Mel Kiper Big Board: Setting the Bust Odds for "The Hair's" Top 25 Prospects

Wes StueveContributor IIIDecember 1, 2011

Mel Kiper Big Board: Setting the Bust Odds for "The Hair's" Top 25 Prospects

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    For years, Mel Kiper Jr. has been "The Guy" when it comes to the NFL draft. He was studying the draft before many of us even knew what it was.

    But now, in the age of the internet, others have caught up with Kiper. Draft websites have blown up, and Kiper is no longer the lone draft expert on ESPN.

    Even so, Kiper's draft rankings and thoughts remain incredibly popular. Every week, his top 25 rankings are discussed by many.

    So really, what's one more take on them?

25. Michael Floyd, WR, Notre Dame

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    On the field, Michael Floyd might actually be this draft's best wide receiver.

    The Notre Dame wideout has excellent size, above-average athleticism, great body control and superb hands. There's nothing not to like.

    The problem with Floyd, however, is his ability to stay on the field. The 6'3", 230-pounder has had problems with injuries and alcohol related arrests.

    Floyd's upside is tremendous, but so is his downside.

    Bust Odds:  35 percent

24. Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor

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    Robert Griffin has always been a highly thought of college player, but it wasn't until this year that he garnered serious consideration as an NFL prospect. A tremendous athlete, Griffin has huge upside but is still raw.

    The 6'1" 215 pounder is on the small side, and he plays in the always-dangerous spread offense. Though Griffin is already an accurate passer with a tremendous deep ball, he does require considerable refinement.

    And at the quarterback position, the risk is always greater.

    Bust Odds:  40%

23. Janoris Jenkins, CB, North Alabama

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    Over the past few years at Florida, Janoris Jenkins has been one of, if not, the best cornerbacks in college football. However, Jenkins had several off-the-field issues and was kicked off the Gators' team.

    Now at North Alabama, Jenkins is still playing like the star he is. There's no denying his talent, but the risk is huge.

    Obviously, any team that drafts Jenkins will be concerned about whether or not he can stay out of trouble. None of Jenkins's issues have been major, but they would get him suspended nonetheless.

    Bust Odds:  50 percent

22. Jerel Worthy, DT, Michigan State

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    Prior to the start of the 2011 season, Jerel Worthy was widely considered a mid first-round draft pick. Now, Worthy is seen as a borderline first-rounder, and possibly not even that.

    A penetrating defensive tackle, Worthy has talent, but his production hasn't always been at the level it should be. At 6'3", 310 pounds, Worthy possesses more than adequate size, yet he struggles to shred blocks.

    Because of his above-average athleticism, Worthy has decent upside. His lack of production, however, is a huge warning sign.

    Bust Odds: 40 percent

21. Alfonzo Dennard, CB, Nebraska

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    At 5'10", 205 pounds, Alfonzo Dennard has an unusual build for a cornerback. His play on the field cannot, however, be denied.

    The Nebraska cornerback doesn't have a single interception on the season, but make no mistake about it, he has been excellent.

    Though Dennard isn't an elite athlete, he uses good technique and shuts down excellent wide receivers.

    Bust Odds:  25 percent

20. Zach Brown, LB, North Carolina

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    One of the most athletic linebackers in all of football, Zach Brown is simply a playmaker. But because he's just 6'2", 230 pounds, Brown is difficult to project to the NFL.

    Playing in an immensely talented defense, Brown has managed to stand out. Few linebackers possess better speed, and Brown flows to the ball effortlessly.

    Brown does occasionally struggle to get off blocks, but he's great in coverage and does an excellent job in the open field.

    Bust Odds:  35 percent

19. Courtney Upshaw, OLB, Alabama

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    Unlike most 3-4 outside linebackers in the NFL, Courtney Upshaw will not change positions at the next level. Because he already plays in a 3-4 defense, Upshaw is not nearly as risky as most 'tweeners.

    The 6'2", 260-pound Upshaw isn't overly explosive as a pass-rusher, but he's stout against the run. In fact, Upshaw could actually play inside linebacker in the NFL as a thumper in a 3-4 scheme.

    If Upshaw is drafted by a team running a 4-3 defense, he's unlikely to become an above-average player. In a 3-4 scheme, however, he could be a solid piece.

    Bust Odds:  35 percent

18. Devon Still, DT, Penn State

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    At 6'5", 310 pounds, Devon Still possesses perfect size. The Penn State star is versatile enough to play defensive tackle in a 4-3 scheme or defensive end in a 3-4 defense.

    Still's best attribute is his power, and he does a tremendous job of driving back offensive linemen. An above-average athlete, Still has a good first step and is solid as a pass-rusher.

    Still has always been talented, but he has had issues with his work ethic and motor. If he's motivated, Still can become a good starting defensive lineman in the NFL, and...

    ...That's not a small if either.

