NFL Draft Stock Report: Small size not stopping Miami's Corn Elder from playing big
A look at NFL prospects who helped and may have hurt themselves this past weekend
Who helped themselves?
Corn Elder, CB, Miami (Fla.), SR. (5-10, 175, 4.49, #29)
The past two weeks haven't gone as planned for Miami with a pair of losses to ACC foes Florida State and North Carolina Tar Heels . However, Elder has been one of the bright spots for the Hurricanes this season and especially the past two games. After leading the team in tackles against the Seminoles, he had a career-best 14 tackles against the Tar Heels on Saturday, including 2.5 for loss and one sack.
Elder is undersized and lacks the length desired for the next level, which is the main reason several scouts stamped him with a late-round grade over the summer. However, what he lacks in size, Elder makes up with his athleticism, toughness and cover skills. He is a very smart player with the route anticipation and instincts to sense where the play is going to get a head start -- something that frequently shows in run support, avoiding blockers in space due to his short-area quickness. Elder is a surprisingly sound tackler for his body type and delivers a pop at contact due to his mechanics, lowering his pads and driving through his target to finish.His lack of size obviously isn't ideal, but Elder has the skill-set to play for a long time in the NFL, probably best as a slot corner.
, rJR. (6-3, 230, 4.74, #41) )
In arguably the biggest win of the Derek Mason era at Vanderbilt, Cunningham was outstanding from start to finish as the Commodores upset Georgia on Saturday, the program's first win in Athens in a decade. He finished with 19 total tackles (2.5 for loss) and was instrumental in limiting Georgia's explosive backfield to only 75 yards rushing and 2.1 yards per carry. His highlight play was the tackle on fourth-and-1 in the final minutes to seal the game for Vandy, showing off the speed and attacking mind-set that scouts have come to expect from the junior.
Cunningham is a very smart player to sniff out plays and uses his length to keep himself clean from blocks and then his strong hands to finish as a tackler. All the ingredients, both physical and mental, are there that scouts seek at the position, including an impressive collegiate resume that might include All-American at the end of this season.
, RB, North Carolina, SR. (5-10, 190, 4.46, #8) )
After rushing for 1,463 yards last season, junior Elijah Hood was the North Carolina running back who received all of the attention. However, through five games this season, Logan has been the more impressive runner, also making an impact as a receiver and kick returner. Despite not having as many carries as Hood, Logan leads the Tar Heels in rushing with 409 yards, averaging 6.3 yards per carry, and ranks fourth on the team with 18 receptions. He has accounted for eight touchdowns so far this season -- five rushing, two receiving and one on a kick return.
Logan lacks the traditional build to live between the tackles, but he has the quick footwork and decisive speed to attack run lanes, using vision to set up his moves and finishing with low pads. Although he needs to add some patience to his run diet, Logan is always moving at full speed, which allows him to be productive on screens and runs off tackle. Considered a fringe draftable player over the summer, Logan has put together a strong case this season that he is draft-worthy.
, rJR. (6-1, 233, 4.79, #48) )
Despite the overtime loss to the Buckeyes, it was another fantastic performance by the Badgers' swarming front seven, specifically Wisconsin's junior tandem of Cichy and T.J. Watt (6-4, 243, 4.76, #42). A former walk-on, Cichy put on a clinic against the run, finishing with a career-best 15 tackles, 3.5 for loss, 1.0 sack and a forced fumble. As if he knew the Ohio State playbook, he showed excellent skills to read and attack with the first step burst and closing speed to beat blockers to the play.
Cichy takes terrific pursuit angles and meets the ballcarrier with pop, displaying with toughness and power to consistently finish in run support. He earned Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week honors for his performance in the loss and grabbed the attention of NFL evaluators with his combination of anticipation, toughness and play speed.
Who hurt themselves?
, SR. (6-0, 230, 4.72, #21) )
Full disclosure: Reeves-Maybin is a fun player to watch on tape. He's athletic, smart and considered a favorite of the Tennessee coaching staff due to his work ethic and locker room leadership. But his lack of size and body armor has been a strong concern for NFL scouts and especially now as Reeves-Maybin will miss the remainder of the 2016 season due to shoulder surgery.
He initially tore his labrum during spring practice and has had three procedures since after re-injuring his shoulder. Reeves-Maybin played through the injury on several occasions over the last few weeks, but decided to get the procedure done now. He should be close to 100 percent health for the pre-draft process, but teams will be eager to receive the medical reports at the combine on his ailing shoulder.
Other NFL Draft notes
- After a forgettable performance at Virginia Tech in a monsoon, North Carolina redshirt junior Mitch Trubisky (6-3, 220, 4.74, #10) followed up with an impressive showing on Saturday against Miami that scouts have come to expect. Trubisky has created a buzz among NFL scouts with his impressive play this season. He checks boxes for his size and arm strength and is a much better athlete than given credit for, showing quick feet to move the pocket and easy acceleration to pick up chunk yardage with his legs. Trubisky has the arm talent and decision-making to consistently move the sticks and any discussion of the top quarterback prospects for the NFL must include the Tar Heels passer.
- North Carolina senior WR Ryan Switzer (5-10, 185, 4.50, #3) caught nine passes on Saturday against Miami, but managed only 17 yards, averaging 1.9 yards per reception. With 58 receptions on the season, which ranks fifth-best in the FBS, Switzer continues to be a high-volume target for Trubisky, but that is an uncommon stat line for a wide receiver.
- While Switzer easily leads the Tar Heels in catches, senior WR Mack Hollins (6-3, 210, 4.55, #13) has a team-best four receiving scores and is North Carolina's top deep threat, averaging 19.3 yards per reception. However, the school announced on Monday that he will miss the rest of the season due to a broken right collarbone. A former walk-on, Hollins is a good-sized athlete with the catch radius and adjustment skills that are NFL-quality.
- Considered to be the top interior offensive line prospect by several scouts, Indiana Hoosiers OG Dan Feeney (6-4, 310, 5.09, #67) hasn't played since early September, missing the past four games due to a concussion. He has progressed well according to the Hoosiers coaches, but is still questionable to play this weekend against Northwestern. Missing multiple games due to a concussion is obviously a red flag that teams will be tracking closely.
- A late round prospect according to several scouts over the summer, Tennessee DT Danny O'Brien (6-2, 301, 5.18, #95) vastly hurt his chances of hearing his name called on draft weekend as he was dismissed from the program last week. O'Brien, who had two drug-related suspensions previously, reportedly failed another drug test and was down to his final strike. If he hopes to play in the NFL, O'Brien will likely need to do so as an undrafted free agent.
- It was another mixed performance from Notre Dame Fighting Irish DT Jarron Jones (6-5, 315, 5.14, #94) on Saturday in the loss to Stanford Cardinal , showing what scouts love and dislike about him as a prospect. At his best, Jones uses his natural momentum and reach to beat up single blockers. He routinely forced Stanford center Jesse Burkett on his heels and pushed him into the pocket to disrupt the rhythm of the quarterback, forcing a fumble that he then recovered. Unfortunately, those positive plays were too infrequent as his tall pad level often negates his power and streaky backfield vision takes him out of the play. Jones also lost his composure on a costly offsides penalty late against Stanford, receiving an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for his actions while disagreeing with the call.
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