Devon Still, DT, Penn State
Still is putting together an excellent senior season. He is staying very consistent and is producing on a weekly basis. This week against Illinois, Still had a dominant performance. He was a force at the point of attack and defended the run extremely well. Still was constantly busting into the backfield. In the game, he totaled 10 tackles with 3.5 tackles for a loss. Still showed off his speed and athleticism with a nice sack. He blew by the guard off the snap to track down the quarterback for a loss of nine yards.
For the season, Still has 47 tackles with 15.5 tackles for a loss and four sacks. He has notched at least one tackle for a loss in all nine games. This is a very weak crop of defensive tackles and Still may be playing the best among them right now. He could challenge to get consideration in the first round and at least be an early pick in the second round of the 2012 NFL Draft.
Alfonzo Dennard, CB, Nebraska
Dennard had a dominant game against Michigan State. The Nebraska defense shut down Michigan quarterback Kirk Cousins, and he was the leader of that superb effort. Cousins tested Dennard on the deep part of the field on a few occasions and none of them were successful. He broke up all of the passes and was close to intercepting a couple of them. For the game, Dennard was officially credited with two tackles and three passes broken up. He held Michigan State's leading receiver, B.J. Cunningham, without a reception in the game.
The 5-foot-10, 205-pound Dennard needed that game. He missed the first three games of the season and was quiet in other games. For the season he has 12 tackles. Dennard's strong game should keep him as a potential mid to late first-round pick next April.
Zach Brown, OLB, North Carolina
Brown had a career game this past Saturday against Wake Forest. He totaled nine tackles with one interception, one sack, one forced fumble and 2.5 tackles for a loss. Brown also put heat on the quarterback on other blitzes. It was impossible to not notice the speedy playmaker flying around the field for the Tar Heels. Brown's combination of speed and instincts are extremely rare, and that allows him to consistently produce splash plays.
After this outing, the 6-foot-3, 230-pound Brown has moved ahead of Vontaze Burfict, Manti Te'o and Luke Kuechly as the top-rated linebacker eligible for the 2012 draft. The reason is Brown produces more splash plays. For the season, he has 62 tackles with 9.5 tackles for a loss, 5.5 sacks, two interceptions, two forced fumbles and four passes broken up. Brown has more sacks, forced fumbles, tackles for a loss, and turnovers produced than those other linebackers. Kuechly and Te'o have more tackles, but Brown has more game-changing plays. Right now, he is moving up into the middle of the first round.
Case Keenum, QB, Houston
It is impossible to keep Keenum off this list after his record-setting game against Rice. The game started slowly as he threw an interception and had a fumble returned for a touchdown. After that, Keenum took over and threw NINE touchdown passes in the game. He was 24-of-37 for 534 yards. Keenum aired the ball out with good accuracy on his passes downfield to burn the Rice secondary. With that performance, Keenum set the Football Bowl Subdivision for career touchdown passes. Right now, he has a total of 139 touchdown passes which he will certainly add to. In the next game Keenum plays, he is likely to become the all-time leader in passing yards. Currently, the record is held by Hawaii's Timmy Chang with 17,072. Keenum needs only 267 yards to break that. For the season, he has completed 72 percent of his passes for 3,219 yards with 32 touchdowns and three interceptions.
The 6-foot-2, 220-pounder is a system quarterback, but Keenum is doing his best to show that he can be more than that. Keenum's a sixth-year senior, so his age isn't helping him, but with his massive season, he could challenge to get consideration in the early rounds on the third day of the draft.
Tommy Streeter, WR, Miami
The junior wide receiver had a coming-out party last Thursday night with a massive game against Virginia. Streeter caught seven passes for 176 yards and two touchdowns. One of his touchdowns saw him beat Virginia cornerback Chase Minnifield for a jump ball in the end zone. Minnifield is a potential first-round pick next April, and Streeter (6-5, 220) used his height advantage to go over Minnifield for the score. All game, Streeter had his way with the Virginia secondary, although he rarely went against Minnifield. It was Streeter's first 100-yard game of his career.
The red-shirt junior has 28 receptions for 604 yards and seven touchdowns this season. He is an excellent red-zone weapon with underrated speed to get downfield and stretch defenses vertically. Streeter is still somewhat raw, and he probably should return for his senior year. His strong game against Virginia helps his draft stock, and if Streeter were to declare, he could be a mid-rounder.
