NFL Draft Stock Report Heading into the Scouting Combine
The NFL Scouting Combine is the next step in the draft scouting process, and it is likely the biggest event for NFL teams outside of in-season games. What happens in the buildup to, during and immediately after the combine can have a strong positive or negative impact on a prospect’s draft value.
I'm focusing on guys whose stocks have risen or fallen and who have a chance to answer most of their question marks in Indianapolis.
Stock Up: Blake Bortles, QB, UCF
Despite not playing in a game since his BCS upset victory over Baylor over a month ago, Blake Bortles has become a trendy pick to go first overall and is nearly a lock to go top 20. This quarterback class isn’t very top-heavy, and teams atop the draft are desperate for starting quarterbacks.
Bortles’ stock has been on the rise since late November thanks to his athleticism, his arm talent, flashes throughout his senior year and the upside to develop into a franchise quarterback.
He’ll be throwing in Indianapolis, and evaluators will be closely watching to see if he’s been quickening his release and improving his footwork, two of the bigger concerns for him. If he has a strong combine—on and off the workout field—he may secure himself a top-10 selection.
Stock Down: Colt Lyerla, TE, Oregon
After an impressive sophomore season that built hype toward his junior year, Colt Lyerla opted to leave the Oregon program in-season. Now, four months after playing his last football game, Lyerla will perform in front of NFL teams in Indianapolis.
More importantly for Lyerla, he’ll need to appear thoroughly apologetic, sincere and willing to change himself as a person if he hopes to be drafted. After a chaotic decrease in his perceived draft value, Lyerla either needs to begin his ascent back into NFL teams' good graces or risk never getting an NFL chance.
Stock Up: Terrance West, RB, Towson
As a small-school underclassman, Terrance West didn’t receive much attention during the season, as scouts tend to focus on underclassmen after they declare. Combine that with the fact that his games were only aired in prime time during the playoffs, and West’s draft stock never had a chance to reach its peak.
Now that a month has passed since West officially declared and his season ended, he’s slowly received more and more attention as one of this class’ best running backs. Despite the position being loaded with talent and teams likely to pass on runners early in the draft, West has a legitimate chance to be a top-100 pick if he can perform well in Indianapolis.
Stock Down: Telvin Smith, LB/SAF, Florida State
Telvin Smith was a leader on the BCS National Championship-winning Florida State Seminoles—the feature inside playmaker despite being just a one-year starter. Smith was clearly a bit undersized on film, leading to concerns about his NFL position before he arrived in Mobile, Ala. for the Senior Bowl.
Smith weighed in at the Senior Bowl at around 6'2.5" and 218 pounds. Generally, NFL linebackers are closer to the 230-plus weight, and it was clear that Smith didn’t have the ideal bulk for the position. He may need show a willingness to switch positions if he wants to last in the NFL.
Stock Up: Odell Beckham, WR, LSU
Already considered one of the best receivers in the 2014 class, Odell Beckham received a great endorsement from CBSSports.com’s Bruce Feldman, who explained what an elite athlete Beckham is.
Possessing ideal length, vertical speed and ball-grabbing ability, Beckham has all the tools to develop into a nearly elite NFL receiver if he can work on the nuances of the position. But the combine is all about testing athleticism, and Beckham should pass every test NFL teams give him with flying colors. I don’t expect the rise of Beckham’s stock to slow down anytime soon.
Stock Down: LaMarcus Joyner, CB/SAF, Florida State
The second Florida State defensive playmaker on the list, LaMarcus Joyner also has plenty of size questions. Just 5’8”, Joyner lacks the height and length to fill any NFL position without concerns.
But what really hurt Joyner was his decision to not participate in the Senior Bowl, which only added to the question marks for NFL teams. Now, teams aren’t sure where he can fit in the NFL, and it’ll certainly have an impact on draft value. A strong combine could cure some doubts and get him into the top-50 discussion, but a lackluster performance could push him all the way down to Day 3 of the draft.
Stock Up: Zack Martin, OT, Notre Dame
Riding high after a strong Senior Bowl performance, Zach Martin will look to further increase his draft value during the combine. With a lack of elite athleticism and an adequate (but not great) kick slide, he likely won’t blow scouts away during workouts, but that’s to be expected.
Martin is a smart, consistent blocker with a high football IQ, and he could fit at multiple positions, which is why he may end up as a top-20 pick. I expect Martin to be a big winner in the interview rooms with NFL teams and to continue being considered a lock on draft day.
Stock Down: Billy Turner, OT, North Dakota State
Almost the complete opposite of Martin, Billy Turner has the athleticism and developmental upside teams covet but struggled mightily during the Senior Bowl practices. Hailing from a small-school program, the mauling run-blocker seems to struggle with basic steps and body positioning in pass protection, but all of those concerns appear coachable.
With a strong combine, Turner has a chance to go in one of the first two rounds—especially when it comes to the bench press, where the powerful run-blocker could be among the leaders in reps among all combine participants.