that have limited him to just three games in 2010.
He possesses good size at 6'2", 200 pounds and arguably had a brighter NFL future (before the injuries) than former teammate Chris Cook, who was selected early in the second round of the 2010 draft.
But proneness to injuries tends to make stocks fall, and Dowling hasn't proven he can stay healthy this season.
11. Drake Nevis, DT, LSU
Drake Nevis has the ability to be a disruptive presence on the defensive line, and he can get into the backfield about as quickly as anyone at times.
But he's struggled with shedding blocks, and he's been up-and-down all season—he had three sacks against Vanderbilt, but only registered two sacks in the team's other 11 games.
Nevis also doesn't have history on side.
Two recent LSU defensive linemen who were selected in the first round—Glenn Dorsey and Tyson Jackson—haven't had much success at the NFL level.
10. Ricky Stanzi, QB, Iowa
Ricky Stanzi was climbing up draft boards midway through the 2010 season, seemingly on his way to a solid third round selection.
But Iowa's lost three straight games in which Stanzi has seen his completion percentage plummet and thrown for less than 200 yards per game.
He'll still hear his name called on draft day, just not as early as he would like.
9. Terrence Toliver, WR, LSU
When your main quarterback is Jordan Jefferson, your draft stock is going to drop a lot.
And that's exactly what has happened to Terrence Toliver, who has an incredible skill set and measurables but hasn't put up great numbers at LSU.
Toliver was one of the most highly touted wide receivers coming out of high school, but his role in an anemic LSU passing attack will drop him far below his first round value.
He'll probably go somewhere in that Round 2-3 range.
8. Jonathan Baldwin, WR, Pittsburgh
Jonathan Baldwin was supposed to be the "next Larry Fitzgerald" or as close to him as you can get.
But shaky quarterback play has limited his production, and he hasn't put together mesmerizing stats.
Baldwin's build and physical skills make him worthy of a top 15 or top 20 selection, but he'll probably fall to the end of,or even out of, the first round unless he wows scouts at the combine with a Calvin Johnson-esque performance.
7. Christian Ponder, QB, Florida State
Widely considered one of the best senior quarterback prospects before the draft, Christian Ponder hasn't had a ton of success this season at Florida State.
He missed a couple of games because of injury, he threw for just 2,000 yards, and his completion percentage fell from 68.8 to 62.2 in 2010.
Ponder has the build of an NFL quarterback, but his stock has taken a big hit with his performance this season.
6. Julio Jones, WR, Alabama
Julio Jones can make plays—he's proved it throughout his career.
He also possesses incredible size, good strength, and a ton of athletic ability.
But Jones is not the most polished route runner or the greatest wide receiver you'll see, and he still needs to develop his game before he can become an elite player at the NFL.
As tempting as Jones may be, he could fall from a top 10 or top 15 talent to the end of the first round if he can't show he has a well-rounded game at the receiver position.
5. Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State
I know I'm going wide receiver-heavy with these picks, but there are a lot of question marks at that position right now.
And Justin Blackmon is one of them.
The comparisons to former Oklahoma State wide receiver are eerily similar, from their production to their character issues—Blackmon was arrested for DUI earlier in the season.
Blackmon will fall in the draft as a result, just like Bryant did.
4. Ryan Williams, RB, Virginia Tech
Ryan Williams had a superb 2009 season, racking up more than 1,600 yards and 22 total touchdowns for the Hokies.
But Williams has found himself in a three-back rotation at Virginia Tech, and he has less than 500 yards and just 10 touchdowns this season.
He's not a lock to enter the draft, but it wouldn't be surprising to see him do it.
It still wouldn't be the smartest move though, because most teams have soured on him as a first-round talent.
3. Robert Quinn, DE, North Carolina
Robert Quinn is a top 10 or even a top five talent, but he hasn't had a squeaky clean reputation at North Carolina.
As a result, he was suspended, he has not taken a snap this season, and will not have played football in roughly a year and half by the time the 2011 draft rolls around.
Though he's arguably the top pass-rushing defensive end in this year's draft class, character issues will probably drop him to a much lower draft position than his talent warrants.
2. Jake Locker, QB, Washington
Jake Locker could very well be the victim of the Aaron Rodgers effect: a guy with No. 1 overall pick talent who falls to that 20-30 range.
Though Locker entered the season as the favorite to be the first player taken, he's stumbled this season and now finds himself behind Andrew Luck and possibly Ryan Mallett and Cam Newton.
Locker's physical tools are there, but I'm not sure that leads to a top 10 pick, especially if quarterback-needy teams choose to go with those three other guys I mentioned instead.
1. Cameron Heyward, DE, Ohio State
The size is there, the ability is there, and all the measurables are there.
But something is missing with Cameron Heyward.
He's had the tendency to completely disappear from games, and he hasn't been the dominant force most analysts thought he would be.
There are also questions about Heyward's spot at the NFL level because his game won't translate well if he's drafted to be a pass rusher in a 4-3 defense.
Heyward's best fit is as an end in a 3-4 scheme, which limits his options on draft day.