For the first time since 1999, the MSU football team will have multiple underclassmen leaving school early to enter the NFL Draft, with running back Le’Veon Bell, tight end Dion Sims and defensive end William Gholston each announcing about two weeks ago that they’re ready to take the plunge.
Mel Kiper Jr. has been an ESPN NFL Draft analyst since 1984, and in a conference call Wednesday he shared his thoughts on MSU’s top pro prospects.
The highest-rated prospect, according to Kiper, is Bell, who was named a first-team All-Big Ten selection after ranking among the top five in the country in rushing yards this season, totaling 1,793 yards.
Because of his powerful build, Kiper believes Bell will be able to make an impact at the next level.
“I think Le’Veon Bell has a chance to be in that second or third round discussion,” Kiper said. “Obviously, you look at his style. I mean he can block, he can catch the ball adequately out of the backfield. He’s a big kid. Once he gets that big frame in motion — he’s not quick out of the blocks — but once he gets that big frame in motion, he’s tough to deal with.”
Sims and Gholston both fall in about the same range for Kiper — naturally-talented, big bodies with the potential to improve their draft stock considerably at the upcoming NFL Scouting Combine, as well as their MSU Pro Day.
“Dion Sims is huge,” Kiper said. “How he tests out will be important. I think he could be in the third or fourth round mix very easily.
“Gholston kind of leveled off. Showed flashes. I think he needs some technique work. He’s more of a third or fourth round guy as well.”
Meanwhile Kiper also shed light on the Spartans’ top-rated senior, cornerback Johnny Adams.
Adams went into the year with some draft projections listing him as a first or second-round pick, but throughout the course of the season his stock appears to have dipped.
“I thought Johnny Adams’ stock dropped a little bit from what it was early in the year, and right now you’re looking at more of a fifth-round pick for him,” Kiper said. “But I think he can make a team, he can certainly help a team, as a third or fourth corner. But he had a second-round grade going in and now it looks like he has about a fifth-round grade.”