ESPN’s renowned draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. recently held another conference call, and our timelines are littered with interesting tweets regarding Kiper’s thoughts on the draft. I decided to pass along three nuggets out of the grab bag that stood out to me when filtering through all of the draft-related tweets, and one reason I found these three thoughts from Kiper so interesting is that I pretty much disagree with all of them. They are thoughts worth looking at, though, especially since two of them are much different from consensus belief.
Firstly, the Detroit Free Press’s Dave Birkett tweeted out Kiper’s belief that Michigan State Spartans cornerback Darqueze Dennard is the best cornerback prospect in the 2014 NFL Draft class. While I personally disagree with this and have both Jason Verrett and Justin Gilbert rated higher, the gap between those guys and Dennard isn’t vast in my book. It’s definitely fair to call Dennard the best cornerback in the class, and he and Gilbert are still regarded as the top two CBs in the class. There have been some rumblings that Dennard could slide outside the top 20 with talented Ohio State CB Bradley Roby moving up into Dennard’s old draft range, but that’s also speculation at this point.
Per the Charlotte Observer’s Joe Person, Kiper thinks Penn State Nittany Lions product Allen Robinson is only worth a third-round pick and believes that the talent at the WR position will cause Robinson’s draft stock to slide. This is a fair point, but I think the only slide Robinson would take is from the first into the second round. Kiper says that Robinson has speed concerns, but I don’t really buy that. He had a mediocre 4.6 forty time at the Combine, but he ran below a 4.5 forty at his pro day and put up some incredible workout numbers to showcase his athleticism. Robinson put together great tape at PSU, and his only concerns at this point are technique-related (leaves his feet too early, still a bit raw). This is a guy who has a good catch radius, can get yards after the catch, has smooth cuts, and can play inside or outside. At this point, he’s an early second-round pick in my book and has a strong chance of going in the late second to a team like the Carolina Panthers.
The final tidbit I’d like to pass along from Kiper is a pretty controversial statement (or, at least, controversial as far as unpredictable pre-draft chatter goes). According to MLive.com’s Kyle Meinke, Kiper doesn’t think Michigan Wolverines star left tackle Taylor Lewan will fall past the sixth pick, and he even hinted that it isn’t inconceivable for him to be taken with the second overall pick. I couldn’t see the St. Louis Rams taking him second, let alone a team trading up for him. I love Lewan as a player and believe he is such a good pass blocker and run blocker with the total package at OT that he’s close to Jake Matthews as a prospect, but he’s still the third-best OT in the class. I think he’s one of the top ten prospects overall in the class, but he has major character issues and probably won’t be taken in the top ten this year. Kiper is extremely high on Lewan, but I wonder if he’s too high on him. He does have inside info, though, so this is at least worth keeping in mind on draft day.