Draft Risers, Fallers with One Month to Go

As March turns into April, the college pro day calendar begins to wind towards its end and players are left to wonder if they did enough to convince the NFL personnel population that they are worthy of a jersey at the next level.

The process has moved forward and there are definitely some top players who have slid due to performance or off-the-field issues, and others who continue to climb. Still other players, mostly unknown to the general fan population, have made names for themselves and possibly worked their way into a draftworthy grade.

Here is a quick look at some of the top prospects whose status has changed and a few "no-name" guys to keep an eye on.

Risers

Tyron Smith, T, Southern Cal — Smith may lack the size and strength of some of his counterparts, but he is extremely athletic and his versatility gives him the ability to play on the right or left side.

Ryan Kerrigan, DE/OLB, Purdue — Kerrigan has always been known as a high-motor guy who can get to the QB, but recent workouts have shown that he can handle a role as a standup OLB in a 3-4 scheme. That has opened new doors for him and he is headed towards the top 10 on most boards.

Robert Quinn, DE/OLB, North Carolina — Though there were concerns about Quinn's season-long suspension last fall and reports of a benign tumor on his brain dogged him early in the process, teams are coming around. With those questions being answered, his ability to be an impact player in any defensive scheme is attractive to teams.

Mark Ingram, RB, Alabama — Ingram is generally perceived as the top RB in the draft. However, few teams seem eager to fill RB needs in the first round. While many see Miami as a likely landing spot for the former Heisman winner, if the Dolphins *don't *select him, he could potentially drop out of the first round.

Colin Kaepernick, QB, Nevada — Kaepernick has great measurables and a strong arm and is extremely athletic. While most scouts agree he is a bit of a project (he'll likely have to change his throwing motion), his 10,000 passing yards and 4,000 rushing yards as well as his physical tools and positive intangibles have this kid high on many teams' radars.

Fallers

Nick Fairley, DT, Auburn — Fairley is unbelievably talented and uniquely gifted as an athlete, but something is bothering teams about him. We're hearing he's not interviewing well. He's still a top-10 pick, but at one point he was considered a potential No. 1 overall pick.

Jimmy Smith, CB, Colorado — Big, strong, aggressive and athletic on the field, Smith has raised some concerns with his behavior off the field.

Torrey Smith, WR, Maryland — Smith's game is built on speed, but while he can beat a defense deep, the rest of his game still needs work. Add to that the fact that his production in college was inconsistent and new rule changes to the return game will limit his role there, and he could slip out of the first round.

Justin Houston, OLB, Georgia — He reminds many scouts of former Jet Vernon Gholston, who struggled with the transition to the 3-4. Houston can rush the passer, but the rest of his game needs work. If teams only see him as a weakside DE in a 4-3, then his options will be limited and he could fall out of the first round.

Ryan Mallett, QB, Arkansas — Mallett's arm strength, accuracy and production may be the best in this draft. However, a lack of intangibles teams are looking for in a team leader, plus a real lack of athleticism and mobility, make him a concern as a high draft pick.

Sleepers

Brooks Reed, OLB, Arizona — Early on, Reed was tagged as a DE/OLB 'tweener, but he impressed at the Senior Bowl, and his offseason workouts have shown that he has the footwork and mobility to get into drops and play in coverage, which is the concern. He has a non-stop motor and is a high-effort player who could be called in the middle of Round 2.

Rodney Hudson, C, Florida State — Hudson is not big, strong or fast, and he doesn't have the build to add much bulk. But playing on the interior, he plays with near-perfect technique and excellent footwork. He can play guard or center and will make an impact sooner than people think.

Martez Wilson, OLB, Illinois — Wilson played inside in college, but his 4.4 40 at the combine and his size, strength and long arms make him an ideal fit on the outside. He could rush the passer from the edge in the 3-4 or could line up as the Sam in a 4-3. Originally a middle-round prospect, he could be gone by the beginning of Round 2.

Jalil Brown, CB, Colorado — Brown had a great pro day, running a 4.4 in the 40 and showing fluid hips and good movement in position drills. He could develop into the same player as Jimmy Smith without the off-field issues.

Nic Grigsby, RB, Arizona — Grigsby lacks ideal size and bulk, but he runs a sub-4.4 40 and has a 44-inch vertical and excellent change of direction. He has some ball-security issues that can be worked out, but he can be a valuable change-of-pace back.

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