The Orange and Cotton Bowl games lived up to the hype in every way. How did things play out for the numerous prospects expected to go in the 2014 NFL draft?
Tajh Boyd – QB – Clemson – Stock: Down
How can a guy see his stock drop after accounting for five touchdowns in a game and winning the Orange Bowl Simple really. Anybody who watched the game saw exactly the same thing. With a chance to ice the contest late, Tajh Boyd threw an inexplicable interception that gave the Buckeyes a chance to go down and win. If not for his defense, Boyd would’ve been the goat of the game. It is a another moment to question his decision-making.
Sammy Watkins – WR – Clemson – Stock: Up
One thing not in question is Sammy Watkins being the best receiver in 2014 class. Despite a gimpy knee, he gashed OSU for over 220 yards on 16 catches with two touchdowns. His speed and leaping ability were on display all night, as was his toughness.
Vic Beasley – DE – Clemson – Stock: Down
Of all the defenders expected to step up, Vic Beasley would’ve been the one. He did end up with a sack on the night but it was the playmaking of teammates Spencer Shuey and Stephone Anthony that got the Tigers the win. Beasley has to show he can be more than the occasional rusher if he wants first round consideration.
Braxton Miller – QB – Ohio State – Stock: Down
No one will ever fault Braxton Miller for being soft. He took an absolute beating in the Orange Bowl from Clemson but kept fighting back, keeping his team in it. Unfortunately two bad interceptions tarnished an otherwise heroic performance. He has to learn to pass the ball better, or he has no future as a quarterback in the pros.
Ryan Shazier – OLB – Ohio State – Stock: Up
Speed is widely coveted in the pros and once again Buckeyes linebacker Ryan Shazier put his on display against the Tigers. He finished the night with nine tackles and did what he could to help stop Boyd. There was little backup from his teammates, but Shazier has solidified his standing as a first round talent.
E.J. Gaines – CB – Missouri – Stock: Up
In a cornerback class that is already deep, another young prospect is rising up boards fast. Missouri corner E.J. Gaines doesn’t get many points for size but he showcased his speed, long frame and instincts against OklahomaState, picking off a pass, deflecting another and making seven tackles.
Kony Ealy – DE – Missouri – Stock: Up
Much of his success though came courtesy of a dynamite pass rush. Leading the way was the ever increasingly popular Kony Ealy, who harassed OklahomaState quarterback Clint Chelf frequently and sacked him twice. He also made six tackles and deflected a pass, showing his versatility.
Justin Gilbert – CB – Oklahoma State – Stock: Up
His 2014 NFL Draft stock cooled for a time after catching fire earlier in the season, but Justin Gilbert did himself a big favor in the Cotton Bowl despite a bad game for his defense. He gave Missouri limited chances to throw his way and when they did he made them pay for it, intercepting a pass on the very first offensive series.