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RB and DB on the rise after film study

2/10/2012

As we continue studying film in preparation for the upcoming NFL combine (Feb. 22-28), players continue to make impressions and move up and down the board.

Here's a look at two prospects who are rising, two who are falling, and some observations we've gleaned from recent film sessions.

Stock up

Baylor RB Terrance Ganaway
(Scouts Inc. Grade: 57)

Ganaway (5-foot-11, 241 pounds) capped a breakout senior season with a 200-yard, five-touchdown performance against Washington in the Alamo Bowl, and his blend of patience, burst and size jumps out on film. He can make defenders miss or run them over when he gets into space. He has also shown character in overcoming a disadvantaged upbringing to become a strong student, and in coping with the loss of his mother to cancer after his freshman season. -- Muench

Ganaway doesn't offer much on passing downs, though, and that's one of the reasons he projects in the middle rounds. He doesn't have a lot of experience catching the football or running routes, and his technique in pass protection was inconsistent both on film and at the Senior Bowl. Still, the good news is he flashes good hands and has the size and strength to develop into an effective pass blocker, and what he offers on early downs will be of value to an NFL team.

Oregon S Eddie Pleasant (50)

While Pleasant doesn't have ideal height, he shows good fluidity and instincts in coverage -- though he's at his best planting and driving on balls in front of him. He's also a solid tackler who breaks down well and is not afraid to lay his body on the line.

Pleasant is also instinctive in run support, and overall he reminds me a bit of former Oregon S T.J. Ward, now with the Cleveland Browns. Though Pleasant isn't quite as explosive and might not have elite top-end speed, he has the movement skills and overall instincts to be a solid value in the fifth round as a depth player and special-teams contributor. -- Weidl

Stock Down

Wisconsin WR Nick Toon (80)

Like Ganaway, Toon is coming off a productive senior season. Unlike Ganaway, Toon hasn't been able to build on that momentum. Toon could not participate in this year's Senior Bowl, and his absence hurts him in two ways.

First, it raises more concerns about his durability. Toon missed 2011 spring practices after undergoing surgery on his left foot and the Indiana game after the injury flared up during the season, and he didn't participate in the Senior Bowl. Any team interested in drafting him will keep a close eye on how his medical exams go at the NFL combine, especially considering that he also had problems staying healthy in 2010.

Secondly, Toon missed a chance to separate himself from non-senior prospects like LSU's Rueben Randle (Grade: 84) and Rutgers' Mohamed Sanu (Grade: 81). Toon is unlikely to post a 40-yard dash time at the combine that will significantly boost his stock, so he needed that practice week in Mobile to show what he can do on the field. -- Muench

South Florida S Jerrell Young (31)

Simply put, Young shows limited movement skills, tightness in the hips and marginal overall range. He does not make enough plays in coverage, and I'd like to see more aggressiveness from him in run support. He can be seen pulling up near piles rather than finishing plays, and overall he looks like nothing more than a fringe prospect who a team might take a flier on in the late rounds.

Observations

Tough spot for the Falcons

The Atlanta Falcons are without a first-round pick for the first time since Thomas Dimitroff took over as general manager in 2008, which could hurt them in their urgent search for a left tackle who can protect the blind side of franchise QB Matt Ryan. Former first-round pick Sam Baker (2008) has been slowed by injuries and is coming off a disappointing 2011 season during which he lost his starting job.

Problem is, when the Falcons finally come on the board at No. 55 overall, it will be difficult to find a left tackle capable of pushing for immediate playing time. Florida State's Zebrie Sanders (Grade: 84) has the feet and length to develop into an effective left tackle, but he was underwhelming at the Senior Bowl and needs to get stronger at the point of attack.

Still, given the value of left tackles in the NFL , Sanders could be off the board anyway, and there likely won't be another tackle worth the pick still on the board. Free agency could play a role in filling this need, especially given the way the draft board is shaping up. -- Muench

Character flags for defensive backs

Three talented defensive backs enter the meat of the predraft process facing significant character questions: North Alabama CB Janoris Jenkins (93), Alabama CB Dre Kirkpatrick (92) and McNeese State S Janzen Jackson (68).

Multiple arrests led to Jenkins' being dismissed from the Florida program following the 2010 season, forcing him to transfer to Division II North Alabama for his senior season, while Kirkpatrick's recent marijuana-related arrest (after which no charges were filed) will cause teams to take a closer look at him.

However, Jenkins trails only LSU's Morris Claiborne in terms of overall man-coverage skills and is right there with Claiborne when it comes to instincts and recognition. As for Kirkpatrick, he won't ever be dominant in man coverage, but he has good length, instincts and toughness in run support. Ultimately, both will still come off the board in the first round because of their sheer physical talent.

It's going to be tougher for Jackson to quiet the concerns, though. While at Tennessee, he was charged with attempted armed robbery after an incident that also involved two teammates (charges were later dropped). Jackson was suspended multiple times while there, left the team for personal reasons in early 2011, and was eventually dismissed from the team this past August.

And unlike Jenkins, who used the Senior Bowl to prove his skills and begin redeeming himself, Jackson has had no opportunity to begin proving himself to NFL teams. He shows top-40 physical skills on tape -- rare movement skills and ability to flip his hips, tremendous instincts, and excellent closing burst in coverage -- but he's undisciplined at times on the field as well. His past transgressions will certainly affect his stock, but given his raw tools I can't see him falling any further than the fifth round.