This new section highlights which players have improved or worsened their 2012 NFL Draft stock at the East-West Shrine Game practices. Check out our East-West Shrine Game Practice Recaps for more details.
By Charlie Campbell.
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2012 NFL Draft Stock Up
Josh Norman, CB, Coastal Carolina
Perhaps the player who laid claim to be being the top prospect at the East-West Shrine practices was Norman. All week, he had dominant practices that showcased him producing some splash plays. On Tuesday, Norman made an acrobatic interception reaching behind his head as he leapt into the air. The next practice, on Wednesday, saw Norman record two diving interceptions. He had good coverage all week and did not allow separation. The 6-foot-3, 203-pounder has size and athleticism to go along with speed and quickness.
In his collegiate career, Norman totaled 13 interceptions with 35 passes broken up, four forced fumbles, four blocked kicks and 196 tackles. He broke out with eight interceptions as a sophomore in 2009. Norman has the physical skill set to potentially be a starter in the NFL. After his stellar week in St. Petersburg, he could get consideration as a second-day pick next April.
Tim Benford, WR, Tennessee Tech
One of the offensive players to breakout at the East-West practices was Benford. The first practice of the week saw him give a lot of defensive backs problems with his straight-line speed and quickness in route-running. Benford (5-11, 199) has quality measurements for a fast slot receiver-type prospect in the NFL.
As a senior, Benford totaled 65 receptions for 923 yards and five touchdowns. He never recorded a 1,000 yard season in college, but his least productive year still surpassed 500 yards. Now, Benford needs to time well at the combine and his pro day. If that happens, he could be an early-round pick on the final day of the draft.
Shaun Prater, CB, Iowa
Prater was consistent and steady throughout the week of practice at the East-West Shrine Game. He obviously is experienced and was ready for the receivers that came his way. Prater had the athleticism to turn and run with receivers while being strong in zone coverage. At Iowa, Prater played a lot of zone coverage, and he clearly does well in picking up receivers and passing them off.
Prater (5-10, 185) had 51 tackles with four forced fumbles and one interception in 2011. For his career, he totaled seven interceptions. Prater is not a natural man corner, but seems like he could be a quality nickel corner with the upside to possibly be a starter. Prater has solidified his draft stock as a late second or third-round pick in the 2012 NFL Draft.
Nick Jean-Baptiste, DT, Baylor
Jean-Baptiste was one of the few Baylor defensive players who had a good 2011 season, and he carried that over into an impressive week in St. Petersburg. The 6-foot-1, 335-pounder was like a bowling ball rolling through offensive linemen and causing disruption in the backfield. Every lineman who went against Jean-Baptiste had problems with his bull rush. He has natural pad level, and the low-man wins. Consistently, Jean-Baptiste would get underneath the pads of the offensive linemen and push them straight back. He also showed some quickness with the ability to dart by them when using leverage to create a crease.
As a senior, Jean-Baptiste totaled 36 tackles with 8.5 tackles for a loss, four sacks and three passes broken up. He could be a nose tackle in either a 4-3 or a 3-4 defense at the next level. Jean-Baptiste is a sleeper prospect who could move up draft boards much like former teammate Phil Taylor. Right now, Jean-Baptiste looks like a second-day pick.
Travian Robertson, DT, South Carolina
One of the most disruptive defensive linemen at the East-West Shrine practices was Robertson. He destroyed many offensive linemen in the one-on-one line battles. Robertson was beating linemen with a combination of quickness off the snap and a nice repertoire of pass-rushing moves. Robertson has a good rip move to go along with a speed rush. All three days, he performed well, penetrating in both run defense and pass rush.
The play of Robertson was a bit of a head-scratcher, since he did not look like the same player during the 2011 season. Robertson only had 2.5 sacks and eight tackles for a loss as a senior. NFL Teams are going to have to decide whether Robertson can consistently play like he did this past week. With his strong showing, Robertson looks like a future mid-round pick.
Keith Tandy, RB, West Virginia
Tandy showed NFL teams that he could be a quality candidate to serve as a nickelback in the NFL. Throughout the week, Tandy was providing good coverage and almost came away with a few interceptions. The thickly built Tandy (5-10, 202) flips his hips with excellent agility to turn and run with receivers. He has good instincts to go along with quickness.
As a senior, Tandy had 64 tackles with four interceptions and nine passes broken up. He may not grow into being a starter, but he definitely looks like he has the capacity to be a quality nickel corner who specializes in covering slot receivers. Tandy could be an early pick on the third day of the draft.
