2011 NFL Draft: December Big Board and Position Rankings

Use your ← → (arrow) keys to browse more stories
2011 NFL Draft: December Big Board and Position Rankings
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
Stanford QB Andrew Luck

Over the years, I’ve had a few friends and confidants ask me why I love the NFL Draft as much as I do.

Since 2004, the year of the Manning, Rivers, Roethlisberger draft, I’ve extensively followed college football's scouting process on a yearly basis. It all started when I bought my first Sporting News NFL Draft Guide that year and started becoming immersed in the world of 40 times, highlight tapes and all the scouting lingo that goes along with the draft.

Sometimes I feel like I love the process more than the actual draft.

The journey in itself is a fun ride. It’s fun to watch a young high school prospect enter the college game, transform himself into a bona fide superstar in just a few years time and then walk out onto that stage to shake the commissioner’s hand on draft day.

It seems like just yesterday I was reading reports about a young stud quarterback out of Stratford High School in Texas and now here we are watching Andrew Luck lead Stanford to amazing accomplishments while setting himself apart as the cream of the college crop.

I also love the draft for the same reason I love college football: because of the uncertainty factor and unpredictable nature attached to it.

As a simple young football fan, I have a very marginal idea about how an NFL scout would go about evaluating a college player. But that makes it fun. It makes it a guessing game.

Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
1. QB Andrew Luck: Stanford


Yeah, I’ll try to do my homework, look at a player’s history as a recruit, his production, his highlight tapes but that really only gets you so far. It’s all that insider information that the pro scouts are privy to that separates their judgment from that of the common draft fan.

Even though I still make my fair share of mistakes when trying to predict which players will be successful at the NFL level, it still hasn’t stopped me from trying.

Here’s a draft fan’s perspective regarding some of the top eligible prospects for the 2011 NFL Draft.

The Flynn Forty

1. QB Andrew Luck: Stanford
(6'4", 235 lbs, Redshirt Sophomore)

Even though it was his conference counterpart, Jake Locker, who received much of the hype coming into the 2010 season, it was Stanford’s Andrew Luck who proved from the first game of the year that he was indeed the superior prospect and the type of player who was worthy of great fanfare and praise.

Luck has been nothing short of sensational this season, throwing for over 3,000 yards and 28 TDs while completing over 70 percent of his passes. The sophomore has showed every single trait an NFL team would desire in a franchise signal caller.

Size, arm strength, intangibles, poise, leadership; you name it, Luck’s got it.

He’s been one of the main reasons this Stanford team has reached the heights they have this season, and it’s hard to fathom he could escape the top five if he were to declare for the 2011 draft. But we still haven’t got any official word on what Luck’s future plans are at this point.

If both Luck and coach Jim Harbaugh return to Stanford next season, the Cardinal have the firepower to be considered the national title favorite going into 2011. But Luck and his family will have to do the proper risk assessment when it comes to his future.

It’s hard to imagine Luck’s stock getting any higher, especially after the type of season he’s had this year. And with so many teams in need of a quarterback likely picking at the top of the draft, the time might be right to test the NFL waters.

2. WR A.J. Green: Georgia
(6'4", 210 lbs, Junior)

After a rocky start to his junior season due to an unfair four game suspension, Georgia wide receiver A.J. Green returned to the field to declare to the nation that he is indeed a force to be reckoned with.

Green has scored a career high nine TDs in eight games this season and has displayed an uncanny ability to make opposing secondaries look foolish.

Green, as far as the next level is concerned, might be one of the better looking receiver prospects we’ve seen this millennium.

Is he a little skinnier than you would like? Yes, but wasn’t Randy Moss considered a little skinny when he was coming out of Marshall?

A.J. Green is the type of receiver you throw the ball to and wait for the magic to unfold. He’s the type of athlete who can make the phenomenal look ordinary.

Green is on the Andre Johnson, Calvin Johnson-type level as a far as being a Top 3 pick is concerned.

3. CB Patrick Peterson: LSU
(6'1", 220 lbs, Junior)

If you were given the task of coming up with a list of the best pure athletes in college football, you’d be hard pressed to find somebody that could challenge Patrick Peterson for the top spot.

In a nutshell, Peterson is an enigma. A rarity. Maybe even a superhero masking himself as human.

