2012 NFL Draft: Steuber's Updated Top 25 Big Board
My previous Big Board was released prior to kickoff of the college football season, and as the schedule enters Week 3, I thought it would be a good time to update the status of my top 25 prospects.
There’s been some movement throughout my top 25, but most of the players who appeared in my initial rankings have remained.
The look of the Big Board has changed, and now features a thermometer and a temperature reading of the top prospects. Three colors are used to indicate a prospects temperature: red signifies that a prospect is rising, blue means falling and orange registers a normal temperature for a prospect.
Here’s an updated view of the top 25 draft-eligible prospects available for next April’s spring spectacle.
1. *Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford (Previous Rank: 1; Grade: 99)
Barring an injury, Luck won’t relinquish his No. 1 overall rating the entire season. He’s the most complete quarterback prospect since Peyton Manning, and even though he’s only played the likes of San Jose State and Duke thus far, Luck hasn’t disappointed. He’s completed 68.5 percent of his passes for 461 yards, six touchdowns and an interception.
2. *Matt Kalil, OT, USC (Previous Rank: 2; Grade: 96)
The brother of former USC standout and current Carolina Panthers star center Ryan Kalil, Matt Kalil started his career at USC as a backup right tackle and quickly emerged as a dependable blind-side protector.
Matt has to improve his upper-body strength and technique, but from an athletic standpoint—and if you factor in his measurables and pedigree—he will be a coveted prospect and a likely Top-Five pick.
3. Quinton Coples, DE, North Carolina (Previous Rank: 3; Grade: 96)
Coples possesses a unique blend of size and speed, and has the versatility to play inside and outside.
Coming off of a breakout junior campaign where he recorded 10 sacks, Coples started his senior campaign off with a bang, as he had two sacks against James Madison.
However, Coples struggled against Rutgers during Week 2 and wasn’t a factor.
4. *Matt Barkley, QB, USC (Previous Rank: 4; Grade: 95)
The progress Barkley made from his freshman year to his sophomore season was astounding, and through two games as a junior, his game continues to evolve.
Barkley has completed 70.1 percent of his passes for 568 yards, four touchdowns and an interception, and has guided the Trojans to a 2-0 start.
5. *Landry Jones, QB, Oklahoma (Previous Rank: 6; Grade: 94)
Being the signal-caller for the No. 1 team in the nation will only enhance one's draft positioning, and Jones is likely to create more buzz for himself as the season progresses.
The race for the right to be drafted behind Luck will heat up between Jones and Matt Barkley as the season continues. Oklahoma has only played one game this year, after having an early bye week last weekend, but Jones was impressive in the Sooners' 47–14 win over Tulsa; he completed 74.5 percent of his passes for 375 yards and a touchdown.
6. *Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State (Previous Rank: 7; Grade: 94)
Blackmon is coming off a standout sophomore season where he hauled in 111 receptions for 1,782 yards and 20 touchdowns, which earned him the Biletnikoff Award.
He’s a big play, No. 1 threat who works hard to make the game easier for his quarterback, and so far this season, Blackmon has made things look easy. Through two games, Blackmon has caught 20 passes for 272 yards and two touchdowns.
7. *Alshon Jeffery, WR, South Carolina (Previous Rank: 8; Grade: 93)
An imposing figure at the wide receiver position, Jeffery has quickly become one of college football's best offensive threats. He’s a mismatch for most of the defenders he lines up against, and gives opposing coaches headaches because they can’t simulate his size and speed in practice.
Jeffery hasn’t been dominant in his first two games of the year, but he’s been consistent, collecting 10 receptions for 177 yards and a touchdown.
8. *Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama (Previous Rank: 10; Grade: 92)
Richardson has featured back qualities, but has never had the opportunity to demonstrate them full time, since he shared carries with Mark Ingram the past two seasons.
This season, Richardson is the featured back and has been solid in the early going. He only had 13 carries in his season debut, but had three touchdowns. Through two games, Richardson has carried the ball 39 times for 148 yards and five touchdowns.
9. *Dre Kirkpatrick, CB, Alabama (Previous Rank: 5; Grade: 94)
A big, physical corner who possesses good ball and cover skills, Kirkpatrick—who was a first-year starter last season—put together a solid introductory campaign in a tough SEC, collecting 53 tackles, four for a loss and three interceptions.
This season, Kirkpatrick hasn’t had much of an impact in the first two games; he’s recorded just two tackles and defended four passes. He’s playing on a dominant Alabama defense and is being overshadowed at this point.
10. *Jonathan Martin, OT, Stanford (Previous Rank: 9: Grade: 93)
Andrew Luck is a special player, and it's possible that even with a marginal offensive line he would still post the numbers he's produced.
But with Martin protecting his blind side the last two seasons, Luck has developed into a phenom, and Martin has benefited from his success. Martin has the athleticism, durability and toughness scouts covet from a front-line left tackle and expect him to be a Top-15 pick next year.
11. Jared Crick, DT, Nebraska (Previous Rank: 11; Grade: 92)
One of the elite trench terrors in the nation, Crick is a true penetrator and has a solid repertoire of moves to use against the opposition.
In Nebraska’s first two games, Crick hasn’t recorded a sack, but has played well against the run and has contributed eight tackles, two for a loss. Crick’s versatility will attract many teams, and he will have great value as a 5-technique in a 3-4 defense at the next level.
12. *Brandon Jenkins, DE/OLB, Florida State (Previous Rank: 12; Grade: 92)
Jenkins is an undersized defender who had a highly productive sophomore season for the Seminoles.
