UPDATED, FRIDAY, MARCH 30
Movement up or down the Softli Big Board board was based off film evaluation and any major ongoing concerns a prospect may have. Players with an asterisk (*) entered the draft with eligibility remaining.
1. QB *Andrew Luck Stanford Luck didn’t throw at the combine, but no worries because his DNA (film) speaks for its self. He displayed very good athletic ability through his drill work at the combine. Luck’s attributes for the position and skill set along with intelligence will make him very successful at the next level. Luck will become the next quarterback of the Indianapolis Colts.
Update: Had an extremely impressive Pro Day.
2. QB *Robert Griffin III Baylor Several league sources told me he blew the interview process out of the water with his personality, football intelligence and charisma, which we saw during his press conference with 150-plus media members. His speed was not a shock to me, because I can see that on film, to be honest, I thought it would be slightly faster than reported. RG3 is an intelligent, explosive athletic quarterback that will bring a different dimension to the next level.
Update: Had a very impressive Pro Day.
3. RB *Trent Richardson Alabama The best running back in the draft was unable to perform at the Combine because of recent knee surgery to remove cartilage. When speaking with him for a moment, his personality is clearly a major part of his running style. He is competitive in everything he does. Despite his large volume of DNA (film), he must show teams he is ready to roll at his Pro Day.
Update: Richardson had an outstanding workout, including a 4.45 40 per several current and former NFL scouts at his Pro Day March 29.
4. WR *Justin Blackmon Oklahoma State The top receiver in this year’s draft was hampered with a tender hamstring and didn’t run the 40-yard dash, but showed toughness to push through the drill work. While his performance was not overly impressive, I liked his passion to compete, contorting his body to high point balls and diving for several as well. Despite his completed body of work, Blackmon will need to impress scouts and executives on his Pro Day with a timed 40 in the low 4.5s or better to solidify himself as a top-five pick.
5. OT *Matt Kalil USC He came to the combine as the No. 1 ranked offensive tackle, and left with the same ranking. Very athletic with explosive strength in the bench press and his natural movement skills in the drill workout is what you see on film. Talented player with frame to add more bulk. Will remain a top-five pick in my mind.
6. CB Morris Claiborne LSU Very good athletic skill set, smooth and natural in movement on film that transferred to the Combine drill work. Claiborne has nice footwork in his peddle with balance and acceleration, can flip hips and transition with burst and acceleration, with a smooth glide in stride. Good football instincts; I don’t like the fact that he open bales a high percentage of the time. Former receiver with natural ball skills and soft hands to attack the ball at the highest point. Will need some reps but that is not a negative.
Update: Had surgery to repair a torn ligament in his wrist.
7. DT/NT *Michael Brockers LSU This big man has size, length and athletic ability, along with the skill set to develop into a very good player at the next level. A one season phenom, still has growth and development ahead of him but his upside is huge. His Combine workout lacked impressive numbers for defensive linemen, and will need to improve at his Pro Day to keep him in the top 10 players. I know what I saw on film and a poor 40 and non-impressive bench press is not enough to push this player down the board.
Update: Receiving a lot of attention from several teams as a potential nose tackle.
8. QB Ryan Tannehill Texas A&M No one was more disappointed that he couldn’t perform at the Combine than himself. Tannehill had surgery on his foot, with a screw inserted to repair a broken bone that landed him on the sideline watching his peers. A former receiver turned quarterback his junior year, he is extremely athletic, has a strong arm, is smart and competes at a high level in both practices and games per several school sources. I like what I see on film. He is still raw, but has all the attributes to develop into a very good quarterback at the next level. His broken foot or the inability to showcase his talent at the Combine will not hurt this signal-callers draft status for me. His DNA (film) is in the bank, despite limited starts at the position.
Update: Had an outstanding Pro Day March 29 at Texas A&M with several NFL coaches, general managers and scouts in attendance. With Christian Ponder, Jake Locker and Blaine Gabbert going high in the first round of last year’s draft, this quarterback deserves the same attention within the top 10 picks. Like Mark Sanchez (New York Jets), who didn’t have 20-plus collegiate starts, Tannehill will also go high. The NFL covets talented young quarterbacks they can develop into franchise quarterbacks, and Tannehill has all the attributes to do so.
