2011 NFL Draft: Power Ranking the Best Pac 10 Prospects
When you look at the crop of talent coming out of the Pac-10 this year, you'll find a small handful of elite players at the top.
After that, there's a lot of very nice players. How they will fall in next year's NFL draft is anyone's guess, and that could change dramatically depending on the impending lockout. There is a theory out there that Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck could return to school for one more year because of that. Luck is projected by most to be the number one overall pick.
Here's a look, for now, at the top 25 best prospects who could emerge from the Pac-10.
25. Owen Marecic, FB, Stanford
Some sites have him listed as the top fullback in next year's draft, but that position has become almost extinct in the NFL, which is why we're putting him here.
Marecic has nine catches for 75 yards this season—not quite up to his numbers from last year, when he had eight catches for 132 yards and one touchdown.
24. James Rodgers, WR, Oregon State
He's had a very solid career, but in this draft, you've got a real solid collection of top-flight receivers who will go in the early rounds. It would be hard to list Rodgers above USC's Ronald Johnson or Jeff Maehl from Oregon.
Rodgers finished the season with 16 catches for 215 yards (13.4 average) and two touchdowns.
23. James Dockery, CB, Oregon State
You probably won't find Dockery high up on many lists of cornerbacks. One site has him 35th among cornerbacks eligible for next year's draft.
He did finish sixth for the Beavers with 49 total tackles (37 solo)—seven more than defensive tackle Stephen Paea, a consensus top 15 pick—and had four interceptions, four pass breakups and pass deflections.
22. Malcolm Smith, LB, USC
Smith has played both strongside and weakside linebacker, and also spent time on the Trojans' special teams. This year, he was second on the team in tackles with 78 and also finished with eight tackles for loss, one sack, one interception, and two fumble recoveries.
21. Talmadge Jackson, CB, Oregon
Jackson right now would be a late round pick, but he'll get a chance to help himself when the Ducks face Auburn in the BCS National Championship. In 12 games, Jackson finished tied for third on the team in tackles (67), along with two interceptions (52 yards), six pass breakups, and eight pass deflections.
20. Shareece Wright, CB, USC
He's dealt with plenty of issues while in college, from a hairline neck injury in 2008 to being ruled academically ineligible last season. He missed the entire regular season, but came back for the team's bowl game against Boston College. This year, he was third on the team in tackles (73), with seven tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks, 10 pass breakups, and 10 pass deflections.
19. Jeff Maehl, WR, Oregon
Maehl began at Oregon in the secondary, but eventually made his way over to offense and started the final three games of the 2007 season at wide receiver. He was the team's second best receiver in 2008, and has now been the Ducks' top receiver for two straight years, including 68 catches for 943 yards and 12 touchdowns this year.
Here's the problem for Maehl though: As talented and great as he is, he'll not be taken seriously by many simply because of the ridiculous stigma that comes with being white and playing receiver.
18. Mike Mohamed, ILB, Cal
The former All Pac-10 player has a ton of playing experience, and is also one of three children in the family currently playing linebacker in college (his two other brothers are linebackers at Cal Poly). Mohamed finished this year as the team's leading tackler (95), and also had five tackles for loss, two sacks, one interception, one pass breakup, and two quarterback hurries.
17. Nic Grigsby, RB, Arizona
At 5'10'', he is a smaller back but can also be used as an option in a team's passing attack. This draft has plenty of talented running backs, so you probably wouldn't see Grigsby go until the late rounds.
He finished this year as the Wildcats' second leading rusher with 118 carries for 533 yards and eight touchdowns. He also had 25 catches for 189 yards (7.6 avg.) and a touchdown. In their 36-10 loss to Oklahoma State in the Alamo Bowl, Grisgsby had 16 carries for 59 yards.
16. Sione Fua, DT, Stanford
He began the year as the team's starting nose tackle, and has played ever since his freshman season. He missed the entire 2007 season because he was on a church mission.
This year, he played in 12 games, finishing with 22 tackles, six tackles for a loss, and 4.5 sacks (25 yards).
15. Brooks Reed, DE, Arizona
The fifth-year senior entered this season with 67 total tackles, 15 tackles for a loss, and 10.5 sacks. He finished his collegiate career playing in all 12 games with 44 tackles, 9.5 tackles for loss (70 yards), 6.5 sacks (62 yards), and two pass breakups.
