2014 NFL Draft: Late Risers

Derek Carr had a disappointing pick late, but he’s built plenty of NFL draft momentum throughout the season (Photo: US Presswire)

By Marc Sluis, Staff Writer
The day isn’t quite over but there have been some impressive performances in this final week of college football’s regular season. Who has been building momentum going into the draft process? Here are a few of the late risers to keep an eye on.

QB Derek Carr, Fresno St.


This week vs SJSU:
38/50 519 yards, 6 TD 1 INT

Why he’s rising: Derek Carr has led Fresno St. through a magical season but unfortunately they will miss out on a BCS bowl after they got clipped by San Jose St. Carr’s stock, however, continues to rise. He has a cannon and maybe the biggest arm in the class. He can step into the throw and rip it to the opposite sideline, throw a beautifully placed fade route for six, or stand in the pocket and unleash an amazingly accurate deep ball. The guy’s arm is elite, but he’s actually pretty mobile as well, with more than enough athleticism to avoid rushers and even pick up some yards on the ground.

What could hold him back:There isn’t much not to like about Carr, but some of the things scouts might pick apart are his lack of quality competition, shotgun heavy offense and tendency to drift backwards in the pocket, particularity when under pressure.


RB Carlos Hyde, Ohio St.

This week vs Michigan:
27 carries, 226 yards, 8.4 yards/carry, 1 TD

Why he’s rising: The bruising Buckeye back is a physical runner with great power to drive back defenders. He is very effective in short yardage situations and inside runs, but has very quick feet that allows him to get that 242 pound frame moving in the right direction. He can make sharp cuts and redirect well for such a big back.

What could hold him back: An early season arrest for an alleged assault will draw some character red flags. He doesn’t have the speed some up tempo offenses might want as well.


WR Kelvin Benjamin, FSU

This week vs Florida:
9 catches, 212 yards, 3 TD

Why he’s rising: Like I outlined in my last piece on possession receivers Benjamin is a big, strong target. At 6’5 234 lb he can use his frame to box out defenders, which when combined with his tremendous ability to high point the ball with strong hands is extremely lethal. All those skills, along with his ability to dominate as a blocker, earned him a spot on my All Potential Second Team Offense.

What could hold him back: Like Hyde Benjamin ins’t a burner, but will likely run somewhere in the high 4.5s or low 4.6s when the redshirt sophomore does decide to enter the draft.


WR Josh Huff, Oregon

This week vs Oregon St.
9 catches, 186 yards, 3 TD

Why he’s rising: In addition to the game winning grab against Oregon St. in the civil war Huff was Mariota’s leading receiver with 186 yards. Most people think of Huff’s speed when evaluating the Oregon Duck but he’s actually quite solidly built as well with a nice 211 pound frame. Like most Ducks he does have great speed and showed with that winning catch over the middle that he can make a play on the football and hang on through contact. Despite his lack of height he has great balance and runs well after the catch.

What could hold him back: At only 5’11 most teams will look at Huff as just a slot receiver and therefore a limited role.


QB David Fales, San Jose St.

This week vs Fresno St.
37/45, 547 yards, 6 TD

Why he’s rising: Fales started the season as a hyped precision style passer with a possible first round grade. That might have been a little optimistic but he looked spectacular versus fellow prospect Derek Carr. In fact, he out-dueled the Heisman candidate individually and as the Spartans handed the Bulldogs a crushing lose to knock them out of BCS contention. Fales has decent arm strength but his reputation is build on being an insanely accurate passer. It’s hard to argue with the 74% completion rate he posted Friday.

What could hold him back: Slightly above average arm strength as well as playing in a short pass and high percentage offense are the likely drawbacks scouts will examine.


CB Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, Oregon

This week vs Oregon St.
14 total tackles, 1 INT, 4 passes defended

Why he’s rising: Ekpre-Olomu was up to a tough task guarding speedster Brandin Cooks blanketing him most of the night. The feisty corner was excellent in coverage but his physical nature was evident all over the field. Ekpre-Olomu is only 5’10 190 lb but plays aggressive and loves to get physical with receivers and making tackles. He uses quick feet and fluid mobility to stay with his man and did a nice job of taking away the Beavers’ #1 target most of the night.

What could hold him back: The aforementioned lack of size will concern some teams with big receivers in there division like Brandon Marshall and Calvin Johnson in the NFC North.
DT Michael Bennett, Ohio St.

