Big Board has a new No. 1

It's not Matt Barkley's struggles; it's the brilliance of Jarvis Jones

Originally Published: September 19, 2012
By Mel Kiper Jr. | ESPN Insider
JonesKim Klement/US PresswireJarvis Jones is now the nation's top NFL prospect.

Big Board Podcast: Breaking down the QB class.

When people see the change in the rankings below, I think the immediate reaction will be that this is a signal about Matt Barkley. They'll say cracks are emerging following Barkley's rough night in Palo Alto, Calif. A fall from the top always brings that, but in reality, this move is still more about how exceptional Jarvis Jones has been, even coming off a weekend where he rested. The Georgia star can really do it all on defense. He's the most relentless pass-rusher in the country, a guy who closes fast and must be planned for. He now excels against the run, and will drop into coverage and use his instincts and athleticism there. You'll hear comparisons to guys such as Von Miller, and for now, it's all fair game. He's that kind of talent.

And to think, he and Barkley were once teammates at USC.

Below, the scouting perspective will remain similar week to week, but I'll note performance and matchup highlights. If there's a player you don't see here but want feedback on, I find some time to respond on Twitter. Hit me @MelKiperESPN. As always, juniors and draft-eligible sophomores are noted with an asterisk.


1
Jarvis Jones *
AGE: 22
DOB: 10/13/89
HT: 6-3
WT: 241
POS: OLB
Tkl 17
Sack 3.5
Int 1

Didn't play Saturday as he rested a tweaked groin, but dominated Missouri the week before, showing off the full range. An explosive, relentless edge rusher, he profiles as a 3-4 OLB. He has a quick first step and violent hands, tackles well, and closes fast. Solid against the run, and can really cover.

LAST WEEK: 2 | PLAYER CARD

2
Matt Barkley
AGE: 22
DOB: 9/8/90
HT: 6-2
WT: 224
POS: QB
Comp 66
Att 109
Pct 60.5
Yds 813
TD 10
Int 3

Had a rough week, but the protection was a disaster. Good chance to show he can bounce back. Barkley has limitations with physical skills, but he's sound across the board: ball placement, timing, use of his eyes, poise, leadership skills and has experience. Great leader.

LAST WEEK: 1 | PLAYER CARD

3
Barkevious Mingo *
AGE: 21
DOB: 10/4/90
HT: 6-5
WT: 242
POS: DE
Tkl 8
Sack 0
Int 0

Still a lot of projection given how late he came to football, but talent jumps off the tape. Mingo uses length and a great first step to turn the corner. His pass-rush skills are pretty good but could be diversified. Still learning concepts, but reads the game well given his lack of experience.

LAST WEEK: 3 | PLAYER CARD

4
Sam Montgomery *
AGE: 21
DOB: 5/25/90
HT: 6-4
WT: 260
POS: DE
Tkl 7
Sack 1.0
Int 0

Montgomery added some size and could be considered a fit in almost any system; his frame can handle it if he adds more. Athleticism and pass-rush skills are there, and he really holds up against the run. Max-effort player, natural athlete, instinctive rusher. Still a lot of projection left.

LAST WEEK: 4 | PLAYER CARD

5
Star Lotulelei
AGE: 22
DOB: 12/20/89
HT: 6-4
WT: 325
POS: DT
Tkl 13
Sack 1.0
Int 0

Another great game in a win versus BYU. Brings consistent, relentless effort. Demands double-teams, and clogs up the middle of the field. A great sense for disrupting the run game, with power to bull rush. Quick off the ball, with great upper-body strength. Coaches rave.

LAST WEEK: 7 | PLAYER CARD

Mel Kiper Jr.

Football analyst