This new section highlights which players have improved or worsened their 2018 NFL Draft stock as the draft approaches.
By Charlie Campbell.
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2017 NFL Draft Stock Up
Derrius Guice, RB, LSU
Guice has been hobbled by a knee injury this season, but like Leonard Fournette a year ago, Guice used the game against Ole Miss to break out with massive performance. Guice has been growing healthier lately and was able to practice fully before playing the Rebels. The better health was evident as Guice dominated Ole Miss running for 276 yards 22 carries with a touchdown.
Aside from a few long runs, everytime Guice touched the ball, it seemed like he was almost getting 10 yards out of the carry. He saw lanes open on counter runs and cut downhill to rip the Rebels’ defense. He looked faster, more decisive, and ran with more confidence than he had all season. This tape definitely will help Guice’s draft grade, and if he runs like this down the stretch, his stock will really rise.
Arden Key, DE, LSU
Key is one of the top prospects for the 2018 NFL Draft and is starting to round into form. He had been slowed by a shoulder injury that caused him to miss some games early in the year, plus he was heavy from being restricted in training over the summer. Key has been dropping weight and is looking more like the fast and explosive player who dominated the SEC last year.
Late in the first quarter, Key burned the right tackle with a speed rush to pressure Shea Patterson into a sack for some teammates. Shortly later, Key used power to slap down the hands of the left tackle and then closed on Patterson for a blind-side strip sack. In the second half, Key was playing containment on the edge, and once he saw there wasn’t a rushing play, he used his speed to close on Patterson for another sack. Key also made some good tackles in run support. Against Ole Miss, Key totaled six tackles with two sacks and the forced fumble. This tape will help him to get righted in the eyes of evaluators.
Mark Fields, CB, Clemson
Fields has played well really well for Clemson in 2017 as the team’s lead cover corner. He has 12 tackles with two breakups on the year. Fields totaled 14 tackles with four breakups and an interception in 2016. Fields has shown good athleticism and speed to run with wideouts to prevent separation. The 5-foot-11, 180-pounder needs to gain weight for the NFL or he might be relegated to being a nickel corner. Still, scouting sources say they’ve been impressed with Fields this season.
Jamal Peters, CB, Mississippi State
Peters has 10 tackles in 2017 and has been sound in coverage for the Bulldogs. As a sophomore, he notched 18 tackles with two passes broken up and two interceptions. In 2015, he had 25 tackles with two passes broken up. Peters (6-2, 218) is a big cornerback who fits as a press-man candidate for the NFL.
Carlton Davis, CB, Auburn
Thus far in 2017, Davis has 16 tackles and eight passes broken up. He is a good corner with size, quickness and length. The junior can battle big wideouts as he is a physical defender who really competes. Davis can have issues with coverage downfield and deep speed, like many big corners. Some sources believe Davis could end up being a first-round pick, but others aren’t as high on him. Still, he has been a 3-year starter who has produced consistent and steady play his collegiate career. The 6-foot-1, 295-pounder has played well enough this year to have NFL evaluators put him in the first-round conversation for the 2018 NFL Draft.
Isaiah Wynn, G, Georgia
Wynn (6-2, 302) has impressed scouts this season as he has been an excellent run blocker for the Bulldogs. Wynn blocks with aggression and has a temperament that is hard to find in college blockers. In pass protection, he has been very dependable as well. Because Wynn is shorter and doesn’t have ideal length, some sources think that he could move to guard or center in the NFL. Wynn started at left guard in 2016, but scouts think he is athletic enough to also play center. Wynn’s size and skill set has drawn comparisons to Kelvin Beachum, who is undersized but has managed to carve out a career at left tackle in the NFL.
Sione Teuhema, LB and Maea Teuhema, G, Southeastern Louisiana
At the start of fall camp, Maea Teuhema was suspended indefinitely from LSU, which led to him transferring to Southeastern Louisiana. He is starting at left tackle for the Lions and has played well this year. Entering the season, Teuhema was a second-day guard prospect for the NFL, but his off-the-field issues cast some doubt on where Teuhema would grade out. However in speaking with team sources, they said the off-the-field issues weren’t major and that LSU coaches and personnel speak highly of Maea and Sione Teuhema.
With Maea Teuhema, sources say that the 6-foot-5, 315-pounder will be a good gap-scheme guard in the NFL. He has the athleticism to play left guard and the strength to play right guard. While he won’t stay at left tackle in the NFL, he might offer that versatility to play there in a pinch.
The 6-foot-4, 245-pound Sione Teuhema is hunting quarterbacks this season as he already has 53 tackles with 14.5 tackles for a loss, eight sacks, one forced fumble and one pass broken up. Sources say that Sione Teuhema played last season with an ACL injury and still showed explosiveness and athleticism. They think he could be an effective rusher as a Sam – strongside – linebacker in the NFL in a 3-4 or 4-3 defense.
Scouts say that both Sione and Maea Teuhema are good guys, and it has helps both that LSU staff continue to speak highly of them. Both of them have reestablished their second-day status for the 2018 NFL Draft.
2017 NFL Draft Stock Down
Trey Adams, OT, Washington
Adams made this list not because of his play, but because of a torn ACL that has ended his season early. Sources have said that Adams still could be a first-round pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, similar to Texas A&M’s Cedric Ogbuehi, who was a first-round pick of the Bengals in 2015 just months after a torn ACL. Still, Adams has announced that he intends to return to Washington for his senior year. If Adams shows rust coming off the injury as a senior, that, as well as the medical red flag, could send his draft stock lower . Unfortunately, Adams’ stock is down after this injury as it could lead to him being a mid- or late first-rounder rather than a top-10 pick.
Christian Kirk, WR, Texas A&M
As I reported in the Hot Press last week, sources have very mixed grades on the Aggies wide receiver. A director of college scouting for an AFC playoff team said they were giving Kirk a late second-/early third-round grade. They liked him as a slot receiver, but didn’t see him as a first-rounder. Another NFC scout said he had a similar grade on Kirk as well. They said that Kirk is similar to Dolphins wide receiver Jarvis Landry, except a little smaller but faster than Landry. A general manager of an NFC playoff team that grades players very hard has Kirk as a third-rounder. One AFC director of college scouting though said they had a late first-round grade on Kirk. Entering this season, Kirk was a consensus first-round pick, and he is going to need to get red hot to force more teams to view him as a Thursday night prospect.
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