This week vs Michigan
1 sack, no official stats but numerous pressures

Why he’s rising: Bennett never started a game for the Buckeyes before this year playing behind Giants tackle Jonathan Hankins, but boy has he made an impression as of late. There were many top performers in this heated rivalry but Bennett’s ability to collapse the pocket and penetrate the gaps with his quickness might have been the biggest factor in OSU’s win. That quickness and athleticism will make him heavily sought after as penetrating interior linemen are so hard to find.

What could hold him back: Limited experience and being a full 15 lb under the 300 mark could be seen as negatives.

Tags: 2014 NFL Draft, David Fales, Derek Carr, ifo ekpre-olomu, Josh Huff, kelvin benjamin, NFL Draft stock update

26 Responses to “2014 NFL Draft: Late Risers”

  1. Another late riser you might have included Marc is Lamarcus Joyner CB Fla state. Only 5′ 8″ 190# but terrific player.

    • acm says:

      not sure about Joyner fitting this category – he’s been quite the accomplished DB player for a while now and the main reason why he’s been considered a 2nd rounder as opposed to a top 15 pick is his lack of height.
      Joyner is this year’s draft version of the Honey Badger w/o all the off-field BS and character concerns. Given mathieu’s performance despite being undersized, I think more than a few teams would be willing to take Joyner in the earlish-to-mid 2nd round.

      • Honey Badger w/o the BS is just right and probably could go in the 2nd. My inclusion of him on the list is more due to the seeming lack of any referance to him anywhere compaired to the rest of the highly regarded CB’s which I’m sure your right is due to his height or lack of. I have him on my short list ( no pun intended) and would love to see him in Foxboro next summer.

        • MarcSluis says:

          Joyner is a gamer. Is he short, and less than ideal size wise yes. Does that really matter, yes and no. Either way he has value. He is rising but has been for a while so I definitely see both sides.

  2. J H TARBORO says:

    Marc Sluis, Another player that is rising quietly is BC RB Andre Williams the NCAA rushing leader. The Pats almost always miss the boat on good Boston College players, i can honestly say this kid is special.

  3. Tyler Dennis says:

    Small school prospect Johnny Millard from Cal Poly is picking up some good buzz. The kid has great size and speed and was a 4 year starter with a NFL pedigree. Scouts like this kid and after looking at a highlight posted on youtube so do I!

  4. Russell Easterbrooks says:

    The Patriots need to take a look at CB Kenny Okoro a free agent, who was signed by San Deigo, and released. 6’1″ 190 Okoro is a guy I scouted last year and a prospect worth a look. Okoro was a 4 year starter at Wake Forest, finished school with two degrees, was a strong tackler/cover guy !! BILL take a look!

  5. J H TARBORO says:

    WR Kelvin Benjamin FSU should be considered by the Pats, he’s everything you want in a large reciever. Marc Sluis i totally agree!

  6. J H TARBORO says:

    CB E.j. Gaines Mizzou
    WR Robert Herron Wyoming
    DE/LB Michael Sam Mizzou
    QB Jordan Lynch Northern ill.
    LB Max Bullough. Mich St.
    S Ahmad Dixson Baylor

    • MarcSluis says:

      Good calls, Michael Sam’s stock is much higher than it would have been a few years ago. He can get after the passer. A lot of people love Herron, he has speed to burn, but still need to see a little more refinement from him.

  7. Russell Easterbrooks says:

    Another guy who looked very good was;
    RB Tyler Gaffney, Stanford
    He ran with power, followed his blocks well, maintained ball control, kept his feet close together, good balance. This guy has the mind set to run though a brick wall, get up, and do it again, and again. Has good size 6′ 226, and looks soild play after play, nothing fancy, just a good looking player.
    Downside IF you want to call it that ,is he has an option for a
    pro-baseball career

  8. Russell Easterbrooks says:

    I thought;
    DT Aaron Donald , Pitt
    looked very good, rarely caught in the wash, good upfield power even when double teamed. Tackled well, used great leverage on blockers, and was always around the ball.
    Donald’s size may limit him however at 6′ 290lbs.
    OC Bryan Stork, Florida State
    Showed quick feet, and uses his hands well. A dominant run blocker with equally strong pass blocking skills. Very good shotgun snaps, and pulled on a few plays.
    I don’t see anything holding him back; played OG as well as OC, Very smart guy, good size at 6’4″ 308, candidate for the Rimington Award, I’m projecting him as a Patriot 3d-4th draft choice.
    CB Bennett Jackson, Notre Dame
    Showed me good coverage abilitiy, strong tackler in the run game, turned his hips well, and got his head around in coverage. Good size at 6′ 190lbs
    NOT the speedy CB, running a 4.6

    • Good obersavations in Pitt game Russell, though Pitt was overmatched. Donald looked to be in the same mold as our current rookies Vallano and Jones though so can’t see him except as udfa next spring.
      Good depth at OC/OG this spring affords BB chance to load up positions with great talent moving ahead. I like Stork and Swanson 1&2, thinking 3rd round could get either one. Future allpros?
      Haven’t seen CB Jackson but we really need some help there and some good ones could be had I think you’ll agree.

