Sooners on Mel Kipers Big Board for 2012

Landry Jones is at 6

Jones will draw inevitable comparisons to Sam Bradford (and other OU QBs with huge numbers). But he has good size, a strong arm, and has improved his accuracy. Major prospect.

Ronnell Lewis is at 17

A defensive end at Oklahoma, Lewis will take his elite athleticism to outside linebacker at the next level. Too quick for many offensive tackles, he should pile up sacks. Added here after eligibility issues cleared up.

No Ryan Broyles, yet.

 


Mel Kiper NFL Mock Draft 2.0 February 16, 2011

2011 NFL Mock Draft 2.0

Cam Newton’s rise up the draft board highlights a lot of moves in Mel’s second mock

It’s a strange year. You have a league tied in knots over a labor agreement set to expire, public relations haymakers being thrown by both sides, uncertainty everywhere. But somewhere in the middle of the mess, there’s still an NFL draft to look forward to. The draft, however, could be impacted. If the NFL Players Association and the owners don’t agree to a deal, it will put a stop to draft-pick deals that involve players already in the league. Last year, pre-draft deals involing names like Brandon Marshall and Donovan McNabb shifted the board.

For my second mock of the year, the biggest attention-getter will be the rise of Cam Newton, who now is going within the first five picks. After that, there is a ton of movement, so as always, I look forward to the — ahem — helpful commentary and debate. (As always, an asterisk denotes non-seniors.)

 

Carolina Panthers

Record: 2-14

* Nick Fairley, DT, Auburn

Fairley is hanging tough as my No. 1 overall player, remaining atop the latest Big Board. This is a defensive lineman with small weaknesses, such as leverage and composure, but he masks those as a dominant presence against the run, a remarkably instinctive pass-rusher who can overwhelm the opposition with speed, power or hand skills and explosiveness that would impress the late Reggie White. A safe pick in a draft position that will be hard to move from. And as I’ve said, a slight mean streak in a DT isn’t the worst trait. Ask the Lions about Ndamukong Suh.

 

Denver Broncos

Record: 4-12

* Da’Quan Bowers, DE, Clemson

I can see Denver looking at Patrick Peterson here, but remember this is a team that could be looking at a system change up front. And in that vein, in Bowers the Broncos can take a player who could be a dominant pass-rusher as a 4-3 defensive end or stand up as a 3-4 outside linebacker. He is the most pure pass-rusher in the draft and can quickly add production at either spot. Further, given health and system changes, Denver can’t assume great production from Elvis Dumervil. Bowers makes a lot of sense and can stay in orange.

 

Buffalo Bills

Record: 4-12

* Cam Newton, QB, Auburn

From the day he landed on the Big Board for the first time, I’ve said that Newton’s physical skills and underrated ability as a passer could lead him all the way to the top of the draft. In Buffalo, what you have is an ideal foundation for his career. The Bills can keep Ryan Fitzpatrick around and develop Newton at a slower pace. But given Newton’s total package of skills and size, and his proven ability as a guy who can adapt, deal with adversity and win, he represents a real possibility to land in the top five.

 

Cincinnati Bengals

Record: 4-12

* A.J. Green, WR, Georgia

It’s hard to find a safer pick at the wide receiver position in recent years. Green already has imposing size, making him a deep threat and obvious red zone option, but he also offers refined route-running, good speed and the ability to bring down anything thrown in his direction. As for the need, it’s doubtful that either Chad Johnson or Terrell Owens will be back for Cincinnati, leaving a big void on the outside. Regardless of what happens with Carson Palmer, the Bengals need to find a new target, and Green is a safe option.

 

Arizona Cardinals

Record: 5-11

Von Miller, OLB, Texas A&M

Joey Porter is unlikely to be back, and Miller would represent an immediate pass-rushing upgrade on the edge of Arizona’s 3-4 scheme. The Texas A&M standout made his name in 2009 as a sack artist but developed a range of skills in 2010 and has become a complete player. He stands up well against the run and drops into coverage seamlessly.

 

Cleveland Browns

Record: 5-11

* J.J. Watt, DE, Wisconsin

The Browns need to upgrade along the defensive line, and outside of the top two guys in this mock draft, you won’t find a more consistently disruptive and versatile player along the defensive line than Watt, who can come in and provide immediate help as either a 3-4 or 4-3 defensive end as the Browns adjust. He’s a guy who can thrive regardless of the system. If Green still was sitting here, he would be a tantalizing option, but this might be a slight reach for Julio Jones.

