2014 NFL Draft Stock – Week 6

This new section highlights which players have improved or worsened their 2014 NFL Draft stock as the draft approaches.

By Charlie Campbell.
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2014 NFL Draft Stock Up

Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina
Despite not having his starting quarterback, Ebron continued his excellent junior season against a quality Virginia Tech defense featuring one of the better secondaries in the nation.

Ebron was wide open running into the end zone in the second quarter for what would have been an easy touchdown from about 20 yards out, but his quarterback didn’t see him. However, that backup signal-caller came back to trust Ebron. When he was covered well and the ball was thrown up for grabs, the 6-foot-5 tight end leapt high to catch the ball over the defensive back. Ebron did a nice job of holding onto the throw despite the slaps of the defender. The junior had a gain of over 20 yards running down the seam while making a tough catch with a safety all over him. He finished the day with six receptions for 70 yards and a touchdown.

With Colt Lyerla going M.I.A. and Austin Seferian-Jenkins having a slow start to the season, Ebron is making the case to be considered as the top tight end for the 2014 NFL Draft. The 6-foot-4, 245-pounder is extremely athletic with serious speed to get open down the field. He also has some blocking ability. Ebron has 23 receptions for 333 yards and two touchdowns so far this year. He looks worthy of first-round consideration for an offense that likes to throw the ball to the tight end.

Logan Thomas, QB, Virginia Tech
The game versus North Carolina allowed Thomas to demonstrate that he is getting better with his ability to function as a pocket passer. He showed improved pocket presence and poise throughout the game. Thomas’ accuracy was better, and he made good decisions with the football.

There were a few nice highlights for Thomas. In the first quarter, he took a deep drop off of play-action and lofted in a beautiful deep ball for a 45-yard touchdown to wide out Demitri Knowles. Later throwing from his own end zone, Thomas hit receiver Willie Byrn running a deep post for an 83-yard gain. The improving signal-caller finished the drive with a short touchdown pass. He had two short scoring throws on the day. Thomas completed 19-of-28 passes against the Tar Heels for 294 yards with three touchdowns and zero interceptions.

Everybody knows the 6-foot-6, 257-pounder has the arm strength and mobility to be a starter in the NFL, but his accuracy and turnovers were awful in his junior season. The senior has shown improvements so far this year, completing 55 percent of his passes for 1,212 yards with eight touchdowns and six interceptions. If Thomas can continue this trend, he could play his way into possibly being a second-day selection in the 2014 NFL Draft. Thomas is an interesting prospect to watch for the second half of 2013.

Carlos Hyde, RB, Ohio State
With quarterback Braxton Miller struggling, Hyde picked up the slack to carry Ohio State to a hard-fought road win at Northwestern. Hyde did some damage to his draft stock with a suspension to start the season, but he has played well since returning to the lineup. Hyde ran for 85 yards on 17 carries versus Wisconsin, but he overpowered Northwestern with 26 carries for 168 yards with three touchdowns. The senior had a seven-yard touchdown run with just over five minutes remaining. It ended up being the game-winning score.

Hyde has only played two games, but is averaging 6.5 yards per carry on 294 yards and those three touchdowns. The 6-foot, 242-pounder also has some ability to contribute to the passing game. Against Northwestern, he had four receptions for 38 yards. Hyde will help mitigate damage of his suspension if he can maintain this level of play.

Loucheiz Purifoy, CB, Florida
Purifoy’s most recent outing is decent evidence why he is in the running as one of the nation’s top draft-eligible cornerbacks. Early in the first quarter, he came on a blind-side cornerback blitz to sack Arkansas quarterback Brandon Allen. Purifoy did a great job of slapping the ball out while knocking Allen to the ground. That gave Florida a field goal. After the Razorbacks took a 7-3 lead, Purifoy put the Gators up for good. Allen tried to throw a short pass to the flat, but the standout corner jumped the route for the interception. He exploded down the field for 42-yards for a touchdown.

Purifoy’s huge game led Florida’s defense to a 30-10 win over Arkansas. He had four tackles with the strip-sack and pick-six. The top cornerback spot is up for grabs as Ohio State’s Bradley Roby has been getting torched on a weekly basis while Purifoy’s teammate Marcus Roberson has been sidelined by a knee injury. The big, fast and physical Purifoy made the case to be a first-rounder with his performance against Arkansas.

Ty Montgomery, WR, Stanford
Montgomery set the tone in Stanford’s big game versus Washington, when he brought back the opening kickoff for a 99-yard touchdown. Montgomery took an end around for a gain of about 20 yards in the first quarter. Just before halftime, he had a tough catch to beat man coverage running along the sideline on a go route for a 39-yard touchdown. It was a perfect throw from Kevin Hogan to nullify good coverage. Against the Huskies, Montgomery totaled 56 receiving yards on three catches and 30 rushing yards on two carries.

Montgomery bolted down the field for a 66-yard kick return late in the third quarter. That set up the game-winning touchdown for the Cardinal. He finished with 290 all-purpose yards against Washington. The 6-foot-2, 215-pound receiver has some speed to go along with size and elusiveness in the open field. In 2013, Montgomery has 23 receptions for 383 yards with five touchdowns. This performance really helps his draft stock.

Trent Murphy, DE, Stanford
Murphy led the Stanford defense against Washington and made some huge splash plays to help his team stay undefeated. He had a first-quarter tackle on Bishop Sankey after going unblocked. A few plays later, Murphy chased down Keith Price for a sack after the quarterback rolled out. Murphy fired at him after starting out in containment.

