Despite coming off one of its strongest years in recent memory, the Pac-12 doesn’t figure to have a strong showing in the first round of the NFL draft.
Just three players — Oregon State receiver Brandin Cooks, USC receiver Marqise Lee and UCLA linebacker Anthony Barr — figure to hear their names called Thursday, and it's not a guarantee that all three will be picked in the first round.
If that’s how it plays out, it would mark the first time since the NFL and AFL drafts combined in 1967 that the conference did not have a player drafted in top 15. Just three times in that 47-year period has the conference not had a top-10 pick, with Cal’s Marshawn Lynch to Buffalo at No. 12 in 2007 the most recent occurrence.
Mel Kiper Jr. doesn’t see that happening. In his final mock draft, Barr is off the board at No. 11 to Tennessee.
On Barr, Kiper writes:
I have Barr a bit lower on my prospect rankings than many others because I think there's a lot of development left for a player who was a fullback just two seasons ago. You can't deny his potential because not only is he a great athlete, he's also shown an ability to get to opposing quarterbacks with regularity
Kiper also predicts Cooks will land in Philadelphia, where he would join Chip Kelly's Eagles and join a receiver group that added former Stanford tight end Zach Ertz in the second round of last year's draft and needs to replace former Cal receiver DeSean Jackson.
Both Cooks and Lee are scheduled to be in New York for the draft, as well as USC center Marcus Martin, who regularly has been pegged as a likely Day 2 selection.