Friday, March 16, 2012
Plenty of SEC players in NFL draft rankings
By Edward Aschoff
From the looks of things, plenty of SEC players could hear their names called in the first round of April's NFL draft.
ESPN draft gurus Mel Kiper Jr. and Todd McShay both have a slew of SEC players in their recent pre-draft player rankings. Kiper currently has 11 in his top 25, while McShay has 12 in his top 32.
(McShay has former Florida cornerback Janoris Jenkins a part of his board as well, so that would have made 13).
Kiper's top SEC player is Alabama running back Trent Richardson, who is fourth on Kiper's Big Board. Here's what Kiper wrote about Richardson:
"Richardson missed his pro day but will work out for scouts in the coming weeks. That'll be key, given his surgery. He's powerful and fast; he showed improved vision and pass-catching skills; he runs with good pad level and breaks tackles with ease."
McShay has LSU cornerback Morris Claiborne as his top SEC player, coming in at No. 4 on his list. Here's what McShay wrote about Claiborne:
"Hands-down the top cover corner in the nation. Claiborne's size, speed, fluid hips and impressive ball skills were on display at the combine and further cemented his place among the top 10 picks."
Kiper and McShay also have five Alabama players on their lists -- Richardson, safety Mark Barron, linebackers Dont'a Hightower and Courtney Upshaw, and cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick.
Hightower, Kirkpatrick and Upshaw all moved up on Kiper's board.
Kirkpatrick is up from No. 19 to No. 17:
"Should be the No. 2 corner off the board on draft day. Has advantage of elite size for the position, and he doesn't give up much quickness for it. Still has top-10 potential, but pro day will be key."
Upshaw is up to No. 18 from No. 20:
"Came into Indy heavier than I suspected he'd be, and I think some teams now question how he fits in a 3-4. Has improved his pass-rush skills, but size makes him a tweener. Great pad level, uses hands well and violently and battles against the run."
Hightower is up to No. 21 from No. 23:
"At one time, I saw Hightower as a better prospect than current Raider Rolando McClain. Now fully back from a knee injury, Hightower looks the part again and could be used inside or outside. He is a fiery, rangy, powerful linebacker."
South Carolina cornerback Stephon Gilmore was previously unranked on McShay's list last week, but came in at No. 28 this time:
"Gilmore is rising thanks to good size and speed, the ability to track the ball well, and his strength in run support."
Players took a dip on McShay's list, as six SEC players' rankings fell this week. The player who fell the most was Georgia offensive lineman Cordy Glenn, who slipped to No. 30 from No. 21:
"Glenn's size, power and athleticism make him a first-round guard prospect, and also give him the potential to develop into a right tackle in the NFL."