Tuesday, July 12, 2011
Ranking the Pac-12's NFL draft prospects
By ESPN.com staff
Mel Kiper has made two lists of top NFL prospects by positions: top seniors and and top juniors (or draft-eligible sophomores).
As for the Pac-12 prospects on his lists, it appears the conference is stronger among juniors than seniors. Of course, a lot of early-round talents don't last until their senior seasons. And the offensive talent far eclipses the defensive talent.
Here's where Pac-12 seniors rank among his top five seniors by position. (Note the lack of highly rated defensive players.)
No. 3 Nick Foles, Arizona
Kiper comment: "Is Foles more of a physical prototype than a QB?"
No. 4 Juron Criner, Arizona
No. 5 Chris Owusu, Stanford
No. 3 David Paulson, Oregon
No. 4 Coby Fleener, Stanford
No. 2 Ryan Miller, Colorado
Kiper comment: Miller could be the second top-OL guy from Colorado in as many years, following Nate Solder.
No. 4 Garth Gerhart, Arizona State
No. 5 Lance Mitchell, Oregon State
No. 1 Bryan Anger, California
And here's Kiper's take on Pac-12 juniors (and draft eligible sophomores).
No. 1 Andrew Luck, Stanford
No. 2 Matt Barkley, USC
Kiper comment: Amazing that, in terms of eligibility, Luck is still a junior. He'll command the most attention, for sure. Even with a new coach, he will be a front-runner for No. 1 in the 2012 NFL draft from August onward. Barkley has had two solid seasons at USC -- and this while thrown into a pretty tough situation.
No. 3 LaMichael James, Oregon
No. 5 Taimi Tutogi, Arizona
No. 1 Matt Kalil, USC
No. 2 Jonathan Martin, Stanford
Kiper comment: Kalil has been a guy pro scouts have known since he arrived at Southern Cal. He has the bloodlines, the frame and the footwork to be a future left tackle in the NFL. Nobody will be under a bigger spotlight at the position this year than Martin, who protects the blind side of Andrew Luck.
No. 1 David DeCastro, Stanford
Kiper comment: Stanford has a wealth of talent on the offensive line, and the departure of Jim Harbaugh shouldn't diminish what they're able to accomplish. When it comes to the running game, watch DeCastro, who will maul on the interior.
No. 1 Vontaze Burfict, Arizona State
Kiper comment: There are some scary hitters on this list, starting with Burfict, who was most productive against ASU's toughest competition last season. The guy was a force, quite literally, the moment he stepped on campus. Imagine if he'd stayed with USC.
No. 2 Chase Thomas, Stanford
No. 2 Cliff Harris, Oregon
No. 4 T.J. McDonald, USC
No. 1 Jeff Locke, UCLA