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Thursday, January 21, 2010
Non-AQ players aren't NFL first-round candidates

By Graham Watson

Mel Kiper doesn’t have any love for the non-AQs in the first round of this year’s NFL draft.

There are no non-AQs players listed on Kiper’s first mock draft, which was released on ESPN.com on Thursday. Not even TCU defensive end (who could be considered an outside linebacker in the pros) Jerry Hughes, who was considered a late first-round pick on his NFL evaluation after his junior year, was able to crack the top 32. Hughes didn’t make Todd McShay’s first round either.

Kiper does list his top five players per position, which is a little kinder to players from teams outside the Big Six.

Idaho offensive guard Mike Iupati is the best guard available in the draft and TCU linebacker Daryl Washington is the second-best inside linebacker behind Alabama’s Rolando McClain and before Florida’s Brandon Spikes.

Kent State fullback Jameson Konz and BYU fullback Manase Tonga are the No. 3 and No. 4 fullbacks, respectively, available.

Central Michigan quarterback Dan LeFevour is considered the fifth-best quarterback in the draft and Fresno State running back Ryan Mathews is considered the fifth-best running back.

Toledo kicker Alex Steigerwald is the fourth-best place-kicker and East Carolina punter Matt Dodge is the third-best punter available this year.

It is important to note that these rankings are before the senior bowls and the NFL combine, and those two events have been known to alter the first three rounds quite a bit.