Mel Kiper, ESPN’s NFL Draft guru, spoke to reporters this morning via conference call. We got in a few questions about where several draft-eligible Canes stand in his mind:
> At the moment, Kiper feels cornerback Brandon Harris will be the only first round pick. He has him going to the Ravens with the 26th overall pick. “That’s a need area for the Ravens," Kiper said. "I think if Harris doesn’t go there, I think [he’ll be drafted] late in the first round. There’s a couple of other teams that certainly could look at cornerback – Chicago being one and Pittsburgh another."
> After Harris, Kiper has defensive lineman Allen Bailey going next. Bailey, who has received a lot of praise at the Senior Bowl this week for his 'Adonis body', has also been ripped this week by a few pundits. Kiper thinks Bailey will be a second round pick.
"You look at him as a 3-4 end, a 4-3 defensive tackle that I think he would fit the bill," Kiper said. "I think the ball location this year was a little lacking. There were times where it looked like he didn't have that awareness, getting in the backfield and making the play some other defensive ends had. Maybe, he felt that wasn't a position that could maximize his ability, that he feels comfortable at that spot when he was kicked out. I think inside maybe he'll feel comfortable as a 3-4 end. I think he can hold stout against the run and hold double teams. I think he's strong enough to do that. I just think his stock dropped from where it was. I thought he would be a first round pick potentially, now he's more of a second."
> If anybody has really shined or improved their stock, its receiver Leonard Hankerson. Kiper believes Hankerson is the best senior receiver in this draft class.
"Hankerson I've liked all year," Kiper said. "I've never put him in the first round. I've never had him in my Top 25. But as a senior receiver I thought he was the best out there. With his size, he runs good routes, I like the pacing of his routes. I think he's a little underrated in terms of the quickness out of his cuts. His hands are very good. He'd have a drop or two, which was very uncharacteristic -- it was more of a concentration issue, not a hands issue. He's not going to be a vertical stretch guy on a regular basis. But he runs well enough. I think he could come in and be a good complimentary good number two guy and be worthy of being a second or third round pick."
> Kiper on a few other Canes:
“In terms of the other players from Miami, offensive tackle Orlando Franklin has some versatility that he provides. I don’t think he played to the level of his talent in games that I saw. He’s going to have to define where he fits best into an NFL blocking scheme. He could be in that early Day 3 area, maybe late Day 2.
“For linebacker Colin McCarthy, probably Day 3 for him which isn’t bad. Day 3 starts with the fourth round.
“I think cornerback DeMarcus Van Dyke Day 3 as well. [Kicker Matt] Bosher free agent.
“You also have [running back] Graig Cooper who needs another year to come completely back from that [knee] injury. He came on a little late the year. He was [projected as] a second-round pick before the injury. You might be able to get him on Day 3. Remember James Starks was a guy was a guy that had an injury and fell to the sixth round and has a heck of a finish to the season for the Packers. I think Cooper could be in the fifth, sixth, seventh round and be a nice pickup for somebody once he gets back to where he was a few years ago.”