As a first-year starter in 2010, Jenkins exploded on the scene and generated 63 tackles, 21.5 for a loss and 13.5 sacks. Regarded as a Top 20 draft prospect in next year’s draft, Jenkins has played well in Florida State’s first two games. He’s recorded eight tackles, three for a loss and a sack.
13. *Jerel Worthy, DT, Michigan State (Previous Rank: 13; Grade: 92)
A strong interior presence who already has two years' experience as a starter, Worthy could easily increase his stock as the season progresses.
In his first two years with the Spartans, Worthy was a consistent force, but this season he’s had a slow start and has only recorded three tackles, 1.5 for a loss and a sack. He will get going shortly.
14. *Donte Paige-Moss, OLB, North Carolina (Previous Rank: 14; Grade: 91)
Paige-Moss will draw interest from teams that run a 3-4 defense, but while he's rangy, he's also strong and can be a factor as a 4-3 defensive end.
He's been average in the Tar Heels' first two contests, recording four tackles and a sack. But it's his versatility and upside that will make him a potentially high draft pick.
15. *Riley Reiff, OT, Iowa (Previous Rank: 21; Grade: 88)
There are many things to like about Reiff; he has the size, technique and experience scouts salivate over.
He’s been a starter the last two years at left tackle for the Hawkeyes, but does Reiff translate to the left side in the NFL?
That’s the question.
He’s a maximum effort guy who loves the physical aspect of the game, but athletically, Reiff is not very fluid. If scouts view him as a right tackle, that could affect his stock.
16. *Vontaze Burfict, ILB, Arizona State (Previous Rank: NR)
It's hard to argue with the potential Burfict possesses. He's an impressive defender who plays with passion and is very physical.
But there are some concerns about his attitude and that he didn’t register impact statistics (sacks and interceptions) in his first two years at Arizona State.
Burfict has silenced those critics with his play this year though, as he’s already generated four sacks in two games.
17. *Manti Te'o, ILB, Notre Dame (Previous Rank: 19; Grade: 89)
A highly-touted high school recruit who has lived up to the hype during his first two seasons at Notre Dame, Te'o has proved to be a durable, productive playmaker for the Irish.
Despite the Irish’s disappointing 0-2 start this season, Te’o has been solid, racking up 14 tackles, two for a loss and a sack.
18. *Luke Kuechly, ILB, Boston College (Previous Rank: 23; Grade: 87)
Kuechly is an outstanding football player, and he brings the consistency and leadership qualities NFL scouts value. He led the nation in tackles last year and is on track to repeat that feat this season.
In two starts this season, Kuechly has amassed 35 tackles, two for a loss and an interception. He’s the most consistent linebacker in the country.
19. *Stephon Gilmore, CB, South Carolina (Previous Rank 18; Grade: 89)
Entering his third year as a starter, Gilmore has quickly developed into a leader on defense for South Carolina. He has great size and the cover skills to become an elite player at the next level.
In two games this season, Gilmore has 14 tackles (second on the team) and has defended two passes.
20. Michael Floyd, WR, Notre Dame (Previous Rank: NR)
Floyd is as talented as any wide receiver in the country. He has the size, speed, strength and pass-catching ability to be a dominant force in the NFL.
However, there are off-the-field concerns that teams will weigh during the draft process.
In two games this season, Floyd has been on a mission, and has caught 25 passes for 313 yards and two touchdowns. If he demonstrates change and continues to produce, he could be a Top-20 selection.
21. Chase Minnifield, CB, Virginia (Previous Rank: 16; Grade: 90)
As a first-year starter in 2010, Minnifield stepped up in place of the injured Ras-I Dowling and proved he was one of the country's best all-around cornerbacks.
Minnifield has played instinctive, physical football, and has recorded 10 tackles, two for a loss and a sack.
But the play of the top linebackers and Stephon Gilmore pushed Minnifield down in the rankings.
22. Courtney Upshaw, LB, Alabama (Previous Rank: 17; Grade: 90)
Upshaw is a hard-nosed playmaker at linebacker who, in his first year as a starter last season, shined in the national spotlight.
He made an impact in his season debut against Kent State, recording seven tackles, 1.5 for a loss and half a sack.
But against Penn State last weekend, Upshaw didn’t have much of an impact prior to leaving the game with an injury.
23. Brandon Thompson, DT, Clemson (Previous Rank: NR)
Thompson is strong inside, and has the size and versatility to fit most schemes. He uses his hands extremely well and makes a lot of plays in the backfield.
So far this season, Thompson has accumulated eight tackles. The defensive tackle crop eligible for next year's draft isn't very deep, which helps Thompson's stock.
24. Alfonzo Dennard, CB, Nebraska (Previous Rank: 24; Grade: 87)
When the Nebraska secondary was mentioned last year, most of the conversation was based around Prince Amukamara, and that was expected.
But as a first-year starter in 2010, Dennard outplayed Amukamara, recording 30 tackles and four interceptions. He has yet to step on the field this year due to an injury, but when he does, expect Dennard to continue where he left off last season.
25. Ryan Broyles, WR, Oklahoma (Previous Rank: 25; Grade: 87)
Broyles doesn’t possess the desired size for a wide receiver and isn’t a burner, but he's one of the most consistent playmakers in the country.
All he does is catch passes and produce positive yards. In his first action of the season against Tulsa, Broyles caught 14 passes for 158 yards and a touchdown.
Broyles is extremely underrated at this time.
Chris Steuber is the NFL Draft Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. In addition to his role with Bleacher Report, Steuber serves as Director of Player Personnel for the Georgia Force of the Arena Football League. He’s previously served as NFL Draft Analyst for Scout.com and Fox Sports, as well as NFLDraftScout.com in conjunction with CBS Sports. Follow Chris on Twitter.