2012 NFL Draft Stock – Week 7

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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2012 NFL Draft Stock Up

Ryan Tannehill, QB, Texas A&M
Tannehill had a prolific game against Baylor on Saturday. He started the game strong and kept putting the ball into the end zone all game. Tannehill threw touchdown passes of 68, 47, 68, 7, 8 and 5 yards. He made good decisions and was patient to give his receivers time to run through the Baylor secondary. Tannehill took advantage of a lot of busted coverage and was accurate with his passes to all levels of the field. The 6-foot-4, 222-pounder showed the arm to throw passes on the deep out and hit receivers in stride downfield. Tannehill had a big 34-yard run late in the fourth quarter to help seal the Aggies� win. For the game, he completed 25-of-37 attempts for 415 yards with six touchdowns and an interception.

Thus far in 2011, Tannehill has completed 67 percent of passes for 13 touchdowns and six interceptions. This is the senior�s first full season as a quarterback after starting his career as a wide receiver. Tannehill has a lot to learn in the mental aspect of the game, but he is improving. Tannehill is making the case to be possible second-round pick.

Ryan Swope, WR, Texas A&M
With Tannehill on the list, as his stock going up, Swope has to be included. Baylor had no answer for the junior wide receiver as he torched their secondary. Swope ran by cornerbacks and safeties, producing huge plays against the Bears. He had two touchdown catches of 68 yards among his four touchdowns in the game. Swope caught the other two on short out routes. The 6-foot-1, 206-pounder has a nice mix of power and speed. Swope is physical and is excellent with the ball in his hands after the catch. For the game, he caught 11 passes for 206 yards and four touchdowns.

For the season, Swope leads the Aggies in receiving with 40 receptions for 619 yards and six touchdowns. With Jeff Fuller slumping this season, Swope has taken over as the Aggies� top receiving threat. If Swope were to enter the draft, he looks like a second-day draft pick.

Kevin Zeitler, OG, Wisconsin
Throughout the 2011 season, Zeitler and the Badgers� offensive line have been a dominant force on a weekly basis. Against Indiana, Zeitler had another great game opening up holes for running back Montee Ball. Wisconsin ran for 332 yards on 42 carries (7.9 average) with four rushing touchdowns. On one of Ball’s three touchdown runs Zeitler blasted open the hole. He got to a linebacker and started pushing him downfield. Zeitler took that linebacker straight into a defensive back to take out two defenders. The defensive back was one of the final players who had a shot at tackling Ball.

Two weeks earlier, the 6-foot-4, 315-pound Zeitler had a strong game against Nebraska defensive tackles Jared Crick and Baker Steinkuhler. Zeitler is a weight room standout at Wisconsin, and that strength translates to the football field. He also has underrated athleticism to get to the second level of the defense, plus he pulls well to his left. Zeitler has been a late second-rounder, but with the season he is putting together, could be an early second-round pick.

Morris Claiborne, CB, LSU
Claiborne has been one of the prospects who has improved his stock the most during the 2011 season. He kept his stock climbing with a huge game against Tennessee. Claiborne recorded his third interception of the season and returned it 89 yards for the Tigers. He also returned a kick 34 yards plus had a couple of tackles with two passes broken up.

The 6-foot, 185-pound Claiborne is a good man corner who also plays well in zone. He is an excellent athlete with the ability to turn and run with receivers downfield. Claiborne was beat for a long touchdown pass against Florida, but other than that play he has had excellent coverage this season. Claiborne has steadily pushed his stock into the middle of the first round, and he could be a top-16 pick.

Ryan Miller, G, Colorado
Miller had a very good game against Washington and it was a good test as he had a few matchups against perhaps the best defensive tackle he’ll see all season in Washington’s Alameda Ta’amu. The big defensive tackle didn’t line up over Miller, but Miller showed good mobility to get to Ta’amu to contribute to some double teams. When Miller wasn’t assigned to block Ta’amu, the big defensive tackle would typically beat his blocker. Miller dominated the other defensive linemen and linebackers he went against. He had some pancake blocks and did a good job of turning defenders to open up running lanes. Miller is very quick. The way he accelerates and gets to linebackers to hit blocks is very impressive. The 6-foot-8, 310-pounder is a good athlete with surprising agility who can shuffle his feet quickly. He has the power to push defenders around and flatten smaller defenders.

The senior Miller is a team leader and a team captain. The graduate of Columbine high school (yes that Columbine) entered the game as a potential third-round pick, but after his strong performance against Washington, Miller looks like a second-rounder.

Alameda Ta’amu, DT, Washington
Ta’amu has taken over as the top senior defensive tackle in the 2012 draft class. Against Colorado, he had a good game with five tackles, 1.5 tackles for a loss and .5 sacks. Ta’amu is a load at the line of scrimmage who takes on double teams well. Colorado only blocked him efficiently when they sent Miller over to double team him with the center. Typically, Ta’amu lines up over the center and rocks him off the snap to disrupt the play. He got his sack from running over the center in a one-on-one block. Offensive linemen have a hard time moving Ta’amu. At times, they keep him from collapsing the pocket, but they struggle to move him at the point of attack. He shuts down his gap as a hole to attempt to run through. Another impressive attribute on display against the Buffalos was Ta’amu’s motor. He turned and ran to pursue plays downfield and was not taking plays off.