 

San Francisco 49ers

Record: 6-10

* Patrick Peterson, CB, LSU

San Francisco has other needs — in fact, I count three ahead of cornerback — but Peterson would be too much to pass up here in terms of talent. A freakish athlete, he immediately steps in as a starter at corner, moving that to a position of strength for the Niners. Peterson also adds a dangerous element in the return game. A corner with safety size, Peterson won’t need the NFL combine to assure evaluators of his physical skills.

 

Tennessee Titans

Record: 6-10

* Marcell Dareus, DE, Alabama

Dareus is the rare player you can draft with almost no concern for systems. A player who can be a dominant pass-rusher from the 3-4 defensive end position, he also profiles to star in his more natural 4-3 defensive tackle position. I have defensive tackle as one of the top needs for Tennessee, which also could surprise some folks and take a quarterback here to develop if they bring back Kerry Collins. But for immediate help, Dareus is a safe pick.

 

Dallas Cowboys

Record: 6-10

Prince Amukamara, CB, Nebraska

As with Peterson to San Fran, Cowboys fans might believe the team would be better suited addressing offensive tackle or even safety. But because the mock draft can’t account for draft board trades, if the draft played out this way with the picks ahead of them, the Cowboys could do a lot worse than to grab the best pure technician at the corner position. Amukamara should transition quickly, and Terence Newman isn’t getting any younger.

 

Washington Redskins

Record: 6-10

* Blaine Gabbert, QB, Missouri

Gabbert might be more ready than Newton to read defenses at the NFL level, and as a quarterback with very good accuracy, instincts and size, he could come into a franchise in Washington that might need him early. Gabbert is a guy whose stock rose a lot this year and will be under the microscope during the workout process. But what he doesn’t give you is a quarterback who elicits a wide range of opinions or the boom-or-bust concerns many have with Newton and Ryan Mallett.

 

Houston Texans

Record: 6-10

* Julio Jones, WR, Alabama

I can see Houston looking here for a fit at outside linebacker as well, but Jones is a hunch call as a perfect option to take some of the pressure off Andre Johnson. Jones has Johnson’s size and as a physical receiver brings his lunch pail as a blocker. He can stretch the field, can work underneath and isn’t a distant second to Green in terms of overall talent. A good option to take advantage of Matt Schaub‘s growth into an elite quarterback.

 

Minnesota Vikings

Record:6-10

* Robert Quinn, DE, North Carolina

Minnesota, like Houston, is a team that could use a safety but simply can’t pick one within its value range if it stays at this position in the draft. In Quinn you have a guy whose skills as a pass-rusher might rival those of Bowers were he able to suit up this year for North Carolina. A first-rate athlete with an ideal skill set to become a Pro Bowl 4-3 defensive end, he’s an immediate upgrade along the Vikings’ defensive line.

 

Detroit Lions

Record: 6-10

Jimmy Smith, CB, Colorado

Smith is a late riser, a good player on a bad team and a guy who got less attention partly because quarterbacks wouldn’t put a ball near him this past season. But the film is stacking up now, and it proves why NFL personnel are really high on him. The final test for Smith will be whether he grades out well in Indianapolis. Based on what I know, he will, and he offers the Lions the cornerback help they need without having to sacrifice on value at this stage in the draft.

 

St. Louis Rams

Record: 7-9

* Corey Liuget, DT, Illinois

A relentless player who plays powerfully and locates the ball extremely well against both the rush and the pass, Liuget fills a need spot for the Rams. If Jones still was on the board, I suspect St. Louis would target the receiver, but if he isn’t and the Rams stay here, an interior lineman like Liuget offers much greater value than a reach on a wideout. I also can see the Rams going for an outside linebacker at this spot. Liuget has drawn more buzz from NFL folks, causing many to take a closer look. The reviews are very good.

 

Miami Dolphins

Record: 7-9

* Mark Ingram, RB, Alabama

Sticking with this angle from the first mock, Miami goes with the top back on the board. Ingram will step in effectively for Ricky Williams and make sure the ground game doesn’t lose a step, even if there’s some turmoil at the quarterback position. Ingram runs with great pad level and leverage, and seems to explode from contact. Once he gets through the initial hole, he’s a terror on the second level.

 

Jacksonville Jaguars

Record: 8-8

* Aldon Smith, OLB, Missouri

Jacksonville addressed the interior of its defensive line in last year’s draft and sought out bandages at defensive end. With Smith, the Jags get a raw talent with the size to add sacks from that position. Smith is a guy who would be a potential lock for the top 10 if he stuck around for his senior year, so if the Jags soak up some of the developmental work, they could have a player long term.