    Bust Odds:  45 percent

17. Ronnell Lewis, LB, Oklahoma

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    Weighing in at just 6'2", 244 pounds, Ronnell Lewis is limited to playing in a 3-4 defense at the next level. Lewis possesses a great first step and tremendous speed.

    Though he's primarily seen as an outside linebacker in a 3-4 scheme, some feel that Lewis would be better off at inside linebacker. Because of Lewis's lack of pass-rush moves, he isn't a great threat off the edge.

    Lewis has the athletic ability to play either position, but he needs to develop in order to bend the edge as a pass-rusher.

    Bust Odds:  50 percent

16. Cordy Glenn, OG, Georgia

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    Many view Cordy Glenn as a first-round guard, but he seems to slow too even play on the inside. Though the 6'5", 350-pounder is incredibly powerful and dominates in the run game, he struggles in every other aspect.

    In pass protection, Glenn is slow and struggled with speed at guard, not to mention left tackle. Even as a run blocker, Glenn can't get to the second level and is limited to power blocking.

    Because of his lack of athletic ability, Glenn is a prime candidate to not live up to his draft status.

    Bust Odds:  75 percent

    *I am not a Cordy Glenn fan

15. Vontaze Burfict, LB, Arizona State

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    A vicious middle linebacker, Vontaze Burfict is one of the most talented players in the country. The 6'3", 255-pounder is widely feared because of his ferocious hits.

    Though his best fit is as a thumper in a 3-4 defense, Burfict can play in any defensive scheme. He isn't great in coverage, but Burfict is an excellent athlete who excels when attacking the backfield.

    However, Burfict has had many issues with his on-field aggression. No one receives more personal fouls, and this has scared many teams and evaluators.

    Bust Odds:  40 percent

14. Brandon Thompson, DT, Clemson

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    A 6'2", 310-pounder, Brandon Thompson is primarily seen as an undertackle in the NFL. However, Thompson is powerful enough to play any interior position along the defensive line.

    Though he may be better off in a 4-3 scheme, Thompson has enough strength to play defensive end, or even nose tackle, in a 3-4 defense. Already a well-rounded player, Thompson is talented enough to become a star.

    Bust Odds:  30 percent

13. Manti Te'o, LB, Notre Dame

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    A big, athletic linebacker, Manti Te'o is versatile enough to play any linebacker position. The Notre Dame star can stuff the run, drop back in coverage or rush the passer with ease.

    At 6'2", 255 pounds, Te'o is big enough to easily adjust to a 3-4 scheme, ideally on the inside. Te'o could, however, play on the outside, but he would be more of a run-stopper than pass-rusher.

    This versatility makes Te'o incredibly unlikely to bust. He may not have quite as high of a ceiling as other linebackers, but his floor is high.

    Bust Odds:  20 percent

12. Alshon Jeffery, WR, South Carolina

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    A 6'3", 235-pound wideout, Alshon Jeffery was highly praised prior to the 2011 season. This year, however, Jeffery has looked overweight and sluggish at times.

    The South Carolina star still has phenomenal hands and catching ability, but he struggles to separate at times. In fact, Seattle's Mike Williams is a legitimate comparison for Jeffery. Williams represents all that could go wrong with Jeffery.

    If Jeffery is able to keep his weight under control, he could develop into one of the game's best. Few prospects are as high risk/high reward as Jeffery is.

    Bust Odds:  55 percent

11. Luke Kuechly, LB, Boston College

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    Though he's not an elite athlete, Luke Kuechly possesses phenomenal instincts and is constantly around the ball. Few players are more refined, and Kuechly is almost guaranteed to develop into a solid player.

    Kuechly may not be a great athlete, but he isn't a bad one either. At 6'3", 235 pounds, Kuechly isn't particular big, yet he can still shred blocks and play the run. Few linebackers are more adept in coverage.

    Because Kuechly doesn't possess quite the upside that Manti Te'o and Vontaze Burfict do, he is less highly thought of by many. However, Kuechly is much less likely to be out of the league in five years.

    Bust Odds:  10 percent

10. Riley Reiff, OT, Iowa

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    A former tight end, Riley Reiff is a great athlete with above-average upside at left tackle. However, Reiff is not particular big and still needs to refine his technique.

    Weighing just 305 pounds, Reiff is susceptible to the bull rush and isn't great at the point of attack in the run game. On the other hand, Reiff has quick feet and can handle the speed rush. Reiff also does a good job at the second level when run blocking.

    Like Nate Solder from last year, Reiff is a high-risk/high-reward offensive tackle.

    This could cause the Iowa left tackle to fall—or rise—in the draft.

    Bust Odds:  40 percent

9. Quinton Coples, DE, North Carolina

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    A great athlete with tremendous size, Quinton Coples was widely considered a top-five pick before this season. The 6'6", 285-pounder is a physical specimen but has struggled some in 2011.

    Though his production has been decent, Coples hasn't displayed much burst as a pass-rusher. He's still good against the run, but pass-rushing ability is always the most important quality in a defensive end.

