We have now reached that sad time of each NFL draft season, when those draft bargains we have identified finally start climbing up draft boards. This upward movement just leaves us crossing our fingers in the sometimes futile hope that those draft bargain players don't move up so far that they slip out of the Panthers reach, maybe even becoming over drafted, and all your scouting work becomes wasted.
Two of the best examples of this come from the 2008 draft. QB Joe Flacco had been considered a 5th round pick during the college season, then does well at the Combine, shooting up to the 3rd round on draft boards. When April comes around he moves into the lake 2nd round (so the Panthers look like they may still have a shot at him in the 2nd round, but then over the next few weeks he shoots up draft boards, until he's picked in the middle of the 1st round (#18 I believe).
The 2nd example is of 2,000 yard RB Chris Johnson, of the famous 4.24-40, who's rise mirrors that of Flacco. Johnson was considered a 4th or 5th round pick before the Combine, even though they believed he was that fast, but after the Combine he moved up in most mock drafts to the very late 2nd or 3rd round, only moving up to the middle of the 2nd round until a week to 10 days before the draft. Suddenly, in that last week or so, his draft stock takes off, until he's drafted by the Titans at #24.
Now it's starting to happen again this year. LB Mychal Kendricks (5-11 1/8, 239, an "official" Combine 4.47-40, "unofficially" a 4.41-40) has been ranked from the mid 40's to the middle of the 3rd round, and his consensus ranking among the top draft experts mocks (from walterfootball.com) ranks him at #69.67. However, today I read a story that the Ravens have had him in for a visit, and are considering picking him in the 1st round (#29)to replace ILB Ray Lewis. The story also reports that the Patriots are intrested in drafting Kendricks in the late 1st round (#27 and #31) as well. I had been projecting Kendricks to the Panthers at #40, as a replacement for Thomas Davis at WLB, and also as a backup for MLB Jon Beason (who he's been compared to.
Here's another draft bargain like Kendricks, Houston LB (mostly an OLB, but some time inside as well) Sammy Brown (6-1 7/8, 242, 4.64-40), who in only a 2 year career (he's a junior college transfer) had 21 sacks, and 49.5 TFL's (13.5 sacks, leading the nation with 30 TFL's and 93 tackles in 2011). Most draft rankings don't even list him, but with 2 exceptions, nfldraftscout.com ranking him as the drafts 355th best player, and the National Football Post which projects him as a 6th round pick.
So, imagine my surprise today to see that story stating that the Raiders are having him in for a visit, and consider him a middle round pick (4th or 5th round pick). Check out these story links for video of these 2 players, and much more detail about their abilities. Link One & Link Two