 

New England Patriots (from Oakland)

Record: 14-2

Cameron Jordan, DE, California

In the previous mock, I had the Patriots taking Watt here. While his stock is up, Jordan is another player who has seen a jump since bowl season ended. A defensive end with the versatility to play either the 4-3 or the 3-4, his experience at the 3-4 at Cal makes him an ideal kind of Bill Belichick player. Smart, versatile and able to help the team in that role early.

 

San Diego Chargers

Record: 9-7

* Tyron Smith, OT, USC

Because of his length and build, Smith doesn’t look like a mauler, but his outstanding footwork, athleticism and comfort as a blindside pass-protector make him an ideal fit to grow into the guy responsible for protecting Philip Rivers from that spot. The Chargers also could pursue a wideout, safety or defensive end, but based on this board, unless they move off the pick, Smith makes a lot of sense here. He’s also very underrated as a run-blocker. Should continue to get better.

 

New York Giants

Record: 10-6

Nate Solder, OT, Colorado

Solder is another tackle defined by his athletic frame and ability to move for the position. Probably not an immediate starter at left tackle because of developing pass-blocking skills, Solder still is a good value here. A player with a massive 6-foot-8 frame who manages good leverage at the point of attack, he gets good surge as a run-blocker and works well to the second level. No injury history and very smart, he should become a solid NFL starter in short order.

 

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Record: 10-6

Adrian Clayborn, DE, Iowa

Clayborn fits the Tampa system well and provides immediate help at a need position. A year after they addressed the interior of the line, with Gerald McCoy and Brian Price, the Bucs can use Clayborn to turn the defensive line into a long-term strength. Clayborn has good size, holds up well against the run and can battle big offensive lineman as a physical pass-rusher. He should hold the edge well and start early for Raheem Morris.

 

Kansas City Chiefs

Record: 10-6

* Akeem Ayers, OLB, UCLA

Kansas City must draft an outside linebacker, and in Ayers the Chiefs get a player who can learn from Mike Vrabel if he’s there or step in for him immediately if he’s not. Ayers is known for freak athleticism, but his versatility is the real draw. He has good skills as a pass-rusher, can drop off into coverage and holds up well in the run game. A sound fit for KC’s scheme.

 

Indianapolis Colts

Record: 10-6

Anthony Castonzo, OT, Boston College

One more that stays the same from the first mock draft. The Colts must strengthen their line to improve the running game and keep heat off Peyton Manning. Castonzo offers stability as a versatile tackle who will never miss a snap. He could add some bulk, but that’s not the most difficult area to address. With well-above-average smarts, awareness and work rate, he fits well in Indy at a position the Colts need to fill.

 

Philadelphia Eagles

Record: 10-6

Gabe Carimi, OT, Wisconsin

Here’s a pick where value meets need. Philadelphia should look inside on both sides of the ball, because aside from secondary help, the Eagles have great pieces in place at offensive skill positions and linebacker. In Carimi they get a guy who loves to run block and will sustain his blocks into the second level. He plays with an edge and should develop as a pass-blocker. His film against some big-time prospects this past season shows a guy ready to contribute.

 

New Orleans Saints

Record: 11-5

* Muhammad Wilkerson, DT, Temple

The Saints must improve their front seven on defense, from the interior to defensive end, and target an outside linebacker. Athletic enough to be a penetrator as a 3-4 defensive end, Wilkerson profiles similarly to Dareus as a guy who can get to the quarterback from the inside of that 4-3. He would be a potential top-10 pick were he to stay in Philadelphia for another year. The Saints get good value without having to trade up at a position of need.

 

Seattle Seahawks

Record: 7-9

Mike Pouncey, G/C, Florida

When Seattle was at its best, it was a running team built behind the left side of Walter Jones and Steve Hutchinson. The Hawks addressed the tackle position in last year’s draft, adding Russell Okung for the left tackle spot. Pouncey, who has good bloodlines and good smarts as an interior blocker, can help at either guard or center. Seattle needs better blocking after starting many different line combinations this past season, and Pouncey will shore it up.

 

Baltimore Ravens

Record: 12-4

* Aaron Williams, CB, Texas

The Ravens notably didn’t take a cornerback with any of their picks in 2010, and Williams is a good fit at this spot in a position of need. A burner, Williams can be overly aggressive sometimes as a guy hunting for the turnover, but combine that trait with a little refinement (and a good pass rush) and you have a player who should create turnovers. Aggressive as a tackler, he fits in with a physical Ravens unit.

