Top 5 material: Mel Kiper sees Sammy Watkins bound for Cleveland or Oakland

ESPN analyst projects Thomas in 2nd round, Breeland as high as 2nd, Bryant in 3rd, Boyd in 5th

Orange Bowl - Sammy Watkins catches a 34-yard touchdown pass in the first quarter

Photo by Mark Crammer

Orange Bowl - Sammy Watkins catches a 34-yard touchdown pass in the first quarter

The Detroit Lions would love to get their hands on Sammy Watkins.

But with the No. 10 pick in his spring's 2014 NFL draft, ESPN analyst Mel Kiper just doesn't see it happening.

Mel Kiper said on a media teleconference this week that he doesn’t see Watkins, his top receiver on the draft board, lasting until the Lions make their selection.

“I just don’t see Watkins getting past (the Oakland Raiders at pick No.) 5,” Kiper said. “To get down to 10 will be a real stretch. It could happen, but hey, I just don’t see it.”

Kiper says the Cleveland Browns, who have the No. 4 pick, may keep Watkins from getting to the Raiders.

Despite inconsistencies during his junior year, Kiper expects South Carolina's Jadeveon Clowney to go to Houston with the draft's No. 1 pick.

"He's No. 1 on my Big Board, and a lot of teams still have him No. 1," Kiper said. "I think he goes No. 1 to Houston or No. 2 to Jacksonville. Or maybe St. Louis wants to move out of No. 2 - somebody may trade up to get him."

Kiper offered mixed reviews on other Tigers eligible for the draft.

He concurs with others who believe Tajh Boyd's stock has fallen significantly, and currently pegs him as a fifth or sixth-round selection.

He described Boyd as "a Day 3 quarterback who certainly will play in the NFL, as a backup hopefully for a lot of years. As a starter? Debatable."

Kiper projects offensive tackle Brandon Thomas as a second-rounder, with his stock having climbed after he turned in a stellar performance at the Senior Bowl last month. Kiper said that Thomas could end up as a tackle or a "Pro Bowl guard."

He believes cornerback Bashaud Breeland will merit hard consideration, and says he could end up as a late second-rounder, though a third or fourth-round spot is more likely.

Kiper also tabs wide receiver Martavis Bryant as a third or fourth rounder.

All five Tigers will get an opportunity to improve their stock after receiving invitations to the NFL Scouting Combine, which will be held Feb. 20-25 in Indianapolis.

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tigerrob44#291802 writes:

Mel Kiper is usually about the only person I take seriously on mock drafts and things such as that. While he may be completely right on his prediction on Tajh, I disagree with him for a couple of reasons. For one thing, Tajh is big and can take a beating. Secondly, he is not nearly as bad or inaccurate of a passer as some are making out like he is. And thirdly, he has a heart as big as the world and talent just as big. If Tajh doesn't go until late 4th or early 5th the team that gets him will be charged with grand larceny in about 3 years. It will be like legal stealing to get him that late and that cheap.

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