Peter King’s latest Monday Morning Quarterback column contains a segment with ex-Chiefs G.M. Scott Pioli where Pioli ranks the top-ten underclassmen available for April’s NFL draft. It’s a rare glimpse into an NFL General Manager’s mindset regarding draft opinions front-office decision makers keep so secret.
Pioli was fired on January 4, but his work on this year’s underclassmen is still relatively fresh. Underclassmen don’t participate in the late-January all-star game circuit. All that is currently available on them is college tape. And Pioli was doing tape and scouting work until his dismissal.
Pioli ranks Texas A&M tackle Luke Joeckel as the top underclassman eligible for the 2013 draft, calling him a “strong candidate” to be selected first overall. Pioli’s former team, of course, holds the No. 1 pick.
Alabama cornerback Dee Milliner, Florida defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd, Florida State defensive end Bjoern Werner, and Ohio State defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins make up the rest of Pioli’s top five.
Alabama running back Eddie Lacy is sixth, and Pioli envisions him as an “every-down back” in the NFL with “low mileage” after playing behind Mark Ingram and Trent Richardson his first two seasons.
Georgia linebacker Jarvis Jones, Cal receiver Keenan Allen, Georgia linebacker Alec Ogletree, and San Diego State tight end Gavin Escobar round out the top ten.
Jones, who is ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper’s top-rated overall prospect for the 2013 draft, has some concerns, according to Pioli. Pioli calls Jones a potentially “tough positional fit” in the NFL due to tweener-type size and noted that Jones dominated in certain games while disappearing in others.