We haven’t seen a cornerback prospect with his type of ability since Charles Woodson came out of Michigan over a decade ago. And the scary part is, Peterson is probably the better looking prospect.

They say the idea of a shutdown corner is dead in this day and age, but whoever came up with that theory obviously hasn't laid their eyes on Patrick Peterson.

Peterson is excellence personified. He’s the type of player who has revolutionary type ability, the type of player who could possibly change the way we perceive a certain position moving into the future.

With the size of a safety and the cover skills of a type flight corner, Peterson is a dream come true for a team in need of some cornerback help at the top of the draft.

4. QB Cameron Newton: Auburn
(6'6", 250 lbs, Junior)

If Cam Newton decides to forego his final season at Auburn, which seems likely at this point considering the ongoing investigation surrounding his father, the newly born superstar will probably be one of the most heavily debated pro prospects in recent memory (Yes, even more scrutinized than Mr. Tebow was last year).

Newton has put together one of the most dominating single seasons in college football history this year, leading his Auburn team to a perfect 12-0 regular season while racking up 43 touchdowns and over 3,500 total yards along the way.

Still, the question remains: Will his tremendous talents properly translate to the NFL?

It’s a question that all the self-appointed experts, analysts and critics are going to overanalyze and endlessly beat into submission in the months leading up to the draft if he does decide to come out.

There are sure to be the Ron Jaworskis of the world who say nonsense like “Well when I study Cam Newton on film, his footwork and mechanics aren’t exactly the picture of perfection.”

Yes, Newton will get picked apart just because he the isn’t conventional average drop-back pro passer. People are afraid of change. But one day we will realize that players the caliber of Newton aren’t the type you study, they’re the type you put out on the field and let them takeover.

We’ll find out in due time if Newton is the new breed of NFL quarterback or simply another one year wonder, flash in the pan type of player like the many signal caller busts who have preceded him.

Whether you want to embrace Newton as an NFL prospect or give him the cold shoulder and say let’s just put him at tight end, the reality is that one of the NFL’s quarterback hungry franchises is going to fall in love with his potential and select the so called "project" much earlier than many would probably expect.

My gut feeling: Newton is in Cincinnati this time next year.

5. CB Prince Amukamara: Nebraska
(6'1", 205 lbs, Senior)

There’s nothing all that flashy about Nebraska's cornerback Prince Amukmara. But then again, there doesn’t really have to be.

He’s not the type of cornerback that’s going to make the big game changing, highlight-reel interception return for a touchdown. In fact he doesn’t even have an interception at all this year. But his lack of highlights probably coincides with the fact that few opposing teams are silly enough to test him.

Sure, Texas gave it a shot and a few other teams have chanced throwing the ball in his direction. But the results usually always ended up in the favor of Amukamara.

Prince has been partying like it’s 1999 this season. The senior has been a key cog for a Nebraska defense that ranks second in the nation in pass defense and fifth in the nation in total defense.

It’s frightening when you realize that Amukamara, a former highly-touted high school running back, still has room to grow and improve as a cornerback.

Amukamara is an extremely intriguing prospect that has a chance to be a special player at the NFL level. He could even end up being a bigger version of Darrelle Revis when all is said and done.

6. OLB Bruce Carter: North Carolina
(6'3", 235 lbs, Senior)

I’ve had a friend of mine from North Carolina try to convince me that Bruce Carter is the embodiment of Aaron Curry, the former Wake Forest linebacker who was selected 4th overall by the Seahawks in the 2009 NFL Draft,  just without the sheer edge and tenacity.

I’ve always politely declined to agree with that comparison.

While Carter may not be the most “vicious” linebacker you ever come across, he certainly isn’t lacking in the toughness department. The 6'3" senior has no problem with collision nor contact and while he may not be the most feared hitter on the field, if I were in need of a linebacker who can make plays from sideline to sideline, I’ll probably be looking at Carter to be my guy.

The athleticism Carter possesses is something we don’t see very often from college linebackers. The former high school safety moves laterally with ease and he can fly around to make plays all over the field.

If you’re looking for candidates to have a “blow up” type combine performance and raise their stock this coming February, look no further than Bruce Carter.

