As part of ESPN.com’s NFL draft coverage Todd McShay, who regularly updates his top 32 prospects, worked up a piece on the top 32 prospects the last five years.
It’s an interesting approach. It’s not so much the top players currently in the NFL or those who will be drafted this year, but rather if all 32 were available this year, how would McShay rank them?
I developed this ranking by ordering my final player grades for each of the past five years. This required a little after-the-fact subjectivity, as comparing guys with the same grades from different seasons can be tricky, but I put myself on the honor system and tried to do my best to remember how I felt about prospects at the time they were coming out.
As you’d expect, there are a few Pac-12 players on his list. And the No. 1 overall prospect is … wait for it … former Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck.
Here’s what McShay had to say then and now about Luck:
Then: I gave Luck the highest grade of any player I've ever evaluated, as he was as close to a can't-miss prospect as you could get. "Rare grasp of the offense. ... Ideal mental and physical toughness. ... Short-to-intermediate anticipation and accuracy are outstanding. ... Other QB prospects are faster and more dangerous but few have better pocket presence."
Now: Luck was selected No. 1 overall in 2012 and is entering his third season as the Colts' starting quarterback and coming off back-to-back postseason appearances. He's been a top-11 finisher in ESPN Total QBR each season, and looks well on his way to becoming a star quarterback at the NFL level.
OK, so that one isn’t too surprising.
Other Pac-12 players on his list include USC offensive tackle Matt Kalil (No. 16 prospect, picked No. 4 overall by Minnesota in the 2012 draft), USC offensive tackle Tyron Smith (No. 24 prospect, picked No. 9 overall by Dallas in the 2011 draft), Utah defensive tackle Star Lotulelei (No. 26 prospect, picked No. 14 overall by Carolina in the 2013 draft) and Cal defensive end Cameron Jordan (No. 30 prospect, picked No. 24 overall by New Orleans in 2011).
Oregon defensive end Dion Jordan made the honorable mention list.