Top 5 draft prospects by positionRanking the top five QBs, RBs, DEs, LBs and every other position in the 2012 draft classEmailPrintCommen ts35 By Mel Kiper
The players are now through the NFL combine. Indianapolis performances are reflected here, with some guys moved up or down based on results there. Next up will be pro days, and from that process, expect to see more tweaks than dramatic shifts. But there are some signifcant names here who will be testing for scouts for the first time in that setting.
To give you a better sense of depth beyond the usual Big Board, this list consists of the top five prospects by position for the 2012 NFL draft. (As a note: Two players on this list, in cornerbacks and kickers, don't have team logos in the system, which is why that spot is blank. Those would be North Alabama and Western Missouri State.)
More Kiper NFL draft content:
Combine winners | Mock Draft 2.0 | Latest Big Board | Top 5 by position
QUARTERBACKSRANKNAMES CHOOLHTWTCMPATTYDSTDI NTSKD
Andrew Luck *6-42342884043,517371011
Robert Griffin III *6-22232914024,29337627
Brock Osweiler *6-72423265164,036261328
Despite some debate, Luck holds down the top spot, though Griffin III has solidified his status as a solid No. 2. With Matt Barkley, Landry Jones and Tyler Wilson around, the final three guys here would fall a few pegs. Next on the list, since you'll ask, is Kirk Cousins. Weeden is perhaps a little higher than he would be on most boards, and that 3-through-5 range will get a closer look.
RUNNING BACKSRANKNAMESCHOOLHT WTATTYDSAVGTDRECYDS
Trent Richardson *5-92282831,6795.92129338
LaMichael James *5-81942471,8057.31817210
David Wilson *5-102062901,7095.9922129
Lamar Miller *5-112122271,2725.691785
Analysis: Richardson is a rare running back who has the chance to crack the top 10 on draft day, but he'll need to prove his knee is fine. My guess is he will. James rises with a stellar combine performance, as does Wilson. Miller showed off great speed for his size, and could go ahead of James because of durability. Martin had a big Senior Bowl week and remains.
FULLBACKSRANKNAMESCHO OLHTWTATTYDSAVGTDRECY DS
Analysis: Ewing didn't get his carries -- well, that would be an understatement -- but you can recognize his work because of the huge numbers piled up by the guys running behind him. He's a prototype and will fit in any NFL offense that needs to get a power running game on track. There's no guarantee that all of these guys will get drafted, but all should have a shot to stick.
WIDE RECEIVERSRANKNAMESCHO OLHTWTRECYDSAVGLONGTD FUM
Justin Blackmon *6-12071211,52212.667181
Stephen Hill *6-42152882029.38250
Rueben Randle *6-32105391717.35980
Analysis: Blackmon is the safe leader of the pack right now, though he measured just slightly smaller than I had him listed previously. Still, there isn't much not to like about his tape. I can see Hill being picked ahead of Wright, but mainly based on his speed/size combo. Wright has the better tape in the clubhouse, so to speak.
TIGHT ENDSRANKNAMESCHOOLHTW TRECYDSAVGLONGTDFUM
Orson Charles *6-22514557412.83650
Dwayne Allen *6-32555059812.05480
Analysis: Teams across the NFL are now looking closely at the tight ends to see which could be that next hidden gem. Fleener has come on, and if he runs well at his pro day, should be the first one taken. Allen is more of a protoype and can help a team early, but he didn't show off the speed I thought he would. Both are potential first-round picks. Charles showed tremendous strength.
OFFENSIVE TACKLESRANKNAMESCHOOL HTWT
Matt Kalil *6-7306
Reilly Reiff *6-6313
Jonathan Martin *6-5312
Bobby Massie *6-6316
Analysis: Kalil is as good a prospect as we've seen at the left tackle position in a few years, and proved it again at the combine. Both Reiff and Martin have the chance to be gone before the 15th pick in Round 1 depending on need, with Reiff the likelier bet to help soon on the left side. Adams raised questions about his strength, but he really knows how to protect the pocket.
