2014 NFL Draft Stock – Pre-New Year’s Bowls II

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

Stephon Tuitt, DE, Notre Dame
Tuitt helped himself against Rutgers. He was tough in the ground game all afternoon. On one play, Tuitt got the left tackle on roller skates to flow down the line and tackle the running back. He also got steady pass pressure. Late in the fourth quarter, Tuitt used speed and violent hands to beat the right tackle and start a sack of Rutgers quarterback Chas Dodd. On what was possibly the penultimate play of Tuitt’s Notre Dame career, he landed another sack with a rush going to the inside.

Tuitt recorded 49 tackles with nine tackles for a loss, 7.5 sacks, one forced fumble and a pick-six this year. The 6-foot-6, 320-pounder has the strength and quickness to play end or tackle in a 4-3 defense, plus has the ability to function as a 3-4 defensive end. He is very strong while being quick and agile for his size. Tuitt will be a first-round pick if he enters the 2014 NFL Draft.

Zack Martin, OT, Notre Dame
Against Rutgers, Martin was phenomenal from start to finish. He showed excellent technique in both run blocking and pass protection. Notre Dame had a lot of success running behind Martin. There were plays where was bullying his defenders down the field. He was getting push out at the point of attack and turning defenders to open holes.

In pass protection, Martin was rock solid. He showed the agility and quickness to get depth in his drop to negate speed rushes. Martin also was anchoring well as he held his ground versus bull rushes. This was a great tape from Martin as it gave evidence for first-round consideration. The 6-foot-4, 305-pounder really improved as a senior and enters the NFL with a lot of experience. Martin looks like a safe pick, and it wouldn’t be surprising if he ends up being a top-32 selection.

Danny Shelton, DT, Washington
Shelton is a sleeper defensive lineman who had a quality senior season for the Huskies. To end his career, he was excellent against BYU. Shelton destroyed the inside of the Cougars’ offense line all night. He caused a lot of disruption behind the line of scrimmage. The senior recorded seven tackles against BYU, but also applied pass pressure.

Shelton totaled 59 tackles with four tackles for a loss, two sacks and three passes batted this year. The 6-foot-1, 327-pounder has some surprising quickness for his size. He has the potential to play nose tackle in a 4-3 or 3-4 defense. Shelton’s performance against BYU should help him to get mid-round consideration.

Cody Hoffman, WR, BYU
To end his productive BYU career, Hoffman had an excellent game against Washington that showed off some yards-after-the catch ability. He had a nice catch-and-run early on for 18 yards. Hoffman made another tough catch on a low pass that he dove for to get a good gain and a first down. His next reception was a nice gain as he ran a slant and spun backward to squirt downfield for a gain of about 20 yards. Hoffman later used the spin move again to get another good run after the catch.

The senior did drop a potential touchdown, but he caught 12 passes for 167 yards against the Huskies. Hoffman caught 57 passes for 894 yards with five touchdowns this season. His production was down some in 2013, and he was suspended for a game, but he could have a future as a possession receiver in the NFL. Hoffman would be a good fit in a West Coast offense.

Marcus Smith, OLB/DE, Louisville
Smith closed his season in style with two sacks and a forced fumble against Miami. He used his speed to burn the tackle on his first sack and showed good instincts to smack the ball out of Stephen Morris’ hand while taking the quarterback to the ground. Smith’s second sack came on a stunt up the middle and he closed on Morris in an instant.

The Cardinals had a tough defense in 2013, and Smith was the leader of the unit. He was the American Conference Defensive Player of the Year as he finished this season with 14.5 sacks for Louisville. Smith also recorded 42 tackles with 18.5 tackles for a loss, four forced fumbles and three passes broken up. The senior’s sack total puts him first in the nation at the moment.

Smith had four sacks and 5.5 sacks as a junior and sophomore, respectively. He played defensive end for Louisville, but in the NFL he will have to move to outside linebacker. The 6-foot-3, 252-pound Smith would fit well as an outside linebacker in a 3-4 defense. He will get the chance to show he can beat All-Star offensive tackles at the Senior Bowl.

