Haason Reddick is a name to watch leading up to April's NFL Draft. Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

The 2017 NFL draft is about a month away, and the draft board looks like a Chutes and Ladders board with all the names going up and down.

These players have seen their draft stock fluctuate wildly and probably have to brace for another roller coaster month before they finally know their future.

(NFL Draft Scout and NFL.com were used for scouting reports.)

Rising: Gareon Conley, CB, Ohio State

Marshon Lattimore and Malik Hooker have overshadowed Gareon Conley, but Conley could complete a first-round hat trick for Ohio State’s star-studded secondary.

Lattimore could be the first overall cornerback off the board, but teams who figure that he’ll be gone by the time they pick are taking a long look at Conley.

The 6’0″, 195-pound redshirt junior went from two interceptions and five pass breakups playing opposite Eli Apple in 2015 to four interceptions and eight pass breakups last season. According to NFL.com, he allowed just 37 percent of the passes thrown his way to be completed. That screams “shutdown corner potential.”

Falling: Tim Williams, DE, Alabama

That Alabama uniform normally is a ticket to the first round, but Tim Williams isn’t guaranteed to hear his name called on Day 1.

Williams said at the combine that he failed multiple drug tests at Alabama, and he was arrested last season on a misdemeanor gun charge and sat out the first half against Kentucky because of it.

There are concerns about Williams on the field, as well. The 6’3″, 244-pounder had nine sacks and 16 tackles for loss in 2016, but some scouts see him as a one-dimensional pass rusher. According to Pro Football Focus, Williams played fewer snaps in his career than Tennessee’s Derek Barnett played in 2016 alone.

Rising: Obi Melifonwu, S, Connecticut

Obi Melifonwu’s height and weight already sets him apart, and his combine numbers make him a strong candidate to be drafted in the first round.

Melifonwu is one of only three safeties who are 6’4″, and he’s the heaviest among them at 224. Despite that bulk, Melifonwu was the fastest safety at the combine with a 4.4-second 40-yard dash. He also led the position group in the broad jump (141 inches) and vertical leap (44 inches). His vertical is eighth all-time at the combine since 2000, according to Pro Football Reference, although Melifonwu might hope he’s not drafted by an NFC East team because Cowboys cornerback and former UConn teammate Byron Jones jumped 44 feet, 5 inches at the 2015 combine and Melifonwu might hear about that.

It’s not like Melifonwu is an overnight combine sensation. He was a four-year starter at Connecticut, leading the American Athletic Conference and ranking eighth nationally with 73 solo tackles in 2016.

Falling: Teez Tabor, CB, Florida

Teez Tabor was a combine flop. His 4.62 in the 40-yard dash was tied for the slowest time among cornerbacks. He was next to last in the vertical leap (31 inches) and bench press (nine reps) and tied for 17th in the broad jump (120 inches).

The knocks on Tabor don’t end there. He was suspended at Florida for refusing to take a drug test and for fighting with a teammate. He’s viewed as a diva and between the lines his tackling ability has been questioned. He missed 13 tackles in 2015.

Tabor’s coverage skills are a strength. He had eight interceptions in three years at Florida. In 2015, he broke up 14 passes playing opposite Vernon Hargreaves. Unless he improves some of his combine numbers at Florida’s pro day on March 28, however, Tabor likely is a second-round selection at best.

Rising: Garett Bolles, OT, Utah

Garett Bolles is 25 and played only one year at the FBS level. Normally that would scare away a lot of teams, but Bolles is rising up draft boards because of his upside.

Unlike some draft prospects, Bolles has had a real job. He was a garage door repairman for a couple of years before going the junior college route at Snow College. From there, Bolles went to Utah and earned All-Pac 12 honors at left tackle.

Bolles plays with a mean streak that scouts like and tore up the combine, leading offensive tackles in the 40-yard dash (4.95), 3-cone drill (7.29), 20-yard shuttle (4.55) and broad jump (115 inches). He didn’t take part in the bench press and at 6’5″, 297 pounds he could stand to add a few pounds. It will be interesting to see what Bolles turns into when he fills out and there are teams who are probably willing to use a pick in the top half of the first round to find out.

