Kiper on Florida's draft class

The NFL Draft begins April 25 with defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd seeming like a lock to go in the top-half of the first round while safety Matt Elam could go in the second half of the first round. Mel Kiper, Jr. spoke about those and other players on the Florida roster.

Q: I wanted to ask you about Florida's draft class this year. There's a lot of guys that could go in the first round this year. What do you see from this class past Sharrif Floyd and Matt Elam?

MEL KIPER, JR.: "Well, Jonathan Bostic I think is a guy you're going to like, the way he plays the game. I have him slotted to go either in the second or third round area. So he's a nice football player. He really put together a heck of a year. He made some really good plays. When you watched him in coverage, sideline to sideline against the run, just did a heck of a job.

I think you look at Jelani Jenkins, the injury obviously, the durability concern with him. He's built for today's NFL with a potential coverage ability. Jenkins is more of a day three guy. I think he will come into the National Football League and help you.

Jordan Reed's stock has dropped a bit at tight end. Aaron Hernandez was a fourth round pick. Maybe Jordan Reed's a fourth or fifth round pick. But I think he'll help a team in the NFL.

Xavier Nixon is a day three pick who can get the job done as a bookend tackle. I think Xavier Nixon has a lot of ability.

Mike Gillislee as a second tier running back, you get him in a fourth to sixth round area, he'll make your team, help your team. I think he certainly has a chance of being a solid back in the NFL.

You have a couple of receivers who will probably be undrafted free agents. Deonte Thompson was an undrafted guy last year, and the Ravens think he can be a real factor as an outside receiver this year and a kick returner. Florida's got a lot of kids.

Q: Who are some potential picks for the Ravens?

MEL KIPER, JR.: It should be. They've done some really good things in free agency with the players they picked up. That's alleviated some of the concerns and some of the forces you need to deal with on draft day because of needs that are there and you have to fix. I think they've given themselves some flexibility.

You look at the inside linebacker position still is in play with a Kevin Minter possibly from LSU. Still a safety is in play with a Jonathan Cyprien from Florida International, or Matt Elam from Florida. Look at second round at a D.J. Swearinger from North Carolina.

There's a lot of depth at safety. There's not a lot of depth at inside linebacker after a third round. So Steve Beauharnais from Rutgers, Jon Bostic from Florida in the third round. If you're looking at Arthur Brown from Kansas State, you're probably looking second round. Safety, inside backer, left tackle. Maybe Terron Armstead from Arkansas Pine Bluff at the end of the second round for the Ravens.

Q: When you look at the Raiders, how much of it has been a poor evaluation of players, picking the wrong guys, and how much of it has been bad development? If you could give an assessment of Reggie McKenzie's first draft?

MEL KIPER, JR.: "Sharrif Floyd from Florida in the first round (at third overall) I think would make a lot of sense. You have no second round pick. You come back around in the third round and address maybe that cornerback spot with Darius Slay from Mississippi State. So a lot of need areas, but I think Defensive tackle, cornerback have to be front and center right now."

Q: Looking at your big board in the mock drafts, the SEC is packed again with football talent. Curious, do you think teams need to focus more on that conference, per se, considering the talent coming out these last few years?

MEL KIPER, JR.: Well, all those kids are getting a lot of publicity. They're all coming out after getting tremendous acclaim and tremendous notoriety at various SEC schools. You see it dominated at the top with Texas A&M, SEC, Florida. You think about what Alabama does year after year. LSU year after year.

So there's really no way around it. The SEC has won all these national championships in a row for a reason. A lot of great players are produced by those schools. You evaluate them at individuals. You don't worry about that other stuff. Some feel because there's great players around them, they're coached up so well, particularly Alabama players with Nick Saban, maybe overrates them a bit. That's been proven to be the case with some players coming out of Alabama, but there's other ones that are great players.

You just have to do a good job of evaluating and not worry too much about what happened in the past in terms of a couple players busting out or whatever, make your assessments and hope you're right.


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