A number of big names had lots to prove heading towards the 2014 NFL draft. Where does their stock stand through the bowl season?
Jadeveon Clowney – DE – South Carolina – Stock: Down
The standout defensive end can’t seem to buy a break, or in this case breaks. For the second time this season the junior was pulled over for speeding, making it another in long line of problems Jadeveon Clowney can’t seem to shake as he tries to move on from a disappointing year. Teams already worry about his committment to the game, not to mention his injury problems. On top of that now is a rather dubious reputation for making dumb judgment calls off the field. Obvious elite talent aside, nobody can survive forever in the draft world if he keeps making mistakes.
Rakeem Cato – QB – Marshall – Stock: Up
Among the quarterbacks of the 2014 NFL draft class, Rakeem Cato is rarely mentioned. One might understand why. Not only is he undersized at 6’0″, he is not very fleet of foot either. That usually cools interest from pro teams. The only saving grace is often performance on the field, and Cato has done that all season. He possesses a very good arm and the ability to deliver passes on time and with accuracy. Poise in the pocket is one of his strengths, which was on display in the Military Bowl against Maryland. Cato finished the game with 337 yards and three touchdown passes, the final one coming with under four minutes left to seal the game.
Sean Mannion – QB – Oregon State – Stock: Down
Conversely, winning a game doesn’t always guarantee a stock rise for a player. OregonState handily defeated BoiseState in the Hawaii Bowl, but they did it despite a somewhat uneven game from quarterback Sean Mannion. Once a hot riser during the 2013 campaign, the junior began to cool off late, putting up some ugly outings. A strong bowl performance might’ve given him a needed boost. Instead he posted a pedestrian 259 yards with touchdown and interception on the day. Most of the help came from two fumble returns for touchdowns by the defense. Mannion isn’t on the radar for a high draft choice, so there is a chance he might return for a senior season.
Marqise Lee – WR – USC – Stock: Up
An injury stalled his 2014 NFL draft prospects for awhile but Marqise Lee was viewed to be too good to stay down for long. He didn’t disappoint. After a solid outing against Stanford, he saved his best game for last by roughing up FresnoState for 118 yards and two touchdowns. Everything from his speed to his agility and advanced route running were on display in the runaway victory for USC. Lee is a clear cut first rounder. The question ahead is how far he can rise once fully healthy and prepared for the pre-draft process to come. Given his passion and work ethic, there is a chance it might go straight to the top.
Khalil Mack – OLB – Buffalo – Stock: Down
As a singular talent Khalil Mack is a first round choice. Unfortunately his stock is at the mercy of the team he plays for. It doesn’t reflect well on him when that team is cut to ribbons defensively. That is precisely what happened to Buffalo. San DiegoState rolled up 440 yards of offense including over 230 on the ground with three touchdowns. Mack sat right in the middle of that mess, collecting just six tackle and no impact plays that have marked most of the season for him. The loss doesn’t kill his standing among scouts, but the limited showing in a pressure game was certainly eye-opening.