This new section highlights which players have improved or worsened their 2015 NFL Draft stock as the draft approaches.
By Charlie Campbell.
Send Charlie an e-mail here: [email protected]
Follow Charlie on Twitter @draftcampbell for updates.
2015 NFL Draft Stock Up
Randy Gregory, DE, Nebraska
Entering this season, Gregory was one of the top defensive draft prospects for the 2015 NFL Draft, but in the early going, he wasn’t able to show it. Gregory left the season opener with a knee injury, and after having it scoped, he missed the second game. Gregory’s return to the field against Fresno State was muted, but he came alive against Miami in Week 4. Gregory had an impressive sack where he hurdled a block from a running back to chase down the quarterback. In his best performance thus far, Gregory totaled seven tackles, two sacks and a forced fumble. His speed looked on a par with last year when he terrorized quarterbacks. It showed that Gregory hasn’t lost a step after the knee injury that slowed his start to the season.
Ameer Abdullah, RB, Nebraska
Facing a historic rival, Abdullah put the Cornhuskers’ offense on his back and racked up a huge game against Miami. Abdullah used his burst, balance and cutting ability to carve up the Hurricanes’ defense. He ran for 229 yards on 35 carries with two touchdowns. Against Miami, Abdullah became the all-time leading rusher in Nebraska history.
Abdullah has averaged 6.8 yards per carry for 625 yards and five touchdowns in 2014. He has five receptions for 108 yards and two touchdowns. The 5-foot-9, 195-pound Abdullah isn’t a physical back, but he has quickness and a slashing style. Abdullah could move up in second-day consideration if he maintains his health and production as a senior.
Melvin Gordon, RB, Wisconsin
It’s one thing to dominate a cupcake opponent, but what Gordon did to Bowling Green was beyond expectations. Gordon ran for 253 yards on 13 carries with five touchdowns. It didn’t start well as he lost a fumble, but after that, he couldn’t be stopped. Gordon wasn’t just beating defenders with his speed; he broke tackles to get yards after contact. Gordon’s patience, cutting ability and first-step quickness were phenomenal.
The 6-foot-1, 207-pound Gordon is reminiscent of Chris Johnson coming out of East Carolina and when he was playing at an elite level for the Titans. In 2014, Gordon has averaged 9.4 yards per carry for 431 yards with six touchdowns. He has five receptions for 27 yards and a score. Gordon’s amazing speed has him tied for the FBS record in career average in yards per carry with stellar mark of 8.26 yards per carry. Gordon is validating a first-round grade.
Amari Cooper, WR, Alabama
Going against the best corner in college football in Florida’s Vernon Hargreaves III, Cooper put on a show for NFL scouts. Late in the first quarter, Cooper ran wide open down the middle of the field for a 79-yard touchdown. The Gators’ safety bit on a fake by Cooper to the outside, so he was wide open going down the middle. Hargreaves wasn’t covering Cooper on that play.
Late in the third quarter, Cooper got the best of Hargreaves for a jump ball in the end zone for a short touchdown. Hargreaves played it well, but Cooper just beat him in the fight for the ball. Cooper caught another short touchdown pass in the fourth quarter after easily beating a safety in coverage. The only blemish on the day for the stud wide out was being flagged for a pass interference against Hargreaves that took away a touchdown catch.
Against Florida, Cooper finished with 10 receptions for 201 yards with three touchdowns. It was dominant performance that showed his great route-running, speed, hands, run-after-the-catch ability and skills to fight for 50-50 balls. NFL evaluators couldn’t have asked for a more impressive performance. This season, Cooper has 43 receptions for 655 yards and five touchdowns. The 6-foot-1, 210-pounder has been an animal. He looks like a smaller version of Julio Jones and is making the case to the a top 10 pick next May.
Landon Collins, S, Alabama
Collins was the other Crimson Tide player who really stood out against Florida and helped himself. Collins made his presence felt with some huge plays. Early in the second quarter, he had a great play coming over the top and knocking a pass away inside the Alabama 10-yard line. Collins almost intercepted the ball. In the third quarter, Collins made a clutch tackle for a loss of one on a third-and-short. He made a superbly athletic play oearly in the fourth quarter that undercut a pass down the middle of the field t make a one-handed interception. It was a great play from Collins that basically sealed the game for Alabama. He had five tackles in the game with his interception and two passes broken up.
