2012 NFL Draft: Risers and Fallers

Courtney Upshaw 2012 NFL Draft

Is Courtney Upshaw's stock on the rise or the fall?

NEPD Editor: Mike Loyko

Five days remain before Commissioner Goodell steps to the podium and announces the first pick in the draft. Which players are rising up the draft board and which players are headed in the wrong direction?

The draft chatter is very thick right now and the board is extremely fluid. I try to wade my way through the non-sense to see who’s really rising up.

Risers

1. Stephon Gilmore, CB, South Carolina
Gilmore is one of the hottest names out there right now. A month ago Gilmore was a borderline first round pick and solidly entrenched as the #4 cornerback on most draft boards. Fast forward to now and there is a very good possibility that Gilmore comes off the board in the top ten picks.

Michael Lombardi reported this week that the Jacksonville Jaguars view Gilmore as the number one corner in the draft, ahead of Morris Claiborne. Gilmore is a fairly clean prospect, he has no glaring weaknesses in his game. He has good size for a corner and there are no questions about his speed. Gilmore was asked to play mostly “off” zone coverages, meaning he will have to learn to get better at the line of scrimmage.

He doesn’t have the anticipation skills or instincts that Janoris Jenkins has, he doesn’t have the ball skills that Claiborne has and he doesn’t have the physicality of Dre Kirkpatrick.

What Gilmore does have is a little of all those guys combined, making him a pretty complete corner back.

If it is true that Jacksonville likes him that much he will be gone at pick seven. The Buffalo Bills also like him and Gilmore remains a possibility at #10. At this point I can’t see Gilmore lasting past the Cowboys pick at fourteen and absolutely won’t fall past the Bengals first pick at number seventeen.

2. Shea McClellin, OLB, Boise State
McClellin has steadily been rising ever since the Senior Bowl and he is still rising today. Once viewed as a third round selection, I would now be a shock if McClellin fell out of the first round.

Teams all over the first round absolutely love Shea and his versatility. Some teams “love” him as a 4-3 defensive end, other teams “love” him as a 3-4 OLB and there are two teams in the first round that “love” him as an ILB. A question scouts and NFL teams had about McClellin entering the draft was if he would be able to add weight. Not only has he added weight, but he has done so and not effected his athletic ability at all. Shea is able to really get after the passer from a number of different positions and is very good blitzer.

He has a great motor and plays with great emotion, passion and intensity. Teams don’t have as many concerns about McClellin dropping into coverage as they do with other OLB prospects and it’s for those reasons he has risen. It wouldn’t surprise me at all if McClellin went off the board before pick #20 and look for teams like the Chargers, Bears and Titans to take a long hard look at him if he is on the board. If he is on the board for the Patriots at #27 or the Packers at #28 he would make a lot of sense.

3. Chandler Jones, DE, Syracuse
Perhaps no one’ stock has risen as high or as quickly as Chandler Jones over the last two weeks. I am under the impression that Jones has been valued much higher by NFL teams all along than by the media and is now flying up the boards. Jones is a big, tall and long defensive end. He uses his long arms extremely well and wins battles with power and leverage.

Jones also exhibits good instincts and recognition ability in the run game and makes a lot of plays by coming down the line of scrimmage. Jones like McClellin has a really good motor and makes plays with effort, motor and by chasing down the ball carrier. There is some question as to whether he can play 3-4 OLB and if he can drop or buzz into coverage, but both 3-4 and 4-3 teams love him. There has been some talk this week surrounding the Philadelphia Eagles and Jones, although I am not sure how much sense that makes. I certainly think Jones will be in the mix for teams like San Diego, Chicago and even Cincinnati.

If Jones makes it to the Patriots pick at 27 (which seems unlikely right now), I believe he would be the selection. There is no chance right now that Jones falls out of the first round.

4. Mark Barron, S, Alabama
Barron was once viewed as a likely selection by the New England Patriots at the end of round one. Those days are long gone as it looks like Barron is one of the most highly sought after prospects in the draft. With the safety position being valued so highly now, almost every team from pick ten-twenty is expected to at least toss around the idea of drafting Barron.

I have heard Barron’s name discussed ¬†with the Buffalo Bills at pick ten and there has been a lot of talk about the Cowboys taking him at fourteen. Despite not being fully healthy throughout the combine and workout process, Barron’s stock has continued to soar, he won’t make it past pick twenty.

5. Fletcher Cox, DT, Mississippi State
Cox is another guy who was mentioned as a possible Patriots selection back in January and February. Since then Cox has rocketed up to the tops of draft boards and is now the consensus #1 defensive tackle in the entire draft, and on many boards the top front seven defender.

There is a high probability that Cox comes off the board in the top ten to a team like the Carolina Panthers. There has even been a lot of talk the last week that the St. Louis Rams who pick 6th overall, really like him and would take him over Justin Blackmon. Cox’s stock can’t rise much higher, but even still don’t be surprised if you hear his name called earlier than you expected.

Continue to page two for the fallers.

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13 Responses to “2012 NFL Draft: Risers and Fallers”

  1. Ty says:

    What about Burfict and Minniefield?

  2. chas t. says:

    Lombardi says the Jaguars “love” Gilmore. Who in Jacksonville loves him? GM? HC? More likely, floating out info to drum up interest in #7 pick! Don’t believe ANYTHING that comes out about ANY player in the last 3 weeks before the draft!!

  3. McTash says:

    Risers and fallers are all media driven. The only thing that counts is where they are actually picked this Thursday thru Sat. Enough of this pratttle.

    • qwerty says:

      i agree it is media driven. large moves up or down should be looked upon as suspect. some like poe should never have been put in top 15. it will be interesting to see where some players are picked.

  4. MJP says:

    Chandler Jones is the most overrated player being discussed in round-1.

    How many of his 4.5 sacks were total junk? I know at least 1 was a completely broken play where Jones was eventually blocked right into the QB who was scrambling for his life (and that wasn’t because of Jones).

    He’s a 4.9 forty guy with awkwardly long legs, he’s not explosive or dynamic…that makes him a 4-3 DE in the middle of round-2…thanks to his length and strength…at least he has some skills that make him worth talking about.

  5. NEtyson says:

    How about zack brown…..in feb-jan he was projected 2 go anywhere around mid to late 1st and now hes in the late 2nd early 3rd

  6. td says:

    Who is saying that there are fallers and risers that are actually pulling the trigger(s) in the draft?

    That would be the media and bloggers of course.

  7. Mark says:

    Any of them there fallers might look purty fer keepin or mightn’ even git other teams below yonder to trade on up.

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