 

Atlanta Falcons

Record: 13-3

Ryan Kerrigan, DE, Purdue

Behind a wideout who can take some of the pressure off Roddy White, defensive end is the top position of need I see on the Falcons. Kerrigan led the nation in tackles for loss as a senior and is the kind of rusher coaches have to plan for because he can require help. Combine an improving array of moves with a relentless attitude, and he should be able to contribute early on passing downs and develop into a complete 4-3 defensive end.

 

New England Patriots

Record: 14-2

* Torrey Smith, WR, Maryland

The Patriots did a great job of changing their passing game by adding top-end pass-catching talent at the tight end position last year, and while they have some talent at wide receiver, Wes Welker is by no means a player who can stretch the field, and Deion Branch isn’t a player defenses worry about with the deep ball. Smith adds speed and the chance to turn short catches into touchdowns. He will develop as a deep threat as well. New England shouldn’t wonder whether it gave Tom Brady enough weapons.

 

Chicago Bears

Record: 11-5

Ben Ijalana, OT, Villanova

While the questions after a playoff loss centered around the toughness of the quarterback, many Bears fans forgot that Jay Cutler was hit as much or more than any other QB in the league all season. Even on many of his good plays, he was dodging rushers. The Bears did some decent work on their line in last year’s draft with a late steal but should attack it early in 2011. Ijalana offers versatilty and the ability to step in early. Solid fit.

 

New York Jets

Record: 11-5

* Rahim Moore, S, UCLA

I’m split between my own gut and sources on what the Jets could do here. They have to improve the defensive line, but it’s also a deep draft at those positions. Moore represents great value at a need position, the top safety in the draft and a guy who can fly all over the field to intercept passes for coach Rex Ryan, who knows how to get pressure and create forced throws.

 

Pittsburgh Steelers

Record: 12-4

Cameron Heyward, DE, Ohio St.

Pittsburgh needs help at a couple of positions on the defensive line, and that makes Heyward an ideal pick as a player who has shown a lot of versatility in his career in Columbus. With his size, Heyward fits well as a 3-4 defensive end in Dick LeBeau’s scheme, and as an experienced player who is solid against both the run and pass, he could be called on early.

 

Green Bay Packers

Record: 10-6

* Justin Houston, OLB, Georgia

We know the Packers are set at one outside linebacker position. The question now is whom they can get to provide pressure and matchup problems on the other side. Houston has the ideal frame, quickness and pass-rushing skills to develop into a rusher who can give Dom Capers all kinds of options i


