2015 NFL Draft Stock – Post-New Year’s Bowls Week

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

Cedric Ogbuehi, OT, Texas A&M
West Virginia gave Ogbuehi one more opportunity to lessen the damage from his midseason slump. He had a strong start to the year before a rough streak against Mississippi State, Ole Miss and Alabama that saw him give up a number of sacks. Ogbuehi finished the season in impressive fashion and has the ability to be a starting left tackle in the NFL.

Ogbuehi was excellent in pass protection versus the Mountaineers. He showed excellent feet, natural knee bending and agility throughout the game. Ogbuehi had no issues with speed rushers and stymied any bull rushes. It was a nearly flawless game in pass protection. Ogbuehi has amazingly rare quickness and athleticism as an edge blocker.

There is one thing lacking from Ogbuehi’s game: strength. If he could get stronger, he could be a special left tackle in the NFL. Ogbuehi has accepted an invitation to the Senior Bowl, and the weigh-in in Mobile will be important for him to show he carries a good amount of weight yet has the frame to add more.

Melvin Gordon, RB, Wisconsin
Gordon started his year ripping an SEC defense, LSU, and finished it in a similar manner versus Auburn. He had a number of runs of over 20 yards and a great 53-yard touchdown run on a fourth-and-1 at the end of the third quarter. Gordon ran hard all game and left it all on the field. He didn’t play as if trying to protect himself or attempting to avoid injury. Gordon gave his all for Wisconsin in his final collegiate game. He totaled 251 yards on 34 carries with three touchdowns. While Gordon only had two catches for two yards, one of them was an impressive reception with nice hands and body control.

Gordon averaged 7.5 yards per carry in 2014 for 2,587 yards with 29 touchdowns. He caught three passes for 153 yards and three touchdowns as well. This performance will help Gordon to be a top-20 pick and most likely the first running back selected.

Trey Flowers, DE/OLB, Arkansas
Texas’ offense looked inept in its season finale, and a big reason for that was Flowers. He took up residence in the Longhorns’ backfield and came up with some huge plays to lead Arkansas.

With Texas backed up inside its five, Flowers fired by the left tackle to hit the running back in the backfield right as he was struggling to control a handoff. Flowers’ hit helped lead to Arkansas recovering the ball in the end zone and was credited with a forced fumble. In the final seconds before the half, he flew by the right tackle and got his hands off of him with a rip of his right arm to chase down the quarterback for a sack. Flowers consistently beat the right tackle with speed and bull rushers. Flowers showed impressive strength with the ability to shed blocks. He totaled five tackles with one sack and a forced fumble.

Flowers recorded 68 tackles, 15.5 tackles for a loss, six sacks and a forced fumble in 2014. He was a Second-Team All-SEC selection and could get second-day consideration in the 2015 NFL Draft. His bowl performance will definitely help his chances of grading out in the top 100.

Dante Fowler Jr, OLB/DE, Florida
To end his collegiate career, it was clear that Fowler was on another level against East Carolina as he abused the Pirates’ offensive tackles in embarrassing fashion. Just before halftime, Fowler came alive as he rocked the right tackle off balance with power and used his speed to chase down Shane Carden for a sack. Fowler dropped into coverage in the fourth quarter, but after seeing Carden scramble, he fired into the backfield and ripped him down with violence for another sack. Shortly later, Fowler rocked the left tackle back and cut to the inside to sack Carden again. Fowler totaled three sacks against the Pirates.

Fowler totaled 8.5 sacks, 15 tackles for a loss, 60 tackles, two forced fumbles and one pass batted in 2014. He fits as a 3-4 outside linebacker, his college position, or as a defensive end in a 4-3. There is the chance that that Fowler could go in the top half of the first round, but he shouldn’t get out of the top 25.

Justin Hardy, WR, East Carolina
Hardy definitely helped himself in the Birmingham Bowl against Florida as he showed the skills to compete with an elite corner like Vernon Hargreaves. With size not being an issue, it was good to see Hardy demonstrate the quickness to get separation from the Gators’ defensive backs, including a catch or two on Hargreaves. Hardy also made a splash play. Just after halftime, he raced for 67 yards on a wide receiver screen. Hardy followed his blockers and bolted downfield before Brian Poole caught him from behind to prevent a touchdown.

Hardy caught 11 passes for 160 yards and the score against Florida. He totaled 121 receptions for 1,494 yards with 10 touchdowns for the year. The 6-foot-1, 188-pounder could help himself more with a strong Senior Bowl.

