Commentary

Big Board adds defense

Two new pass-rushers enter the mix this week, as the defensive class gets deeper

Originally Published: January 4, 2012
By Mel Kiper Jr. | ESPN Insider

This is the final week for the 2012 NFL draft Big Board, where we're not sure who is in and who is out. That refers to the draft, of course. Last year, it was this week when Andrew Luck surprised a lot of people by announcing he'd stay at Stanford for another year. That shifted things. (Ask Carolina.) This week, a pair of juniors' declarations that they'll enter the draft also has shifted the picture. And next week, we'll know about all the others.

As always, read on and let me know who should be higher or who's been passed over, in your opinion. 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 288
Att 404
Pct 71.3
Yds 3,517
TD 37
Int 10

A typically brilliant, accurate, understated game for Luck to finish his Stanford career. I don't foresee a situation in which he relinquishes this spot before the draft. Has total package: arm strength, size, smarts and demeanor.

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 and has the full range of skills for the left tackle position, not to mention the pedigree. He has announced he'll be in the draft, and he could be challenged but is currently a safe bet for the top five.

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

This week we'll witness what should be his final game in college. Splitting carries in his first two seasons has helped him. He looks as strong as ever. Powerful, fast and with improved vision, he runs with good pad level and breaks tackles with ease.

LAST WEEK: 3 | PLAYER CARD

4
Morris Claiborne *
AGE: 21
DOB: 2/7/90
HT: 6-1
WT: 185
POS: CB
Tkl 46
Sack 0
Int 6

Perhaps the lesser-known of the LSU corners will have a big game this week. He's just very good, an exceptional pure cover corner with impeccable instincts at the position. Locates the ball and can catch it. Not a burner, but plenty quick.

LAST WEEK: 4 | PLAYER CARD

5
Justin Blackmon *
AGE: 21
DOB: 1/9/90
HT: 6-1
WT: 208
POS: WR
Rec 121
Yds 1,522
Avg 12.6
TD 18

Blackmon did it again and has cemented his gaudy film status. A better prospect than recent OSU star Dez Bryant. Versatile, explosive and really works to get open. Great ball skills; breaks tackles.

LAST WEEK: 5 | PLAYER CARD

Mel Kiper Jr.

Football analyst