Before the draft critiquing process went full-swing in January, there were multiple prospects throughout the country that were either highly regarded or simply being discussed more than they currently are.
Prospects, such as Oklahoma's Landry Jones, were considered early to middle round selections because of their combination of production and talent. However, since the draft process has kicked in, those same prospects have fallen out of the limelight, been knocked for various reasons, their stock has simply settled into what its value truly is or some of us were just flat out wrong. Below is a list of five players that were once remembered around the web as better prospects than they are currently viewed as.
Landry Jones – QB – Oklahoma
What happened to Landry Jones? We could blame the Oklahoma Sooners coaching staff for not developing him with their screen passes heavy offense. We could blame backup quarterback Blake Bell for taking red zone opportunities away from Jones. But could we also blame Landry Jones for simply being Landry Jones?
It's no secret that Jones is an inconsistent quarterback. He struggles at the hint of defensive pressure and is erratic with his accuracy. He also has tools that can be worked on, however. He has a very strong arm that enables him to make all the throws necessary to open up a playbook from cover to cover and that alone could keep him in the NFL for the next 10 years.
NFL traditionalists are always enamored with quarterbacks that can sling the football around, which is exactly what Jones can do. Whether he develops into a franchise quarterback, which he was once considered, or not is a mystery right now but he's most certainly going to get the chance to because of his physical tools.
Mike Gillislee – RB – Florida
Florida running back Mike Gillislee was rising up draft boards throughout the season and into the early stages of the draft process. Some viewed him as an underrated ball-carrier with acceleration and power. Now there's not much viewing of him.
Gillislee may not be a first or second day selection but he still has talent that can be useful to various teams. He has little wear and tear on his body and has shown solid vision on the front-side of plays when running with the ball. Despite not having great agility to make cutbacks to the back-side of plays, he has the ability to pick up positive yardage on old school running plays, such as 'power' and 'counter'.
Ray Graham – RB – Pittsburgh
There's something to be said about Pittsburgh running backs – they produce in the NFL. It can also be said that they don't usually get drafted as early as they should.
LeSean McCoy was the No. 53 overall selection in the 2009 draft and Dion Lewis, who has had limited touches but was productive in his first two years, was No. 149 in 2011. Now Graham could go somewhere in between, if not even later, the picks and one could argue he should go earlier.
Graham is short but agile, possesses quality vision and is a dynamic runner with the ball in his hands. One can't help but think that would benefit a team in a league that's always looking to add players that can gain yards in chunks.
He has questions with his character and durability, which certainly contributes to his low stock, but from a talent standpoint, Graham should go higher than what he's being projected.
Gerald Hodges – LB – Penn State
Gerald Hodges is one that I'm admittedly not sure about. He was once rated pretty highly, such as NFL.com's Chad Reuter's list of Top 5 outside linebackers and viewed as a potential mid-round selection.
Since Reuter's list, it seems that Hodges has either seen his stock slip or people have simply gone silent on him. He's an athletic linebacker that does a good job of tackling and has the versatility to play either outside linebacker position.
He's still developing overall but has upside that should see him taken earlier than where he's being projected, if not simply because of the lack of distinct value in draft prospects.
Terry Hawthorne – CB – Illinois
There was a time when Illinois cornerback Terry Hawthorne was in the Top 5 players at his position on nfldraftscout.com. A quick glance now shows a list of 10 prospects, none of which are Hawthorne.
Hawthorne is projected as a fifth round selection by the same website, likely because of injuries he suffered last season and inconsistent play overall. He was shredded in coverage by Louisiana Tech wide receiver Quinton Patton last season to the tune of 27 yards per reception (!). There's no doubt that he struggled in 2012 but Hawthorne didn't magically lose talent in a few months.
He's not a typical Illinois cornerback. He plays the ball in the air better than the previous defensive backs that played at the school, including cornerback Vontae Davis and safety Tavon Wilson, and he's equally physical. He also runs well and has good size at 5'11”, 196 pounds. I'd take a chance on him.
Honorable mentions: Clemson RB Andre Ellington, UCLA TE Joseph Fauria, Elon WR Aaron Mellette, Wisconsin OT Ricky Wagner