With the 2010 NFL regular season concluding today, and only seven college football bowl games remaining, NFL draft talk is starting to become a major topic among sports fans.
While high-profile college players like Cameron Newton and Andrew Luck receive all the hype, you must familiarize yourself with the nation's most talented NFL prospects.
Don't be surprised if the majority of players selected in the first round of the 2011 NFL Draft are from the defensive side of the ball.
The pure athletes on defense such as CB Patrick Peterson, DE Da'Quan Bowers and CB Prince Amukamara should immediately make a serious impact to the team they are drafted by in 2011.
The following slides exhibit updated mock selections for the 2011 NFL draft.
Top Needs: DT, WR, QB
Selection: QB Andrew Luck, Stanford Cardinals, 6'4", 235 lbs.
Reason: Despite drafting Jimmy Clausen in the second round of last year's draft, Andrew Luck seems to be the complete package. Luck has received the highest quarterback grade from Scout.com since Matt Ryan in 2008.
He could make an immediate impact in the NFL and create healthy competition with Clausen for the starting job.
Bowl Game: Orange Bowl vs. Virginia Tech on January 3rd, 2011 at 8:30 PM EST
Top Needs: DE, DT, CB
Selection: DT Nick Fairley, Auburn Tigers, 6'5'', 298 lbs
Reason: While at Auburn, Nick Fairley has exhibited an explosive first step and proven that he can be a highly effective pass rusher. Mel Kiper Jr. has Fairley as a Top-10 lock and believes that he "epitomizes the ideal penetrating 4-3 tackle."
Bowl Game: BCS National Championship vs. No. 2 Oregon at the University of Phoenix Stadium on January 10, 2011 at 8:30 PM EST
Top Needs: QB, T, OLB, WR
Selection: WR A.J. Green, Georgia Bulldogs, 6'4'', 212 lbs
Reason: Todd McShay has described A.J. Green as "the most complete wide receiver prospect to enter the NFL draft since Calvin Johnson." With no real playmaker at wide receiver, the Bills select A.J. Green to help electrify this offense. Don't be surprised if the Bills draft a Quarterback in the second round.
Bowl Game: Liberty Bowl vs. No. 25 UCF(lost 10-6); Eight receptions for 77 yards
Top Needs: DE, RB, QB
Selection: DE Da'Quan Bowers, Clemson Tigers, 6'4", 280 lbs.
Reason: Cincinnati needs some serious improvements to their pass rush game on defense. Although the offense has been rather weak this season, an upgrade to the Bengals defense would be more beneficial. Especially with Da'Quan Bowers on the board.
Bowers has proven to be a natural pass rusher who led the FBS in sacks this season, with 15.5. College football analyst Todd McShay has said that "Bowers is a stud, can fit any defensive scheme and is blessed with a rare combination of size and athleticism."
Bowl Game: Meineke Car Care Bowl vs. USF(Lost 31-26); Six total tackles(three solo, three assisted)
Top Needs: QB, OLB, OT, CB, DT
Selection: CB Patrick Peterson, LSU Tigers, 6'1'', 222 lbs
Reason: Throughout his three seasons with LSU, Peterson has exhibited rare athleticism and superb instincts. College football analysts and experts all over have been raving about this kid and the potential he possesses. Peterson is expected to develop into one of the premiere cornerbacks in the National Football League. With only one solid cornerback in Rogers-Cromartie, the Cardinals will snag Peterson if he's still available at pick five.
Bowl Game: Cotton Bowl vs. No. 17 Texas A&M at Cowboy Stadium on January 7th, 2011 at 8:00 PM EST
Top Needs: DE, WR, OL, OLB
Selection: WR Julio Jones, Alabama Crimson Tide, 6'4'', 220 lbs
Reason: With a talented quarterback in Colt McCoy, the Cleveland Browns are very likely to select a wide receiver with their first-round pick, to assist the rising young stud.
Although it may be a bit early, the Browns are willing to take the risk. He has supreme physicality for a receiver, and is as athletic as they come. Jones will eventually be one of the most dominant receivers in the National Football League.
