This section highlights which players have improved or worsened their 2013 NFL Draft stock as the draft approaches.
By Charlie Campbell.
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2013 NFL Draft Stock Up
Damontre Moore, DE, Texas A&M
While Sam Montgomery and Barkevious Mingo have bigger names, Aggies junior defensive end Damontre Moore was the most impressive defensive player in the LSU vs Texas A&M game. He defended the run really well against the Fighting Tigers. Moore was tough at the point of attack and made a number of tackles in pursuit. He recorded a sack with a rush to the inside at the end of the first quarter by being too fast and strong for LSU's third string left tackle. Quarterback Zach Mettenberg stepped up to buy a moment, but Moore quickly changed direction to run down Mettenberg from behind.
Moore later put another hit on Mettenberger to cause an incompletion. Moore hurt his ankle in the second quarter, but gutted it out and was hobbling around between plays. He played well despite the injury, totaling 10 tackles, two tackles for a loss, one sack and a pass batted.
Moore has been the most consistent pass-rushers in college football this season and leads the nation with 9.5 sacks. He has more sacks this year than Montgomery and Mingo combined. Perhaps even more impressive than that, Moore leads his team with 62 tackles, 14 more than the next closest defender. He has 17 tackles for a loss, two passes broken up, a blocked kick and a forced fumble.
Moore played the joker outside linebacker in a 3-4 defense prior to this season, the same position at Texas A&M that Von Miller used to play. Moore is playing traditional defensive end this year. The 6-foot-4, 250-pounder needs to add more weight for the NFL, but he looks like a future first-rounder.
Luke Joeckel, OT, Texas A&M
Joeckel had a dominant performance against LSU in what was his biggest test of the season. He drew defensive end Sam Montgomery, a potential high first-round pick, and rose to the occasion. Joeckel had great pass protection against Montgomery all day. Joeckel was very quick in his drop to mirror speed rushes, and he had no issues with stonewalling bull rushes. Joeckel had a lot of success blocking Montgomery in the ground game, including a short touchdown run for the Aggies that went behind him.
Joeckel's shutting down of Montgomery confirmed that he is the top tackle prospect for the 2013 NFL Draft. The 6-foot-6, 310-pound Joeckel could use more weight, but he's a true junior who is only 20 years old, so he has plenty of time to get bigger. Joeckel's performance against LSU he showed that he is worthy of consideration in the top half of the first round.
Dion Jordan, DE, Oregon
Jordan was excellent against Arizona State. He recorded a sack in the first quarter on a speed rush around the edge. The 6-foot-7, 243-pounder showed impressive agility to drop his shoulder and get low around the corner. Many defenders with Jordan's height struggle with that kind of agility, but he has demonstrated the ability to play low.
Jordan later had a good open field tackle after dropping in coverage on the quarterback, laying a hard hit. Jordan also had a near sack after beating the right tackle with a speed rush, but the quarterback broke his attempt to bring him down.
Jordan got home for his second sack in the second quarter. It was an impressive rush as he burst off the snap and used a right-armed rip move to get the right tackle's hands off of him. Jordan totaled five tackles and two sacks against the Sun Devils.
The senior has totaled 29 tackles, seven tackles for a loss, five sacks, two forced fumbles and one pass break up so far in 2012. His pass rushing opportunities are reduced by the Ducks consistently dropping him into coverage. They also blow out so many teams out that he doesn't typically play four quarters because the backups come in.
Jordan needs to add weight and strength to shed blocks. Linemen can have success when they get their hands on him. He is only a fit as a 3-4 outside linebacker for the NFL unless he can add 20 pounds. Jordan really helped his cause against Arizona State with a good tape of his pass-rushing skills.
Chase Thomas, OLB, Stanford
Thomas has had a bigger impact in games this season than his stats illustrate. He had a big performance against California both in terms of statistics and impact. Thomas was extremely disruptive and took up residence in the Golden Bears' backfield.
