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
Chance Warmack, C, Alabama
There are a lot of pundits who believe Warmack is one of the top prospects in the NFL Draft and many rank him in the top 10. That may be a little high for any guard prospect. Last year, David DeCastro was considered one of the best guards to come out in the last decade, and he still went in the 20s. However, Warmack has been so dominant, he could end up going to a non-playoff team.
Warmack has been a force in the ground game for Alabama over the past two seasons. He was constantly blasting open running holes for Trent Richardson and Eddie Lacy. Warmack has also been a reliable pass-protector.
The 6-foot-3, 320-pounder has never dominated by any of the excellent SEC defensive tackles he's faced the past two seasons. Warmack could have the ability to move center in the NFL if a team has a big need there, but he looks like a 10-year starter at guard and a potential perennial Pro Bowler.
Markus Wheaton, WR, Oregon State
Wheaton has shown steady improvement over the last three years at Oregon State and has turned himself into a nice sleeper prospect for the 2013 NFL Draft. The senior has hauled in 88 passes for 1,207 yards and 11 touchdowns this year. He played well against the Beavers' top opponents and has developed into a well-rounded player. Wheaton had 73 catches for 986 yards and a touchdown in 2011.
The 6-foot-1, 182-pounder plays bigger than his measurements. He isn't afraid of contact and works in all levels of the field. Wheaton has good body control and that allows him to make tough catches along the sideline. He has nice quickness in his route running to get separation from defensive backs.
Along with his receiving ability, Wheaton is a good blocker in the ground game, and he is constantly looking for defenders to block when other receivers catch passes. If Wheaton plays well at the Senior Bowl and NFL Scouting Combine, he could push himself to a top-100 grade.
Ryan Otten, TE, San Jose State
Otten's quality play has landed him an invitation to the Senior Bowl where he will have the opportunity to show his talent against better competition. Otten has done very well for San Jose State this season. The senior enters the Military Bowl against Bowling Green with 44 receptions for 706 yards and four touchdowns. He had a strong junior season with 52 receptions for 739 yards and five touchdowns.
The 6-foot-6, 245-pounder has nice athleticism and is a good receiver. He will need to work on his blocking ability for the NFL. If Otten can show some talent as a blocker at the Senior Bowl, it would help prove to teams that he can be an every-down starting tight end in the NFL. Otten has the ability to be a second-day pick if he performs well in Mobile.
Brian Winters, OT, Kent State
Winters has had a dominant senior season for Kent State and has raised his profile for the NFL. He's been an all-conference selection since his sophomore year. Winters has accepted an invitation to the Senior Bowl and that will be a big test for him against better competition. Winters won't see a challenge in his Bowl battle against Arkansas State as the Red Wolves' leading sacker has only 4.5 on the season.
The 6-foot-6, 294-pounder has the height and length to play tackle in the NFL. Winters will need to add weight, and after he gets into a strength and conditioning program, that shouldn't be a problem. Winters could be a second-day pick if things go well for him in the lead up to the 2013 NFL Draft. With the harder competition in Mobile, it will be Winters' time to sink or swim.
Mychal Rivera, TE, Tennessee
It was hard for Rivera to stand out at Tennessee with other play-making receivers like Justin Hunter, Cordarralle Patterson and Da'Rick Rogers in 2011. However as 2012 progressed, Rivera turned into a dangerous receiving tight end for Tyler Bray. The senior caught 36 passes for 562 yards and five touchdowns. He had a monster game against Missouri with 10 receptions for 129 yards and a score. Rivera had 29 receptions for 562 yards and five touchdowns in 2011.
The 6-foot-3, 244-pound tight end is very quick and athletic. Rivera has good hands and is extremely dangerous as a receiver going down the middle seam. With his size, he could be used as an halfback in the mold of Chris Cooley. Rivera should add some more strength and develop his blocking technique for the NFL. Given his strong senior season, he could be worth a mid-round selection.
Anthony Barr, OLB, UCLA
Of all the players in college football, Barr may have done the most to help himself during the 2012 season. He went from being an obscure fullback who had 12 receptions across two seasons into a potential first-round pick as a pass-rushing outside linebacker. Barr owes Jim Mora, Jr. and the UCLA coaching staff a lot for making the position change.
Barr became a blitzing outside linebacker in the Bruins' 4-3 defense in 2012 and totaled 13.5 sacks. He also had 74 tackles with 20.5 tackles for a loss, four forced fumbles and five passes broken up. Entering the Bowl games, Barr leads the nation in sacks.
The 6-foot-4, 235-pounder is explosive off the edge with fantastic closing speed. He also is a physical player who dishes out some punishing hits on the quarterback. Barr is considering entering the 2013 NFL Draft, but recently said that if he had to make the decision immediately, he would probably return to UCLA. Barr could be a first-round pick, but he could use more development at his new position, so returning to school isn't a bad idea for Barr.
Eric Fisher, OT, Central Michigan
There are a lot of pundits who are in love with this lanky offensive tackle. The 6-foot-8, 305-pounder has superb length for being a tackle in the NFL. Fisher also has good versatility to move around the offensive line. Over his collegiate career, he has been a starter at guard and right tackle before taking over at left tackle in 2011.
Fisher was a 2011 All-Conference selection and has dominated his level of competition. He will see a big test in the Little Caesars Bowl against Western Kentucky. The Hilltoppers feature one of the nation's leaders in sacks, senior defensive end Quanterus Smith. Smith has 12.5 sacks this season with 18.5 tackles for a loss and three forced fumbles. He had three sacks against Alabama in Week 2, so Fisher will have an opportunity to shut down one of college football's most productive pass-rushers.
If Fisher performs well against Smith and in the lead up to the 2013 NFL Draft, he could crack the first round. It is a weak tackle class, and Fisher has an opportunity to be the fourth tackle selected behind Michigan's Taylor Lewan and the Texas A&M duo of Luke Joeckel and Jake Matthews.
Ezekiel Ansah, DE, BYU
The physical skill set with Ansah is undeniable. The 6-foot-6, 270-pounder got a late start in football, but has still managed to impress draft observers. The senior has totaled 57 tackles, 13 tackles for a loss, 4.5 sacks and eight passes broken up this year. He had a grand total of 10 tackles in 2010 and 2011.
Many people compare Ansah to Jason Pierre-Paul. Pierre-Paul didn't have much sack production at South Florida, but his athletic ability was off the charts. Ansah could be a first-round pick with a strong performance at the Senior Bowl. He will be expected to blow up the NFL Combine. There is a huge demand for pass-rushers, and Ansah has ideal measurements to be an edge-rusher in the NFL.
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