Falling: Patrick Mahomes, QB, Texas Tech

Patrick Mahomes’ net draft stock is ahead of where it was pre-combine, but it’s dipped slightly in recent weeks.

Mahomes will have to prove that playing in a spread offense in college can translate to the NFL. However, he solidified his first-round projection at the combine.

That remains a realistic assessment, even if Mahomes is a late-first round pick rather than a mid-first round pick. He seemed linked to the Cardinals at No. 13 in some mock drafts earlier in March, he’s trending more toward the Texans at No. 25.

There’s plenty of time for Mahomes’ stock to rise again, especially considering the quarterback inflation that tends to happen as the draft approaches.

Rising: Haason Reddick, DE, Temple

Haason Reddick is still riding the wave of his post-combine boost. He was the fastest among inside linebackers, outside linebackers and defensive ends with a 4.52 in the 40-yard dash and he was the best among all three position groups with a 133-inch broad jump. Among outside linebackers, Reddick’s 24 bench press reps were second.

Those numbers vaulted Reddick into the first round, and on Monday Lance Zierlein of NFL.com predicted that the Titans would take Reddick at No. 5.

Reddick came to Temple as a walk-on, but his total tackles, tackles for loss and sacks increased in each of his four seasons, topping out at 22.5 tackles for loss in 2016 (third in the nation), 65 tackles and 9.5 sacks. Reddick also threw in an interception and three forced fumbles, both career highs.

At 6’1″, 237 pounds, Reddick might be a little undersized, but an NFL team will find a place for him and the chances of that team picking in the top 10 are growing.

Falling: Derek Barnett, DE, Tennessee

The defensive-needy Saints at No. 11 seemed to be Derek Barnett’s draft floor until this week. A couple of mock drafts have him sliding in the first round.

This probably has nothing to do with Barnett. It could be that a couple of late risers shook up the board and forced Barnett down. Also, Barnett’s lack of flash and length (6’3″, 259 pounds) prevents him from getting a ticket on the hype train.

Barnett could be a steal late in the first round. He was a three-time All-SEC selection and had 52 tackles for loss in three years. In 2016, Barnett made 18 tackles for loss and was sixth in the FBS with 12 sacks. He’s not an eye-popping talent but he seems to know how to get to the quarterback. That’s a good thing to know in the NFL.

Rising: Chidobe Awuzie, CB, Colorado

Chidobe Awuzie didn’t get a huge combine bump. His only standout performance was a 132-inch broad jump, which tied him for second among cornerbacks. Since the combine, however, Awuzie has been working his way into the first-round conversation.

Awuzie had just three interceptions in his four years at Colorado. He might have been overlooked early in the draft process because of that. He did, however, break up 25 passes for the Buffaloes. That includes career-high 11 as a senior.

The 6’0″, 202-pounder also had four sacks and two forced fumbles in each of the last two seasons, with 12 tackles in 2015 and six last season. He’s also a gunner on special teams, which would bring added value for the team selecting him. It wouldn’t be surprising if that selection came in the first round.

Falling: Budda Baker, S, Washington

Budda Baker’s name was thrown around as a first-round pick after his combine showing. He was fourth in the safety group with a 4.45 40-yard dash, second in the 20-yard shuttle and fourth in the 3-cone drill.

Baker has shown the ability to make plays and has a scary ceiling. He had 9.5 tackles for loss last season to go with three sacks, two interceptions, five pass breakups and a forced fumble. His post-combine bounce seems to be wearing off, however.

The sticking point with Baker is his 5’10”, 195-pound frame. He can make up for that with a big heart in college, but the NFL is another matter. There’s a chance he could sneak into the first round but he’s most likely a second-day pick with the potential to make a lot of teams regret passing on him.

This article first appeared on The Sports Daily and was syndicated with permission.


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