7. WR Michael Floyd: Notre Dame
(6'3", 225 lbs, Junior)

It hasn’t been the season many Notre Dame fans were hoping for in coach Brian Kelly’s first year on the job. The Irish finished 7-5 on the season and had to endure some low points with losses to Navy and Tulsa along with season ending injuries to a few key players like quarterback Dayne Crist and running back Armando Allen.

There have been a few bright spots for this team though, most notably the terrific play of wide receiver Michael Floyd.

The junior receiver has made some great grabs this year, totaling 73 catches and 10 TDs on the season.

Floyd has showed his old form again after an injury plagued 2009 season cost him five games of action.

The 6‘3 junior might be the best pure pass adjuster in college football as he’s shown the ability to track balls in the air with great precision and focus.

In my eyes, Floyd looks like an even better version of former Michigan receiver and current New York Jet, Braylon Edwards.

He has all the tools to be an impact No. 1 receiver in the NFL.

8. DE Da’Quan Bowers: Clemson
(6'4", 285 lbs, Junior)

Hey look who finally showed up!

Da’Quan Bowers, once considered the best overall recruit in the 2008 class, has finally lived up to his massive potential this season after playing the waiting game during his first two years at Clemson.

Bowers has put his extraordinary pass rushing abilities to good use this year and currently leads the nation with 15 sacks.

Scouts might wonder though why they didn’t see these types of great flashes in the two seasons before the junior was eligible to make NFL millions.

Bowers has been great this season and has likely worked himself into a Top 15 pick, but scouts could be somewhat concerned about why he took so long to develop into a breakout performer.

9. QB Ryan Mallett: Arkansas
(6'7", 240 lbs, Junior)

If you wanted to mold the perfect drop-back pro style passer out of clay, you’re finished product would probably strongly resemble a quarterback like Ryan Mallett.

Mallett has the combination of size and arm strength that no other quarterback in college football can quite compare to. Playing in Bobby Petrino’s pass heavy offensive system at Arkansas for the last two seasons, Mallett has totaled a whopping 7,000 yards and 60 TDs through the air.

He’s improved on the small kinks in his game that evaluators informed him he needed to work on this season and he now looks like a true franchise saving type quarterback prospect.

When you turn on the Arkansas game tape it’s hard not to like what you see, but that doesn’t mean the junior is without flaws and question marks.

There have been some that have posed the question: Is Mallett simply too big?

At a true 6'7" (Arkansas conveniently listed him at 6'6" this season knowing people were posing the question), Mallett certainly has the size to see over the line, but without the best mobility, there are times when he just looks like a big statue standing in the pocket.

There are also those who have brought up his personality and whether or not he’s equipped to lead an NFL team. His "wigger persona" gets joked about around SEC circles, but I for one think Mallett conducts himself very well on and off the field no matter what you want to say about how he speaks.

Is he the perfect prospect? No. But is there such a thing?

He’s a guy that’s going to grade out very highly because he can make all throws and impress with his arm.

Even though some scouts might knock him down a notch or two because of his personality and the inflated system he played in at Arkansas, it’s hard to imagine Mallett falling out of the Top 15 if he decides to come out. With a good showing in his bowl game and in workouts he could even challenge for the top quarterback spot depending on who his competition ends up being.

10. DT Nick Fairley: Auburn
(6'5", 315 lbs, Junior)

Because he plays for the same team as Heisman front-runner Cameron Newton and because he doesn’t necessarily line up at a true glamour position, Auburn’s Nick Fairley has had a tendency to get a little overshadowed by the college football media this season. But if you’ve seen any Tigers games this season, you definitely know his name.

Fairley is the type of player who makes his presence known early and often in games as he squirts through offensive lineman like he’s soaked in grease to disrupt opposing backfields.

Verne Lundquist made an off-hand comment in the Iron Bowl this past Friday that there are some coaches around the SEC who feel Fairley is the most disruptive interior defensive lineman since Warren Sapp was causing terror for the Miami Hurricanes back in the early nineties.

After going largely unnoticed in his first season as a junior college transfer in 2009, Fairley had his coming out party in a dominating early season performance at Mississippi State and he hasn’t slowed down since.

The 315 lb. defensive tackle has racked up 20 tackles for a loss and 10 sacks this season and he’s been terrorizing quarterbacks every chance he gets.

Some have said Fairley doesn’t seem to have the desired lower body strength of a true top defensive tackle prospect but he makes up for that in other areas.

