It seems like every single year we have players go into their senior seasons as a first round pick but just fall out completely by the year’s end. There were two top-15 picks last year going into the season that did just this. They would be Trevard Lindley, corner, Kentucky and Greg Hardy, defensive end, Ole Miss.

Lindley was the hands down best corner going into the draft because of a load of experience in the SEC, press skills and his ability to strike down and make plays. Hardy was an injury prone defensive end that played like a hall of famer when he was healthy. His stat making abilities (26 college sacks, 6 FF, a pick) went ignored come draft time as he had some weight and injury issues that knocked him out of the 1st.

Lindley’s senior season started out with an unfortunate ankle injury that would hold him back. Once he recovered he bounced back fairly well but Lindley just didn’t seem like himself. His draft stock started to really fall after a poor performance in the Senior Bowl, and it kept going until he ran a disgraceful 4.50 second 40-time at the combine. Lindley never looked like a combine gunner but a 4.50 second time is a disgrace and some believed that Lindley could have fallen out of the draft completely.

Hardy would suffer a leg injury in the early part of the 2009 season and wouldn’t see the field as much as he should have. He always seemed to be banged up and it showed through a lack of production and in a weight gain. This would show also in the postseason games and the combine after he blew up to 280 pounds and ran a 4.87 second 40-time. Hardy’s stock fell out completely and some thought he would be undraftable.

In the 4th round of last year’s draft the Eagles took a chance on Lindley who would be the 14th CB taken. Many draft evaluators threw this out as a bad pick because Lindley wasn’t what he used to be, and most gave the pick a C or a D grade.

While writing for my grade for the pick was:

“105) Trevard Lindley, CB, Kentucky

I like this pick a lot. Lindley was the best corner prospect going into the season but had a poor senior season. Getting him in the early 4th is a good value if he can return to his old form.

Grade: B+”

At the time I was honestly a little biased because I had Lindley high on my board early in the year and hadn’t seen a major reason to throw him out. I did understand why some thought he wasn’t the best pick at a time but I thought that a 4th round toss at him was more than fair.

Through this year Lindley hasn’t had a gigantic splash on the Eagles defense, but the Eagles CB core has been solid. That was of course until a few Eagles went down and Lindley got some major playing time. He hasn’t been an elite player yet but he has been a solid backup that has shown some major potential.

Greg Hardy would plummet all the way to the 175th draft pick in the 6th round, and would be the 22nd defensive end to be taken. Most experts liked this pick and gave it a B grade or better (I gave it a B+).

Hardy has found a spot on the Panther defense due to a poor overall team, and he has flashed major potential. He forced a fumble against the Giants in week one, and has sacked two other playoff quality teams (Bears and Ravens) this season. If he stays healthy he could end up a starter in the future and he is a pass rushing threat given the opportunity.

The point of all of this is to bring up the fact that some players that look great but fall at the end of the season are still very worth drafting. I am rarely a fan of ‘over drafting’ but it is worth it to overdraft on someone that was once worth a 1st rounder if you can find them in the middle rounds. A player like Lindley was at one point considered to be a top-8 pick in the draft but a slight injury and a poor 40 meter dash dropped him to become a steal in the 4th.

This season there have been a few different players that have seen their stock drop but DE/DT Cameron Heyward of Ohio State may be the biggest dropper. He disappears in games, doesn’t match up well against top tackles, and isn’t a great pass rusher. He looks like he will only fit in a 3-4, but he may fall to the 2nd or 3rd round as of right now. I have nothing against Heyward but if I am a 3-4 team I would completely take advantage of this and hope that I could snag him at a great value. Corner Ras-I Dowling looked like a top-15 pick early this year but saw injuries limit him and I have seen him fall as low as the 4th round in some mocks. I would crap my pants if I could get him in the late 2nd but we’ll see what his post season training does.

The fact of the matter is that if a player goes into the season as a top-10 pick and they fall because of an issue you should never be scared to draft them. A 4th round pick isn’t supposed to be an instant starter anyways so why not take a chance one someone who could re-develop into a top player. Many of these players stay an extra season anyways so the fact is that someone could have dropped a 1st round pick on them the year before so why not fall in love with someone with another year of life experience.