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
Jeremy Hill, RB, LSU
As we outlined in the rumormill, Hill has interviewed well with teams and was impressive under the intense grilling he received at the Combine. Hill has been honest and has reassured teams that his past transgressions won’t reoccur in the NFL. WalterFootball.com has heard from a running back-needy team that they have Hill as their top running back in the 2014 NFL Draft with a second-round grade. If Hill continues to impress in the pre-draft visits, he could be the first running back drafted.
Derek Carr, QB, Fresno State
Carr’s pro day last week didn’t receive as much media attention as Blake Bortles’ at Central Florida or Teddy Bridgewater’s at Louisville, but sources have said that Carr had the best workout of the three. In speaking to contacts at one team that has done a superb job of quarterback evaluation and development, they say that Carr is the best passer in the 2014 NFL Draft and expect him to go in the top 20. Carr has been projected to be a late first-round pick since the beginning of the year, but now it appears that he has enough admirers that he could easily go in the top half of the first round.
Troy Niklas, TE, Notre Dame
Over the weekend, a general manager I was speaking with asked me where I had Niklas projected to go. I said early in Round 3, but this source said I should move Niklas up since he would go higher, perhaps in the early to mid-portion of the second round. Niklas has a lot of size and athletic ability. If he hadn’t been held back at the Combine, there could be more buzz about him. Still, Niklas could end up being the third tight end selected.
Bruce Ellington, WR, South Carolina
This year’s tremendous class of wide receivers has a lot of depth, and it extends into the third day of the 2014 NFL Draft. As a result, it can be hard for a lot of good college wide outs to get noticed. One such player is Ellington. The speedy play-maker is a weapon as a slot receiver and could end up being a second-day pick. If he falls to the fourth round, he shouldn’t last long. Ellington could also help himself at the South Carolina pro day in early April as a lot of evaluators will be there to see Jadeveon Clowney.
Blake Bortles, QB, Central Florida
WalterFootball.com was one of the first outlets to project Blake Bortles to be the first quarterback to be drafted next May. We reported in the rumormill in mid-February that two teams in the top five had Bortles as their top signal-caller. Since then, the distance has widened as Bortles looks like the heavy favorite to be the first quarterback selected.
At his pro day, Bortles had a solid performance and sources that were present said that he did well. They liked what they saw and feel that Bortles represented himself well. He still has room for development, but with his good skill set, there are a lot of fans of Bortles in the top 10.
Tom Savage, QB, Pittsburgh
Lately, there has been a nice buzz about Savage. Some are looking at him as a potential diamond in the rough as a mid-round pick. The 6-foot-4, 228-pounder has a big size, pocket presence and a quality arm. Savage also hails from a pro-style offense. He completed 61 percent of his passes in 2013 for 2,958 yards with 21 touchdowns and nine interceptions. Savage is on the radar of the quarterback-needy teams that are considering waiting to draft a signal-caller until after the first round.
2014 NFL Draft Stock Down
Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville
It isn’t a common occurrence for a highly rated quarterback to do harm to their draft stock at their pro day, but that was the case with Bridgewater. His pro day was said to be average at best, and sources in attendance told WalterFootball.com that Bridgewater definitely didn’t help himself. WalterFootball.com knows that some of the teams in the top five that are being projected to take Bridgewater are planning on passing on him. It seems possible that he could slide in the first round.
Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M
Bridgewater isn’t the only quarterback who some teams have lukewarm feelings about. Manziel has questions marks around his skill set and off-the-field maturity that are holding him back from becoming a coveted prospect by a lot of teams. Perhaps Manziel can change the current at his pro day, but right now, it seems that he could also have a potential slide on draft day.
Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan
There are some teams in the NFL that are going to ding Lewan for being slapped with charges from a fight in December. The incident was known for some time, so no team should be caught by surprise, however there are franchises out there in need of offensive line help that are strict with character concerns; the Miami Dolphins being one of them. Lewan’s incident won’t hurt him with all teams, but it will with some.
Aaron Lynch, DE, South Florida
Unlike Lewan, Lynch is a player with serious off-the-field concerns. There is a lot of chatter that he is a mess off the field and left a lot of bad impressions in his Combine interviews. Many around the league feel there is a good chance that Lynch goes undrafted in part because of character concerns. He needs to have a massive turnaround in his interview performance if he is invited on any pre-draft visits.
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