NFL Draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. discusses Pac-12 players
ESPN's lead NFL Draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. had a lengthy media teleconference on Wednesday and answered a number of questions about some of the top prospects coming out of college. This naturally meant he touched on plenty of Pac-12 players looking to make the jump to the pros.
Here are a few snippets of what Kiper had to say about former Pac-12 stars prior to the NFL Draft from April 25-27:
Question: When you look at 24 with the Colts, do you see them possibly moving back? If they stay back, receiver, what kind of quality, value are they going to get at 24?
Kiper: If you’re thinking first-round wide receiver, you think at that point Robert Woods from USC, Cordarrelle Patterson may be there, maybe not. I think Robert Woods would be a nice fit. He could help you right away. He’s polished. You think about what Peyton Manning had with Reggie Wayne, Andrew Luck could have with Robert Woods. Draw strong comparisons through the draft process to a Reggie Wayne.
Looking at the Chargers, how do you see it breaking down for their first pick at 11? Do you think Keenan Allen can be there in the second round because of his slow time in the pro day?
Kiper: He could. Actually when you redo the whole projection, I had Keenan Allen going 40 before his pro day. That would be a couple picks before San Diego. If you redo it now, you’re thinking 44.
With the Eagles, would it be sensible for them at number four, a lot of people have them picking Star Lotulelei or Sharrif Floyd, and making them a five technique. Would it make sense for them to do that when they already have Fletcher Cox? Most 3-4 teams get their pass rush from outside linebackers and not five techniques. Also if they wanted to trade down from four, do you think they’ll have the luxury of doing that? Is that a coveted spot?
Kiper: Depends how the first couple picks go. Again, you’re representing those left tackles which is a hotspot. You could be looking at a Dee Milliner at that particular point if he’s still available. You have to wait and see.
Dion Jordan, Chip Kelly coached him at Oregon. You have some guys in the mix at pass rushers in that 3-4. Are they satisfied with what they have? Do they want to upgrade potentially with Dion Jordan? Do they want to take a quarterback like Geno Smith or wait for the second round to take E.J. Manuel? Those are some of the options that the Eagles have.
But certainly trading down, you’re going to get offers because it’s not costly to be up there. It’s a case where there’s going to be some hot players, and the hot players are going to be those left tackles. Everybody seems to want to go up and get those guys.
After Joeckel goes, if he goes one, that’s going to make Eric Fisher and Lane Johnson two possibilities for teams that are going to look to move up.
It depends how it flows through. I think they will get offers. I think Dion Jordan and Geno Smith will have to be in the mix. I would not look at a 3- 4 defensive end. You think about Tyson Jackson of Kansas City, to me you can find those types of players down the road.
The last two years it’s been fairly easy to identify what position groups the 49ers might target. The guy they actually drafted has been a surprise with Aldon Smith and A.J. Jenkins. A logical spot would be safety this year with their first pick. Do you see another guy similar to Aldon Smith, A.J. Jenkins picks where people would say 49ers were going to take a safety, but not that guy?
Kiper: Well, if you look at 31, if they pick at 31 and 34, if you say 31, Datone Jones, a defensive end from UCLA, that would be a little bit of a curve ball. He’s a had a great Senior bowl week. He had a heck of a year for Jim Mora. He’s ideally suited for what they do.
Then at tight end, do they look at Zach Ertz from Stanford? Do they wait until late second round and look at either Ertz, if he’s still there, or Gavin Escobar from San Diego State or Dion Sims from Michigan State.
With the 35th pick in the second round, what kind of talent could the Eagles be looking at?
Kiper: I think you look at the offensive line, particularly the right tackle. If it’s Menelik Watson from Florida State, Kyle Long from Oregon. He could play right tackle, left All England Club. He played for Chip Kelly at Oregon. Kyle Long, if he’s still there, would be a viable option for the Philadelphia Eagles. Coaches like familiar players. Obviously Kyle Long has a ton of versatility. He has the bloodlines with his father Howie and his brother Chris. I think he would have to be in the discussion along with Menelik Watson from Florida State.
You touched on Geno Smith earlier. When all is said and done, what kind of player do you think he’ll be? And Matt Barkley, too, for that matter because you have the two of them rated fairly closely.
Kiper: For Matt, Matt is a hard working kid, can throw the football. I hope his arm gets stronger as he moves into the NFL like some have. He’s limited because he’s a pocket guy. He’s not going to beat you with his legs. As a second round pick, I think it makes a lot of sense.
The full transcript of Kiper's draft call is available here.
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