Mel Kiper projects UTC star B.J. Coleman as fifth- or sixth-round NFL draft pick

photo UTC quarterback B.J. Coleman prepares to throw in first half action against The Citadel at Finley Stadium.

CHARTING QUARTERBACKSHow ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper has the quarterbacks currently ranked for the 2012 draft:Stanford's Andrew LuckBaylor's Robert Griffin IIIArizona's Nick FolesTexas A&M's Ryan TannehillOklahoma State's Brandon WeedenArizona State's Brock OsweilerUTC's B.J. Coleman

NFL draft analyst Mel Kiper said Thursday afternoon that former McCallie School and University of Tennessee at Chattanooga quarterback B.J. Coleman projects as a fifth- or sixth-round selection.

Kiper, who has aided ESPN's coverage of the draft since 1984, lists Coleman as the No. 7 quarterback available.

"He's got the arm, and he's got the size," Kiper said. "You look at him at 6-3 and change and at 235 pounds, and you look at what he was able to do during his career at Chattanooga. I thought he ran a little hot and cold and had an accuracy issue here and there, but the long-range possibilities are evident."

Coleman, who will compete in Saturday's East-West Shrine Game at St. Petersburg, Fla., had his most productive season with the Mocs as a junior, when he threw for 2,996 yards with 26 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. He threw for 1,527 yards with nine touchdowns and nine interceptions this past season, missing four games due to a shoulder injury, and finished with a 14-15 career mark as UTC's starter.

Rated by as the No. 10 pro-style quarterback nationally in the 2007 class, Coleman signed with Tennessee. He played in three games for the Volunteers during the '08 season, completing 4 of 8 passes for 21 yards, and transferred to UTC after the '09 spring practice.

"You could work to develop him like they did with Matt Flynn at Green Bay and maybe have something three or four years down the road," Kiper said.

Kiper has Stanford's Andrew Luck, Baylor's Robert Griffin III, Arizona's Nick Foles, Texas A&M's Ryan Tannehill, Oklahoma State's Brandon Weeden and Arizona State's Brock Osweiler ahead of Coleman. He has Luck going first overall to Indianapolis and Griffin fourth to Cleveland, and he expects a sizable gap between those two and the third quarterback selected.

Last year, four quarterbacks were taken among the first 12 picks.

"There is no other quarterback after RG3 to even consider in the first round," Kiper said.

Bypassing Brown

The draft prospects for former Tennessee and Kansas State running back Bryce Brown, who rated as the No. 1 player overall in the 2009 signing class, are not particularly peachy. Brown rushed for 460 yards for the Vols in '09, sat out the '10 season after transferring to the Wildcats and had three carries for 16 yards this past season before leaving the team in early October.

Brown was a preseason All-Big 12 selection.

"Right now, it's dependent on his workouts, but I would say probably not," Kiper said. "There are so many running backs in this year's draft who are top quality that won't go in the first two or three rounds, and I think there are some good running backs who were productive this year that won't even get drafted.

"If you look back at the last 15 or 20 years, more running backs who were rated as third- or fourth-rounders went undrafted more than any other position."

Kirkpatrick's Case

Former Alabama cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick no longer has top-10 status cemented after being arrested early Tuesday morning on the misdemeanor charge of marijuana possession in Palmetto, Fla.

Kiper lists the rare 6-3 corner going eighth overall to the Carolina Panthers but wouldn't be surprised if he wound up going later in the first round.

"That will be assessed by each team," Kiper said. "He didn't have a great year in coverage, but he was great in run support and good in coverage. I don't think he's a shutdown corner by any stretch, but I think he will test out well. These off-the-field issues will have to be determined with a lot of players between now and late April."

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