Draft short-take: Are UA stocks rising or falling?

 

Feb 21, 2014; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide quarterback A.J. McCarron speaks to the media in a press conference during the 2014 NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Feb 21, 2014; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide quarterback A.J. McCarron speaks to the media in a press conference during the 2014 NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

By Jess Nicholas, TideFans.com Editor-In-Chief

April 16, 2014

 

It may be tax day, but presumptive Alabama draftees are less concerned with taxes and more concerned with stocks.

 

And we don’t mean of the Dow Jones variety.

 

Now that pro days have concluded, here’s a brief look at where we projected Alabama’s players a few weeks ago, and whether they’ve done anything to raise or lower their value as draft day approaches.

 

A.J. McCarron, QB

Then: Round 2, Houston

Now: TideFans.com had McCarron rated more highly than most every other site, so it’s harder to see him going much higher now, as that would lift him into the first round. Still, McCarron was impressive at the NFL Combine and in his pro day workouts. Since our initial article in March, the Arizona Cardinals seem to have developed an affinity for McCarron, but the Cardinals pick 20th in the first round and that’s probably too high. Arizona could trade down to the bottom of the first round and get McCarron, or trade up in the second, but the Cardinals will have to be careful: Teddy Bridgewater is in somewhat of a freefall, and Johnny Manziel also seems to be dropping on a lot of draft boards. If a team that covets McCarron waits too late, he might not be available.

Final verdict: Sticking with a top-of-the-second-round grade.

 

, WR

Then: Round 3, San Francisco

Now: Norwood excelled at the combine and caught a lot of attention he hadn’t previously enjoyed. But the buzz has died down since, and Norwood suffers from coming out in one of the strongest wide receiver drafts in years, maybe decades. His ultimate draft position will be determined by how teams view his intangibles, which are off the charts. The combine answered any questions people may have had about his speed.

Final verdict: Norwood was originally considered to be a Round 4/5 receiver and that’s where we think he’ll land now. Detroit at the bottom of Round 4, or Jacksonville or Seattle at the top of Round 5 now look like better fits.

 

, WR

Then: Undrafted free agent

Now: Nothing much has changed; Bell had good pro day workouts but with the depth of the wide receiver class, Bell’s injury history and his overall lack of production while at Alabama, it’s hard to see him jumping up into the bottom round or two of the draft. It’s a relative certainty, however, that he will get multiple free agent offers upon the conclusion of the draft.

Final verdict: UDFA

 

, OT

Then: Round 2, Jacksonville

Now: Kouandjio has perhaps lost more, relative to his initial draft projection, than any other player save for perhaps Louisville QB Teddy Bridgewater. Kouandjio had a terrible postseason, a poor overall combine showing, then had to fend off rumors that multiple teams had disqualified him due to his knee injury history. Kouandjio went so far as to have Dr. James Andrews write letters to the teams on his behalf, and it seems to have worked somewhat. In March, TideFans.com had Kouandjio going seventh overall in the second round to Jacksonville, but Kouandjio’s pro day workouts, combined with Andrews’ letter, may have elevated him back into the end of the first round. Also, Kouandjio may now project as a right tackle, which opens up the number of teams that might be interested in his services.

Final verdict: Carolina, Denver and Seattle, picking at the bottom of the first round, all need offensive linemen, as do a couple of teams picking before Jacksonville in Round 2. We now see Jacksonville as Kouandjio’s bottoming-out point rather than a target, and feel he will probably be picked by one of the last few teams in Round 1.

 

, OG

Then: Round 4, New York Jets

Now: News on Steen has been hard to come by, without a lot of movement seeming to have taken place over the last month. Guards are fairly unloved in NFL Draft circles, which is an oddity considering most seem to acquit themselves well once camps begin.

Final verdict: No change.

 

, DE/DT

Then: Round 4, Washington

Now: For most of the players in the Round 4/5 area, getting specific information is hard to come by. Stinson got mixed reviews for scouts at the combine, and projections have him going anywhere from the late picks of Round 3 all the way to Rounds 6/7. Part of the issue is that he doesn’t have a signature ability; he’s a good run-stopping defensive end, but he’s small for tackle in a three-man NFL front. The Redskins seem to like him, but they might be able to get him with a later pick.

Final verdict: We’re going to drop Stinson a round, to Round 5, but we still like Washington as his eventual team.

 

, DE/DT

Then: Round 6, Tampa Bay

Now: Pagan’s choice to come out still perplexes us a bit, as he is very raw and hadn’t established himself on the college level yet. But his physical attributes are top-end, and some teams believe he’ll make a good run-stuffing inside presence.

Final verdict: We had Tampa Bay in Round 6 taking Pagan, but the Bucs no longer have that selection. We like New England, which has multiple picks in the round, to take Pagan in hopes of developing him the way they developed another Alabama tackle/end combo player, Brandon Deaderick.

 

, DE/OLB

Then: Round 5, Jacksonville

Now: Hubbard had a strong pro day workout and probably increased his stock, which came on the heels of a very strong NFL Combine performance. Concerns linger over his drive, consistency and attitude, but his work ethic and natural ability will make up for a lot.

Final verdict: We’ll go out on a limb and move Hubbard up to Round 4, going to Atlanta with one of the Falcons’ compensatory picks. The Falcons would love to develop another John Abraham and Hubbard’s raw skill set mirrors Abraham’s to a degree.

 

, LB

Then: Round 1, Green Bay

Now: No change. Mosley is still coveted as one of the best players available in the draft, and if Green Bay doesn’t take him with Pick 21, it will likely be because someone else snatched him up first. Mosley has done nothing but solidify his draft position in the weeks since the combine.

Final verdict: Mosley joins Eddie Lacy in Lambeau.

 

, CB

Then: Round 7, Pittsburgh

Now: Opinion on Belue vary widely, with the gulf between opinions likely driven by Belue’s slight frame and injury history. One scout TideFans.com spoke with expects Belue to go in the third or fourth round; others think he may fall out of the draft entirely.

Final verdict: We’ll keep the Steelers as Belue’s eventual team, but move him up to Round 6, based off where we believe opinions on Belue are coming together at the moment.

 

Ha’Sean Clinton-Dix, S

Then: Round 1, Tennessee

Now: For whatever reason, buzz about Clinton-Dix going to Tennessee has cooled substantially. Some observers feel the Titans would be more likely to consider C.J. Mosley here. Clinton-Dix is seen as a sure thing, but perhaps not a game-changer, which has led some analysts to drop him to the bottom third of Round 1, possibly even the top of Round 2. While it seems highly unlikely Clinton-Dix could fall that far, he does seem to lack the “wow” factor most NFL teams like in a safety.

Final verdict: While buzz about Clinton-Dix heading to Tennessee at 11 are dying down, the St. Louis Rams, which hold the 13th pick, seem to have taken an interest. We’ll project him there.

 

, S

Then: UDFA

Now: Sunseri looked to be going the free-agent route – until his Alabama pro day, where he showed impressive speed and seemed to answer most questions about his knee injury rehabilitation. Still, most observers we polled think his topping-out point will be somewhere in Round 5, with a lower round being more likely. However, we have seen and heard enough now to believe Sunseri will be drafted.

Final verdict: There are a ton of teams looking for safety help, so it won’t be hard for Sunseri to find a home. Given his ability to contribute on special teams, we like Green Bay or Philadelphia in either Round 6 or Round 7 to spend a pick on Sunseri.

 

, P

Then: Not projected

Now: TideFans.com doesn’t project kickers and punters in the draft, although we expect Mandell to get a call before the draft’s end.

 

, LB; , OL; , PK

Then: UDFA

Now: No changes.

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