Matt Elam, S, Florida
The Sugar Bowl was a good nigh for Elam as he flew around the field and dished out devastating hits on Louisville offensive players. Elam was a head-hunter looking to punish any player who got in his way. The junior rocked a receiver with a massive first-quarter hit. Later on a run play, Elam didn't wrap up the back, but he hit him so hard that the ball-carrier fell right on his backside short of the line of scrimmage.
Elam flew up to the line of scrimmage during the third quarter to tackle a wide receiver for no gain on a screen pass. Elam then popped the helmet off a running back on the next play. Elam ran around the corner later in the fourth quarter to hit the running back in the backfield and start a tackle for a loss. On the next possession, he got a sack on a safety blitz after knocking down Teddy Bridgewater, who had stepped up in the pocket. Elam totaled 11 tackles against the Cardinals.
The junior had 86 tackles, four interceptions, five passes broken up and a forced fumble in 2012. Elam has the speed to cover a lot of ground and his hitting ability is magnificent. He showed that he is ready to play on Sundays and looks worthy of a first-round pick next April.
Barkevious Mingo, DE, LSU
Mingo disappointed throughout most of his junior season, but he truly displayed his dynamic skill set in the bowl game against Clemson. 30 seconds into the game, Mingo exploded into the backfield to blast Sammy Watkins. The big-time collision caused the ball to pop out and it was recovered by LSU. Watkins was also knocked out of the game on the hit.
On his next snap, Mingo fired into the backfield again to disrupt a run and cause a tackle for a loss. The next play saw him almost record a sack, but he stumbled slightly while executing a spin move. Mingo shifted before the snap later in the first quarter and bolted into the backfield unblocked to sack Tajh Boyd.
Mingo got in on another tackle for a loss and set up sack just before halftime. Again, he used his speed to beat the right tackle and chase Boyd into blitzing safety Micah Eugene. Mingo had to go into the locker room with an intestinal issue during the second half. He finished the shortened evening with five tackles, three tackles for a loss, .5 sacks and a forced fumble. Mingo had disappointing production in 2012, so he needed an impressive day to close out his collegiate career.
The junior finished the year with 38 tackles, 8.5 tackles for a loss, 4.5 sacks, three passes batted and a forced fumble. The 6-foot-5, 240-pounder struggled to hold up in run defense and proved that he is only an outside linebacker in the NFL regardless of the defensive system. Mingo just doesn't have the size or strength to hold up as defensive end. He is still extremely explosive and has a first-round skill set. This tape will help his bid to go on Thursday night.
Tajh Boyd, QB, Clemson
Boyd tore up the weak ACC Conference this year, but he used his bowl matchup against LSU to prove that he can beat a good defense. Boyd showed tremendous toughness as he took a ton of punishing hits in the pocket and while running the ball. Boyd threw the ball accurately downfield and made good decisions all night. The junior ran for an 11-yard touchdown early on and followed that with a well-placed low fastball between two defenders to DeAndre Hopkins who made a diving catch for another 11-yard touchdown.
Boyd made some clutch throws to bail his team out. He targeted LSU safety Eric Reid repeatedly and slipped one by him by making a beautiful throw to Hopkins to convert a 4th-and-16 at the Clemson 14-yard line. Hopkins ran down the middle and Boyd dropped the ball in perfectly. The signal-caller hit Hopkins for about 15 yards on the sideline to help set up the game-winning field goal. Boyd was masterful picking apart the LSU secondary on the drive to set up an easy game-winning 37-yard field goal with no time on the clock.
Boyd showed amazing toughness and composure versus LSU despite being pounded by the defense all night. He took a lot of punishing hits on runs as well as passes. Boyd completed 36-of-50 passes for 346 yards and two touchdowns with zero interceptions. Despite constant pass rush in his face, his accuracy was amazing with phenomenal ball placement. It was a superb game from Boyd that will really help his draft stock.
Boyd completed 67 percent of his passes in 2012 for 3,896 yards with 36 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. The 6-foot-1, 225-pounder is undersized, and is estimated to be a third-rounder, but this performance will help him to be first- or second-round pick in 2013 or 2014.
DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Clemson
Hopkins torched a talented LSU secondary throughout their bowl matchup. He picked on both the cornerbacks and safety Eric Reid. Hopkins made tough catches along the sideline and in the middle of the field. He showed off very good hands to go along with quickness in his route-running that allowed him to get separation. Hopkins had a great game as he caught 13 passes for 191 yards with two touchdowns.
Hopkins became Clemson's No. 1 receiver this season and produced huge games on a weekly basis. He totaled 82 receptions for 1,405 yards with 18 touchdowns. The 6-foot-1, 200-pounder is, obviously, not a big receiver, but he is polished and very effective. This tape will help his bid to be a first-rounder, and at worst, he looks like a second-round pick.
Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan
Lewan had an easy slate of pass rushers during the regular season, but that changed with his bowl matchup against South Carolina superstar defensive end Jadeveon Clowney. The elite player Clowney made some plays, and Lewan was beaten a few times and needed some help, but considering who the Wolverines tackle was going against it was a quality outing. Overall, Lewan held his own against Clowney. It wasn't a flawless performance, but nobody can expect that against a phenom like Clowney.
Lewan has great length to help neutralize speed-rushers. The 6-foot-8, 309-pounder is strong and is a good run-blocker. As the redshirt juniot fills out his frame, he has the upside to develop into an elite NFL left tackle. This tape against Clowney should help Lewan's draft stock and solidify him as a top-20 pick if he enters the 2013 NFL Draft.
Lane Johnson, OT, Oklahoma
The Sooners left tackle did a good job of protecting Landry Jones during the 2012 season. Johnson played right tackle in 2011 and moved to the left side as a senior. He had a nice performance against Texas A&M to cap off a strong year. Versus the Aggies, Johnson did a very good job of pass protection for Jones. Johnson also generally won his blocks in the ground game.
The 6-foot-7, 303-pounder really improved his draft stock in 2012. He will have the opportunity to continue to improve his draft stock at the Senior Bowl. Johnson's best position for the NFL could be right tackle, but he looks like an early-round pick who has starting potential.
Eddie Lacy, RB, Alabama
The Crimson Tide workhorse had another tremendous game to close out the 2012 season. Lacy was an unstoppable force against one of the top defenses in the nation. He broke tackles from Irish defenders all night long and picked up yards after contact.
Lacy set the tone for the evening early when he ran between Barrett Jones and Chance Warmack to go straight up the Notre Dame defense for a 20-yard touchdown. Lacy finished out another first-half drive by catching a short dump-off pass and running into the end zone from 10 yards out. He spun out of two tackles to cross the goal line. Lacy finished the night with 140 yards on 20 carries with a score. He was very impressive as he ran with power, quickness and elusiveness.
Lacy averaged 6.5 yards per carry this season as he collected 1,322 yards and 17 touchdowns. Lacy also had 22 receptions for 189 yards and two scores. There is no doubt that he has the size, strength and quickness to be a starting running back in the NFL. The 6-foot-1, 220-pounder had a tremendous finish to the season to solidify his stock as a second-round pick. It isn't out of contention for Lacy to be the first running back selected next April.
2012 NFL Draft Stock Down
Brad Wing, P, LSU
It is hard for punters to make the Stock Down section, but Wing managed to do it. Entering the season, he was considered to be a rare punter who could be worthy of a second-day pick when he entered the draft. The senior didn't punt quite as well this year as he did in 2011. To cap it all off, Wing has had some off-the-field issues and was suspended for the Tigers' bowl game against Clemson.
Wing averaged 44.8 yards per punt as a redshirt sophomore in 2010, but NFL teams aren't going to be very forgiving with off the field problems from a punter. If Wing had another great year without the maturity issues, he could've been a third-round pick, but now looks like a mid- to late third-day pick.
Manti Te'o, ILB, Notre Dame
The National Championship was a disaster for Te'o. He had numerous missed tackles and seemed to really struggle with Alabama's speed. Te'o also took some bad angles and had plays where he was unable to wrap up the power back Lacy. Notre Dame and Te'o had the ball bounce their way a lot in 2012, but the luck of the Irish ran out against the Crimson Tide.
Te'o had 113 tackles, seven interceptions, 5.5 tackles for a loss, 1.5 sacks and four passes broken up this season. He should remain a first-rounder, but this tape will damage his chances of going in the top 10.
Jelani Jenkins, OLB, Florida
Jenkins had a hard time staying on the field in 2012, and many around the Florida program were shocked that he declared for the 2013 draft. Jenkins didn't play in four games and also missed time with injuries in numerous other games. As a result, the junior finished the season with only 29 tackles, five tackles for a loss, two sacks and an interception.
There is no doubt that Jenkins has some talent. He has elite speed that allows him to make plays sideline-to-sideline. Jenkins is a good tackler, too, and is not afraid to get physical. While he is a great athlete, he never turned his skill set into big collegiate production. Jenkins' best season came as a sophomore when he totaled 75 tackles with two sacks, an interception, forced fumble and six passes broken up.
The NFL Draft Advisory Board told Jenkins he would probably be a third-day pick, but he declared anyway. The 6-foot, 230-pounder is undersized and could've used another year to get bigger, show some durability and produce.