This new section highlights which players have improved or worsened their 2012 NFL Draft stock as the draft approaches.
By Charlie Campbell.
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2012 NFL Draft Stock Up
Mohamed Sanu, WR, Rutgers
The playmaking wide out needed a big pro day, and he came through with one. Sanu had disappointed at the Combine with 40-yard dash time at 4.67 seconds. At his pro day, Sanu showed a massive improvement and lowered his time into the low 4.4s. He performed well in the field drills too.
The 6-foot-2, 211-pound Sanu is a tough physical receiver. He had massive production as a junior with 115 catches for 1,206 yards and seven touchdowns. Sanu was a borderline first-rounder before the Combine, but his performance there pushed him down into round two.
Sanu is a natural receiver with great hands. The straight-line speed in the 40 was the biggest question mark around him. His excellent pro day showing should help boost his stock towards the top of the second round, and perhaps some teams will start to give him first-round consideration again. Sanu told Walter Football that he has pre-draft visits scheduled with the Giants and Bengals
Bernard Pierce, RB, Temple
The powerful running back has continued to impress with his straight-line speed. At the Combine, Pierce ran the 40 at 4.50 seconds. During his career at Temple, the 6-foot, 218-pounder was physical back who pounded the ball between the tackles, so his 40 time wasn't expected to be that fast.
At his pro day, Pierce was said to run well again and had a good showing in the field receiving drills. He is illustrating that he could be viewed as a three-down back in the NFL, and that is a major boost to his stock.
As a junior, Pierce ran for 1,481 yards and 27 touchdowns in 2011, averaging 5.6 yards per carry. He missed some time with injuries in the middle of the season including a concussion. Pierce's strong Combine and pro day have his stock moving into the third round.
Kelechi Osemele, G, Iowa State
After an impressive Combine, Osemele followed it up with a very good pro day. He showed his power, speed and length. Even though Osemele is a second-round prospect, he may be somewhat under the radar as a prospect. Osemele played left tackle in college, but he projects to right tackle or guard in the NFL.
Osemele had the longest arms of any offensive linemen at the Combine or the Senior Bowl. He has room for improvement as a pass blocker, but Osemele could be a surprise pick in the draft. With his strong Combine and pro day, he could be pushing his stock into the top 40.
Leonard Johnson, CB, Iowa State
Another Iowa State product who helped himself at his pro day was cornerback Leonard Johnson. The 5-foot-10, 196-pounder had a strong senior year and showed some ability as a man corner. In 2011, he totaled 72 tackles, eight passes broken up and one interception.
At the Combine, Johnson had a surprisingly slow 40 time at 4.65 seconds. However at his pro day, he was said to have the time down into the 4.5s with a nice performance in the field drills. Johnson had a mixed outing at the Senior Bowl. His flexibility to play man or zone should help him on draft day. He needed a strong performance to maintain his stock as a second-day pick in the 2012 NFL Draft
Cody Johnson, FB, Texas
There have been few fullback prospects to garner any attention this draft season, but Johnson is one who is starting to improve his stock. He couldn't participate in an All-Star game because of an injury. He also didn't work out at the Combine.
However, Johnson did a superb job of lead blocking in 2011. Plus, he brings a short-yardage rushing element to the position. This season, Johnson had 48 rushes for 200 yards and six touchdowns. In 2010, he totaled 592 yards and six touchdowns, while averaging 4.4 yards per carry. In the NFL, Johnson has the ability to contribute as a short-yardage back in a power formations while also being a starting fullback.
At his pro day, Johnson (5-11, 258) ran well with 40 times in the 4.7 range. He has enough athletic ability to learn how to contribute as a pass receiver, but his blocking and running should help him get drafted. Right now, it looks like Johnson is making enough progress to validate being at least a late-round pick.
2012 NFL Draft Stock Down
Vontaze Burfict, ILB, Arizona State
After having a terrible Combine, Burfict bombed at his pro day. He was said to be out of shape and struggled in the field drills. Burfict will have another workout for scouts on March 30th, but with his struggles at the Combine and at his first pro day, he is continuing to see his draft stock free fall.
Burfict had a 40 time at the Combine of 4.93, and was said not to have posted an improvement at his pro day. Another negative is that he doesn't have good tape to fall back on from his final college season. As a junior in 2011, he had 69 tackles with seven tackles for a loss, five sacks, three passes broken up and an interception. Burfict didn't have a double-digit tackle game all season. He looks destined to be a mid-round pick, at best.
Chase Minnifield, CB, Virginia
Entering his senior season, Minnifield looked like an early second-round or late first-round pick. He played well in 2011, but a knee injury late in the season knocked him out of the bowl game. It was said to be minor, but then Minnifield missed the Senior Bowl and Combine.
At the Combine, the 5-foot-10, 183-pound was much shorter than his college listed height of 6-foot. That is a significant difference for a cornerback. Things continued to get worse as Minnifield was said to struggle during his pro day. It sounds like he is still fighting to regain his pre-injury form. Teams are always hesitant about drafting injured players, and Minnifield will get knocked for for it.
In 2011, he had three interceptions with 50 tackles, seven tackles for a loss, 1.5 sacks and eight passes broken up. Minnifield had six picks in 2010 and has some coverage abilities. The past three months have been a series of blows to his draft stock and he now looks like a third- or fourth-round pick.
Juron Criner, WR, Arizona
It is tough to put Criner on this list, but he has had some mixed workouts with a red flag. The good news for him is that he was said to have looked very good in the receiving drills at his pro day, just like he did at the Combine. The bad news is that Criner had another slow time in the 40-yard dash. At the pro day, he posted a slow time somewhere in the 4.6s. That is too similar to his disappointing time at the Combine of 4.68.
Criner was productive in 2011 with 75 receptions for 956 yards and 11 touchdowns. At the Senior Bowl, he was superb. Criner was excellent all week at getting separation and making tough catches. He was very polished in his route running and showed good hands.
Teams and scouts are going to have to consider Criner's 40 time in regard to his ability to get separation in the NFL. In Criner's favor, he has his Senior Bowl week and good tape from his college career. Criner still looks like a pick on the second day of the draft, but not a high pick in the second round like he was after the Senior Bowl.
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