Fast Forward: 2011 NFL Draft Prospects
It's very early to look at the 2011 NFL draft class, as injuries, scheme changes, and outside influences can affect the development of the most talented prospects.
Based on the early looks, next year figures to be another deep draft class. The defensive line seems to very deep again this year with an abundance of playmakers. The quarterback class is much improved with as many as three going in the top half of the draft. IN NO ORDER homers.
Jake Locker, QB, Washington
Most have never seen him play a game because of his team's poor exposure in the pacific northwest. However, Jake has a very unusual physical skill set. He has a tremendous arm with superb mechanics and outstanding speed to create plays with his feet.
Had Locker declared for the 2010 NFL draft as a junior, he stood a very good chance of being selected first overall. Like Sam Bradford, he runs the risk of injury in returning for his senior season, but he should highly benefit from another year under the tutelage of Steve Sarkisian as a senior.
Jake has the toughness, competitiveness, and intelligence to become a franchise quarterback. Has huge upside and potentially could be the most coveted passer to enter the draft since John Elway.
Ryan Mallett, QB, Arkansas (R-Jr.)
The Michigan transfer is considered a future franchise quarterback at the next level. A pocket passer with rare arm strength to make all the throws, Mallett has drawn comparisons to Ben Roethlisberger. He may not be very nimble when he’s forced outside the pocket, however he's not afraid to climb the ladder and deliver the pass.
The 6’6" signal caller has a great feel for the rush and a quick release, which makes him difficult to get to.
He's a redshirt junior and should he have the year he's slated to have, he'll leave early. Could put more muscle on his frame and has some improvement to make before being a finished product, nevertheless big, big upside.
Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford (R-Soph)
Andrew comes from a pedigree of football players, his father played for West Virginia before the Houston Oilers drafted him. Luck is a strong-armed quarterback that will need to prove he can operate when his best weapon is taken away in Toby Gerhart.
Pac 10 defenses will pin their ears back, to get to the young star who excelled as a redshirt freshman. Luck has an excellent target to throw to in Chris Owusu, dazzling the west coast together.
Mark Ingram, RB, Alabama (Jr.)
Last season's Heisman Trophy winner Mark Ingram has the size and skills scouts love. At 5'10'', and 215 pounds, he looks the part of an NFL running back.
He doesn't have game-changing speed, but rarely is caught from behind when in the open. That is not where he does his damage, though. Ingram gets a great percentage of his yards after contact, refusing to go down with elite leg drive and posting at least one-hundred yards in all his games.
Great field vision and awareness allow him to find the hole, nimble feet let him maneuver even in heavy traffic, showing his great cutback ability. Not a proven pass protector in blitz pick up situations.
Ryan Williams, RB, Virginia Tech (R-Soph)
As redshirt freshman in 2009, you could have argued he was the best back in the nation, through 12 games Ryan rushed for 1,538 yards on 268 carries, scored 19 touchdowns.
Williams has rushed for 150 or more yards in five of his first seven college games, helping him become ACC rookie of the week five times. One of the more distinctive characteristics of his running style is a run-to-daylight instinct, which can be very unpredictable at times, truly an improvisational runner.
Evan Royster, RB, Penn State
Evan Royster will return for his senior campaign, instead of opting for the NFL draft. He should become Penn State's career rushing leader at some point in 2010.
The three-year starter should become the focal point of the offense this season with a first-year starter at quarterback. Evan is a complete back that can catch the ball well, pick up blitzes cleanly, and comes out of a pro-style attack.
Royster is able to read a defense and hit the open hole suddenly in the open averaging around six yards per touch. He's an shifty and elusive runner who is a threat to score at any time.
A.J. Green, WR, Georgia (Jr.)
Green was a force as a freshmen in 2008 exploding onto the scene snagging 56 balls, 963 yards, and eight TD. He followed that up with a superb sophomore year with 53 catches, 808 yards, six scores.