OFFENSIVE GUARDSRANKNAMESCHOOLH TWT
David DeCastro *6-5316
Analysis: There are years when no guards are taken in Round 1; with Glenn and DeCastro available, we could see two taken before pick No. 20 this season. Glenn is a massive guy, a versatile lineman who can move outside to tackle in a pinch. I still think he's best suited at guard. DeCastro has a solid reputation among evaluators, is really exceptional in the run game, and I don't expect him to fall unless it's purely a need question.
Peter Konz *6-5314
Analysis: Konz is a very good player, a smart guy who can make all the calls at the line. Molk tested extremely well and has jumped ahead of Brewster, who is really experienced and perhaps could have tested the draft waters last year. He's another center who could be starting as a rookie. Vlachos has been a steady player, and Blake is a recent addition.
DEFENSIVE ENDSRANKNAMESCHOOLHTW T
Nick Perry *6-3271
Analysis: Coples has the best frame to hold up as a 4-3 defensive end among the group, and hasn't been pushed as the top player here until now. Ingram is closing, and had a good week in Indy. Branch has the size and athleticism to move to 3-4 outside linebacker. Curry didn't blow anyone away in Indy, but a good pro day could easy any concerns. Perry has been very good in the draft process.
DEFENSIVE TACKLESRANKNAMESCHOOL HTWT
Dontari Poe *6-4346
Fletcher Cox *6-4298
Michael Brockers *6-5322
Jerel Worthy *6-2308
Analysis: Poe really elevated his status at the combine, and now I don't see a reason why he couldn't be gone within the top 10 if a team really likes him. It's rare to see a guy that big move that well. The Haloti Ngata comps are out there. Brockers and Cox profile similarly in terms of scheme, as 4-3 defensive tackles or even 3-4 defensive ends depending on what kind of looks a team is working with. Reyes is a first-round option, and Worthy intrigues a lot of teams.
INSIDE LINEBACKERSRANKNAMESC HOOLHTWT
Luke Kuechly *6-3242
Dont'a Hightower *6-2265
Vontaze Burfict *6-1248
Analysis: Kuechly answered every question evaluators had in Indy, both when he stood on the scale, and then when he worked out. He came in bigger, and then showed that it hasn't cost him anything as an athlete. A certainty for the top 20. Hightower is a solid player from a good program. I'm giving Burfict perhaps too much credit here based on recent results, both on the field and during testing, but he also has a body of work that was very strong. He's one to keep an eye on.
OUTSIDE LINEBACKERSRANKNAMESC HOOLHTWT
Analysis: I think Upshaw could be drafted into pretty much any scheme and succeed, but at 272 pounds, there are fair questions about whether he's a tweener -- too small to handle 4-3 DE, and too big to be an every-down 3-4 OLB. His talent is significant, but that's something we'll need to watch. Manning is a recent riser for me -- his tape is better than I realized during the season. David was great in Indy, both with a bigger frame and with solid testing results. Still maybe a little undersized by NFL standards for LBs, he just makes a ton of plays.
Morris Claiborne *5-11188
Dre Kirkpatrick *6-2186
Analysis: Claiborne was a revelation this season, and the film tells the story. The guy is exceptionally instinctive, and while he lacks the same level of athleticism as Patrick Peterson, he is every bit as good and probably better as a pure cover corner. Kirkpatrick has good size and maintains above-average quickness, and is safely in Round 1. Jenkins showed again during the draft process that his talent isn't the question. Will teams be able to look past some of the baggage? Robinson can fly.
Janzen Jackson *5-11188
Phillip Thomas *5-11198
Analysis: Among this group, Barron is the only one I have right now with a safe first-round grade, but Smith is right in the picture, and given the need at the position, could land in the first round. He tested well, and the tape is already very good. Jackson faces fair questions about his size, but he has great range and could be a nice sleeper, a guy who develops into a big-time player.
Analysis: You may not have seen Zuerlein, but he banged home 21 straight field goals this year and showed range out to 60 yards. Going into the year, Walsh (pictured) to me seemed like a lock to hold down the top spot. But his inconsistency became, well, consistent, and he dropped. He may need to battle through the UFA process if he wants to make a team.
Analysis: Butler actually boomed his punts farther as a sophomore, but over the past two seasons, he's become a master at getting maximum distance while eliminating returns. That's what NFL teams want -- a guy who can get off big punts, but not so long that they limit coverage.