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Stock report: Shane Carden rises, Devin Gardner declines

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James Guillory/USA Today Sports
East Carolina quarterback Shane Carden is on the radar of NFL scouts.

With Week 4 of college football in the books, it's time to take note of who saw their stock rise and fall based on the weekend's action.

Stock up

RB Tevin Coleman, Indiana: There is always a place in the NFL for a big running back capable of being a three-down player. Thus, scouts are excited about the potential of Coleman after watching the Indiana star rack up 189 total yards from scrimmage on 22 touches (19 rushing attempts, three receptions) Saturday in the Hoosiers' 31-27 win over Missouri. Although Coleman's production certainly stood out during the performance, it was the toughness and grit displayed by the 6-foot-1, 212-pound junior that stood out to me. Coleman sat out most of the first half nursing an injury, but came back to carry the Hoosiers' offense with the game on the line. Given how much evaluators value a "complete" running back with a tough disposition, Coleman is a prospect to watch going forward.

QB Blake Sims, Alabama: The skeptics wondered if Sims was capable of pushing the ball down the field after watching the senior rely on a "dink-and-dunk" approach during the first three weeks of the season. The doubts should subside after watching Sims put up a 400-yard effort against Florida. The senior connected on 23 of 33 passes for 445 yards with four TDs and one pick. He attacked the Gators' secondary with a barrage of throws to Amari Cooper, including a 79-yard touchdown on a bomb down the middle of the field. With Sims also taking deep shots to Kenyan Drake and others against the Gators, opponents must defend the entire field when taking on the Crimson Tide.

RB Samaje Perine, Oklahoma: It's uncommon for a true freshman to make a significant impact as a feature back, but some guys possess the "it" factor to get it done as a first-year starter. Perine appears to be a rookie capable of putting an offense on his back. The 5-11, 243-pounder ran through the West Virginia defense for 242 yards on 34 carries. Most importantly, Perine closed the game with a series of power runs that allowed the Sooners to run out the clock. For Oklahoma to make a legitimate run at the title, it must be able to outmuscle the heavyweights that occupy the top of the rankings. Perine gives the Sooners the hard-nosed runner to lean on in a backyard brawl.

Check out the top images from the fourth weekend of college football play.

DT Eddie Goldman, Florida State: The big man definitely opened some eyes in the NFL community with his dominant performance against Clemson. Goldman notched three tackles, a sack, a tackle for loss and forced fumble against the Tigers. He dominated the line of scrimmage in the fourth quarter and overtime, keying the Seminoles' stingy defensive effort with the game on the line. Scouts love players that make big plays at key moments, so Goldman's profile will certainly rise in NFL circles after evaluators take a long, hard look at his dominance at the end of the Clemson game.

QB Shane Carden, East Carolina: Few observers were surprised at Carden's gaudy production Saturday against a porous North Carolina defense, but his efficient dismantling of a second straight ACC opponent will force NFL scouts to take notice. The savvy gunslinger torched the Tar Heels for 438 yards and four touchdowns and also scored on two short runs in the 70-41 win. The performance represents the fifth time that Carden has topped the 400-yard mark, including his 427-yard effort against Virginia Tech a week ago. With his spectacular production and ECU's emergence as an offensive juggernaut garnering headlines, Carden is definitely piquing the interest of scouts looking for a developmental passer to build around.

Stock down

Head coach Will Muschamp, Florida: Despite arriving at Florida with a sterling defensive reputation, Muschamp has been unable to build a dominant defensive unit in Gainesville. The Gators surrendered 645 total yards to a pedestrian Alabama offense that routinely struggles moving the ball against elite defenses. While it's certainly not surprising to see the Crimson Tide roll up 196 yards on the ground, the fact that Blake Sims notched a 400-yard game against a defense loaded with NFL-caliber talent in the secondary is certainly a concern. Given the buzz brewing about Muschamp's job status, the disappointing showing by the Gators' defense will only make the drumbeat grow louder.

QB Devin Gardner, Michigan: It was only a year ago when some in the NFL community felt like Gardner had the potential to develop into a franchise quarterback. However, the hype surrounding the senior quarterback has subsided after watching him become a turnover machine in critical moments for the Wolverines. Against Utah, Gardner completed 14 of 26 passes for 148 yards and threw two interceptions. The turnovers not only killed the Wolverines' chances of holding off a feisty Utah squad, but it continued to spotlight the concerns about Gardner's judgment and accuracy from the pocket.

OT Cameron Erving, Florida State: There is no doubt that Erving is one of the top offensive tackles in college football, but NFL scouts will have some questions about his ability to develop into an elite left tackle as a pro after watching him struggle against Clemson DE Vic Beasley on Saturday night. The explosive pass rusher repeatedly blew past Erving on an assortment of speed rushes that exposed Erving's lack of lateral quickness. While Beasley is arguably the top pass rusher in the game, the fact that Erving struggled mightily against an undersized rusher with explosive first-step quickness will make evaluators pause before penciling him in as a franchise left tackle on draft boards.

Follow Bucky Brooks on Twitter @BuckyBrooks.

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