9. DE/3/4 OLB Melvin Ingram South Carolina Several scouts have told me his arms are too short, and has an inconsistent motor. STOP! This is an exceptional football player and a very good athlete. Defensive linemen will take a play off, but this defender’s motor runs fast on film. Ingram had an excellent Combine workout across the board. His lower body explosion in the vertical jump of 34.5 was impressive, but his shuttle times (3-cone 6.83 and short shuttle 4.15) was that of running backs. While I might have this player a little high, it is tough to find a well-rounded defensive lineman on film that can stack the run and rush the passer with the same competitive nature. He is relentless.
Update: Had an extremely impressive Pro Day in front of 22 NFL teams. Former quarterback with excellent movement skills and is now projected as a 3-4 outside linebacker.
10. S Mark Barron Alabama A three-year starter for Nick Saban’s defense, this versatile plug and play safety is the total package with a great combination of size and speed, length, explosive tackling skills and football instincts. Has impressive DNA (film) with exceptional career statistics. Barron didn’t participate at the Combine due to hernia surgery. This is one football player I would draft without a workout. Moved up from No. 11.
Update: Limited workout on March 29 is still not 100%.
11. OT *Riley Reiff Iowa Good Combine numbers not great, but has a chance to improve overall numbers at his Pro Day. I was more impressed with Reiff when evaluating his film. While he is not the complete player, he has huge upside along with size, length, feet are competitive and he comes from the Kirk Ferentz school for offensive linemen. Moved up from No. 12.
12. DE Quinton Coples North Carolina I was extremely excited to watch him at the Senior Bowl because of size and speed combination and athletic skill set. What I saw on film, I saw at the Senior Bowl. He is extremely athletic and dominates when he wants to. Coples’ motor idles too often, he never consistently cuts it loose, and seems to think too highly of his ability. Will need a veteran to take him under their wing and teach him how to become a pro’s pro early in his career. I’ve heard the comparisons to Julius Peppers, who I helped draft when in Carolina. Coples is bigger coming out, but lacks the freaky athletic ability, and Peppers’ motor which run fast and relentless with consistent chase and pursuit. Combine numbers showed some stiffness in hips in shuttle results (3-cone 7.57, short shuttle 4.78), and good not great lower body explosion in the vertical jump (31.5). Upside is huge if he recognizes his potential and plays to it consistently. Moved up from No. 13.
13. DT/DE *Fletcher Cox Mississippi State One of the best workouts of all the defensive linemen. This player has a good combination size and athletic skills with very good speed. A former 240-pound sprinter in high school, who anchored his 4×100 relay team, displayed his speed in the 40-yard dash at 4.79. Will need to further develop lower-body explosion, but plays well with his length (34½ arms) on film with a motor that runs fast. A versatile defensive lineman to align at defensive end in sub packages and defensive tackle in base defense. His disruptive competitive attitude along with athletic ability allows him to remain in the top 15 players. Moved up from No. 14.
14. ILB *Luke Kuechly Boston College He earned the nickname of the Human Eraser, and when watching film I can see why. When I started his film work several weeks ago, with a few tapes remaining, I always question defensive statistics when it comes to tackles. There was no manufacturing of numbers here; production is off the charts. A better athlete at the Combine than I saw on film, which is not a negative. Kuechly ran the 40-yard dash in 4.58, with 38-inch vertical jump and a 4.12 short shuttle, which is outstanding for any position, but extremely exceptional for a 6-3 linebacker who can bend, change direction with burst and acceleration. He had a very impressive workout. His competitiveness, motor and passion were glaring. Moved down from No. 10.
15. OG *David DeCastro Stanford For an offensive guard to pop onto my top 20, he must be a dominant interior player, who is strong with athletic ability, violent use of hands and plays the game with a passion and DeCastro has all those traits. When you take a look at his Combine picture, you see a very intense person, which he displayed on the field. DeCastro has the combination of size and explosion grouped with competitive urgency on every play I viewed on film. I love this players physical attitude, smarts, versatility to play inline and in space.
16. DT *Dontari Poe Memphis I saw the athletic ability in drill work and the 40-yard dash displayed at the Combine on tape. What I didn’t see was the explosive strength on tape compared to the 44 reps with 225 pounds on the bench press. Is not a dominant interior defensive player, danced at line of scrimmage too often and is inconsistent to defeat double teams. I graded his flashes; once you see the ability, it’s there, now coaches need to get that out of him consistently. He is best when running free and moving laterally to clear trash and locate ball carrier consistently. Can be disruptive on pass rush. Huge upside, doesn’t play lazy, will leave field for a blow and returns fresh. Poe’s size, athletic ability, feet and his willingness to play in and out of the box will allow him to develop into a very good pro.