14. Colin Baxter, C, Arizona
At 6'4'', 295 pounds, he's played in 38 games and had 37 consecutive starts. He's anchored a line that was 10th nationally last season in pass protection.
13. Alex Linnenkohl, C, Oregon State
He's made 26 straight starts and took over for former starter Kyle Devan, who's now starting for the Indianapolis Colts.
12. Allen Bradford, RB, USC
Since the days of Reggie Bush and Lendale White, USC has stockpiled plenty of talented recruits at the running back position. Joe McKnight gained attention, but there really hasn't been one of them emerge as a dominant force on the national scene.
In 12 games, Bradford finished this season with 110 carries for 794 yards and five touchdowns. He also had three catches for 74 yards and a touchdown.
11. Ronald Johnson, WR, USC
Johnson was the team's second leading receiver with 64 catches for 692 yards (10.8 avg.) and eight touchdowns.
He also was used on special teams, finishing with 22 punt returns for 312 yards and one touchdown. He also had four kickoff returns for 87 yards.
10. Casey Matthews, ILB, Oregon
The son of NFL great Clay Matthews, Casey finished as the Ducks' leading tackler during the regular season with 73 tackles, 8.5 tackles for loss (34 yards), three sacks, three interceptions, two pass breakups, and five pass deflections.
He'll get his toughest test yet when Oregon faces Cam Newton and the Auburn Tigers in the BCS National Championship.
9. Kris O'Dowd, C, USC
He was an All Pac-10 selection in 2008, and fought through injuries the following year. He returned for his senior season, and his 6'5'', 300 pound size should make him one of the more coveted linemen in the draft.
8. Mason Foster, OLB, Washington
He's been one of the top tacklers in the Pac-10 for the past two seasons, and finished his collegiate career as the Huskies' top tackler with 151 tackles, 11 tackles for loss (47 yards), 4.5 sacks, two pass breakups, two pass deflections, and two quarterback hurries.
7. Rahim Moore, FS, UCLA
Easily one of the top safeties in the nation. At 6'1'', 196 pounds, Moore was one of the Bruins' top tacklers this year with 77 tackles, three tackles for loss, one interception, and four pass breakups.
6. Tyron Smith, OT, USC
He's played primarily at right offensive tackle, and helped the Trojans offense average 31 points and just over 431 total yards per game.
5. Cameron Jordan, DE, UCLA
At 6'4'', 283 pounds, he's got perfect size and he's put together a career that will have him high on many draft boards. This year, Jordan was fifth on the team with 62 tackles, 12.5 tackles for loss (47 yards), 5.5 sacks (32 yards), four pass breakups, and one quarterback hurry.
4. Stephen Paea, DT, Oregon State
He's a two-time Pac-10 First Team selection and a First Team All-American. Opinions vary about Paea, with many saying he's overrated while others consider him one of the top defensive linemen in the draft.
He finished this season with 42 tackles, 10 tackles for a loss, and six sacks.
3. Akeem Ayers, DE/OLB, UCLA
The playmaker has freakish size at 6'4'', 255 pounds, and put up big numbers again with 68 tackles, 10 tackles for a loss, and four sacks (13 yards). If there's one weakness he does have, it's getting to the quarterback.
2. Jake Locker, QB, Washington
There is a continuing debate about the number two quarterback in this draft being Locker or Arkansas' Ryan Mallett. Locker had seven 200 yard games this year, including 310 yards passing in a 32-31 victory at USC. He finished the year completing 179 of 316 passes with nine interceptions for 2,209 yards and 17 touchdowns. He also had 101 carries for 302 yards and five touchdowns.
1. Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford
He is the consensus top quarterback in the draft and considered the likely number one overall pick. But whether he will actually leave for the NFL is something many still question. Luck was one of the nation's top high school recruits and has lived up to his billing while leading Stanford's resurgence.
This year, he helped Stanford average just over 40 points and 467 total yards per game. He completed 245 of 349 passes, with seven interceptions, for 3,051 yards and 28 touchdowns. He also had 51 carries for 438 yards and three touchdowns.