||03-15-2005 03:55 PM
Kiper's risers and fallers in the draft
Arrington's stock up; Orton's star fading
By Mel Kiper Jr., ESPN Insider
Mel Kiper Archive
The NFL draft is just weeks away, and plenty of players are moving up and down the draft board thanks to their performances at the NFL combine and during individual workouts.
California running back J.J. Arrington is on his way up thanks to his strength and ability to break the long run. Couple that with the fact he can catch the ball out of the backfield and Arrington reminds me of current Philadelphia Eagles running back Brian Westbrook. Arrington put up 2,000 yards as a senior and had a great workout, and while he is below the top tier among this year's backs, he is a strong third-round possibility.
On the other side of things, Purdue quarterback Kyle Orton is sliding down the board after showing a lack of mobility and just a 26ÃƒÂ‚Ã‚Â½-inch vertical jump. He has good size and was extremely productive in Joe Tiller's wide-open offense thanks to his accuracy, but Orton has a long delivery and the quarterbacks ahead of him on the board showed much better athleticism. He now looks like the fifth-rated passer in the draft and a third-round choice.
Here are a few more players whose stock is rising or falling as draft day approaches:
On the rise
David Baas has a lot of experience against big-time competition.David Baas, C, Michigan -- Played guard for three years before moving to center last season, and at 6-4ÃƒÂ‚Ã‚Â½, 320 pounds he has great strength and showed more athleticism than previously thought during his workouts. Now a solid second-round choice after dropping a bit late in the college season.
Khalif Barnes, T, Washington -- Has been considered a borderline first-rounder, but finding a 6-5, 305-pounder with his combination of strength and athletic ability who played against major-college competition is rare. He was super-impressive during Senior Bowl week against some of the best pass rushers in this draft and could ultimately end up coming off the board in the top 20-25 picks.
Luis Castillo, DT, Northwestern -- A hustler with a great motor who was one of the most underrated players in the Big Ten. He weighs in at 303 pounds, put up 32 bench-press reps at the combine, ran the 40 in 4.8 and had a 34ÃƒÂ‚Ã‚Â½-inch vertical jump. Combine those numbers with his intensity and production and you have the makings of a second-round choice.
Marlin Jackson, CB, Michigan -- Played both corner and safety in college, and there was some question about whether he could be a true corner at the pro level, but after an excellent workout during which he ran in the 4.5 range, Jackson is solidly in the first round, maybe even a mid-first-rounder. He is an excellent athlete who is very technically sound and has fluid hip movements.
Evan Mathis, G, Alabama -- Checks in at 6-5ÃƒÂ‚Ã‚Â¼, 305 and is one of the stronger linemen in the draft with his 35 reps on the bench. And with 40 times in the 4.9 range, Mathis is one of the fastest 300-pounders you'll ever find. His best football is ahead of him, and the fact that he could also play center could have him off the board in the second round.
Darrell Shropshire, DT, South Carolina -- A 300-pounder with good strength and great overall athletic ability, Shropshire put together a nice senior year and has moved into position to come off the board late on Day 1 after his impressive workouts.
Scott Starks, CB, Wisconsin -- Not imposing at 5-8ÃƒÂ‚Ã‚Â½, 172, but his 40 time is under 4.4 and he has a 43-inch vertical jump. Starks was a consistent performer for the Badgers and played in a lot of big games during his career against big-time receivers, and with his speed, athleticism and solid technique he would make an ideal nickelback at the NFL level. Would make a lot of sense in the third round.
Will Svitek, DE/OT, Stanford -- A defensive end in college who is up to 300 pounds and has good athletic ability, Svitek could make the adjustment to offensive tackle thanks to his overall ability. If a team is willing to coach him up and be patient, he would make a lot of sense in the sixth or seventh round.
Stanley Wilson, CB, Stanford -- Played against plenty of passing teams in the Pac-10 and has good size at 5-11ÃƒÂ‚Ã‚Â½, 185. He also has great speed -- in the 4.37 range -- with a 39ÃƒÂ‚Ã‚Â½-inch vertical jump. Athletically gifted but needs to become a little more aggressive and take the chances he can afford to with his speed. Still, Wilson's 40 time has helped immensely and he is now a second-round possibility.
Jonathan Welsh, DE/OLB, Wisconsin -- Good upper body strength, 40 times in the 4.58-4.60 range and a 40ÃƒÂ‚Ã‚Â½-inch vertical make Welsh one of the most athletic end/linebacker combos in the draft. He checks in at 6-3ÃƒÂ‚Ã‚Â¼, 245 and could be very intriguing in the third round for a team that plays a 3-4 defense.
Scott Young, G, BYU -- A 312-pounder who ripped off 43 reps at the combine while running in the 5.05 range. He did not dominate in college the way his numbers would indicate, but any player who posts numbers like Young's will get consideration early on Day 2 based on that alone.
On a slide
Nehemiah Boughton, RB, The Citadel -- Has imposing size at 250 pounds and also has good strength, but his speed is a question, as is his ability to catch the ball out of the backfield.
Jamaal Brimmer, S, UNLV -- A very good tackler who had an excellent overall career for the Running Rebels, but his speed is a big question. He ran in the 4.8 range at the combine, which is unacceptable even for a 6-1ÃƒÂ‚Ã‚Â½, 216-pounder. That hurts his stock, and Brimmer needs to show he can match up in coverage.
Brandon Browner might not be smiling much on draft day.Brandon Browner (jr.), CB, Oregon State -- Has excellent size at 6-3ÃƒÂ‚Ã‚Â½, 220, something that made Browner a possible late first-rounder early in the process, but his recovery speed is in question because of 40 times in the 4.6 range. With the NFL's emphasis on limiting physical play in pass coverage, speed is more important than ever, and Browner's times have pushed him out of the late-first-/early-second-round area.
Adell Duckett, DE, Texas Tech -- Racked up a lot of sacks and tackles for loss with the Red Raiders but lacks closing speed. Ran only in the 4.95 range and needs to get stronger or he will have problems in the NFL.
Charles Frederick, WR, Washington -- Had a great junior year but was derailed by a hamstring injury as a senior. He is a solid player, but his 40 time was only in the 4.7 range at the combine and his vertical was only 33 inches, creating some doubt in the minds of pro scouts.
Anttaj Hawthorne, DT, Wisconsin -- Is a 320-pounder but lacks impressive strength and does not have great speed. He does not test out as a great athlete but was a very solid player in college, a guy who could stuff the run and collapse the pocket. Should be a good pro but is sliding out of the first round because of his lack of eye-popping athletic skills.
T.A. McLendon, RB, NC State -- Had a nice three-year career with the Wolfpack but needs to answer the durability question after knee, wrist and other various injuries kept him out of the lineup at times. He is strong and athletic but needs a better 40 time, raising the possibility that he will get lost in the shuffle of a very deep group of backs.
Lance Mitchell, LB, Oklahoma -- Is a 247-pounder but needs to get a little stronger and show better speed. His production and consistency were lacking in 2004, and a mediocre workout is pushing him closer and closer to Day 2
Baas and move LeCharles back to guard? Move down for Barnes? Castillo in the second? Jackson in the second? No Hawthorne.
[Edited on 15/3/2005 by saintswhodi]