This section highlights which players have improved or worsened their 2013 NFL Draft stock as the draft approaches.
By Charlie Campbell.
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2013 NFL Draft Stock Up
Justin Hunter, WR, Tennessee
Weeks ago, scouts told WalterFootball.com that Hunter was grading out as a first-round pick. Now, it appears the rest of the media is catching on and Hunter is being mentioned as a late first-rounder. Scouts said the Combine really helped him with positive reports from his medical check and an excellent 40-yard dash time of 4.44 seconds.
The 6-foot-4, 196-pound Hunter is proving that he is regaining his speed and explosiveness after a 2011 ACL injury. Hunter missed most of that season before playing in every game as in 2012. He totaled 73 receptions for 1,083 yards and nine touchdowns in an offense that spread the ball around to him, Cordarrelle Patterson, Zach Rogers and Mychal Rivera.
Scouts confessed to WalterFootball.com that they love the upside of Hunter. He has size to work in the short to intermediate part of the field and speed to get vertical. They like his run-after-the catch ability as well as his combination of size and speed. Hunter hasn’t received a lot of first-round buzz, but one team in the mid-20s said it would be ecstatic if Hunter was on the board at its pick.
David Quessenberry, C, San Jose State
Quessenberry’s stock is skyrocketing according to sources. They believe that Quessenberry could go as high as the late second round and that he won’t fall out of the third round. Teams love the versatility that Quessenberry displays. He is an option to become a starting center, guard or right tackle. The 6-foot-5, 295-pounder has the frame to add weight and mold to whatever position his team wants him to play.
Quessenberry compiled quality tape during college, but performing well at the Senior Bowl and Combine has really helped him. The strong postseason has put Quessenberry in the running to be one of the first center prospects selected, but the team that drafts him could consider playing him at guard or right tackle.
Latavius Murray, RB, Central Florida
Murray was viewed as an undrafted free agent at one time, but teams are currently showing a ton of interest in him. He now is expected to be selected on the third day of the 2013 NFL Draft; going as high as the fourth round, but more likely to go in the fifth or sixth round. Sources said the teams that have shown a lot of interest in Murray include the Raiders, Cardinals, Dolphins, 49ers, Browns and Texans.
Murray’s stock has been rising and a lot of teams are intrigued by the big back. 26 teams came to watch him at his pro day. The 6-foot-3, 222-pounder ran for 1,106 yards and 15 touchdowns as a senior. He averaged 5.6 yards per carry. Murray also chipped in 27 receptions for 231 yards and four scores. He put all that production together despite missing three games. Murray could go a lot sooner than expected.
Dalton Freeman, C, Clemson
Freeman is another interior offensive linemen who has enjoyed a climb in his draft stock. He did a good job of protecting quarterback Tajh Boyd and opening up running lanes for Andre Ellington over the last two years. Freeman has good movement skills and looks like a nice fit in a zone-blocking system.
The 6-foot-4, 286-pounder struggled at the Senior Bowl against some of the heavy defensive tackles and still needs to add weight to hold up in the NFL. Freeman didn’t participate in the Combine, but he is said to have a number of teams interested in taking him in the middle of the third day of the 2013 NFL Draft.
Tyler Eifert, TE, Notre Dame
Eifert is the top tight end in the 2013 NFL Draft, so it isn’t a stretch to consider him as a first-round pick. However, now it is feasible for Eifert to go in the top 20 and possibly the top 16. He was been a consistent receiver over the past two seasons despite shaky quarterback play. Eifert hauled in 50 passes for 685 yards and four touchdowns this year. He caught 63 passes for 803 yards and five touchdowns in 2011.
Eifert improved his run blocking from to 2011 to 2012 to become a three-down tight end. The 6-foot-6, 250-pounder needs to continue to improve his ability to block in the NFL, but he will be drafted for his receiving ability. Eifert demonstrated at the Combine that he is fast and athletic enough to be considered early in the 2013 NFL Draft.
John Jenkins, DT, Georgia
Jenkins has helped himself by losing a lot of weight and getting in better shape. Since the end of the 2012 season, he has dropped close to 40 pounds to get down around 330 pounds. The 6-foot-3 tackle has increased his stamina and that helps teams to view him as having the potential to play more snaps.
Scouts told WalterFootball.com that they believe that Jenkins will flash stretches of dominance in the NFL. He is inconsistent, but these sources think that if he is part of a rotation he could give a defense 25-30 great snaps a game. Jenkins is a natural nose tackle and is perfect for the middle of a 3-4 defense. Scouts believe that he could be a late first-round pick.
Manti Te’o, ILB, Notre Dame
Te’o helped his draft stock with a strong pro day to improve on the 40-yard dash time (4.7 seconds) that had underwhelmed at the Combine (4.82 seconds). A number of teams are showing interest in the high-profile prospect. The catfish scandal is already old news to NFL teams and not significantly impacting his draft stock.
Some teams have told WalterFootball.com they don’t want the distractions and extra attention that comes with Te’o, but the bigger more universal concerns around the league are his being dominated by Alabama in the National Championship and if he has enough speed to succeed in the NFL.
Many expect Te’o to go in the No. 20-32 range of the 2013 NFL Draft. There was talk that he would fall into the second round. Still, Te’o could even be the first inside linebacker selected if character concerns sink the stock of Georgia’ Alec Ogletree.
Luke Marquardt, OT, Azusa Pacific
Marquardt is a small school prospect who has moved up in recent weeks. Teams see a huge tackle with surprising athleticism. The 6-foot-8, 315-pounder has the size, length and the frame to develop into a starting right tackle in the NFL. He has surprisingly quick feet and is athletic. His basketball background can be seen in his agility and smooth movement skills. Marquardt is a developmental prospect with big upside.
2013 NFL Draft Stock Down
Keenan Allen, WR, California
There was a lot of disappointment with Allen’s 40 time since it came in around 4.7 seconds. That is a very slow time for a wide receiver and was not indicative of how he looked the past two seasons at California. Allen’s poor 40 time also illustrates that he isn’t all the way recovered from the knee injury that cost him the final three games of the 2012 season and participating at the Combine.
Allen totaled 61 receptions for 737 yards and six touchdowns in his shortened season. He also averaged 14 yards per punt return, plus scored a touchdown. Allen played a lot better than his stats indicate. However, there are some questioning whether he is a first-round pick and believe that he could slide into the second round. Allen (6-2, 206) has a good skill set, but the lingering knee injury could easily be the catalyst for a draft day fall.
Chance Warmack, G, Alabama
It shows how unsettled the 2013 draft class is when a player who some have touted as best football player available has his stock falling two weeks prior to the draft for no off-the-field reason. That is the case with Warmack as ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that Warmack could fall to the 18th pick or lower. There are many teams that reportedly prefer North Carolina guard Jonathan Cooper because of his rare athleticism and ability to play center.
Given where guards typically go in the draft, it isn’t out of the realm of possibility for Warmack to go in the back half of the first round. Last year many thought Stanford guard David DeCastro would be selected in the top 16 but he fell into the 20s.
Warmack (6-2, 315) is a great run-blocker and pass-protector, but he isn’t considered to have the flexibility to play center or tackle. Warmack could be in store for a draft day slide, but it is hard to see him escaping the top 20 because of three teams that need guards – Dallas, New York and Chicago – selecting 18-20.
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