NFL Draft 2017: Latest Mock Draft and Shifts on Stock Market as Event Nears – Bleacher Report

Gareon Conley is one of the prospects shifting the stock market late in the process.

Gareon Conley is one of the prospects shifting the stock market late in the process.Paul Vernon/Associated Press

In theory, the NFL stock market shouldn’t change much this close to the draft itself. 

By now, teams have mostly solidified boards with grades for each prospect after going through the paces of a lengthy offseason, spanning film study, interviews, the combine, workouts and more. And truthfully, the work of the scouting department began months before the NFL season even ended, as front offices always have a year-round eye on the future.

But to say stock market changes don’t happen at all this late in the process would be a blatant fib. News always breaks and alters the outlook. In some cases, the prospect stock market doesn’t actually change—but the one understood by the media still playing catch up with how the league thinks absolutely does.

Below, let’s look at a fresh mock and detail a few of these changes.

       

2017 NFL Mock Draft

        

Prospect Stock Watch

Stock Up: Gareon Conley, CB, Ohio State

Ohio State’s Gareon Conley is an example of the media catching up with how the league thinks.

The conversation at corner mostly comes down to Conley’s teammate, Marshon Lattimore. Few would argue Conley is the better prospect of the two, but it’s hard to ignore the fact he was the leader of the secondary and a player with an elite outlook in his own right.

Digestion of film and a willingness to look outside the box has the 6’0″, 195-pound Conley finally emerging from the shadows. A physical press corner who can slot into any scheme, NFL teams covet boundary guys who can run with the NFL’s big, fast outside receivers.

As NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein noted, Conley is an any-level defensive back: “[He’s a] press-corner with experience at both cornerback spots and an ability to fit into a variety of coverage techniques. He plays with good top-end speed and has the ball skills to challenge and defend passes on any level.”

Jon Ledyard of FanRag Sports added further context:


In the above mock, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers go out and get Conley in the hopes he can pair opposite Vernon Hargreaves right away. Call it a necessary evil in an NFC South featuring Matt Ryan, Drew Brees and Cam Newton.

All told, Conley looked like a guy set to catch a lot of people off guard in the first round. It seems the analysis process avoided a miss.

      

Stock Down: Reuben Foster, LB, Alabama

Reuben Foster is the guy truly falling down draft boards with NFL teams as the big day approaches.

It’s not too hard to see why. Foster had that odd incident where he was sent home from the combine. This was easy to get over from a stock standpoint given the fact throwing these young guys in a high-pressure environment for the biggest job interview of their life broadcast to millions creates some tension.

Then a report about a diluted drug test came out. He told Ian Rapoport of NFL.com a test at the combine came back as diluted.

“This is something that’s going to get out,” Foster said. “I don’t make excuses. I’m a real dude. I try to be a good person. … I just hope the coaches understand and that’s all I can hope and pray for.”

For some, this is a big deal. Others, such as NFL Network’s Mike Mayock, don’t see these as major problems, as captured by NFL.com’s Chase Goodbread:


Like always, the truth is probably somewhere in the middle. Foster is still one of the better linebacker prospects to come out in a while. He’s a bit light at 6’0″ and 229 pounds, but his eagerness to avoid falling into typical slow middle linebacker stereotypes kept his stock soaring.

These hits on Foster are enough to let him fall to the New York Giants in the mock above, one of the most linebacker-needy teams in the league. The pulse on it feels right—Foster is too talented to fall much further, but teams in the top 15 will look a different way simply because his name won’t stop coming up in a negative light during the most critical time of his career.

       

Stock Up: Obi Melifonwu, S, Connecticut

David J. Phillip/Associated Press

Obi Melifonwu is this year’s workout warrior who has slowly shifted his stock thanks to raw numbers.

It’s not easy for a safety to break into the first-round conversation this year. Thank the all-around games of Malik Hooker and Jamal Adams, not to mention the sheer coverage skills of a Budda Baker and the overwhelming depth of the class.

Lately, though, Melifonwu’s name has come up more than Jabrill Peppers. CBSSports.com’s Jason La Canfora helped explain why:

But it’s impossible to ignore the ridiculous athletic feats throughout the lead up to the draft that have distanced him from all but the truly elite prospects. From the combine on he has completely wowed the scouting community with his somewhat incomparable combination of size, height, weight, speed, quickness and leaping ability, morphing the high-end speed of a top corner (4.40 in the 40) with the thumping frame of a linebacker (6-feet-4, 224 pounds).

Indeed, Melifonwu looks like a linebacker on the field, yet ran the mentioned 4.40 40-yard dash at the combine and ranked among the best at his spot in the vertical jump (44 inches) and broad jump (141).

On film, this athleticism doesn’t save Melifonwu from struggling against the pass at times. He’s more of a line-of-scrimmage enforcer at this point in his career, but the raw talent and numbers have NFL coaching staffs giddy to work with him.

The New Orleans Saints won’t pass on a high-end safety prospect twice. Melifonwu would slot well next to Kenny Vaccaro in the back end of the Saints defense as the team looks to entirely rebuild the unit.

       

Stats courtesy of NFL.com. All advanced metrics courtesy of Pro Football Focus.

NFL Draft 2017: Latest Mock Draft and Shifts on Stock Market as Event Nears – Bleacher Report

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