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NFL Draft stock report: Defensive end

Eleven weeks into the college football season, many top players have seen their draft stock rise, fall or stay steady. In our latest NFL Draft series, we take a look at some of these prospects.

Today we move to defensive end.

NFL DRAFT STOCK REPORT: QB | RB | WR | TE | OL

STOCK UP

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Recruiting: Thomas committed to Stanford over Arkansas, UCLA and many others on National Signing Day.

Performance: Thomas has had an absolutely dominant season leading Stanford with 46 tackles (12 for loss) including seven sacks. He has also recorded two fumble recoveries, a forced fumble and six quarterback hurries.

Farrell’s take: Known as much for the way he committed, by donning nerd glasses and a potted tree with the Stanford logo, as his play, Thomas was what I call a quiet high four-star. In the 2014 recruiting class we had him behind Da’Shawn Hand and Malik McDowell at strongside defensive end. I loved his technique and his endless motor, but he just fell short of five stars, by four spots, and he’s showing us that could have been a mistake. A big end, Thomas played the run well and could get after the passer and his versatility at Stanford and ability to play inside or outside at the next level have many scouts falling in love.

Recruiting: The five-star named Alabama his favorite in February of his junior year and in May decided to pull the trigger for the Crimson Tide. Florida, USC, Oklahoma, Ohio State and many others were in the running for the Mid-Atlantic standout, but from early on Alabama seemed to be a team to beat.

Performance: Allen is fifth on the Crimson Tide with 40 tackles and seven sacks. The former five-star has a team-high 13 quarterback hurries and is tied with Ronnie Harrison with two fumble recoveries.

Farrell’s take: As a five-star and the No. 11 prospect in the 2013 class, it was clear that I loved Allen as a player. He was big, intense, ran everything down and could either go around you or bull rush you into the quarterback’s comfort zone. He played end and tackle in high school and couldn’t be stopped at either position. He was downright scary at Stone Bridge and has always been a serious worker off the field. His ability to play outside or inside makes him scheme versatile and the NFL loves that, so he could work in a 3-4 or a 4-3. He's pushing to be the No. 1 end in this class, perhaps even ahead of Myles Garrett.

STOCK STEADY

Recruiting: The top-rated weak-side defensive end and second-best player in the 2014 class committed to Texas A&M in October over Alabama, Ohio State, TCU, Florida State and others.

Performance: In eight games, Garrett has accumulated 22 tackles (9.5 for loss) along with four sacks. The former five-star has also nine quarterback hurries, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery.

Farrell’s take: There was a heated debate in regards to who was No. 1 in the class of 2014, with many believing it was Garrett. That debate is over. We picked the wrong guy. In the end we decided Alabama junior Da’Shawn Hand should remain in the top spot with Garrett at No. 2. While Hand struggles to break out, Garrett still could be the No. 1 pick in the NFL Draft in 2017. Garrett is a freaky athlete and has shown increased ability to hold the edge against the run better while he gives tackles fits with his pass rushing ability and speed. His numbers are down this season and he’s been banged up, but NFL scouts still love his ceiling and upside.

Recruiting: Barnett committed to Tennessee midway through his senior season, but he apparently made his mind up much earlier than that. According to reports, after he saw the Volunteers play for the first time during his freshman season against LSU, Barnett said he knew he’d end up playing there. LSU, Vanderbilt, South Carolina, Texas A&M, Ohio State and others were involved.

Performance: Barnett has 42 tackles, including 16 for loss and 10 sacks. He has also recorded two forced fumbles, an interception and eight quarterback hurries.

Farrell’s take: Some guys do a lot of developing between the time they sign and when they arrive on campus, and Barnett is clearly one of those players. We liked him, obviously, based on his top-175 ranking, but did we see his massive impact on the SEC in his first three seasons? Nope. He is exceeding our expectations quite a bit and has become stronger and faster earlier than projected, much to the delight of Vols fans. He can bull rush you, he can beat you with speed and a shoulder dip even when plays are run to the opposite side, he can get involved. It’s hard for me to pick which defensive end I like the best in this class, but Barnett is in my top three.

STOCK DOWN

Recruiting: Harris was a two-star prospect and little was known about him coming out of Kansas City (Mo.) Lincoln College Prep. He recorded 60 tackles, including 12 sacks in his senior season, and Missouri is listed as his lone offer.

Performance: Harris is third on the team with 52 tackles, including 11 tackles for loss and eight sacks, both team highs. He also has six quarterback hurries, two forced fumbles and a fumble recovery.

Farrell’s take: This was a kid we didn’t get to evaluate much at all because he emerged for Missouri so late and didn’t have film prior to his senior year, so the sample size was very small. He's a great example of a prospect who just started to get really elite after he left high school and an example of great scouting by the Mizzou staff. He played football as a freshman in high school and quit because he didn’t like the hitting and felt he was a basketball player. He obviously took up the sport again and now the NFL is charting his every move. His numbers are solid this year, but the extra attention paid to him paired with his team’s struggles has him more in the round two range than many of the early first-round projections.

Recruiting: In the summer before his senior season Smoot picked Illinois over other offers from Ball State, Eastern Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, Toledo, Western Michigan and others.

Performance: Smoot has recorded 48 tackles (12.5 for loss) with three sacks so far this season. He also has seven quarterback hurries and two forced fumbles.

Farrell’s Take: A lightly recruited mid-three-star, Smooth wasn’t very long or very big as an end coming out of high school but was an active tackler who could get after the passer with his speed. He was also a track athlete in the 400 hurdles so he was an athletic kid. Size was the main issue with most schools and why we had him in that mid-three-star range. He was on some first round boards at the beginning of the season but he hasn’t been as consistently in the backfield this season and his sack numbers are down, which hurts your stock when you’re not overly long or big.

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