After selecting a playmaker at wide receiver, the Browns will select offensive lineman in the later rounds to address protection issues for McCoy.
Bowl Game: Capital One Bowl vs. Michigan State(Won 49-7); Three receptions for 49 yards; Two rushes for 36 yards and a touchdown
Top Needs: QB, DE, DT, WR, CB
Selection: CB Prince Amukamara, Nebraska Cornhuskers, 6'1'', 205 lbs
Reason: With Patrick Peterson off of the board, the 49ers would likely go with the next best defensive back in Prince Amukamara. Amukamara is a shutdown corner that scared opposing quarterbacks so much this season they would rarely throw the ball his way.
Bowl Game: Bridgepoint Education Holiday Bowl vs. Washington(Loss 19-7); one tackle
Top Needs: DT, OG, LB, QB, CB
Selection: DT, Marcell Dareus, Alabama Crimson Tide, 6'4", 306 lbs.
Reason: The Tennessee Titans need some help on their defensive line. Dareus has the capability to penetrate against the pass defense, as well as anchor versus the run, which makes him a great choice for Tennessee with their Top-15 selection.
Bowl Game: Capital One Bowl vs. Michigan State(Won 49-7); three tackles(two solo, one assisted) and one sack
Top Needs: OL, S, ILB, DE
Selection: DE Robert Quinn, UNC Tar Heels 6'4", 267 lbs
Reason: Robert Quinn is a pure athlete with good size and great quickness. Quinn was declared as permanently ineligible to play college football after accepting over $5,500 in extra benefits from agents. Despite not playing for the entire 2010 season, Quinn has still impressed scouts with his freakish talents.
Top Needs: QB, RB, OL, WR, CB, DE
Selection: QB Ryan Mallett, Arkansas Razorbacks, 6'7'', 238 lbs
Reason: Many people may think Jake Locker is the second best QB, but Ryan Mallet has a lot to offer at the professional level. In his junior season with Arkansas, Mallet has exhibited great patience and poise, recording 30 touchdowns, 11 interceptions and a 170.53 QB rating.
Bowl Game: Sugar Bowl vs. No. 6 Ohio State at the Superdome in New Orleans, Lousiana on January 4, 2011 at 8:30 PM EST
Top Needs: S, DT, CB, TE, C
Selection: CB Janoris Jenkins, Florida Gators, 5'11'', 185 lbs
Reason: Jenkins is one of the most underrated defensive backs in this draft, exhibiting solid covering skills and a seemingly innate ability to play the ball.
Throughout his three seasons with the Florida Gators, Jenkins recorded a total of 106 tackles, two sacks, two forced fumbles, eight interceptions and one touchdown.
Top Needs: QB, S, CB, OL, OLB
Selection: QB Jake Locker, Washington Huskies, 6'3'', 230 lbs
Reason: With Brett Favre most likely retiring (yet again) and not much potential seen in either Tarvaris Jackson or Joe Webb, the Vikings should take the best available quarterback.
Locker's stock continues to drop, but his extreme competitiveness and natural skill set will land him on some team within the Top 25 picks.
Bowl Game: Bridgepoint Education Holiday Bowl vs. Nebraska (won 19-7); completed 5-of-16 passes for 56 yards; ran the ball 13 times for 83 yards and one touchdown
Top Needs: CB, OL, LB, SS
Selection: OT Nate Solder, Colorado Buffaloes, 6'9'', 315 lbs
Reason: Nate Solder has proven to be a physical beast that has a passion for improvement. Solder is ranked as the best offensive lineman by both Mel Kiper Jr. and Todd McShay. To help keep promising quarterback Matthew Stafford healthy, Detroit will draft an offensive lineman with their first-round selection.
Top Needs: WR, OLB, TE, RB, DT
Selection: WR Justin Blackmon, Oklahoma State Cowboys, 6'1'', 207 pounds
Reason: Sam Bradford had a tremendous rookie season with mediocre receivers. St. Louis is likely to add some more weapons to their offense to assist Bradford next year.