Thomas fired into the backfield on the second play from scrimmage on a perimeter run to make a tackle for a loss of five yards. He had a sack-fumble on the next play after beating the left tackle with a spin move to blast quarterback Zach Maynard. A California running back fumbled the ball later in the first half and Thomas scooped it up to return it for a few yards before falling to the ground. He came close to a number of other sacks and had a consistent day as a pass-rusher. Thomas totaled seven tackles with three tackles for a loss, one sack, one forced fumble and his fumble return.
The redshirt senior has 45 tackles, 9.5 tackles for a loss, three sacks, one forced fumble and one interception this season. He has been more disruptive than the numbers indicate. Thomas (6-4, 248) is a perfect for a 3-4 defense with the ability to play inside and outside linebacker. He is a bit of a sleeper prospect who could have a late rise in the same way that Boise State's Shea McClellin did last year. Right now, Thomas looks like a second-rounder.
Joseph Randle, RB, Oklahoma State
Randle took on one of the better defenses in the Big XII against Iowa State. The Cyclones feature two good college linebackers, Jake Knott and A.J. Klein, but Randle proved to have a higher level of talent. He stiff-armed Knott away on a short catch early on to get another five yards after the catch. Randle then scored a four-yard touchdown on the drive. He exploded in the second half with a 12-yard touchdown. Randle put the game away in the fourth quarter with a 62-yard run straight up the middle. He totaled 153 yards and two score on 24 carries.
Randle has gone under the radar to a degree over the past few seasons because Oklahoma State has featured such a dynamic passing attack. Brandon Weeden and Justin Blackmon received all the attention last year, but Randle still ran for 24 touchdowns. He is averaging six yards per carry with 765 yards and eight touchdowns through six games in 2012.
The 6-foot-1, 200-pound Randle is a physical runner with elusiveness and speed to break off long touchdown runs. He has three-down ability for the NFL and looks like an early-round pick in the 2013 NFL Draft.
Zach Ertz, TE, Stanford
Ertz dominated the Golden Bears' defense, which incapable of defending him. He started the day with a catch of about 15 yards after running over a couple of defenders. Ertz ran an out route on the next possession and got wide open. He then exploded down the field for a gain of 68 yards to the California 10-yard line to set up a touchdown catch by backup tight end Levine Toilolo.
Ertz caught a slant for a 20-yard touchdown. It was a great route that saw him get nice separation in the middle of the field. He moved the chains with some receptions in the third quarter and the Golden Bears' defense was incapable of defending him. Ertz totaled 134 yards and a touchdown on six receptions. He was tremendous as a blocker on top of his play as a receiver. Ertz had some physical blocks to open up holes for Stepfan Taylor.
The 6-foot-6, 252-pounder has totaled 505 yards and three scores on 31 receptions in 2012. The junior is a solid second-day prospect who could rise higher because of his three-down ability.
Bjoern Werner, DE, Florida State
Werner started the season on fire with 6.5 sacks through the first three games. Offenses started sending extra blocking attention to Werner, so he went four games without a sack and made only one tackle for a loss.
Werner had a nice bounce-back performance against Miami. He was pressuring the quarterback and consistently getting up field. Werner totaled 1.5 sacks and three tackles. He also displayed nice instincts on a few plays including a screen pass for an incompletion.
Werner has 24 tackles, 11.5 tackles for a loss and eight sacks this season. He also has five passes broken up. Werner should have no issues producing a double digit sack total this season given the five or six games remaining for the Seminoles . Werner (6-4, 255) looks like a future first-round pick.
Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M
Matthews wasn't as dominant as Joeckel against LSU, but he still had a strong day blocking defensive end Barkevious Mingo. Matthews had some great blocks in the ground game, including some plays where he took care of Mingo and a defender on the second level.
Mingo had a sack in the game, but it didn't come against Matthews but rather the tight end. Mingo managed to get a hit on the quarterback going against Matthews once, but that was the result og Johnny Manziel scrambling right into Matthews and Mingo.
