Big NFL draft year for the Pac-12

August, 25, 2011
8/25/11
12:32
PM ET
ESPN.com's NFL draft experts are well into their preseason evaluation of draft eligible players, and there is a lot of early love for the Pac-12, which could produce as many as eight to 10 first-round picks.

Consider this evaluation of the top-three offensive tackles: USC's Matt Kalil, Stanford's Jonathan Martin and Iowa's Riley Reiff. The analysis is based on how each did against former Arizona defensive end Brooks Reed, a second-round selection for the Houston Texans.

Steve Muench rated them like this: 1. Kalil; 2. Reiff; 3. Martin.

Overall, this year's top tackles acquitted themselves nicely against a top-level defensive player in Brooks. That will be noted in their evaluations as the draft process plays out, and these same comparisons could come into play for teams seeking to separate these players on their boards.


Then there are the quarterbacks. Three of the top-four prospects are from the Pac-12: Stanford's Andrew Luck (duh), USC's Matt Barkley and Arizona's Nick Foles.

Luck is No. 1 for mental makeup, second for accuracy, first for release/arm strength and first for pocket mobility. It was a bit surprising that Foles ranked ahead of Barkley for arm strength.

This ranking of running backs is sure to get Oregon and Washington fans nipping at each other (shocker): The Huskies' Chris Polk is the No. 2 running back behind Alabama's Trent Richardson, while the Ducks' LaMichael James is fifth.

(Please wait until the innocent blogger is out of the way before you start brawling).

Three of the top four tight ends and four of the top-seven are from the Pac-12: Stanford's Coby Fleener at No. 2, Oregon's David Paulson at No. 3, USC's Rhett Ellison at No. 4 and California's Anthony Miller at No. 7.

The list of offensive linemen has Kalil and Martin at Nos. 1 and 2. I would encourage Scouts Inc. to break out film of Stanford's David DeCastro: If he's not one of the first three guards off the draft board, well, cut off my legs and call me shorty.

Arizona's Juron Criner is ranked No. 5 among the receivers.

Defense will be up next.

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