Breaking Down Mel Kiper Jr's Big Board

Bryan Driskell

The 2020 NFL Draft is just one month away, and draft analysts are updating their mock drafts and big boards. The Godfather of the draft analysis business, ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr., released his latest mock draft and big board.

Kiper had former Notre Dame wide receiver Chase Claypool in the first round of his latest mock draft, and four former Irish players were among the top ten players at their respective positions on his big board.

Claypool ranked No. 10 among the wide receivers, although he was the seventh wide receiver off the board in his mock draft. That speaks volumes about the depth of the wide receiver class in the upcoming draft.

The ESPN analyst had Alabama wideout Jerry Jeudy number one, Oklahoma wideout CeeDee Lamb number three and Alabama speedster Henry Ruggs III number three. I can agree with that group, although I might switch number one and two. I have a lot more disagree with Kiper from four to ten.

Most draft analysts have USC wideout Michael Pittman Jr. ahead of Claypool, but that wouldn’t be the case on my board. Pittman is talented, no doubt, but his stats were padded in a pass-heavy offense, he benefitted from playing in a weak league, and with one exception he came up small in big games.

Claypool is also bigger, faster, more explosive and stronger than Pittman. I would also rank Claypool ahead of Clemson’s Tee Higgins, but that’s a different discussion for a different day.

Kiper had tight end Cole Kmet going in the first round (No. 20 overall) to the Jacksonville Jaguars in his January mock draft, but the former Irish star was not in Kiper’s latest first round mock draft. But Kiper still views Kmet as the top tight end in the draft.

I won’t be shocked if Kmet goes in round one, but Kmet being the top tight end is certainly a Kiper decision I agree with. I also liked Kiper having Florida Atlantic standout Harrison Bryant at number two.

Former Irish edge player Julian Okwara is ranked fifth among the outside linebackers on Kiper’s board. The view here would be of Okwara playing an outside linebacker spot in a 3-4 defense, which is quite similar to how he was used as a drop end in Notre Dame’s defense.

Okwara was a defensive end at Notre Dame, but he played the last three seasons in a two-point stance. The only time we saw him put his hand in the ground was in the nickel package. He was asked to rush the passer, play the run, and according to Pro Football Focus he dropped into coverage 71 times the last three seasons. In my view, Okwara isn’t an ideal hand-in-the-ground edge player in the NFL, so listing him as an outside linebacker makes a lot of sense.

Cornerback Troy Pride Jr. wraps up the former Irish players on the Kiper big board, ranking 10th among the players at his position. Pride could have really benefitted from a pro day, but he’s still a top ten cornerback according to Kiper. Pride’s placement is about right, but I would place him ahead of Ohio State cover man Damon Arnette, who ranks one spot ahead of Pride.

Kiper did not have former Irish end Khalid Kareem in his top ten at defensive end, which is a ranking I don’t agree with. Kareem was a better player than Okwara this past season, and he was a much better all-around edge player. I would rank Kareem ahead of at least four of Kiper’s defensive ends.

I would have also placed former Notre Dame safety Alohi Gilman in the top ten at safety.

Comments (5)

Good article here. I only follow ND players w/respect to the draft so my perspective is limited, but I find it hard to believe that Claypool won't be a 1st rounder. What exactly is he lacking, besides nothing?

I also want to say that I really like Kiper as a person, I've heard him talk lovingly about the importance of family and wife in an authentic way, and he's a good sport when he gets ribbed about people teasing him about his hair and whatever else.

But I don't think been terribly accurate over the years. That's actually not a criticism because he's trying to do the impossible in predicting draft choices while getting a ton of disinformation from GMs. He's entertaining, does his homework and seems like a guy I'd like to have a beer with.

No. 1-2

I think all of these cancellations hurt Pride more than anyone. He had unrealistic expectations at the combine so another strong performance at a pro day would have helped. What do you think?