- Mel Kiper Jr., Football analyst
Almost a year ago this week, I released my first Big Board for the 2011 NFL draft. Looking back at that list, you can see that of the top-10 players listed eight went in Round 1 a year later. Ryan Mallett obviously tumbled a bit during the draft, and one player wasn't taken at all ...
... which is why Andrew Luck tops the Big Board again this year. The amazing thing about Luck, who shocked many when he opted to return to Stanford even as the likely No. 1 overall pick, is that he could conceivably come back again next year for a fifth year on The Farm. At that rate, he might be Dr. Luck by the time he takes an NFL snap.
As to this list, a few highlights: There are 20 juniors or draft-eligible sophomores on the list; there are three quarterbacks among the top-10 players; of those top-10, Stanford has as many players as the SEC. As I always remind, this is a reflection of value, not some prediction about where guys will be picked. And as always, juniors and draft-eligible sophomores are noted with an asterisk.
Analysis: Luck is the total package. Arm strength, size, smarts, demeanor -- it's all there. And perhaps best of all, check the accuracy rate. He completed 70.7 percent of his 2010 throws.
Analysis: They haven't been lacking defensive talent in Chapel Hill. Coples is next in line, a gifted pass-rusher suited to be a pure 4-3 defensive end at the next level.
Analysis: Another NFL-ready offensive lineman at Southern Cal. Kalil has the size, athleticism, footwork and bloodlines. He projects as a blindside tackle.
Analysis: A perpetual mismatch, Jeffery has been unstoppable since he got to campus. A huge target, makes all the catches and shows surprising burst, given such a huge frame at wideout.
Analysis: He struggled as a true freshman starter, but you love the growth Barkley has shown. Completed 62.6 percent of his passes as a sophomore and he's piling up experience.
The first Big Board of 2012 has arrived, with Andrew Luck at the top. But a couple quarterbacks are close behind.