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Sunday, August 19, 2018

10 NFL Draft prospects whose stock is soaring

Tremaine Edmunds
How a player does in the weeks and months before the NFL Draft can have a big impact on where they’re picked. A good Combine or Pro Day can be enough to turn a day two prospect into a first rounder, or grow some buzz around potential later-round players who weren’t really on anyone’s radar beforehand.

Here’s a look at ten players whose stock rose ahead of the draft.

1) Tremaine Edmunds, LB, Virginia Tech

It’s not that Edmunds was ever poorly-regarded as a prospect, but his workouts have only bolstered the view of him as one of the elite athletes in the draft class. He ran a 4.54 40 at the NFL Combine, and his combination of size and speed is tantalizing. Edmunds was a likely first-round pick all along, but the hype around him is such that he’s almost certainly going in the top 15. The top ten may be a realistic proposition at this point.

2) Mike Gesicki, TE, Penn State

Gesicki was a solid player at Penn State, but this year’s tight end class has never been particularly highly-regarded. It looked for a long while as if there would be no first round tight end, but Gesicki’s excellent combine may change that. Gesicki displayed an outstanding combination of size, speed, and athleticism, and could become a quality pass-catcher with time. That should appeal to several teams late in the first round.

3) Josh Sweat, DE, Florida State

There’s little question about Sweat’s talent. The issue has always been that he needed surgery on his ACL, MCL and PCL during college, raising serious concerns about his health and the prospect of a long NFL career. Some teams definitely still have their doubts, but he went through the NFL Combine without a knee brace and looked excellent, which has given a lot of other front offices pause. There’s a wide variance in where Sweat may go, and it depends on how teams view his knee, but it wouldn’t be stunning if he convinces a team that he’s worth a look late in the first round.

4) Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville

One of the more controversial prospects in the draft, opinions are very split on Jackson’s future as an NFL quarterback. He hasn’t hired an agent and has skipped running at the Combine and Pro Day, and some are unsure if his game will translate. The Patriots seem convinced about his abilities, and so do other teams. Some people are saying Jackson could go as high as No. 15. The first round looks like a very real possibility for the former Heisman Trophy winner.

5) D.J. Moore, WR, Maryland

Moore probably won’t be the first receiver off the board, but teams are definitely interested in his speed and skill. In a class that lacks that surefire top-ten star, Moore could take advantage of that. He tested well at the Combine and has solidified himself as the best non-Calvin Ridley option in the class. That could be enough to seal a spot in the latter half of the first round, even though he’s not viewed as an elite prospect.

6) Allen Lazard, WR, Iowa State

Lazard won’t be a first-round selection, but he’s quietly moved up draft boards and has become a popular name for those discussing potential day two steals. He’s an outstanding red zone receiver who caught ten touchdowns for Iowa State last season and performed above expectations at the NFL Combine, where buzz really started to grow around him. A 38-inch vertical raised eyebrows, and teams will be envisioning him making a huge impact in the red zone.

7) Jaire Alexander, CB, Louisville

Another player whose solid combine solidified his first round potential, Alexander is a small but agile corner who impressed while at Louisville. He’s also versatile and can handle all types of coverage. Teams are impressed with his tape and physical skills despite an inconsistent, injury-plagued 2017. He’s had an impressive offseason to negate much of that. A mid-to-late first round selection is well within the realm of possibility.

8) Lorenzo Carter, LB, Georgia

Carter is another creation of the Combine after a decent, but unspectacular career at Georgia that fell short of initial expectations. The physical tools are very much still there, which has ensured that he is on the first round radar after looking like a lesser prospect for a while. Carter looks like someone who could be a starting NFL edge rusher, and teams are seeing that, particularly after his workouts gained him some momentum.

9) Josh Jackson, CB, Iowa

A wide receiver-turned-corner, Jackson had a magnificent season for Iowa, intercepting eight passes and showing off his pass-catching skills. That senior season turned him from a non-prospect into a potential first round selection. Even though his physical stats weren’t off-the-charts good at the Combine, he has a combination of size and ball skills that will make him very, very appealing in the first round.

10) James Daniels, C, Iowa

Daniels made the decision to forego his senior season at Iowa and enter the draft, which was a surprise to some. He backed up his decision with a strong Combine in which he posted the best shuttle time of all offensive linemen and the second-best cone drill. He’s a good athlete and a good run blocker, and that has gotten him some attention as a well-regarded center prospect. His offseason work has solidified himself as a first round prospect.

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