17. ILB *Dont’a Hightower Alabama I keep hearing size might be a negative for this player, but I disagree. Fluid athletic movement for size with a 4.68 40-yard dash at the Combine, which he will work to improve and finish all his Combine numbers at the Alabama Pro Day. A throwback middle linebacker that has the attributes to play in either a 3-4 or 4-3 defense. A thumper, to take on and shed blockers with escape-ability. Downhill disruptive player to play in the opponent’s backfield consistently. Dont’a had knee surgery in 2009; it will be interesting to see where teams place him after Combine medical exams.
18. OT/OG Cordy Glenn Georgia Huge man, good athlete with great feet and movement skills in Combine drill work. Will need to further develop lower body explosion. Combine gave him a 5.15 40-yard dash, several scout sources clocked him in 4.97 and 4.98 which is extremely impressive for a athlete weighing 345. The question coming out of the Combine is where to play him. For me, I start him out at right tackle. If he struggles on the edge, move him inside to guard.
19. DT Brandon Thompson Clemson I left the Senior Bowl extremely impressed and excited to go home and watch this player’s DNA (film). His athletic ability, competitive attitude, aggressiveness jumps off the screen at you, and he is also technique sound with strong use of hands. A powerful and explosive player with lateral chase and pursuit and is disruptive. At the Combine he measured out with prototypical size for the position, had 35 reps on the bench press along with a 31.0 vertical jump. Whichever team drafts this player will be drafting an impact player for the interior defensive line.
20. CB *Dre Kirkpatrick Alabama Corner built like a safety and flashed movement of a safety as well. Good size but has short arms (30 5/8) with solid vertical jump of 35. This player might be a classic cover-2 corner. His DNA (film) tells me man coverage skills at the next level will be limited when asked to perform on a consistent basis. He has tight hips and adequate short-area burst to remain close, allows too much separation from receiver. He excels as a zone defender with awareness of both ball and receivers in space. A willing collision tackler with wrap vs. receiver and on force. Kirkpatrick addressed his off-field issues with the media and teams of interest and said told us his situation had been resolved. This player might slide into the second round, but I doubt it; teams covet and value his height for the position. Moved up from No. 24.
21. WR Kendall Wright Baylor This is a classic “don’t move this player” where timed speed at the Combine doesn’t match the playing speed. Watching Robert Griffin III play pitch-and-catch was fun to watch. He has very good initial quickness to create separation, burst and acceleration, lower body explosion (38.5 vertical jump, 10.5 standing broad jump), soft hands and natural receiving skills to track, and change of direction. All this shows up in the Combine drills but the 40-yard dash. Don’t be fooled by the 4.61 time; I would still draft this player in the first round. A team will be getting a true talent and a solid return man for the next level. This kid is a player.
Update: Wright answered his critics with a 4.43 40 at his Pro Day March 21 on indoor field turf.
22. DE Courtney Upshaw Alabama I really like this young man’s production, competitive attitude and compact explosion to defeat blockers on film and at the Senior Bowl. He only weighed in at the Combine, and will need to complete the entire Combine workout at Alabama’s Pro Day. Those numbers will be interesting. I see short-area quickness with burst, tight-hipped to launch himself at quarterbacks. Inconsistent to stick foot in ground and change direction with quickness. Good use of hands and plays with leverage to stack point of attack. I see him not as an outside linebacker in a 3-4, but a base defensive end in a 4-3.
23. WR Michael Floyd Notre Dame Tall receiver that is competitive on film with production. Very good production to put up back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons at Notre Dame. Put up some good numbers at the Combine with a 4.46 40-yard dash, 36.5 vertical jump. Floyd had to answer several question about a well-documented off-field issue that has a few teams worried. He also suffered a knee injury in 2009; if there are any issues the Combine medical exam will find it. I like the size and combination of quickness and speed for a tall receiver. Aggressive receiver to play above the defender and attack balls at the highest point. Big-time red-zone threat.
24. CB Janoris Jenkins North Alabama Was the best cornerback at the Senior Bowl. An athletic, competitive corner with a good combination of burst, acceleration and speed. Strong one-arm bar punch to redirect receiver out of stance at Senior Bowl and on film. Great football instincts and ball skills. I went back and looked at Florida tape to really get a true feel for Jenkins’ skill set vs. SEC competition, because he was not challenged at North Alabama on the edge in 2011. The question on this player was not his ability to play at the next level in a press man or zone scheme, but teams wanted to dive into his personal life, past character issues and many other things. Injury history on his shoulder may be a concern as well. Very good football player; will be interesting to follow his career. Moved down from No. 20.
