2016 NFL Draft Stock – National Championship

This new section highlights which players have improved or worsened their 2016 NFL Draft stock as the draft approaches.

By Charlie Campbell.
Send Charlie an e-mail here: [email protected]
Follow Charlie on Twitter @draftcampbell for updates.

2016 NFL Draft Stock Up

O.J. Howard, TE, Alabama
Alabama tight end O.J. Howard has been under-utilized the past two seasons since Lane Kiffin became the Crimson Tide offensive coordinator, but the junior picked the perfect time to have a huge performance. Howard got National Championship started with a 25-yard completion on a checkdown that he broke downfield. On a 50-yard touchdown run by Derrick Henry, Howard made a nice kick out block to help spring his back. Early in the third quarter, Howard got wide open for a 53-yard touchdown. He ran down the sideline and right past safety T.J. Green, who had left him uncovered. In the fourth quarter, Howard was given a free release and ran down the seam to get wide open in blown Tampa 2 coverage for a 51-yard touchdown. He followed that up with a critical 63-yard reception. Howard came through with the game of his life as he totaled 208 yards on five receptions with the two scores.

Howard hadn’t scored a touchdown since 2013, but he delivered when it mattered the most. The junior showed his rare speed and athleticism to hurt teams as a receiving tight end. His blocking and route-running have been improved this year as well. This tape will help Howard to be a potential second-round pick if he enters the 2016 NFL Draft.

Carson Wentz, QB, North Dakota State
I tweeted out late last week how watching film of Paxton Lynch and then Carson Wentz had me more excited about Wentz’s pro potential. Wentz’s draft stock has gotten red hot in the draft community, and NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah claimed he spoke to some high-ranking team officials who have Wentz as the top-rated quarterback in the 2016 NFL Draft.

Wentz finished his collegiate career by leading North Dakota State to its fifth consecutive FCS Title. In 2015, the senior completed 63 percent of his passes for 1,651 yards with 17 touchdowns and four interceptions. He also ran for 294 yards and six scores.

The 6-foot-6, 235-pounder has a quality arm with athleticism. If Wentz has a strong Senior Bowl going against better competition, his draft stock could skyrocket. In speaking with sources from multiple teams, they have Wentz as a possible first-rounder and really like him.

Eli Apple, CB, Ohio State
In 2015, Apple recorded one interception, eight passes broken up and 33 tackles. He had some coverage lapses early on, but played better to close out the year. Apple was very impressive for the Buckeyes in 2014 as he made 53 tackles with three interceptions and 10 passes broken up. He was huge late in the season to help the Buckeyes bring home a National Championship.

Apple looks like he has No. 1-corner potential for the NFL as he has a good skill set and could develop even more. The 6-foot-1, 200-pounder has upside for the NFL with size, agility and speed.

Tavon Young, CB, Temple
Temple featured a tough defense in 2015, and Young was the program’s leader in pass coverage. He totaled 41 tackles with seven passes broken up on the year. As a junior, he had four interceptions and nine passes broken up. The 5-foot-10, 181-pounder projects as a slot corner in the NFL who needs to add weight. His Senior Bowl weigh-in will be important for his draft stock.

Laremy Tunsil, OT, Ole Miss
In my opinion, Tunsil is hands-down the best prospect in the 2016 NFL Draft and there isn’t a close second. The true junior has natural knee bend with amazing quickness and agility. His fast feet and natural strength make him a franchise left tackle. I believe he has the potential to be one of the best left tackles in the NFL and a perennial Pro Bowler. I ran this assessment by a variety of team sources, and they all agreed with me. Right now, it would be surprising if Tunsil was passed as the top prospect in the 2016 NFL Draft.

Brandon Allen, QB, Arkansas
Allen quietly put together an impressive senior year to help his draft stock and lead the Razorbacks to eight wins on the season. In 2015, he completed 66 percent of his passes for 3,440 yards with 30 touchdowns and eight interceptions.

Allen (6-2, 210) showed that while he has a limited skill set, he is a game manager-type quarterback who could have backup potential for the NFL. Allen earned a Senior Bowl invitation and could get third-day consideration with a good week in Mobile.

K.J. Dillon, S, West Virginia
After Karl Joseph went out for the year with an injury, Dillon stepped up and turned in a solid campaign for the Mountaineers. He totaled 55 tackles with eight passes broken up and two interceptions on the year. Dillon formed a strong counterpart to Joseph in 2014, recording 62 tackles with seven passes broken up and three interceptions. Dillon (6-1, 203) has size for the NFL, and an impressive week at the Senior Bowl could move him up in a safety class that isn’t overly talented.

Chris Swain, FB, Navy
Swain ran well for Navy with an average of 4.8 yards per carry for 1,023 yards and 10 touchdowns in 2015. For the NFL, Swain (6-1, 245) projects as a fullback, which is a dying position, but it speaks well for Swain that he was able to earn an invitation to the Senior Bowl. Perhaps if he is allowed to compete despite his military commitment, Swain could get consideration as a fullback and special teams player in the NFL.

2016 NFL Draft Stock Down

Connor Cook, QB, Michigan State
Cook made the stock down for the second week in a row with his decision to pass on playing in the Senior Bowl. Team sources were bothered by the choice as they would like to have watched Cook and interviewed him in Mobile. Teams have a lot of questions about Cook’s personality, how he conducts himself as a teammate, and how he wasn’t elected a team captain. Evaluators also wonder if Cook is trying hide something and perhaps he’s afraid his lack of accuracy will get further exposed in Senior Bowl practices.

Teams had the similar personality concerns about A.J. McCarron, who passed on the Senior Bowl as well. That hurt McCarron’s draft stock and played a role in him sliding to Day 3 of the 2014 NFL Draft. There is no doubt that Cook gave the personality questions more credence by passing on the Senior Bowl.

Jaylon Smith, LB, Notre Dame
A week ago, it wasn’t clear the true nature of Smith’s injury from the Fiesta Bowl, but it came out that Smith tore his ACL and MCL. He had surgery and won’t be able to work out at the Combine or his pro day. With the nature of that injury, Smith will most likely start his rookie season on PUP list or maybe injured reserve with a designation to return. This injury will definitely hurt Smith’s draft grade and push him lower than where he would have gone if healthy. He still should be a top-20 selection in the 2016 NFL Draft.

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