2014 NFL Draft: Stock Up/Stock Down
As we work our way through the first month of the college football season, it is time for some updates on the top 2014 NFL draft prospects.
Some players have either moved up draft boards or cemented their spots on them while others have started to tumble, often by no fault of their own.
These lists are fluid and will be updated regularly as the season progresses.
So, let's take a look at this first 2014 NFL draft stock report. All statistics referenced are courtesy of ESPN.com.
Teddy Bridgewater, Quarterback Louisville
I suppose it is hard to say that a consensus Top 5 player can move up, but with Bridgewater it is true.
In Bridgewater's first four games of 2013 he has already thrown for 1,214 yards, and done so with 71.8 percent accuracy. It is obvious Bridgewater is healthy this season and the game is coming even easier to him.
Regardless of how great South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney is, or who is picking at the top of the first round in 2014, it is going to be hard to imagine Bridgewater isn't the pick. Whether it's just a pick or a trade up, someone is going to go get a talent like Bridgewater.
Cyrus Kouandjio, Offensive Tackle Alabama
There might be no bigger shock in all of college football than how average the Alabama offensive line has played this year. The bar has been set so high in the past, that seeing anyone other than elite play seems almost like a disappointment.
For offensive tackle Cyrus Kouandjio, he is probably a victim of some of that hype. Many, myself included expected him to ascend this season to that same sort of elite status so many Alabama tackles have lately. But things are not going according to plan.
Kouandjio has looked slow and not as athletic as hoped, and certainly has slid from among the elite of this offensive tackle class.
Mike Evans, Wide Receiver Texas A&M
With all the attention on Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel, wide receiver Mike Evans really lost in the shuffle last season. However, this year Evans has exploded onto the scene with 22 catches in four games, for a 26.1 yards per catch average.
Evans' combination of size and speed make him a matchup nightmare, and that size advantage will make him very enticing in the middle of the first round. He may lack some of the skills of the very elite in this class, but considering his development, his ceiling might be higher than any other receiver in this draft.
Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Tight End Washington
Entering the season, most draft pundits probably had Washington tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins penciled in as a first round pick and the first tight end off the board. After all, he was coming off a 69-catch season where he displayed athletic skills that make NFL offensive coordinators drool.
But this year his production is down, and with a player like Seferian-Jenkins there are character concerns that will always loom over his draft stock.
That is not to say Seferian-Jenkins isn't talented. Quite the contrary. He is a physical marvel and when focused, practically impossible to defend. But as of now, I struggle to consider him among the top prospects until he can show he has put his past behind him and is ready to focus on football.
Scott Crichton, Defensive End Oregon State
Every year the battle for the top spots among defensive ends is fascinating. Defensive ends come in all shapes and sizes, so it is less about who is the most talented, and more about who is the best fit for a system.
Crichton has the look of a squatty, thick 3-4 rush outside linebacker in the James Harrison mold. He's a little too short to be a strong side 4-3 defensive end, but could also play well on the weak side where he can use his strength to work on right tackles.
Crichton entered the season as an outsider among the elite defensive end prospects, but his production along with the success of the Oregon State football program is going vault him into first round status.
Adrian Hubbard, Outside Linebacker Alabama
Having two players on this list from the Crimson Tide is unusual. For Hubbard, it's not that he is a bad player at all. In fact, he is a very good player. But, to be included among the very top of the pass rushers in the 2014 class you have to play special, and so far in 2013, Hubbard hasn't been special.
As the season goes on, the hope is that Alabama lets Hubbard cut loose and rush the passer with more free will and reckless abandon to better assess his technical skills and explosion. As of now, it is uncertain just how effective he can be in the NFL.
Shayne Skov, Inside Linebacker Stanford
Last year was not what Stanford linebacker Shayne Skov wanted. He dealt with injuries for much of the season and his production was well below what many expected of him.
But this year he is healthy and playing like it. Skov has 25 tackles in three games, which puts him on pace for 100 on the season. Critics of Skov point to his lack of athleticism at the middle linebacker spot but Skov has shown excellent speed and quickness this year.
Skov has a shot to work his way into a second-round pick if he can keep up this pace. He is cut from the same mold as current New Orleans Saints linebacker Curtis Lofton. A big, strong thumper on the inside who can stuff the run. He won't dazzle you running in his underwear, but is a rock solid football player.
Tajh Boyd, Quarterback Clemson
If this list came out after the first week of the season, no doubt Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd would have been on the stock up list.
But, with a very average performance against South Carolina sandwiched in between two excellent games, it is time to temper the enthusiasm a bit and look at Boyd a little more critically.
Boyd's stock takes a hit in large part for things he cannot control. The Clemson offense doesn't allow him to showcase his deep or even intermediate game on a regular basis. This makes his evaluation more challenging.
His stock is also hurt by the fact that a month into the college football season players begin to emerge and that shuffles the more known commodities around. Boyd can still cement a first round pick, but it is where in the round he ends up that he needs to try and control this season.