Earlier Thursday morning on ESPN’s SportsCenter, NFL Draft expert Mel Kiper Jr. discussed his potential No. 1 picks in the upcoming NFL Draft.

Kiper’s group included four players, one of which was Missouri Tigers defensive end Shane Ray.

“You have the ‘freaks’, the defensive linemen that can get to the quarterback and wreak havoc in the pass-happy NFL,” Kiper said. “Shane Ray has 12 sacks, 16 tackles for loss. 39 of his 50 tackles have been solos.”

Kiper also included Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota, Nebraska defensive lineman Randy Gregory and USC defensive lineman Leonard Williams as other considerations for the draft’s No. 1 overall pick.

Ray’s improved his draft stock likely more than any other player in college football this season. Viewed as a probable second day selection (2nd or 3rd round) Ray’s breakout season has shot up his draft stock. Kiper has consistently had him in the top-10 of his NFL Draft Big Board.

The 2014 season can be qualified as record-breaking for Ray. His 12 sacks recently broke a single-season school record for sacks, passing Aldon Smith and Michael Sam who both recorded 11.5 sacks in one season. With three games left on the schedule, Ray will most likely create some distance between himself and those two Missouri greats.

Missouri’s postseason fate is hanging in the balance this season, but the Tigers’ best player knows exactly where his fate lies on draft day — one of the draft’s top picks and premier prospects.