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NFL Draft 2011: The Defensive Players In This Years Draft

Austin SchindelAnalyst IIJanuary 27, 2011

NFL Draft 2011: The Defensive Players In This Years Draft

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    When Andrew Luck decided to go back to school, the argument over the top quarterback prospect began. In the class of 2011, the quarterbacks come in all shapes, sizes and ability levels.

    Two problems have come from the lack of a standout quarterback.

    First, NFL teams are not going to take a chance on a young signal caller when they would have to pay him a tremendous amount of money (pre new CBA agreement).

    Second, because of this uncertainty, there is more likely to be a quarterback carousel than an investment in young and equally average talent. 

    But I digress. This is the year to go out there; get a defensive game changer that can improve your defense and help compliment the quarterback that you took a few years back.

    These are the defensive players that are going to be making the greatest impact come Week 1, 2011.

Nick Fairley, DT, Auburn

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    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    2010 Stats: Tackles: 56  Sacks: 12.0

    The greatest concern about Fairley is that he has only been dominant for one year, compared to Ndamukong Suh, who dominated the Big 12 his whole career.

    His 12 sacks and explosiveness have many projecting him to be the No. 1 overall pick.

    The question is, can he provide enough consistency at the position to make a team take a chance on building a defense around him?

Da'Quan Bowers, DE, Clemson

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    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    2010 Stats: Tackles: 67  Sacks: 16.0

    Bowers was a beast for the Clemson Tigers in the country's toughest conference, the SEC. Bowers racked up 16 sacks in only 13 games.

    He proved to the nation that he possesses the toughness, quickness and burst needed to compete at the highest level.

    No. 93 has the chance to be a Julius Peppers-type game-changer, and will be a great fit for any of the teams that draft him in the Top 10. 

Patrick Peterson, CB, LSU

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    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    2010 Stats: Tackles: 42  INTs: 42

    This underclassman is a talent that does not come around too often, and do not be surprised to see teams trading up to get their man. He will come into the pros and face every team's best receiver week after week and will have no problem being physical and strong.

    Peterson is expected to go in the first few picks of the draft and will undoubtedly man the cornerback position for one lucky NFL team for years. 

Robert Quinn, DE/OLB, North Carolina

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    Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

    2010 Stats: Tackles: 52  Sacks: 11.0

    Coming into the 2010 season, all eyes were on Quinn to make a lot of noise in the ACC and establish himself as one of the top prospects in the country.

    He didn't disappointed.

    The hybrid defensive end and outside linebacker is perfect in the growing 3-4 schemes that are popping up all over the NFL. He has high value for his ability to move all over the field and get to the quarterback.

    Expect him to be taken in the Top Five or Top 10 picks.

Marcell Dareus, DT, Alabama

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    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    2010 Stats: Tackles: 33  Sacks: 5.0

    Another underclassman, Dareus is joining fellow teammates Mark Ingram and Julio Jones on the path to the NFL. While he did not take the huge step that many expected him to take going into his Junior year, he was still very productive.

    He is 6'4", 306 pounds, and can work in either the 3-4 as a DE or 4-3 as the DT. His experience working in a tough conference with pro-style schemes make him a valuable asset and a nice prospect.

Prince Amukamara, CB, Nebraska

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    2010 Stats: Tackles: 59  INTs: 0

    This physical and highly skilled cornerback has great potential to be one of the premier lock down corners in the NFL.

    He is one of the reasons behind the strong Nebraska defense that included Detroit Lions' Ndamukong Suh.

    His four years of experience make him an attractive option over other corners that may not have such experience in a tough division. 

Cameron Jordan, DE/DT, California

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    2010 Stats: Tackles: 51  Sacks: 6

    Jordan has improved every year since he came to Cal and playing four years might give him an edge for teams that are looking for a guy that can come in and play right away. 

Aldon Smith, DE, Missouri

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    2010 Stats: Tackles: 48  Sacks: 6

    In only 10 games this season, Smith was a highly effective defensive end for the Missouri Tigers.

    His sack and tackle totals are down from last year, but he is still very young and has a chance to improve in the pros under the right system. Look for him to be drafted at a best available situation, with a team that needs a pass rusher. 

Von Miller, DE/OLB, Texas A&M

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    2010 Stats: Tackles: 68  Sacks: 11

    Miller is the classic example of a guy who should have left when the going was good. He had 17 sacks in 2009, compared to only 11 in 2010.

    Though he increased his tackles by 25, there is still reason to think if he would have come out as a Junior, he could have been a top five pick.

    Overall, he is a great talent that is ferocious, and will do a great job in the NFL because he has a constant motor and takes no plays off. 

Akeem Ayers, OLB, UCLA

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    2010 Stats: Tackles: 68  Sacks: 4

    His speed, athleticism and nose for the ball make him a pure outside linebacker that can get to the quarterback and disrupt his rhythm.

    He will be a steal in the middle of the draft and could fit nicely in both a 3-4 or a 4-3 scheme.

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