Danny Trevathan, OLB, Kentucky
Trevathan had a huge performance against Georgia and led the way for the Wildcats' defense to play the Bulldogs tough. He produced some splash plays and was all over the field making tackles. In the game, Trevathan recorded 17 tackles, three tackles for a loss, one sack and two forced fumbles. Even though undersized, he was physical with ball carriers and showed football functional strength to jar the ball loose from Georgia players.
Not only did Trevathan produce a stellar stat line, he showed he has some man coverage skills with the way he defended Georgia tight Orson Charles on some one-on-one pass plays. Trevathan has been one of the most productive linebackers in the nation this season. He has 135 tackles with 10 tackles for a loss, three sacks, four interceptions, five forced fumbles and three passes broken up. His tackle total is the fourth highest in the nation. With his strong game against Georgia, Trevathan deserves consideration in the second round of the 2012 NFL Draft.
Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor
For the second week in a row, Griffin makes the list for stock going up. He has been one of the best players in college football this year at any position and showed why in leading Baylor to a huge 45-38 upset over Oklahoma. Griffin completed 21-of-34 passes for 479 yards and four touchdowns with zero interceptions. He also ran for 72 yards including some good runs to set up his game-winning touchdown pass with only seconds remaining in the game. Griffin was phenomenal against one of the better defenses he's played this season.
Thus far in 2011, Griffin has completed 73 percent of his passes for 3,572 yards with 33 touchdowns and five interceptions. He has 550 yards and five touchdowns on the ground. His playmaking ability is undeniable. Griffin has a strong, accurate arm that is capable of making all the throws. The 6-foot-2, 220-pounder is extremely intelligent and makes good decisions. The early hints are that Griffin will return for his senior season, but right now he deserves top-five consideration. Griffin was more impressive than Oklahoma quarterback Landry Jones plus did more with a worse line and supporting cast.
Nick Perry, DE, USC
Over the past three games, Perry has been on an absolute tear. He has 4.5 sacks and 6.5 tackles for a loss. Oregon was his latest victim as Perry notched four tackles with two tackles for a loss, one sack and one forced fumble. He was consistently getting into the backfield and causing disruption early against the Ducks. Perry was a big reason for the USC defense limiting the Oregon offense in the first half. That let the Trojans' offense build a big lead that was too much for the Ducks to overcome.
Perry (6-3, 250) is thriving in Monte Kiffin's Tampa-2 scheme and showing the ability to be a dependable pass rusher to help make their zone coverage effective. For the season, he has 51 tackles with 13 tackles for a loss, 8.5 sacks, two passes broken up and three forced fumbles. As the season has progressed, Perry has steadily improved his play. He has a nice combination of power and speed. Perry could be an early second-round pick if he decides to enter the 2012 draft, but could be better off returning for his senior season and building on this season to be a first-round pick in 2013.
Brandon Jenkins, DE, Florida State
After breaking out with 13.5 sacks in 2010, Jenkins has had a difficult time matching that production in 2011. The speedy defensive end has seen some extra blocking attention and has fought hard in many games to get pressure on the quarterback. Jenkins came up with his best stat line of the season against Virginia this past Saturday. He recorded six tackles with 2.5 sacks.
In some recent games, Jenkins has gotten steady pressure on the quarterback without recording any sacks. That was the case against Boston College among other opponents. The 6-foot-3, 265-pounder has a good motor to go along with excellent speed and athleticism. For the season, Jenkins has totaled 37 tackels with 10 tackles for a loss and seven sacks. After his big game against Virginia, he now has a respectable sack total for the season with a couple of games remaining. If the junior decides to enter the draft, he has made the case to remain as a potential first-round pick.
Kendall Wright, WR, Baylor
Wright made his presence felt with a huge game against Oklahoma and the best secondary he has faced this season. Wright caught eight passes for 208 yards and a touchdown. His touchdown was a lucky play where he had a ball deflected to him, and he raced down the field for an 87-yard touchdown. Aside from that play with a lucky bounce, Wright ripped through the Sooners on other plays. He had a 55-yard reception that set up a Baylor score and his presence helped open up other Baylor receivers. Oklahoma has some future NFL defensive backs in safety Tony Jefferson and Jamell Fleming, and Wright got open when matched against them.
Thus far in 2011, the senior has 89 receptions for 1,281 yards and 10 touchdowns. He has been durable and consistently productive in his collegiate career. Wright has improved his reception, yard and touchdown totals every season. There is no doubt that he has the speed to score on any reception. In the NFL, Wright could be a good deep threat to stretch defenses and provided some big plays downfield. The biggest knock on the 5-foot-10, 190-pounder is his size, and his listed measurements could be inflated. His production and big play ability are undeniable and Wright is moving up in the second day of the draft.
Jake Bequette, DE, Arkansas
A few weeks ago Bequette's stock was firmly going down. He missed three games early in the season including big games against Alabama and Texas A&M. After returning, Bequette was quiet for a few games including a horrible outing against Vanderbilt. After that game he looked like a fifth or sixth-round pick. Perhaps his terrible performance in that game woke him up, because Bequette has been on a tear the past three games. Over the past three games, he has totaled six sacks with three forced fumbles. Last Saturday against Mississippi State, Bequette had three tackles with two sacks and a forced fumble. He led the way for Arkansas' defense, and the Razorbacks improved to 10-1 on the season.
