Yesterday we took a look at the top 15 players of the 2012 draft according to the NFL Network's Gil Brandt. This morning we're seeing what Russ Lande of the Sporting News has to say about the top prospects. In his last two mocks Rang had the Panthers selecting Devon Still and Michael Brockers respectively. I think you'll agree that Lande's top 15 is very different to what we saw from Brandt.
2. Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor. Griffin is in a virtual tie with Luck as the best player in the draft. He has excellent arm strength, accuracy and is off the charts when it comes to leadership and smarts.
3. Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama. Richardson will likely not go in the top five because of specific team needs at the top of the draft, but he's has the ability to be dominant inside runner and game-changer on the edge.
More after the jump
4. Morris Claiborne, CB, LSU. Claiborne is a better cornerback prospect than his former teammate Patrick Peterson from a year ago.
5. Matt Kalil, OT, Southern Cal. The best offensive line prospect in the draft, Kalil is already a dominant pass protector.
6. Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State. While Blackmon lacks "wow" speed, he is a powerful receiver with deceptive athleticism.
7. Luke Kuechly, LB, Boston College. Kuechly made a smart decision to come out early for a draft with no other elite linebackers to challenge him. NFL scouts have told us he reminds them of Brian Urlacher.
8. Quinton Coples, DE, North Carolina. Coples is 6-6 and explosive. He showed at the Senior Bowl that he can beat offensive tackles with power and speed. He reminded many of Julius Peppers.
9. Michael Floyd, WR, Notre Dame. Floyd's two alcohol arrests could knock him down draft boards, but he's an elite prospect with great size at 6-3.
10. Devon Still, DT, Penn State. Still has the tools to be a productive starter as a defensive end in a 3-4 scheme or a tackle in a 4-3.
11. David DeCastro, G, Stanford. While guards rarely go this high, DeCastro deserves consideration because of his foot quickness, agility and balance.
12. Melvin Ingram, DE, South Carolina. While many rank Courtney Upshaw as the best 3-4 outside linebacker prospect, Ingram is the more explosive athlete with better pass-rush skills.
13. Michael Brockers, DT, LSU. Brockers is quick off the snap with the long arms and strength to be a disruptive interior force.
14. Dre Kirkpatrick, CB, Alabama. Kirkpatrick is 6-3 and excels at lining up in press coverage and playing tight man coverage all over the field.
15. Fletcher Cox, DT, Mississippi State. Cox is not huge at under 300 pounds, but he has good first-step explosiveness off the snap and shoots gaps and gets into the backfield to blow up plays.
What immediately jumps out at me about Lande's BPA list is that there are three defensive tackles on it. Watch out for Fletcher Cox from Mississippi State. Lately Cox is a name coming up a lot by scouts as a player to watch in Indianapolis. This season he totaled 56 tackles and 5 sacks in just 11 games, all against stout SEC opponents on a DL without another focal point. While his size is less than ideal at 6'4", 295 lbs he does have ability and is setting himself up to be in a position where he can jockey with Still and Brockers for the #1 DT in this draft.
Moreover what I find dramatic is the lack of Riley Reiff on this list. In fact, Reiff can't be found in Lande's top 50, all while other scouts have him as a top 10 prospect. Lande has refered to 'numerous sources' telling him they view Mike Adams out of Ohio State as a better OT prospect, which no doubt effected his decision.
I'm not sure sure about Michael Floyd. I know he put up big numbers at Notre Dame, but so did Golden Tate. Sure, Floyd has the size and the ability, but I can't help but feel like he lack the discipline needed for the NFL. I'd much rather Alshon Jeffrey as the #2 receiver in this class- Lande has him at 23.
While there are some aspects to the report I disagree with I have to say I'm 100% in accordance with Lande when it comes to Morris Claiborne. As most will remember from last year I got into heated discussions over Patrick Peterson because I just didn't see the next elite NFL corner, however I see that from Claiborne. While he wont give you that extreme pop in the return game I do think that the team who drafts him is getting a player similar to Champ Bailey- he has that much ability. To me, all it takes is Greg Schiano deciding Trent Richardson is too good to pass up and I see a door open for him to land in Carolina.
Just 8 days until the combine! It should be fun.