2015 NFL Draft Stock – Week 5

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]
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2015 NFL Draft Stock Up

Brett Hundley, QB, UCLA
Thursday night college games with good teams attract more general managers and scouts in person because it is easier for them to attend. Thus, Hundley picked a good time to have perhaps the best performance of his college career. NFL sources from a variety of teams have told WalterFootball.com that Hundley is overrated, but he showed real progress against Arizona State. Hundley made some money throws from the pocket to hit his receivers in stride despite not being able to step into his throw because of the pass rush.

Hundley made some great hot reads to hit receivers with blitzes coming. Starting the third quarter, he had a clean pocket and laid out a perfect 80-yard touchdown pass to a wide-open Jordan Payton. Throughout the night, Hundley made a lot of tremendous reads and decisions with the football. He finished a sparkling 18-of-25 for 355 yards and four touchdowns. Hundley also ran for 72 yards on eight carries with a score.

The junior has been dealing with an elbow injury that knocked him out versus Texas and started the year with an ugly game against Virginia, but he bounced back against Arizona State. Hundley has completed 72 percent of his passes for 1,041 yards with seven touchdowns and one interception in 2014. The 6-foot-3, 227-pounder has demonstrated real progress as a pocket passer with his field vision, patience and ability to throw some accurate passers while under pressure on clutch third downs. Hundley has rarely done that in the past, so this tape could help him to sway some of his NFL doubters.

Erik Kendricks, OLB, UCLA
Kendricks continued his phenomenal season against Arizona State. Sun Devils running back D.J. Foster is one of the top backs in the Pac-12 and would be a nice test for Kendricks. On the game’s first drive, Kendricks blew up a run by firing into the backfield and forcing Foster to cut back to the middle and into other defenders. Shortly later, Kendricks recovered a fumble. He also showed his pass-coverage skills by dropping in zone to get in front of Arizona State wide receiver Jaelen Strong and slap the pass away for an incompletion. Kendricks made impact plays throughout and was always around the ball.

In 2014, Kendricks has 47 tackles with three tackles for a loss, one interception, one pass broken and one forced fumble. The redshirt senior was superb for Arizona State. He really showed phenomenal skills in pass coverage. Kendricks made a lot of open-field tackles on wide receivers and running backs. He was instinctive and covered a ton of ground. NFL evaluators are going to get extremely excited about Kendricks watching this tape as he was a real weapon as a pass-defender in the middle of the field. This game is an example of why Kendricks merits a first- or second-round pick in the 2015 NFL Draft.

Ameer Abdullah, RB, Nebraska
Abdullah has been dominating the competition in 2014 and continued that in Week 5. Against Illinois, he ran for 208 yards on 22 carries for his third 200-yard game in only five contests this season. Abdullah (5-9, 195) has averaged 7.3 yards per carry for 833 yards and eight touchdowns. Even though he only has five receptions, Abdullah has shown enough that evaluators feel he’ll be a good contributor in the passing offense. From those five catches, Abdullah has 108 yards and two touchdowns.

The slashing runner is tough for his size with excellent vision, fast feet, balance, and third down abilities. Abdullah is doing his part to rise up draft boards.

Jaelen Strong, WR, Arizona State
Even with a backup quarterback, Strong had an impressive performance against UCLA. In the first quarter, Strong made an tough catch as he leapt and went up with his hands late to snatch the ball out of the air between two defenders for a 25-yard gain. Strong was tremendous on back-shoulder receptions, which are a very popular routes in NFL offenses these days. He is excellent at that technique and uses his size/strength advantage to block out the defenders for the completion. Strong also made a nice driving catch in the fourth quarter. Against UCLA, he totaled 146 yards on 12 receptions.

This season, Strong has 31 receptions for 412 yards and two touchdowns after four games. The outing against the Sun Devils was a good performance that illustrated Strong’s ability to be a possession receiver. He may not have elite speed, but he has quickness. Strong could warrant consideration in the back half of the first round or in the second round.

Marcus Peters, CB, Washington
There were some great draft matchups between Washington and Stanford, and the player who had the biggest game to help his draft stock was Huskies cornerback Marcus Peters. He had an excellent outing that saw him limit Stanford wide receiver Ty Montgomery (4-29). Peters played Montgomery well to force an incompletion on a fade pass to the end zone. In the third quarter, Peters had Montgomery covered along a sideline fade route. He had Montgomery pinned to the sideline and went up to snatch the ball for an interception. The pass was poorly thrown, but it was still an excellent play by Peters. Against Stanford, he totaled two tackles alongside that interception.

In 2014, Peters has three interceptions, three passes broken up and 11 tackles. This could be a huge tape for him that serves as a catalyst to light a fire under his draft stock. He showed the speed to run with the fast Montgomery down the field and was physical enough to battle the 6-foot-2, 215-pound receiver. If Peters ends up receiveing first-round consideration from some teams, this performance will have a lot to do with it.

