2014 NFL Draft Risers and Fallers - Week 8 Football

Missouri College Football Michael Sam



We have had Blowout Saturday, Showdown Saturday, Tailgate Saturday and Shakeup Saturday and now we hit what usually occurs once a year and that is UPSET SATURDAY.  Upset Saturday was provided in Week 8 with No. 4 Clemson, No. 6 Louisville, No. 7 Texas A&M, No. 8 LSU, No. 9 South Carolina, No. 10 UCLA and No. 16 Georgia from the Coaches Poll, all losing.  But no matter the outcomes of the games, there are always interesting developments in the performances of the players and hence we have Risers and Fallers in the eyes of NFL scouts.



1.  Michael Sam – DE, 6-2, 255, Sr. - Missouri

Here is a classic case of a player going from relative obscurity to possible All-American and possible high round draft choice status.  Four pre-season college football magazines all had their pre-season All-Conference Teams, with one magazine predicting a 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th All-SEC Team, another predicted 1st, 2nd and 3rd Teams, another had 1st and 2nd and the fourth magazine just had a 1st Team and Michael Sam is not mentioned anywhere.  One magazine's write-up on Missouri's defense states, "It's hard to imagine a unit that ranked 10th in the SEC getting much better now that All-SEC lineman Sheldon Richardson left early for the NFL.”  Well, now that Michael Sam has registered his 3rd three sack game and been All-SEC Defensive Lineman of the Week twice, with a possible third time for Saturday's performance against Florida, he and his fellow DE's, Kony Ealy, along with alternates Shane Ray and Markus Golden, have been raising havoc with opponent's offenses and has Missouri's defense ranked up among the leaders.  Sam has more than just an explosive speed rush around the edge as he also makes plays against the run, many times by giving up his body to get in on the play.  He is the most disruptive of the group.  Smallish for DE by NFL standards, he may be considered for a switch to outside linebacker, but DE cannot be ruled out as there have been others of similar size who have excelled in the NFL such as: Elvis Dumervil, Osi Umenyiora, Dwight Freeney and Cliff Avril among others.


2.  Eric Ebron – TE, 6-4, 245, Jr. - North Carolina

Already rated a first or second round talent, Ebron’s performance against Miami should cement his status as a solid first rounder.  While Miami did hold him to two receptions in the second half, one of which was a spectacular one-handed grab while reaching behind for a poorly thrown ball, his exceptional athleticism for the position stood out.  This limitation in the second half was after a record setting receiving performance for a TE in the first half and had Miami's defense treat him as their No. 1 priority as he is a weapon to be accounted for.  Decent size, excellent speed for a TE, good hands, a natural catcher of the ball and his athleticism are Ebron’s strong points and with the other two highly rated TE's having some off the field concerns, Ebron could be the first TE drafted.


3.  Carlos Hyde – RB, 6-0, 242, Sr. - Ohio State

Having been given credit for taking over the Northwestern game and then Saturday's game against Iowa, Hyde didn't quite do it all by himself but he was a major factor in both games to keep the Buckeyes undefeated streak going.  He can pound it inside and has the speed to turn the corner on the outside and is a load to bring down.  He can also catch and block.  Hyde is surely rising up draft boards after sitting out a suspension and could become the No. 1 RB if NFL teams are satisfied that his troubles are behind him.


4.  Storm Johnson – RB, 6-1, 217, Jr. - UCF

Johnson, more than QB Blake Bortles, may have been the star of the UCF upset of No. 6 Louisville and dashed the Cardinals dreams of playing for the national championship.  Johnson is a big, strong, fast runner who can go inside and outside and has the moves to evade defenders and is also a threat as a receiver out of the backfield.  His backup, freshman RB William Stanback, is a name for the future.


5.  Calvin Pryor - Free Safety, 6-2, 210, Jr. - Louisville

Pryor plays free safety but plays more like a strong safety as he made some big hits against UCF and also made a tremendous interception in the end zone.  While Louisville's defense couldn't get it done against UCF, Pryor has shown the size and aggressiveness that may be more suited to strong safety with free safety still an option.



1.  Stephen Morris – QB, 6-2, 214, Sr. – Miami and Bryn Renner – QB, 6 -3, 225, Redshirt Sr. - North Carolina

While both Morris and Renner made some good throws in last Thursday night’s game against each other, they each made some poor throws with Morris having four interceptions and Renner tossing an interception on a throw that he never should have made and which allowed Miami to come back and win the game.  Both are experienced players but still are making bad decisions and making some questionable throws while under pressure or off balance.  At this point in their careers they should be better and this will make NFL teams question their maturity.


