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NFL Draft: Sneak Peek

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With the Super Bowl behind us, the next big item on the NFL docket is April's NFL Draft. PSR's Ken Torgent breaks down the former student athletes who will likely be among the top selections in a few months.

QB Andrew Luck – Considered by many to be the best quarterback prospect to come out of the draft since Peyton Manning, Luck possesses a perfect blend of size, strength, intelligence and poise. He may not have won last season’s Heisman Trophy and his talents will almost certainly be scrutinized and over-scrutinized in the coming months, but Luck remains a no-brainer to be the first player taken in the draft.  With both Indianapolis and St. Louis already committed to franchise quarterbacks, there figures to be a lot of action on the trade market for that top pick.

OT Matt KalilIf you recognize the last name, it’s because Matt’s brother, 2007 second-rounder Ryan, has become one of the league’s best centers down in Carolina. Because of his talent, his pedigree, and his position (left tackle), Matt figures to easily surpass his brother’s draft position. The younger Kalil is currently projected to go in the top-five and figures to give one lucky team a franchise left tackle for the next decade.

CB Morris Claiborne – Claiborne is a little more raw than fellow-LSU corner Patrick Peterson, who was a top-ten selection in the last draft, but he has the talent to be just as productive. He’s a willing, fundamentally sound tackler who is more than willing to contribute in the running game. If he can add some strength, he has shutdown-corner potential.
Photo by Brett Deering
WR Justin Blackmon Easily the best pass-catcher available in the draft, Blackmon has hauled in over 220 receptions in his last two seasons, including a 113-mark this past season for 1,336 yards and 15 TDs. He possesses good size for the position at 6’1”, but doesn’t necessarily have the elite speed exhibited by last year’s top receivers, A.J. Green and Julio Jones. What separates Blackmon from the rest of this year’s class are his hands and his strength. He can body up against defenders for a catch, and then shed a tackle for extra yardage.

QB Robert Griffin III – Griffin came out of nowhere to win the Heisman trophy, establishing himself as college football’s best dual-threat quarterback. Griffin is a little different than last year’s first-overall selection, Cam Newton, though. What Griffin lacks in size (6’2” to Newton’s 6’5”), he makes up for in experience. He also possesses the type of intangibles – poise, intelligence, work ethic – that make for a great quarterback. He projects to be more like Newton than Vince Young as a quarterback first and an athlete second, and not vice versa.

RB Trent Richardson – Richardson emerged from the shadows of former first-rounder Mark Ingram this past season for Alabama, pushing his way into the Heisman race. Like many running backs, he could slide down the draft boards and teams fill other holes, but the fact that he is far and away the best runner in the class could lead to an early selection. He’s more physically gifted than Ingram and possesses excellent speed on a thick frame.
photo by David Durochik-SportPics
DE Quinton Coples – The North Carolina product could end up sneaking higher than his top-ten grade, as teams have been putting a premium on pass rushers and defensive linemen. First and foremost, Coples is physically imposing at 6’6’ and 285 lbs. While he could certainly become a 3-4 end if he adds a bit more weight, he’s more ideal physically and instinctually as a 4-3 linemen, either on the inside or outside. The team that selects him will have a position-flexible linemen that is brawler up front.
 

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