NFL Draft risers, sliders: Week 14
Conference titles and BCS invitations are on the line as college football closes out the regular season. Positioning for next April's draft is also in play as NFL prospects hope to impress future employers, including a number of small school players whose college careers have already ended. Here is the final installation of NFL Draft Risers and Sliders for the 2012 season.
• With the regular season complete the attention in scouting circles now focuses on the pending decisions of NFL prospects fromthe ranks of the underclassmen. TyrannMathieu, the much maligned cornerback from LSU who sat on the sidelines this season, has already declared for the draft. So to has Sheldon Richardson, the Missouridefensive lineman who scouts listed as a senior prior to the season. Sources expect Akeem Spence, the talented defensive tackle from Illinois who struggled through a poor season, to announce he will enter the draft in thecoming weeks.
• Often times there will be surprise decisions from underclassmen deciding to forego the NFL for another season on the college field. Andrew Luck did as much two years ago and word is a number of Cardinal prospects will follow suit and stay in Palo Alto for 2013. Sources say both of Stanford's talented junior tight ends, Zach Ertz and Levine Toilolo, are leaning towards staying in school. The word is linebacker Shayne Skov also hopes to return to Stanford next season if he's granted another year of eligibility by the NCAA. Skov entered the year with a top 75 grade despite missing all but three games in 2011 with a serious knee injury. He took a while to round into form this season and though effective on the field, insiders said Skov looked like he was playing with a "dead leg" at times this year, referencing the quickness he lost due to the knee injury.
• Besides being an entertaining game likely to go down as oneof the best SEC title contests of all time, the match-up between Alabama and Georgia was a scouts dream. The titanic battles on the line of scrimmage were as good as advertised and all the top prospects showed well at various points. I dislike determining a players draft grade based on a single performance but it's tough to deny that Crimson Tide center Barrett Jones may have played himself into the first round off this game. He threw several key blocks which sprung running back Eddie Lacey free for long runs and Jones got the better of Georgia defensive tackle John Jenkins, a first round pick who outsized him by some 60-pounds.