Fairley has the quickness and the overall power to be a difference making defensive lineman at the NFL level.

11. DE Aldon Smith: Missouri
(6'5", 260 lbs, Redshirt Sophomore)

12. DE Marcell Dareus: Alabama
(6'3", 305 lbs, Junior)

13. WR Justin Blackmon: Oklahoma State
(6'1", 205 lbs, Redshirt Sophomore)

14. OT Derek Sherrod: Mississippi State
(6'6", 305 lbs, Senior)

15. OLB Von Miller: Texas A&M
(6'3", 245 lbs, Senior)

16. DE Cameron Jordan: California
(6'6", 305 lbs, Senior)

17. RB Mark Ingram: Alabama
(5'10", 215 lbs, Junior)

18. OT Marcus Cannon: TCU
(6'5", 350 lbs, Senior)

19. WR Julio Jones: Alabama
(6'4", 210 lbs, Junior)

20. DE Robert Quinn: North Carolina
(6'5", 270 lbs, Junior)

21. CB Janoris Jenkins: Florida
(5'11", 190 lbs, Junior)

22. TE Kyle Rudolph: Notre Dame
(6'6", 265 lbs, Junior)

23. OLB Akeem Ayers: UCLA
(6'4", 255 lbs, Junior)

24. DT Jerel Worthy: Michigan State
(6'3", 305 lbs, Redshirt Sophomore)

25. QB Jake Locker: Washington
(6'3", 225 lbs, Senior)

26. DE Adrian Clayborn: Iowa
(6'4", 285 lbs, Senior)

27. DT Muhammad Wilkerson: Temple
(6'5", 305 lbs, Junior)

28. OLB Justin Houston: Georgia
(6'3", 260 lbs, Junior)

29. CB Brandon Harris: Miami
(5'11", 195 lbs, Junior)

30. RB LaMichael James: Oregon
(5'9", 185 lbs, Redshirt Sophomore)

31. CB Jimmy Smith: Colorado
(6'2", 210 lbs, Senior)

32. DT Cameron Heyward: Ohio State
(6'5", 290 lbs, Senior)

33. WR Jonathan Baldwin: Pittsburgh
(6'5", 225 lbs, Junior)

34. DE Ryan Kerrigan: Purdue
(6'4", 265 lbs, Senior)

35. OLB Dontay Moch: Nevada
(6'1", 245 lbs, Senior)

36. OT Anthony Castonzo: Boston College
(6'7", 295 lbs, Senior)

37. TE Michael Egnew: Missouri
(6'6", 235 lbs, Senior)

38. DT Drake Nevis: LSU
(6'1", 285 lbs, Senior)

39. WR Ryan Broyles: Oklahoma
(5'11", 185 lbs, Junior)

40. S Mark Barron: Alabama
(6'2", 210 lbs, Junior)

Quarterbacks

Top 10 Seniors
1. Jake Locker, Washington
2. Christian Ponder, Florida State
3. Colin Kaepernick, Nevada
4. Ricky Stanzi, Iowa
5. Greg McElroy, Alabama
6. Pat Devlin, Delaware
7. Nathan Enderle, Idaho
8. Tyrod Taylor, Virginia Tech
9. Andy Dalton, TCU
10. Jerrod Johnson, Texas A&M

Underclassmen Who Could Declare

  • Andrew Luck, Stanford (Redshirt Sophomore)
  • Cameron Newton, Auburn (Junior)
  • Ryan Mallett, Arkansas (Junior)
  • Blaine Gabbert, Missouri (Junior)
  • Nick Foles, Arizona (Junior)


Running Backs

Top 10 Seniors
1. Daniel Thomas, Kansas State
2. DeMarco Murray, Oklahoma
3. Bilal Powell, Louisville
4. Kendall Hunter, Oklahoma State
5. Noel Devine, West Virginia
6. Jonathan Williams, East Carolina
7. Derrick Locke, Kentucky
8. Jay Finley, Baylor
9. Evan Royster, Penn State
10. Delone Carter, Syracuse

Underclassmen Who Could Declare

  • Mark Ingram, Alabama (Junior)
  • LaMichael James, Oregon (Redshirt Sophomore)
  • Ryan Williams, Virginia Tech (Redshirt Sophomore)
  • Shane Vereen, California (Junior)
  • John Clay, Wisconsin (Junior)
  • Quizz Rodgers, Oregon State (Junior)
  • Mikel Leshoure, Illinois (Junior)
  • Andre Ellington Clemson (Redshirt Sophomore)


