Players Who Helped or Hurt 2014 NFL Draft Stock in BCS National Championship
The Florida State Seminoles emerged victorious over the Auburn Tigers in the BCS National Championship, but several players on both sides boosted their NFL draft stock in the process.
As Tigers running back Tre Mason had a massive game, he and his top offensive lineman will see their stock soar. FSU's elite wide receiving corps saw two players secure big performances as well.
The two biggest boosts might have come along the teams' defensive fronts, as both Dee Ford and Timmy Jernigan turned in exemplary efforts.
Click on for a breakdown of how the NFL draft stock changed hands at the Rose Bowl.
Helped: Auburn RB Tre Mason
Tre Mason ended his junior season with a string of six 100-yard games.
His coming-of-age efforts came in the final three games before the national title against Georgia, Alabama and Missouri, when he combined for 583 rushing yards and six scores.
The junior continued his incredible hot streak, pounding his way to 195 yards and a touchdown against FSU.
That score looked as though it would be the game-winner, but the Seminoles struck back to take the late victory.
Regardless, Mason displayed the blend of power, quickness and top-end speed that will make him an enticing choice in the NFL draft, if he decides to leave early.
Helped: Florida State WR Rashad Greene
Rashad Greene picked a good time to have his best game.
The junior brought in a game-high nine receptions for 147 yards—both of which came as season-highs.
At 6'0", 180 pounds, he will bring versatility to the next level, whether he leaves now or comes back for his senior season.
Greene has a knack for finding open space, and he had three or more receptions in every game this season.
After an outstanding title game, it might be time for Greene to take off to the pros.
Hurt: Florida State OT Cameron Erving
Cameron Erving was a key part of the Florida State offensive line all season long, but he didn't have his best individual performance against Auburn.
The vaunted Auburn rush, sparked by Dee Ford, gave Erving and the FSU line fits throughout the contest.
AU boasts both power and speed along its defensive front, which exposed Erving a bit. As opined by NFL.com's Daniel Jeremiah, Erving has room for improvement:
It was an average game for Erving. He struggled to cut off the speed rushers at times, and he was also overpowered on a few snaps. However, he did flash some strength and power in the run game. He has an NFL body and a lot of upside, but he's still a work in progress.
A redshirt junior, Erving now faces a tough decision. Should he go pro, or return in attempt to develop and build his stock.
The latter might be the best choice, considering his high ceiling.
Helped: Auburn DE Dee Ford
There might not have been a defender in Pasadena as impressive as Auburn's Dee Ford.
He recorded three tackles and a game-high two sacks, flashing speed and power, as detailed by Rob Rang of CBSSports.com:
Auburn's Dee Ford was every bit (Timmy) Jernigan's match for the Tigers, blowing past Florida State's senior right tackle Bobby Hart with a lethal combination of burst, balance and underrated power to sack Winston twice and hurry the freshman sensation several other times.
At 6'2", 240 pounds, Ford projects as a 3-4 outside linebacker, where he has potential to excel in a rush-first role.
While the changing of positions might make Ford a question as an early-round pick, his elite athletic ability will set him up for success at the next level.
Helped: Florida State DT Timmy Jernigan
Timmy Jernigan looked like he was about to lose his pregame meal on the sideline at the Rose Bowl.
Late in the contest, the junior was knelt down on the sideline, sweating like a sieve, looking like he could keel over at any moment. At the time, Jernigan's conditioning was under serious fire, but it was later revealed that he was playing with the flu.
Rather than looking soft, Jernigan came off looking like a true warrior.
While clearly run-down, he still tallied nine tackles, the second-most in the game, and assisted on a tackle for a loss.
The disruptive junior will be very sought-after whenever he heads to the pros.
Hurt: Auburn CB Chris Davis
Chris Davis was the hero of the Iron Bowl, but his heroics ran out at the end of the national title game.
The senior was flagged for pass interference on FSU's final drive, which played a major role in setting up the game-winning touchdown. Then, Davis was in coverage against Kelvin Benjamin when he brought down the deciding score.
Afterward, Davis disagreed with the pass interference call, but still gave credit to Florida State for making the key plays in crunch time, per Brandon Marcello, AL.com:
I don't know what happened. I thought it was good defense, but I guess the ref didn't think the same.
They made a play, we didn't. That's what it all comes down to. Somebody usually comes through and makes a play for us at that point in the game, but they made the play.
Davis' draft stock would've taken a nice boost if he had made that play. He'll still be a valued prospect, particularly given his return ability, though questions remain about his coverage skills.
Helped: Florida State WR Kelvin Benjamin
Florida State wide receiver didn't turn in a 100-yard, multiple-touchdown performance like he did while dominating Florida and Duke late in the season.
However, the redshirt sophomore pulled down the game-winning touchdown in the end zone, giving a glimpse of what makes him a coveted wide receiver prospect.
At 6'5", 234 pounds, Benjamin has incredible size and strength, as well as speed to go along with the physical prowess. After the victory, he explained what went into FSU's final drive, per Tom D'Angelo, Palm Beach Post:
Once that ball is in the air the coaches trust me to go get it.
Coach Fisher puts us in situations in practice just like that. We’ll go in two-minute drills. We score on the first play and he’ll bring the touchdown back and give us a minute and we have to go down and score again.
We’d be dog-tired and we have to fight through the tiredness and fight through the adversity.
FSU trusted Benjamin to win the jump ball, just as many teams will at the next level.
Helped: Auburn OT Greg Robinson
How good was Auburn offensive tackle Greg Robinson?
Daniel Jeremiah of NFL.com called him the most dominating player on the field:
Robinson was the most dominating player on the Rose Bowl field. In the run game, he has a lethal combination of quickness, strength and agility. He cleaned up FSU safety Terrance Brooks with a monster shot on Tre Mason's touchdown catch in the first quarter. He repeatedly collapsed his opponent on down blocks and created huge running lanes for Mason.
In pass protection, he has very quick feet and strong hands. He was called for one holding penalty, but he was otherwise pretty flawless on the big stage. He's as talented as any blocker in college football.
Jeremiah's analysis wasn't an exaggeration. The 6'5", 320-pound redshirt sophomore was a force to be reckoned with, and now he's left with a tough choice.
Robinson is a likely first-round pick if he goes, but he said after Monday night that the loss will make the decision tougher, per Joel Erickson, AL.com:
I wanted this win, just to leave Auburn on a positive note. The loss made the decision harder, but at the end of the day, I'm going to do what's best for me and my family.
I haven't made a decision, but I'll be making one real soon, before the deadline.
Even after the loss, don't be surprised if the NFL-ready blocker takes his skills to the next level.