Marc Tyler, RB, USC
Sturdily built, Tyler (5-10, 230) may be the most pro-ready offensive skill-position prospect at the East-West Shrine. Running backs can make a quick transition in the NFL, and Tyler’s downhill running style, with a background in a pro-style offense, should translate to him being able to contribute quickly if he were pressed into the lineup. Tyler had a strong week of practice and displayed the power to run through arm tackles and get yards after contact.
Tyler was plagued with injuries during his senior season and assembled only 568 yards and four touchdowns on 122 carries. In the NFL, he could be a power back who also is used in short-yardage situations. Tyler could fit a zone-blocking scheme as well as a power-man blocking attack. He averaged 5.4 yards per carry for the Trojans in his collegiate career. Tyler is a mid-rounder who could sneak into the second-day of the draft after his strong week in St. Petersburg, Florida.
Chase Ford, TE, Miami
Ford hails from the U, which is known for producing excellent tight ends. The success of those players like the Saints’ Jimmy Graham helps Ford, but he is not as good a prospect as most of the Miami tight ends have been. However, Ford had a good week of practice and showed some receiving ability. The 6-foot-6, 258-pounder used his big frame to make some tough catches down the middle of the field. Ford had leaping and diving receptions on passes that were off the mark. He is a good athlete with some speed.
Scouts said that Ford’s drive blocking is a weakness and he doesn’t have the strength that most teams need from their tight ends to serve as a blocker against front-seven defenders. Some teams that look for a backup receiving option will be interested in Ford even though he only totaled 16 receptions for 184 yards and two touchdowns over the past two seasons. His strong week of practice has Ford going from the undrafted ranks into a late-round pick who will be viewed as a developmental prospect.
Honorable Mentions: Rutgers guard Desmond Wynn, TCU linebacker Tank Carder, Duke safety Matt Daniels, Boise State wide receiver Tyler Shoemaker, Michigan tight end Kevin Koger, Miami defensive tackle Micanor Regis, Missouri defensive tackle Dominique Hamilton, Miami guard Brandon Brooks, Rutgers defensive end Justin Francis, Boise State defensive end Tyrone Crawford, Illinois wide receiver A.J. Jenkins, Ole Miss offensive tackle Bradley Sowell, Iowa offensive tackle Markus Zusevics, and West Virginia defensive end Julian Miller.
2012 NFL Draft Stock Down
Ryan Miller, G, Colorado
The big guard had an overall disappointing week. There were plays that Miller looked overwhelming for defenders due to his combination of power and quickness, but at the same time, Miller had plenty of ugly plays where he was beaten by speed rushes and bull rushes. At 6-foot-7, 326-pounds, Miller has the body type of a right tackle and that is where scouts wanted to see him work. At that position, he had a lot of struggles early in the week, but started to come around on the third day.
For the next level, Miller is going to need some development. He has to work on his pad level and knee bend. Miller could start his career at guard and possibly move to right tackle, but that is risky to project. It is paramount for him to land with a team that has a good offensive line coach. Miller entered the week as a possible second-round pick, but in the 2012 NFL Draft, he look like a pick on Friday night, and could possibly even go in the third or fourth round.
Brandon Lindsey, DE/OLB, Pittsburgh
Lindsey was a virtual ghost at the East-West Shrine Game practices. He made no impact plays and did not standout at all. In Lindsey’s defense, he was moved from defensive end to outside linebacker, so the position change definitely didn’t help him. The change was made because the 6-foot-1, 255-pounder doesn’t have the size that many teams want out of their defensive ends.
Lindsey looked like a bad fit at linebacker. His biggest strength is rushing the passer and trying to beat tackles with a speed rush. Lindsey recorded 8.5 sacks as a senior and 10 sacks as a junior. It would probably serve him best to be a backup and a third-down situational pass rusher as a 4-3 defensive end. After his East-West performance, Lindsey probably falls from the second day to the third day of the draft.
Quentin Saulsberry, C, Mississippi State
All week, Saulsberry struggled in one-on-ones. He was beat routinely by speed and power rushers. There were few plays that Saulsberry won his blocks in the one-on-one sessions and that carried over into the scrimmages. He is a soft 6-foot-2, 302-pounds. In the NFL, Saulsberry needs to take up residence in the weight room and get some power to anchor against bull rushers and move blockers in the ground game. If he doesn’t, Saulsberry probably can only serve as a backup for a few years. He entered the East-West Shrine Game as a mid-round pick but now looks like a late-rounder.
Dishonorable Mentions: BYU offensive tackle Matt Reynolds, Tennessee Chattanooga quarterback B.J. Coleman, Florida quarterback John Brantley, Miami wide receiver LaRon Byrd, Notre Dame cornerback R.J. Blanton and Connecticut center Moe Petrus.
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