Commentary

Kiper's Top 5 by position

With the combine behind us, here's the latest intelligence on the biggest names

Originally Published: February 26, 2009
By Mel Kiper Jr. | ESPN.com
Top 5 by position: Offense | Defense | Juniors

*Asterisk denotes underclassman


Quarterbacks
1. *Matthew Stafford, Georgia
2. *Mark Sanchez, USC
3. *Josh Freeman, Kansas State
4. *Nate Davis, Ball State
5. Pat White, West Virginia

Stafford is worthy of being the No. 1 pick in the draft, while Sanchez is definitely one of the top five to eight players available. If he slides to the 10th spot or later, he'll qualify as a major steal. Had he returned to USC for his final season of collegiate eligibility, Sanchez more than likely would have been the top pick in the 2010 draft. Freeman is an interesting prospect, from the standpoint that he throws accurately and has imposing size at nearly 6-foot-6, 245 pounds. However, his occasional periods of inconsistent play slot him in the boom-or-bust category, so he's a borderline mid-to-late first-rounder or early second-rounder.

Davis' stock has dropped since the latter portion of the college football season, but picking him in the third or fourth round would make sense for a team. White is the "slash" type, a third quarterback or wide receiver slot guy and return man, so I wouldn't be surprised at all if he were gobbled up in the late second round or third round. Meanwhile, Texas A&M's Stephen McGee has emerged as a potential diamond in the rough, displaying the overall skill level to warrant fifth-round consideration as a developmental signal-caller.

After that, good luck trying to find a potential future starting quarterback, although prospects such as Sam Houston State's Rhett Bomar, Purdue's Curtis Painter, Hartwick's Jason Boltus, Fresno State's Tom Brandstater, Central Washington's Mike Reilly, Arizona's Willie Tuitama, Clemson's Cullen Harper, Buffalo's Drew Willy, Central Arkansas' Nathan Brown, Louisville's Hunter Cantwell, Missouri's Chase Daniel and Alabama's John Parker Wilson all figure as late-round or undrafted free-agent possibilities.

Running backs
1. *Chris "Beanie" Wells, Ohio State
2. *Knowshon Moreno, Georgia
3. *LeSean McCoy, Pittsburgh
4. *Donald Brown, Connecticut
5. *Shonn Greene, Iowa

No one in this group comes remotely close to the talent and depth we had at this spot last year. I expect only two running backs, Ohio State's Chris "Beanie" Wells and Georgia's Knowshon Moreno, to go off the board in the first round. They probably won't be selected until the mid-to-late portion of that round. Pitt's LeSean McCoy has first-round ability but more than likely won't come off the board until the second round. That's the same scenario I see for Connecticut's Donald Brown, who could end up being one of the more productive rookie running backs in the NFL because of his all-around skills and tremendous character.

Iowa's Shonn Greene enjoyed a terrific 2008 campaign with the Hawkeyes, but he could drop to the third round. North Carolina State's talented but inconsistent Andre Brown could go a little higher than expected. A couple of underrated backs to keep a close eye on are Alabama's Glen Coffee and Oregon's Jeremiah Johnson.

Also figuring to carve a niche as a solid No. 2 back or situational type at the pro level are Purdue's Kory Sheets, Texas A&M's Mike Goodson, Wyoming's Devin Moore and Virginia's Cedric Peerman. Liberty's Rashad Jennings also brings some skills to the table as a decent prospect from the Football Championship Subdivision ranks.

The rest of Mel's rankings are for ESPN Insiders. Insider

Mel Kiper Jr.

Football analyst

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