Wide Receivers

Top 10 Seniors
1. Chris Matthews, Kentucky
2. Leonard Hankerson, Miami
3. Jeremy Kerley, TCU
4. Titus Young, Boise State
5. Jerrel Jernigan, Troy State
6. Niles Paul, Nebraska
7. Austin Pettis, Boise State
8. Denarius Moore, Tennessee
9. Mark Dell, Michigan State
10. Armon Binns, Cincinnati

Underclassmen Who Could Declare

  • A.J. Green, Georgia (Junior)
  • Michael Floyd, Notre Dame (Junior)
  • Justin Blackmon, Oklahoma State (Redshirt Sophomore)
  • Julio Jones, Alabama (Junior)
  • Jonathan Baldwin, Pitt (Junior)
  • Ryan Broyles, Oklahoma (Junior)
  • Greg Childs, Arkansas (Junior)
  • Jeff Fuller, Texas A&M (Junior)
  • DeVier Posey, Ohio State (Junior)
  • Darvin Adams, Auburn (Junior)
  • Jermaine Kearse, Washington (Junior)
Chris Graythen/Getty Images
3. CB Patrick Peterson: LSU


Tight Ends

Top 10 Seniors
1. Lance Kendricks, Wisconsin
2. Jeffrey Anderson, UAB
3. Luke Stocker, Tennessee
4. Virgil Green, Nevada
5. D.J. Williams, Arkansas
6. Weslye Saunders, South Carolina
7. Cameron Graham, Louisville
8. Rob Housler, Florida Atlantic
9. Charlie Gantt, Michigan State
10. Andre Smith, Virginia Tech

Underclassmen Who Could Declare

  • Kyle Rudolph, Notre Dame (Junior)
  • Michael Egnew, Missouri (Junior)
  • Ladarius Green, Louisiana-Lafayette (Junior)


Offensive Tackles

Top 10 Seniors
1. Derek Sherrod, Mississippi State
2. Marcus Cannon, TCU
3. Anthony Castonzo, Boston College
4. Joseph Barksdale, LSU
5. Gabe Carimi, Wisconsin
6. Nate Solder, Colorado
7. DeMarcus Love, Arkansas
8. James Brewer, Indiana
9. Chris Hairston, Clemson
10. Jason Pinkston, Pittsburgh

Underclassmen Who Could Declare

  • Kelechi Osemele, Iowa State
  • Tyron Smith, USC
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
4. QB Cameron Newton, Auburn


Offensive Guards

Top 10 Seniors
1. Ben Ijalana, Villanova
2. Rodney Hudson, Florida State
3. Keith Williams, Nebraska
4. Justin Boren, Ohio State
5. Mike Pouncey, Florida
6. John Moffitt, Wisconsin
7. Thomas Claiborne, Boston College
8. Zach Hurd, UCONN
9. Orlando Franklin, Miami
10. Clint Boling, Georgia

Centers

Top 10 Seniors
1. Jake Kirkpatrick, TCU
2. Stefen Wisniewski, Penn State
3. Tim Barnes, Missouri
4. Brad Serini, Florida-International
5. Kristofer O’Dowd, USC
6. Sampson Genus, South Florida
7. Ryan Pugh, Auburn
8. Chase Beeler, Stanford
9. Zane Taylor, Utah
10. Colin Baxter, Arizona

Defensive Tackles

Top 10 Seniors
1. Cameron Heyward, Ohio State
2. Drake Nevis, LSU
3. Christian Ballard, Iowa
4. Stephen Paea, Oregon State
5. Phil Taylor, Baylor
6. Marvin Austin, North Carolina
7. Sione Fua, Stanford
8. Jarvis Jenkins, Clemson
9. Jerrell Powe, Ole Miss
10. Ian Williams, Notre Dame

Underclassmen Who Could Declare

  • Nick Fairley, Auburn (Junior)
  • Jerel Worthy, Michigan State (Redshirt Sophomore)
  • Muhammad Wilkerson, Temple (Junior)
  • Jared Crick (Junior)
  • Jurrell Casey, USC (Junior)
Eric Francis/Getty Images
5. CB Prince Amukamara: Nebraska


