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NFL Draft 2011: Cam Newton and 6 Players Whose Stocks Have Sky Rocketed

Collin BerglundCorrespondent IIIApril 27, 2011

NFL Draft 2011: Cam Newton and 6 Players Whose Stocks Have Sky Rocketed

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    Joe Robbins/Getty Images

    Teams in the 2011 NFL draft are continuing to shift around draft boards watching players rise and fall, even after the college season ends.  Since then, players have attended the combine, various pro days and spoken with prospective employers.

    Regardless of whether postseason actions can indicate a player's talent, coaches and GM's across the league are changing their opinion on players based on out-of-game experiences.

    Which players have done the most for themselves since their last college game?

Cam Newton (QB, Auburn)

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    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    Cam Newton has risen up mock drafts across the country, often all the way to the first spot.  His rise is largely unexplainable, NFL-draft-rise-is-tough-to-explain-041511">according to Adam Caplan of Fox Sports.

    Because most of the quarterbacks in this draft are simply good, Newton's natural gifts and talent are standing out more than they ordinarily would.  Teams are looking past his short history to his potential.

    Newton has the potential to be an outstanding NFL quarterback, and in the combine, he excelled in physical tests like sprints and jumps.  Yet a quarterback's first job is to find open receivers, and Newton's accuracy leaves a bit to be desired, both in games and in his display at the Combine.

Jordan Todman (RB, UConn)

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    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    The former UConn running back and second-leading rusher in the nation last season impressed officials from various teams with his combine workout and could go in the mid rounds of the NFL draft.

    He clocked an impressive 4.40 in the 40-yard dash that might help ease concerns over his size (Todman measures in at 5'9").  He also outdid many of his peers at the bench press putting 225 pounds up 25 times.

    Teams are most concerned about the injury-risk associated with Todman.  He is a small back, but he doesn't avoid tacklers like prototypical smaller backs—think he invites the contact.  Coaches and scouts worry this mentality could lead to injuries down the road.

Julio Jones (WR, Alabama)

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    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    Julio Jones also had a spectacular combine and separated himself from the pack of wide receivers in the draft.

    After running a 4.39 40-yard dash and jumping 11'3" in the broad jump, Jones showed scouts and coaches that he has the speed and athletic ability to complement his height.  Jones projects as a Dwyane Bowe-type player—a receiver that uses his height and athletic ability to get jump balls in the end zone.

    At 6'2" and the longest broad jump at the combine, no corner will be able to compete with Jones' jump ball ability. 

Stephen Paea (DT, Oregon St.)

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    Harry How/Getty Images

    Stephen Paea has had a productive offseason, and with a record-setting combine performance he might slip into the bottom of the first round of the draft.

    Paea repped 225 pounds on the bench press 49 times, setting a combine record.

    Paea was able to convert his strength into production in college as a 2010 consensus All-American. Whether he can do so in the NFL is unclear, but it will be easier for him to overcome the strength of professional offensive lines than other rookies.

Christian Ponder (QB, Florida St.)

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    Sean Gardner/Getty Images

    It's a strange year for quarterbacks in the NFL Draft with a number of quarterbacks fitting into the middle of the pack.

    Christian Ponder was not in the top tier of quarterbacks with Cam Newton and Blaine Gabbert at season's end, but he might have had a strong enough Senior Bowl and Combine to sneak higher in Round 1.

    Ponder was injured for parts of the 2010 season and NFL teams were concerned with how it would affect his long-term play.  His combination of raw talent and the preparation he showed scouts at the Senior Bowl have dramatically increased Ponder's draft value.

Ryan Kerrigan (DE, Purdue)

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