- Kevin Gemmell, ESPN Staff Writer
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ESPN analysts Mel Kiper Jr. and Todd McShay are both predicting four Pac-12 players will be taken in the first round of the NFL draft. With the NFL scouting combine starting this week, it's possible that number could rise -- or drop -- pending workout performances.
As of right now, the four players mocked in the first round are Utah defensive tackle Star Lotulelei (No. 1 by McShay/No. 3 by Kiper), Oregon outside linebacker Dion Jordan (5/9), California wide receiver Keenan Allen (27/22) and Stanford tight end Zach Ertz (30/19).
McShay and Kiper agree on the four players -- but Kiper ranks Ertz higher than Allen while McShay gives the nod to the Cal receiver.
Could a fifth or sixth player enter the first round? ESPN's Adam Schefter reports it's possible that USC quarterback Matt Barkley could still end up being the first quarterback taken in the draft and possibly in the first round. Could one of the running backs -- with a strong performance at the NFL combine -- make a push? There's a lot of defense in the two mock drafts, so maybe a linebacker like Chase Thomas, a defensive back like Desmond Trufant or a defensive end like Datone Jones sneaks in. Look again at the Pac-12 players invited to the combine and see if there is a first-round sleeper in the mix.
Four would be consistent with how the Pac-12 did last year. In 2012, it was Andrew Luck (No. 1), Matt Kalil (No. 4), David DeCastro (No. 24) and Nick Perry (No. 28).
Will that number stay the same in 2013? Your Tuesday poll question: How many Pac-12 players will be taken in the first round of the NFL draft?
1dKevin Gemmell and Erik McKinney