    Because of his size and athletic ability, Coples will still be drafted early. His lack of production and risk, however, may make his NFL team regret the pick.

    Bust Odds:  45 percent

8. Jonathan Martin, OT, Stanford

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    A left tackle in the NFL, Jonathan Martin possesses good athletic ability but lacks great size or strength. Weighing just 305 pounds, Martin struggles with powerful defensive linemen in pass-protection and the run game.

    Though Martin is solid technically, he may not be athletic enough to compensate for his lack of size and strength. Because of his ability to protect the blind side, Martin will be highly valued by NFL teams, however.

    Most risky offensive linemen have all the physical ability but lack the technique. Unlike these prospects, Martin may not be able to keep up with the NFL because of physical limitations.

    Bust Odds:  35 percent

7. Matt Barkley, QB, USC

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    Though Andrew Luck is a better prospect, Matt Barkley might be the most NFL-ready passer in college football. Already familiar with a pro-style offense, Barkley possesses tremendous accuracy and excellent intelligence.

    Barkley is, however, somewhat physically limited. The USC star is, at most, 6'2" and does not possess an overly strong arm. Barkley also lacks great athletic ability and is limited to passing from inside the pocket.

    Despite these physical limitations, Barkley is a safe pick. Few quarterbacks with Barkley's accuracy, intelligence and experience fail in the NFL.

    Bust Odds:  15 percent

6. Landry Jones, QB, Oklahoma

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    Landry Jones may be the most talented of the top quarterbacks. The Oklahoma star possesses a rocket arm and underrated athleticism and ideal size.

    Jones is, however, incredibly raw. The 6'4", 230 pounder often displays erratic accuracy and flawed decision making. And, like Sam Bradford, Jones plays in the dreaded spread offense.

    Because of his physical talent, Jones has huge upside as a passer. His notable flaws, on the other hand, give him huge downside.

    Bust Odds:  50 percent

5. Morris Claiborne, CB, LSU

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    Though Morris Claiborne isn't as talented as Patrick Peterson was a year ago, he may be the better cornerback. At 6'1", 185 pounds, Claiborne isn't especially big, but he's a physical player nonetheless.

    An excellent athlete, Claiborne possesses incredible ball skills and is capable of making interceptions that few others can. Claiborne isn't just an athlete, though. He uses good technique, especially in press coverage.

    Following the aforementioned Peterson and Joe Haden, Claiborne continues the streak of phenomenal cornerback prospects. Unlike most prospects, Claiborne possesses not only high upside, but low downside as well.

    Bust Odds:  10 percent

4. Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State

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    Widely considered a top-10 pick, Justin Blackmon is one of the safest wide receivers to ever enter the NFL draft. The 6'1", 215-pounder is already a good route runner, and he rarely drops passes.

    Though he has little downside, Blackmon doesn't have the same potential that other wide receiver prospects do. The Oklahoma State star isn't particularly tall and doesn't possess elite speed or burst either. Because he lacks all three of these qualities, Blackmon isn't a great deep threat.

    In the NFL, Blackmon will primarily be used on underneath routes. In fact, Anquan Boldin of the Baltimore Ravens is a perfect comparison for Blackmon's upside and downside.

    Bust Odds:  five percent

3. Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama

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    Over the years, running back has been one of the safest draft picks. And Trent Richardson is one of the best running backs to enter the draft in the past decade.

    A 5'10", 225-pound bowling ball, Richardson is incredibly powerful with above-average speed. The Alabama star is almost never tackled by just one defender, and he's a great receiver as well.

    Few running backs in the NFL are as complete as Richardson already is, and he's only going to improve. In a few years, Richardson could be the best running back in all of football.

    Bust Odds: two percent

2. Matt Kalil, OT, USC

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    The best left tackle prospect since Jake Long in 2008, Matt Kalil could become an elite player in the NFL. The USC lineman possesses great athleticism, technique and length.

    At 6'7", 295 pounds, Kalil could stand to add some bulk and strength, but he has few problems with powerful linemen. Kalil is incredibly quick and nearly impossible to beat in pass protection.

    As a left tackle, Kalil is virtually flawless. He isn't as good of a prospect as Joe Thomas was, but he's certainly an elite player.

    Bust Odds:  five percent

1. Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford

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    At this point, who hasn't heard about Andrew Luck? The Heisman hopeful has virtually no weaknesses and possesses unbelievable upside.

    Prior to this year, Luck didn't have a rocket arm, but his arm strength has improved. The 6'4", 230-pounder is a great athlete with excellent accuracy and unheard of intellect.

    When people say Andrew Luck is the best quarterback prospect since at least Peyton Manning, it seems like an exaggeration. It isn't. He really is that good.

    The only reason Luck's bust odds are as high as they are, is the position he plays. Quarterbacks are always risky, and injuries are always possible.

    Bust Odds:  5 percent