      • Russell Easterbrooks says:

        Thanks Steve, I see OC Swanson going early 1st to mid-2nd. OG David Yankey may be the best interior OLineman in the draft. He has his degree, but has one more year of College elibility, so will be interesting to see if he enters the draft. CB Jackson is about a 3d-4th rounder, with Fuller, Dennard faster players, and earlier picks.
        I agree Donald reminds me alot of Vellano.
        Looking at the Patriots, this RB Gaffney looks like a great fit, and say good bye to Ridley.

      • Russell Easterbrooks says:

        All-pro’s Steve, maybe but I think the BEST interior OLman in the draft, is OG David Yankey. Yankey has his degree, but has one more year of college football if he choose’s. OC Swanson looks like an earlier pick, some Mocks have Stork a 5th??? I think more like a 3d.
        Mason Walters OG/C Texas still looks strong to me as a 4year starter , playing in over 35 games, with high intangables that Bill may like, 5th-6th round? Given the group of Olineman on the roster or IR, I’m not sure Bill takes more than one in the draft.
        I think Bill carries a third QB next yr. so some area loses an extra player, but doubt it will be Oline, more likely TE with just three guys in stead of 4. Gronk, Hoomanawanui, and a draft pick? (TE Arthur Lynch ?)Bill could use an Olineman as extra TE in areas where needed.

        • MarcSluis says:

          Yankey is such a better guard prospect than tackle. Last year when I saw him ranked highly as a tackle I was unimpressed. Now as a guard he’s the real deal

        • Alex says:

          Russell you make a good point about the number of interior O-linemen we have on IR or the PS. I think that does mean we won’t be looking for depth at Guard and Centre, but quality. That’s why I think we target a Centre in the second or third round, and then only look for a Guard if there is very good value. I hope that Cannon, Zusevics, Barker or a FA, might have a shot at beating out Dan Connolly for starting RG next year.

          Also did you see this quote on your man McCarron?

          “The aforementioned AFC college scouting director said he doesn’t understand how McCarron isn’t the overwhelming Heisman favorite, then offered this assessment: “Good size, outstanding touch on all throws, can make all the throws but only has average arm strength. Average running ability but very good feet and movement in the pocket to avoid sacks. Outstanding progression-read quarterback, makes throws to his second and third reads consistently. Doesn’t turn the ball over. Winner. Mentally tough. Has the moxie and cockiness most great QBs have. Very similar to Tom Brady in stature, athletic ability, arm strength, touch and the most important category — wins.” The college director said McCarron is a solid first-rounder who has a chance to be the first QB off the board. An AFC area scout added: “I’d draft him in the latter part of the first. He’s better than some of the guys who went in the first — (Christian) Ponder, (Jake) Locker, (Blaine) Gabbert. Maybe he doesn’t do anything great, but he has a lot of good qualities, and he works at it.” Meanwhile, in some circles, McCarron is seen as a third-round type. So it’ll be interesting to watch him go through the process in the spring.”

        • Just addressing OC position for the moment I think we believe there are 4 to 5 guys that would be serious upgrades for the Pat’s. I see Stork and Swanson at the top of the list and some mocks have one going higher, then the other in a different mock. How it goes depends greatly on the combine results. I would love either one.
          Now as for OG position, again 4 to 5 guys we know about would be upgrades but I do not see the position as the greater need because it can be filled by guards or tackles (who could be moved inside) coming out of the draft while OC is a unique position.
          We both agree there are OG prospects in the later rounds we feel have the potential to improve the position but the same can’t be said about OC’s.

        • Alex says:

          Russell you make a good point about the number of interior O-linemen we have on IR or the PS. I think that does mean we won’t be looking for depth at Guard and Centre, but quality. That’s why I think we target a Centre in the second or third round, and then only look for a Guard if there is very good value. I hope that Cannon, Zusevics, Barker or a FA, might have a shot at beating out Dan Connolly for starting RG next year.

          Also did you see this quote on your man McCarron?