Shaq Thompson, OLB, Washington
Over the past two weeks, Thompson has been a turnover-generating machine for the Huskies. He had a huge game against Illinois in Week 4 with a pick-six and fumble return for a touchdown. Thompson kept it going against Stanford. Just before halftime, he ripped the ball out of the running back’s hands and picked it up to take it to the house for a Washington touchdown. It looked like forward progress was stopped, but the whistle hadn’t been blown and it was a smart play by Thompson.

Thompson produced another turnover in the fourth quarter inside the Washington 20-yard line when he blasted quarterback Kevin Hogan. The hard hit popped the ball out and Danny Shelton recovered the fumble. Thompson racked up tackles in run support and functioned pretty well in pass coverage. Thompson had seven tackles, one tackle for a loss and two forced fumbles.

In 2014, Thompson has 35 tackles, two tackles for a loss, one sack, two passes broken up, one interception and three forced fumbles. As a situational back, he has nine carries for 84 yards and a touchdown. It is clear that Thompson (6-1, 228) has good instincts with the habit of making splash plays. This tape will help his draft stock.

Lorenzo Mauldin, OLB, Louisville
Louisville has produced some good defenders since Charlie Strong came to the program and recruited some good athletes to the Cardinals. Mauldin is one player who continues to stand out following Strong’s departure for Texas. Against Wake Forest on Saturday, Mauldin was dominant. He had two impressive sacks. The first came as Mauldin blew by the right tackle to nail the quarterback and force a fumble. For his next sack, Mauldin burned the left tackle with speed around the corner. Mauldin totaled three sacks with five tackles and a forced fumble.

This year, Mauldin (6-4, 252) moved from defensive end to outside linebacker, and that is a better fit for him for the next level. He looks like a good candidate for a 3-4 outside linebacker spot. In 2014, Mauldin has 23 tackles with nine tackles for a loss, four sacks, one pass broken up and a forced fumble. This tape will help his draft stock, and at worst, he looks like a second-day selection, but he could be a sleeper who rises like former teammate Marcus Smith.

Jeremy Cash, S, Duke
Duke lost to Miami, but one player who stood out for the Blue Devils was Ohio State transfer Jeremy Cash. He had had 10 tackles with a pass broken up and two forced fumbles versus the Hurricanes. This return to his home town in South Florida showed his speed and tackling ability. The 6-foot-2, 205-pounder has speed, strength and instincts. Cash goes under the radar at Duke, but if he keeps up this kind of production, the attention will come. In 2014, Cash has 45 tackles with five tackles for a loss, 1.5 sacks, two passes broken up, one interception and those two forced fumbles.

Honorable Mentions: Texas A&M left tackle Cedric Ogbuehi, Arkansas defensive end Trey Flowers, Washington outside linebacker Hau’Oli Kikaha, Nebraska defensive end Randy Gregory, Georgia running back Todd Gurley, Minnesota running back David Cobb and Missouri defensive end Shane Ray.

2015 NFL Draft Stock Down

Sean Mannion, QB, Oregon State
Against USC, Mannion had an ugly performance that gave a clear illustration of some of his skill-set limitations. The senior is a statue in the pocket, which the Trojans exploited. They sent jail-break blitzes at Mannion and forced him to move his feet. When the pocket passer Mannion has to move off his spot and not get set before his throw, he is much less effective. Oregon State also didn’t pull in extra blockers for max protect at the expense of receivers in the pattern, so that left a lot free rushers coming at Mannion. All night, he took shots and repeatedly got hit hard. Mannion completed 15-of-32 passes for 123 yards with two interceptions. However, one pick wasn’t his fault.

In 2014, Mannion has completed 63 percent of his passes for 1,026 yards with four touchdowns and four interceptions. He hasn’t shown the ability to handle a pass rush and make good decisions, or read the field well when he had to move off his spot. This performance won’t help Mannion’s chances of going in the first round of the 2015 NFL Draft and illustrates why he is more of a second-day prospect.

Nelson Agholar, WR, USC
Entering the season, many were touting Agholar as a top receiver prospect with first-round potential. He played well for USC in 2013, but wasn’t overwhelming. With Marqise Lee moving on to the NFL, many thought Agholar would take care over as the Trojans big-play receiver in 2014.

That hasn’t happened this season as Agholar has yet to record a 100-yard game. Against Oregon State on Saturday, he was held to 27 yards on three receptions. This year, Agholor has 26 catches for 239 yards with three touchdowns. He played well against Stanford, but he has had some drops and displays poor catching technique. Agholar isn’t destroying his draft stock, but he’s not lighting it on fire or improving it at all.

Dishonorable Mention: Michigan wide receiver Devin Funchess.

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