Whose NFL Draft Stock Is Soaring Right Now?
The NFL draft talk is in full swing now, and several underrated or undiscovered players are starting to get their due. Though it may not actually be the case, it seems like these players' stocks are rising.
In reality, it's more likely that draft analysts are just starting to realize their talent. Players aren't rising with NFL teams; it just seems that way.
The qualifications for this list are simple: Which players are being ranked more highly now than they were recently?
Lane Johnson, OT, Oklahoma
Following an excellent Senior Bowl week, Lane Johnson has seen his stock skyrocket. Most had Johnson at the end of the first round or beginning of the second prior to his week in Mobile, but now Johnson is a likely top-11 pick.
The 6'6", 302-pounder demonstrated superb athleticism to go with excellent size. He has elite upside as a pass-blocker, and his ability in space is incredible.
Because of his fantastic athletic ability, Johnson's stock is at an all-time high, and he could go as high as No. 7 to the Arizona Cardinals.
Markus Wheaton, WR, Oregon State
Markus Wheaton was another player whose stock rose after a big week at the Senior Bowl. At just 6'1", 182 pounds, Wheaton isn't a prototype wideout, but he has some special skills.
Most notably, Wheaton is fast. He is one of the best deep threats to enter the draft in years, and his ability to stretch the field is unparalleled in this class.
Not every team will love Wheaton, but his special skills could still make him a first-round pick. Prior to his time in Mobile, almost no one was talking about him in that range.
Xavier Rhodes, CB, Florida State
This could have as much to do with a weak-at-the-top cornerback class as his own abilities, but Xavier Rhodes is receiving quite a bit more attention as of late.
The 6'2", 213-pounder is big for a cornerback with great length, strength and speed. His physical abilities are off the charts, which is crucial for a cornerback.
Though Rhodes isn't a finished product yet, bigger cornerbacks are becoming more valued. He has incredible potential, and that is pushing him up in mock drafts to the middle of the first round.
Menelik Watson, OT, Florida State
For a right tackle, Menelik Watson is a phenomenal athlete. The 6'6", 320-pounder is new to the game, but his speed and strength are both well above average.
Watson's physical abilities have pushed him into the first round in some mock drafts, and the rest of the world seems to be realizing just how talented he is.
It's likely that Watson will need some time to develop into a solid starter, but his upside is through the roof. That is becoming a widely accepted fact.
Jonathan Cyprien, S, FIU
Jonathan Cyprien is yet another player whose big week in Mobile has caused analysts to take another look at him. And they're liking what they see.
The 6'0", 209-pounder is a solid athlete who can play either safety position. He plays with aggression and demonstrates solid instincts in all aspects of the game.
Safety is a weak position in the NFL right now, and this shortage will certainly push Cyprien up draft boards. Don't be surprised if he goes in the second or even the first round.
Sharrif Floyd, DT, Florida
Many have been projecting Sharrif Floyd as a first-round pick, but now people are mentioning him as a potential top-10 selection. Former NFL scout Daniel Jeremiah shared his thoughts on Floyd.
At 6'3", 303 pounds, Floyd possesses terrific length to go with excellent power and quickness. He is versatile enough to play a number of roles in the NFL, which only adds to his value.
It's difficult to say just how early Floyd will be drafted, but the latest chat has him in competition with not only Sheldon Richardson but also Star Lotulelei among the draft's top defensive tackles.
Gavin Escobar, TE, San Diego State
A great athlete, Gavin Escobar projects as a receiving tight end in the NFL. He isn't a strong blocker, but his athleticism and soft hands make him an intriguing option.
While Tyler Eifert has garnered most of the publicity at tight end, Escobar is one of several other options at the position. The San Diego State product isn't as complete of a player as others, but he may be more dynamic at 6'6'' and 255 pounds.
It's unlikely that Escobar's stock will rise so high that he goes in the first round, but he should be a solid second-round value.
Arthur Brown, LB, Kansas State
Previously Manti Te'o picked up all the publicity at linebacker; now Arthur Brown seems to be most analysts' top linebacker. The 6'2", 230-pounder seems guaranteed to go in the first round.
Brown flies across the field, demonstrating great burst and speed in all aspects of the game. He plays with ferocity and sheds blocks shockingly well for such a small player.
Though Brown may not be drafted as high as he deserves to be, he could still be picked in the first 20 picks. Expect him to go well before Te'o.
Leon McFadden, CB, San Diego State
The Leon McFadden-hype train hasn't quite picked up steam yet, but it will before too long. A solid Senior Bowl week already has it rolling.
Despite measuring at 5'10" and 190 pounds, McFadden plays with great physicality, often abusing much bigger wide receivers. He also shows above-average ball skills and smooth hips.
McFadden isn't a strong enough athlete to go in the first round, but his stock should settle in the second round. Compared to where he was a mere month ago, that is a huge jump.
Travis Kelce, TE, Cincinnati
Don't be surprised if Travis Kelce is the first tight end off the board.
At 6'6", 260 pounds, Kelce overpowers defenders with brute size and strength. Few tight ends at any level are as dominant as blockers as Kelce is a force in the run game.
The Cincinnati star isn't just a blocker, though. He is also a decent athlete with reliable catching ability. He uses his aforementioned size and strength to get open, and he rarely drops a pass.
Kelce's overall game should make him a first-round selection. His rise hasn't kicked into full gear yet, but he is already considered a second-round pick, and his stock should soar even higher.
Eric Fisher, OT, Central Michigan
Before the Senior Bowl, Eric Fisher was considered the draft's second-best offensive tackle by default. The other top options had opted to return to school, and Fisher was simply the next-best option.
The 6'7", 305-pounder is a capable athlete with great length. He dominates on tape, often demonstrating solid power, but the level of competition he faced remains an issue. Fisher's tendency to play too high is also problematic.
At this point, Fisher seems unlikely to fall outside of the first 11 picks. It's a strong possibility that he won't even fall past Arizona at No. 7.