          “The aforementioned AFC college scouting director said he doesn’t understand how McCarron isn’t the overwhelming Heisman favorite, then offered this assessment: “Good size, outstanding touch on all throws, can make all the throws but only has average arm strength. Average running ability but very good feet and movement in the pocket to avoid sacks. Outstanding progression-read quarterback, makes throws to his second and third reads consistently. Doesn’t turn the ball over. Winner. Mentally tough. Has the moxie and confidence most great QBs have. Very similar to Tom Brady in stature, athletic ability, arm strength, touch and the most important category — wins.” The college director said McCarron is a solid first-rounder who has a chance to be the first QB off the board. An AFC area scout added: “I’d draft him in the latter part of the first. He’s better than some of the guys who went in the first — (Christian) Ponder, (Jake) Locker, (Blaine) Gabbert. Maybe he doesn’t do anything great, but he has a lot of good qualities, and he works at it.” Meanwhile, in some circles, McCarron is seen as a third-round type. So it’ll be interesting to watch him go through the process in the spring.”

        • Russell Easterbrooks says:

          Thanks Alex I saw the quote on McCarron, and I like the guy , he has played in more big games than any college QB, two equal to a Super Bowl game. I would draft him, and see him as the next long term QB for the Patriots. The question is, will he be Available to the Patriots and what pick would Bill use to take him.

        • Alex says:

          True, but he has been on a great team. But I do think when people are down on him as a prospect they ignore how important the mental side of the game is for a QB. It is much more important than the physical.
          MVP in waiting Peyton Manning, is probably the least mobile QB with the weakest arm in the league. Yet he wins before the snap, and with great accuracy.

          McCarron has good accuracy, that can be improved, and good experience under two co-ordinators of pro-style systems, where he has to make pre-snap reads, and has the freedom to audible to better plays. He may not have a strong arm, but it isn’t bad, and with more conditioning and mechanics work, it should be plenty adequate. Plus his intangibles are great. Real selfless leader and team player, who cares more about winning than stats.

          I still think it is too early for us to draft Brady’s successor, but if he was there at the end of the third I’d be tempted, and would definitely take him in the fourth.

      • Alex says:

        Not sure we really need help at CB, especially if we can keep Talib. And if we lose him then we should sign another FA, or take a guy in the 2nd round or so. Talib, Dennard, Ryan and Arrington are a very good top four.

        It is hard to suggest guys with 3rd round grades will be future all pros, but I am high on Swanson, think he could be very good. Here is his blurb from the annual Freak Report, where he checked in at #10.

        “Arguably the nation’s top center, the 320-pound Swanson has already wowed the new Razorbacks coaching staff. Swanson has been clocked by the Hogs staff in the three-cone drill at 7.39 seconds. (Former Texas A&M star Luke Joeckel, the second pick in April’s draft, ran it in 7.40 while Eric Fisher, the first overall pick, did it in 7.59 seconds.) “His movement ability is second only to (Cleveland Browns All-Pro left tackle) Joe Thomas out of linemen that I have worked with in the last 12 years,” said strength coach Ben Herbert, who came over from Wisconsin.”

        That agility and quickness, along with the size makes him seem like a really good get.

        • Whether or not Talib resigns top 4 not that good imo. Arrington’s inconsistent. sometimes does well other times gives up the big plays far to often. Talib has proven to be injury prone but tough enough to play hurt but still misses games. We need one more solid CB and there are a few coming out this draft. Our problem drafting CB’s is when we take them, again imo.
          Agree Swanson would be a great pick. (I also like Stork. Either would be big upgrade for the Pat’s.) I watched Swanson on TV this weekend and time after time saw him dominate the inside run game joining innitial double team then pivoting and making key blocks at the second level all with a smooth effortless efficency. Clearly he would be my first choice and expect he will be around low 2nd high 3rd. That could change.

        • Alex says:

          That is a top four right up with most in the league, outside of probably Seattle. I mean how many other teams has a better CB grouping?

          Arrington is solid as an inside guy, just see the job he did on Welker.
          Talib is a legit shutdown corner when healthy, so hopefully he gets the hip sorted. He still makes 75% of games.
          Dennard and Ryan both have the skill to be good #1 corners, and are great as second and third options.
          Why add a high pick when that is such a solid group. Even if you toss Arrington out (as lots of fans don’t like him as much as the coaches) then you’re still only looking for a 4th string guy.

          This draft should be all about the trenches, including semi trench players (ie TEs and OLBs).
          First priority top level talent at DT, then second priority quality on the interior O-line. Third priority a decent quality TE to help force mismatches in the pass and run game. After that, it is a big body run plugger at DT, another interior O-lineman, and maybe a developmental coverage linebacker, speed pass rusher and safety.

          Still once you get to about the fourth round, it is more about value and high upside guys than needs. Of course in earlier rounds you want both value and need, hence you move up and down the board as required. So I’d be up for taking a CB after the 3rd or 4th round, but only if the value was fantastic.






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