Commentary

Big Board sees QBs rise

Matt Barkley's improved play and steady rise makes his decision that much tougher

Originally Published: December 8, 2011
By Mel Kiper Jr. | ESPN Insider

This week I'm moving up two quarterbacks, but they are facing a different set of circumstances. Robert Griffin III makes a big jump on the Board. The tape shines, and Griffin is also just a really impressive person. He'll do well during the draft evaluation phase. Matt Barkley also moves up, and has finally jumped ahead of Landry Jones. Barkley, however, is still facing a pretty tough decision as he weighs whether to jump to the NFL or come back to what should be a loaded USC offense.

There are other moves, as well. Read on and let me know who you think should be higher or who's been passed over. As always, juniors and draft-eligible sophomores are noted with an asterisk.

1
Andrew Luck *
AGE: 22
DOB: 9/12/89
HT: 6-4
WT: 235
POS: QB
Comp 261
Att 373
Pct 70.0
Yds 3,170
TD 35
Int 9

Luck was unable to show off all he can do given the talent around him, but he is the total package. Arm strength, size, smarts, demeanor. He remains my pick to go No. 1 overall.

LAST WEEK: 1 | PLAYER CARD

2
Matt Kalil *
AGE: 22
DOB: 7/6/89
HT: 6-7
WT: 295
POS: OT
GP 12
GS 12

Kalil was steady the entire season. He'll remind you of former No. 1 overall pick Jake Long, an athletic left tackle who has the full set of skills as a pass-blocker and as a strong, capable run-blocker.

LAST WEEK: 2 | PLAYER CARD

3
Trent Richardson *
AGE: 20
DOB: 7/10/91
HT: 5-11
WT: 224
POS: RB
Car 263
Yds 1,583
Avg. 6.0
TD 20

Richardson's splitting carries in his first two seasons will benefit him. Powerful, fast, with improved vision, he runs with good pad level and breaks tackles with ease. The BCS title game should be his final one.

LAST WEEK: 3 | PLAYER CARD

4
Justin Blackmon *
AGE: 21
DOB: 1/9/90
HT: 6-1
WT: 208
POS: WR
Rec 113
Yds 1,336
Avg 11.8
TD 15

Blackmon had a remarkable regular season, eclipsing his 111 catches of a year ago. A better prospect than recent OSU star Dez Bryant. Versatile and explosive and really works to get open. Great ball skills; breaks tackles. Exceptional work ethic.

LAST WEEK: 4 | PLAYER CARD

5
Morris Claiborne *
AGE: 21
DOB: 2/7/90
HT: 6-1
WT: 185
POS: CB
Tkl 46
Sack 0
Int 6

Quietly dominant among bigger names. Big rise so far in 2011; now the top corner here. Exceptional pure cover corner with impeccable instincts at the position. Has solid ball skills for the position. Not a burner; plenty quick.

LAST WEEK: 5 | PLAYER CARD


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Mel Kiper Jr.

Football analyst