Christine Michael, RB, Texas A&M
Michael had a phenomenal week of practice and probably helped himself more than any other prospect at the East-West Shrine. The 5-foot-11, 215-pounder showed off an impressive skill set. He ran with quickness, power, balance, vision and cutting ability. In every practice, Michael stood out.
As a senior in 2012, Michael totaled 417 yards on 88 carries (4.7 average) and 12 touchdowns. Injuries kept Michael from playing a full season in 2011 and 2010. In 2011 before going down with a knee injury, he outshined teammate Cyrus Gray. Michael led Texas A&M in rushing prior to the injury. He averaged six yards per carry with 899 yards and eight touchdowns. Michael was knocked out during the 2010 season too, breaking his tibia in the eighth game. He had 631 yards rushing with four touchdowns and a five yard per carry average. Michael had 844 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns as freshman, averaging 5.1 yards per carry.
Sources told WalterFootball.com that the Jets, Packers and Saints were showing a lot of interest in Michael. Green Bay general manager Ted Thompson was really watching Michael closely in practice. Tampa Bay and Chicago also displayed interest. After his strong week, Michael looks like he has vaulted his stock into the mid-rounds and it is possible he could sneak into the second day. Sources indicated that teams believe Michael has starting potential.
Gerald Hodges, OLB, Penn State
The Penn State standout didn't receive the opportunity to play in a bowl game, but he made up for it with an impressive week of practice at the East-West Shrine. Hodges was a tough run defender who showed nice speed to the perimeter. He was physical in the tackle box with the power to take on blockers and hold his ground.
NFL teams love versatility, and Hodges showed that at the East-West practices. He played middle and outside linebacker in a 4-3 set. That could lead to some teams could play Hodges on the inside, but at the very least he should be able to handle middle responsibilities if an injury occurred.
As a senior, Hodges played really well with 109 tackles, 8.5 tackles for a loss, seven passes broken up, one forced fumble and two interceptions in 2012. He still has room for improvement with shedding blocks, but with good development he could be a starter in the NFL.
Josh Evans, S, Florida
The Gators' safety was consistently good all week at the East-West Shrine. Evans was overshadowed by teammate Matt Elam last season, but he was a rock-solid safety in his own right. In the practices, Evans was clearly a good run defending safety. He has good tackling technique and worked his way into position to make tackles. Evans clearly has been groomed well in the running SEC to defend the ground game.
Evans also showed impressive coverage skills. He did a nice job of picking up receivers and tight ends. He ran with them downfield and had consistently tight coverage. The coaches gave Evans a lot of praise and a lot of teams were showing interest in him, the Bears especially.
As a senior, Evans had three interceptions with 83 tackles, three passes batted away and 2.5 sacks. With his strong week of practice Evans could be an early-round pick on the third day of the NFL Draft.
Caleb Sturgis, K, Florida
It isn't common for kickers to rise up boards in the postseason, but Sturgis could be accomplishing that. Sturgis was phenomenal in the practices at Mobile. He displayed good accuracy with a booming leg. With ease Sturgis was drilling field goals from 54 and 56 yards. It looked like he had the power to make kicks from around 60 yards.
As a senior, Sturgis was 24-of-28 on his field goals with plenty of clutch kicks. The Gators' offense was inconsistent, but Sturgis helped them produce points when drives stalled. It wouldn't be surprising if Sturgis got consideration on the third day of the draft as a fourth or fifth-rounder.
Jasper Collins, WR, Mount Union
Mount Union has produced some quality NFL receivers with Pierre Garcon and Cecil Shorts. Collins is the latest in line and showed some nice ability at the East-West Shrine. The 6-foot, 190-pounder is very fast and runs his routes with quickness. The East-West quarterbacks struggled to get Collins the ball, but he was regularly getting separation from defensive backs.
The success of Shorts and Garcon should help Collins. He may not make it into the mid-rounds, but Collins' receiving and special teams return ability could get him drafted.
Demontre Hurst, CB, Oklahoma
Hurst had a quality senior season and was part of a good cornerback tandem with Aaron Colvin. Even though Hurst didn't record an interception, he showed nice coverage ability with nine passes broken up and 59 tackles. He wasn't dominant, but he was consistently sound in coverage. The Sooners played Hurst in a lot of man coverage in 2012, so he is used to being on his own.
At the East-West Shrine, Hurst continued to show man coverage skills. He also did well in zone. He has plus flexibility to flip his hips and run with receivers. This performance should help him to be a mid-rounder.
T.J. Johnson, C, South Carolina
There weren't too many offensive linemen who had good weeks in St. Petersburg, but Johnson was one of the few who did. At 6-foot-4, 315-pounds, Johnson already has good size and doesn't need to develop his body at the NFL level. In the team scrimmage sessions, Johnson did well to open holes on the ground and protect the passer. Johnson held his own in the one-on-ones and had his share of wins. He also displayed a tenacious attitude. Johnson blocked through the whistle and was extremely physical. It led to some near fights, but NFL coaches love that demeanor in their offensive linemen.
This isn't a strong class of centers, so Johnson picked a good time to have a strong week of practice. Johnson should have the flexibility for any offense but may be best in a man power scheme. The good performance at the East-West Shrine should help Johnson to get drafted on the third day.
Honorable Mentions: Michigan defensive tackle William Campbell, Connecticut linebacker Sio Moore, Iowa cornerback Micah Hyde, Illinois cornerback Terry Hawthorne, South Carolina defensive end Devin Taylor, Virginia linebacker Steve Greer, USC defensive end Wes Horton, Virginia Tech wide receiver Marcus Davis, Virginia Tech wide receiver Corey Fuller and North Carolina wide receiver Erik Highsmith.
2012 NFL Draft Stock Down
Collin Klein, QB, Kansas State
The Heisman Trophy finalist proved that he is a great college player and nothing more. He had a horrible week of practice at the East-West Shrine. Klein illustrated for NFL scouts that he has terrible throwing mechanics and footwork. That leads to him having bad accuracy with awful ball placement. Klein also showed that his arm strength is lacking and outside of his running ability, he doesn't offer much. Scouts were heard laughing at some of Klein's throws.
Klein was a tremendous playmaker for the Wildcats in 2012, but he looks like a quarterback for Canada or the arena league. In interviews, Klein said he isn't interested in changing positions. Entering the East-West, Klein could have been a late-round developmental project but with his performance in St. Petersburg Klein looks more like an undrafted free agent.
Manti Te'o, ILB, Notre Dame
It keeps getting worse for Te'o. 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 power back Eddie 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.
Now the story has broken that Te'o was either duped or complicit in the story of his fake girlfriend who died of cancer within hours of the death of his Grandmother. Te'o hasn't done anything horrible like getting a DUI, testing positive on a drug test or fighting with a coach or teammate. However, this scandal could speak to character concerns and questions of Te'o's honesty, integrity and trustworthiness.
Te'o should remain a first-rounder, but all of this could push him into the back half of the first round.
Duke Williams, S, Nevada
Williams had a good collegiate career at Nevada and finished it with a quality senior year. Entering the East-West Shrine, Williams was one of the higher-rated players on either team. However in the practices, Williams did not stand out at all. He didn't make any splash plays against the run or pass. Williams also didn't illustrate the instincts to be an impact player.
The 6-foot-1, 200-pounder totaled 106 tackles with eight passes broken up, one interception and three passes broken up as a senior. He will need to perform well at the Combine and his pro day to help minimize the damage. Williams looked more like a fourth- or fifth-rounder rather than a second-day pick.