Murphy got in on a coverage sack late in the third quarter. It was nice hustle play after he was initially stuffed on an inside rush against a guard. Murphy burned the left tackle with a nice spin move on the next play to flush Price out of the pocket. The senior came close to a few other sacks.

In the fourth quarter, Murphy made a huge play for the Cardinal when the Huskies were a few yards out from the end zone. Murphy saw he wouldn’t get to Price for a sack, so he pulled a J.J. Watt by easing back and to leap to deflect the pass in the air. Teammate A.J. Tarpley came down with the ball to take away points from Washington. Murphy later showed some athletic ability by running with tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins in pass coverage down the field.

Murphy recorded six tackles, 2.5 tackles for a loss, two sacks and a pass deflected for an interception versus the Huskies. He has 18 tackles with four sacks, six tackles for a loss and a 30-yard pick-six so far this year. Murphy is really showing the ability to be a 3-4 outside linebacker in the NFL and an early-round pick.

Cyril Richardson, G, Baylor
Baylor’s offense has been a prolific point-machine this season, and Richardson’s blocking plays a significant role in that. Bears star running back Lache Seastrunk has been on a tear this season and has had a lot of success running behind Richardson. The big guard helped Seastrunk rip off touchdown runs of 80 yards and 19 yards against West Virginia. Baylor also had three short touchdown runs from other running backs coming behind Richardson. While the big guard was in the game, the Bears ran for six rushing touchdowns and two through the air.

The 6-foot-5, 340-pound guard is making the case to be the top guard in the 2014 NFL Draft class. Richardson has experience at left tackle from the 2011 season when he protected the blind side of Robert Griffin III. Richardson is a better fit at guard for the NFL, and he needs to make sure he stays on top of his conditioning for the next level. If Richardson maintains his dominant form over the rest of the season, he could push for top-40 consideration.

Prince Shembo, OLB, Notre Dame
The player who really helped his draft stock in the Arizona State versus Notre Dame battle in Cowboys stadium was Fighting Irish outside linebacker Prince Shembo. The senior had been held without a sack thus far in 2013, but that changed in a big way against the Sun Devils as he recorded three sacks. The first came when Shemo beat the right tackle with a rush to the inside. His second was on a tailback in a blitz off the edge. Shembo’s third sack came when he was unblocked coming off the left side. After a quiet start to the season, Shembo needed a big game and got it. He has 20 tackles with three sacks so far this season.

Shembo would probably fit best in the NFL as a 3-4 outside linebacker. He had 7.5 sacks last season. If Shembo can stay consistent and finish the season in a strong fashion, he could be a mid-round pick who rotates into a contributing role as a pro.

Honorable Mentions: UCLA outside linebacker Anthony Barr, Stanford inside linebacker Shayne Skov, Florida wide receiver Solomon Patton, Colorado wide receiver Paul Richardson, Baylor running back Lache Seastrunk, Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd, LSU wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. and Fresno State wide receiver Davante Adams.

2014 NFL Draft Stock Down

HaHa Clinton-Dix, S, Alabama
College football was caught by surprise with the indefinite suspension to Clinton-Dix that came a few days before Alabama’s game against Georgia State. Clinton-Dix reportedly accepted a loan from assistant strength and conditioning coach Corey Harris, which falls under the impermissible benefits umbrella. Many believe that Clinton-Dix will be reinstated at some point this season, and it seems very likely that Nick Saban will want his best safety the Crimson Tide takes on LSU’s passing attack in early November.

Clinton-Dix has 24 tackles this year and played well against Texas A&M, Virginia Tech and Ole Miss. He hasn’t produced a lot of splash plays, but he has done well as the last line of defense covering a lot of ground and making some clutch tackles downfield. This suspension will raise the character-concern red flag that will stick with Clinton-Dix throughout the draft process.

Seantrel Henderson, OT, Miami
The disappointing collegiate career of the former No. 1 high school recruit in the nation took another downturn with Henderson landing an indefinite suspension from Miami. The senior has played at right tackle this season while splitting carries with Malcolm Bunche. Henderson’s career has had repeated setbacks with a suspension in 2012, a car accident, injuries and some personal tragedies.

Before the suspension, it was disappointing that Henderson wasn’t an every-down lineman. He’s done well in run blocking in 2013. While being generally sound in pass protection, Henderson has had some hiccups, especially against Florida. He has early-round talent, but has never put it all together into a dominant season in college football. Thus, Henderson’s playing his way into mid-round status.

Will Sutton, DT, Arizona State
The Dallas Cowboys could use a young three-technique for Monte Kiffin’s defense and Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones was in attendance to watch Notre Dame take on Arizona State in Cowboy Stadium. Thus, Sutton picked a bad time to have an underwhelming game. Aside from a few pressures early in the game, he was a non-factor. The Fighting Irish offensive line kept Sutton from being disruptive as he had three tackles and didn’t make any plays behind the line of scrimmage.

Almost halfway through his senior season, Sutton has 16 tackles with 2.5 tackles for a loss and a sack. He had 13 sacks with six sacks at this point last season. Sutton gained about 20 pounds to get bigger for his senior year, and it seems he hasn’t adjusted well to the heavier weight yet. Sutton is looking more like a second-day pick rather than a first-rounder.

Dishonorable Mentions: Ohio State cornerback Bradley Roby and Oregon tight end Colt Lyerla.

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