2015 NFL Draft Stock – Week 15

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

Michael Bennett, DT, Ohio State
The matchup against Wisconsin was supposedly going to expose Bennett’s run defense, or the lack thereof, but the opposite happened as he had a tremendous Big Ten Championship. Bennett used his speed to fire by some blockers in the first quarter to make a run stuff for no gain on a third-and-4. Early in the second quarter, he broke to the right side and cut to the inside of right tackle Ron Havenstein to sack quarterback Joel Stave. Bennett dove and punched the ball out from Melvin Gordon in the final minute before halftime. Buckeyes defensive end Joey Bosa scooped it up and returned it for a touchdown. Midway through the fourth quarter, Bennett fired by the center and right guard to get a strip-sack of Stave. Bennett showed his speed as he charged down the pocket and closed on the quarterback in a heartbeat.

Bennett recorded five tackles, four for a loss, two sacks and two forced fumbles versus Wisconsin. The senior had a slow start to the season, but has really came on strong in the second half of the year. Bennett has totaled 36 tackles, 12.5 tackles for a loss, six sacks, and three forced fumbles in 2014. In the NFL, he would be a good fit as a three-technique in a 4-3 defense.

Devin Smith, WR, Ohio State
Smith was the offensive star of the Big Ten Championship game. The senior torched a Badgers secondary that was incapable of covering him. The speedster broke open for a 39-yard touchdown pass eraly in the first quarter. He followed that up with touchdowns of 44 and 42 yards. Smith totaled 137 yards on four catches with the three scores. He has only 30 receptions on the season, but has been a home-run hitter with 11 touchdowns and 799 yards.

For the NFL, Smith looks like a dangerous deep-threat receiver who can take the top off a defense. This season, he’s averaged 27 yards per reception. Smith (6-1, 197) is a late riser who could end up being an early-round pick.

Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon
Mariota got a monkey off his back as he had yet to lead Oregon to a conference championship and a bid to play for the National Championship. The third-year starter accomplished those feats in the recent Pac-12 Championship and showed he can push his team to the postseason. The redshirt junior completed 24-of-38 passes against Arizona for 303 yards with two touchdowns. He also ran for 33 yards on 10 carries with three scores. This performance was consistent with Mariota’s other games this year. He flashes the potential to be a pocket passer, but he isn’t there yet and needs work for the NFL.

Mariota has completed 68 percent of his passes in 2014 for 3,783 yards with 38 touchdowns and two interceptions. On the ground, he’s picked up 669 yards (5.7 average) with 14 touchdowns. Mariota has shown enough this year to validate a high first-round pick.

Shaq Mason, G, Georgia Tech
In the ACC Championship Game against Florida State, Mason had a good performance for the Yellow Jackets as he achieved a lot of movement at the point attack. Mason did well in his matchups against Florida State defensive tackle Mario Edwards Jr. Mason fired through to make blocks on the second level and hit blocks on the run all night.

Mason is a mobile blocker who has some strength to him. The 6-foot-1, 300-pounder is a good fit in a zone scheme. He is undersized for guard at the next level, so it would make sense for him to move to center. There his size wouldn’t be an issues for either zone or man blocking scheme. Mason would also offer some flexibility with the ability to move to guard if injuries forced the issue. Mason is a sleeper who could be a nice value in the mid-rounds.

Cameron Erving, C, Florida State
Erving really helped himself against Georgia Tech. On a drive in the first half, he put on a display hitting blocks and blasting open holes for running back Dalvin Cook. Erving had an excellent game, generating movement in the middle of the line and hitting blocks on the second level. He also was effective in pass blocking and is much better on the inside than playing left tackle.

Erving has had some struggles at left tackle as a senior. For the NFL, the athletic Erving could be a good fit at guard, right tackle or center. The 6-foot-6, 308-pounder could be a valuable player on game days in that he can move around the line. The performance versus the Yellow Jackets will help Erving to be a second-round pick.