Bequette (6-5, 271) is a physical player who has a good motor. His quickness can take defensive tackles by surprise. For the season, he has 24 tackles with 8.5 tackles for a loss, eight sacks and four forced fumbles. Halfway through the season, Bequette only had one sack and looked like a major disappointment. He has righted his draft stock and is back into consideration on the second-day of the draft.
Leonard Johnson, CB, Iowa State
There have been a number of games where Johnson hasn't stood out this season, but in a huge upset over Oklahoma State, he made his presence felt. Johnson recovered a fumble, and in the fourth quarter he intercepted Cowboys quarterback Brandon Weeden to end a drive. Johnson finished with five tackles in the game.
For the season, the senior has 58 tackles (49 solo) with five passes broken up, one forced fumble and one interception. Johnson entered the season as a potential third-rounder but slid into the second day of the draft. His clutch performance against one of the best passing attacks in the nation should help him to be an early pick on the third day of the draft.
Quentin Coples, DE, North Carolina
Coples produced a big stat line against one of the best teams in the ACC. He had eight tackles, 2.5 tackles for a loss, one sack, one pass batted away and one forced fumble. In many games this season, Coples has been pounded with double teams, yet he has held up well. That has hurt his production, but against Virginia Tech, the senior was able to put together one of his biggest stat lines of the season.
For the season, Coples has totaled 45 tackles with 10 tackles for a loss, 5.5 sacks, two forced fumbles and a plethora of quarterback hurries. He is a prototypical 4-3 defensive end who has a special combination of power and speed. Coples also has the ability to rush from defensive tackle on passing downs. At times, North Carolina plays a 3-4 defense and he has done well as a five technique. Coples is a versatile defender who has shown that he has some versatility.
J.K. Schaffer, LB, Cincinnati
Schaffer was all over the field against Rutgers. He is a tough run defender who showed some nice blitzing ability. Schaffer totaled 13 tackles with three tackles for a loss, 1.5 sacks and one pass broken up. On a number of plays, he burst into the backfield to made physical tackles. His first sack was a massive hit on Rutgers quarterback Chase Dodd, sprintingd into the quarterback with a perfect hit. Schaffer showed some good instincts and intelligence with timing his blitzs through the Rutgers offensive line. He came close to a diving interception as well.
Thus far in 2011, Schaffer has 89 tackles with 10 tackles for a loss, 2.5 sacks, one forced fumble and six passes broken up. He has over 300 career tackles and is the active leader in the Big East. Schaffer looks like an early round pick on the third day of the draft. The 6-foot-1, 227-pound Schaffer is very undersized for a middle linebacker, but he has good instincts and production. If Schaffer can add some bulk in an NFL strength and conditioning program, he could be a good developmental prospect.
2012 NFL Draft Stock Down
Mike Brewster, C, Ohio State
The veteran Brewster had a disappointing game against Penn State. He had the opportunity to show he can handle a top talent versus Nittany Lions defensive tackle Devon Still. Brewster's blocking was reasonably sound, but he had three botched snaps at critical times that led to some failed third-down attempts. His botched snaps occured when he was drawing Still as his assignment, and he was thinking of his block rather than giving a good snap to his quarterback. One of those snaps saw Brewster forget his quarterback was in shotgun, snapping the ball off his butt for a fumble.
It seemed that Still was in the head of Brewster and that was causing his mental mistakes. It raises the question: if he is going against an elite NFL tackle like Ndamukong Suh, Vince Wilfork or Haloti Ngata will his snapping fall apart? After his disappointing game, Brewster looks like a second-day pick.
Landry Jones, QB, Oklahoma
The game against the Baylor Bears brings into question if Jones lacks the 'it' factor to push his team to a win. Oklahoma was upset by Baylor for their second loss of the season. Jones completed 36-of-51 passes for 447 yards with zero touchdowns and one interception. He moved the ball close to the goal line and the Sooners ran the ball in for their scores. For the second time this season, his Oklahoma squad lost to a team that was clearly less talented. Jones had a good game through the air, but he didn't push and elevate his team the way Robert Griffin III did.
If Jones declares for the 2012 draft, he will have a collegiate career that features a Big 12 championship yet fell short of getting into the National Championship game, despite being on one of the most talented rosters in the nation. Jones is still an early pick in the first round, but his stock falls behind other quarterbacks like Andrew Luck, Matt Barkley and Griffin, who all have had big signature wins this season. Perhaps Jones can get that against Oklahoma State or in a bowl game. Now in the 2012 NFL Draft, he looks like a top-15 pick rather than a top-five pick.
Vick Ballard, RB, Mississippi State
It is tough for Ballard to find running room in most games as teams key on him and load up the box. That was the case again against Arkansas. He ran for 54 yards on 13 carries a week after running for 21 yards against Alabama. Ballard is a tough, physical runner but his lack of success against elite defenses is a concern. He had 38 yards rushing against LSU with 23 yards against Georgia. Ballard's good games this season have come against Memphis, Auburn, UAB and Tennessee-Martin. Top running backs can still find success against good defenses. He has some talent and is a quality mid-round pick, but his performance against quality defenses prevents him from getting into the second-day of the draft.