2010 NFL Draft: Rising, and falling
Taking stock after the Senior Bowl
This year's game offered players like Florida quarterback Tim Tebow a chance to shine in front of numerous scouts. Some took advantage of the opportunity while others hurt themselves and will likely suffer in late April because of it. Here's Shawn Zobel's breakdown of the risers and fallers.
Rising: Geno Atkins
The Georgia defensive tackle established himself as one of the top pass rushing defensive tackles. His quick-twitch, agile moves off the snap with active hands showed scouts that he's capable of being a great pass rusher. Atkins was a player who was nearly un-blockable as he dominated the opposing centers and guards. Expect to see Atkins be drafted at the latest by the fourth round.
Falling: Terrence Cody
Cody showed up at 370 pounds and woefully out of shape. Now he may be one of the more risky picks in this year's first round. Alabama's mammoth defensive tackle played well, but the weigh-in scared a lot of coaches and scouts. If he can gain 20 pounds between the National Championship Game and the Senior Bowl, imagine how much weight he could gain in one NFL offseason. If he doesn't shape up, he'll fall off most draft boards.
Rising: Brandon Graham
The Michigan defensive end was the top pass rusher in attendance and showed that he's capable of going up against bigger offensive linemen and still getting to the quarterback. Graham has a knack for getting into the backfield and making plays, something that will draw heavy interest. Right now, he's a second-round selection.
Rising: Jimmy Graham
Graham showed up as one of the most physically-impressive players at the weigh-in and turned in an even better performance on the field. The Miami (Fla.) tight end showed the speed and agility needed to stretch the seam vertically and be a nice option for his quarterback down the field. He's raw, but has talent and reminds some of Antonio Gates. Graham should be off the board at the latest in the fifth round.
Rising: Mike Iupati
Scouts wondered how the Idaho guard how fare after playing in the lower-ranks at Idaho. Iupati answered that question and showed he has the potential to be a dominant force. He's also capable of playing not just offensive guard, but tackle as well, which will help his draft stock. Iupati is easily one of the, if not the top offensive lineman in this year''s draft and is a near-lock to be taken in the Top 15.
Rising: Shawn Lauvao
The former Sun Devil was very impressive on the interior of the offensive line this week. He showed excellent strength, great leverage and held up against Penn State's Jared Odrick and actually dominated at times. He wasn't valued very highly a week ago, but Lauvao has risen up draft boards and now could go in the middle of the draft.
Rising: Dexter McCluster
The Ole Miss kick returner will make an instant impact for a team as a running back, receiver, and returner. McCluster had a great senior year, but didn't receive much exposure because the Rebels were a disappointing team. He elevated his draft stock from the middle of the draft to the second-to-third round as likely the second senior running back off the board after Clemson's C.J. Spiller.
Rising: Myron Rolle
A polished player, the Florida State safety showed outstanding quickness and agility. A Rhodes Scholar who didn't play in 2009, Rolle was a terrific safety in college and should be fresh for the 2010 season. Rolle answered every question that scouts had on him this week and ensured that he should be taken within the first three rounds of the draft.
Falling: O'Brien Schofield
The Wisconsin defensive end suffered a torn ACL on the first day of practice, sidelining him for six months. He relies on explosion and quickness, so the injury will scare away teams. Someone could take a chance, rehab, develop, and get accustomed to life in the NFL, which makes him a third-to-fourth round pick at best.
Falling: Tim Tebow
The Florida quarterback is more of a project than most scouts and coaches initially anticipated. His footwork isn't bad, but that's about it. His delivery is slow and his arm strength is poor. Tebow has the arm of a second-or-third string quarterback in the NFL, but he has the intangibles of an MVP-type of quarterback. At this point, he projects as a third-to-fourth rounder, but that could be too high.
Rising: Cam Thomas
The North Carolina defensive tackle was a nightmare for opposing offensive linemen. He showed the type of brute force that scouts look for in the type of fire-hydrant defensive tackle that teams like to plug on the interior of their offensive line. Thomas was another player who had a mid-late round draft grade coming into the week, but leaves with a third-to-fourth round grade.
Rising: Dan Williams
What was most impressive about the Tennessee defensive tackle was that he shook off any notions of being a one-year wonder. Williams all but ensured that he will be taken within the top 60 picks, and has a chance to go in the late-first round. Another fire-hydrant type of defensive tackle who is nearly immovable on the interior of the line, Williams has all of the tools needed to be a one-technique in the 4-3 defense.
Rising: Kyle Wilson
No player helped himself more than the Boise State cornerback. Wilson was a shutdown corner, playing in both press- and off-man coverage, and closing down his side of the field for the entire week. He showed the type of skills and talent that scouts see in a starting, shutdown-type of cornerback in the NFL. Wilson came into the week as a second-to-third round pick and now has a very good chance of going in the first round.