With the college football regular season nearing an end it’s time to look back and see whose stock has improved the most over the course of the year. Now this isn’t a list for guys who were thought to be late first rounders and then elevated themselves up, but more of guys who were off the radar and now are in the position to go high.
Mitch Trubisky QB North Carolina
This summer it was all about Dashaun Watson and Brad Kaaya as the top of the quarterback class but it’s Trubiksy who’s the hottest name of any draft eligible quarterback. While he dazzled here and there in very limited action during 2015 nobody thought he’d rise to a potential top 10 pick. Despite playing in an “Air Raid” style scheme he’s much more than system quarterback. Trubisky shows the ability to scan the field and even manipulate defensive backs with his eyes. Trubisky has arm to make all the throws and can drive the ball when he needs to, however it’s his accuracy that stands out the most. Trubisky throws a very catchable ball, can throw with anticipation and has the ability to put it where only the receiver can catch it. If there is a knock on him it’s the fact that he is only a one year starter and quarterbacks who have come into the NFL with only a year under their belt have struggled.
D’Onta Foreman RB Texas
Despite the struggles Texas has had this year it’s not because of Foreman whose rushed for 1,863 yards which leads the nation. And I would be hard pressed to find a single person outside of Texas that really knew about Foreman. While Foreman doesn’t have elite homerun speed he has a good burst and his decisiveness allows him to get up field and then run with power. While he’s getting some Stephen Jackson comparisons he reminds me much more of the Bears Jonathan Howard who’s a smooth powerful runner who may not have many 50 yard runs but he is going to move the chains running tough and he’ll have plenty of 20 yard plus runs.
DeDe Westbrook WR Oklahoma
While everyone on this list have really improved their stock nobody has done it more than Westbrook. This summer Westbrook to me didn’t look like anything more than a developmental prospect who would be a special teamer at best. However, this year in the absence of Sterling Shepherd it’s been Westbrook who has done more than pick up the slack. Westbrook has emerged as an elite deep threat. But Westbrook has evolved from being a fast guy to a fast guy who has developed into a better route runner who can set up his routes to provide explosive plays downfield. And while Westbrook is small at 6’0 170 he can go up and win balls in traffic which makes him all the more likely to have success in the NFL. While I see him closer to being a 4th round pick Westbrook could easily go in the third round to a team needing someone to stretch the field.
Ryan Ramczyk OT Wisconsin
If you haven’t heard about Ramczyk’s journey to Wisconsin it’s very interesting as he committed to Chyrst at Pitt then almost quit football before playing DIII ball and then walking onto the Badgers team. In his first year starting in the FBS he’s developed into the top offensive tackle in this showing the ability to move defender sin the run game and have the lateral agility to shut down defensive ends in pass protection. While Ramczyk isn’t a complete prospect and could easily stay for his senior year but in a weak tackle class he could easily be the bell of the ball.
Ejuan Price DE Pittsburgh
In a class that is absolutely loaded at defensive end it’s going to be hard for lesser known players to stand out. Unless you wear biker shorts instead of pants and are lightning quick off the line. But when you are only 6’0 255lbs as a defensive end you need something to help you out and that quickness and acceleration really make it difficult for tackles to get their hands on Price to shut him down. Price reminds me a lot of Elvis Dummervil who was dominate for the Broncos despite his small stature and Price could follow a similar path. He isn’t going to get drafted high and likely goes in the late second or early third rounds and should thrive as a pass rushing specialist in any scheme.
Quincy Wilson CB Florida
All summer long the attention was to Wilson’s teammate Jalen Tabor and how he is going to be the first round pick and could be even better than Vernon Hargreaves. How about that? Instead Tabor has fallen back and its Wilson who has emerged as the first round possibility. In a league that loves big physical corners they are going to go nuts for Wilson. Wilson is your typical press corner who uses his size to bully receivers at the line and then can turn and run from the trail position. However, Wilson is much more than that because he does show some nice quickness that he uses to close the gap and play the ball. While Wilson isn’t going to be a fit for every scheme the teams that run that Seattle style Cover 3 scheme will covet Wilson very much.
Nathan Gerry S Nebraska
Entering his third year as a starter it looked like Gerry was going to be a late round strong safety whose ceiling would be special teams ace who has a role in a sub package run defender. But as the Huskers have come back into the national landscape it’s been the play of Gerry that has helped the defense become a top unit in the Big 12. Gerry’s emergence hasn’t gone unnoticed as he’s been ranked as one of the best safeties according to Pro Football Focus and even a borderline top 32 player according to their service. Gerry was always a solid run defender but he’s upped his game giving the Huskers someone to fly up and fill holes to prevent the run game while also showing he can play back in coverage and even match up with tight ends more consistently. Not to mention that the showed he can play back in coverage two years ago as a half field safety. Gerry might be able to slip into the third round, but even being taken in the fourth round is a huge improvement where we thought he’d go.