2014 NFL Draft: Stock Up, Stock Down Following Championship Weekend

Garrett BakerSenior Analyst IDecember 9, 2013

DALLAS, TX - DECEMBER 7: Blake Bortles #5 of the Central Florida Knights looks to the sidelines for a play against the SMU Mustangs on December 7, 2013 at Gerald J. Ford Stadium in Dallas, Texas.  (Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images)
Cooper Neill/Getty Images

The past two weeks of college football have been exhilarating, but they have also given us a good look at some top prospects in high-pressure games.

Rivalry week and championship week allow prospects to shine (or falter) on the biggest stage of the season, and therefore these games can have a sizable impact on draft stocks.

Here are some top prospects who played this past Saturday and have taken advantage of the spotlight, along with a few others who have come up short.

Stock Up

Kelvin Benjamin, WR, Florida State

It's hard to stand out in this year's crowded wide receiver class, but Benjamin has been absolutely unbelievable in his past three games.

The redshirt sophomore is a little raw, but he's an impressive athlete at 6'5", 234 pounds and will be skyrocketing up my (and probably everybody else's) big board soon.

He has 17 catches for 392 yards and seven scores in his last three games, and he helped Florida State dominate in the ACC Championship Game with 119 yards and two touchdowns. 

Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma State

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Gilbert has gotten better all season and has put himself in the first-round discussion after an exceptional past month. He uses his speed and instincts to make an impact on every play.

The senior took the opening kickoff back for a touchdown four games ago against Kansas and then had two interceptions (one of which he took back for a score) the following week against Texas.

Gilbert's speed is impressive, but Jalen Saunders also found out how strong he is this past Saturday. Oklahoma State may have lost out on a Big 12 title, but Gilbert looked good with three solo tackles and two passes defended.

Blake Bortles, QB, Central Florida

People are just starting to bring up Bortles' name as other top quarterbacks are returning to school or getting hurt, but I've been high on Bortles for a couple months now.

He was rising up my board regardless of what the players around him were doing, as he has shown a lot of potential while shockingly leading UCF to a Top 15 ranking. Don't be surprised if his team is in the Top 25 next spring.

The junior has been outstanding in his past four games with a 68.9 completion percentage, 1,200 passing yards and seven touchdowns. He showed off his athleticism in clinching the AAC title with 31 rushing yards and two scores on the ground.

Ryan Shazier, OLB, Ohio State

After having a good but not great first half of the season, Shazier has been one of the best defensive players in the nation over the past four games.

He has averaged 15.25 tackles and 2.875 tackles for loss over that span, and he has been playing really inspired football.

The junior had an unbelievable 19 tackles and five TFL against Indiana on November 23. Then in the Big Ten Championship Game, he racked up 12 tackles, 1.5 TFL and a blocked punt. Shazier is the best 4-3 OLB prospect in the country.

Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn

Richardson is only a redshirt sophomore, but he has some serious potential and is getting better every single week.

He was a huge catalyst for Auburn's dominating offense in its SEC Championship victory. Richardson helped pave the way for the Tigers to rack up 545 yards on the ground.

He was very solid against Alabama as well. NFL scouts probably wish that he'd get to pass block a little more often, but they have to like what they see. 

Trent Murphy, OLB, Stanford

As a redshirt senior, Murphy has really had a breakout campaign in 2013. The 6'6" linebacker/defensive end hybrid is a freak athlete and has a great motor.

CORVALLIS, OR - OCTOBER 26: Linebacker Trent Murphy #93 of the Stanford Cardinal closes in to sack quarterback Sean Mannion #4 of the Oregon State Beavers during the first quarter of the game at Reser Stadium on October 26, 2013 in Corvallis, Oregon. (Pho
Steve Dykes/Getty Images

The team captain was phenomenal in Stanford's Pac-12 Championship victory over Arizona State with seven tackles and a sack while also just wreaking havoc and helping stuff ASU's running game.

Over the most recent four-game stretch, Murphy has been equally as impressive with 7.5 TFL and four sacks. He's pretty much a first-round lock at this point.

Stock Down

Michael Sam, DE, Missouri

Mizzou got absolutely annihilated by Auburn's rushing attack in the SEC Championship Game as Tre Mason was able to go for a record 304 yards on the ground.

Just the week before, Mizzou also got shredded on the ground by Texas A&M for 184 yards. Sam had just 0.5 sacks, one TFL and eight tackles in those two games, which were the biggest of the season.

He doesn't have the athletic upside that Kony Ealy does, so those kinds of games hit Sam's stock pretty hard. He's been neutralized against two of the best offensive lines he's faced, which isn't good.

Brandon Coleman, WR, Rutgers

After a breakout sophomore campaign last year, Coleman's lack of production this year is pretty strange. He came into this year as a potential first-round pick, but he's looked incredibly mediocre for most of the season.

PISCATAWAY, NJ - OCTOBER 27: Brandon Coleman #17 of the Rutgers Scarlet Knights is tackled by Luke Batton #30 of the Kent State Golden Flashes after making a catch at High Point Solutions Stadium on October 27, 2012 in Piscataway, New Jersey.  (Photo by A
Alex Trautwig/Getty Images

Rutgers didn't play in a conference championship game this past weekend, but the Scarlet Knights did beat USF in a matchup where Coleman recorded only one catch for 14 yards. He had just three catches for 56 yards and no scores in the two games prior.

Will Sutton, DT, Arizona State

Sutton (somehow) was named the Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year over Trent Murphy, but he has hurt his draft stock this season.

The redshirt senior hasn't been bad by any means this year, but he's just left a lot to be desired this season, especially in the past few games.

He has just two sacks in his past four games and averages one TFL over that same span. ASU's defense was lit up by Stanford's uninspiring offense, and Sutton just didn't make a big impact with a lot on the line.

Braxton Miller, QB, Ohio State

All season, some people were saying that Ohio State was not anywhere near as good as its record and that the Buckeyes looked impressive because they played inferior competition.

This past Saturday, those critics were proven correct. Miller made his mark running but went just 8-of-21 passing for 101 yards and was inconsistent.

You can't play QB in the NFL if you can't throw, and Miller's 38.9 completion percentage over the past two weeks (against the two best teams OSU played all year) will really damage his stock.  


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