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With only one week left for juniors to enter the 2011 NFL Draft, the entries are starting to pour in. Andrew Luck dominated the college football headlines today by announcing that he would return to school, but there were several top college prospects that made the opposite decision today.
Alabama stars Mark Ingram and Marcell Dareus will opt for the draft, and both are expected to be first round picks. Dareus, a defensive tackle, is considered to be one of the top juniors in the country and may very well be a top-10 overall pick.
Mock drafts have him anywhere from third to 15th, but he will likely be gone before Ingram’s name is called. PDC’s mock draft has the Houston Texans taking Dareus with the 11th overall pick, followed by the Miami Dolphins taking Ingram a few picks later as the 15th pick.
Ryan Mallett, the 6-foot-6 quarterback from Arkansas, has turned his attention to the NFL as well. With the rise of Blaine Gabbert, Mallett’s stock has fallen a bit, but he is still expected to go in the top 15.
Teams that will be looking for quarterbacks (Buffalo, Arizona, San Francisco, Tennessee, Washington, Minnesota, Miami, Seattle) will have to fight over four names if they want a QB in the first round. One of those names is in fact Mallett, but he has some stiff competition in Blaine Gabbert, Cam Newton, and Jake Locker.
PDC’s mock draft currently has Mallett going to Minnesota with the 12th pick.
Joining the three mentioned above are three that are certainly not getting enough national attention: Florida cornerback Janoris Jenkins, Virginia Tech running back Darren Evans, and Wisconsin defensive end J.J. Watt.
Jenkins and Watt are projected to be first round picks by some, and Jenkins may find himself in the top 15 thanks to the premium on corners in the NFL (PDC has him going to the Lions with the 13th pick).
Watt, on the other hand, will probably be a late first round to early second round pick, likely after teammate Gabe Carimi. However, Darren Evans is most likely a Day Two-caliber running back. He’s projected to go anywhere from the fourth round to the seventh, even after scoring 22 touchdowns in his first two seasons at VT.
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