Roethlisberger leads juniors

Mel Kiper takes a look at the top junior prospects at each position, led by Miami (Ohio) QB Ben Roethlisberger.

Originally Published: December 17, 2003
By Mel Kiper Jr. | Special to ESPN Insider
Bowl season has begun, and it's time for juniors to start declaring their intentions regarding the NFL draft. So here's a look at the nation's top five junior prospects by position (most of these juniors will be part of the 2005 NFL draft).


Ben Roethlisberger
Ben Roethlisberger is looking at a big NFL future if he declares for the draft.
1. Ben Roethlisberger, Miami (Ohio) -- Has size (6-5, 245 pounds) and all the intangibles NFL teams looks for: passion for the game, work ethic, smarts. Roethlisberger is reminiscent of New York Jets QB Chad Pennington in that regard, but has a stronger arm and is more mobile. Completed 65 percent of his passes and threw 33 touchdowns in the regular season against just 10 interceptions. Would be a top-15 selection if he comes out.
2. Andrew Walter, Arizona State -- Came into the year looking like one of the best quarterbacks in the nation but the Sun Devils fell on hard times and Walter struggled. Too many throws came with a sidearm delivery, and while you can live with a 24-10 TD-to-INT ratio a completion percentage of 52.5. Would benefit from another year in school to improve his accuracy, but his potential could get him into the second or third round.
3. Matt Mauck, LSU -- Spent three years in the Chicago Cubs organization so he is a little older than the average junior, but Mauck goes 6-1, 217 and is a good athlete. He has had some big games in key matchups for the Tigers and had an excellent 2003 season thanks to a live arm and quick release. Has a chance to be one of the better QBs in college if he returns for his senior season.
4. Dan Orlovsky, Connecticut -- Another guy with good arm strength, Orlovsky is one of the more unheralded quarterbacks in the nation. Has excellent size at 6-4, 230 and showed the ability to bring his team back from behind. Threw for 33 TDs and nearly 3,500 yards this season, but the only concern is a long, slow release when putting the ball up.
5. Derek Anderson, Oregon State -- Came in as a very heralded prospect, but his grade has been on a steady decline for the last two seasons. Anderson threw 25 TDs and 13 INTs (47 percent) as a sophomore but regressed to 20 scores and 19 picks this season. Accuracy has also been a concern as he improved his accuracy from a 47 percent completion rate as a sophomore to just 49.4 this season. Has size (6-5&189;, 233) and a strong arm, though.
Others of note: Kyle Orton, Purdue; Chris Rix, Florida State; Stan Hill, Marshall

Mel Kiper Jr.

Football analyst
Mel Kiper has served as an NFL draft analyst for ESPN since 1984. He is a regular contributor on SportsCenter and ESPN Radio and writes weekly for ESPN Insider.