2011 NFL Draft: 10 Pac-10 Players Debating the Dorms or Dollars
With only four Pac-10 schools playing bowl games this year, it's time to start looking forward to the inaugural Pac-12 season and the ever-changing rosters of collegiate programs.
The talent from the "Conference of Champions" is deep as always, and several sophomores and juniors will be looking to jump ship to the NFL.
Here is a look at 10 highly rated Pac-10 prospects that will spend the next few months debating whether to hit the books or get paid.
Jurrell Casey, Southern California
Considered one of the best defensive tackles in the conference, Casey continued to show improvement this season.
The Long Beach native recorded 67 tackles, five sacks and one interception for the Trojans.
A little short at 6'1", the junior is very athletic considering his 305-pound weight.
Many project him to be selected in the second or third round of the 2011 NFL Draft.
With one more year of probation for the Trojans and a ceiling to his collegiate impact, Casey should declare for the 2011 NFL Draft.
Rahim Moore, UCLA
The Bruin safety showed the nation he can do a lot more then intercept passes, even though he led the nation in 2009 with 10 picks on the season.
This year he contributed with 77 tackles and one interception.
As the Bruins continue to be mediocre on offense, one would wonder what the expectations will be for the program in 2011.
At 6'1" and 196 pounds the junior is projected as a solid second-round prospect.
With fellow Bruin Akeem Ayers also looking towards the NFL, look for Moore to declare for the 2011 NFL Draft.
LaMichael James, Oregon
A redshirt sophomore from Texas, James burst onto the national scene this season.
He led the nation in rushing with 1,682 yards and 21 rushing touchdowns.
With the Ducks headed to the BCS National Championship Game, the return of James would likely lead to expectations for another title run next season.
If he returns to Eugene in 2011, he will most likely be a front-runner for the Heisman Trophy.
He is currently projected as a solid second- to third-round prospect.
With only two years of collegiate experience, James should and will return for one more season with the Ducks.
Jacquizz Rodgers, Oregon State
Continuing the recent tradition of standout Beaver running backs, Rodgers is set to exceed the standards set by Ken Simonton, Steven Jackson and Yvenson Bernard.
In three seasons as the starting tailback, he has amassed 3,877 rushing yards and 51 total touchdowns for the Beavers.
At 5'7", and 191 pounds, his speed is deceptive and his toughness underrated. Expectations will be high as Mike Riley's squad will return an abundance of talent and experience in 2011.
The younger Rodgers has been projected anywhere from the second to fourth round of the 2011 NFL Draft.
One would think his decision is connected to whether his older brother James also decides to return to Corvallis.
My money is that Quizz suits up for the Beavers in 2011.
Andrew Luck, Stanford
Luck and the Cardinal have put together a stellar 2010 season. After the Orange Bowl against Virginia Tech the team will begin to transition into a glimpse of next year's product.
Jim Harbaugh is a very hot coaching prospect, and Luck loses senior targets Ryan Whalen and Doug Baldwin.
If Luck and Chris Owusu opt to leave early, the Cardinal offense will be torn into shreds.
The majority of NFL mock drafts show the Stanford quarterback as the first overall prospect for the 2011 NFL Draft.
Luck will demonstrate that he has learned from the mistakes of former junior quarterbacks Jake Locker (Washington), Matt Leinart (USC) and Cody Pickett (Washington) by declaring for the 2011 NFL Draft.
Tyron Smith, Southern California
The junior offensive tackle has impressed pro scouts with his size, and agility.
He is a little light at 6'5", 285 pounds and needs to work on his strength.
Currently a first- or second-round prospect, a strong senior year could propel him into the top 15 in the 2012 NFL Draft.
Once again, with the Trojans on probation, what is the point of him returning?
Look for Smith to declare early for the 2011 NFL Draft.
Lawrence Guy, Arizona State
A junior from Las Vegas, the defensive tackle possesses the size and speed coveted by pro scouts.
The 6'5", 300-pound Sun Devil recorded 41 tackles and two sacks this season.
During his collegiate career he has 118 tackles and eight sacks to his credit.
Arizona State should be much improved in 2011, and the return of Dennis Erickson provides stability entering his senior year.
Currently he is projected to be selected anywhere from the third to sixth round of the 2011 NFL Draft.
Sticking around to team with Omar Bolden and Vontaze Burfict, Lawrence will return to Tempe for a stout Arizona State defense.
Akeem Ayers, UCLA
Loaded with pro talent, the UCLA defense was led by linebacker Akeem Ayers in 2010.
The 6'4", 225-pound Los Angeles native nearly duplicated his sophomore campaign this year with 68 tackles and four sacks for the Bruins.
Another mediocre season in Pasadena surely doesn't provide dreams of a strong team next year.
Ayers is evaluated as a solid first-round selection if he chooses to leave college early.
Expect both Rahim Moore and Ayers to declare for the 2011 NFL Draft.
Jermaine Kearse, Washington
A junior from Lakewood, Washington, Kearse had a solid season at wide receiver for the Huskies in 2010.
He hauled in 62 receptions for 1,001 yards and 12 touchdowns.
In three years he has caught 132 passes for 2,168 yards and 22 touchdowns.
Kearse has good size at 6'2", 205 pounds, but his speed has been questioned by pro scouts. With the departure of Jake Locker, it is hard to predict his productivity if chooses to return.
Many have Kearse projected between the fourth and sixth rounds of the 2011 NFL Draft.
With a chance for another year with Steve Sarkisian, I expect Kearse to return to Seattle for his senior year.
Chris Owusu, Stanford
The all-purpose threat had a disappointing 2010 campaign, only playing in six games for the Cardinal.
A 6'2", 201-pound junior, Owusu has 66 receptions for 1,156 yards and eight touchdowns during his collegiate career.
He has been clocked under 4.40 in the 40-yard dash, and has the size to move up in mock drafts.
With questions regarding his recent knee problems, a senior season will only help his draft status.
Currently, Owusu is project as a fourth- or fifth-round selection in the 2011 NFL Draft.
If Luck and Owusu return in 2011 the Cardinal will be explosive.
Because of a disappointing junior campaign, Owusu will be back in Palo Alto next season.