Vinny Curry, OLB/DE, Marshall
It is not a rare sight to see Curry get to the quarterback, and he did it again last week, except he also added in a bunch of turnovers. For the past two seasons, Curry has been one of the best and most consistent pass rushers in college football. He also has dominated weaker competition. That was the case again as Curry had a massive game against UAB. The senior totaled eight tackles with a sack and three forced fumbles. That massive performance gives Curry six forced fumbles this season. Thus far in 2011, he has 55 tackles with 18 tackles for a loss, 10.5 sacks, two blocked kicks and those six forced fumbles.
Curry worked hard this offseason to bulk up and now is officially checking in at 6-foot-4, 263-pounds. That added weight could get him consideration by NFL teams that run a 4-3 defense. Entering the season, he looked like only a fit for 3-4 teams. With his consistent production, despite extra blocking attention, Curry is pushing his stock towards consideration late in the first round or early in the second round. He could be one of the best 3-4 edge rushers in the draft and there could be a few 3-4 defenses picking late in the first that could use some another pass rusher. Curry could be tough to pass on.
Ben Jones, C, Georgia
The Bulldogs got an excellent game from their senior center Jones. He did a fabulous job of blocking the Gators interior linemen, including center Jaye Howard. Georgia was able to have a power running game against the Gators, and pounded the ball up the middle of the defense.
Jones had a rough start to the season against Boise State, but since then, he has played better and is putting together a quality senior season. That should help Jones stay on the second day of the draft, and against Florida, he made an argument for him to get consideration in the second round.
2012 NFL Draft Stock Down
Kirk Cousins, QB, Michigan State
After playing well against Wisconsin a week earlier, Cousins looked bad against Nebraska. He struggled to complete passes and frequently made bad decisions on where to throw the football. Rather than target other cornerbacks like Wisconsin and others have done successfully, Cousins went after Alfonzo Dennard regularly and all the signal caller got was a bunch of incompletions and some near interceptions. For the game, he completed 11-of-27 passes for 86 yards with an interception. It wasn't all Cousins fault. The play calling is unimaginative and way too vanilla. Nebraska seemed to know what the Spartans were going to do on every play right before the snap. This game really hurts Cousins as he was starting to improve on his stock. Right now, Cousins looks like an early-round pick on the third day of the draft.
Chris Rainey, RB, Florida
Rainey started out the season like gangbusters with a huge first month of the season. Since then, he has had a rough last four games, and Florida has lost all four contests. Against Georgia, Rainey had a bad fumble at a critical time that really hurt the Gators in their four-point loss. It set up Georgia deep in Florida territory. He got banged up in the game and didn't look like himself. Rainey was held to 26 yards on five carries. He had some issues with muffed punts against Auburn in the last game. The 5-foot-9, 174-pounder has natural durability concerns that are only getting reinforced this season. Rainey is adding more to the concerns that he won't be able to hold up playing in a pro-style offense. Factoring in his aggravated stalking charge from a year ago and Rainey's stock is down tremendously. In the 2012 NFL Draft, he looks like a late-round pick.
Edwin Baker, RB, Michigan State
Cousins isn't the only Spartan who had a bad performance against Nebraska. Baker ran for 38 yards on 10 carries and was a non-factor. He is having a disappointing junior season. Baker has only one 100-yard game this season with a 167-yard performance against Michigan. Otherwise, he has gone over 50 yards rushing in one other game. In eight games, Baker has totaled 472 yards and two scores. He has a total of four receptions for 43 yards this season. After running for 1,201 yards and 13 touchdowns last year, Baker is falling well short of expectations. He looks like a late-round pick right now.
Jake Bequette, DE, Arkansas
It has been a frustrating year for Bequette. He missed three games because of an injury, including big games against Alabama and Texas A&M. Bequette came back to play against Auburn, but he was held to only one tackle in the game. Bequette showed some signs of life against Ole Miss with six tackles and a sack, but last week he was practically a ghost against Vanderbilt. Bequette had many pass-rushing opportunities and did not get any pressure on the quarterback. He finished with three tackles (one solo) in the game. In five games this season, Bequette has totaled 14 tackles with 2.5 tackles for a loss, two sacks and a forced fumble. Most of that production came in the first game of the year against Missouri State. He entered the season as a second-day pick, but now looks like a fifth- or sixth-rounder.