Jimmie Hunts, WR, Missouri
The senior Hunts picked a great time to have the best game of his career. He had small production as a junior (22-253) and sophomore (11-199), but he almost hit those marks with a huge performance against Alabama in the SEC Championship. Hunts hauled in six passes for 169 yards. He made huge plays downfield against the Crimson Tide defense, including a 63-yard reception. The 6-foot-1, 215-pounder bested the Alabama cornerbacks with size and speed.

Hunt has only 40 receptions for 698 yards with seven touchdowns this season, but he turned some heads in the SEC Championship game. That performance could help teams to take notice and give Hunt late-round consideration.

Honorable Mentions: Boise State running back Jay Ajayi, Florida State tight end Nick O’Leary, Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston, Alabama guard Arie Kouandjio, and Oregon cornerback Ifo Ekpre-Olomu.

2015 NFL Draft Stock Down

Mario Edwards Jr., DT, Florida State
Edwards struggled to defend the Georgia Tech option offense throughout the ACC Championship. He had one nice play but otherwise bit on some option fakes and lost gap integrity. Those errors let the Yellow Jackets burst out with some runs for good gains. Edwards was very underwhelming in terms of awareness and getting off blocks. He lost his gap too often as well. The game will hurt his draft stock. He had three assisted tackles against Georgia Tech.

Edwards has 44 tackles with 11 tackles for a loss, three sacks, five passes broken up and two forced fumbles in 2014. He really hasn’t ever played up to the hype during his Florida State career. Many expect Edwards to enter the 2015 NFL Draft, but he looks like a second-day pick who could be more of a third-rounder. Timmy Jernigan went in the second round last year, and Edwards hasn’t been as good as Jernigan was for the Seminoles.

Rob Havenstein, OT, Wisconsin
Havenstein has been Wisconsin’s best blocker this season and has opened a lot of holes for Melvin Gordon, but had an ugly game against Ohio State. Havenstein gave up a sack to Michael Bennett and really struggled against defensive end Joey Bosa. Havenstein didn’t manage to do much in the ground game against the Buckeyes as he was regularly overwhelmed in pass protection.

Havenstein is a right tackle prospect for the NFL, but he needs to improve his pass protection and ability to defend speed rushers. Havenstein is a potential mid-round pick, but this performance will hurt his chances of getting second-day consideration.

Tyrus Thompson, OT, Oklahoma
Thompson had the challenge of going against Cowboys pass-rusher Emmanuel Ogbah during Bedlam. Some project Thompson as a first-round left tackle, but against Oklahoma State, Thompson looked like he would be a better fit as a right tackle. He was winning in the ground game, but he was giving up some pressures around the edge. Thompson was called for one holding call and easily could have been flagged for a few more.

In the NFL, Thompson could struggle with speed rushers off the edge. The 6-foot-5, 336-pounder doesn’t looks light on his feet with the natural bending of a left tackle. Thompson could be a power right tackle or a good guard. He looks like a second-days value rather than a first-round pick.

Eric Striker, OT, Oklahoma
Bedlam was likely Striker’s final home game for the Sooners. Unfortunately, it was an underwhelming performance in which he had little impact. Striker made a tackle on a jet sweep in the third quarter and had a pressure to help force an incompletion on third down. However, that was about it for him aside from assisting on some run tackles. He totaled five stops.

Striker has 45 tackles with 11.5 tackles for a loss, 6.5 sacks and four passes broken up in 2014. The 6-foot, 220-pounder looks like a tweener for the NFL. He has the body of a strong safety and needs to add weight to play outside linebacker, but his best attributes would fit as a 3-4 outside linebacker – if he were big enough, which he isn’t. If Striker does enter the 2015 NFL Draft, he looks like a mid-round developmental prospect.

Dishonorable Mention: Missouri defensive end Shane Ray and Missouri defensive end Markus Golden.

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