2017 NFL Draft: Christian McCaffrey rushes into first round
Week 13 of the college football season has arrived! Here are a few players who have seen their 2017 NFL Draft stock on the rise and a pair who has seen it drop.
Stock Up: Christian McCaffrey, RB, Stanford
After five consecutive weeks without a touchdown, Christian McCaffrey had some work to make up. He’s done just that with 10 touchdowns over the past four weeks.
Under the lights against rival Cal, McCaffrey scored three touchdowns for the second straight week. He collected a season-high 284 rushing yards, which also included a season-high 90-yard touchdown run.
— Stanford Football (@StanfordFball) November 23, 2016
Fans and the media often forget about the Stanford running back playing on the west coast, but NFL teams have not. His rare athleticism will allow him to be one of the best pass-catching running backs in the league from day one.
Thanks to his versatility, McCaffrey can fit in a multitude of schemes as a running back, wide receiver, or special teams star. If presented with the right situation, he could be a Pro Bowl-caliber player very quickly.
Stock Up: Hunter Dimick, DE, Utah
A redshirt senior playing for the Utes, Hunter Dimick has done a lot over the offseason to improve both his pass rush and his run defense.
Last week that work paid off with a pair of sacks against Oregon, falling off the five he recorded the week prior against Cal. In the past month, Dimick has nine sacks and two pass deflections thanks to his hard work in practice. He’s quickly become one of the most underrated defensive ends not just in the PAC-12, but in the country.
Thanks to his recent surge, Dimick has surpassed Florida State defensive lineman DeMarcus Walker as the nation’s leading pass rusher.
With an advanced repertoire of pass rush moves, Dimick has transformed from a straight bull-rushing end to a versatile defensive end. He has learned how to play the run, fake inside moves and spin to the outside, and work against zone-reads.
While not projected to be a high draft pick, teams can find Dimick mid-way through the 2017 NFL Draft and possibly have a diamond in the rough. A very good showing at the Senior Bowl and NFL Combine in the coming months could push him even higher up draft boards.
Stock Down: Pat Elflein, OL, Ohio State
Defined by many college football and NFL Draft analysts as the best center in college football, Pat Elflein was challenged by Michigan State’s interior pass rushers. Even without star tackle Malik McDowell, Elflein struggled against freshman Mike Panasiuk and the other inexperienced starters.
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Ohio State quarterback J.T. Barrett was sacked three times and hurried seven. The result was a game nearly lost by the Buckeyes to the Spartans, who have just one Big Ten victory this season.
Not only did Barrett find himself with Spartans draped all over him thanks to Elflein, the redshirt senior center committed three costly penalties. Two of those penalties were for holds, one of which came in the fourth quarter on a drive in-which Ohio State was forced to punt.
Despite a tough game this past week, Elflein will still project to land somewhere late in the first round. Arizona needs to better protect an aging Carson Palmer, and the 30-year-old A.Q. Shipley will be in the final year of his contract. This presents a perfect opportunity to solidify the interior of an Arizona offensive line that has allowed Palmer to be sacked 30 times, the second most this season.
The New York Jets could also address an aging Nick Mangold, who has one year remaining on his contract and could clear nearly $10 million if released outright this offseason.
Stock Down: Takkarist McKinley, DL, UCLA
Only a couple of weeks ago we talked about how Takkarist McKinley was a rising star as a pass rusher for UCLA. Since his meteoric rise, his stock has fallen back to earth with some inefficient games.
McKinley had his first game without a sack since October 8 last week against USC, a game that got away from the Bruins. Sam Darnold was able to complete 35/36 pass attempts, two of which went for touchdowns. UCLA managed just one sack on the freshman quarterback, who was never hurried in the entire game.
Not having McKinley playing at his best hurt UCLA from not only beating USC, but becoming bowl eligible. The Bruins needed that game to stay in the conversation for an extra game, but the lack of support from McKinley on defense may have cost them.
McKinley will be one of the great mysteries to this years class of college pass rushers. In years past it was players such as Michigan’s Shilique Calhoun or Baylor’s Shawn Oakman who talent evaluators could not put their finger on. This year it will be McKinley who bears that distinction despite his 10 sacks.