More from Kiper: Curry's a middle backer, Ringer top local product
Here's a few more highlights from ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper's teleconference today:
On whether Wake Forest's Aaron Curry can play middle linebacker, the position the Lions say they'll use him at if they draft him No. 1: I think he's an outside linebacker. I think he's a versatile kid, he can do some things. I compare him to kind of like a Keith Bulluck type. People say Keith Bulluck didn't go to late. Keith Bulluck's been one heck of a player in the NFL for a long time and very consistent, very durable, very versatile.
I think Curry can do it. I wouldn't count it out. I just think as an outside linebacker, he's not going to be a great pass rusher but he's a pretty decent one. And people underestimate his ability there and granted he's not going to be a great (rusher) but he'll be good enough, he can cover, he's a great special-teams player. But as a linebacker, drafting him based on how he does at that position, he's a complete linebacker.
On Georgia quarterback Matt Stafford and the knock that he's not a big-game quarterback: People say, well, Matthew Stafford doesn't play great in big games. I beg to differ. The kid was 3-0 in bowl games. He led his team to a state championship in Texas in the high school ranks his senior year. They hadn't won a state championship in 40 or 50 years. So this notion that he hasn't won big games, he won three bowl games in a row ... plus the state championship his senior year. The kid has won games and he has done some things on the field that nobody else can do in terms of the throws he can make. There's a lot to be said about that.
That's why these guys in the NFL are getting paid to be coaches, they're getting paid to tweak problem areas, to tweak certain things to make them better. This notion you have to be a finished product, what the heck do we have coaches for in the NFL? We got 20 coaches on these staffs it seems like. We got more coaches in the NFL now than we've ever had and it's their job to take a kid who's not a finished product and make him a finished product.
It's not a great year for in-state prospects. Michigan doesn't have a player likely to go on the first day of the draft, though Morgan Trent, Will Johnson, Terrance Taylor and Carson Butler (as a tight end) are all mid- to late-round possibilities. Brian Hoyer's in the same boat for Michigan State, and running back Javon Ringer may be the first local-college product off the board somewhere in Rounds 3-5. He's not big but he can be a workhorse, he can catch the ball, he can block, great character, Kiper said. I think he's a third- to fifth-, third- to fourth-round type of guy.
Kiper said he expects Kansas State quarterback Josh Freeman to be gone by the time the Lions pick at No. 20. Teams at 17, 18 and 19 the Jets, Bears and Buccaneers are in the market for quarterbacks. I just think when you're that big and you have that kind of arm and you didn't have a great team around you, somebody's got to take you in the first round, especially when there's no other quarterback going until the fifth round, Kiper said.
On USC middle linebacker Rey Maualuga, whose pro day the Lions will attend April 1: I thought his junior year he was more of the impact guy, made more big plays, Kiper said. This year I don't think he got off of blocks as (quickly), he didn't make the play at the line of scrimmage to be that type of player, that (Junior) Seau, wow-type player. He was more of a wow player as a junior. I think he could go in that 20 area to Detroit. They need a face of the defense at the middle linebacker spot.