2.  Zach Mettenberger – QB, 6-5, 230, Sr. - LSU

After showing much progress and being praised for his improvement this year, Mettenberger had a rough day in a loss against Mississippi by throwing three interceptions and underthrowing what could have been a TD pass.  His receivers were being covered high and low and he didn't pick up on that and tried to force his throws into double coverage.  It was stated that he would have been better off taking shorter gains and throwing underneath that coverage; or maybe just resorting to the running game more.  QB Brett Hundley of UCLA and QB Tajh Boyd of Clemson also took serious hits to their ratings as a result of Saturday’s games.


3.  Bradley Roby – CB, 5-11, 192, Jr. - Ohio State

Roby was thrown out of the Iowa game in the first quarter for launching a helmet to helmet hit on a defenseless player.  This was just after he did the same thing to a ball carrier along the sidelines, which wasn't called. He is a headhunter but the game is supposed to be a sporting event and wasn't meant to be played with an attempt to maim the other player.



1.  Teddy Bridgewater and Blake Bortles - While both played well in their head to head competition and both exhibited poise under pressure and didn't make glaring mistakes, many of their passes were of the shorter variety and neither made a case as a Riser or Faller but just stayed in place, although Bortles will get credit for engineering the winning drive.


2.  A.J. McCarron - QB of Alabama just keeps rolling along without much fanfare but is putting up quality performances.


3.  C.J. Fiedorowicz - TE from Iowa showed that he is an NFL type player in the Hawkeyes loss to Ohio State.  In addition to his obvious size, he can block and catch and is fluid in his movements and only lacks top end speed to be considered an elite prospect.


4.  James Hurst - LOT from North Carolina played very well in the loss to Miami as he is a very strong run blocker and solid in pass blocking if the rusher takes him on directly. But I believe that he will have a problem with a fast edge rusher such as Vic Beasley of Clemson or Michael Sam of Missouri.  He could be tried at ROT or moved to guard which may be a better position for him to take advantage of his strong run blocking.


5.  Jeremy Gallon - WR of Michigan had a record setting day in receiving in the win against Indiana and while Tavon Austin, also 5-8, was drafted high in the first round of the 2013 NFL draft, 5-8 receivers are not the norm.


6.  Kelvin Benjamin - 6-5, 242, WR, Redshirt Sophomore from Florida State is really coming on as a matchup nightmare for smaller defensive backs.  He is a speedier WR version of TE Rob Gronkowski of the New England Patriots.


7.  Stephon Tuitt, Zach Martin, T.J. Jones, Davaris Daniels, Troy Niklas and Prince Shembo, all of Notre Dame, showed continued improvement and development in the victory against USC and have elevated their status in the eyes of scouts.


8.  Marcus Mariota - After Week 8 is considered the front runner for the Heisman Trophy but I think that redshirt freshman QB Jameis Winston of Florida State should at least be a co-leader after his performance against No. 4 Clemson.


9.  Wake Forest - If you haven't seen the play of 5-11, 260, NG Nikita Whitlock and 5-11, 195, WR Michael Campanaro, you are missing out on some exciting football. QB Tanner Price could be also included as he had TDs passing, running and receiving (from Campanaro) against Maryland.  WR Campanaro is the closest thing to slot receivers Wes Welker and Danny Amendola that you will find.


10.  The offensive lines of Missouri and University of Central Florida may not have any All-American or high draft choice types, but both are performing very well and seem to be cases of the whole being better than the sum of their parts.  Reportedly, Louisville had 14 sacks against Rutgers the week before playing UCF, yet UCF did a good job in their upset victory.


11.  Missouri is one of the surprise teams of 2013 and is now 7-0 after beating Georgia and this after losing star QB James Franklin to an injury.  They are now ranked No. 7 in the most recent Coaches Poll and this improvement can be traced to the resurgence in the play of QB James Franklin, prior to his injury, the play of the offensive line (see 10 above), the play of RB Henry Josey, who must be the quickest RB in the country to and thru the hole; the play of the tallest WR group in the nation with the likes of 6-6 Dorial Green-Beckhma, 6-5 Marcus Lucas, 6-4 L'Damian Washington, 6-4 Jaleel Clark, 6-3 Darius White, 6-2 Bud Sasser and 6-1 Jimmie Hunt; and the unexpected play of the defense spearheaded by the DE's, Michael Sam, Kony Ealy and alternates Shane Ray and Markus Golden, who put unrelenting pressure on offenses.