2014 NFL Draft Risers and Fallers

South Carolina College Football Jadeveon Clowney




After the first week of college games the adjusting of draft boards has begun with some surprises, disappointments, injuries and other developments in the continuing process of player evaluation right up to draft day.

Players who showed better than previously thought are Risers, Uppers or Stunners, and players whose performance was less than anticipated will be Fallers, Downers or Bummers on draft boards for at least the time being.



1. Brett Smith - QB 6-2 195 Jr. Wyoming

His performance vs. Nebraska had Bo Pelini and the Huskers sweating it out as Smith nearly pulled off the big upset.  He showed good arm strength while making many different throws with good accuracy and while under heavy pressure.  He hung in under that pressure, adjusted in the pocket, re-set his feet and delivered the ball while properly leading his receivers.  Another strength is that he can throw well while running to his left (reportedly a weakness in Tajh Boyd's game).  Although many short QBs have been compared to Drew Brees, Smith might be a better comparison despite being 6-2 to Brees 6-0, as Smith's throwing motion, hanging tough in the pocket, adjusting to conditions in the pocket and re-setting his feet are more comparable to Brees than the others.  QBs Derek Carr and Blake Bortles also had good days but I didn't see their games.


2. Khalil Mack - OLB 6-3 245 Sr. Buffalo

Dominant in the MAC for two years the question was whether he could do it on a bigger stage and he answered the question in the positive against No. 2 ranked Ohio State.  7 Solos, 2 Assists, 2.5 Sacks and an Interception returned for a 47 yard TD show up on the stat sheet while another Sack and Forced Fumble (Strip) was nullified by a penalty.  His play may be downgraded somewhat as many of his plays came against an inexperienced Soph ROT but his quickness, explosion, closing speed, tackling and athleticism were on full display.


3. Andre Hal - CB 6-0 186 Sr. Vanderbilt

Although already considered a good prospect this well-built corner showed he should be considered with the top CBs with his play against Ole Miss.  He as an aggressive tackler in run support and exhibited really good coverage and play making ability throughout the game with much of his coverage being against highly rated WR Donte Moncrief.


4. Russell Bodine - Center 6-3 305 Jr. North Carolina

Quick off the snap and into his blocks with good blocking techniques, he performed well in run blocking and pass blocking in a losing effort versus South Carolina.


5. Donovan Smith - LOT 6-5 327 Soph Redshirt Penn State

The coaches were high on Smith after spring practice and he showed why in the win against Syracuse.  Powerful on run blocking, he really gets movement and has a smooth kick-slide on pass blocking while maintaining his balance and controlling of his opponent.  He dominates and whenever he declares for the draft he will be a very high draft choice.


6. La'el Collins - LOT 6-5 321 Jr. LSU

Repeat what was said about Donovan Smith on the run and pass blocking, La'el's size and prior experience at guard might indicate a shift to guard but his play at LOT was outstanding versus TCU, and like Smith, exhibited dominance.


7. Brandon Thomas - LOT 6-3 305 Sr. Clemson

Much the same as Smith and Collins, Thomas just doesn't have the body mass and power of those two, but he was very impressive in his own right versus Georgia.  Quick off the ball with good blocking technique, he made all the blocks and despite a little drop off late in the 3rd quarter, possibly due to heat exhaustion, he regained his mojo and played well for the rest of the game.  His size might indicate a projection to guard in the NFL but if his arms are long enough he has the ability to play LOT.


8. Jarvis Landry - WR 6-1 195 Jr. LSU

Always a highly regarded PROSPECT, he is showing signs of putting it all together as a receiver with his eight receptions for 109 yards and one TD versus TCU. His performance included some difficult catches and showed toughness and competitiveness by returning after being knocked out of the game.


9. Gabe Jackson - OG 6-3 335 Sr. Mississippi State

Already rated among the top three guards, Jackson proved he belonged with his powerful run blocking and ability to anchor and control on pass blocking in the Vanderbilt game.


10. Cody Riggs - SS 5-9 184 Jr. Florida

Replacing 1st round draft choice Matt Elam at SS, Riggs didn't disappoint as he was a strong tackler and showed excellent coverage skills. Anthony Harris, SS from Virginia, was National Defensive Player of the Week for his performance versus BYU, but I didn't see that game.


11. Charles Ross - RB 6-0 235 Sr. Rice

Unknown nationally and lost in the Johnny Manziel hoop-la of the Texas A&M game and with his team being out-manned, Ross still had a rushing TD and reception TD and showed some quickness and power as a runner.  He did rush for 800 yards last year with a 5.4 average and five TDs and that with a bum shoulder.


