Updated NFL draft Big Board
Michigan OT Taylor Lewan moves up in Mel's latest rankings
I know the attention this week will be on my first mock draft of the year, but if you read the mock draft, my Big Board offers some good perspective. Remember that my mock is a projection, but the Big Board provides my current player rankings. If a player is ranked No. 1 here, it doesn't mean he'll be the first player taken in my mock draft. The mock is a projection of where I suspect players could be drafted, but this is my ranking of players based on their talent and the level at which I think they can succeed in the NFL.
Remember: Scouting reports remain similar until I observe shifts and get new information on players, which will certainly come in the next few months.
Asterisks denote players who were juniors at the time of their entry into the draft, and two asterisks denote those who were redshirt sophomores. All players are now either officially in or out of the 2014 NFL draft.
Despite coming off a season in which he faced numerous questions about his level of productivity, Clowney is still the top prospect in my rankings when I consider overall talent. Need will factor where he lands in the draft, especially given so much need at quarterback among teams drafting early. Clowney has a special range of traits and talent, with the quickness to beat people at the point of attack, the power to run through blockers and the speed to pursue plays all over the field. 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 and can succeed in any scheme.
Depending on the fit, Barr could be the pass-rusher taken ahead of Clowney. A disruptive force the past season -- even with added blocking attention -- Barr became a more complete player. He's a very good pass-rusher with an underrated arsenal of moves, using quick feet and hands to free himself, and he's disciplined. I love how well he pursues, even when the play runs away from him. A former fullback, he has a powerful lower half and a long frame and reach.
He's been the top left tackle on my board for most of the season, and while he'll have competition to be the first one taken, Matthews offers a safe projection. 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. He brings strong skills as both a pass-protector and a finisher in the run game, where you can see a nasty streak.
To see the rest of Mel Kiper's Big Board, you must be an ESPN Insider.
MORE NFL HEADLINES
- Seahawks' Lynch plans holdout over contract
- 49ers' Smith: I've stayed sober since Sept.
- NFL suspends Ravens RB Rice for 2 games
- Romo says his best football is yet to come