With the Colts 0-8 at midseason a top 10 pick seems certain, a top 5 pick likely and Indy is on pace for the top pick. But what to do with that high pick? Right now there are 10 players who look like locks to go in the top 20 (assuming the enter the draft) and likely top 10 picks.
Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford
When the debate isn’t “Should he go #1 overall?” it’s “How long has it been since a better QB prospect came out of college?” you know you’ve got a fantastic talent. Luck is a 3rd year starter in a pro-style offense with prototypical size (6’4″ 230lbs), a strong arm and a bit of mobility. As a freshman he completed 56.3% of his passes and 4 INTs to 13 TDs. He would greatly improve on those the following year completing over 70% of his passes and throwing 32 TDs to 8 INTs. So far this season he’s completing 72% of his passes and has thrown 4 picks to 23 touchdowns.
Matt Kalil, LT, Southern Cal
In most years Matt Kalil would be in the discussion for the number one overall pick. Last year’s 9th overall pick Tyron Smith played right tackle at USC because he was the 2nd best OT on the team, to Kalil. At 6’7″ 295lbs he has a bit of filling out to do, but that’s nitpicking a guy with the talent and technique to make up for being a couple pounds light.
Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State
Blackmon isn’t quite on pace to match his 2010 season, but given that he caught 111 passes for 1,782 yards and 20 TDs in 2010 and isn’t that far off the pace, it can be excused. Blackmon isn’t huge or blazing fast, but he’s not small or slow by any means. He runs good routes, has fantastic hands and uses what size he does have (6’1″ 211lbs) very well to keep DBs away from the ball. A DUI in-season last year isn’t a ringing endorsement of his character, but it seems to be his only incident.
Quinton Coples, DE/DT, North Carolina
Coples is a big (6’6″ 285lbs) disruptive lineman with over 20 sacks and 30 TFLs to his name in his career to date. Inconsistent play and questions as to whether he’ll be an effective edge rusher at the NFL level are the main concerns. Is Coples Mario Williams, a similarly massive DE who’s inconsistency concerned many, or is he Jamaal Anderson, a big talented lineman who just lacks the super-elite athleticism required to be an effective pass rusher from the DE spot? His strong play against the run and experience inside means he should be an effective player, but he’s one of the easiest to see not living up to his draft position.
Alshon Jeffery, WR, South Carolina
Jeffery is a freak of nature. At 6’4″ 237lbs he looks like a TE (and abuses DBs in the redzone like one). After breaking the 1,500 yard mark last season his production has fallen off steaply thanks to horrendous QB play. Whether Jeffery will be able to get separation at the pro level is the main concern. He’s faster than a man of that size should be, but won’t be running away from quality DBs. He also needs to stay in shape, the first suggestion by google for “Alshon Jeffery” is “Alshon Jeffery fat” which isn’t totally unfair.
Jonathan Martin, LT, Stanford
The man protecting Luck’s blindside won’t have to wait long after his QBs name is called. He’s not the uber-prospect Kalil is, but he’s a very talented OT with few weaknesses, just not the upside of Kalil.
Matt Barkley, QB, USC
Barkley is a bit smaller, a bit less productive and doesn’t have nearly as strong of an arm as Andrew Luck. None of those make him a bad QB prospect, but you do have to be concerned about him being Matt Leinart 2.0. While USC was dealt a major blow by the NCAA Barkley is still surrounded by some of the best talent in college football. Can he be as effective on a more even playing field?
Dre Kirkpatrick, CB, Alabama
If you’re fed up with small corners Kirkpatrick is a good player to be keeping an eye on. A 2nd year starter, Kirkpatrick is 6’3″ 195lbs. He doesn’t have elite speed, but uses his size well. In a system that gives him help over the top he should excell. He has been inconsistent being beaten more often than a player of his caliber should.
Landry Jones, QB, Oklahoma
Jones is a big, productive, accurate and strong armed QB prospect. Where he seems to struggle is when pressured, made worse by his very limited mobility. Jones seems to consistently perform as well as his protection.
Morris Claiborne, CB, LSU
A playmaking corner in man coverage, Claiborne doesn’t have Kirkpatrick’s size but has decent size and plays hard against the run. A standout WR in high school Claiborne shows far better hands and skill with the ball in his hands than is the norm for defensive backs.
Personally I’m only in favor of drafting Luck if Peyton isn’t going to be able to play 2+ more years. You can’t sit the number one overall pick for 2 years and you can’t trade Peyton Manning. If Peyton is coming back and wants to play out his deal, you trade the #1 pick and add talent that’ll give you several great shots at a title before Peyton is done. My personal favorites are Kalil and Blackmon (who I’d be good with taking as high as #2) and Claiborne (who is more of a 6th to 16th kind of guy).