- Mel Kiper Jr., Football analyst
It's officially draft season. There are no college football games left to play, and now the all-star games, NFL combine and individual workouts and pro days will dominate the process and become a big reason I'll make changes to the rankings. A big thing to remember is how important all this stuff is. The notion that we can only trust the tape just doesn't work, given the sample size you see of players against good competition, the distinctions between systems and the fact there will be position changes to come.
Remember: scouting reports remain similar week to week, whereas I'll have updates on performances and anything else that takes place during the draft process.
Asterisks denote juniors; two asterisks denote redshirt sophomores.
Jadeveon Clowney *
Not a lock for one of the top two or three spots, but still the top prospect. Need will factor in. Clowney has the quickness to beat people at the point of attack, the power to run through blockers and the speed to pursue all over. He's not just an edge rusher looking to quickly turn the corner; he doesn't even bend that well. He beats average tackles both inside and outside with his first step.
PREVIOUS RANK: No. 1 | PLAYER CARD
Could be the pass-rusher taken ahead of Clowney based on scheme. A disruptive force even with added attention, Barr became a more complete player this season. He's a good pass-rusher, using quick feet and hands to free himself, and he's disciplined. I love his pursuit when the play runs away from him. A former fullback, he has a powerful lower half and a long frame and reach.
PREVIOUS RANK: No. 2 | PLAYER CARD
The top left tackle on my board for most of the season, he will have competition to be the first one taken. As a player, Matthews has a ton of experience and a feisty, competitive nature. He is an intense worker and has great NFL bloodlines; his father, brother and two cousins have played in the league. Has strong skills as both a pass-protector and a finisher in the run game, where you can see a nasty streak.
PREVIOUS RANK: No. 3 | PLAYER CARD