People don't realize the tremendous amount of evaluation that goes on between the period between the final game of the college season and the NFL combine. Often referred to as a dead period, it's actually a huge time for studying a lot of tape, talking to coaches who both taught and faced these players, plus the typical note-trading with scouts and evaluators all over football. Bottom line: Never be surprised to see changes at this stage, and that's before the combine, which is just two weeks away.
Among the big movers this week is Cam Newton, who I debuted in the top 10, only to see him fall and then bounce back up as the scouting depth grows. Another big jumper is Jimmy Smith, who colleague Todd McShay really liked during the Senior Bowl and who was quietly dominant all season at Colorado. For the rest, read on. As always, juniors and draft-eligible sophomores are noted with asterisks.
Analysis: He's in great position, so you'd doubt he does full workouts in Indy. A force all season, even when not 100 percent; no defense he can't perform in. Last week: No. 1
Analysis: The draft's most gifted pass-rusher, even in a deep class. Suited to work down in a 4-3 or standing up in a 3-4. Great skills, great motor.Last week: No. 2
Analysis: Premier wideout in the draft. Good route-runner, great size, hands and speed is fine. A complete player. Last week: No. 3
Analysis: An extraordinary athlete, Peterson has safety size and elite speed at corner. A starter even as he develops. Dangerous returner as well. Last week: No. 4
Analysis: Great natural pass-rusher, solid athlete, serious motor. Expect that he'll continue to shine in pre-draft workout process. Last week: No. 7