Locker's draft stock takes a dive
Jake Locker, a top QB prospect, has looked awful in three games
Nevada QB Colin Kaepernick has really impressed NFL scouts
NC State linebacker Nate Irving looks good after offseason car accident
Week 3 on the college football schedule featured several outstanding performances from underrated prospects on both sides of the ball. But one high-profile quarterback found his stock sinking after a third straight poor outing. Here are the risers and sliders for Week 3. (*Denotes underclassmen)
Jake Locker/QB/Washington: Locker started the season with uninspired performances against BYU and Syracuse before an awful showing against Nebraska last Saturday. He completed just four of 20 passes for 71 yards and had a pair of interceptions. Locker has forced the ball into coverage while trying to rely on his arm strength to make plays this season. His decision-making has been suspect at times. There's time for the senior to turn around his play, yet there's no denying he has hurt himself in the eyes of NFL scouts in the early going of the 2010 campaign.
Greg Lloyd/LB/Connecticut: Lloyd did lead the Huskies with seven tackles during the loss to Temple. However, for the most part he looked stiff, struggled in coverage and also had several tackles broken.
Justin Houston*/LB/Georgia: Houston has done well this season when lined up in a three-point stance, yet NFL scouts project the junior to outside linebacker. He's struggled playing in space, is slow to react, shows poor instincts and misses assignments.
Colin Kaepernick/QB/Nevada: The Wolfpack signal-caller was a one-man show on offense, leading Nevada to a 21-point victory over Cal by accounting for 329 total yards and five scores. Kaepernick must continue to improve his passing mechanics, but his decision-making and command of the offense against one of the Pac-10's best defenses impressed NFL scouts.
Ronald Johnson/WR/USC: The Trojans leading receiver is dependable and has big-play potential. He's averaged five receptions a game this season with four touchdown grabs, including a 53-yard score in the win over Minnesota last Saturday. Scouts gave Johnson a late-round grade entering the season, yet many feel he could move into the draft's initial 60 selections if he continues his present pace.
Torrey Smith*/WR/Maryland: The Terrapins offense was anemic in the loss to WVU, except for Smith. The junior receiver finished with 149 receiving yards on just three receptions with two resulting in touchdowns. Smith, also a game-breaking return specialist, is a true vertical threat who has NFL size and home-run hitting speed.
Jock Sanders/WR-RS/WVU: The multi-purpose Sanders produced in a variety of ways during the Mountaineers' border-war victory over Maryland. He made six receptions for 86 yards, added another 10 yards running reverses and averaged 23 yards on three punt returns. The senior nicely projects as a specialist for the next level and will be asked to line up in the slot, carry the ball on occasion as well as handle return duties.
Eric Hagg/S/Nebraska: The Cornhuskers defensive backfield is loaded with next-level talent and it's easy to overlook Hagg, one of the most dependable players in the secondary. He's a complete safety who combines outstanding instincts, toughness against the run and ball skills in coverage. Hagg's stat line in the win over Washington was not eye-popping -- one tackle, one interception and a pair of passes broken up. Yet his ability to stay away from mental errors and play smart, aggressive football each week has impressed scouts.
Jaiquawn Jarrett/S/Temple: He led Temple's big-pay defense from the secondary. He's a heat-seeking missile from his safety position, delivering devastating blows while also displaying discipline with cover assignments. Jarrett lacks classic safety size yet plays big and gets the most from his talents.
Brook Reed/DE/Arizona: Reed was a force in the Wildcats' upset victory over ninth-ranked Iowa on Saturday. The senior led the Wildcat defensive line with five tackles while also registering 1.5 tackles for loss and an equal number of sacks. An intense competitor, he gets every ounce from his 6-foot-2½, 255-pound frame. While his measurables limit his upside, love his football smarts and competitiveness. Reed is the type of prospect who could move north on draft boards if he continues to play at a high level this season and punches out a few solid performances at the Senior Bowl and combine.
SLEEPER ALERT -- Nate Irving/LB/North Carolina State: Irving sat on the sidelines last year rehabilitating serious injuries he sustained during a summer auto accident. He has not lost speed, making plays sideline-to-sideline, just as he did early in his college career. He's a versatile defender and can line up at a number of linebacker spots.
Auburn junior Nick Fairley, a Week 2 riser, turned in another impressive performance this weekend. The defensive lineman finished with seven tackles, three tackles for loss, one sack and four quarterback pressures in the comeback victory over Clemson.
Pittsburgh senior Greg Romeus, a Week 1 slider, had been struggling with a back injury. Now comes word the star defensive end had back surgery to repair a herniated disc. Romeus hopes to return before the season ends, but prevalent back issues could raise red flags for NFL teams.
West Virginia cornerback Brandon Hogan was suspended indefinitely last week after being arrested and charged with driving under the influence. This is Hogan's second run in with police in five months as he pleaded guilty to urinating in public in June from an incident that occurred last April. The senior was graded as a potential third-round pick by NFL scouts yet could now go undrafted because of his checkered past.
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