The "scouting team," for lack of a better term, has pooled its resources once again to bring to you some general thoughts and observations on six future NFL Draft prospects this week - three whose stock is soaring, and three whose stock could use a face lift. Our efforts are after the jump - and for those of you clamoring for more/Dolphins talk, hang tight. It's coming.
THREE UP: Three players whose stock is climbing after strong starts to their seasons.
#1: South Carolina DE/OLB Eric Norwood. Norwood and the Gamecocks really laid it to then-No. 4 Mississippi (and top QB prospect Jevan Snead) this week. Norwood was dominant in the win, recording 10 tackles, two sacks, and a partially blocked punt. SC's defense really rattled Snead - who, if you recall, Steve Spurrier picked pre-season All-SEC ahead of Tim Tebow - and Norwood led the charge. As sireric put it after Norwood's Week 1 performance, "The dude can fly. From the 3-point stance, he ran around the LT so fast that the RB who was supposed to help completely whiffed, and he came in to get the sack. He also got another later. He is only 6'1", 252 pounds, but he has some serious speed off the edge."
#2: Iowa DE Adrian Clayborn. This guy is a monster. At 6'3", 282 pounds, Clayborn isn't your typical Tampa 2 speed-rushing end, but he's thickly built, extremely strong, and athletic enough to get after the passer in a dominant fashion and defend the run well. His statistical output is not dominant, but he is the clear catalyst on an outstanding Iowa defensive line, and he has loads of potential as a pro prospect. He could play either side of the line in a 4-3 (though his playing style is suited to left end), and he could play end in a 3-4 alignment as well. His blocked punt - which he promptly scooped up and returned for a touchdown - was the decisive score in an impressive road victory over Penn State.
#3: Oregon TE Ed Dickson. One of the more underrated tight ends in the nation, Dickson had gotten off to a slow start along with the rest of his Oregon team. Then he exploded for 11 catches, 148 yards, and 3 TD in Oregon's 42-3 trouncing of sixth-ranked California. At 6'5" and 243 pounds, Dickson greatly resembles Bills rookie TE Shawn Nelson - they're tall, lanky players that are receivers first and blockers second. Dickson's got underrated speed and can hurt defenses up the seam, but he's not quite the athlete Nelson is. He needs work as blocker. But as an early-round tight end prospect, Dickson's NFL future looks quite bright.
THREE DOWN: Three players whose stock is falling after weak performances to start their seasons. Or, in the case of one of the players on this list, extenuating circumstances.
#1: Penn State QB Darryl Clark. Clark has been a steadying force at a position that Penn State has really struggled to play consistently at over the past decade or so. While he's had some truly excellent performances and beaten a lot of good teams, the one team he has routinely struggled (mightily) against is Iowa - and that's bad news, folks. Kirk Ferentz is the closest thing to an NFL-caliber head coach in the college ranks, and he runs pro-type systems on both sides of the ball. He has Clark's number - Iowa has beaten Penn State in each of the past two seasons. Clark has a strong arm and a really solid NFL build, but he's inaccurate, indecisive, and highly unremarkable in these types of situations. He looks worthy of a late-round flier, but I'm not particularly high on his NFL prospects.
#2: Florida QB Tim Tebow. Seriously! But keep in mind that this has absolutely nothing to do with the gruesome concussion he suffered in this week's romp over Kentucky, nor does it have to do with the outstanding production he and his Florida team have put forth in a blazing hot 4-0 start. I can't say what brings me pause about Tebow any better than kaisertown does, so here he is: "Anybody else think that Urban Meyer couldn't care less about Tebow's pro career? We heard all the talk about the new coach who would work on Tebow's mechanics, but they look the exact same to me. More importantly, Tebow ran the ball 24 times against Tennessee, got sacked three times and took some hits after throws. Even worse, he was running designed run plays during the second half against Kentucky after they went up 31-0 in the first quarter. It was the sixteenth carry that knocked him out of the Kentucky game." We agree - Tebow is a highly-debated prospect for many obvious reasons good and bad, but we just can't feel comfortable about his prospects as an NFL quarterback.
#3: Iowa OT Bryan Bulaga. He's only a junior, and he's already considered one of the top two or three left tackle prospects in the nation. He has the look of a Top 10 or Top 5 draft pick, and through his first two collegiate seasons, he was one of the most dominant players in the nation - at any position. But he missed Iowa's triumph in Happy Valley - a third straight game he's missed due to an issue with his thyroid. Clearly, he doesn't have to declare himself eligible for the 2010 NFL Draft, but the fact that his thyroid issue even brings pause to that idea hurts his draft stock. If Bulaga is completely healthy and playing, he's one of the first ten names on every NFL team's scouting lists this early in the game. But you can bet that NFL teams will be checking into this injury just because of its nature.