We interrupt your regularly scheduled coverage of the upcoming Buffalo Bills versus New Orleans Saints game to continue a new feature in these parts: Rumblings Draft Scouting.
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 Bills/Saints talk, hang tight. It's coming.
THREE UP - Three players whose stock is climbing after strong starts to their seasons.
#1 - Washington QB Jake Locker. His play in Washington's dramatic 16-13 upset victory over USC was not perfect - he completed 21 of 35 passes for 237 yards, and didn't have a scoring play. But he didn't turn the ball over, either, and his toughness, grit and leadership were on full display in perhaps the best, most highly-charged game I've seen this year. This kid can really play - he's got all of the tools to be a highly successful NFL quarterback. Add the 6'3", 226-pound junior to a growing list of extremely intriguing underclassmen quarterback prospects - and don't be afraid to put him rather high on your list.
#2 - California RB Jahvid Best. On the season - just three games - Best has carried the ball 53 times for 412 yards with eight touchdowns. He's coming off of a 131-yard, 5-touchdown performance in a tough road win over Minnesota in which he proved that he can handle a significant work load despite his 5'10", 195-pound frame. The junior is a household name, but I, for one, consider him the best running back in the nation. Players such as Titans RB Chris Johnson have opened up a role for players like Best, and I consider him a superior talent to Clemson's C.J. Spiller. You can't teach blazing speed and vision. This guy is going to be a star.
#3 - Tennessee S Eric Berry. Like Best (and really, like Locker, too), Berry is a household name. If you don't know him now, you'll definitely know all about him by next April. Eric Berry is a phenomenal football player. He's highly athletic, extremely intelligent, can hit, can cover, and makes big plays. That was on display in UT's loss to No. 1-ranked Florida, where Berry had a beautiful interception and made his presence felt throughout the game against Tim Tebow and pals. Berry is a player in the mold of Ed Reed, and he'll probably be just as productive at the NFL level. He's awesome.
THREE DOWN - Pretty much the opposite. These guys saw their stocks dip for various reasons.
#1 - Texas QB Colt McCoy. Texas is 3-0 and off to a good start, but McCoy has been pretty disappointing. Already facing questions about his arm, his build and his potential as an NFL signal-caller, McCoy has just six touchdowns - with four picks - in three games against Louisiana-Monroe, Wyoming and Texas Tech. His accuracy has been spotty, his completion percentage is slightly overrated, and he's doing nothing to prove that he's worth anything more than a third-round flier next April. There's no question that he's been productive and has upside, but he's small (6'2", 210 pounds), and particularly in a city like Buffalo, he's just not a good fit.
#2 - Penn State RB Evan Royster. Royster has a ton of talent. The 6'1", 209-pound junior was an under-the-radar name poised to become household after a 2008 sophomore season in which he ran for 1,236 yards and 12 TD. But he's been supremely underwhelming in Penn State's three wins this season over Akron, Syracuse and Temple. He broke out a bit last week, but if he can't produce big numbers against these types of teams, he needs to stay in school. As it appears right now, it'd be a mistake for him to make himself an early entrant.
#3 - USC S Taylor Mays. I didn't expect this to turn into QB-RB-S in each section, but hey, it's purely coincidental. Mays and Berry were the two big names at safety entering this season; had Mays entered the 2009 NFL Draft, as many expected him to, he might have been the No. 4 overall pick of the Seattle Seahawks. Now, he's dealing with lingering minor injuries and watching Berry assert himself as the top safety in the nation. Mays is immensely talented, but he's not the pure safety that Berry is. Mays needs a strong finish to his senior season to really cement himself as a first-round pick next year.