Draft watch: Vols RB, Clemson QB among disappointing performers
Senior QBs Cullen Harper and Curtis Painter have struggled mightily this year
Harper's sluggish play has directly affected WR Aaron Kelly's slipping draft stock
LSU RB Keiland Williams has ceded reps to Charles Scott, a Heisman candidate
With the college season at the midway point, it is time to take a look at how the top NFL prospects have performed thus far. There a number of well-known, next-level players who have disappointed scouts with their poor play. Here's a look at the prospects that have watched their draft stock drop. (Next Tuesday, we'll take a look at players who have surprised.)
Cullen Harper/QB/Clemson: Harper's struggling with a shoulder injury and plays behind a relatively inexperienced offensive line, but his play this year is still unimpressive. He was rated as the top senior passer by NFL scouting services coming into the season -- yet Harper's production is down, his decision-making has been suspect and he recently lost his starting job at Clemson.
Curtis Painter/QB/Purdue: Painter's woes seem to get worse every week. His play has regressed to the point where he is now in a battle to keep his starting job with the Boilermakers. Painter has taken a precipitous drop down draft boards and has fallen into the late rounds.
Arian Foster/RB/Tennessee: The Volunteers primary ball carrier, originally graded as a third-round pick, is in the midst of a terrible campaign. His production is down across the board, including no touchdowns in six games. Foster's fumbling of the football, an issue that's always concerned scouts, has reared its ugly head at inopportune times this season.
Keiland Williams*/RB/LSU: The junior came into the season with high expectations, as many thought Williams was on his way to being the next great running back prospect from the LSU pipeline. He lost his starting job and has only totaled 65 rushing yards in six games this season.
Carson Butler Jr.*/TE/Michigan: Butler is another junior that carried high expectations coming into the '08 campaign, as scouts hoped to see him build upon a terrific sophomore season. He's presently buried on the Wolverine depth chart as the team's third tight end and has two receptions to his credit this year.
Aaron Kelly/WR/Clemson: Clemson's top receiver the past two seasons and the ACC leader in touchdown receptions last year, Kelly is watching his game regress. He's producing 50 percent fewer receiving yards this season, compared to his junior campaign, and Kelly does not have a touchdown in the Tigers' six games. He's fallen from a potential third-round choice into the draft's late frames.
Eugene Monroe/T/Virginia: Monroe was graded as an early first-round pick by NFL scouts, yet his recent poor play could push him out of the draft's top 12 picks next April. Monroe worked hard to improve his game this summer, yet on a number of occasions this season he has looked like a novice at left tackle.
Pannel Egboh/DE/Stanford: The book on Egboh has been consistent throughout his Stanford career; first-round physical ability but late-round intensity. His totals after seven games -- just 17 tackles, two tackles for loss and a single sack -- has not made scouts believe anything has changed.
Greg Middleton*/DE/Indiana: NFL scouts have issued a search warrant to find Middleton, who's been missing all season. Middleton was considered a potential first-round pick after his brilliant sophomore campaign which included 50 tackles, 17 tackles for loss and 16 sacks. He's been invisible this season with paltry totals of nine tackles and one sack in five games.
Antonio Dixon/DT/Miami-Fla: Dixon built a buzz about himself in the scouting community last year after he showed flashes of dominance at the all-important defensive tackle position. He's been anything but dominant this year as opponents have pushed him around the field. Dixon has gone from potential mid-round choice to possible undrafted free agent.
Bruce Johnson/CB/Miami-Fla: Johnson is another Miami senior who has disappointed NFL decision-makers during the first half of the college season. He was rated as a possible first-round pick entering his senior campaign but has been victimized on a number of occasions and now grades no better than a middle-round choice.
Courtney Greene/S/Rutgers: Greene gave serious consideration to entering last April's draft before deciding to stay at Rutgers for one more season. His play this year has been uninspired as Greene has been a non-factor for most of the season. Scouts are whispering he could fall out of the draft's first three rounds.
Nic Harris/S/Oklahoma: The Sooners safety was graded as a top 100 pick before the season began but has played more like a late-round choice. Harris has been marginally effective in run defense, his forte, and non-existent in pass coverage. His career is drawing parallels to Thomas Lewis, the former Georgia safety and first round pick of the Carolina Panthers. Harris may eventually be forced to move to linebacker in the same manner Lewis did after he was drafted into the NFL.
Myron Rolle*/S/Florida State: Rolle has watched his game level off after a dominant freshman campaign two seasons ago. His productivity has gone in reverse and Rolle has never taken his game to the next level, as many scouts thought possible.
There's disappointing news of another kind coming from North Carolina. Tar Heels receiver Brandon Tate, who was in the midst of a terrific senior campaign, has been lost for the remainder of the year after tearing two ligaments in his right knee during the team's victory over Notre Dame. Tate has been one of the few pleasant surprises from the senior receiver class this year and has watched his draft stock skyrocket. He was averaging 23.5 yards on 16 receptions before his injury besides being one of the nation's top kick and punt returners.
Texas was not the only winner in the Red River Rivalry on Saturday. Longhorns defensive end Brian Orakpo won his showdown against Sooners tackle Philip Loadholt, which we highlighted last week. Orakpo totaled six tackles including four for loss, registered two sacks, forced a fumble and was generally a disruptive force all day.
* Denotes Underclassman
NFL Truth & Rumors