2014 NFL Draft Stock – Senior Bowl

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

Aaron Donald, DT, Pittsburgh
Pittsburgh defensive tackle Aaron Donald was the most impressive player at the 2014 Senior Bowl. He dominanted practices thoroughout the week by causing havoc behind the line of scrimmage. Donald was phenomenal in the pass-rushing one-on-ones as he constantly beat blockers to get to the quarterback.

Donald has a track record of three year’s of production. He was one of the nation’s leaders with 11 sacks in 2013 and led the country in tackles for a loss with 28.5. The senior also had 59 tackles with 26.5, two passes batted and four forced fumbles. Donald totaled 64 tackles, 18.5 tackles for a loss, 5.5 sacks, one forced fumble and two passes broken up in 2012. He had a breakout sophomore season with 47 tackles, 16 tackles for a loss and 11 sacks in 2011.

Even though the 6-foot, 288-pounder is on the small side, Donald is very strong for his size and is able to bull rush heavy interior blockers. He absolutely destroyed massive Baylor guard Cyril Richardson on some bull rushes. Donald has natural pad level that he uses to get leverage. He has played himself into first-round consideration.

Dee Ford, DE, Auburn
After Donald, Ford was the most impressive defensive prospect at the Senior Bowl. Ford had a great week and continued his tremendous play in the game. All week, he used his great get off and quickness to burn edge blockers in one-on-ones. Ford has the agility to drop his hips and juke tackles to the inside. He also has enough upper body strength to help him break the grip of tackles’ hands and use his speed to close in an instant.

In 2013, Ford picked up 29 tackles with 14.5 tackles for a loss, 10.5 sacks and two forced fumbles. He finished the season playing his best football. Ford had six sacks with 34 tackles and a forced fumble in 2012. He missed the majority of the 2011 season with a back injury.

The 6-foot-2, 243-pound Ford projects best as an edge rusher in a 3-4 defense. He played defensive end in college, but he doesn’t have the size to do that in the NFL. In a 4-3 defense, Ford would have to play as a linebacker who rushes off the edge in passing situations, similar to Von Miller in Denver. Adding in this Senior Bowl performance, Ford should be an early-round pick.

Zack Martin, OT, Notre Dame
The 6-foot-4, 305-pound Martin maintained his strong level of play from his senior year in Mobile. He did a superb job as an edge blocker in the one-on-ones. While Martin has short arms (32 1/4), he showed that he has the quickness and agility to mirror speed rushers. Martin also is strong for his size with the ability to anchor against bull rushers.

Some teams project Martin to moving inside to guard in the NFL, but with the way he handled edge rushers at the Senior Bowl, he gave plenty of evidence that he can stay at tackle. With Martin’s success late in his senior season and at the Senior Bowl, he looks like he has a serious shot of going in the back half of the first round. Martin could end up being the first player drafted from the 2014 Senior Bowl.

Jimmy Garoppolo, QB, Eastern Illinois
After performing well at the East-West Shrine, Garoppolo had another quality week of practice at the Senior Bowl. Once again, he consistently threw the ball well. Garoppolo has a good arm and throwing motion. He has demonstrated some nice field vision with the ability to look off safeties to help open up his receivers. The 6-foot-2, 219-pounder isn’t as big as his listed measurements, but he has enough size to be viable in the NFL.

Garoppolo has a quick release and a compact delivery. He will have to improve his feet and operating under three-, five- and seven-step drops. Garoppolo threw for 5,050 yards with 53 touchdown passes and nine interceptions in 2013 while completing 66 percent of his passes. Walt currently has Garoppolo slotted in the third round of his 2014 NFL Mock Draft.

Stanley Jean-Baptiste, CB, Nebraska
The NFL is a copycat league, and one of the trends that is gaining momentum is having big, long cornerbacks to play on the edge. Seattle’s secondary featuring Richard Sherman is the example that other teams are attempting to mimic. The 6-foot-2, 215-pound Jean-Baptiste fits that mold and used the Senior Bowl to answer some questions. Many wondered if he had the movement skills to stay at cornerback or would he have to be moved to safety. Jean-Baptiste proved that he has the potential to be more than a press-man corner. Jean-Baptiste illustrated the quickness and agility to play some off man and zone coverage at the Senior Bowl.

