This new section highlights which players have improved or worsened their 2015 NFL Draft stock as the draft approaches.
By Charlie Campbell.
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2015 NFL Draft Stock Up
Kevin White, WR, West Virginia
White has been enjoying a breakout year, and that continued with an impressive game against Baylor. Early in the first quarter, he caught a 31-yard touchdown reception. White had separation running a go route, but the pass was underthrown. White went over the corner to catch the ball at it’s highest point for the score. It was a great play for White as it showed his ability to achieve separation, track the ball, attack the pass and make a contested catch.
In the second quarter, White got open and made a pretty, extended reception in the middle of the field. With the game tied in the fourth quarter, he got open running into the end zone and made a beautiful one-handed catch for a 12-yard touchdown even though he was being interfered with. It was a great play of concentration and hands. White totaled eight receptions for 132 yards with two touchdowns against the Bears. He also drew multiple pass interference penalties.
In 2014, White has been one of the best receivers in college football. He has 69 receptions or 1,020 yards and seven touchdowns. Playing in college football’s version of the Arena league, White should continue to put up big numbers. This was a great tape as 6-foot-3, 210-pounder showed a unique combination of size and speed. He got separation and made contested catches. White really showed it all against Baylor. This tape could send his stock up and makes the argument for him to get first-round consideration.
Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State
Winston would be the hands-down top prospect for the 2015 NFL Draft if it weren’t for the off-the-field concerns. He put his skills on display against Notre Dame as once again he put the Seminoles on his back and carried them to a victory with clutch throws to produce points. Winston threw the ball accurately and showed a natural ability to keep looking downfield while scrambling. He finished completing 23-of-31 passes for 273 yards with two touchdowns and an interception.
In 2014, Winston has completed 70 percent of his passes for 1,878 yards with 13 touchdowns and six interceptions. With his arm, mobility, field vision, pocket presence and passing ability, Winston is a stud quarterback worthy of the first pick in the NFL draft. He just has to pass the character test over the months to come, and with some teams, he may have already failed it.
T.J. Yeldon, RB, Alabama
Yeldon had been in a bit of a slump recently and was on this list last week for stock down, but that ended against Texas A&M as he dominated the Aggies in only two quarters of play. Yeldon led the Crimson Tide to a huge lead and didn’t even need to play the second half. He ran with speed, balance and power to pick up yards after contact. Yeldon was on fire and offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin was feeding the hot hand using Yeldon as a runner and receiver.
On one reception, Yeldon made a nifty move in the flat to avoid a tackle and move the chains. He finished the drive by darting into the end zone with a nice run that saw him weave by defenders. On the next drive, Yeldon split out wide and ran a slant for a nice completion of almost 20 yards against cornerback Deshazor Everett. Yeldon added another run on which he dodged through the defense and powered into the end zone from a yard out. At halftime, Yeldon had 114 yards on 13 carries with three receptions for 45 yards.
In 2014, Yeldon has averaged 5.3 yards per carry for 566 yards with four touchdowns. He has 10 receptions for 143 yards and a touchdown, too. Yeldon (6-2, 221) provided a great performance to help right his draft stock and season. The receiving ability that he showed will really get the NFL excited. This tape was Yeldon’s best of the year.
Stefon Diggs, WR, Maryland
With inconsistent quarterback play, it is hard for Diggs to stand out. He consistently got open against Iowa as the Hawkeyes struggled to cover him. In the third quarter, Diggs made a good-hands catch extended along the sideline and got a foot down before falling out of bounds. For the next play, Maryland set up a screen to Diggs, who followed his blockers well. He slowed down to set up a block downfield and then exploded to the end zone for a 53-yard touchdown. Diggs caught nine passes for 130 yards with two carries for 12 yards against the Hawkeyes.
In 2014, Diggs has 45 receptions for 580 yards with four touchdowns. The 6-foot, 190-pounder is fast and dangerous after the catch. He would have a lot more production if he played with a good quarterback. Diggs could be a second-day value in the 2015 NFL Draft.
Jay Ajayi, RB, Boise State
Ajayi has been enjoying a good year of racking up a ton of yards on the ground and through the air, but the talented runner has a negative of an issue with ball security. He had three fumbles across his last two games before having a great performance against Fresno State. All night, Ajayi ran through tacklers as a physical rusher. He showed strength, balance, quickness and cutting ability. Ajayi also made some impressive receptions as a receiver. To finish the night, he ripped off a 54-yard run as he bounced to the outside and exploded down the sideline. Ajayi finished with 30 carries for 158 yards and two touchdowns. He had four receptions for 37 yards, too.
It was an excellent performance for NFL evaluators as Ajayi (6-0, 216) was a physical runner who picked up yards after contact with the speed to hit the hole. He also was excellent as a receiver. In 2014, Ajayi has averaged five yards per carry for 867 yards with 10 touchdowns. He also has 35 receptions for 317 yards with two scores. Ajayi is a skilled route runner and catcher. If the redshirt junior can fix his fumbling issue, he could be a second-day pick in the 2015 NFL Draft.