Mel Kiper’s latest 2010 Big Board

1 Ndamukong Suh DT
Analysis: Explosive, relentless and consistent. Last week: No. 1

2 Gerald McCoy DT
Analysis: Disruptive force. Productive NFL career ahead. Last week: No. 2

3 Eric Berry DB
Analysis: Ultimate playmaker, in the Ed Reed mold. Last week: No. 4

4 Jimmy Clausen QB
Analysis: Polished, improved through adversity; under-center experience. Last week: No. 6

5 Sam Bradford QB
Analysis: Has underrated arm, great feel for position; is super-accurate. Last week: No. 5

6 Russell Okung OT
Analysis: Athletic, strong and fiery blind-side pass-protector. Last week: No. 7

7 Joe Haden CB
Analysis: Polished cover corner with tackling ability to match. Last week: No. 9

8 Derrick Morgan DE
Analysis: Proven pass-rusher (12.5 sacks this season); stout versus run. Last week: No. 10

9 Jake Locker QB
Analysis: Developing talent whose physical tools are unmatched. Last week: No. 8

10 Brian Price DT
Analysis: Powerful leverage guy who wreaks havoc. Last week: No. 11

11 Dez Bryant WR
Analysis: Dynamic receiver, punt returner and TD maker. Last week:
No. 13

12 Jason Pierre-Paul DE
Analysis: Explosive, natural pass-rusher out of juco ranks. Last week:
No. 14

13 Rolando McClain LB
Analysis: Fiery, vocal team leader with top instincts for position. Last week: No. 15

14 Taylor Mays S
Analysis: Has linebacker size with cornerback speed. Last week: No. 12

15 Everson Griffen DE
Analysis: Supremely talented, now gaining the necessary consistency. Last week: No. 16

16 C.J. Spiller RB
Analysis: Multitalented, superfast, electrifying game breaker. Last week: No. 17

17 Carlos Dunlap DE
Analysis: Physical tools are off the charts. Has unlimited upside. Last week: No. 3

18 Dan Williams DT
Analysis: High motor, consistent, tremendously powerful lower body. Last week: No. 18

19 Aaron Hernandez TE
Analysis: Great hands, and excellent run-after-catch skills for a TE. Last week: NR

20 Brandon Graham DE
Analysis: Awesome athlete and force off the edge. Last week: No. 24

21 Sergio Kindle LB
Analysis: Production finally matches his talent. Last week: No. 21

22 Jermaine Gresham TE
Analysis: The best pass-catching tight end in college football. Last week: No. 22

23 Jerry Hughes DE
Analysis: Prolific pass-rusher who could be a 3-4 OLB. Last week: No. 23

24 Sean Weatherspoon LB
Analysis: Makes plays all over the field. Last week: No. 19

25 Colt McCoy QB
Analysis: Intelligent and resourceful. Can beat you with arm or legs. Last week: No. 25


Mel Kiper Mock Draft, Jan 22

Mel Kiper’s first round

Pick Team Player Position College
1 Detroit Matthew Stafford QB Georgia
2 St. Louis Andre Smith OT Alabama
3 Kansas City Mark Sanchez QB USC
4 Seattle Michael Crabtree WR Texas Tech
5 Cleveland Aaron Curry LB Wake Forest
6 Cincinnati Jason Smith OT Baylor
7 Oakland Jeremy Maclin WR Missouri
8 Jacksonville Eugene Monroe OT Virginia
9 Green Bay Malcolm Jenkins CB Ohio St.
10 San Francisco Aaron Maybin DE/OLB Penn St.
11 Buffalo Brandon Pettigrew TE Oklahoma St.
12 Denver B.J. Raji DT Boston College
13 Washington Brian Orakpo DE Texas
14 New Orleans Vontae Davis CB Illinois
15 Houston Everette Brown DE Florida St.
16 San Diego Knowshon Moreno RB Georgia
17 New York Jets Percy Harvin WR Florida
18 Chicago Tyson Jackson DE LSU
19 Tampa Bay Josh Freeman QB Kansas St.
20 Detroit (from Dallas) Rey Maualuga LB USC
21 Philadelphia Chris “Beanie” Wells RB Ohio St.
22 Minnesota Hakeem Nicks WR North Carolina
23 New England Brian Cushing LB USC
24 Atlanta Larry English DE/OLB No. Illinois
25 Miami Darrius Heyward-Bey WR Maryland
26 Baltimore D.J. Moore CB Vanderbilt
27 Indianapolis Peria Jerry DT Mississippi
28 Philadelphia (from Carolina) Michael Oher OT Mississippi
29 New York Giants James Laurinaitis LB Ohio St.
30 Tennessee Michael Johnson DE Georgia Tech
31 Arizona LeSean McCoy RB Pittsburgh
32 Pittsburgh Alex Mack C California


Mel Kiper first round projection for the 2008 NFL Draft

* denotes underclassman

Kiper’s First-Round Projection
Name Team Player School
1 Miami Dolphins Chris Long, DE Virginia
2 St. Louis Rams Glenn Dorsey, DT LSU
3 Atlanta Falcons Matt Ryan, QB Boston College
4 Oakland Raiders *Darren McFadden, RB Arkansas
5 Kansas City Chiefs Jake Long, OT Michigan
6 New York Jets *Vernon Gholston, DE Ohio St.
7 New England Patriots (from SF) Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, CB Tennessee St.
8 Baltimore Ravens Sedrick Ellis, DT USC
9 Cincinnati Bengals *Phillip Merling, DE Clemson
10 New Orleans Saints Leodis McKelvin, CB Troy
11 Buffalo Bills *Malcolm Kelly, WR Oklahoma
12 Denver Broncos *Ryan Clady, OT Boise St.
13 Carolina Panthers *Derrick Harvey, DE Florida
14 Chicago Bears Chris Williams, OT Vanderbilt
15 Detroit Lions *Rashard Mendenhall, RB Illinois
16 Arizona Cardinals Keith Rivers, LB USC
17 Minnesota Vikings *Calais Campbell, DE Miami
18 Houston Texans *Jonathan Stewart, RB Oregon
19 Philadelphia Eagles Jeff Otah, OT Pittsburgh
20 Tampa Bay Buccaneers *DeSean Jackson, WR California
21 Washington Redskins *Aqib Talib, CB Kansas
22 Dallas Cowboys (from CLE) *Felix Jones, RB Arkansas
23 Pittsburgh Steelers *Branden Albert, OG Virginia
24 Tennessee Titans *Jerod Mayo, LB Tennessee
25 Seattle Seahawks *Devin Thomas, WR Michigan State
26 Jacksonville Jaguars Kentwan Balmer, DT North Carolina
27 San Diego Chargers *Justin King, CB Penn State
28 Dallas Cowboys *Brandon Flowers, CB Virginia Tech
29 San Francisco 49ers (from IND) Gosder Cherilus, OT Boston College
30 Green Bay Packers Mike Jenkins, CB South Florida
31 New England Patriots Forfeited pick  
32 New York Giants *Kenny Phillips, S Miami

