Top five non-seniors by positionA few changes at the OT slot here as bowl season commencesEmailPrintComments By Mel Kiper Jr.
The lists of top NFL prospects below are composed of non-seniors. Here you'll find guys such as Andrew Luck, Robert Quinn and Akeem Ayers. These guys could enter the 2011 NFL draft or could stick around for another year. We'll know more about that in the winter.
I made one series of changes from the last edition -- I flipped around guys at the OT slot. Tyron Smith is now No. 2 there, behind Matt Reynolds. Smith isn't playing in a bowl game (USC sanctions); Reynolds is done with his.
All stats are from the current season.
Nick Foles6-52452543762,91119718Analysis: Luck just continues to show NFL personnel that he's got the goods to be a first overall pick. You have to love the big jump in completion percentage too. He makes good decisions so consistently. Mallett continues to show improvement. I mentioned Luck's progress, but Mallett is right there as well in terms of increased completion rate. This guy is proving to be more than just a big arm. Newton is the newest addition.
Jordan Todman5-91933341,6955.1141994Analysis: Ingram looks solid but dropped a bit on my Big Board. He edges James because personnel folks still see him as having more between-the-tackles appeal. Rodgers has shown outstanding durability, limiting questions about his small stature. Leshoure has been hugely productive, and can get outside even with his strong frame.
Devon Ramsay6-2250000.00215Analysis: Hynoski is a ram and can catch a little out of the backfield, too. Suhey mainly blocks for Evan Royster but has shown versatility as a guy who can catch the ball. I love Johnson, a true fullback who still gets his share of carries. He's built like a cinder block.
Ryan Broyles5-111831181,45212.381130Analysis: Loaded class with lots of size. Green is an immense talent. He's far more of a skilled route-runner than a lot of people realize. Jones is showing his toughness this year and has taken off. He's a legit top-10 option now. He's been playing hurt and keeps improving. Blackmon is the guy to watch. Now on the Big Board, he's not a pure numbers guy -- he really understands the position.
Ladarius Green6-62304479418.06370Analysis: Rudolph has a great chance to be the top tight end in this draft class if he chooses to go pro early. Paulson and Ellison, two Pac-10 guys, have been here for weeks. When you think of Oregon, you think of LaMichael James and the spread offense, but Paulson has been a dependable pass-catcher for the Ducks.
Kelechi Osemele6-5335 Analysis: Reynolds isn't a young man by the standards of this list, based on his Mormon mission. I still see him as a fringe first-round guy, but he's in that range, and things could improve. Potter is here, though I originally saw him as a guy who would end up at guard. Osemele is underrated and well-coached. He's a mauler with good size for the position, and he doesn't allow sacks.
Chris Jacobson6-3290 Analysis: Glenn played better as the season progressed for Georgia, but that was a constant theme in Athens. Nate Potter (pictured above) was formerly at the top of this list, but Boise State is using him at tackle. The Buffaloes' Miller is massive: 6-foot-8 and 310 pounds. Watkins is the most recent addition to this group.
Moe Petrus6-2292 Analysis: Most people expected to see Pryor and the Ohio State passing game develop this season, but the offense under Jim Tressel always will be about pounding the football, and Brewster has been a key to that. Ask Michigan. Keep an eye on Molk out of UM. He's been a big part of the improvement in that running game and has decent athleticism.
Quinton Coples 6-6245
Vince Browne 6-5265 Analysis: Quinn is an athletic beast, and as long as he's held in as high regard as I know from personnel, it's hard to drop him despite all the troubles. Bowers (pictured above) was an intriguing talent who's now become dominant, and his TFL rate is outstanding; he's now at No. 2 on the Big Board. Watt is a player the Wisconsin coaches rave about and the top defensive player on that squad.
Jared Crick6-6285 Analysis: Casey (pictured above) once topped this list but has been jumped by others. Fairley, however, has become a machine in terms of destroying offenses. Dareus is here because I see him as a 4-3 DT -- I had him projected as a 3-4 defensive end before. Crick has put aside the question of whether he would suffer in the absence of the mighty Ndamukong Suh, who simply ate up blockers last year. Fairley is now up to No. 6 on the Big Board.
Jerry Franklin6-1241 Analysis: Of all position groups, this list has stayed the most similar from game to game. Some think Hightower was the more talented of the Alabama linebackers last year before his season was cut short because of injury. I think he's dropped from that level, but he's still a talent. Marve could move up, but he couldn't do everything on a defense that needs a little help from the Vandy offense.
Nigel Bradham6-2241 Analysis: Ayers has proved he can be as productive with the spotlight on him after a breakout season in 2009. His physical talents aren't in question, and his pass-rushing skills have improved. The one to watch here is Houston, who has taken off this year, particularly as a pass-rusher. He looks ideally suited to become a 3-4 outside linebacker at the next level.
Alfonzo Dennard5-10195 Analysis: Peterson is as accomplished a speed-size combination as you'll find at the corner position, with the safety size, foot skills and speed of a much smaller corner. He continues to show why many think he's the top overall physical talent in the draft class. We know he has return skills. Williams (pictured above) is another in a line of talented secondary players out of Texas. Keep an eye on Burton, who has risen.
Delano Howell5-11198 Analysis: Like the senior class of safeties, the juniors are a deep and talented group. Moore drew raves last year when he started intercepting everything and is firmly on scouts' radar. He still could show a lot more, however. Barron is a physical presence at the back of the Bama secondary, but his coverage game has been spotty at times. Hill has been pushed by Urban Meyer regarding his effort. Martin is a recent addition.
Erik Folk5-11197 Analysis: Walsh is a fantastic kicker at his level. Any NFL kicker would have been pleased with Walsh's line from last year. But he's also 18-for-21 this season after going 20-for-22 last year, with a somewhat stunning 4-for-5 mark from beyond 50 yards. Leg strength isn't a question. Ressel is a solid recent addition.
Kyle Martens6-6200 Analysis: Anger has held tight in the top spot since I moved him there. It had previously been held by Butler (pictured above).
Sometimes running the Mularkey offense makes me feel like I'm in a prison.