Hroniss Grasu, C, Oregon
Oregon center Hroniss Grasu has been banged up late this season, but he looked good against Florida State. Junior defensive linemen Eddie Goldman and Mario Edwards Jr. have early-round potential, yet both of them were non-factors as Grasu and the Ducks’ offensive linemen had their way with the Florida State duo. Grasu got in his run blocks and was reliable in his pass protection. This game should help Grasu’s draft grade and improve his chances of being a second-day pick.

Maxx Williams, TE, Minnesota
Williams basically clinched his spot as the top-rated tight end for the 2015 NFL Draft with his performance against Missouri. He finished with 98 yards on seven receptions and a highlight-reel touchdown. Early in the third quarter, Williams caught a pass downfield on a deep cross and turned vertical along the sideline. He hurdled two defenders inside the 15-yard line before diving into the end zone for a 54-yard touchdown reception. It was an amazing display of athleticism from the 6-foot-4, 250-pound tight end.

In 2014, Williams caught 36 passes for 569 yards with eight touchdowns. He could have produced more, but Minnesota employed a ground-based offense. Williams should be a good receiving tight end and could stand to improve his run blocking for the next level. There is a chance that he’s a late first-round pick, but he shouldn’t fall any lower than the second round.

Markus Golden, DE/OLB, Missouri
Golden was phenomenal early in the 2014 season, and the extra attention he merited helped Shane Ray to break out. Golden wasn’t himself for a five-game stretch in the middle of the year with had a leg injury, but he finished the regular season in impressive fashion. To end the year, Golden was an animal against Minnesota and the more impressive of the two Tigers defenders.

On the first third down, the dangerous duo made its presence felt. Golden burned the right tackle with a speed rush and started to rip the Gophers quarterback down for a strip-sack. Midway through the fourth quarter, Golden shed the tight end and running back to get another sack of Minnesota’s quarterback. Golden did a good job of making pursuit tackles in the ground game throughout the evening. He chased down some backs behind the line of scrimmage and out of his gap. This was a strong performance by Golden that showed his strength to shed blocks and the speed to beat blockers off the snap. He totaled 10 tackles with four tackles for a loss, 1.5 sacks, and a forced fumble.

Golden racked up 10 sacks with 78 tackles, 20 tackles for a loss, two passes batted, and three forced fumbles in 2014. He is a fast edge rusher who also has some strength to his game for run defense. Golden would be a great fit as a 3-4 outside linebacker in the NFL.

Honorable Mentions: Notre Dame left tackle Ronnie Stanley, Clemson defensive end Vic Beasley, TCU inside linebacker Paul Dawson and Alabama guard Arie Kouandjio.

2015 NFL Draft Stock Down

Gerod Holliman, S, Louisville
Holliman ended his season with an ugly game against Georgia. He lost his eye discipline in the first quarter as he got caught watching the quarterback’s eyes and didn’t see that he had receiver Chris Conley running a deep post down the middle. That led to about a 45-yard touchdown as Conley beat Charles Gaines and Holliman was not where he was supposed to be as the deep help.

Holliman took a terrible angle in the third quarter that left him out of position to try to stop Nick Chubb, who exploded for an 82-yard run. Holliman also pulled up a little early rather than running through the whistle. He had some good plays in coverage helping over the top, but he had little impact in defending Chubb aside from that one tackle in the hole.

Holliman finished 2014 with 40 tackles, 14 interceptions, three passes broken up, and one forced fumble. He’ll probably go on the second day, but he has a lot of room for improvement as far as his tackling, run defense and eye discipline.

Jack Conklin, OT, Michigan State
Conklin is considering entering the 2015 NFL Draft, but he struggled with Baylor defensive end Shawn Oakman. Conklin was beaten by Oakman for a sack around the corner in the first half. Oakman drove Conklin back with a bull rush in the fourth quarter and knocked Conklin flat on his backside to almost sack Cook. In order to avoid the sack, Cook threw a critical interception. After that, Michigan State started to give Conklin some help with a back chipping Oakman on occasion. Conklin won some plays, but Oakman penetrated the pocket regularly.

This game would suggest that Conklin would be better off returning to school and getting better before going pro. Especially when you consider that 2015 looks deep at the tackle position.

Dishonorable Mention: Ole Miss quarterback Bo Wallace, Florida State defensive tackle Eddie Goldman and Oklahoma wide receiver Sterling Shepard.

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