Juron Criner, WR, Arizona
Criner had an excellent game against UCLA last Thursday night. Before halftime, he and quarterback Nick Foles had the game out of reach for the Bruins. They connected for three touchdowns in the first half. Two were very impressive plays by Criner. On a jump ball, he had a defensive back all over him. Criner reached around the head of the defensive back and made a tremendous catch. His concentration and hand strength to hold onto the ball was very impressive. The final score came when Criner ran a go route and flew by the defensive back to come open running through the end zone. He also had a number of other good catches to move the chains, and showed some good YAC. Criner finished the game with 10 receptions for 101 yards and three scores.
Thus far in 2011, Criner has 36 receptions for 441 yards and six touchdowns. It looks like he is solidifying his stock as potential second-round pick. Criner is a very trustworthy receiver. Foles throws balls up for grabs to him all the time, and Criner wins the matchup against defensive backs by either catching the ball or having it fall incomplete. He looks like a good possession receiver and red-zone weapon for the next level.
Sean Spence, OLB, Miami
The defensive leader for Miami had a big game this past Saturday against Georgia Tech. Spence recorded 10 tackles with a tackle for a loss, but his presence in the game was bigger than his statistics. He did a fabulous job defending the perimeter against the Yellow Jackets option rushing attack. Spence was the point man of the Miami defense that stifled a potent rushing attack. He was all over the field and constantly around the football against Georgia Tech. It was an ideal matchup for Spence to show his sideline-to-sideline speed. For the season, he has 65 tackles with 9.5 tackles for a loss, three sacks and a forced fumble. Spence is 10th in the nation in tackles per game even though he was suspended for the first game of the season.
For the next level, the 6-foot, 225-pounder is a safety/linebacker tweener. He has fabulous instincts and play recognition to get himself in position to make tackles. Spence entered the game as a mid to late third-rounder, and after this performance his stock should go towards the top of the third round and maybe sneak into round two.
Chris Polk, RB, Washington
The junior running back Polk was one of the few players to show up and produce a good game against Stanford. He ran for 144 yards on 15 carries with two touchdowns. Polk broke off two long touchdown runs against a very good defense. He had scores from 46 and 61 yards in the game. Polk is bell cow running back, but against the Cardinal he showed the speed to score from long distances and not get caught from behind.
Polk is averaging 5.8 yards per carry this season. He has totaled 872 yards and five touchdowns in seven games. In six games this season, Polk has gone over 100 yards rushing. He also has 14 receptions for 149 yards and two scores. Polk (5-11, 220) has the strength and power to get yards after contact, so him showing speed against Stanford gives NFL teams the idea that he has the complete package. Polk is also a patient runner who has made the best of less than ideal blocking. If Polk were to enter the 2012 NFL Draft, he could challenge to be a second-round pick.
Dont'a Hightower, ILB, Alabama
Hightower had a big game this week for the Crimson Tide. He led the way for the Alabama defense to hold Tennessee to six points in the game. Hightower recorded eight tackles with a sack, two passes broken up, an interception returned 29 yards and multiple quarterback hurries on blitzes. It was a fantastic game from Alabama's junior middle linebacker.
The 6-foot-4, 260-pounder looks like he is all the way back from a knee injury. Hightower only played in four games in 2009 before being hit with that injury. Last year, he played in all 16 games, but didn't look to have the speed and explosion that he had before. In eight games this season, Hightower has 48 tackles with six tackles for a loss, 1.5 sacks and one interception. He looks like a second-round pick, but is one of the top 3-4 inside linebacker prospects. The demand at the position could push his stock higher and make him a fringe first-rounder.
Dominique Davis, QB, East Carolina
Davis had been having a mixed senior season, but he had a record-setting game against Navy this week. Davis completed his first 26 pass attempts in the game. Over two games, he had a streak of 36 straight completions. That broke a record set in 2004 by California Golden Bears quarterback Aaron Rodgers. In the game, The Pirates signal caller completed 40-of-45 passes for 372 yards and two touchdowns.
For the season, Davis has completed 72 percent of his passes for 2,013 yards with 14 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. The 6-foot-3, 210-pounder has some developmental talent. His accuracy is excellent, and Davis helped push his stock into early consideration on day three of the draft.
Winston Guy Jr., S, Kentucky
Guy Jr. has been a tackling machine this year for the Wildcats, and last Saturday, he kept up his strong senior season with a good game against Jacksonville State. Guy recorded 12 tackles with two passes broken up and a forced fumble. For the season, he has 79 tackles with 8.5 tackles for a loss, two passes broken up, two interceptions and a forced fumble.
Guy is seventh in the nation in tackles, one spot ahead of teammate linebacker Danny Trevathan. Guy Jr. is 18th in the nation in solo tackles, plus he is second in the nation in tackles from a defensive back. Obviously, the 6-foot-1, 216-pounder is a good run defender who fits well as the eighth man in the box. Guy is on the edge to be a second-day pick. With more strong games like he had this past week, Guy could make himself a third-rounder.
