Pass-rushers rise on Big Board

Clemson's star OLB moves into top 10 on Mel's list of the best pro prospects

Updated: October 9, 2013, 12:10 PM ET
By Mel Kiper Jr. | ESPN Insider

Vic Beasley Rich Barnes/USA TODAY SportsClemson OLB Vic Beasley leads the nation with eight sacks this season.

We're already anticipating that the 2014 NFL draft class could be pretty deep at quarterback. But the antidote is also in place, because there is also a strong group of pass-rushers at and near the top of the board. Clemson defensive end Vic Beasley is the biggest riser this week, as he moves into the top 10. I actually will list Beasley as an outside linebacker, because I think that's where he'll fit once he reaches the NFL.

The fit issue is a constant question with pass-rushers, so you have to take the position with a grain of salt. Jadeveon Clowney, for instance, could almost certainly be an effective pass-rusher as an outside linebacker, not a defensive end. Defenses are in varied packages, and coaches will tweak schemes to fit talent. But regardless of the scheme, there are plenty of pass-rushers for teams to consider as we look to 2014.

As always, scouting reports remain similar week to week, with updates on matchups. Asterisks denote juniors; two asterisks denote redshirt sophomores.

1
Jadeveon Clowney *
AGE: 20
DOB: 2/14/93
HT: 6-6
WT: 265
POS: DE
Tkl 12
Sack 2.0
Int 0

He sat out last week with bad ribs, and I hope Clowney and his coaches continue to err on the side of his health. When he's 100 percent, Clowney combines exceptional strength and quickness as well as strong hands to quickly shed blocks. He's not just an edge-rusher looking to quickly turn the corner, as he beats average tackles both inside and outside, which causes double teams. He can occasionally play a little high, which allows teams to run at him, but he has improved there.

PREVIOUS RANK: No. 1 | PLAYER CARD

2
Teddy Bridgewater *
AGE: 20
DOB: 11/10/92
HT: 6-3
WT: 218
POS: QB
Comp 104
Att 145
Pct 71.7
Yds 1,562
TD 16
Int 1

Another efficient week against Temple, and we again wonder whether Bridgewater will be adequately tested this season before a bowl game. Bridgewater looks as comfortable as he should be against what he's seen so far, typically with the time to scan the whole field. When he sees a target he has a quick release, plenty of arm strength and good ball placement. I really like how he calibrates his throws, not using too much arm when he doesn't need to.

PREVIOUS RANK: No. 2 | PLAYER CARD

3
Anthony Barr
AGE: 21
DOB: 3/18/92
HT: 6-4
WT: 244
POS: OLB
Tkl 24
Sack 3.0
Int 0

He has 8.0 tackles for loss through four games, and has been consistently disruptive. A former fullback, he has a powerful lower half and has a long frame and reach. Had 13.5 sacks last year and could have left for the NFL, but if he's able to grow with another year of seasoning at the position, it's only going to make him a more attractive talent.

PREVIOUS RANK: No. 4 | PLAYER CARD

Mel Kiper Jr.

Football analyst