Defensive Ends

Top 10 Seniors
1. Cameron Jordan, Cal
2. Adrian Clayborn, Iowa
3. Ryan Kerrigan, Purdue
4. Jeremy Beal, Oklahoma
5. Allen Bailey, Miami
6. Sam Acho, Texas
7. Brandon Bair, Oregon
8. Greg Romeus, Pittsburgh
9. Ugo Chinasa, Oklahoma State
10. Ricky Elmore, Arizona

Underclassmen Who Could Declare

  • Da’Quan Bowers, Clemson (Junior)
  • Aldon Smith, Missouri (Redshirt Sophomore)
  • Marcell Dareus, Alabama (Junior)
  • Robert Quinn, North Carolina (Junior)
  • J.J. Watt, Wisconsin (Junior)


Inside Linebackers

Top 10 Seniors
1. Greg Jones, Michigan State
2. Quan Sturdivant, North Carolina
3. Kelvin Sheppard, LSU
4. Alex Wujciak, Maryland
5. Jonathan Cornell, Ole Miss
6. Brad Jefferson, Georgia Tech
7. Mike Mohamed, Cal
8. Mario Harvey, Marshall
9. Colin McCarthy, Miami
10. Nate Irving, North Carolina State

Underclassmen Who Could Declare

  • Martez Wilson, Illinois (Junior)
  • Dont’a Hightower, Alabama (Redshirt Sophomore)
  • Tank Carder, TCU (Junior)


Outside Linebackers

Top 10 Seniors
1. Bruce Carter, North Carolina
2. Mason Foster, Washington
3. K.J. Wright, Mississippi State
4. Mark Herzlich, Boston College
5. Quentin Davie, Northwestern
6. Doug Hogue, Syracuse
7. Anthony Leon, Arkansas
8. Adrian Moten, Maryland
9. Spencer Paysinger, Oregon
10. Jacquian Williams, South Florida

Underclassmen Who Could Declare

  • Akeem Ayers, UCLA
  • Travis Lewis, Oklahoma
  • Keenan Robinson, Texas
  • Nigel Bradham, Florida State
  • Zach Brown, North Carolina

3-4 Rush Linebackers

Top 10 Seniors
1. Von Miller, Texas A&M
2. Dontay Moch, Nevada
3. Chris Carter, Fresno State
4. Wayne Daniels, TCU
5. Michael Morgan, USC
6. Eddie Jones, Texas
7. Chris Walker, Tennessee
8. Cheta Ozougwu, Rice
9. Brian Duncan, Texas Tech
10. Lawrence Wilson, UCONN

Underclassmen Who Could Declare

  • Justin Houston, Georgia


Cornerbacks

Top 10 Seniors
1. Prince Amukamara, Nebraska
2. Jimmy Smith, Colorado
3. Brandyn Thompson, Boise State
4. Brandon Hogan, West Virginia
5. Curtis Brown, Texas
6. Ras-I Dowling, Virginia
7. Chris Culliver, South Carolina
8. Shareece Wright, USC
9. Lametrius Davis, Hawaii
10. Chimdi Chekwa, Ohio State

Underclassmen Who Could Declare

  • Patrick Peterson, LSU
  • Brandon Harris, Miami
  • Janoris Jenkins, Florida
  • Aaron Williams, Texas
  • Brandon Burton, Utah
  • Omar Bolden, Arizona State
  • Alfonzo Dennard, Nebraska


Safeties

Top 10 Seniors
1. DeAndre McDaniel, Clemson
2. Quinton Carter, Oklahoma
3. Deunta Williams, North Carolina
4. Jermale Hines, Ohio State
5. Jaiquawn Jarrett, Temple
6. Nate Williams, Washington
7. David Sims, Iowa State
8. Joe Lefeged, Rutgers
9. Ahmad Black, Florida
10. Dejon Gomes, Nebraska

Underclassmen Who Could Declare

  • Mark Barron, Alabama
  • Lance Mitchell, Oregon State
  • Rahim Moore, UCLA
  • Tyler Sash, Iowa
Load More Stories

Follow B/R on Facebook

NFL Draft

Subscribe Now

We will never share your email address

Thanks for signing up.