NFL Draft stock report: Arizona State's Jaelen Strong looks pro ready

Stephen Lam

Last year, the hottest junior college transfer in college football was Tennessee's Cordarrelle Patterson. He parlayed a single highlight-making season with the Volunteers into a first-round placement in the draft. This year's version of Patterson looks to be Arizona State's Jaelen Strong.


Anyone who listened to last week's Mocking the Draft podcast would have been clued in about Strong. A redshirt sophomore, Strong is in his first FBS season after transferring from junior college.

On Saturday against Stanford (a 42-28 Cardinal win), Strong stood out. He finished the game with 12 receptions for 168 yards and a touchdown. It was his second consecutive game of more than 100 yards receiving after he had 104 against Wisconsin in Week 2. At 6'3, 205 pounds, Strong plays a lot like Demaryius Thomas of the Denver Broncos. He can go up and catch tough passes and is dangerous on vertical routes.

Strong may not be one-and-done at Arizona State like Patterson was at Tennessee, but he sure looks NFL ready at this point.

Stock up:

George Uko, defensive tackle, Southern California

As bad as the Southern California offense is, the unique 5-2 defense is good. Namely against Utah State, defensive tackle George Uko was active and disruptive. Uko plays a combo end/tackle position and looks most comfortable shooting gaps. He was consistently getting penetration on Saturday, finishing with five tackles and a sack. As a mid- to late-round prospect, Uko should provide a team a good depth piece.

Morgan Breslin, outside linebacker/defensive end, Southern California

Everyone knows that Breslin is a good pass rusher. He proved last year that he's speedy and can get into the backfield. He proved as much against Utah State with three tackles for loss and two sacks. The sacks on Chuckie Keeton won't do a lot to change his NFL Draft status. It was a play later in the game that will be more important for his highlight reel.

Utah State was setting up a screen pass, but Breslin stopped it from happening. He was blitzing on the play and deciphered the screen and dropped into coverage to blow the play up.

James Hurst, offensive tackle, North Carolina

It's true that Hurst gave up a sack to Georgia Tech's Jeremiah Attaochu on Saturday. But for much of the game, Hurst impressed. Remember when the Atlanta Falcons took Sam Baker with the 21st pick in the 2008 draft? He was a solid college player and has been above-average as a pro. That's the type of player Hurst profiles as. He's not going to be a top-10 pick, but he may be a first-round pick because of the position he plays. Against Georgia Tech, Hurst looked particularly good as a run blocker. He got up to the second level and neutralized a linebacker to open up a hole. The run went for eight yards. Certainly not a huge gain, but the type of routine block that some linemen just don't show.

Vic Beasley, defensive end, Clemson

This is already the second time this season Beasley is being featured in the stock up portion of the report. Not bad for playing just three games. He looked just as fast against North Carolina State as he did in the season opener against Georgia. Last Thursday, he was consistently the first player off the line of scrimmage and got into the backfield for three sacks. Beasley also helped himself by knocking down two passes.

Throughout the season, look for Beasley to get compared to Georgia Tech's Jeremiah Attaochu. The ACC's top two pass rushers do a lot of things the same. Attaochu is probably the more complete player at this point, but Beasley is really coming along.

Stock down:

Taylor Lewan, offensive tackle, Michigan

We've seen Michigan struggle two straight weeks, first against lowly Akron and then to Connecticut on Saturday. In both of those games, Lewan has looked only average. Notably, his feet look heavy and he doesn't move around swiftly. The gap between Texas A&M's Jake Matthews and the rest of the offensive tackle prospects gets wider each week.

Anthony Johnson, defensive tackle, LSU

If there is one thing a defensive tackle can't let happen, it's allowing linemen to sustain him. That's what happened to Johnson against Auburn. Johnson didn't stay low out of his stance and allowed Auburn's linemen to get under his pads. Johnson is direly in need of some splash plays to be considered more than just a serviceable lineman. Through four games, he has just 2.5 tackles for loss, no sacks and just a single quarterback hurry.

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