Commentary

Big Board for 2012 NFL draft

Andrew Luck tops the first Board of the season, but a pair of quarterbacks are close

Updated: September 1, 2011, 10:38 AM ET
By Mel Kiper Jr. | ESPN Insider

It's no surprise to see Andrew Luck here at the top. But while it can be rightfully pointed out that he would have been the No. 1 pick had he entered the 2011 NFL draft, and that he's almost guaranteed to be in that spot next April, Luck still needs to maintain his form this season. I don't have a reason to think he won't, but there is real competition among quarterbacks this year. Oklahoma has a player who has a lot of characteristics of a No. 1 pick, and USC does as well.

As for this list, here are a few highlights, since this hadn't been updated since the week following the NFL draft a few months ago. There are 20 juniors or draft-eligible sophomores on the list; there are three quarterbacks among the top 10 players; and Stanford has as many players in the top 10 as the SEC. In fact, the Pac-12 is a truly loaded conference this year. As always, a reminder: For me, this is a reflection of value, not some prediction about where guys will be picked. A lot of guys will rise and fall this year based on a number of factors. And as always, juniors and draft-eligible sophomores are noted with an asterisk.


Big Board Bar

1
QB
6-4
235

Analysis: You know by now, Luck is the total package. Arm strength, size, smarts, demeanor -- it's all there. Can he keep the accuracy rate up? He completed 70.7 percent of his 2010 throws.

2
DE
6-5
276

Analysis: Continues the recent run of 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.

3
QB
6-2
220

Analysis: After a tough freshman year, Barkley has shown maturity and a high level of aptitude. Completed 62.6 percent of his passes as a sophomore and is piling up pro-style offense reps.

4
WR
6-4
233

Analysis: An imposing presence at wideout, Jeffery has been unstoppable. Phenomenal hands, surprising burst for a long-strider, great work ethic. Tough matchup for corners at any level.

5
OT
6-6
300

Analysis: Kalil has the size, athleticism, footwork and bloodlines. He projects as a blindside tackle and is just another NFL-ready offensive lineman at Southern California.


Mel Kiper Jr.

Football analyst