Breaking Down the Prospects

With the draft now only a few hours away, we take a final look at the stock of several high-profile prospects.

The FAB FIVE ... OR IS IT STELLAR SIX?

This clearly could be called a top-heavy draft because we can only find five prospects considered really safe picks by most everybody.

Those five are Stanford QB Andrew Luck, Baylor QB Robert Griffin III, USC T Matt Kalil, LSU CB Morris Claiborne and Alabama RB Trent Richardson.

The prospect who's closest to joining that group is Oklahoma State WR Justin Blackmon, whose college production screams sure thing, but whose lack of elite speed or size has some observers backing off a bit.

THE OBJECT OF MUCH AFFECTION

The aforementioned six prospects very well might wind up getting drafted earlier, but the one player at the center of more pre-draft conversations than any other remains Texas A&M quarterback Ryan Tannehill.

The latest has a published report suggested Dolphins owner Stephen Ross is pushing his football people to take Tannehill in the first round — the Dolphins currently have the eighth overall pick.

Another report, quoting a team source, is saying that the Ross isn't pushing for Tannehill, but it's still out there.

Tannehill's name also has been linked to Kansas City, Seattle and Cleveland, and it's been suggested a team could trade up — perhaps to as high as No. 3 — to get Tannehill.

The bottom line when it comes to the Texas A&M quarterback is that it's an awful lot of hype for a guy with 19 college starts, a guy who likely will need at least a full season to groom, and more importantly a guy who is far from a sure thing.

THE WILD CARDS

Every draft features a group of prospects who become really difficult to project because they possess intriguing skills but also real question marks. This year is no different:

• North Carolina DE Quinton Coples: The epitome of the "Looks like Tarzan, plays like Jane" prospect. The guy really looks the part and was dominant on a few snaps in the Senior Bowl, but he just didn't do that much in his last year of college.

• Memphis DT Dontari Poe: The guy was an absolute freak at the combine with an unmatched combination of power and speed. But the game tape reveals a marginal player at best.

• North Alabama CB Janoris Jenkins: No one questions Jenkins' ability, but he comes with a whole bunch of red flags.

• Ohio State T Mike Adams: Adams is a good prospect, although not in Jenkins' league. He has the same issues, though.

• Illinois DE/OLB Whitney Mercilus: Yes, Mercilus led the nation in sacks in 2011, but he also did nothing his first two seasons at Illinois, so is he a one-year wonder?

THE RISERS

Even though we would always caution against guys whose stock goes up in the spring, it inevitably happens every year.

As the draft nears, here are some prospects who now figure to get picked much earlier than once thought.

CB Stephon Gilmore, South Carolina — Once believed to be a late-first or early-second-round pick, he's now considered a potential top 15 pick.

DT Fletcher Cox, Mississippi State — Once thought to be a top 25 picks, he very well might go in the top 10.

OLB Shea McClellin, Boise State — Once thought to be a second- or third-round pick, he now has a legitimate chance to go in the first round.

THE FALLERS

Just like some prospects see their stock rise in the weeks leading up to the draft, some see theirs go in the opposite direction.

Here are the guys who fall in that category this year:

CB Janoris Jenkins, North Alabama: Once considered a sure first-round pick and perhaps even a top 15 candidate, Jenkins now is considered a long shot to get picked before the second round.

ILB Dont'a Hightower, Alabama: A sure first-round pick weeks ago, Hightower now is considered a second-round prospect by some.

T Jonathan Martin, Stanford: Once viewed as a potential top 10 pick, Martin now isn't even considered a lock to be taken in the first round.


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