Mel Kiper Big Board Februay 27, 2008

* Asterisk denotes underclassman

1. *Darren McFadden, RB, Arkansas (6-foot-1, 208) | Previous: Same
The reasons for his dynamic performances throughout his career are excellent vision, very good balance, game-breaking speed and a passion for the game.

2. Matt Ryan, QB, Boston College (6-4, 223) | Previous: 3
He has the size and arm to wow the NFL brass during testing.

3. Glenn Dorsey, DT, LSU (6-2, 292) | Previous: 2
Disruptive force along the interior. If there is one non-skill position player fans should watch, it’s Dorsey: He always makes plays or opens up space for his teammates.

4. Chris Long, DE, Virginia (6-4, 282) | Previous: 5
A 3-4 defensive end with great bloodlines who understands leverage and uses his hands as well as any D-lineman in the country.

5. Jake Long, OT, Michigan (6-6, 320) | Previous: 4
Top-drawer left or right tackle prospect.

6. Sedrick Ellis, DT, USC (6-1, 297) | Previous: Same
Tampa Bay Bucs-style DT with superior quickness and a nonstop motor.

7. *Vernon Gholston, DE, Ohio St. (6-3, 262) | Previous: 8
He took his play to a new level in 2007, showcasing the explosiveness to overpower offensive tackles at the point of attack. Gholston also has excellent closing speed, as evidenced by the 14 sacks he registered. He also has the versatility to play with his hand off the ground.

8. *Aqib Talib, CB, Kansas (6-1, 193) | Previous: 7
A game-changing cover corner who had 11 interceptions the past two seasons. Talib has outstanding recovery speed and tremendous leaping ability. He also showed his versatility by catching eight passes (four for touchdowns) on offense.

9. *Phillip Merling, DE, Clemson (6-4½, 272) | Previous: 10
An underrated standout, Merling might not be as flashy as former teammate Gaines Adams (the fourth pick in last year’s draft), but you can make the argument that Merling is a more complete player.

10. Chris Williams, OT, Vanderbilt (6-5½, 318) | Previous: 14
Top-drawer talent, possessing superior athleticism and good feet to neutralize outside pass-rushers.

11. *Ryan Clady, OT, Boise State (6-5, 320) | Previous: 9
An excellent left tackle prospect with athletic ability and solid technique that will make him a great blindside protector in the NFL.

12. *Rashard Mendenhall, RB, Illinois (5-10, 224) | Previous: 17
Authoritative runner with a major league burst through the hole. Mendenhall’s hard-charging style makes him difficult to get to the ground.

13. Kentwan Balmer, DT, North Carolina (6-4, 298) | Previous: 11
Unbelievably talented player who had a breakout season in 2007.

14. Leodis McKelvin, CB, Troy (5-10½, 185) | Previous: 12
Not only is McKelvin a very good cover man with superior recovery ability (he runs in the 4.38 range) and the aggressiveness to get the job done in run support, he also has made a name for himself as the top return man in the entire nation. He has stood out this season in games against the likes of Arkansas, Florida, Oklahoma State and Georgia. With his speed and versatility, McKelvin will bring great value to a football team.

15. *Malcolm Kelly, WR, Oklahoma (6-3½, 219) | Previous: 13
He has the combination of size and speed that NFL teams covet, plus great hands; he’s also a tremendous competitor.

16. *Jonathan Stewart, RB, Oregon (5-10, 233) | Previous: 15
A strong and athletic, big running back who displays tremendous patience with the way he sets up his blocks.

17. *Calais Campbell, DE, Miami (6-7, 280) | Previous: 16
Physically imposing with his height and wingspan, Campbell is able to beat offensive tackles with either speed or power. He does a good job of varying his pass rush moves, while also proving to be solid against the run.

18. Jeff Otah, OT, Pittsburgh (6-5, 339) | Previous: 17
Light on his feet for a huge bookend, Otah is still developing. He played only one year in high school and two at the junior college level. He also played basketball in junior college and is a tremendous athlete. His upside and potential will excite offensive line coaches in the NFL.

19. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, CB, Tennessee St. (6-1½, 183) | Previous: Unranked
After enjoying a stellar career at the Division I-AA level, Rodgers-Cromartie stood out against the big boys at the Senior Bowl practices, then wowed over the NFL brass at the combine. He has the height, athleticism, recovery speed and ball skills to be an outstanding cornerback in the NFL.

20. *Branden Albert, OG, Virginia (6-6, 310) | Previous: Unranked
A three-year starter for Al Groh, Albert also has the potential to operate as an offensive tackle in the NFL. Albert really commands attention by blocking in space and getting to the second level. In 2007, I saw Albert routinely deliver crushing blows on the move, showing agility and athleticism rarely seen in a player of his size.

21. *Derrick Harvey, DE, Florida (6-3, 250) | Previous: 25
A battle-tested SEC veteran with that quick twitch you look for in a pass-rusher. Harvey started slowly in 2007, but came on in the latter half of the season, finishing with 8½ sacks and 17 tackles for loss.

22. Mike Jenkins, CB, South Florida (5-11½, 202) | Previous: 20
He has excellent recovery speed and the toughness you look for in a cornerback. His size allows him to match up with an opponent’s No. 1 wide receiver.

23. Keith Rivers, LB, USC (6-3, 233) | Previous: 24
He has the skill set to become a super blue-chipper. Rivers isn’t spectacular, but he’s a solid all-around player.

24. *Chilo Rachal, OG, USC (6-6¼, 339) | Previous: 21
He has tremendous size and plays with a defensive mentality. Rachal can match the speed and power of defensive ends he faces, which is why he has so much upside at the next level.

25. *DeSean Jackson, WR, California (5-11, 168) | Previous: Unranked
Exciting wideout and returner with very good natural pass receiving skills. Jackson has excellent speed and is a terrific open-field runner.

DROPPED
*Felix Jones, RB, Arkansas (5-11, 202) | Previous: 15
Tremendously explosive and versatile, Jones gained a whopping 8.7 yards per carry this season, while also excelling as a kickoff returner, gaining nearly 30 yards per return.

Fred Davis, USC (6-4, 253) | Previous: 21
Productive, consistent and multitalented. He has caught five or more passes in eight of 13 games while also doing a very capable job as an inline blocker. Davis stretches the deep middle of the field with big plays while bringing excellent physical and athletic skills to the tight end spot.

Dan Connor, LB, Penn State (6-2½, 231) | Previous: Unranked
Big-play performer who always seems to be around the ball.


Mel Kiper Big Board February 6, 2008

Matt Ryan to Dolphins is a distinct possibility

Boston College’s Matt Ryan reminds me of the three quarterbacks who were taken at the top of the first round in the 2004 NFL draft — Eli Manning, Philip Rivers and Ben Roethlisberger. In four years, Manning and Roethlisberger already have won Super Bowls, and Rivers has reached the AFC Championship game. Ryan — up to No. 3 on my Top 25 Big Board — has a grade similar to that of Manning, Rivers and Roethlisberger when they were drafted. That’s just one reason why you hear Ryan’s name associated with the Miami Dolphins, who own the No. 1 pick.

If Ryan doesn’t go to Miami, look for Atlanta, Kansas City and perhaps Baltimore to try and land the top quarterback in this year’s class. The way the draft order is now, I don’t see Ryan falling past the Falcons unless a team is willing to trade up.

* Asterisk denotes underclassman

1. *Darren McFadden, RB, Arkansas (6-foot-1, 208) | Previous: Same
The reasons for his dynamic performances throughout his career are excellent vision, very good balance, game-breaking speed and a passion for the game.

2. Glenn Dorsey, DT, LSU (6-2, 292) | Previous: Same
Disruptive force along the interior. If there is one non-skill position player fans should watch, Dorsey is the one, because despite constant double-teams, he is always making plays or opening up space for his teammates.

3. Matt Ryan, QB, Boston College (6-4, 223) | Previous: 6
He has the size and arm to wow the NFL brass during testing.

4. Jake Long, OT, Michigan (6-6, 320) | Previous: 3
Top-drawer left or right tackle prospect.

5. Chris Long, DE, Virginia (6-4, 282) | Previous: 4
A 3-4 defensive end with great bloodlines who understands leverage and uses his hands as well as any D-lineman in the country.

