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Mel Kiper: First Big Board of season

Last year, my first Big Board of August -- the unofficial start of the football season -- was pretty telling. Six of the players I had in my top 10 were picked in the top 10 of the NFL draft nine months later.

Players such as Sam Bradford (No. 1), Ndamukong Suh (No. 5), Eric Berry (No. 2) and Gerald McCoy (No. 4) are guys I liked early, and NFL personnel probably did, too. But remember, this isn't really about draft placement. Consider this group: Although a pair of quarterbacks sit at the top, the list is only indicative of overall draft value. Consider the April draft, when Bradford wasn't my top player. The draft is a need-value tug-of-war, and the Big Board is purely about the value element. So skip the early cries of why a certain player won't be drafted in this or that position. Once the games begin, this will all shift.

As for a breakdown: Defensive ends lead position groups with five players on the board. The ACC has seven players, leading the SEC (six) and Pac-10 (five). Thirteen underclassmen dot the list and make up six of the top 10 spots. (An asterisk denotes either a junior or draft-eligible sophomore, typically a redshirt.)

Big Board Bar

1Jake LockerQB6-3226 Analysis: Has all the physical tools -- size, arm, even speed and improving footwork. His accuracy should improve as he gets comfortable in the offense.

2Andrew Luck *QB6-4235 Analysis: Great arm, NFL smarts, solid footwork. Prototypical size and intangibles. Luck even has the ability to check down and plays with veteran savvy.

3Robert Quinn *DE6-4267 Analysis: Still just 19, Quinn is a freakish athlete. He's still developing consistency and will need to prove he can be productive game to game.

4A.J. Green *WR6-4207 Analysis: The profile of a No. 1 receiver at the NFL level. Green has a great size-speed combination, is instinctive and has great hands. He's developing as a technical receiver.

5Adrian ClaybornDE6-3282 Analysis: Most consistent, complete defensive end on the board. Solid pass-rusher, steady against run. Fits as a 3-4 or 4-3 end and simply batters linemen.