Have you ever had to wait out the last few minutes of a spin cycle of one those new high-efficiency washing machines?
It spins quickly, then slowly, then stops. Then it spins again for two more minutes. Then it stops. Then it sloshes back and forth. Then it does all of that three more times. And then it's finally over.
This year NFL draft hype cycle has been a lot like that. With the Draft pushed back until May, every thought about every single draftable player has been cycled and recycled innumerable times.
But throughout all the silly sloshing back and forth, one narrative has quietly emerged over the last few weeks: the perceived slow slide of Stanford players' draft stocks. At the end of the college football season, many thought Stanford could end up with multiple first-round picks.
But now take these tweets from the last two weeks:
I haven't talked to one scout/exec that would take David Yankey in the first 3 rounds.— Daniel Jeremiah (@MoveTheSticks) April 3, 2014
I wasn't a big fan of Yankey when I studied him. Slow feet, struggles to redirect in space. I don't think he's a top tier prospect.— Daniel Jeremiah (@MoveTheSticks) April 3, 2014
I've been high on Stanford prospects in recent years, but def not this year. Trent Murphy, David Yankey, Ed Reynolds - no top-100 guys IMO— Dane Brugler (@dpbrugler) April 17, 2014
Is something going on here across the scouting community? Maybe so. But Mike Mayock's list of the Top 5 players at every position still includes Shayne Skov, Trent Murphy, and David Yankey - so the school of thought that is downplaying Stanford prospects isn't universal.
So why would some of these prospects fall in the draft, if they are indeed falling?
Shayne Skov's bad tape in 2012 - a year after ACL reconstruction - has been a sticking point for some scouts, and has been part of the chatter about his play all season long. After a devastating injury like the one he suffered in 2011, it's natural for people to be curious about his physical status. Skov has also not run at the combine and at the Stanford pro day, so there are some lingering questions about his overall athleticism. However, there aren't a lot of middle linebackers drawing big-time hype this draft season, so Skov's stock could still be very high relative to his position.
For Trent Murphy, the story is a little different. Scouts seem to knock him as a tweener - a player without a natural NFL position. Many want him to be a 4-3 defensive end, saying he's not athletic enough to be a 3-4 outside linebacker, but he's not necessarily a natural fit to play with his hand on the ground every snap. Overall, there doesn't seem to be any huge, universal knock on Murphy, but just a greater recognition that he isn't a perfect fit for many teams, even as a 3-4 outside linebacker. And that might be enough to push his draft stock down a little bit.
David Yankey has been hyped as one of the best offensive linemen in America for two years now, and his back-to-back All-American awards evince that. But he's also taken a few hits in this pre-draft period. Many scouts seem to see him as a plodding player who might just be a product of a really good offensive line - a system player, if you will. Indeed, Yankey wasn't one of the fastest guys at the combine and he played in a run-heavy system where he got to pull and hammer down on linebackers all the time. And you can't say he's a physical freak like Greg Robinson. But does that mean he isn't the best guard in the draft? Maybe, maybe not.
Meanwhile, Ed Reynolds seems to be getting an ignominious label from scouts: a JAG - just another guy. Reynolds did seem to have a very forgettable season this year after pulling down six interceptions and a bushel of pick-sixes a year ago. He also didn't have a blazing 40 time at the combine. However, his total tackles jumped from 47 in 2012 to 87 in 2013, the third-most on the team. So he put a lot of different things on tape over two years - maybe enough to be confusing if you only watch one of his two seasons on the Farm.
There's still three weeks until the draft - for better or for worse - so these guys still have plenty of time to make up the ground they've lost, if they lost any at all. It's hard to tell what's speculation and what's fact at this point in time.
But at the end of the day, it's all about one thing: One team has to fall in love with you. And somebody will certainly fall in love with all of these guys.