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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2018 NFL Draft Stock Up
Quenton Nelson, G, Notre Dame
With how thoroughly he has dominated the opposition this year, Nelson is one of the elite prospects for the 2018 NFL Draft. Team sources have said that Nelson is among the best players for the current draft class regardless of position. The 6-foot-5, 330-pound Nelson is a road grader in the ground game, yet has no issues in pass protection. He also is very quick, athletic, balanced, and agile in pass protection. Nelson has excellent technique and is ready to start immediately in the NFL. While his position will be held against him, Nelson is among the best players available in the 2018 NFL Draft.
Ken Benkert, QB, Virginia
In speaking with a general manager over the weekend, they said that Benkert was a player who intrigued them and they were going to be studying him some more. In 2017, Benkert has completed 60 percent of his passes for 2,876 yards with 25 touchdowns and eight interceptions. Last Saturday with undefeated Miami riding high, Benkert gave the Hurricanes everything they could handle, completing 28-of-37 passes for 384 yards with four touchdowns and an interception.
The 6-foot-4, 215-pound Benkert has enough size and above-average arm strength. While he isn’t a great athlete, he has mobility and can extend plays with his feet. Benkert has very impressive deep-ball accuracy with the ability to make some phenomenal throws off platform. He will work through progressions, but he needs to get faster at that and improve his field vision for the NFL. Benkert needs to improve on his feet, but a good NFL coach could fix that. Obviously working under center and transitioning to a pro system will be a work in progress. The senior Benkert is a player to study and consider in the months to come.
Andre Dillard, OT, Washington State
Dillard is a player who has created some positive buzz in the scouting community. The 6-foot-5, 300-pounder has some quickness and athletic ability to go with NFL size. He is speedy to get out of his stance and has the ability to hit blocks on the second level. His quick feet and agility have impressed team sources given that he is an NFL-sized blocker. Some team sources feel Dillard has left tackle potential for the NFL and like him more than other highly touted tackle prospects like Washington’s Trey Adams and Texas’ Connor Williams. With his quality play protecting the blind side of Luke Falk, the junior Dillard has turned himself into a player to watch for the 2018 or 2019 draft.
Desmond Harrison, OT, West Georgia
Harrison (6-7, 300) was part of the Texas Longhorns program before being dismissed by then coach Charlie Strong. Failed drug tests were the reason for Harrison’s dismissal. He landed at West Georgia, where he has played well for the Wolves. Team sources say that Harrison has the skill set of a first- or second-round pick, including NFL-level size, quickness, athleticism and length. Team sources say they don’t think Harrison will get beyond the second day of the 2018 NFL Draft, and his stock could catch fire at the Senior Bowl.
Brandon Parker, OT, North Carolina A&T
Parker (6-8, 310) is a prospect who has impressed area scouts this fall. They think he has developmental potential to be a starter in the NFL. They like his size and length to protect on the edge. Sources say that Parker has received some fourth-round grades and that he could rise if he plays well at an all-star game like the Senior Bowl or East-West Shrine.
Derrick Baity, CB, Kentucky
A cornerback who sources say has impressed them this fall is Baity. The 6-foot-3, 186-pounder is a tall cornerback with length who sources are saying could be a nice value pick in the mid- to late rounds of the 2018 NFL Draft. In 2017, the junior has 45 tackles with five passes broken up and two interceptions. He notched 42 tackles with seven breakups and three picks in 2016.
Sam Beal, CB, Western Michigan
In speaking with sources, Beal (6-1, 185) is a cornerback who has created some buzz in the scouting community. He has good height and length for the NFL, but will need to gain some weight and strength to take on big pro receivers. Beal has 22 tackles with two interceptions, one forced fumble and 10 passes broken up this season. As a sophomore, he had 55 tackles with eight passes broken up.
Donte Jackson, CB, LSU
Kevin Toliver was the more-hyped cornerback entering this season, but Jackson has been the better player this season. Jackson (5-11, 175) doesn’t have Toliver’s size, which makes Jackson more of a nickelback for the NFL. Jackson is extremely fast, however, so he will be a good corner to line up against smaller speed receivers. Jackson has the athleticism to run the route and prevent separation, but the junior is also a gambler, so he could stand to play with more discipline for the next level. Scouts tell me that Jackson is talented, but has a ton of discipline issues to work on, and that might include some hard lessons versus pro receivers.
Jackson has 42 tackles with 10 passes broken up in 2017. As a sophomore, he totaled 39 tackles with eight breakups and two interceptions. Jackson recorded an interception, 26 tackles and two breakups in his freshman season.
2018 NFL Draft Stock Down
Jordan Thomas, CB, Oklahoma
Sources have been really down on Thomas and unimpressed with his play this season. He has 25 tackles with two pass broken up and an interception thus far this year. Thomas struggled against Oklahoma State and allowed separation downfield on a number of plays. He has gotten some media hype, but his draft grade is low on Day 3 and some have him as a free agent.
Timon Parris, OT, Stony Brook
Last summer, sources told me that Parris was going to be scouted for the 2018 NFL Draft as the 6-foot-5, 310-pounder was blessed with a NFL skill set. However, sources say they have been disappointed in Parris’ play this fall and see him more as a late-round, developmental candidate. They say that Parris is a stiff waist bender who is not particularly aware. Even though his performance this season has been underwhelming, sources think that someone will give Parris a shot at a roster spot because of his frame and the need at the position.
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