2013 NFL Draft: 3 Prospects Who Improved Their Stock This Week

Ryan McCrystalFeatured ColumnistOctober 7, 2012

October 4, 2012; Salt Lake City, UT, USA; Utah Utes defensive tackle Star Lotulelei (92) celebrates a fumble recovery during the first quarter against the Southern California Trojans at Rice-Eccles Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Russ Isabella-US PRESSWIRE
Russ Isabella-US PRESSWIRE

Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah

Lotulelei entered the year as a potential top-five pick, but after disappearing in a few early games, his status as a top-10 lock was in jeopardy. Any questions that arose in those games were answered on Thursday night, as he dominated USC's offensive line.

Lotulelei was lined up over Trojans' center Khaled Holmes, a likely second-day pick, for much of the game and won nearly every battle. In fact, just the mere presence of Lotulelei seemed to rattle Holmes, who fired off two bad snaps which were recovered by the Utes.

The most impressive aspect of Lotulelei's game was how he was able to easily shed blocks and shift down the line in pursuit of the ball carrier. It seemed any lineman USC threw at Lotulelei, he tossed aside with ease.

In order to maintain his status as a top-10 pick we'll need to see more consistency out of Lotulelei, but this game definitely demonstrated why NFL scouts are excited about his potential.



Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia

The Texas Longhorns were supposed to give Smith his first real test of the year, but he passed with flying colors.

His numbers were predictably down, but what mattered most was how he handled the pressure. Right from the start, Smith demonstrated the ability to maneuver within the pocket while keeping his eyes downfield.

Smith fired multiple passes into tight coverage as the pocket collapsed around him, showing the pocket awareness that is so key to success at the next level.



Levine Toilolo, TE, Stanford

Stanford has a stable of tight ends, but it was Toilolo's turn to shine against Arizona. He caught five passes for 151 yards and a touchdown in the Cardinal's overtime victory.

Toilolo, who is listed at 6'8", is a fascinating prospect due to his rare size and speed combination. As he demonstrated against Arizona, there just isn't an easy way to defend against him down the field. And as he develops more as a route-runner he will only become more difficult to cover.

It's hard to watch him and not think of the Saints' Jimmy Graham, who may be the only NFL tight end who can match Toilolo's size and athleticism.