Mingo was probably the best pass-rusher who Matthews will face all season, so his stock should receive a boost with a quality outing against the speed-rusher. Matthews would be a left tackle for the vast majority of teams in college football. Some NFL teams could consider moving him to the blind side, just like the Cowboys did with Tyron Smith. Matthews looks like a future first-round pick and this outing helps confirm that.
Margus Hunt, DE, SMU
Hunt started the year slow against Baylor, but has really improved his play on a weekly basis. He has his best game of the year as a pass-rusher versus Houston. Hunt had two sacks and a plethora of quarterback hurries as he was was getting into the backfield around the quarterback all day. Hunt's run defense has improved and he had four tackles on Saturday.
Hunt's steady improvement over the season should really help take the risk away with his selection. Everybody knows that the 6-foot-8, 280-pounder is a physical freak with 17 career blocked kicks, but now he is adding to his game with improved play as a defensive end.
Hunt had three sacks on the season in 2011 and all of them came in the finale against Pittsburgh. He has sacks in four out of six games this year. Hunt has 18 tackles, five sacks and three blocked kicks in 2012. He should be an early-round selection in the 2013 NFL Draft.
Terrance Williams, WR, Baylor
The Texas defense has been a big disappointment this year, and Williams continued his tremendous senior season against the Longhorns. He caught 10 passes for 183 yards and a touchdown. Williams had an 80-yard touchdown after running a go route along the sideline. He set up another score with a 42-yard reception. Williams made a nice over the shoulder catch on that one.
The senior has totaled 47 receptions for 1,013 yards and nine touchdowns through only six games this season. He's on pace to have over 2,000 yards receiving, especially if Baylor can make it into a Bowl game. The 6-foot-2, 205-pound Williams is having a phenomenal year. He has been a source of long pass plays in addition to working the short and intermediate part of the field.
Williams has the ability to be a starting outside receiver as an X (split end) or a Z (flanker) in the NFL. His size, speed and production could make him a first-round pick in the 2013 NFL Draft.
USC wide receiver Robert Woods, USC quarterback Matt Barkley, Notre Dame tight end Tyler Eifert, Alabama center Barrett Jones, Oregon running back Kenjon Barner, North Carolina running back Giovani Bernard and Stanford running back Stepfan Taylor.
2012 NFL Draft Stock Down
Sam Montgomery, DE, LSU
Montgomery was completely shut down by Aggies left tackle Luke Joeckel. Montgomery didn't even sniff the quarterback on his pass rushes and was a non-factor in run defense. He couldn't get pressure with his speed rushes or bull rushes as Joeckel blocked everything Montgomery threw at him. Montgomery finished the day with only two tackles, one solo.
The junior has been having a quality season with four sacks and 23 tackles through seven games. However, he had struggles against Florida and, now, Texas A&M. Montgomery can make up for it in his next game against Alabama, and still should be a first-round pick, but his performance against Joeckel could drop his draft stock.
Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia
Smith looked indecisive throughout the game against Kansas State. It looked like he didn't trust his own eyes. The signal-caller was holding onto the ball too long and declining to run the ball when he had some openings. The Wildcats followed Texas Tech's example and took away the deep part of the field. The Mountaineers' offense was ineffective once again without long pass plays.
Smith has really struggled to move the ball over the past two outings via short and intermediate passes. He came into the game against Kansas State without any interceptions on the season, but had two picks versus the Wildcats. One of them was a terrible telegraphed pass along the sideline. Smith completed 20-of-31 passes for 140 yards and two interceptions.
The senior has still produced some amazing numbers this year. He's completed 74 percent of his passes for 2,414 yards with 26 touchdowns and two interceptions. Those numbers mask the fact that Smith dominated the weak defenses West Virginia faced in its first five games of 2012. The last two performances could be real detriments to his stock.
It appears that defenses have figured Smith out by taking away the deep part of the field. He badly needs a bounce-back performance. Smith could still be a high first-round pick, but he needs to turn his play around quickly.
Auburn defensive end Corey Lemonier and Michigan State running back Le'Veon Bell.
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