ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. said Thursday that former Boise State tailback Jay Ajayi could fall to the third day of this year’s NFL Draft because so few teams are interested in using an early-round pick on the position.
Kiper ranks Ajayi as the eighth-best running back in the 2015 draft class, lower than some other analysts.
Ajayi opted to leave Boise State after his junior season. An NFL scout told the Idaho Statesman that Ajayi could go as high as the second round.
Ajayi was the nation’s second-most-productive running back in 2014 behind Wisconsin’s Melvin Gordon. He also impressed last week at the NFL Scouting Combine. Ajayi tied for ninth among running backs in the 40-yard dash (4.57 seconds), finished fifth in the vertical jump (39 inches), tied for fifth in the broad jump (121 inches), placed third in the 20-yard shuttle (4.1 seconds) and took second in the 60-yard shuttle (11.1 seconds).
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The first round of the NFL Draft is April 30, the second and third rounds are May 1 and the fourth through seventh rounds are May 2.
“(Ajayi) is a kid you think about maybe fourth to fifth (round), depending on the need at running back,” Kiper said on an ESPN teleconference with the media. “There are only four or five teams that are even thinking about a running back in the first three or four rounds, so if those teams take somebody else then Ajayi maybe drops a bit. You’re going to get bargains at running back. He can be a bargain in the fifth or sixth round.”
Kiper, like ESPN colleague Todd McShay, is intrigued by former Boise State quarterback Grant Hedrick. The nation’s leader in completion percentage will get his chance to perform in front of scouts at Boise State’s pro day on March 18.
“Hedrick is an overachiever,” Kiper said. “He throws an accurate ball and he’s a spunky kid. He’s a kind of guy who can make it as an undrafted free agent as Brian Hoyer did and others have — Chase Daniel is still in the league. In this draft I’d make (Hedrick) the 10th- or 11th-best quarterback.”
Kiper ranked Hedrick 10th among quarterbacks going into the combine. He only expects seven or eight to get drafted.
“This is a weak quarterback group,” he said. “Very weak.”
Starting Friday, I’ll post a daily countdown to Boise State’s spring football practice with 10 players to watch. Spring ball begins March 9 and runs through the Spring Game on April 11.
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