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2011 NFL Draft: 15 Prospects With Most Game Changing Potential

Ross ColemanAnalyst IJanuary 9, 2011

2011 NFL Draft: 15 Prospects With Most Game Changing Potential

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    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    The NFL Draft is all about making your team better. However, sometimes there is that rare opportunity to draft a talented player who can come in and not only have an immediate impact, but who can also change the game at any given moment.

    This list is about those guys that can change the games at any moment.

    There might be a few surprises for guys that are not on this list, but I wanted to only include guys that I thought could make something happen on any snap of the football.

    That ruled out all offensive linemen and most defensive linemen.

    So read on and let us know which guys you see that could have game-changing potential.

15. Rahim Moore, S, UCLA

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    Joe Murphy/Getty Images

    Rahim Moore has 14 career interceptions at UCLA. That is fourth all-time at a school that has produced some great defensive backs. That number would have been higher had teams actually tested Moore at all this past season.

    During his three years at UCLA, Moore was named first team All-American as a sophomore, third team as a junior and first team All-Pac-10 twice.

     

    How He Could Change a Game: Moore's game is all about causing turnovers. Any ball overthrown was labeled a "Rahim" at UCLA, because it usually meant that No. 3 was coming down with it.

    At the next level, Moore could be the next Ed Reed with his ball-hawk skills.

14. Ryan Mallett, QB, Arkansas

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    Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

    Ryan Mallett is one of the best quarterbacks available in this draft. He has a huge arm to go along with his huge frame. If he is put behind an established offensive line with a few weapons, he could end up being the steal of this draft.

     

    How He Could Change a Game: Mallett is great on deep balls. If he has a deep target, he will be able to have a big impact next season.

13. Jonathan Baldwin, WR, Pittsburgh

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    Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

    Jonathan Baldwin is 6'5" and 225 pounds. He has tight end size and wide receiver speed. He is a legitimate deep target that could end up being a first-round pick.

     

    How He Could Change a Game: If he is put in the right situation, Baldwin could be a great addition to any receiving corps.

    He has the size and speed to change any game by simply running straight down the field and jumping over a defensive back.

12. Jake Locker, QB, Washington

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    Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

    Jake Locker has been used as an example for why Andrew Luck is making a mistake by going back to school. However, Locker will show at the next level that he is still a great talent.

    Some people think he isn't worth a first-round pick any more, but I think he still is. Washington's offensive line was not good this year and that prevented Locker from having the type of season many expected of him.

     

    How He Could Change a Game: Locker is great escaping a pass rush and running the ball. At any moment, Locker could either hit a receiver for a big play or he could make a big play with his legs.

11. Ryan Kerrigan, DE, Purdue

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    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    Ryan Kerrigan has been one of the most productive pass rushers in the Big Ten over his entire career at Purdue. He has, however, flown under the radar for most of his career.

    If he isn't a first-round pick, it will purely be oversight, because he will be a productive player at the next level.

     

    How He Could Change a Game: Sacks and fumbles come to mind when thinking about how Kerrigan could change a game. While that seems like something that could be said about any defensive linemen in the draft, Kerrigan is the type of guy to make a living off doing that.

10. Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State

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    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    This season, Justin Blackmon has blown up. After grabbing 111 catches, 1,782 yards and 20 touchdowns for Oklahoma State, Blackmon was awarded the Biletnikoff as the nation's best receiver.

     

    How He Could Change a Game: Blackmon is a legitimate big-play receiver that could end up making the type of impact that his former teammate, Dez Bryant, did this year for the Dallas Cowboys.  

    He is the type of guy that could turn a hitch into a 70-yard touchdown catch.

9. Cam Newton, QB, Auburn

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    Mike Zarrilli/Getty Images

    Cam Newton burst onto the scene this year at Auburn after spending time at Florida and a junior college. He used an outstanding season to win the Heisman Trophy and led Auburn to a berth in the BCS Championship game.

     

    How He Could Change a Game: Newton is a rare talent that could score any way on any play. He could break a run, complete a pass or even catch a pass for a score at any time.

