NFL draft stock watch
The National Football Post takes a look at some of the fastest rising and falling prospects in our latest edition of stock watch:
Moving on up
Morgan Burnett, FS, Georgia Tech (6-2, 209)
It’s been Taylor Mays and Eric Berry who have stolen most of the headlines in recent weeks at the free safety position. However, Georgia Tech’s Morgan Burnett has had one heck of a postseason and now looks like he could possibly make a push at the back end of the first round. Burnett is a tall, well-built kid who possesses impressive instincts, body control and closing speed in the back half, and besides Berry, he looks to be the draft’s top all-around safety prospect. There are some concerns about his tackling ability in the open field, but he definitely has the frame and athletic ability to improve in that area. In my view, Burnett grades out as a potential impact-caliber defensive back in the NFL.
Deji Karim, RB, Southern Illinois (5-9, 209)
Production has never been an issue for Deji Karim, who ran for 1,694 yards and 18 touchdowns last season, averaging more than 7.0 yards per carry. However, it was at his pro day, where he showed he has legit 4.4 speed, that he proved the big plays he produced on a weekly basis weren’t the result of playing at a small school. Pair that with his thick lower half and compact 5-9, 209-pound frame and you have one of the more intriguing backs in this year’s draft. It was only a couple of years ago that 5-9 was considered too short for the running back position, but with the successes of Ray Rice and Maurice Jones-Drew, running backs with shorter, more compact frames can actually be tougher to bring down and wrap up than some conventional bigger backs. Either way, Karim has the burst and acceleration to create in the open field with the power and body control to break tackles inside. He’s one prospect who has really seen a spike in his stock in recent weeks.
John Skelton, QB, Fordham (6-6, 243)
Physically, John Skelton has it all: He’s a tall, well-built prospect with a cannon for an arm and the ability to make any throw with ease at the next level. Plus, he’s a better athlete than given credit for and displays the coordination to maintain his balance when asked to make throws outside the pocket. However, the big question surrounding his game is his work ethic and willingness to put in the time to be great. Here’s my take on that: At Fordham, Skelton was so talented compared to everyone else that he didn’t need to put in the work to be successful; he was simply able to get by on his physical skill set. Does that mean he has a bad work ethic? No, it just means he was never asked to work particularly hard. He does need some time and development in order to ready himself for the next level – like any college quarterback -- however, after Jimmy Clausen and Sam Bradford come off the board, I wouldn’t have any problem selecting Skelton as the draft’s third quarterback prospect.
Donovan Warren, DB, Michigan (6-0, 193)
What positives can you take from any of Donovan Warren’s postseason performances? Not only did he run his 40 in the low 4.6 range at the NFL Combine, but his 10-yard split time of 1.67 was one of the worst numbers recorded at his position. Pair that with his high back-pedal, stiff hips and sloppy footwork during position drills and there’s no way NFL coaches could feel confident playing this guy on the outside vs. NFL-caliber receivers. I’ve heard rumblings that Warren might get moved to free safety, but he doesn’t seem to have the toughness in my opinion to attack the line of scrimmage down after down and tackle inside the box. Either way, I think Warren made a huge mistake deciding to come out early and doesn’t look capable of developing into a starter at either corner or free safety any time soon in the NFL.
George Selvie, OLB/DE, South Florida (6-5, 252)
You can get away with being a one-trick pony in college, but in the NFL, you have to be able to reach the quarterback in a variety of ways off the edge. For the past three seasons, I saw nothing other than a pure speed-rush from George Selvie’s game. When his 40 time of 4.93 seconds came out at the combine, some talent evaluators began to wonder just how explosive this guy really is off the edge. Plus, his 1.67 10-yard split was nothing to write home about. Now this once productive pass-rushing demon looks like nothing more than a possible mid-round pick who’s simply too small to play as an every-down DE and might even lack the range needed to hold up as a 3-4 OLB.
Brandon Spikes, ILB, Florida (6-3, 249)
You can look at Spikes’ workout any way you want given his health and/or the injuries he may have dealt with. However, my take is this: Numbers don’t, and Spikes’ 5.05 40 time is an absolute disaster to his draft stock at this stage. After he ran, I went back through all my times since the 2000 draft – they aren’t official so don’t hold me to this -- but I couldn’t find one inside linebacker drafted during that span who ran his 40 in over 5.0 seconds. I’m not saying Spikes won’t be drafted; I’m just saying that the idea of him being a potential second/third-round pick looks more like wishful thinking at this point. As I’ve said before, based off tape alone, I gave Spikes a potential starting-caliber grade and thought he had the ability to come in and win a starting job early in his NFL career. However, as much as we try to overlook times and stick to the tape, some numbers are too much too overcome -- and that 5.05 time might be one of them.
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