Pouncey climbing on draft boards

Maurkice Pouncey performs during NFL Pro Day at Florida Field on March 17.

Rob C. Witzel/Staff photographer
Published: Wednesday, March 24, 2010 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, March 25, 2010 at 12:13 p.m.

Former Florida center Maurkice Pouncey’s NFL draft stock is apparently on the rise.

ESPN analyst Mel Kiper listed Pouncey as his fastest-rising prospect during a Thursday morning segment of SportsCenter.

“This kid has a higher grade, I believe, than (New York Jets’ first-round pick) Nick Mangold did when he came out (of Ohio State in 2006),” Kiper said. “A highly rated center like Maurkice Pouncey, who can play guard, could interest the Steelers at 18. I’ve had him (in a mock draft) with Philadelphia at 24.

“Everybody you talk to says he’s highly regarded now, a lot of praise coming for Pouncey.”

Pouncey, Kiper said, has “been solidly in the first round if you could find a team to take a center.”

Centers are not typically drafted in the first round, but in an extreme rarity, two were selected last season.

Kiper said Pouncey compares favorably to 2009 first-round picks Alex Mack and Eric Wood. Mack, who went to University of California, was taken by the Cleveland Browns with the 21st overall pick. Buffalo used the 28th-overall pick to draft Eric Wood out of Louisville.

Another ESPN draft analyst, Todd McShay, has projected Pouncey to be taken in the first round by the Indianapolis Colts with the 31st pick.

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