Five potential first-round picks whose stock is dropping
The drawn-out period of time between the Super Bowl and the NFL Draft gives everyone ample opportunities to analyze and reanalyze every aspect of every player making the jump to the pros. Even now, about 48 hours before the start of this year’s draft, the statuses of players up and down the board continue to shift.
That’s good news for some — like, potentially, Fletcher Cox, Chandler Jones, Shea McClellin and others — who might be picked higher than most expected. Just as many players are in danger of the ball rolling in the other direction, though.
So, which players might be slipping as the draft approaches? Here are five possible first-rounders who might have a longer wait than they want on Thursday:
Quinton Coples, DE: There remains a very legitimate chance that Coples comes off the board in the top 15 or 20 on Thursday, but all the questions about his drive remain. Coples’ fate is going to come down to a team deciding to take talent over effort — Coples is, without a doubt, one of the best players in this draft, but will NFL teams be able to keep him motivated?
That question of motivation is the type of thing that can cause a player to slip further down the board than expected. Dontari Poe faces the same predicament.
Janoris Jenkins, CB: No surprise here — the red flags surrounding Jenkins’ off-the-field behavior have long been in the minds of team scouts and fans alike.
The conundrum is this: Jenkins, without the character issues, would be an early first-round pick, maybe even coming off the board ahead of projected top-five pick Morris Claiborne. In NFL Films analyst Greg Cosell’s mock draft, which he based “solely … on what’s on the tape,” he slotted Jenkins to Tampa Bay at No. 5 and called him the “best pure man-to-man cover corner in the draft.”
Jenkins’ combination of elite talent and questionable mental make-up leaves him as one of the draft’s bigger wild cards. He could plummet completely out of Rounds 1 and 2, if teams are convinced he is too big of a risk. He also could shoot back up the board — it only takes one team sold on his ability to do that.
Matt Kalil, OT: It’s not that there have been any new developments surrounding Kalil that now have NFL teams raising an eyebrow. The general consensus for months, though, has been that he would be the third player off the board, with Minnesota snatching him up after Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III heard their names called.
The latest buzz: That may no longer be the case.
And if the Vikings go with Morris Claiborne or Justin Blackmon at No. 3, then what for Kalil? In that scenario it looks very possible that he slips to the bottom of the top 10, giving Carolina or Buffalo a shot at him. It is not a monumental fall and might even land Kalil in a better situation, but given how set in stone Kalil-to-Minnesota looked, a different third-overall pick could change the entire dynamic of Round 1.
Riley Reiff, OT: A report just last week indicated that teams are growing increasingly wary of Reiff as a potential building block at left tackle. Kalil’s status could impact Reiff — if Kalil stays at No. 3, but another team in the upper reaches of the draft still wants a left tackle, Reiff would be in the mix, along with Jonathan Martin (Stanford), and possibly guys like Mike Adams (Ohio State) or Bobby Massie (Ole Miss).
A first-round commitment to an offensive tackle usually means that a team is willing to not only drop that player into its lineup right away, but that the player is one to build around for the future. If there are legitimate doubts about Reiff’s ability to develop into a Pro Bowler at left tackle, it would be hard to justify picking him early on Day 1.
Courtney Upshaw, DE/OLB: Upshaw’s two-position designation could be working against him. He’s a bit of a “tweener” — you can play him as a smaller defensive end in a 4-3 or as an outside linebacker without great speed in a 3-4. With the opening round rapidly approaching, it does not help Upshaw’s prospects that teams are still trying to figure out how to use him.
There also are multiple players with similar skill-sets rising up the board, namely Syracuse’s Chandler Jones and Boise State’s Shea McClellin. While it would catch some people by surprise, it is not out of the question that both of those players are selected before Upshaw.