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
Michael Brockers, DT, LSU
Brockers' draft stock has been on a yo-yo course for the past few months. Hours away from the draft starting, his stock is heading back up. Many projections have him as the second-rated defensive tackle behind Fletcher Cox. It wouldn't be surprising if Brockers goes ahead of Memphis defensive tackle Dontari Poe. Brockers (6-5, 322) is considered to be the best run defender among the defensive tackles.
With Cox moving into the top 10 of the draft. Brockers is getting consideration in the teens. He has taken more visits than any other prospect. There are a few teams that could consider him in the top half of the first round. Brockers could be a fit for the Seahawks, Cowboys or Eagles in the first 16 picks.
Whitney Mercilus, DE, Illinois
Mercilus is another defensive end who has enjoyed a late surge. For the majority of the past few months, Mercilus was being projected to be a late first-round pick, but in the final few weeks, most now believe that he will go in the top 20. San Diego, Chicago and Tennessee are all options to select Mercilus. All of those teams could use help on the edge of their defensive lines, and he is one of the best pass rushers in the draft. The early entry had a monster 2011 season with 57 tackles, 22.5 tackles for a loss, 16 sacks and nine forced fumbles.
There is some debate about the proper fit for Mercilus in the NFL. Some believe he would be best in a 3-4 defense as an outside linebacker. At Illinois, he played defensive end in a 4-3. Mercilus (6-4, 261) could play right end in a 4-3 and also should be able to add some bulk as he ages in an NFL strength and conditioning program. Mercilus has a nice repertoire of moves and the demand for pass rushers is relentless. It would be surprising if he fell out of the top 20.
Kevin Zeitler, G, Wisconsin
Zeitler had a fabulous senior season before getting off to a tough start in 2012. Despite a rough showing in the one-on-ones at the Senior Bowl, he has been getting pushed into the first round of many projections. Zeitler is a road-grading run blocker who performed better in pass protection during the season in actual games. Wisconsin running back Montee Ball had a ton of success running behind him the past couple of seasons.
Zeitler is strong at the point of attack and has no issues blasting open running lanes. He has more mobility and athletic ability than one might think. Zeitler did a good job of hitting blocks on the second level and in the open field on screen passes. The 6-foot-4, 314-pounder looks like a player who can play quickly in the NFL.
There are a number of teams that are looking for an interior lineman. After David DeCastro and Cordy Glenn, Zeitler is in the running with Amini Silatolu of Midwestern State to be the next guard off the board. Zeitler could sneak into the first round and should go early in the second round if he falls there.
Ronald Leary, G/T, Memphis
A sleeper offensive line prospect, Leary has received a lot of interest from teams in the lead up to the draft. He is an experienced edge blocker. Leary played at left and right tackle for Memphis as a freshman in 2008. Over the next three seasons, he was the Tigers' starter at left tackle, except for six games as senior when he moved inside to guard because of injuries.
Leary may be better off inside in the NFL. He had a quality Combine performance. Leary (6-3, 315) is probably an early-round pick on the third day of the draft but it is possible that he sneaks into the top 100.
2012 NFL Draft Stock Down
Mike Adams, OT, Ohio State
Adams is giving NFL teams the impression that he is a screw up. He was suspended multiple times at Ohio State and followed that up with a positive drug test at the NFL Scouting Combine. Players know they will have a drug test there, so the fact that he was incapable of taking precautions to avoid a positive test is nothing short of idiotic.
As a player, Adams has a lot of physical talent with speed and athletic ability at 6-foot-7, 323-pounds. He was very inconsistent at Ohio State and had some struggles with speed rushers. A questionable work ethic and character concerns have Adams' draft stock falling out of the first round. In the 2012 NFL Draft
, he could easily slide into the second round, and it isn't out of the question for him to have a draft day free fall.
Zebrie Sanders, OT, Florida State
At one time, Sanders was being projected as a first-round pick by draft analysts at ESPN. That pretty much stopped after he was destroyed at the Senior Bowl. Since then, Sanders' stock has slowly and quietly crept lower and lower. He is a flexible lineman who could maybe move inside to guard in the NFL, but probably will stay at right tackle. Currently, Sanders (6-6, 320) looks like a third-round pick. He probably would be better off dropping some weight and playing in a zone-blocking system.
Alfonzo Dennard, CB, Nebraska
Dennard probably did the worst thing a prospect could do when he was arrested for punching a cop a week before the draft. Perhaps Dennard's side of the story improves the situation, but from a distance it looks terrible that he would even allow himself to be in a risky situation that caused police to show up. Prospects know to lay low before the draft to avoid any negative thing that could happen before draft day. He ignored that and ended up costing himself big time.
To make matters worse, Dennard was ejected from his final college football game after punching South Carolina wide receiver Alshon Jeffery. After this arrest, Dennard went from a second-day pick to, at best, a third-day pick. It is conceivable that he won't get drafted.
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