It's time for our weekly look at which NFL draft prospect's stock is rising, and who's stock is falling.
The biggest winner had to be Oklahoma State cornerback Justin Gilbert. He recorded the fastest time of any DB in the 40-yard dash (4.37 seconds) while also showing explosiveness with a 35.5-inch vertical and 10-foot-6 broad jump. He looked fluid in his on-the-filed drills and moved very well with his 6-foot, 202-pound frame.
The NFL is looking for bigger cornerbacks now like Richard Sherman (6-foot-3), Charles Tillman (6-foot-2), Aqib Talib (6-foot-1) and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (6-foot-2) to cover the Calvin Johnsons, Alshon Jefferys and Brandon Marshalls of the world. Gilbert fits the bill. He entered the combine in a battle with Darquez Dennard as the draft's best cornerback, and Gilbert's combine performance enforced that belief.
It also helped that Dennard posted a 4.51 40, which isn't great for a 5-foot-11 corner. Dennard also looked tight in the drills and didn't move as fluidly as Gilbert. Needless to say, look for Gilbert to be the first corner drafted this year.
Ohio State cornerback Bradley Roby was projected as the draft's best cornerback entering the year, but struggled throughout the year and was routinely beat for big plays.He was also suspended for the first game this season after he was involved in a bar incident in July.
Roby has elite speed and great ball-skills. His eight picks and 32 pass breakups in three seasons showed that, but he needed to have a god combine to remind people of the elite cornerback he was in 2012, and not the subpar one we saw in 2013.
"This kid Bradley Roby from Ohio State, he’s got some really good tape and some really bad tape," draft analyst Mike Mayock said at the combine. "The tape against Wisconsin, [wide receiver Jared] Abbrederis caught 10 for 207 yards on him, and I’m telling you it wasn’t just on zone matchups. He matched him all game in man, and Abbrederis ate him alive, so he needs to run well."
At the combine, Roby's 4.39 40-yard dash ranked fourth among the defensive backs and was the seventh-fastest 40 time turned in by any player in Indy. He did well in
Missouri defensive end Michael Sam entered the combine with much of the spotlight on him for reasons
He also looked stiff in positional drills and didn't seem confident in his ability. Sam was noticeably "tense" during most of his drills and even had a false start on his 40-yard dash, in which he only recorded a 4.91.
As an undersized defensive end, Sam needed to do better than he did to show he was athletic enough to possibly become a 3-4 outside linebacker in the NFL, as his 6-foot-2, 262-pound frame would prevent him from ever being a full-time end.
It looks as though Sam will be merely a situational pass-rusher in the NFL for the first few years of his career. Whether he's given enough time to develop into something more remains to be seen. Same needs to get used to being a solid special teams player if he wants to last in the NFL.
Alabama offensive tackle Cyrus Kouandjio, a 6-foot-5, 322-pound mammoth in the mold of Andre Smith, was named a Walter Camp All-American selection after a great 2013 season and was projected to be one of the draft's top offensive lineman. He many not ever go in the first round now after failing several team physicals and performed poorly during the combine while looking noticeably out of shape.
He entered the weekend as a likely top 25 pick in the draft, and he left it as a Day 2 pick if his knee checks out before the draft and he performs better at his Pro Day.
The same goes for Tennessee offensive tackle Antonio Richardson. He to failed several team physicals as the result of a previous knee surgery while looking out of shape and unprepared for the combine. Richardson was also a potential first-round pick, but not after this weekend, and he needs a good Pro Day just to keep from falling out of Day 2 of the draft.