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Mel Kiper Jr. talks Mizzou draft possibilities


Mizzou had six players receive invitations to the NFL Scouting Combine next week. Drew Lock is the headliner and seems likely to be a first-round pick, but a few other Tigers could hear their names called.

ESPN NFL Draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. held an hour-long conference call with reporters across the country Tuesday afternoon after releasing his most recent mock draft. In that, he has Lock going No. 15 to Washington as the third quarterback taken.

"With his arm strength and for Jay Gruden and Washington knowing with Alex Smith coming off the injury, I think that would be interesting," Kiper said. " The size, the arm talent and the fact he's coming out with a ton of experience. Four-year starter. That's rare to see a guy to play that much football."

Kiper did not have Lock in the first round in his last mock draft, but moved him up after Lock's performance at the Senior Bowl. He said that was based on what he's hearing from NFL teams, though it's not a universal belief Lock is a first-rounder. But Lock's name is hardly new to Kiper or to the NFL personnel people.

"Two years ago during the season, I got a call from a GM in the NFL saying, 'You know who's got the best arm in college football?' He said Drew Lock," Kiper said. "Some think he's a second-round pick, not a first-round pick. There was no built-in consensus on Drew Lock as I said earlier, but that arm talent."

Kiper also talked about the Denver Broncos as a potential landing spot for Lock, even after the trade for Joe Flacco. He said the Broncos might be able to trade back from the tenth pick and land Lock if they choose to.

"John Elway's going to love seeing that rocket arm," Kiper said.

The combine begins a week from today and Missouri will have its pro day on March 21, so there are still chances for Lock to move up or down for teams. But at this point, he seems to be viewed as the third-best quarterback in the draft behind Ohio State's Dwayne Haskins, who Kiper has going to the New York Giants at No. 6, and Oklahoma's Kyler Murray, who Kiper slotted 13th to Miami.

"If (Lock) gets past 15, then you get into kind of never-never land because most of the teams after there, if you look, don't need a quarterback until you get to New England," Kiper said. "That would have to be a trade back into the first round for somebody there, which will happen. We always see that between 25 and 32."

One thing Kiper mentioned when talking about Lock was his productivity despite top target Emanuel Hall missing much of the 2018 season. Kiper sees Hall as a player who could help his stock over the next few weeks.

"With his size, he's got good length, he'll have some concentration drops at times, but he's got the ability to get down the field," Kiper said. "He's a guy that can beat you deep and I think he can be a guy that gets into that early day three."

Kiper also talked about Mizzou defensive tackle Terry Beckner Jr.'s draft stock.

"Most of the year, I had him in the top ten for defensive tackles, then once the juniors came into the mix it kind of pushed him down a little bit," Kiper said. "He gets into the backfield. The way he can be disruptive, he's got the same grade as some third-round guys so I'd say late day two, early day three."

In addition to that trio, offensive lineman Paul Adams, linebacker Terez Hall and tight end Kendall Blanton will try to catch the eyes of pro scouts at the Scouting Combine next week in Indianapolis.