Despite losing offensive firepower with the early departures of Matthew Stafford and Knowshon Moreno, and missing three games due to injury, Green still showed the ability to make NFL catches.
At 6′4″, 208 pounds he has the size and ability to be a true No. 1 receiver. A.J. is a tremendous leaper with sticky hands, able to go up and catch the jump balls as well as competing over the middle. Green has elite body control and suddenness in his route running, has elite timing grabbing the ball at it's highest point.
Julio Jones, WR, Alabama (Jr.)
Julio was as highly touted as one can be coming out of high school and hasn't disappointed, though he has not dominated in college like SEC counterpart, A.J. Green.
Jones is a big 6'4''/211, physical receiver who has the tools to immediately contribute in the NFL. Rewrote the Crimson Tide's record books as a freshman posting 58 catches, 924 yards, four TD, but was hampered by injuries his sophomore season struggling to post 43 catches, 596 yards and four TD.
He's a long-limbed, rangy, highly competitive receiver who possesses big time talent.
Jonathan Baldwin, WR, Pittsburgh (Jr.)
Baldwin is a raw athletic freak who has a very high ceiling. He explodes off the line with a great first step. Has very good control of his 6'6'' body and awesome ball skills.
Baldwin has excellent jumping ability and is capable of making acrobatic grabs. He has the size and strength to rip the ball away from the defender. Baldwin is a great blocker as well utilizing his big body, rarely misses an assignment.
He makes jump balls with ease, catching the ball at it's highest point. He averages around twenty yards a catch, and has a knack for the big play. He must improve his route running.
Kyle Rudolph, TE, Notre Dame (Jr.)
Rudolph is tall and thin right now at 6'6'', 235 pounds, but has the frame to add good weight. He has the ability to add 15-20 pounds in a few years and still maintain is speed, quickness and athleticism.
Rudolph releases off the line quick and smooth, runs well and has soft hands. He displays excellent concentration and soft hands to make the tough catch over the middle.
Kyle can also be motioned out wide to create mismatches and is a complete blocker. Not a great route runner, he needs to improve in that area and should get the chance in Brian Kelly's pass happy offense.
Lance Kendricks, TE, Wisconsin (Jr.)
Should see a big rise in production in 2010, with Garrett Graham now playing for Houston Texans. Kendricks is a typical Wisconsin tight end, a tall and lean receiver who creates mismatches.
He can block well for his size but might need to bulk up more to sustain his in-line blocking. He might be best suited for an H-Back role at the next level.
D.J. Williams, TE, Arkansas
Williams has the size, strength, and playing speed to be a force in the NFL. Is very productive he has 98 receptions in only two starting seasons.
Williams caught 32 passes for 411 yards and three touchdowns last year. Rarely does he go down on first contact. He's got soft hands and a quick release but needs to improve on blocking and he's only 6'2''.
On the NFL Radar
Blain Gabbert, (Missouri), Nick Foles, (Arizona), Jerrod Johnson, (Texas A&M), Christian Ponder, (Florida State), John Brantley, (Florida), Case Keenum, (Houston), Kellen Moore, (Boise State), Pat Devlin, (Delaware), and John Brantley (Florida)
Daniel Thomas (Kansas State), Jamie Harper (Clemson), John Clay (Wisconsin), Demarco Murray (Oklahoma), Anthony Allen (Georgia Tech), Montell Harris (Boston College), and Noel Devine, (West Virginia)
Austin Pettis (Boise State), Michael Floyd, (Notre Dame), DeVier Posey (Ohio State), Ryan Broyles, (Oklahoma), Chris Owusu (Stanford), Deandre Brown, (Southern Miss), Greg Little (North Carolina), and Terrence Tolliver, (LSU)
Weslye Saunders (South Carolina), Luke Stocker, (Tennessee), Mike McNeill (Nebraska), Kevin Koger, (Michigan)and George Bryan (NC State)