Big Board: Top 25 NFL prospects

The NFL draft order is starting to come into focus -- so are the top prospects

Originally Published: December 12, 2012
By Mel Kiper Jr. | ESPN Insider
Star Lotulelei Russ Isabella/US PresswireCould Star Lotulelei be the first defensive tackle taken No. 1 overall since 1994?

Look closely and you can see the NFL draft order start coming into focus. Who will have the No. 1 pick overall? Kansas City, Jacksonville, Oakland, maybe even Tennessee? Within a few weeks, we'll know what the top half of the first round looks like, and this Big Board will start becoming more and more applicable to the actual process of picking. For now, it's a pool of prospects, some who could return to school. But soon it'll be more than that.

Remember, as you read below, the scouting perspective will remain similar week to week, but I'll note performance and matchup highlights, which are now down to the bowl games. Please also see my rankings of top juniors and seniors at every position. Juniors and draft-eligible sophomores are noted with an asterisk.


1
Jarvis Jones *
AGE: 23
DOB: 10/13/89
HT: 6-3
WT: 241
POS: OLB
Tkl 77
Sack 12.5
Int 1

The last time we saw him, he was slowed because Bama simply ran the ball all day -- he still finished with 2.0 sacks and 3 TFL in the SEC title game. Explosive, disciplined, relentless edge rusher who profiles as a 3-4 OLB and doesn't need to come off the field. A quick first step, violent hands, tackles well and closes fast. Solid against the run and can really cover.

LAST WEEK: 1 | PLAYER CARD

2
Manti Te'o
AGE: 21
DOB: 1/26/91
HT: 6-2
WT: 255
POS: LB
Tkl 103
Sack 1.5
Int 7

We all wait for one more game, but Te'o doesn't need more tape. Has exceptional instincts, a ton of experience and the ability to read the game. Can attack the backfield. Te'o is a big, strong, prepared tackling presence in the middle of the field. With off-the-charts intangibles, he is the future leader of an NFL defense.

LAST WEEK: 2 | PLAYER CARD

3
Star Lotulelei
AGE: 22
DOB: 12/20/89
HT: 6-4
WT: 325
POS: DT
Tkl 42
Sack 5.0
Int 0

Ready to be an impact NFL DT now. Consistently at the center of what opposing offenses must work around, he absorbs so much blocking help and frees others up. Clogs the middle of the field but creates his own push. A great sense for disrupting the run game. Quick off the ball with great upper- and lower-body strength. Coaches rave.

LAST WEEK: 3 | PLAYER CARD

4
Damontre Moore *
AGE: 20
DOB: 9/11/92
HT: 6-4
WT: 248
POS: DE
Tkl 80
Sack 12.5
Int 0

He's an athlete, but the production really jumps out. Consistent performer. The versatile Moore adjusted well to playing as a defensive end in a 4-3 scheme. Excels as a pass-rusher, able to dip hips, turn the corner and use quickness and length to bother tackles.

LAST WEEK: 4 | PLAYER CARD

5
Luke Joeckel *
AGE: 21
DOB: 11/6/91
HT: 6-6
WT: 310
POS: OT
GP 12
GS 12

The Heisman winner is going to miss this guy. He just eliminates good pass-rushers; there's very little to not like. He has a lot of experience, starting on the left since his freshman season. Best in pass protection and won't get rattled by speed or secondary moves. Not an elite athlete but moves really well.

LAST WEEK: 5 | PLAYER CARD


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Mel Kiper Jr.

Football analyst