The 6-foot, 220-pound Collins has shown a diversity in his skills this year. Last year, he played strong safety with HaHa Clinton-Dix playing the deep centerfield. This season, Collins is moving all over and has shown the ability to play both strong and free safety. He has 32 tackles with two passes broken up and an interception in 2014. This tape will help Collins’ bid to be the top safety in the 2015 NFL Draft and a potential top-20 pick.
Brandon Scherff, OT, Iowa
Scherff is one of the top tackle prospects for the 2015 NFL Draft, and he showed it against Pittsburgh with a rock-solid performance. Scherff had no issues in pass protection and opened up holes for his running backs. He demonstrated power at the point of attack to get movement and used his power to sustain blocks. Scherff showed an impressive ability to sustain blocks. Consistently, he would get a hold of a defender and ride them around the field. Scherff was solid in pass protection, too.
Scherff had his knee scoped about 10 days ago, so the recovery could easily have him slowed down and hurt his quickness, footwork and explosion, but he really wasn’t challenged by a dangerous edge rusher. Scherff has shown real toughness with an ability to play at a high level despite not being 100 percent. That means a lot to NFL evaluators. This was a good performance from Scherff that will serve to confirm a first-round grade.
Eddie Goldman, DT, Florida State
Goldman was a hero of the game for Florida State, and if it weren’t for his plays, the Seminoles would have lost to Clemson. At the end of the fourth quarter after a Seminoles interception, the Tigers were deep in Florida State territory and setting up a short game-winning field goal. Goldman came up with a huge forced fumble that the Seminoles recovered to force overtime.
In overtime, Goldman got a push and made a coverage sack. A few plays later on a fourth-and-1 situation, he surged into the backfield to set up a tackle for no gain. Goldman didn’t produce a big tackle total, but he had a huge game causing disruption at the point of attack. Goldman was a wrecking ball at the line of scrimmage for Florida State. He had two tackles, the sack and forced fumble.
Goldman has five tackles through two games. The 6-foot-4, 320-pounder looks like a starting candidate at nose tackle for a 4-3 or 3-4 defense.
Dak Prescott, QB, Mississippi State
Bulldogs junior quarterback Dak Prescott has shown real improvement this year. His passing is better, and he tore up LSU on the ground. Versus the Tigers, Prescott was 15-of-24 for 268 yards with two touchdowns through the air and 22 carries for 105 yards on the ground with a score. Head coach Dan Mullen had Prescott (6-2, 235) running the same plays that Tim Tebow ran at Florida when Mullen was the offensive coordinator.
In 2014, Prescott has completed 60 percent of his passes for 964 yards with 11 touchdowns and two interceptions. On the ground, he has averaged 6.1 yards per carry for 378 yards with three touchdowns. Like Tebow, Prescott could stand to improve his pocket passing, but he looks a lot better compared to 2013. Still, Prescott (6-2, 235) has the potential to rise.
Honorable Mentions: Washington defensive tackle Danny Shelton, Alabama fullback Jalston Fowler and Clemson outside linebacker Vic Beasley.
2015 NFL Draft Stock Down
Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State
Winston had lots of character- and off-the-field concerns prior to his latest incident that landed him a suspension. An obnoxious college student shouting something vulgar in a cafeteria isn’t a crime, but it illustrates Winston’s lack of judgment and maturity for an NFL team. It hurts his ability to convince owners that he can be the face of a franchise. Howver, unless Winston has more arrest issues, he is too talented to fall too far in the draft from this incident. His issues so far though could push teams to prefer other quarterbacks like Oregon’s Marcus Mariota and Michigan State’x Connor Cook instead of Winston.
Jeff Driskel, QB, Florida
Entering the season, there were some draft pundits who were pumping up Driskel, but it hasn’t been a good start to the year for him. He had an abysmal performance against Alabama and looked completely incapable of competing with a good team on the road. Driskel’s receivers let him down with some drops, but his accuracy was horrible. NFL sources have told WalterFootball.com that they’re not at all impressed with Driskel. He completed only 9-of-28 passes for 93 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions. The redshirt junior also ran for a score and 59 yards on 11 carries. It looks like the light may never come on for Driskel.
Dishonorable Mention: Florida State offensive tackle Cameron Erving and Syracuse safety Durel Eskridge.
NFL Power Rankings - Feb. 22
2024 NFL Mock Draft - Feb. 21
Fantasy Football Rankings - Feb. 19
NFL Picks - Feb. 12