- Edward Aschoff, ESPN Staff Writer
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It's time to take another early look at the 2012 NFL draft.
ESPN's Mel Kiper has updated his Big Board and the SEC has five members inside of his top 25. Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck continues his run as the top-rated draft prospect, while Alabama running back Trent Richardson and LSU cornerback Morris Claiborne are the highest rated SEC players, coming in at No. 3 and No. 4, respectively.
I doubt anyone is really shocked by this at all. Richardson won the Doak Walker Award, which is given to the nation's best running back. It's hard to argue against Richardson earning the award, considering he has rushed for nearly 1,600 yards, has 20 rushing touchdowns and averaged 137 yards on the ground against SEC opponents during the regular season.
Claiborne actually moved up a spot on Kiper's list. The Thorpe Award winner showed all year that he is not only extremely athletic but has tremendous cover skills. When he's on the field, he takes one side of the field away, which usually doesn't work out too well for opposing quarterbacks. No wonder he's second in the SEC with six interceptions.
Here's a look at the SEC players on Kiper's list and a little analysis from the guru himself:
No. 3 Alabama RB Trent Richardson
The BCS title game should be his final one in college. Richardson's splitting carries in his first two seasons will benefit him. Powerful, fast, with improved vision, he runs with good pad level and breaks tackles with ease.
No. 4 LSU CB Morris Claiborne
Doesn't get the attention, but he's a very good player. Big rise in 2011; now the top corner. Exceptional pure cover corner with impeccable instincts at the position. Locates the ball and can catch it. Not a burner; plenty quick.
No. 12 South Carolina WR Alshon Jeffery
His production took a hit with South Carolina's turmoil at the QB position, but he had a good rep already. Imposing presence, a matchup nightmare. Phenomenal hands, decent burst, elite size. Speed is a bit of a question.
No. 17 Georgia OL Cordy Glenn
Really experienced player whose best strength is versatility. Has spent time at tackle but can dominate at guard, and I'd expect whoever drafts him to ultimately have him blocking inside.
No. 19 Alabama LB Courtney Upshaw
A riser so far this year, he is showing improved pass-rush skills and should convert to 3-4 OLB at the next level. Great leverage player who uses hands well and battles against the run. Fits the LaMarr Woodley comparison.
11hSam Khan Jr.