Schematic versatility is one of the reasons why Ta’amu is the top tackle in the class. He could be a nose tackle and run stuffer in a 4-3 defense. In that role, Ta�amu could be a Pat Williams-type defender. He might be an even better fit as a 3-4 nose tackle. Effective 3-4 nose tackles can be hard to find, but the 6-foot-3, 337-pounder has the size and strength to execute as a one technique. Ta’amu has put together a strong senior season and looks like a top-25 pick.

Coby Fleener, TE, Stanford
Fleener had a massive game against Washington State last Saturday. The senior tight end caught four passes for 128 yards and a touchdown. He caught a 62-yard pass from quarterback Andrew Luck to set up a touchdown. His score came on a 28-yard reception. For the season, Fleener leads Stanford in receiving yards and touchdown catches. He has 16 receptions for 383 yards and six touchdowns. His average of 24 yards per catch shows how dangerous Fleener can be in working the deep middle of the field. He runs down the middle seam extremely well, and his deceptive speed allows him to pass linebackers and safeties to get separation. The 6-foot-6, 244-pound Fleener could add some weight to be a better blocker for the NFL, but he looks like a skilled receiving tight end and H-back. Fleener’s stock is rising into the second day of the draft.

Quinton Coples, DE, North Carolina
In recent weeks, Coples had take some criticism from some draft pundits for not producing more. In the first six games of 2011, he had only 2.5 sacks. That puts him far off his 2010 pace of 10 total sacks. However watching Coples closely, one sees that he has dealt with consistent double teams this season, and still has gotten pressure on the quarterback in games he didn’t record sacks. Against Miami and a deep-drop passer in Jacory Harris, Coples had the opportunity to make plays in the backfield and he did it. Coples recorded one sack and 2.5 tackles for a loss against Hurricanes. He also had six tackles in the game, and was one of the few Tar Heel defenders who stepped up and produced against Miami.

Thus far in 2011, Coples has 28 tackles with 5.5 tackles for a loss and 3.5 sacks. The 6-foot-6, 285-pounder has prototypical size and speed to be a 4-3 defensive end. North Carolina also plays a 3-4 defense at times, and he has shown the ability to execute well as a five-technique defensive end. Coples� strong game against Miami should help solidify his status as high draft pick in the first round next April.

Andre Ellington, RB, Clemson
The Tigers stayed unbeaten and made a furious comeback over Maryland with a huge night from Ellington. The junior running back had a career high with 212 yards rushing on 24 carries with two touchdowns. Ellington sealed the game with a 44-yard touchdown off tackle that saw him race away from the Maryland defense. He also had a run of 55 yards in the game.

The 5-foot-10, 190-pound Ellington is not a running back who is going to get a lot of yards after contact, but he has a nice burst and some speed to be a change-of-pace back at the next level. If Ellington comes out for next year’s draft, or if he stays for his senior year, he is likely to be a third-day pick, but his strong game against Maryland helps push him towards the fourth and fifth round as opposed to the last two rounds of the draft.

Chaz Powell, CB, Penn State
Chaz Powell is making the case to be drafted on the third-day draft. He is a dangerous kick returner who is averaging 32.8 yards per kick return this season. Powell has two kicks returned for over 90 yards including a 92-yard kick return last Saturday against Purdue. Defensively, he has 21 tackles with two interceptions thus far in 2011, and has shown better than expected coverage. Powell (6-1, 206) has ideal size and quality speed. He is a developmental project after switching from wide receiver to corner during the 2010 season. His kick return skills (26 kicks) along with his plus cornerback skill set make him an intriguing late-round pick who could be a groomed for a significant role at the pro level.

Coryell Judie, CB, Texas A&M
Judie had a rough game against Baylor. He had the challenge of defending Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III and wide receiver Kendall Wright, but Judie needs to be able to stop playmakers like them if he wants to be a high draft pick. Early in the game, Wright had Judie beat on a go route, so Wright was running open down the field. The pass from Griffin was overthrown and Judie was fortunate the pass was off the mark. Later, Judie was beaten by wide receiver Terrence Williams for a 77-yard touchdown. Judie missed getting a jam at the line of scrimmage and Williams had him beat. The pass was on the mark about 20 yards beyond the line of scrimmage. Judie dove but couldn’t tackle Williams and he sprinted down the field for a score.

Thus far in 2011, Judie has 19 tackles with zero interceptions. He has been dealing with some injuries this season including a pulled hamstring that caused him to miss the matchup against Oklahoma State and wide out Justin Blackmon. Judie also had offseason shoulder surgery. Perhaps the injuries are hampering him on the field, but right now his draft stock is declining. At one time, Judie was challenging for the first round, but now he looks more like an early third-rounder.

Kheeston Randle, DT, Texas
A week ago, Randle did not have a good game against Oklahoma. He got little pass rush and recorded only one tackle in run defense. This week, Randle was very quiet against Oklahoma State. The Cowboys had a good running game and were able to rush at him. Randle (6-5, 305) was unable to collapse the pocket to put some pressure on quarterback Brandon Weeden. For Texas, Randle lines up as a three technique on many plays and is not very effective at rushing the passer. He would be better off playing as a five-technique defensive end in a 3-4 defense.

The Longhorns defensive tackle has been quiet this season after entering the year as a potential late first-round pick. Randle has a total of nine tackles (two solo) with zero tackles for a loss and zero sacks. Right now, he needs to start producing to stop his stock from falling further. In the 2012 NFL Draft, Randle looks like a third-round pick.

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