As the home stretch towards the bowl season continues several marquee names among the class of the 2014 NFL draft needed to ensure quality games to boost their stock. Which players succeeded, and which failed?
A.J. McCarron – QB – Alabama – Stock: Up
Another obstacle up, and another one down. Every time the Alabama Crimson Tide face a stiff challenge on the road to their third-straight BCS title, it seems like quarterback A.J. McCarron is the one answering the call. He never does it flashy, but he does it convincingly. In a high-profile matchup against bitter rival LSU, McCarron took decisive control of the contest by calmly directing Alabama to 21 unanswered points in the second that extended a 17-14 lead to 38-17. He finished the night with three touchdown passes and completing 14-of-20 attempts. Is it because he has the best team, or is he starting to prove he’s one of the best quarterbacks?
Stephon Tuitt – DE – Notre Dame – Stock: Down
The one thing that couldn’t be afforded was a letdown. Unfortunately that is exactly what Notre Dame got from their defense against Pittsburgh. Not only did they play dumb football by allowing two touchdown drives to continue with penalties, they also failed to pounce on a critical fumble that could’ve helped ice the game. At the heart of the disappointment is defensive end Stephon Tuitt. Lauded for his ability to use his amazing size to both stop the run and rush the passer, he was a virtual non-factor against the Panthers. He finished the night with just one tackle. On top of that, he was ejected from the game for a targeting penalty on PITT QB Tom Savage. It was a questionable call, but pretty much fit with how bad his night was.
Kyle Van Noy – OLB – BYU – Stock: Up
He couldn’t save his team in a game against Wisconsin but BYU outside linebacker Kyle Van Noy did give his 2014 NFL draft stock a big boost in the loss. Not only did he finish the game with eight tackles, he also added his second interception of the season. That goes along with his five other pass deflections and three sacks too. Van Noy is not a pure pass rusher but he’s continuing to prove himself a versatile player who can do everything well. If he can somehow improve his ability to get after the quarterback he might become a serious contender for the top 15.
Taylor Lewan – OT – Michigan – Stock: Down
Rising tide lifts all boats as they say. Well the low tide does the same thing. After starting the season hot offensively, the Wolverines have hit a dead zone in their schedule. After an ugly game against MichiganState that saw them score six points, they followed it up with 13 against Nebraska. Taylor Lewan isn’t responsible for all those problems but he can’t hide from them. The big left tackle is chained to the fate of his offense, and their struggles aren’t doing any favors to his stock. On top of that he narrowly avoided suspension after twisting the facemask of a MichiganState player a week ago.
Marqise Lee – WR – USC – Stock: Up
As Sammy Watkins and Mike Evans continued to collect yards, touchdowns and attention from scouts, Marqise Lee became a forgotten man among the 2014 NFL draft top wide receivers. Despite a still nagging knee injury he returned against OregonState and cut them up for 105 yards and a touchdown. Even not being at full strength hasn’t stopped him from making an impact. Pro teams will take that into account once he has adequate time to heal. That and the ongoing inconsistency at quarterback the Trojans have dealt with since Matt Barkley left.