Jean-Baptiste had four interceptions with 12 passes batted and 41 tackles in 2013. He used the Senior Bowl to show that he is worthy of second-day consideration.

Keith McGill, CB, Utah
Like Jean-Baptiste, McGill (6-3, 214) has the size that many NFL teams are looking for and used the Senior Bowl to show that he has the movement skills to remain at cornerback. McGill really performed well in the receiving one-on-one practices as he was able to maintain coverage with receivers in and out of their breaks. McGill showed the hip flexibility to turn and run with receivers downfield.

In 2013, McGill recorded 12 passes broken up, one interception and 37 tackles. Like Jean-Baptiste, McGill could crack Day 2 based off of his Senior Bowl performance.

Honorable Mentions: Virgina offensive tackle Morgan Moses, Fresno State quarterback Derek Carr, Colorado State center Weston Richburg, Coastal Carolina running back Lorenzo Taliaferro, Georgia Southern running back Jerick McKinnon, Wisconsin running back James White, Wisconsin wide receiver Jared Abbrederis, Wisconsin linebacker Chris Borland, Clemson offensive tackle Brandon Thomas, Florida cornerback Jaylen Watkins, Liberty cornerback Walt Aikens, Lindenwood cornerback Pierre Desir, Colorado State tight end Crockett Gilmore and Iowa linebacker Christian Kirksey.

2014 NFL Draft Stock Down

Aaron Colvin, CB, Oklahoma
It’s very unfortunate that Colvin landed on this list mainly for an injury. He suffered a torn ACL during practice, which is a big blow to his draft stock. Colvin could have had a shot at being a second-day selection, but with the injury he is more likely to fall to the third day. Suffering the torn ACL in January will almost certainly put Colvin on the PUP list to start training camp and that may extend into the regular season. Even injured reserve is a possibility.

Colvin also checked in smaller than expected at 5-foot-11, 186-pounds. There was only one defensive back who was lighter (Utah State’s Nevin Lawson), and Colvin needs to add more strength in the upper body to be able to battle big NFL wide receivers. Given his size and the injury, Colvin has become a project as a draft pick rather than a player who can compete immediately.

Cyril Richardson, G, Baylor
Richardson had an excellent senior season, but sent up some red flags at the Senior Bowl. He was dominated by Pittsburgh defensive tackle Aaron Donald, which is a serious cause for concern about Richardson’s ability to handle speedy three-techniques in the NFL. The 6-foot-4, 343-pounder also was beaten by Donald’s power rush. Richardson could stand to get in better condition and drop some weight from his midsection to get quicker.

With the way Richardson played at the Senior Bowl, the top-rated guard slot is a wide-open competition. It wouldn’t be surprising if Mississippi State’s Gabe Jackson passes Richardson before draft day.

Will Sutton, DT, Arizona State
Another player who has to get in better shape is Sutton. Arizona State’s staff did Sutton a disservice when they told him to gain weight for his senior year. It was bad weight and slowed him down all season. He just wasn’t the same fast and explosive tackle that he was during his junior year. Sutton (6-0, 315) didn’t have the same burst off the snap and that was also evident at the Senior Bowl. He was getting fatigued quickly in the practice drills and will need to get his wind in better standing for the pace of NFL practices.

Sutton would flash on occasion in the one-on-ones, but he also had his share of loses. Sutton needs to drop 15 pounds and is already working toward that. As a smaller defensive tackle, Sutton will live and die by his speed and explosion.

Tajh Boyd, QB, Clemson
A lot was made of Tajh Boyd struggling at the Senior Bowl, but as is often the case, it could easily prove to be overblown. He checked in as expected around the 6-foot range. It was clear during his senior season that Boyd needs to improve his accuracy. In a lot of the practices, it looked like he was expecting his receivers to be of the caliber of Sammy Watkins or DeAndre Hopkins with where Boyd was placing his passes. He seemed to expect them to have the speed of Watkins to run down some passes or the body control of Hopkins to make contested catches. Boyd will have to adjust better to his receivers in the NFL.

Boyd had a lot to gain with a big week at the Senior Bowl, but it didn’t happen. His Senior Bowl performance makes him look like a third-round pick rather than being a candidate for the first or second round.

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