Four projected first-round picks have made the decision to leave school and enter the NFL Draft today.
The Associated Press reports that LSU CB Morris Claiborne will forego his senior season and enter the NFL draft. Claiborne is considered to be the best available corner in this years class and should end up being a top-ten pick barring an unforeseen change of events. Scouts have said that Claiborne is an even better prospect that Patrick Peterson was last year. We have Claiborne going to the Buccaneers at #6 in our most recent 2012 Mock Draft.
Alabama RB Trent Richardson did more than enough this season to guarantee a first-round selection. Richardson won the 2011 Doak Walker Award for the nations best running back. Even though running backs have seen their draft stock decrease as a group in recent years, Richardson will most likely find a team willing to invest an early pick on him. We have Cleveland grabbing with the #4 overall pick.
Kirkpatrick has great size as he’s listed at 6’3 and could push Claiborne for the first corner taken in this years draft but that will take some work. The performance from Alabama’s defense should give NFL teams some positive impressions for their players heading into the scouting combine. We have Kirkpatrick going to the Panthers at #9.
Unlike the others, Hightower isn’t seen as a top-ten pick but should still end up in the first-round. Last year there where limited options at linebacker so it’s safe to assume that teams will be considering a number of options at linebacker during the first-round. Hightower led Alabama in tackles with 85 and contributed 4 sacks and an interception this season. We have going to the Eagles at #15.