Justin Blackmon scored at least a touchdown in every game he played in this season. In his last four games, Blackmon made a total of 40 catches for 553 yards and four touchdowns, along with one rush for 69 yards and a touchdown.
Bowl Game: Valero Alamo Bowl vs. Arizona(Won 36-10); nine receptions for 117 yards and two touchdowns
Top Needs: RB, OL, FS, QB
Selection: RB Mark Ingram, Alabama Crimson Tide, 5'10'', 216 lbs
Reason: Mark Ingram is a physical and explosive back that needs to work on his top-end speed. He has a great work ethic and has proven to be a solid finisher. Aging running backs Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams are both free agents this offseason, so a fresh start at the position looks like the best decision for the Dolphins.
Bowl Game: Capital One Bowl vs. Michigan State(Won 49-7); 12 rushing attempts for 59 yards and two touchdowns; one reception for 30 yards
Top Needs: DE, S, ILB, TE
Selection: DE Adrian Clayborn, Iowa Hawkeyes, 6'4'', 285 lbs
Reason: Jacksonville's defense has not been very effective against the run, and their pass defense was one of the worst in the entire NFL. Clayborn would be a great fit because he has an everlasting motor and is constantly hindering the opposing offensive line.
Bowl Game: Insight Bowl vs. Missouri (win 27-24); one tackle
Top Needs: RB, DE, OLB, OT, CB
Selection: DE Ryan Kerrigan, Purdue Boilmakers, 6'4'', 263 lbs
Reason: Last season, Ryan Kerrigan led the nation with 26 tackles for a loss, becoming virtually impossible for opponents to block, even when facing double-team scenarios.
Top Needs: WR, DE, S, ILB, OT
Selection: OT Gabe Carimi, Wisconsin Badgers, 6'7'', 327 lbs
Reason: Carimi has proved himself against elite competition this past season and has drastically improved his footwork, which was once seen as an issue. The San Diego Chargers will choose to add some more support to the offensive line who allowed Philip Rivers to be sacked 33 times this season.
Top Needs: OT, RB, DT, LB
Selection: DT Drake Nevis, LSU Tigers, 6'2'', 285 pounds
Reason: Nevis is a talented defensive tackle who plays with a great deal of passion. He has proven to be solid against both the run and pass, exhibiting outstanding leverage. Nevis has shown an innate ability to disrupt plays in the backfield, along with a quick first step.
Bowl Game: Cotton Bowl vs. No. 11 LSU at Cowboy Stadium on January 7th, 2011 at 8:00 PM EST
Top Needs: DE, WR, LB, OL
Selection: OLB Akeem Ayers, UCLA Bruins, 6'4'', 251 lbs
Reason: Akeem Ayers was on the watch list for the Nagurski Trophy, awarded to the nation's top defensive player, as well as the Rotary Lombardi Award, which is presented to the nation's top lineman.
Ayers has proven he can be consistent, recording very similar numbers over the past two seasons. Throughout three seasons with the UCLA Bruins, Ayers recorded a total of 177 tackles, two fumbles forced, 11 sacks, six interceptions and two touchdowns.
Top Needs: OL, DT, OLB, SS, CB
Selection: OLB Von Miller, Texas A&M Aggies, 6'3'', 243 lbs
Reason: Todd McShay described Miller as having "a freakish combination of size, speed and athletic ability." Miller has shown he can continuously get after the quarterback and has improved his ability to drop and cover, which will be a valuable asset to the team that selects him.
Bowl Game: Cotton Bowl vs. No. 11 LSU Tigers at Cowboy Stadium on January 7th, 2011 at 8:00 PM EST
Top Needs: OT, WR, TE, OLB, FS, DT
Selection: OT Anthony Castonzo, Boston College Eagles, 6'7'', 295 lbs
Reason: Castonzo has proven to be a smart and reliable athlete, with a long frame and excellent footwork. Tackle is one of Kansas City's most pressing needs, and Castonzo is an absolute beast. Castonzo could be placed on the line right from the start, giving Matt Cassel some added support.
