Bowl Season is upon us and it is about time to start really looking at all the prospects under a microscope from now until April '12. Every year, players that were ranked very high at the start of the year will fall to middle rounds and in some cases even all the way to the bottom, or undrafted in extreme cases. On the flip side of that, some players will come out of nowhere to make a name for themselves in the NFL Draft.
If you are new to the site, for the past two years, I have covered a large portion of the draft material here at Niners Nation; which includes some of the Bowl Games. However, this year, Fooch will be lending a hand as I am getting a bit busier with the site I started up in April of this year (The Hometown Fan). If you are a regular, then you are already familiar with how Niners Nation has run the draft coverage.
In covering the NCAA Bowl Games, it really gives those who missed a good portion of college football this year to zero in at the end of the season for the final games to see who is going to help and hurt their stock.
The idea of this post, is to begin the process.
The past two years, I put together a list of prospects (in general) for folks to get a look at in the 50 in 50 series (2011), and the year prior the 100 in 100 series (2010). This year, once the dust settles from all the bowl games, and leading up to the draft, I will put together something similar to help us get through the offseason counting down to the NFL Draft.
With that said, Kriss Kross and Daddy Mac will make you jump, jump!
Okay, well that wasn't exactly the most orthodox way to make the jump but they did have Niners jerseys on at one point in the video... so, anyway... let's get down to business with those who, thus far, have soared to the top and those who have sunk below the cream of the crop.
So what I have done here is listed the Top 10 Players who have really hurt their stock to this point in the year and the Top 10 Players who have really escalated their status' from where they started from.
TOP 10 PLAYERS WHOSE STOCK FELL
1. Case Keenum (Quarterback - Houston): While Keenum may have been considered a mid-round pick prior to his loss against Southern Miss in the final game of the year, he still has a chance to bounce back and move back up to a mid-round pick if he can really WOW the scouts in the final game of his career against Penn State which will not be an easy task.
2. Nate Potter (Tackle - Boise State): Even though Potter earned All-American honors this year, he still showed some weaknesses as the TCU Horned Frogs really tossed him around and exposed some flaws in his game. Potter has potentially two more games in his Bowl Game against the Arizona State Sun Devils, and the Senior Bowl.
3. Cyrus Gray (Running Back - Texas A&M): Gray went over 1,000 yards for the second consecutive year in a row but he basically regressed in his yards per attempt. People at the beginning of the year had very high expectations for the Aggies running back but Gray wound up being just a bit above average playing at school that had a good line to run behind. Gray had every opportunity to progress and he simply did not.
4. Stephon Gilmore (Cornerback - South Carolina): Gilmore has the ideal size to play in the NFL as a corner. However, his skill-set has been exposed this year and he has been beat more than he should for an elite corner. He had every advantage in practice going against a guy like Alshon Jeffery. He'll get a few more shots to prove he is a legit competitor and needs to take advantage of every single opportunity he gets.
5. Robert Lester (Free Safety - Alabama): Lester slipped a little in the back half of the season after a very strong first half of the season. He let a few more big plays get over his head than he would have liked I am sure. Of course it is not totally on him and is tough to always pin point who was at fault in the secondary on a given play without totally knowing what play was called. With that being said, he can certainly stand to get higher positioning in the draft with the rematch against LSU in the National Championship.
6. Vinny Curry (Linebacker - Marshall)
7. Vontaze Burfict (Arizona State - Linebacker)
8. Marc Tyler (Running Back - USC)
9. Travis Lewis (Linebacker - Oklahoma)
10. Cliff Harris (Cornerback - Oregon)
TOP 10 PLAYERS WHOSE STOCK ROSE
1. Robert Griffin III (Quarterback - Baylor): RG3, as some like to call him, had a terrific senior year. In fact, no senior quarterback had a better year. In watching him a bit closer this year after I caught tidbits here and there throughout last season, Griffin really impressed me in everything he did. From running the ball to his precision passing, he blazed the field up any and every time he stepped on the field. He found ways to light up the scoreboard throughout the season and I have a strong suspicion that he will continue to do so at the next level. Winning the Heisman Trophy was certainly a testament to just how good he was this season.
2. Montee Ball (Running Back - Wisconsin): Ball wound up by season end being a one of the top 5 selected for the Heisman Trophy and while he did not take home the award Ball was impressive behind a great Badgers offensive line. Ball scored 32 times on the ground against his opponents this year and also caught another 6 touchdowns through the air for a grand total of 38 endzone visits (228 points on the year). On top of that, he rushed for 1,759 yards.
3. Dwight Jones (Wide Receiver - North Carolina): Jones is a very tall receiver that really emerged out of nowhere this season. He is 6'4", 230 pounds... not only is he a large target but as of late had hands of glue. He will most likely be a huge threat in the redzone for whichever team drafts him. The 49ers have had their struggles in the redzone, so Jones could be a very legit target for them upcoming.
4. Stephen Hill (Wide Receiver - Georgia Tech): Hill, similar to Jones is a very tall, and very explosive wide receiver inside the oppositions twenty yard-line. He is an inch taller than Jones at 6'5" and often channels Randy Moss like ability in being able to stretch the field. he did this very well for the Yellow Jackets on a relatively consistent basis.
5. Chase Minnifield (Cornerback - Virginia): Even though his father (Frank) was an all-pro in the NFL for the Browns for a while, Chase has really carved out his own legacy at the college level. In almost every way, he resembles a lot of what his father had done at that level. Minnifield is very polished in technique but still has a long way to go till the finish line. He was overshadowed by Ras I-Dowling last year a bit but in the good words of TuPac Shakur, 'All Eyes Were On Him' this year and he did not let down.
6. Riley Reiff (Tackle - Iowa)
7. Trevor Guyton (Defensive End - California)
8. Kendall Wright (Wide Receiver - Baylor)
9. Zach Brown (Linebacker - North Carolina)
10. Kwame Geathers (Nose Tackle - Georgia)
Thanks for reading. Feel welcome to leave comments on what I've got here as well as your own thoughts on some other players that's stock has gone up and and whose has gone down.