Scott Crichton, OLB, Oregon State
Crichton was superb taking on Boise State in the Hawaii Bowl. In the first quarter, he took over a series. The first play saw Crichton fight through a guard and tight end to tackle the running back for a loss. On the very next play, Crichton burned the right tackle with speed and shed to get a sack-fumble in the end zone. The ball flew away and cornerback Rashaad Reynolds scooped it up for a touchdown. Crichton finished his bowl game with three tackles; all of them were for a loss with one being a strip-sack.

In 2013, Crichton notched 47 tackles with 19 tackles for a loss, 7.5 sacks and three forced fumbles. He was more disruptive than the numbers indicate, too. Crichton has some natural pass-rush ability. He had nine sacks in 2012 and six sacks as freshman. The 6-foot-3, 263-pounder is a good fit as a 3-4 outside linebacker.

DeVante Parker, WR, Louisville
Parker was phenomenal against Miami. In the second quarter, Teddy Bridgewater had two good completions to Parker. The second was a 26-yard touchdown. On the score, Bridgewater did a good job of looking to his left to move the safety and coming back to the right. The junior signal-caller lofted a ball up and Parker beat the defensive back for the reception in the end zone. All night, Parker ripped off yards in chunks on completions downfield. Against the Hurricanes, he caught nine passes for 142 yards and a touchdown.

Parker caught 55 receptions for 885 yards with 12 touchdowns in 2013. He was banged up during the season, which caused him to miss some playing time. The 6-foot-3, 209-pound junior showed speed, size and route-running. Parker has excellent body control to make acrobatic receptions. If he enters the 2014 NFL Draft, he could be an early-round pick.

Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan
Against Kansas State, Lewan went out in style as he was rock solid. He won all his blocks in pass protection and did well in the ground game. Lewan showed nice feet to pick up fast blitzers off the edge. He also demonstrated some quickness to get to defenders at the second level. The senior didn’t allow a pressure all night.

In my opinion, Lewan had his best season in 2013. He is athletic and physical, plus plays with a mean streak. That appears to be a dying quality as players are being coached out of making penalties so they aren’t playing with an aggressive demeanor. Lewan is an enforcer on the offensive line and sets the tone for his unit. He improved his feet and knee bend this year to make him a better pass=protector. Lewan (6-8, 325) has earned a first-round grade for his body of work at Michigan.

2014 NFL Draft Stock Down

Kyle Van Noy, OLB, BYU
To end his senior season, Van Noy had a decent game against Washington. He came up with a big play by recording a tackle for a loss on a fourth-and-goal, but otherwise, he didn’t have a big presence against Washington. The Cougars’ defense didn’t put Van Noy in a lot of good positions to make plays as he was often in containment on the edge.

Van Noy didn’t have the same impact this year as he did in 2012. Last year, Van Noy totaled 13 sacks, 53 tackles, 22 tackles for a loss, six forced fumbles, two interceptions and five passes batted. In 2013, he recorded 69 tackles with 17.5 tackles for a loss, four sacks, seven passes batted and two interceptions.

Van Noy could have been a first-round pick if had entered the 2013 NFL Draft. If Van Noy performs well at the Senior Bowl, it would help his chances of being a first-rounder, but after this season it seems possible that he could fall to Day 2.

Jerome Smith, RB, Syracuse
Smith finished his collegiate career with 74 yards on 16 carries and a touchdown against Minnesota. The junior averaged 4.6 yards per carry for 914 yards with 12 touchdowns in 2013. He ran for 1,171 yards (5.2 average) and three touchdowns.

Smith (6-0, 217) is a physical back, but a slow one. He doesn’t have a burst to the hole, and while he is a strong back, he isn’t going to physically dominate NFL defenders. His lack of speed could be a real problem in the NFL and could easily relegate him to backup or situational status. Smith has decided to skip his senior year and enter the 2014 NFL Draft. He could be a third-day pick, but he also may go undrafted.

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