This new section highlights which players have improved or worsened their 2016 NFL Draft stock as the draft approaches.
By Charlie Campbell.
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2016 NFL Draft Stock Up
Vadal Alexander, OL, LSU
There were a lot of draft matchups in the LSU versus Florida game, and the one that was won the most decisively involved LSU senior right tackle Vadal Alexander. He was going against a tough Gators defensive line led by senior end/tackle Jonathan Bullard and some other talented edge rushers. Bullard and Florida’s pass-rushers were a non-factor as Alexander kept his quarterback clean while opening a lot of holes in the rushing attack.
Against one of the top defenses LSU’ll play all season, Alexander pushed open lanes for running back Leonard Fournette to rip off 176 yards on 30 carries with two touchdowns. Quarterback Brandon Harris also was given time to complete some passes downfield with two scoring strikes in the first half. Alexander achieved movement in the ground game and had no issues in pass protection. This was his best performance of the season and gave NFL evaluators something to think about regarding Alexander’s ability to stay at right tackle in the NFL.
Lewis Neal, DE, LSU
The Gators were incapable of blocking Neal as he wrecked plays all night long. Neal totaled 10 tackles with 3.5 for a loss and three sacks. Coming off the edge, he was extremely fast and showed the ability to shed blocks. The 6-foot-2, 264-pounder is short on height, but he used it to his advantage to bend around the corner as he really exploited Florida’s right tackle. Neal was a backup in 2014, but this season, he has seven sacks, 30 tackles and 7.5 for a loss. Neal is putting his draft stock on the map.
Matt Johnson, QB, Bowling Green
Johnson has been on fire this season, and that continued last Saturday as he completed 25-of-30 for 357 yards with five touchdowns and zero interceptions. Earlier this year, Johnson threw six scores and 491 yards against Maryland. He’s completed 71 percent of his passes in 2015 for 2,891 yards with 24 touchdowns and three interceptions.
Johnson (6-0, 219) is short of size, but his strong play has impressed sources, and they say that he is making teams think of him as worthy of a pick on the third day of the 2016 NFL Draft.
Adolphus Washington, DT, Ohio State
Like Bosa, Ohio State senior defensive tackle Adolphus Washington had a massive game against Penn State and dominated a garbage offensive line. Throughout the night, Washington was firing into the backfield to disrupt plays. He stuffed some runs and had a number of pressures. In the third quarter, Washington blew by the left guard to sack Chrisitan Hackenberg. Washington managed a strip-sack of Hackenberg in the fourth quarter after beating the right guard with speed.
In 2015, Washington has 34 tackles with 5.5 for a loss and three sacks. This was an excellent tape for Washington as he showed the strength and speed to be a huge interior presence at the point of attack. Washington’s stock could receive a nice boost from this performance.
Andrew Billings, DT, Baylor
Billings was an animal at the point of attack against West Virginia. In little more than a half of play, he totaled six tackles, three for a loss and a sack. In the third quarter, Billings had to be helped off the field after two offensive lineman dove low at the knees of Billings. He went into the locker room and had his ankle x-rayed, and fortunately, he returned to the sideline with his helmet on. It appears as though Billings’ ankle is not broken.
Billings has 21 tackles and eight for a loss this season. In this performance, he looked like a first-round talent with his strength and speed. Billings was overwhelming in the ground game and pass rush. If he is healthy, this game will help him to grade out as a first-rounder.
Corey Coleman, WR, Baylor
In less than half a year, Baylor wide receiver Corey Coleman has set a school record for touchdown catches in a single season. Against West Virginia, Coleman totaled 199 yards on 10 receptions with three scores. He was constantly using his speed to get separation, and the Mountaineers had no answer for him. This season, Coleman has 41 receptions for 877 yards and 16 touchdowns.
The 5-foot-11, 190-pound Coleman is said to run the 40-yard dash in the 4.3s and could be the top speed receiver for the 2016 NFL Draft. This tape will help to send his stock up.
Derrick Henry, RB, Alabama
Henry was dominant against Texas A&M. Midway through the first quarter, he broke into the secondary and set up the safety to miss on a cut back as he rumbled down the field for a 55-yard touchdown. At the half, Henry had 178 yards on 15 carries with two scores. He totaled 236 yards on 32 carries with those two scores. Against the Aggies, Henry showed the power to run through the tacklers with the burst to get into the second level.
Henry has averaged 5.9 yards per carry in 2015 for 901 yards with 12 touchdowns. He has eight receptions for 69 yards. This season, Henry has shown that he has three-down starting potential for the NFL with the ability to be an imposing back who can control a game.
Eddie Jackson, S, Alabama
Jackson was the defensive star of the Crimson Tide as he made two huge plays, including a 93-yard interception returned for a touchdown. On that pick, he was in good position to exploit an overthrow. At the end of the third quarter, Jackson read quarterback Kyler Murray’s eyes to undercut a route and pick off another pass. That interception was more impressive as it showed Jackson’s ability to read and play off a signal-caller.
Hopkins has 24 tackles with two broken up and five interceptions in 2015. This season, Jackson has really thrived at free safety after playing cornerback during his first two years. As a corner, Jackson had a lot of struggles, but this year, he has looked massively improved as a free safety playing the deep centerfield. He needs to fill out his frame to get stronger for tackling as a pro. Cover safeties are in demand in the NFL, so Jackson is on his way to putting his draft stock on the map.
Honorable Mentions: Louisville outside linebacker Trevon Young, Penn State defensive end Carl Nassib, Oklahoma cornerback Zack Sanchez, Oregon defensive end DeForest Buckner, Memphis quarterback Paxton Lynch and Michigan State defensive end Shilique Calhoun.
2016 NFL Draft Stock Down
Shawn Oakman, DE, Baylor
Oakman has been pretty quiet this year with only 17 tackles on the season and three sacks. He didn’t have a big presence against a weak West Virginia offensive line that was dominated by Oklahoma State defensive end Emmanuel Ogbah and Oakman’s teammate Andrew Billings. On top of Oakman’s play being depressed this season, teams have a lot of off-the-field concerns with Oakman. His poor character could have him ruled out by teams that are strict against bad character prospects. Oakman needs to raise his level of play down the stretch to help mitigate the damage.
Mike Matthews, C, Texas A&M
Against Alabama, Matthews really struggled with some potential NFL defensive linemen. Crimson Tide nose tackle A’Shawn Robinson pushed Matthews into the pocket on some passing plays, and Matthews couldn’t move Robinson in the ground game. Clearly, Matthews needs to get stronger for the NFL. This performance made him look like a third-day pick who is a developmental backup to start out his pro career.
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