This new section highlights which players have improved or worsened their 2012 NFL Draft stock the previous weekend. Check out our NFL Draft: College Football Game Recaps for more details.
By Charlie Campbell.
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Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor
The biggest performance of the opening weekend of college football came from the Baylor signal caller. Robert Griffin III (RGIII) carried the Bears to an upset win over TCU. RGIII completed 21-of-27 passes for 359 yards and five touchdowns. He ran for 38 yards and made a clutch reception on a trick play late in the fourth quarter for 15 yards. Last year, Griffin completed 67 percent of his passes for 3,501 yards with 22 touchdowns and eight interceptions. He also ran for 635 yards on 149 carries (4.3 yard average) with eight touchdowns. What makes Griffin (6-2, 220) special is a strong arm, with good downfield accuracy and excellent mobility. The junior quarterback entered the college football season with a mid-round grade in the 4-6 range. If RGIII keeps producing mammoth games with clutch plays to lead Baylor to wins, he could enter the 2012 draft. Right now, his stock is on the rise and he looks to be in the third or fourth-round range.
Juron Criner, WR, Arizona
While Criner had a big game on the field to start the season, he also provided some positive news for NFL evaluators off the field in the first week of the college football season. Criner had left the program earlier this year to deal with a personal issue. Some worried he had off-the-field problems. The reality turned out to be that Criner was helping his mother deal with an illness. Criner (6-4, 210) returned at the start of training camp and had a fabulous debut game with six receptions for 151 yards and one touchdown against Northern Arizona. With the off-the-field issues put to rest and Criner dominating on the grass, his stock is back on the rise. He entered the season as a fringe first-rounder that could slide into round two. Right now, Criner has the arrow the pointing up.
Michael Floyd, WR, Notre Dame
When you consider the subpar quarterback play that Michael Floyd had to play with for half of the game against Notre Dame, one has to be even more impressed that he totaled 12 receptions for 154 yards and two touchdowns. Floyd (6-3, 228) gave the South Florida secondary fits with his size, speed, and route-running. Floyd has first-round talent and he needs to be overwhelming on the field in order to overcome some off-the-field concerns. He did that against USF in a losing effort, but more games like this could get Floyd drafted in the first round.
Vontaze Burfict, LB, Arizona State
In the weeks leading up to the college football season, there were fresh character concerns about Burfict in scouting circles after Burfict allegedly got into a fight with a teammate in the locker room in August. One prominent scouting service rated Burfict behind other junior linebackers in Boston College’s Luke Kuechly and Notre Dame’s Manti Te’o, after previously rating Burfict as the top draft-eligible linebacker. The 6-foot-3, 250-pound Burfict showed his special skills with a three-sack game to open the season against UC Davis. The instincts and closing speed for Burfict are off the charts. Saturday’s three sack game is a good start towards getting Burfict’s draft stock going in the right direction.
Luke Kuechly, LB, Boston College
While Burfict had a good game, Kuechly featured a game that was reminiscent of his typical performance in 2010. Kuechly had 19 tackles with two tackles for a loss and one interception. He returned the interception 22 yards and was tackled a yard short of the end zone. He also made a key hit and penetration into the backfield to lead the charge to stop a fourth-and-1 run by Northwestern. The intelligent Kuechly’s good tackling technique and instincts were undeniable against Northwestern. His stock is on the rise.
Shea McClellin, DE, Boise State
One of the standout defensive linemen in the first week of the season was McClellin. He had a massive game against Georgia with six tackles and 2.5 sacks. McClellin showed good technique and moves, with rushes off the edge and coming around, as well as up the middle to get to the quarterback. McClellin was firing off the snap and had offensive linemen playing on their heels all game. He entered the season as a second-day pick, but with this start to the season he has the arrow pointing towards the second round.
Billy Winn, DT, Boise State
Helping McClellin to a big night against the Bulldogs was Winn. The quick and strong Winn (6-3, 288) recorded four tackles and a sack against Georgia. He was consistently winning his matchups and getting into the face of quarterback Aaron Murray. Winn could be a better fit as a five-technique defensive end in a 3-4 defense, but right now his stock is improving, and looks like a solid second-day pick moving up into the second round.
Vince Browne, DE, Northwestern
A disappointing performance in the first game of the season came from the Northwestern defensive end. Browne was a non-factor in the game against Boston College, as he finished the game with two tackles. Browne (6-5, 265) was facing a left tackle that was making his first start after the position had been locked down for years by Anthony Castonzo. New left tackle Nathan Richman shut down Browne with relative ease. Browne held up all right in run defense, but got almost zero pass rush. Browne was trying to either bull rush or rock Richman off balance with a hit and then run by him. Neither method was effective. Browne made a tackle on quarterback Chase Rettig to close the game, and that came after Rettig held onto the ball for a long amount of time. Browne was rated a second or third-rounder to enter the season. With the way he looked against Richman, Browne’s stock definitely features an arrow pointing down.
Cordy Glenn, OG, Georgia
Entering the first week of the season, Glenn was considered to be a second or third-round pick. That was until Winn, McClellin and the rest of Boise State’s defensive line had their way with him. Glenn (6-5, 348) played some left tackle and consistently allowed linemen to pressure Murray. It looks like Glenn should consider dropping some weight to get more athletic and be a better pass protector. His stock is going down after struggling to block some future NFL defensive linemen.
Ben Jones, C, Georgia
Like Glenn, Jones was considered to be a second-day pick, before he had a rough performance against the Broncos. Jones (6-3, 316) also was beaten for a sack and allowed too much pressure up the middle of the defense. While Jones’s stock is going down right now, he will face plenty of good interior defensive linemen to show improvement against in the weeks to come starting with South Carolina on Saturday.
Tank Carder, LB, TCU
Carder did not have a good game leading the way for TCU’s defense. Against Baylor, Carder had seven tackles with zero splash plays. Baylor was able to run the ball, pass the ball, and pretty much do anything they wanted against the TCU defense. Carder chased down some tackles, but he provided no key stops to halt any Baylor drives or keep them out of the end zone. He also bit badly on a play-action fake that opened up a tight end for a touchdown pass. Carder will need to have a bigger impact in the weeks to come, as the game against Baylor definitely was disappointing and could have Carder’s stock on the decline.
LaMichael James, RB, Oregon
For the second consecutive game against an SEC defense, James’ production was limited. After Auburn contained him in the National Championship game to end last season, James was again held in check by a fast LSU defense. While James has been an electric playmaker in college, his speed does not overwhelm the SEC defenses that he has played against. Against LSU, James totaled 54 yards on 18 carries with one touchdown and also caught six receptions for 61 yards. The 5-foot-9, 185-pound James was dinged up during the game and limped off the field in the middle of it, although he did finish the game, and that could have been cramps. Either way, durability issues come with his size, and if his speed continues to prove not to be a mismatch against elite defenses, then his stock will really take a tumble. He entered the season as a second-round pick, but right now could more likely be a third-rounder.
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