12. Kyle Fuller - CB 6-0 193 Sr. Virginia Tech

One of my favorite players, Fuller was downgraded last year for lack of speed in getting beat deep while it was acknowledged that he was a good player otherwise. But he does have the speed, it was just that he was playing with groin and shoulder injuries last year.  Against Alabama he showed that he is a top corner with the ability to cover top receivers, short, intermediate and long and also being strong in run support.  Since he doesn't appear to be 193 pounds, I would like to see him on the right side so he doesn't have to take on those power sweeps, one of which got him temporarily knocked out of the game. 


13. Christion Jones - WR 5-11 185 Jr. Alabama

Substitute WR had three TDs against Virginia Tech, one via kick return, one via punt return and one on a deep pass reception.  I should have included him in my running receivers article.


14. Garry Gilliam - ROT 6-5 303 Jr. Redshirt Penn State

This is a developing story.  Recruited as a TE and played some TE thru 2012, he asked to switch to OT for 2013 as there was a deep TE group.  Listed at 277 in 2012 to 290 in spring 2013 where he ran an unbelievable forty time of 4.67, which would place him as the fastest OT in existence, but for another TE conversion to OT at Pitt (T.J. Clemmings), he is now listed at 303 and showed his speed in the Syracuse game by running down a Cuse DB who was headed for a TD.  He has an overall GPA of 3.18 and made the Dean's List, performed voluntary community service, worked hard in the winter program, and is the antithesis to Johnny Manziel.  Now in his 5th year at Penn State, he has even been granted an additional 6th year because of prior injuries but could declare if he does well.  I didn't get a chance to watch his OT play, but will soon and as I stated, this is a developing story.  Could he become the next Irv Pankey?



1. Jadeveon Clowney - DE 6-6 272 Jr. South Carolina

The athletic and football skills were on display just as advertised despite the criticism that he didn't have many tackles or any sacks.  His presence made North Carolina throw quickly to avoid his rush, BUT is there a stamina issue as he kept coming out of the game and took some plays off. It was a very hot night but reports were that he was in the best shape of his life and other players didn't come out as often as he did. Stomach virus?  I do not accept the notion that he is preserving himself for the NFL draft.  If memory serves me, I believe that there were times last year that he came out of games so I will leave it to some enterprising sleuth to obtain the number of plays that he participated in last year and compare it to the other DL starters and the overall number of plays that the team had.  If there is a stamina issue, he falls.


2. Kareem Martin - DE 6-5 260 Sr. North Carolina

Despite having a good statistical year in 2012, his performance versus South Carolina left something to be desired.  He has trouble getting off blocks, doesn't show any counter moves and didn't show a good motor.  Reports out of spring practice indicated an improvement in football skills but they were not evident in this game.


3. Tre Boston - FS 6-1 205 Sr. North Carolina

Last year's top tackler, the stat sheet for the South Carolina game showed three solos and five assists with no interceptions, passes broken up or forced fumbles.  Not awful and while he did come up and make a couple of sticks, he didn't show in the playmaking category and didn't stand out during the game.


4. Bryn Renner - QB 6-3 25 Sr. North Carolina

Renner has been a Riser during the off season and with any improvement over last year the expectation was that he could move into top five territory, but in the South Carolina game he didn't reveal any special qualities as his arm strength on short and intermediate throws and his running ability all seemed average.  The three Tar Heels mentioned herein all still have a chance to be Risers as this was only the first game.


5. Brendon Kay - QB 6-4 233 Sr. Redshirt Cincinnati

Benched in favor of Munchie Legaux, who had an outstanding game versus hapless Purdue, the TV broadcasters stated that Kay had a sore throwing shoulder while also stating that the new coaching staff had a preference for a read-option, slide-option and running QB as opposed to a drop-back QB.  Kay, however, did rush for a 6.4 average last year. If that coaching preference is the case however, then Kay made a mistake in coming back and should have declared for the draft after his MVP performance in the Belk Bowl and after Coach Butch Jones left. Casey Pachall is facing a similar situation at TCU.


6. Aaron Murray - QB 6-0 210 Sr. Georgia

While he made some good throws against Clemson, there were many that were off target, especially in the first half.  Throws were behind receivers or just off but he was saved on three or four occasions when his receivers made catches of poorly thrown balls.  Maybe Georgia could have won the game if he had made a couple of more completions but he can't be blamed for that bad snap and hold on the field goal try which cost them three points, which was the margin of loss in the game.


7. Cyrus Kouandjio - LOT 6-5 310 Jr. Alabama

Rated by some as the No. 1 OT in the college ranks, he and the Alabama offensive line had their struggles against Virginia Tech.  Kouandjio had trouble with speed rushers running the arc around the edge and was vulnerable to an inside move.


8. Jadeveon Clowney - him again

After the win against North Carolina, he stated, "I wasn't really impressed (meaning James Hurst) like I was against the guy from Michigan."  Firstly, he doesn't even know either of their names and secondly, the guy from Michigan is the one who got beat by Clowney on an inside move and hit on the Michigan RB that was considered the hit of the year and shown over and over again on TV and the internet.