6. Sedrick Ellis, DT, USC (6-1, 297) | Previous: 5
Tampa Bay Bucs-style DT with superior quickness and a nonstop motor.

7. *Aqib Talib, CB, Kansas (6-1, 193) | Previous: Same
A game-changing cover corner who had 11 interceptions the past two seasons. Talib has outstanding recovery speed and tremendous leaping ability. He also showed his versatility by catching eight passes (four for touchdowns) on offense.

8. *Vernon Gholston, DE, Ohio St. (6-3, 262) | Previous: Same
He took his play to a new level in 2007, showcasing the explosiveness to overpower offensive tackles at the point of attack. Gholston also has excellent closing speed, as evidenced by the 14 sacks he registered. He also has the versatility to play with his hand off the ground.

9. *Ryan Clady, OT, Boise State (6-5, 320) | Previous: Same
An excellent left tackle prospect with athletic ability and solid technique that will make him a great blindside protector in the NFL.

10. *Jonathan Stewart, RB, Oregon (5-10, 233) | Previous: Same
A strong and athletic, big running back who displays tremendous patience with the way he sets up his blocks.

11. *Phillip Merling, DE, Clemson (6-4½, 272) | Previous: Same
An underrated standout, Merling might not be as flashy as former teammate Gaines Adams (the fourth pick in last year’s draft), but you can make the argument that Merling is a more complete player.

12. Kentwan Balmer, DT, North Carolina (6-4, 298) | Previous: Same
Unbelievably talented player who had a breakout season in 2007.

13. Leodis McKelvin, CB, Troy (5-10½, 185) | Previous: Same
Not only a very good cover man with superior recovery ability (runs in the 4.38 range) and the aggressiveness to get the job done in run support, McKelvin has made a name for himself as the top return man in the entire nation. He’s also stood out this season in games against the likes of Arkansas, Florida, Oklahoma State and Georgia. With his speed and versatility, McKelvin will bring a great deal of value to a football team.

14. Chris Williams, OT, Vanderbilt (6-5½, 318) | Previous: Same
Top-drawer talent, possessing superior athleticism and good feet to neutralize outside pass-rushers.

15. *Felix Jones, RB, Arkansas (5-11, 202) | Previous: Same
Tremendously explosive and versatile, Jones gained a whopping 8.7 yards per carry this season, while also excelling as a kickoff returner, gaining nearly 30 yards per return.

16. *Calais Campbell, DE, Miami (6-7, 280) | Previous: Same
Physically imposing with his height and wingspan, Campbell is able to beat offensive tackles with either speed or power. He does a good job of varying his pass rush moves, while also proving to be solid against the run.

17. Jeff Otah, OT, Pittsburgh (6-5, 339) | Previous: Same
Light on his feet for a huge bookend, Otah is still developing. He played only one year in high school and two at the junior college level. He also played basketball in junior college and is a tremendous athlete. His upside and potential are going to excite offensive line coaches in the NFL.

18. Mike Jenkins, CB, South Florida (5-11½, 202) | Previous: Same
He has excellent recovery speed and the toughness you look for in a cornerback. His size allows him to match up with an opponent’s No. 1 wide receiver.

19. *Chilo Rachal, OG, USC (6-6¼, 339) | Previous: Same
Tremendous size and plays with a defensive mentality you like to see. Rachal can match the speed and power of defensive ends he faces which is why he has so much upside at the next level.

20. *Rashard Mendenhall, RB, Illinois (5-10, 224) | Previous: Same
Authoritative runner with a major league burst through the hole. Mendenhall’s hard-charging style makes him difficult to get to the ground.

21. Fred Davis, USC (6-4, 253) | Previous: Same
Productive, consistent and multitalented. He’s caught five or more passes in eight of 13 games while also doing a very capable job as an inline blocker. Davis stretches the deep middle of the field with big plays while bringing excellent physical and athletic skills to the tight end spot.

22. *Malcolm Kelly, WR, Oklahoma (6-3½, 219) | Previous: Same
He has the combination of size and speed that NFL teams covet, plus great hands and is a tremendous competitor.

23. *DeSean Jackson, WR, California (5-11, 168) | Previous: 24
Exciting wideout and returner with very good natural pass receiving skills. Jackson has excellent speed and is a terrific open-field runner.

24. Sam Baker, OT, USC (6-4½, 310) | Previous: 23
Exceptional pass-blocker with superb technique.

25. *Kenny Phillips, S, Miami (6-1½, 200) | Previous: Same
While he had a decent but not great season, Phillips has the skill level necessary to reach high honors in the NFL. He has excellent range and good ball skills, and he is solid in run support. Also keep in mind that safeties are in high demand in the NFL these days, and Phillips is clearly the top safety in this year’s draft.


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