ESPN's Mel Kiper talks NFL Draft prospects for Utah State stars
Utah State fans might not exactly be dialing up Mel Kiper Jr. for his NFL Draft commentary after he marked down the Seattle Seahawks last year for drafting Bobby Wagner, among others.
But, love or hate it, the ESPN analyst has been long considered one of the foremost authorities on the draft, where pro prospects might go, and if they can cut it in the NFL.
In a Wednesday conference call with a lot of media listening in, Kiper addressed the two Utah State players who have the highest chance of going in the draft later this month: running back Kerwynn Williams and corner Will Davis.
Kiper mentioned Williams early on as a possible late-round gem in the draft, part of a point that good running back talent can be found on Day 3 just as well as in Day 1. And he mentioned another Aggie as justification.
"I would never draft a running back in the first round," he said. "You see what Bernard Pierce did, you see what Robert Turbin did."
Asked directly about Williams, Kiper called him a good "accent piece" for a team that might not have pressing needs but wants an impact player deep in the draft. Williams has been noted by multiple analysts for his diverse skill set, and could be a valuable returner this fall in the NFL.
"He's a guy who is 5-8 but an electrifying runner," he said of Williams. "He's got good speed, he can get outside, he's a good outside runner. I'm thinking he's a Day 3 guy."
Williams and Davis were both once in Kiper's top 5 prospects by position list, but both have been since replaced. Especially down - in Kiper's view - is Davis, whom he flagged during film study.
"I wasn't as high on him as some people are," he said. "I thought he was beaten some. I have him projected right now in the 6th round, some people think he could come off a little quicker. I thought he'd end up a little higher, but I watched some games, and Senior Bowl week wasn't great for him."
Davis may not be as high on some draft boards as he was immediately after the season, but some analysts still project him as a mid-round talent with plus athleticism. Davis visited with the Minnesota Vikings this week.
Wideout Matt Austin wasn't mentioned in the call, but could be a fringe draft candidate or a priority free agent.
The NFL Draft starts on April 25 and goes through April 27.
Kyle Goonkgoon@sltrib.comTwitter: @kylegoon