NFL Draft 2011: The 5 Best SEC Prospects In the Draft With Predictions

Brian MurtaughAnalyst IFebruary 10, 2011

NFL Draft 2011: The 5 Best SEC Prospects In the Draft With Predictions

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    The SEC showed in 2010 that it can be one of the most dominant conferences in the NCAA.

    Not only were the games hard fought and entertaining, the talent of certain individuals reigned supreme and now the SEC has nine players projected to be taken in the first two rounds of the 2011 NFL Draft.

    These are the top five players from the SEC in 2010 and where they may end up in 2011.

No. 5: Cam Newton, QB, Auburn

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    Cam Newton is easily one of the most talked about and decorated players to come out of the 2011 draft class.

    In only his first season with the Tigers, Newton helped lead Auburn to an undefeated record and a BCS National Championship.

    This past season, Newton threw for nearly 3,000 yards and 30 touchdowns.

    Newton has officially held his workout for media members only today and is getting many great reviews. It will be interesting to see if his draft stock rises in the coming weeks due to all the media attention.

Where Will He Go?

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    There has been a lot of recent talk about the Miami Dolphins possibly trading their way into a position to pick up Cam Newton.

    The Dolphins quarterback play was inconsistent and sometimes just down right sloppy in 2010 and it is no surprise that the fans and media would be expecting an upgrade.

    The Minnesota Vikings have also been said to have an interest in Newton as Brett Favre is officially retired, for now.

    Prediction: Tennessee Titans

    The Titans have a need for a franchise quarterback and sit high enough in the draft that they will have their pick between Blaine Gabbert or Newton.

    Newton's stock is rising by the day and this pick will all depend on how Newton's camp is able to impress the scouts and get teams intrigued.

No. 4: Marcell Dareus, DE/DT, Alabama

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    Marcell Dareus has shown that he has the big play ability that it takes to play at the NFL level.

    Many are in debate on whether Dareus, Robert Quinn, or Von Miller deserve to be picked the highest come April, but all three players should make a significant impact.

    Dareus did not really get going until about half way through 2010 but made his precense felt with five sacks and 30 tackles late in the season.

    Dareus also recorded two solo tackles and a sack against Michigan State in the Crimson Tide's 41-7 victory in the Capital One Bowl

Where Will He Go?

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    Several teams have been mocked to pick up Dareus early in the first round but only two make the most sense. The Arizona Cardinals struggled on defense tremendously in 2010 and even though the team is going through some quarterback issues the coaching staff must build the defense first.

    The Cleveland Browns are also a team in desperate need of some defensive help as Pat Shurmur will take over for his first season at head coach with Dick Jauron at the defensive coordinator position.

    Prediction: Cleveland Browns

    The Browns just released four defensive veterans this week which leads many to believe their will be a youth movement on the defensive side of the ball. The Browns also have a great interest in A.J. Green but he may not be on the board.

    If Green is gone, expect Cleveland to either go with Dareus or possibly trade down in the first round.

No.3: A.J. Green, WR, Georgia

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    After missing the first four games of 2010, A.J. Green solidified himself as the single best wide receiver in the 2011 draft class by scoring eight touchdowns and piling up almost 900 yards.

    Green has all skills needed to be successful at the NFL level including size, speed and the ability to become a significant deep threat.

    Green seems to make everyone on his offense play better and he brings a sense of passion to the game along with a great ability to sneak past his corners and improvise on broken plays. 

Where Will He Go?

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    Green will without a doubt be a top pick in 2011 and will be expecting to be paid a big time salary.

    The Cincinnati Bengals and Cleveland Browns seem to be the two biggest teams involved in the discussion when it comes to green and for good reasons.

    Current Bengals' wide receivers ,Terrell Owens and Chad Ochocinco, both have unsure futures with the team while Cleveland needs to get some targets for Colt McCoy to throw to.

    Prediction: Cincinnati Bengals

    The Bengals franchise is in limbo with Carson Palmer reportedly putting his home up for sale and requesting a trade.

    No matter who is under center next season, good receivers can help struggling quarterbacks and this case will be no different. Expect Green to go here unless another team manages to trade up and acquire him.

No. 2: Patrick Peterson, CB, LSU

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    Patrick Peterson will be the next Darrell Revis or Joe Haden of the NFL Draft when he is taken at near the top in April.

    Peterson can best be described as a shutdown corner with a great ability to get to the ball.

    In 2010, Peterson recorded 42 tackles and four interceptions while helping LSU achieve one of the better passing defenses in the entire NCAA.

Where Will He Go?

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    Prediction: Buffalo Bills

    In the case of Patrick Peterson, his draft position has not changed at all since the first mock draft was released several weeks ago.

    The Buffalo Bills need cornerbacks also have to fill many other defensive holes in order to continue their rebuilding process.

    Peterson would fix a very obvious problem and also give the Bills fans something to get exited about.

    It is hard to imagine the Bills trading this pick away but the don't be surprised to hear the Dallas Cowboys' name mentioned at least once before draft day.

No. 1: Nick Fairley

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    Nick Fairley is simply the single-best player to come out of the entire SEC in 2011.

    Fairley is a dominant run-stopper with 21 tackles for a loss as well as a very good pass rusher with 13 sacks.

    Fairley totaled 61 tackles in 2010 and will almost definitely be taken with the first or second overall pick.

Where Will He Go?

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    Prediction: Carolina Panthers

    Nick Fairley is another player that has seemed like an absolute lock in his draft position since the first mock was released.

    The Panthers are expected to take Fairley with the first overall pick and finally get a defensive piece to the puzzle after their biggest headliners included Jimmy Clausen and Jonathan Stewart over the last few years.

    Fairley should fit directly in to a starting role with the Panthers and should be a cornerstone of their rebuilding franchise