Evan Silva

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Draft 2012: Mayock's Top Fives

Tuesday, January 24, 2012



Defensive Ends
1. Quinton Coples, North Carolina
2. Melvin Ingram, South Carolina
3. Whitney Mercilus*, Illinois
4. Nick Perry*, USC
5. (tie) Chandler Jones*, Syracuse
Andre Branch, Clemson

Notes: Coples measured in at an impressive 6-foot-6 and 281 pounds during Monday's Senior Bowl weigh-in and was the nation's highest rated senior entering the last college season. His production dipped a bit in 2011, however, and NFL scouts were concerned that Coples played "not to get hurt." Ingram is a freak athlete with rare versatility, capable of playing defensive end, tackle, and perhaps even outside linebacker in a 3-4. Draftniks are divided on Mercilus, who led the NCAA in sacks (16) and forced fumbles (9) before declaring for the draft on January 3.

Defensive Tackles
1. Devon Still, Penn State
2. Jerel Worthy*, Michigan State
3. Michael Brockers*, LSU
4. Brandon Thompson, Clemson
5. (tie) Fletcher Cox*, Mississippi State
Dontari Poe*, Memphis

Notes: Out for the Senior Bowl with a sprained big toe, Still is considered far and away the top 4-3 tackle eligible for the 2012 draft. At the Combine, Still is expected to measure in at around 6-foot-5, 307. "Scheme versatile," he should appeal to 3-4 teams as well at that size. Brockers, a redshirt sophomore, is a less experienced version of Still. Worthy is more of a 4-3 tackle only at a listed 6-foot-3 and 310 pounds. Poe (6'4/350, listed) may be the top true nose tackle in 2012.

Linebackers
1. Courtney Upshaw, Alabama
2. Luke Kuechly*, Boston College
3. Dont'a Hightower*, Alabama
4. Zach Brown, North Carolina
5. Vontaze Burfict*, Arizona State

Notes: Mayock uses the term "linebacker" loosely with Upshaw, who played outside 'backer in Nick Saban's 3-4 defense. Upshaw is a power player and may land on the line as a 4-3 end in the pros. Kuechly is this year's top true middle linebacker prospect. Hightower will likely play inside in a 3-4. Brown is a weak-side prospect for 4-3 teams. Burfict has a big name after earning first-team All-American honors as a sophomore. His performance dropped off significantly as a junior, however, and Burfict did not even earn 2011 all-conference honors in the Pac 12.

Cornerbacks
1. Morris Claiborne*, LSU
2. Janoris Jenkins, North Alabama
3. Alfonzo Dennard, Nebraska
4. Leonard Johnson, Iowa State
5. Dre Kirkpatrick*, Alabama

Notes: Mayock presumably ranked Jenkins based on his 2010 tape at Florida, because buzz among small-school insiders is that he was not dominant in one year at North Alabama. Mayock has compared Johnson to Kansas City's Brandon Flowers for his highly competitive play. Claiborne won the 2011 Thorpe Award as the nation's top defensive back and is a consensus top-five player. Kirkpatrick is ranked relatively low here, perhaps due to his recent marijuana arrest.

Safeties
1. Mark Barron, Alabama
2. Harrison Smith, Notre Dame
3. George Iloka, Boise State
4. Markelle Martin, Oklahoma State
5. (tie) Janzen Jackson*, McNeese State
Antonio Allen, South Carolina

Notes: Barron was among the top-rated prospects to decline Senior Bowl invites, but Smith, Iloka, Martin, and Allen are all in Mobile. Per Mayock, some NFL teams have first-round grades on Smith, whom he describes as physical with underrated range. Be wary of most draftniks' "scouting reports" on safeties, because without All-22 film defensive backs that play deep in the secondary are impossible to properly evaluate. Mayock does have the All-22 access.



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Evan Silva is a senior football editor for Rotoworld.com. He can be found on Twitter .
Email :Evan Silva



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