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2011 NFL Draft: Power Ranking Nick Fairley and The Top 10 Defensive Players

Chris FaigCorrespondent IJanuary 16, 2017

2011 NFL Draft: Power Ranking Nick Fairley and The Top 10 Defensive Players

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    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    Now that the BCS Championship has been played, and the NFL Playoffs are underway, the 2011 NFL Draft is on the mind of every sports fan, and the superstars of college are now beginning to become more familiar among fans of the NFL, due to the possibility of a potential supreme talent joining their favorite team.

    In the first round of the 2011 NFL Draft, the defensive side of the ball is likely to be selected quicker than the offensive studs entering this year, such as A.J. Green, Julio Jones, Mark Ingram, and Jake Locker.

    Nick Fairley, Patrick Peterson, Da'Quan Bowers, Prince Amukamara and Akeem Ayers are the defensive beasts that are all likely to be within the top 10 picks, with the exception of Ayers who is more of a top 15 selection, after each player has shown excellent professional potential in their collegiate careers.

    At first Da'Quan Bowers was the heavy favorite to be the first player on defense off of the board, but with Nick Fairley's recent performances, including in the BCS National Championship win over Oregon, he has quickly risen himself to a top three projection.  

    Take a look at a power ranking of Nick Fairley and the top 10 defensive players entering the 2011 NFL Draft.

10. DT Stephen Paea, Oregon State Beavers

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    Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    Height: 6'1''

    Weight: 311lbs

    Season Stats: 45 total tackles (20 solo, 25 assisted), six sacks

    Stephen Paea has shown superb quickness for his size and has a seemingly non-stop motor.  Paea also has a unique passion and knowledge for the game, and may eventually move to DE depending on the team that selects him.

9. DE Cameron Heyward, Ohio State Buckeyes

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    Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

    Height: 6'5''

    Weight: 288lbs

    Season Stats: 48 total tackles (25 solo, 23 assisted), four sacks and one interception

    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).

8. OLB Von Miller, Texas A&M

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    Chris Graythen/Getty Images

    Height: 6'3''

    Weight: 243lbs

    Season Stats: 68 total tackles (38 solo, 30 assisted), 11 sacks, and one interception

    Bowl Game Performance: AT&T Cotton Bowl v. LSU Tigers(Lost 41-24) Nine total tackles(four solo, five assisted), one sack

    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.

7. DE Robert Quinn, UNC Tar Heels

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    Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

    Height: 6'5''

    Weight: 270lbs

    2009 Season Stats: 52 total tackles (35 solo tackles, 17 assisted), 11 sacks, and two forced fumbles

    Robert Quinn was unable to play this season for violating NCAA policies by accepting thousands of dollars in jewelry from an agent, but his 2010 season should speak for itself.  In one season Robert Quinn recorded 11 sacks and two forced fumbles.  He's a talented athlete who has been awarded the 2008 Brian Piccolo Award, named to the 2009 Second-Team All-America(CBSsports.com), and the 2009 First-Team All-ACC.  

    Quinn was also named the Naagurski, Lombardi, Hendricks and Lott trophy award candidates, along with being selected for the 2010 Preseason First-Team All-America, before becoming permanently ineligible in the NCAA.

6. OLB Akeem Ayers, UCLA Bruins

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    Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

    Height: 6'4''

    Weight: 251lbs

    Season Stats: 68 total tackles (45 solo, 23 assisted), four sacks, and two interceptions

    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, earning very similar numbers over the past two seasons.

    Throughout three seasons with the UCLA Bruins, Ayers has recorded a total of 177 tackles, two fumbles forced, 11 sacks, six interceptions and two touchdowns.

5. DT Marcell Dareus, Alabama Crimson Tide

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    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    Height: 6'4''

    Weight: 306lbs

    Season Stats: 33 total tackles (20 solo, 13 assisted), five sacks

    Bowl Game Performance: Capital One Bowl v. Michigan State (Won 49-7); three tackles (two solo, one assisted) and one sack

    Marcell Dareus has shown the consistent capability to penetrate against the pass defense, as well as anchor effectively versus the run.  

4. CB Prince Amukamara, Nebraska Cornhuskers

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    Eric Francis/Getty Images

    Height: 6'1''

    Weight: 205lbs

    Season Stats: 59 total tackles (36 solo, 23 assisted), one sack

    Bowl Game Performance: Holiday Bowl v. Washington Huskies(Loss 19-7)—One tackle

    After a tremendous Junior season, opposing quarterbacks began to limit their throws to receivers being covered by Prince Amukamara.  He has the potential to be a highly effective shutdown corner in the NFL, after exhibiting tremendous abilities at Nebraska.

3. DT Nick Fairley, Auburn Tigers

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    Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images

    Height: 6'5''

    Weight: 298lbs

    Season Stats: 56 total tackles (32 solo, 24 assisted), 12 sacks, and one interception

    Bowl Game Performance: BCS National Championship v. Auburn(won 22-19)—Five total tackles(three for a loss),  one sack, and one forced fumble.

    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."

2. CB Patrick Peterson, LSU Tigers

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    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    Height: 6'1''

    Weight: 222lbs

    Season Stats: 36 tackles (24 solo, 12 assisted), and four interceptions

    Bowl Game Performance: Cotton Bowl v. No. 18 Texas A&M(Won 41-24)—six total tackles (five solo, one assisted)

    As one of the best cornerbacks in the 2011 NFL draft, Patrick Peterson is likely to be selected within the top ten picks.  Heading into the 2010 season, ESPN listed Peterson as the best defender and fourth-best overall player in college football.  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.

1. DE Da'Quan Bowers, Clemson Tigers

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    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    Height: 6'4''

    Weight: 280lbs

    Season Stats: 67 total tackles (41 solo, 26 assisted), 16 sacks, one forced fumble, and one interception

    Bowl Game Performance: Meineke Car Care Bowl v. USF (Lost 31-26); Six total tackles (three solo, three assisted)

    Da'Quan 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."  Bowers was a finalist for the Lombardi Award, Bednarik Award and the Nagurski Award in 2010.

     While at Clemson, Bowers recorded the most sacks in a season by any lineman in the school's history.  Bowers is one of the most NFL-ready defensive lineman in the entire draft.

Outside The Top 10..

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    Doug Benc/Getty Images

    15. CB Brandon Harris, Miami Hurricanes: 5'11'', 193lbs

    14. DE Allen Bailey, Miami Hurricanes: 6'3'', 287lbs

    13. DE Ryan Kerrigan, Purdue Boilmakers: 6'4'', 259lbs

    12. DE Cameron Jordan, California Golden Bears: 6'4'', 280lbs

    11. DE Adrian Clayborn, Iowa Hawkeyes: 6'3'', 285lbs

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