Traditionally, there have always been a few players who were considered top NFL prospects heading into draft week that get stuck waiting to hear their names called. Even Aaron Rodgers had to watch Alex Smith, Troy Williamson and Matt Jones as they were selected before he was. But do their stocks drop because of their skill sets or because of the other prospects they’re competing against?
Teddy Bridgewater has been a consensus top-five pick throughout the entire draft process. Only recently have we seen his stock diminish and he may no longer be taken in the first round. All this talk might just be nonsensical, especially with teams looking to throw their competition off. But nevertheless, these five players seem to be falling quite dramatically as we prepare for the draft tomorrow.
Teddy Bridgewater, quarterback, Louisville
This could be a case of armchair draftniks having Bridgewater rated higher than teams around the NFL. Once considered one of the top-five players in the entire draft, Bridgewater could now be facing a monumental slide out of the first round.
Mike Mayock indicated in his annual conference call last week that he “would be surprised if he (Bridgewater) goes in the first round.”
That’s a drastic difference from February, when Mayock had Bridgewater as the No. 1 quarterback in the draft. Looking into it further, Mayock said that Bridgewater’s Louisville Pro Day performance forced him to actually go back and watch game tape again.
Unfortunately for Bridgewater, Mayock isn’t the only one that has dropped him since what has been reported to be a disastrous pro day outing.
ESPN’s Mel Kiper had Bridgewater landing with the Oakland Raiders at No. 5 overall in his mock draft back in March. One month later, Kiper dropped Bridgewater completely out of the first round, indicating that he might see an Aaron Rodgers-type fall come draft day.
In any event, it appears that Bridgewater’s chances of going in the top five aren’t too good at this point. If he does fall outside of the top 10 picks or so, Bridgewater could be facing a huge fall down the draft board. Not taking into account potential trades, the only team picking in the 11-19 range that might look at a quarterback are the Tennessee Titans. Other first-round options include the Arizona Cardinals at 20, Cincinnati Bengals at 24 and Cleveland Browns at 26. The likeliest scenario here, should Bridgewater fall, would be for a team at the top of the second round to trade up to the bottom of the first and nab him.
Jace Amaro, tight end, Texas Tech
After the 2013 NCAAF season concluded, Amaro was ranked right behind the consensus No. 1 tight end in the draft class, Eric Ebron. Now just a day prior to the draft itself, he’s considered closer to the second-tier tight end prospects such as Troy Niklas and Austin Seferian-Jenkins. This has taken him out of the first-round conversation completely.
Back in February, Matt Miller had Amaro as the 25th-ranked overall prospect. Fast forward a couple months and Amaro is given a second-round grade by Miller at 33rd overall. This might not seem like a dramatic difference, but we know the history of tight ends and where they actually go in the draft compared to projections prior to the event itself.
Most draftniks had former Notre Dame standout Tyler Eifert pegged as a top-12 pick leading up to the 2013 NFL draft. He fell all the way to the Cincinnati Bengals with the 21st overall pick. The year prior, Coby Fleener saw his name called much later than most of us anticipated. This has been repeated over and over again throughout the past few years. Unless there is a true generational talent at tight end, much like Ebron this year, teams tend to wait and look for value at this position.
At this point, Amaro’s ceiling seems to be the New England Patriots at 29 or Seattle Seahawks at 32. His floor is likely the top half of the second round. This is major difference from a month or so ago when the Arizona Cardinals at 20, among other teams, were seen as realistic options.
Kelvin Benjamin, wide receiver, Florida State
This draft class is incredibly deep at the wide receiver position.
As far as rankings go, eDraft graded 10 players at this position with either first or second-round projections. There is a strong likelihood that some receivers will see their draft stocks fall come late Thursday or early Friday. At 6’5″ and 240 pounds, Benjamin is a mountain of a wide receiver. He does a tremendous job going up over the top of defenders and provides a huge red-zone target. In this, a comparison has been drawn to San Francisco 49ers veteran Anquan Boldin.
So what exactly is the issue here? Why is Benjamin’s stock dropping?
NFL.com scribe Chase Goodbread weighed in and had the following to say about it.
That a high-level NFL scout doesn’t have Florida State wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin among the NFL draft’s top five receiver prospects isn’t a surprise — it’s a deep position, and draft grades will naturally vary on a 240-pound wide receiver whose speed is among several question marks.
There has also been some concern over Benjamin’s weight. In a draft that is loaded at the wide receiver position, any sense that a prospect isn’t able to maintain his conditioning off the field could lead to a dramatic drop come draft day. After all, some of the top prospects in the class at this position don’t really have many on-field concerns.
Once considered an option in the low teens for the New York Jets, Benjamin is unlikely to hear his name called on the first day of the draft unless a team with the need for a big-body receiver comes calling. The Seattle Seahawks and San Francisco are two teams who could potentially help Benjamin avoid a slide into the second day. With that said, his ceiling is likely the top of the second round right now with a floor at the bottom of the second.
Anthony Barr, linebacker, UCLA
Depending on who you ask, Barr is either a generational talent as an edge pass rusher or extremely overrated. Mayock has Barr ranked No. 14 overall in his rankings that were just released on Monday. He’s considered Mayock’s third-best edge threat. Others aren’t so kind.
To give you an idea of Riddle’s thought process and comparison to Van Noy, the BYU linebacker is considered a second-day pick by most respected media scouts out there.
ESPN’s Mel Kiper commented both on his own valuation of Barr and what he perceives his floor to be in the draft later this week:
New Orleans at No. 27. I’ve dropped him a little on my board after spending more time on his tape, but he’s still clearly a first-rounder for me. The ceiling and the instincts on defense are a question, but this is still a very good athlete who can rush the passer.
There has even been some talk about edge rushers such as Ryan Shazier, Demarcus Lawrence, Dee Ford and Jeremiah Attaochu possibly hearing their names called before Barr. Barr is considered a low-ceiling player due to a lack of experience on the defensive side of the ball at UCLA and issues with both shedding blocks and hand usage. Whether Barr drops to the bottom of the first round will likely depend on how teams perceive him. Will they look at the high floor or the low ceiling?
Marqise Lee, wide receiver, Southern California
Lee’s stock has been plummeting since he put up a stellar 2012 campaign with the Trojans. Due to a combination of injuries and ineffective quarterback play last season, Lee saw a dramatic drop off in production. He put up nearly 1,000 less yards in 2013 compared to the season prior. The issue with looking at statistics when drawing a conclusion is that they can be skewed to take into account extenuating circumstances such as injury and poor quarterback play.
With that said, there are reports from respected individuals around the football world that Lee’s stock has dropped even further in recent weeks.
Gabriel’s assumption seems to be right on line with how others around the league perceive Lee at this late point in the process. Mayock had Lee as the second overall receiver in the draft back in February. He’s now ranked outside of the top five.
That has to be somewhat of a concern for Lee’s camp with the draft just aroudn the corner. His ceiling is now seen in the early 20’s where the Kansas City Chiefs have been linked to him. Though, it’s important to note that the 2014 draft class is incredibly deep at wide receiver.
If teams are concerned over Lee’s lack of production in an injury-plagued 2013 season, there are many second-tier wide receiver prospects that could pass him up on the draft board. The likes of Cody Lattimer, Davante Adams and Jordan Matthews have seen their stocks skyrocket over the past few weeks. This could leave Lee on the outside looking in after the first day of the draft and possibly result in him being even the eighth or ninth receiver off the board. Given that he was a top-15 pick just a year ago, that’s a pretty rapid fall.