8. Mark Ingram, RB, Alabama

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    Chris Graythen/Getty Images

    Mark Ingram won the Heisman as a sophomore at Alabama after recording over 1,700 yards and 17 touchdowns rushing. This year started slow for Ingram, who missed the first two games with a knee injury.

    Ingram's numbers were down this year, but he still went over 800 yards and had 13 touchdowns on the ground.

     

    How He Could Change a Game: To see how Ingram could change a game, just look at the numbers from his first game this season. Against Duke, Ingram had just nine carries, but he used those nine carries to record 151 yard and two touchdowns.

    His first carry of the season went for a 50-yard touchdown.

    Need I say more?

7. Prince Amukamara, CB, Nebraska

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    Eric Francis/Getty Images

    Prince Amukamara is more than just a tough name to say.

    The cornerback from Nebraska has been one of the best defensive players in the country. His numbers haven't been that great, but that has more to do with the fact that no one threw the ball his way.

     

    How He Could Change a Game: Amukamara didn't have an interception this year, but I have no doubt someone will challenge him at the next level and he will show why that is a bad idea.

6. Julio Jones, WR, Alabama

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    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    Julio Jones finally had the breakout year that people were expecting from him.

    He had 78 receptions for 1,133 yards and seven touchdowns, despite facing double-teams all year.

     

    How He Could Change a Game: To see how Jones could impact a game, people only need to look at his stats from Alabama's games against Tennessee and Auburn.

    Against Tennessee, Jones had 12 catches for 221 yards. Against Auburn, he had 10 catches for 199 yards and a touchdown.

    He is a great possession receiver that has all the skills and intangibles to be great at the next level.

5. Von Miller, OLB, Texas A&M

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    Chris Graythen/Getty Images

    Von Miller is one of the best outside linebackers available in the draft. As a junior, he led the NCAA in sacks with 17. He followed that up this year with 11 sacks.

     

    How He Could Change a Game: Miller is a guy that gets to the quarterback at will and will do so at the next level.

    He will change any game on any play by getting to the quarterback.

4. Akeem Ayers, OLB, UCLA

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    Akeem Ayers is a guy that can win a game on his own and he had times at UCLA during which that has happened.

    He can get to the quarterback, drop back in coverage or stop the run. Ayers is surely one of the best defensive prospects in the country.

     

    How He Could Change a Game: To see how Ayers could change a game, just watch the highlight above, because he has made plays like that his entire career.

    If you still aren't convinced, just watch the UCLA game at Texas this year. He won that game for the Bruins hands down.

3. Da'Quan Bowers, DE, Clemson

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    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    Da'Quan Bowers is another guy that has used a stellar junior season to propel himself to the top of this draft class.

    He leads the NCAA in sacks this year with 16 and he looks like a guy that has finally figured out what his job is on a football field.

     

    How He Could Change a Game: Bowers will likely be the top pick in the NFL Draft come April and that has everything to do with his productivity and knack for big plays on defense.

    When looking at his potential, just look at Julius Peppers as someone who Bowers compares to.

2. A.J. Green, WR, Georgia

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    A.J. Green has been one of the best wide receivers in college football during his three years at Georgia.

    Despite missing the first four games of the season due to a suspension, Green recorded 57 receptions, 848 yards and nine touchdowns.

     

    How He Could Change a Game: To see the impact and physical tools that Green brings to a game, just look at this video of his catch against Colorado.

    He is a legitimate No. 1 receiver and he will be a great player at the next level.

1. Patrick Peterson, CB, LSU

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    Chris Graythen/Getty Images

    Patrick Peterson is a cornerback in a safety's body. He has the size and speed to cover nearly any NFL receiver, but he can also hit hard enough to make them worry about him.

     

    How He Could Change a Game: Peterson's impact can be felt in more than just his pass defense. He is also the most electric kick returner in the draft.

    He gets the top spot because at any moment that he is on the field, he could return an interception or a kick for a score.

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