David DeCastro, G, Stanford
DeCastro had a massive game for the Cardinal against Washington. All night, he blasted open running lanes and was perfect in pass protection. On only a few plays did DeCastro match up against Huskies standout defensive tackle Alameda Ta'amu, but DeCastro won all of the reps. He single blocked Ta'amu on a bull rush and stonewalled him. DeCastro turned Ta'amu and opened up a couple of running holes. DeCastro put on clinic for pulling and hitting blocks on the run. He dominated linebackers at the second level and made a number of blocks to allow touchdown runs.
Stanford ran for 446 yards against Washington. The Cardinal had four different runners get into the end zone with three ball carriers going over 90 yards rushing. DeCastro (6-5, 310) led the way with a game of pure dominance. The senior guard looks like the fourth-best draft-eligible linemen behind only Matt Kalil, Jonathan Martin, and Riley Reiff. DeCastro is equally or more dominant as a blocker, but the importance of tackles over guards helps those linemen rank ahead of DeCastro.
Jonathan Martin, OT, Stanford
It wouldn't be fair to have DeCastro on this list and exclude his teammate Jonathan 'Moose' Martin. The 6-foot-6, 304-pounder had a phenomenal game against Washington. He opened up a number of the running lanes for Stanford's prolific night on the ground. Martin also did a perfect job in pass protection for quarterback Andrew Luck. The Cardinal had a number of huge runs with the hole between Martin and the left guard. DeCastro would pull from right guard and the backs would find great running lanes.
Martin truly is a tenacious run blocker. Many left tackles can be tap-dancers who are good pass blockers but don't offer a lot of power to run behind. That is not the case with Martin. He is a nasty run blocker who pushes his linemen around the field. Martin did well to solidify his status as a potential top-10 pick.
2012 NFL Draft Stock Down
Levy Adcock, OT, Oklahoma State
Adcock had a quality game as a run blocker, but struggled in his pass protection of quarterback Brandon Weeden. Oklahoma State moved Adcock around from left to right tackle where he struggled in pass protection. At right tackle, he gave up a sack to Missouri defensive end Jacquies Smith. Smith fired off the snap and had Adcock on his heels. Smith got into the chest of the lineman before disengaging and flying by him to the inside to sack Weeden.
The 6-foot-6, 322-pounder does not look quick enough to be a left tackle in the NFL. If he continues to struggle at right tackle with speed rushers, it will really hurt his draft stock. Adcock looks like a plodder with heavy feet. He seems to struggle to shuffle his feet quickly and that leads him to reaching after defenders. That could translate to him giving up a lot of sacks on the next level. Adcock may have to move inside to guard because of his slow feet. Playing at guard would probably make Adcock a better a pro and disguise his weaknesses.
Isaiah Pead, RB, Cincinnati
Pead had a disappointing game against USF. His blocking wasn't very good, and he was unable to make any plays on his own. The Bulls� defense allowed a big game to quarterback Zach Collaros, and it was the same defense that allowed Pittsbugh running back Ray Graham to run for 226 yards on 26 carries. Against USF, Pead ran for 79 yards on 22 carries. He did better receiving the ball with four receptions for 48 yards including a six-yard touchdown catch on a screen pass, on which he went into the end zone untouched. The 5-foot-10, 200-pounder just didn't look like anything special running the ball against South Florida. In the 2012 NFL Draft, Pead looks like a fourth or fifth-round pick.
Alameda Ta'amu, DT, Washington
A week after being on this list for his stock going up, Ta'amu produced a poor game against Stanford which has his stock going down. He did not match up often on standout guard David DeCastro, but when Ta'amu did, he lost the reps. Losing to a potential first-rounder is not the end of the world, but beyond those plays Ta'amu had a bad game against the other linemen who are first-year starters. Often he was blocked by sophomore left guard David Yankey and senior center Sam Schwartzstein. Stanford ran all over the Washington defense and had success running up the middle at Ta'amu. On one play, he had a good bull rush that pushed Yankey into the pocket, but otherwise Ta'amu was ineffective. He was shut out on the stat sheet with zero tackles in the game.
Trumaine Johnson, CB/S, Montana
Johnson doesn't make this list for getting burned on the field. He makes the list for getting jolted off of it. Johnson was arrested early Sunday morning. The police responded to a noise complaint at 2:40 a.m. Johnson proceeded to get into a fight with the officers and the police used their stun guns to subdue Johnson and quarterback Gerald Kemp. The 6-foot-2, 197-pound Johnson has unique physical tools and consistent production in his college career. Coming from Montana, Johnson already had the question mark about his level of competition. Now this off-the-field arrest could take his stock from a second-day draft pick all the way down to a late on the third-day pick or even undrafted. There are two sides to every story, and for Johnson's draft status, he will need a good explanation to avoid having the incident from last Sunday morning drop his draft stock significantly.