Top Needs: DT, OT, RB, OG
Selection: DT Stephen Paea, Oregon State Beavers, 6'1'', 311 lbs
Reason: Stephen Paea has superb quickness for his size and has a seemingly non-stop motor. He also has a unique passion and knowledge for the game.
Stats for 2010: 45 total tackles(20 solo and 25 assisted) and six sacks
Top Needs: OL, CB, OLB, SS, RB
Selection: OT Derek Sherrod, Mississippi State, 6'6'', 305 lbs
Reason: Mel Kiper has Sherrod listed as "an athlete at offensive tackle, that moves his feet well and has been steady against good players; continues to improve." Todd McShay is also very high on Sherrod, describing him as "a big and strong right tackle prospect who could also move inside to guard once he reaches the NFL." Sherrod could help elevate the Eagles running game even further.
Top Needs: OLB, CB, OG, RB, DE
Selection: DE Allen Bailey, Miami Hurricanes, 6'4'', 285 lbs
Reason: While at Miami, Bailey exhibited great versatility and elite interior pass-rushing skills. Bailey will add some depth and youth to this already impressive defense.
Top Needs: DE, DT, SS, OLB
Selection: DE Cameron Heyward, Ohio State Buckeyes, 6'5'', 288 lbs
Reason: Throughout four seasons played for Ohio State, Heyward recorded a total of 156 tackles, 14 sacks, one interception and one safety. Cameron Heyward was selected to the 2010 All-Big Ten Conference Football First Team(coaches).
Bowl Game: Sugar Bowl vs. No. 8 Arkansas on January 4th, 2011 at 8:30 PM EST
Top Needs: OT, OLB, WR, DT, OG
Selection: OT Demarcus Love, Arkansas Razorbacks, 6'5'', 315 lbs
Reason: The offensive line for the Bears has done a poor job protecting Jay Cutler this season, as well as struggled to consistently open holes for their running game. Demarcus Love will help clog the pass rush of opposing defenses.
Top Needs: S, DE, WR, OLB, S
Selection: S Rahim Moore, UCLA Bruins, 6'1'', 196 lbs
Reason: Rahim Moore will be the most talented safety entering the 2011 NFL Draft if he decides to leave school early, and the Jets could use some more talent at the position. Moore has proven to be excellent in deep-zone coverage throughout his college career.
Stats this season: 77 tackles(51solo and 26 assisted) and one interception
Top Needs: OT, CB, WR, SS
Selection: CB Aaron Williams, Texas Longhorns, 6'1'', 195 lbs
Reason: Throughout his three seasons with the Longhorns, Williams recorded a total of 89 tackles, three sacks, four interceptions, five fumbles forced and a touchdown. Williams has already announced that he will forgo his senior season at Texas and declare for the 2011 NFL Draft.
Top Needs: OL, CB, DE
Selection: OG Mike Pouncey, Florida Gators, 6'4", 310 lbs
Reason: Todd McShay described this selection best, saying, "The Pouncey twins won a national title together at Florida, so who says they can't win a Super Bowl together in Pittsburgh? Mike has a similar skill set to that of his brother Maurkice, a 2010 first-rounder who is currently the starting center for the Steelers."
This would be a great pick for the Steelers, giving them a solid and young offensive line to protect Ben Roethlisberger for years to come.
Top Needs: CB, OLB, TE, OG
Selection: OLB Jeremy Beal, Oklahoma Sooners, 6'3'', 267 lbs
Reason: At Oklahoma, Beal was an excellent edge rusher who recorded a total of 28 sacks throughout his four-year college career. Todd McShay described Beal as having "the type of size and versatility that they look for in an outside linebacker."
Bowl Game: Fiesta Bowl vs. UCONN(Won 48-20); six total tackles
Top Needs: RB, DE, OL, OLB, CB
Selection: OLB Justin Houston, Georgia Bulldogs, 6'3'', 254 lbs
Reason: This past season, Houston was second overall in the SEC in sacks, with 10. Houston also recorded 56 total tackles and one interception in 2010. After selecting a defensive end earlier in the first round, they will continue to improve on the defensive side of the ball by selecting a large, talented and aggressive outside linebacker, in Justin Houstin.