Three Kiper's Keepers with SEC ties
Capsule: After leading the Southeastern Conference with 67 receptions in 2011, Rogers was dismissed from Tennessee in August and transferred to Tennessee Tech. In 10 games with the Golden Eagles, Rogers had 61 catches for 893 yards and 10 touchdowns.
Kiper's take: "I think he is going to be in that second- or third-round discussion very easily. He would be in the first-round discussion if he was at Tennessee and didn't have the intangible issues. I would say second or third round for Rogers, who's got as much as talent as any receiver in this draft, obviously."
Capsule: A Heisman Trophy finalist last year after leading LSU to the SEC championship as a sophomore, Mathieu sat out this season following multiple failed drug tests. He checked into a rehabilitation center but was arrested in late October on marijuana possession.
Kiper's take: "Had he come out even with a good year, he probably would have gone in the mid to late second because he doesn't have the great size and doesn't have the great coverage skills. He's a playmaker in every sense of the word, but with the year of inactivity and the off-the-field concern, he's probably third or fourth round right now."
Capsule: Clowney is a true sophomore and ineligible for the 2013 draft. In 11 regular-season games for the 10-2 Gamecocks, the 6-foot-6, 256-pounder racked up 21.5 tackles for loss and 13 sacks in capturing the Hendricks Award as the nation's top defensive end.
Kiper's take: "He's always been a guy you just can't handle one-on-one, because he's just physically so dominant since high school. The accolades just keep rolling in for Jadeveon Clowney, who is a spectacular player. If he were in this draft, he would be the guaranteed No. 1 pick overall. I don't think there is any doubt. He would be guaranteed No. 1."
Georgia football fans aren't alone in their curiosity as to whether redshirt junior quarterback Aaron Murray will leave early for the NFL or stay for his senior season.
Longtime ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper is right there with them.
"It's a tough call, and it really boils down to 'Where is he?'" Kiper said Tuesday. "He's played a lot of football at Georgia. It seems like he's been there forever. If he comes out, I think he will be in the second- or third-round discussion, but if he wants to be a first-round pick and improve his stock, you go back.
"It really depends on where he is in terms of his career and where he is in terms of whether he wants to move on into the NFL and take his chances."
The 2013 NFL draft will be "wide open" for quarterbacks according to Kiper, who has downgraded Southern Cal's Matt Barkley, West Virginia's Geno Smith and Virginia Tech's Logan Thomas since the start of the season. Kiper's new top quarterback prospect is North Carolina State's Mike Glennon, who he believes could be the only signal-caller taken in the first half of the first round.
Murray is sure to be asked about his status today as Georgia holds its on-campus media event for the Capital One Bowl against Nebraska on New Year's Day.
"I'm not worrying about that until after the season," Murray said before the Bulldogs hosted Georgia Tech. "I'm having too much fun right now. This season has been awesome, and we still have so much ahead of us and so much excitement. I'm just living in the moment."
The 6-foot-1, 210-pounder from Tampa ranks second nationally in pass efficiency, having completed 231 of 353 passes (65.4 percent) for 3,466 yards with 31 touchdowns and eight interceptions. He is the first in SEC history to amass 3,000 passing yards in three consecutive seasons, and his 90 career touchdown passes rank second in league history behind Danny Wuerffel, who had 114 at Florida (1993-96).
"I would go back for another year if I were Aaron Murray," Kiper said, "because unless you're a guaranteed first-round pick, it's wise to go back, especially when you play at Georgia with the talent around the quarterback there. If he comes out, there are going to be those potential Drew Brees comparisons. Brees was the first pick in the second round.
"The height thing is going to be the big factor in terms of how he's viewed by the NFL. Is he going to be 6-feet or a little over?"
Kiper continues to list Georgia redshirt junior outside linebacker Jarvis Jones as his No. 1 overall prospect. This is not a strong draft for quarterbacks, running backs, cornerbacks and safeties, and Kiper said that has aided the status of linebackers such as Jones and Notre Dame's Manti Te'o, who plays inside.
Durability is the biggest concern with Jones, who sustained a neck injury at Southern Cal before transferring to Georgia and has been bothered by groin and ankle injuries this season.
"Staying out there for a long, 16-game NFL schedule is something that makes that durability concern there," Kiper said. "He's got the ability with the sack numbers, the way he gets after the quarterback and his motor. He's a very focused, very solid kid.
"People say Alabama ran right at him, but they run at all great outside linebackers. That's the history of that position. People wondered how you beat Lawrence Taylor. Well, you ran right at him."
Georgia junior inside linebacker Alec Ogletree is No. 9 on Kiper's prospect board, with Bulldogs senior nose guard John Jenkins No. 19. Kiper projects backup nose guard Kwame Geathers as a second- or third-round pick should he leave early and projects receiver Tavarres King, defensive end Cornelius Washington, cornerback Sanders Commings and safeties Bacarri Rambo and Shawn Williams as third- or fourth-round picks.
Jenkins, Rambo and Williams have been invited to the Senior Bowl, which will be held Jan. 26 in Mobile, Ala. Commings and fellow senior cornerback Branden Smith will play the weekend before at the East-West Shrine Game in St. Petersburg, Fla.
Contact David Paschall at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6524.