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NFL draft risers, sliders: Week 7


Week 7 in the college football season was highlighted by the play of several offensive lineman and a pair of outstanding linebackers. Underrated players at the receiver and tight end positions also impressed NFL scouts. For a trio of highly regarded defensive prospects, the news was not so good (* - underclassmen).

• Taylor Lewan*/T/Michigan: Lewan is the first of three offensive linemen rising up draft boards and an underclassman who continues to impress scouts. He looked outstanding in all areas against the athletic Illinois defense. His skills in pass protection were outstanding as Lewan had no problem controlling defensive ends or oncoming blitzers. Watching the big left tackle easily move down the field blocking in motion was especially impressive. There's a very good chance Lewan will be the first offensive tackle selected if he enters the 2013 NFL Draft.

• Travis Frederick/OL/Wisconsin: The Badgers offensive line has recently seen a resurgence and Frederick is leading the way. The athletic blocker moved to center this season after spending his sophomore campaign at guard and was a one-man wrecking crew against Purdue. Frederick dominated on the line of scrimmage, opening large holes in the middle of the field for the running game. He also displayed terrific skill in motion, annihilating linebackers on the second level. Frederick looks NFL ready and will be a top-75 choice if he enters the draft.

• Lane Johnson/T/Oklahoma: Johnson was dominant during the Sooners' lopsided victory over Texas, manhandling a pair of talented Longhorns defensive ends. Johnson is known for his pass protection skills, yet he has displayed improved run-blocking strength and also showed great ability blocking in motion. His play was responsible for several long gainers early in the game which set the tone for Oklahoma. Johnson entered the season with middle-round grades yet has moved into the draft's second day and now ranks as a top-100 choice.

• Manti Te'o/ILB/Notre Dame: Te'o was criticized by some after bypassing the NFL draft last April, yet no one is questioning his decision anymore. The intense defender came into his senior season lighter and quicker, which has only enhanced his play. Te'o has shown improved skills in coverage, which complements his legendary intensity. His 11 tackles against Stanford included a goal-line stop in overtime, which helped keep Notre Dame undefeated. Te'o is NFL ready and offers the skills to quickly start at the next level. Expect him to break into the top half of round one next April.

• Brandon Coleman*/WR/Rutgers: Coleman is in the midst of a breakout season and the big-play threat is making scouts take notice of his talents. He's a big bodied wide out (6-foot-5, 215 pounds) who is becoming more consistent. Coleman turned in his most productive game of the year during the victory over Syracuse, with six catches for 104 yards (17.3 average). In six games this season Coleman has averaged 15.4 yards on 18 receptions, five of which resulted in scores. He possesses the physical skills to line up as a No. 1 wide out in the NFL and his game comes with great upside potential.

• CJ Mosley*/LB/Alabama: The versatile linebacker has shown improvement in every area of the game and is becoming one of the leaders of Alabama's dominant defense. He led all Tide defenders during the victory over Missouri with 12 tackles and two sacks. His 51 tackles in six games this season is almost double the total of any teammate. Mosley did more than just stuff the run against Missouri as the athletic junior excelled in coverage, shutting down the Tigers passing game in the middle of the defense. Mosley offers potential at a number of linebacker spots and now carries a top-60 draft grade.

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• Jordan Poyer/CB/Oregon State: Poyer, one of the most underrated cornerbacks from the senior class, continues to play stellar football. Coming off a three-interception performance against Washington State, he once again stood out in the victory over BYU. Poyer broke up a pass late in the game as the Cougars were driving for the go-ahead score, then later picked off a pass which sealed the victory. He's a tough, feisty corner with great ball skills and a feel for the game. Poyer lacks elite cornerback speed, but will do well at the next level as a nickel back in zone coverage.

• Zach Sudfeld/TE/Nevada: Scouts took a wait-and-see approach toward Sudfeld entering the season after the big tight end sat on the sidelines for much of last year with a leg injury. Thus far, Sudfeld has given NFL decision makers a lot to think about with his play in 2012. The athletic prospect offers the size (6-5, 255 pounds), speed (4.75 in the 40) and skill to play at the next level and he's slowly rounding into form. His totals after seven games include 25 receptions for 276 yards with five scores. Sudfeld impresses scouts as both a pass catcher and in-line blocker. He's moved into the late rounds and projects as a productive No. 2 tight end for the next level.

• Christian Jones*/OLB/Florida State: The Seminoles seem to offer the NFL a never-ending stream of talented linebackers and Jones is destined to be next. He's an athletic prospect with the speed necessary to go sideline-to-sideline defending the run and pass. His eight tackles in the victory over Boston College topped all Seminole defenders. Jones continues to develop in all areas of his game and has scouts believing he'll be a top-60 choice once he enters the draft.

• Kawann Short/DT/Purdue: Short was almost non-existent during the loss to Wisconsin, a game in which the Badgers totaled 467 yards rushing and 21 first downs on the ground. He was regularly handled in one-on-one blocking and at times struggled to find the ball. Justifiably ranked as a first-round pick entering the season, Short must quickly turn it around or he'll fall into the draft's second day.

• Michael Buchanan/DE/Illinois: Buchanan entered the season graded as a potential top-75 pick but his pedestrian play this year may push him out of the draft's second day. He's totaled just 2.5 sacks this season and posted only four tackles in the blowout loss to Wisconsin. Buchanan previously displayed the skills necessary to line-up as a starter at the next level but has disappointed scouts during his season.

• Kevin Reddick/LB/North Carolina: In the past Reddick, has been a dominant defender who regularly imposed his will on opponents. This year, it's been a different story as the senior has been minimally productive and seems very slow to react on the field. Reddick has moved from a potential third round choice into the later rounds of the draft.

• After playing uninspired football for most of the season's first half, Wisconsin running back Monteé Ball seems to have gotten his mojo back. Against Purdue, the potential first-round pick amassed 247 rushing yards on 29 carries. Next weeks game against Michigan State, a team that boasts one of the best run defenses in the Big Ten, will be a better test to gauge Ball's comeback.

• Iowa cornerback Micah Hyde, who was arrested last weekend for public intoxication and interference with official acts, returned to the field with a vengeance against Michigan State. The middle round pick posted seven tackles and shut down Spartan receivers during Iowa's overtime victory.