- Mel Kiper Jr., Football analyst
For years, I've tried to update the top five NFL prospects at each position, for both the junior and senior classes, each week from the beginning of the college football season right up until the draft. Enough of that. This year I decided to do something different. I'll now be ranking the top 10 NFL draft prospects at each position -- with all draft-eligible players included in the same ranking -- just a few times during the season.
For one, it's more helpful to see the juniors, seniors and occasional draft-eligible sophomores all together, just as you see them in the NFL draft. Second, trying to watch enough football and talk to enough evaluators to readjust the rankings every week just got ridiculous.
So here goes with the first version for the 2013 season. The Big Board, of course, will still be updated each week. Below, you have the top defensive ends.
Note that one asterisk denotes a junior; two asterisks denote a draft-eligible sophomore.
A likely bet to be the No. 1 overall pick in the 2013 draft had he been allowed to enter, Clowney is an instinctive, gifted, natural pass-rusher who has now turned himself into a sound defender against the run as well. He's close to a complete player at this stage, lacking any clear weakness, which is remarkable. He'd be a top prospect based on his raw athleticism and pass-rushing skills alone, but will enter the NFL with plenty of polish. The key now is to stay healthy.
4hBy Jackie MacMullan
1dEric D. Williams