Notre Dame Football: Mark Barron

Harrison Smith may have gotten the biggest draft praise from SportingNews.com, as the website listed the former Notre Dame captain as the top safety in this year's class.

Most draft boards analysts have had Alabama's Mark Barron as the top safety. Barron comes in at No. 47 overall on the website's top 100 draftable players, two spots behind Smith.

Former Irish wide receiver Michael Floyd, meanwhile, is No. 10 overall, four spots behind top receiver Justin Blackmon of Oklahoma State.

Smith came in at No. 21 overall last week on Mel Kiper's Big Board Insider, but he has trailed Barron all spring for the top safety spot.

More praise for Floyd, Smith

March, 1, 2012
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Strong performances at the NFL combine in Indianapolis may have been enough for Michael Floyd and Harrison Smith to solidify themselves as the second-best players at their respective positions.

Both Floyd and Smith come in at No. 2 among receivers and safeties, respectively, in Mel Kiper's top-five rankings by position this week Insider. Floyd jumped Baylor's Kendall Wright for the No. 2 spot this week behind Oklahoma State's Justin Blackmon.

Alabama's Mark Barron remains the top safety.

In his weekly chat Wednesday, Kiper suggested the Chicago Bears could take Floyd with the 19th overall pick in next month's draft, adding that the former Notre Dame receiver improved his stock this past week.

Kiper also thinks Smith is a first-rounder, and he can't see the former Irish captain falling outside the first 40 picks.

With Barron not working out at the combine because of double-hernia surgery — which isn't expected to be a long-term concern — Smith took advantage of the spotlight, Scouts Inc.'s Steve Muench said Insider:
Smith didn't have an elite workout, but he delivered exactly what you would expect from the best safety in attendance. He checked in at 6-1^ and an absolutely shredded 213 pounds and has long arms (32). He's fluid for his size, flips his hips quickly, and gets in and out of his pedal naturally. Smith attacked the ball nicely, and the 4.57 he ran in the 40 is very good for a safety his size. He's a top-50 player, for sure, and there's an outside chance he could come off the board late in the first round.

Michael Floyd falling on draft boards

February, 23, 2012
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Michael Floyd dropped two spots on Mel Kiper's Big Board this week and fell four spots on Todd McShay's draft board.

Kiper has Floyd at No. 20 , behind fellow wide receivers Justin Blackmon (No. 5) and Kendall Wright (No. 15).
Kiper: How fast he runs will be a big story in Indy. Floyd can do a lot; he's able to beat you short or deep. Has a big frame to beat smaller cornerbacks. Played at 227 pounds in 2010 but dropped a little weight this past season and played quicker.

Kiper has Floyd third among receivers on his top five by position list , behind Oklahoma State's Blackmon and Baylor's Wright. Kiper also has Harrison Smith as the No. 2 safety behind Alabama's Mark Barron, writing that Smith is right in the picture for a potential first-round selection.

McShay, meanwhile, has Floyd at No. 26 on his draft board , with Blackmon (No. 10) and Wright (No. 23) the only receivers ahead of him.
McShay: Floyd answered questions about his off-the-field character in 2011 and continued to use his size and ball skills to make plays downfield.

Smith moves up in position rankings

February, 15, 2012
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Harrison Smith is now Mel Kiper's No. 2 safety.

The former Notre Dame captain trails only Alabama's Mark Barron on Kiper's lists of top five draft prospects by position Insider.
Analysis: Among this group, Barron is the only one I have right now with a relatively safe first-round grade, but Smith is right in the picture. Antonio Allen is a guy I was a little late on, but going through the tape on him I've come away extremely impressed. He's a riser for me in recent weeks.

Smith moved up one spot from last week. Former Irish receiver Michael Floyd held steady at No. 3 this week. Kiper has both going in the first round in this week's mock draft Insider.
Michael Floyd and Harrison Smith Insider are among those listed in Mel Kiper's rankings of the five-best players at each position in this year's draft.

Floyd stayed at No. 2 among wide receivers, behind Oklahoma State's Justin Blackmon.

Among safeties, Smith came in at No. 4 for the second week in a row, behind Mark Barron (Alabama), Antonio Allen (South Carolina) and Markelle Martin (Oklahoma State).
Among this group, Barron is the only one I have right now with a relatively safe first-round grade. Antonio Allen is a guy I was a little late on, but going through the tape on him I've come away extremely impressed. He's a riser for me in recent weeks.

Kiper Insider also ranks the top five players at each position who are returning for their senior years of school, and Manti Te'o comes in as the No. 1 inside linebacker.
Manti Te'o's return to South Bend didn't totally surprise me, but I'm not sure he'll be any higher on draft boards by staying a year than he would have been this year. That's more about the position than the player.

Surprisingly, Tyler Eifert is not on Kiper's list of top five tight ends returning.

Where Michael Floyd measures up

January, 18, 2012
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Michael Floyd held steady on both Mel Kiper Jr.'s Insider and Todd McShay's Insider draft boards this week, at No. 20 and No. 18, respectively. But a couple of new lists from Kiper may better evaluate where Floyd stacks up heading into the draft, and where he may ultimately end up.

Floyd
Floyd
Kiper released his top five by every position today Insider, and Floyd comes in at No. 2 among wide receivers, behind only Oklahoma State's Justin Blackmon. Also among the top five in his position group is former Notre Dame captain Harrison Smith, who comes in as the fourth-best safety, behind Mark Barron (Alabama), Antonio Allen (South Carolina) and Markelle Martin (Oklahoma State).

And, perhaps most importantly, Kiper has Floyd being taken 19th overall by the Chicago Bears in his first mock draft, writing:
If the Bears learned anything when Jay Cutler went down this season, it was that the offense wasn't very pretty without him. But Cutler also needs help. Last year, Chicago had to start up front because the offensive line was such a weakness. But as the Bears anticipate getting some healthy bodies back up front to start 2012, they now must find some help for Cutler at wide receiver. The current group has some speed, but he could use a big target, and Floyd can be that guy. He has a big frame, but Floyd actually dropped some weight for the 2011 season, and he managed to look quicker and more explosive in and out of his breaks without giving up much as a physical receiver. He'd be a nice option in this offense and a threat in the red zone.

It's important to note that the mock draft is different from the Big Board in that it factors in the drafting teams' needs and doesn't necessarily rank players in order of skill or potential.

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