Since the return of David Cutcliffe as coordinator, the Tennessee Volunteer offense has been on high octane. After a disappointing sophomore campaign Erik Ainge is once establishing himself as one of the top quarterback prospects for the future. Ainge, who looked brilliant as a freshman, is back to prior form this year as a junior completing almost 70% of his passes and averaging just more than 275-yards passing per game.
The beneficiaries of this have been a pair of receivers, Robert Meachem and Jayson Swain.
A talented but inconsistent pass catcher, Meachem returned with renewed work ethic this season and the junior is developing a complete game. Possessing terrific size while offering game-breaking speed, (Meachem has averaged 21.4-yards on 27 receptions this season) he now grades as a top seven player at the receiver position.
Swain came into the season graded as a free agent prospect but the senior has changed that perception. Becoming much more a part of the offense, Swain has five touchdown receptions this year which is one more than his combined total the previous three seasons. At 6'1"/205lbs and a legitimate 4.50-seconds in the forty, Swain will now be given consideration in the early part of the middle rounds.
Arron Sears has also been a silent killer up front on the offensive line. A dominant force as a pass protector and run blocker, Sears has elevated his game and could sneak into the draft's initial 40 selections. Whether teams leave him at left tackle or move Sears into guard is another argument altogether.
Keep an eye on BYU passer John Beck. The strong-armed quarterback who possesses terrific deep accuracy is on fire this season. Averaging 321-yards passing in five games this year, Beck is also completing 68% of his throws. Though he lacks classic pocket-passer height standing a shade under 6-feet-2-inches, Beck will be knocking on the door of the draft's first day next April.
Another player on the rise is Ohio State's Doug Datish. The former offensive tackle replaced Nick Mangold at center this season and has taken well to the new position. Datish has been dominant and could end up as the first center drafted in April.
As is the case every year as players rise up draft boards others have fallen.
More was expected from Nebraska's Adam Carriker than has been delivered thus far. The big defensive end has had minimal impact as a pass rusher, recording one sack to date. His grade is starting to slip and Carriker must pick-up the pace during the second half of the season.
James Finley of Oregon has been a huge disappointment this season. Finley, who was expected to replace Demetrius Williams as the Ducks number one receiver, has fallen way short of expectations. Coming into the season with anywhere from a mid-to-late round grade, Finley presently sits with five receptions this season.