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Thursday, March 15, 2012
Draft rankings: Kiper likes Stanford

By Kevin Gemmell

ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr. and Todd McShay released their various NFL draft rankings and boards for this week, and Stanford scored extremely high in some of Kiper's assessments.

First up, his top five draft prospects by position includes three Stanford players rated as the top of the class for their position group. Quarterback Andrew Luck (obviously), offensive guard David DeCastro and tight end Coby Fleener.
Kiper on DeCastro: There are years when no guards are taken in Round 1; with [Georgia's Cordy] Glenn and DeCastro available, we could see two taken before pick No. 20 this season. ... DeCastro has a solid reputation among evaluators and is exceptional in the run game; I don't expect him to fall.
Kiper on Fleener: This is now Fleener's group to lead. He has come on, and I now have him as a guy who could crack the first round.

Both DeCastro and Jonathan Martin got a boost as well from McShay, who has DeCastro moving up this week from No. 16 to No. 13 and Martin climbing two spots from No. 24 to No. 22.
McShay on Martin: Martin didn't take part in the combine because of an illness, and he's not as dominant on tape as one would expect, but he has the physical tools to develop into a starter at the next level.

Coupled with Luck going No. 1 overall (not buying the Washington trade conspiracy theories that Luck falls to them), that would give the Cardinal four first-round draft picks. Though once again, Kiper has left Martin off his latest Big Board for the second straight week. At one time, Martin was in Kiper's top 10.

Last month, Stanford head coach David Shaw said he'd be "shocked" if Fleener didn't go in the first round, telling reporters "All he does is run by people."

Kiper has nothing but good things to say about Luck in his Big Board analysis.
Kiper on Luck: The best news for Luck this week is that Reggie Wayne is staying in Indy. Luck is working hard in Palo Alto to prepare for next season. Status quo remains in terms of profile. The total package: arm strength, size, smarts, demeanor. Ready to play.