Nate Orchard, DE, Utah
Orchard has been enjoying an excellent season. His pass-rushing ability has been on display on a weekly basis, and he had four sacks against UCLA. Orchard continued his hot play with an excellent game against Oregon State. He dominated the first half with a sack, a pass batted, run tackles and tons of pressure on quarterback Sean Mannion. In overtime, Orchard added another sack. He totaled five tackles with four of them for a loss and two sacks against the Beavers. Orchard was fast off the snap with the strength to shed blocks.
In 2014, Orchard has 10.5 sacks with 39 tackles, 13 tackles for a loss and three passes batted. The 6-foot-4, 255-pounder is a fast and athletic defensive end. It would help him to add 10-15 pounds for the NFL if he can maintain his speed. Orchard is a bit of a sleeper prospect to watch and could rise in the months to come. Don’t be surprised if Orchard ends up being a Day-2 prospect.
Honorable Mentions: Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota, Michigan State quarterback Connor Cook, Indiana running back Tevin Coleman, Oregon tight end Pharaoh Brown, Washington defensive tackle Danny Shelton, Texas State defensive end Michael Odiari, West Virginia defensive end Shaq Riddick, Alabama guard Arie Kouandjio, Notre Dame quarterback Everett Golson and Notre Dame defensive lineman Sheldon Day.
2015 NFL Draft Stock Down
Dres Anderson, WR, Utah
Entering the season, Dres Anderson was considered to be a potential top-100 pick, but he has fallen quiet after starting well against Idaho State and Fresno State. Against Oregon State, Anderson made a catch in the end zone with his feet in bounds on the sideline, but allowed a defender to strip him of the ball. If Anderson had stronger, he hands he would have held onto the ball. Things got worse in the second quarter as Anderson dropped a screen pass, and Oregon State intercepted the deflection. Anderson was a non-factor as he had only four receptions for 35 yards.
Halfway through the year, Anderson has 19 receptions for 325 yards with four touchdowns. It hurts him that Utah’s quarterbacks are struggling, but he needs to produce more with the chances he has. Anderson looks more like a third-day prospect.
Brandon Scherff, OT, Iowa
Scherff doesn’t see a lot of speed rushers, and that was apparent as a few fast defenders from Maryland gave him fits last Saturday. He opended holes in the ground game throughout theday, but was a liability in pass protection for Iowa.
Here are some of the lowlights – and there were many for Scherff. In the first quarter, he had his defensive end blocked, but eventually the defender worked free to get a coverage sack. Early in the second quarter, Scherff was clearly beaten with a speed rush to the interior on a stunt from the defensive tackle. Scherff allowed another hit on the quarterback shortly later as he was beaten by swim move and a speed rush. In the fourth quarter, Scherff was rocked back on roller skates by a defensive tackle on a stunt. As he was falling to the ground, he pulled the tackle down to the ground and was called for a holding penalty. Scherff also was beaten for hits on the quarterback that almost resulted in a safety and interception for Iowa.
This was a bad tape for Scherff as he really struggled to keep heat off his quarterback. Scherff was beaten on bull rushes and speed rushes. This performance suggests that for the NFL, Scherff could be better placed at right tackle or guard. He did not look anything like a top-20 pick against Maryland.
Cedric Ogbuehi, OT, Texas A&M
Ogbuehi came into the Alabama game on a cold streak as he had given up four sacks across the previous two games, plus a hit on quarterback Kenny Hill that helped produce a pick-six for Ole Miss. The trend continued for Ogbuehi against the Crimson Tide as he really struggled. Early in the first quarter, Ogbuehi was beaten on consecutive plays, and one of them resulted in a sack of Hill. Alabama’s Xavier Dickson pushed Ogbuehi into the backfield with a bull rush before disengaging and dragging down Hill.
To start the third quarter, Ogbuehi was beaten on a bull rush to allow a sack of his quarterback. In the fourth quarter, Ogbuehi almost allowed a safety as the defender got by him with speed to the inside, but the quarterback just got rid of the ball before the tackle. Ogbuehi let his defenders bring consistent pressure and penetration throughout the afternoon.
In the last three games, Ogbuehi has allowed six sacks. He has been beaten by bull rushes and speed, especially to the inside. The talk of Ogbuehi being a top-10 pick looks very premature, and he has a lot to improve upon. This is another tape that will send his stock down.
Deshazor Everett, CB, Texas A&M
Everett had a big game two years ago when Texas A&M upset Alabama. That was the highlight of his career as he has struggled in coverage this year and in 2013. At the start of this year’s game, Everett dropped an interception that could have gone for a 99-yard touchdown return as he was in the flat and had nothing but open field. Everett was beaten by Amari Cooper for two scores and long receptions. Everett also struggled to cover a running back in T.Y. Yeldon in pass coverage, and that is damning for a corner.
Everett looks like he should move to free safety in the NFL as he is too slow and stiff to turn and run with receivers down the field. Everett should be a late-round pick or undrafted free agent.
Dishonorable Mention: Oregon State quarterback Sean Mannion.
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