My Oh My, How the Tables Have Turned: A Breakdown of Regular Season Stock of NFL Draft Prospects

Dan Kitchen, NFL Staff Writer

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I know I usually start my posts off with a creative song title to grab reader’s attention; this post just happened to set me up with a gold mine of a title that warranted bypassing my usual musical headings. To the casual NFL fan, who sees the draft as little more than welcoming in some random players that he/she can evaluate on their own accord throughout gameplay in the upcoming season, the concept of “draft stock” is a relatively new term. They don’t understand just how much a prospect can gain or lose throughout a season of college football, and through the workouts leading to the draft. Any Washington fans, you think Robert Griffin is the savior your team has needed for years upon years. His draft stock may have been a Top 5 pick, but before the season, he was a fringe 3rd rounder. One of the most explosive players in the league today was barely considered a startable rookie QB before his play shot his stock straight up. For more examples, I am going to analyze a list of Preseason 2013 Draft 1st rounders that I compiled before the 2012-2013 college football season started. Then I will compare their stock then to their stock levels now.

Quarterback

Matt Barkley, USC

Then: Top overall pick

Now: Early second rounder

Not too drastic a drop on the first example. Barkley was supposed to be a franchise’s savior. Now he may still get that chance, but it will cost him millions of dollars by falling into the second round.

 

Landry Jones, Oklahoma

Then: Consensus 2nd QB off the board, Top 10 pick

Now: Mid round prospect, projected NFL back-up

And now for an example of stock that falls. Jones was a technically sound, traditional-styled QB. He didn’t move overly well, but had fluid mechanics that made him look like a franchise QB. The issue with those types of players? If you don’t lead your team to great success (if you are a big-school QB), you are held responsible. Oklahoma didn’t do as well as in previous years, so Jones’ abilities were critiqued at a more extreme level than most. Now he won’t be a starter from Day 1 as was expected of him.

 

Tyler Wilson, Arkansas

Then: Mid-Late 1st rounder

Now: Could go anywhere from 2nd to 4th round

Injuries hurt Wilson more than most other fallers. His abilities may or may not be affected, but most experts are more scared off by a QB missing a season to injury.

 

Other Notables

Tyler Bray, Tennessee: Went from 1st Rounder/ Top 10 pick to mid-rounder (likely 3rd)

Denard Robinson, Michigan: Went from Midrounder to playing another position entirely in workouts

 

Running Back

Marcus Lattimore, South Carolina

Then: Top 10-20 Pick

Now: Anywhere from 3rd to 6th round

A severe injury killed Lattimore’s stock. The potential and skill are there; his issue is durability. But at a position like running back, draft stock fluctuates for almost any reason imaginable.

 

Michael Dyer, Arkansas State

Then: Fringe 1st-2nd rounder

Now: Undrafted

Injury and poor performance are not the biggest things that can KO a prospect’s draft chances in one shot. That distinction belongs to character. Dyer’s attitude caused him to have to transfer to Arkansas State. Since then, he has completely fallen off the football map, and I anticipate the once promising back to not get a single call for an undrafted free agent tryout.

 

Wide Receiver

Robert Woods, USC

Then: Potential top overall pick

Now: Fringe 1st rounder

Now a poor season hurts a prospect. Woods’ stock went down because he got overshadowed by teammate Marquise Lee. Matt Barkley’s poor play didn’t help him either. Just another reason of how stock can go down.

 

Keenan Allen, California

Then: Early 1st rounder

Now: Late 1st rounder

An injury-plagued season only drops Allen’s stock a little. This shows just how well talent can save someone’s draft stock.

 

Tight End

Tyler Eifert, Notre Dame

Then: Late 1st – early 2nd round

Now: Late 1st – early 2nd round

Eifert’s stock stayed exactly the same because of a great, but not perfect, season.

 

Offensive Line

Barrett Jones, Alabama

Then: Potential top overall pick

Now: Late 2nd-early 3rd round

Jones’ potential has kept him pretty high compared to how hard his injuries have tried to bring him down. Jones’ resume contains a trophy as the Top overall Offensive Lineman in college, so college awards don’t necessarily give someone an ironclad spot in Round 1.

 

D.J. Fluker, Alabama

Then: Potential top overall pick

Now: Mid to late 1st

Fluker’s stock went down because of play that was less than what was expected of him. His workouts brought his stock back up though, showing a prospect can start off at the top, fall way down, and shoot back up again.

 

Chris Faulk, LSU

Then: 1st rounder

Now: Midrounder (3rd to 4th)

Injuries derail another prospect. Faulk went from potential top tackle taken to an afterthought. His workouts are getting him noticed again though.

 

Defensive Line

Sam Montgomery, LSU

Then: Top 10 Pick

Now: 3rd round

Montgomery had everything go against him except injury. His play, workouts, and attitude have thoroughly scared away every team from taking him in the first round. Even if only his play had hurt him, Montgomery still would’ve fallen into the late 1st round.

 

Alex Okafor, Texas

Then: Late 1st rounder

Now: Early 2nd rounder

Okafor went about the process like a prospect should. He shut up, played hard, aced interviews, and saw his stock barely change. Okafor is one of the models of how draft stock should work throughout the season.

 

Star Lotulelei, Utah

Then: Mid 2nd rounder

Now: Top 10 pick

Finally, a player ranked preseason sees his stock skyrocket! Lotulelei was ranked so low only because not many had heard of him. But based on how high he has risen, this shows that draft stock doesn’t just hurt.

 

Linebacker

Manti Te’o, Notre Dame

Then: Mid 1st rounder

Now: Late 1st – Early 2nd

If Te’o hadn’t fallen in love with an imaginary girlfriend, his stock wouldn’t have changed a bit. Even the weirdest of stories can help or hurt a prospect’s draft stock.

 

Jarvis Jones, Georgia

Then: Top 10 pick

Now: Mid 1st rounder

Jones’ spinal situation is the only thing that knocked him down a little bit.

 

Secondary

David Amerson, North Carolina State

Then: Top 5 pick

Now: Midrounder (3rd)

Amerson had an unheard of 13 interceptions last year. This year, he got exposed by teams like Tennessee, and after they ripped him part, experts did similar. But performance can knock a prospect down farther than this.

 

Tony Jefferson, Oklahoma

Then: Late 1st rounder

Now: Late round pick (4th-7th)

Jefferson just didn’t shine compared to other guys. Simple as that. But that is all it takes to get a guy drafted way later than he would’ve been before the season.

 

 

It may seem like the news about draft stock is overwhelmingly negative. That is because preseason 1st rounders rarely can go up, because one round is all there is to improve on. Guys like Luke Joeckel & Eric Fisher though were not mentioned in any mock drafts in the preseason. Now they are locks to go in the Top 5 of the draft. Why is all of this important though if you are anything less than a draft nut like myself or another analyst? The importance is in how much you care about your team and wanting to be intelligent. If a prospect you draft in the late rounds is one of the players like Tony Jefferson directly above who has the elite potential but just fell due to one reason or another, you’ll know that they are a welcome asset to your team, and then you will have the satisfaction of not only telling friends “I told you so!” at upcoming football parties when the player performs extraordinarily, but you will have the title of Biggest Fan among your group.

Also, for whomever it may concern, the Draft is only 22 days away. Gotta get excited for that!

Happy Belated Easter & God Bless You All!

– Dan

 

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