25. RB *David Wilson Virginia Tech Early-out junior plays bigger then measured. Weighed in at 206 pounds at the Combine and put up numbers that correspond with his DNA (film). He was smooth in his 4.49 40-yard dash, displayed lower body explosion with a 41.0 vertical jump and had the best standing broad jump among all the running backs this year with an 11-foot leap. Extremely quick in short and tight space; changes direction with burst and acceleration. A perfect change-of-pace back that has return skills.
26. DC Stephon Gilmore South Carolina SEC (Southeastern Conference) corner with the athletic ability and combination of size, speed and skill set for the first round. Smooth pedal with hips to flip and transition and mirror receivers deep. Is competitive and tough with good man press technique. Good awareness in zone coverage of both ball and receivers in and out of zone sector. Physical tackling skills like a safety. Gilmore had an outstanding Pro Day March 29. Moved into the first round.
27. DT *Jerel Worthy Michigan State Big man had to answer many questions about the lack of passion, inconsistent motor and if he has a true love of the game by both media and teams in private and open sittings. I like his lower body girth and thickness. I saw the inconsistent motor, but I also saw an explosive athlete with quickness, and was disruptive when he wanted to be. Raw with upside, while he lacks the height and athletic ability of Kris Jenkins, this is how his report read until the Blue-Gray and Senior Bowl dominance. Moved down from No. 26.
28. DT Devon Still Penn State Big man looks the part but I struggled to keep him in the first round. Athletic kid, with explosion and quickness, I really like his size and length but inconsistent motor to idle concerns me. Again, if you grade his flashes he deserves to be here. Still will need a hard-nosed tough coach to push him to the brink and get all the talent out of him.
29. OT *Jonathan Martin Stanford Was very vocal with the media that he was the best offensive tackle at the Combine. I liked his confidence. Didn’t work out at the Combine because of a soft tissue problem; another source said he was sick. Has the size and skill set to develop into a starter in the NFL. On film, I liked his smarts and awareness but he doesn’t do any one thing special with the exception of use of hands in both pass and run game. This player has upside; I want to see the drill work numbers from Pro Day.
30. RB Doug Martin Boise State This running back is the closet you’re going to get to a Ray Rice (Baltimore Ravens) clone. Explosive compact running style, with collision YAC (yards after contact) production. Natural receiving skills, soft hands and vision in RAC (run after catch) production. Will probanly slide into the second round, but I like this runner’s competitiveness, toughness and desire on each and every play. Moved into first round.
31. DE/OLB Andre Branch Clemson This player had 17 tackles for loss and 10.5 sacks in the Clemson scheme. After watching him move at the Combine and then on film, I think he is neither a defensive end or outside linebacker, but a DPR (designated pass rusher). I question awareness in space consistently to drop and cover, or read and react at the next level. As a defensive end, he will need to develop a more stout aggressiveness at point of attack.
32. C *Peter Konz Wisconsin The man in the middle for the Badgers. Very good size, with length and athletic ability. I really like his aggressive kick-your-butt attitude, and works to finish. Only lifted at the Combine and the results (18 reps) were disappointing and didn’t match what you see on film. He will need to complete the Combine workout at his Pro Day and increase the number of bench press reps. Solid first rounder, but could slide into the second.
WR *Alshon Jeffery South Carolina Coming into the Combine, Jeffery had to answer a few questions from all teams and it had nothing to do with off-field issues. He had to address weight-gain issues. Played the 2011 season at 237 pounds and came to the Combine weighing 216 and was 213 at South Carolina’s Pro Day March 29. The question teams have is which player will show up to training camp if drafted, and will he eat himself into a tight-end position within a few years. The other concern was his speed, which was answered at his Pro Day (4.50). Per sources, a lot of teams are dropping Jeffery into the second round because of fear about weight issues, I have the same concerns. With the emergence of DC Stephon Gilmore from South Carolina, this player dropped off my Big Board. Moved down from No. 27 out of the first round.
Others in consideration for the Softli Big Board: Georgia Tech WR *Stephen Hill, Washington RB Chris Polk, Miami RB Lamar Miller, Clemson TE *Dwayne Allen, Ohio State OT Mike Adams, Syracuse DE *Chandler Jones, Georgia TE Orson Charles, Wisconsin OG Kevin Zeitler.