As the action in Indianapolis begins to heat up, the National Football Post takes another look at some prospects that are on the rise. Here is the second installment of the NFP "Stock Watch" series looking at players whose stock has risen or fallen the past couple weeks.
Moving on up …
Tyronne Green, OG, Auburn (6-2, 305)
Like many of the draft-eligible prospects at Auburn this year, Green fell victim to the team's overall lack of performance more than his own effort. His strong interior line play at times was forgotten as the Tigers stumbled to a 5-7 record, and he was considered more of a late-round pick than a potential top-five prospect. After receiving an invitation to the Senior Bowl, however, Green didn't disappoint. He lacks ideal size for the guard position, but he possesses a dominant punch and consistently jars defenders on contact. He did a great job all week moving defensive linemen off the ball and showcases the lateral mobility to slide in pass protection. He's been steadily moving up draft boards since his strong performance in Mobile and now ranks among the top five guards on most boards. Green still needs to add some polish to his game, but he possesses intriguing upside and could hear his name called as early as the third round.
Jovan Belcher, OLB, Maine (6-2, 229)
After Belcher was selected All-Colonial Athletic Association at linebacker as a junior, the Maine coaching staff thought it was in the team's best interest to move him to defensive end last season. Belcher responded with a 7½ sacks and 17½ tackles for loss, good enough to garner him All-America honors. Then, at the Texas vs. the Nation Bowl, he had a fantastic week showcasing not only the ability to attack downhill but also the fluidity to flip his hips and play in space. He displayed the versatility to play both inside and outside linebacker positions and is becoming an intriguing option for 3-4 defenses. He lacks great size and speed but plays a lot faster than his times and consistently showcases an ability to get after the quarterback. He started the year way off the radar as a possible midweek free-agent signee, but now Belcher looks like a possible late-round pick who, worst-case scenario, will be signed soon after the draft.
Frank Summers, FB, UNLV (5-9, 243)
Frank "The Tank" Summers was consistently asked to carry the load at UNLV and use his thick frame and strong lower body to keep the offense in manageable down-and-distance situations. He finished the season with 740 rushing yards, but his lack of speed (4.65) caused scouts to dismiss him as a legit NFL running back. However, after a strong performance at the Texas vs. the Nation Bowl, team executives are starting to take notice of Summers as a potential fullback at the next level. He's a naturally gifted athlete with good footwork, body control and, most important, hands out of the backfield. Summers hauled in four catches for 55 yards and one touchdown in the Texas vs. the Nation game and displayed the type of versatility NFL teams are looking for at the position. He has the lower body strength and power to develop into a lead blocker and may just need some time to learn the position. After not getting much consideration as a running back, Summers is now quickly moving up draft boards and looks like a top-10 fullback prospect.
Free falling …
Mike Mickens, CB, Cincinnati (5-10, 176)
Mickens started the 2008 season ranked as one of the top five senior corners in this year's draft class. He was a freshman All-America and has been part of the All-Big East team every year since his sophomore season. However, after earning third-team All-America honors this season, Mickens began to see his stock fall. It started at the Senior Bowl, where he was measured at 5-10 and weighed 176 pounds, far short of his listed size of 6-0, 190 in the Cincinnati program. Then, during Senior Bowl practice, he was beaten routinely on Monday afternoon, struggling to turn and run down the field. He was dismissed Tuesday due to inflammation of the knee and was replaced on the roster. Mickens missed the Bearcats' final two games of the regular season after minor knee surgery and didn't look like himself in the team's bowl game or at the Senior Bowl practices. He seemed to lack any kind of burst out of his breaks and really struggled getting up to speed down the field. Mickens is a physical defender who likes to play with his hands on receivers on all levels of the field. But he lacks the athleticism to mirror NFL wideouts and needs to prove his knee injury will have no long-term effects.
Terrance Taylor, DT, Michigan (6-1, 314)
Taylor, who was considered the top-rated interior defensive lineman by National scouting agency at the start of the year, saw his stock plummet dramatically last season. Maybe it was the constant changing of defensive schemes at Michigan, or maybe it was the team's overall struggles. Either way, the effort Taylor gave on a play-to-play basis was inconsistent and uninspiring. He does possess impressive first-step quickness for his size and does a nice job holding the point of attack inside vs. the run. However, he struggles moving laterally and doesn't make many plays away from his frame. He lacks length and was exposed at the East West Shrine Game for his inability to shed blocks and be sudden on contact. There are always teams in need of a powerful, low-built lineman like Taylor who can clog up run lanes and eat up blockers. But he isn't anything more than a two-down defender and doesn't warrant much more than a mid- to late-round grade.
Matt Shaughnessy, DE, Wisconsin (6-5, 260)
Shaughnessy started the year as one of the nation's top five defensive end prospects and seemed on his way to a second-round grade. But after a lackluster senior season in which he recorded only four sacks, his stock is really starting to fall. He has been forced to deal with injuries throughout his career, and they might be starting to take a toll on his body. He possesses a slow first step and really struggles gaining any kind of advantage off the ball. He will never be able to reach the corner against NFL-caliber tackles and relies too much on his technique and hand placement than overall athleticism. He's a good straight-line athlete who works well down the line. However, he struggles breaking down in space, and scouts have serious doubts about his ability to make the transition to OLB in a 3-4. So, lacking a first step off the ball, Shaughnessy doesn't warrant more than a fifth-round pick at this stage.
The National Football Post (www.nationalfootballpost.com) is a unique and premiere online source of quality and credible news, information and insight about all sides of football featuring professionals with experience in all facets of the NFL.