NFL Draft 2011: Power Ranking the Top 50 Prospects, Post NFL Combine
The combine has concluded and now the scouts and general managers of all 32 teams get to go back to their facilities and figure out what it all means.
The smart GMs will take combine results with a grain of salt and just use it as another tool to help fashion the best draft board possible.
Other GMs will be seduced by a great performance in shorts. It happens every year.
Draft boards are changing and so are the power rankings. Here is a look at the Top 50 draft prospects leading up to the NFL draft in April.
50. Ricardo Lockette, WR Fort Valley State
Ricardo Lockette is a combine success story, coming out of a small school and flat-out dominating the field.
Lockette ran a 4.37 40-yard dash at the combine, and is one of the top performers in that drill as well as the 60-yard shuttle and the broad jump.
Lockette still is considered very raw, but with those numbers, a team will reach for him late in the second round.
49. Chimdi Chekwa, DB Ohio State
Chimdi Chekwa ran a 4.33 40-yard dash, according to the unofficial results. This kind of speed should move him up the draft boards.
48. Rahim Moore, DB UCLA
Rahim Moore has been projected as a solid second-round pick throughout the offseason and his combine performance did nothing to change that.
47, Colin Kaepernick
Colin Kaepernick had a good week at the combine and has really caught a lot of people's attention. Kaepernick is the kind of quarterback who may not start his first year or two, but you will be seeing a lot of him over the next 10-12 years.
46. Bruce Carter, LB North Carolina
Bruce Carter is a versatile linebacker who can be moved around and play on special teams. This will catch many team's eyes and Carter will not last past Day Two.
45. Randall Cobb, WR Kentucky
Randall Cobb is what teams want in a second-round wide receiver prospect. He may not be the biggest guy, but he catches the ball and is very athletic.
44. Allen Bailey, DL Miami (Fl.)
Allen Bailey has been moving between a late first-round pick and an early second-round pick most of the offseason.
With the combine, it looks like Bailey has settled into the second round for good. He has speed and can get sacks. The linebackers and defensive backs are very deep this year.
43. Christian Ponder
Christian Ponder has been seen as a solid second-round pick, but he probably is one of the most NFL-ready quarterbacks in the draft.
Ponder has had a great offseason, and will be off the board a lot sooner than one or two teams will be happy with.
42. Benjamin Ijalana, OL Villanova
Benjamin Ijalana is seen as a great team player who will work hard and do what is asked of him. He was unable to work out at the combine, but his game tape is good and Ijalana should be gone by the middle of the second round.
41. Martez Wilson, OLB Illinois
Martez Wilson has been flying under the radar so far. The combine was good for him in the sense that he is no longer flying under the radar.
Scouts and front offices will be taking more looks at his game tape and Wilson will be moving up the draft boards.
40. Aaron Williams, DB Texas
Aaron Williams has the speed and athleticism to be a first-round pick, but his lack of interceptions last year will bump him out of the top spots and into the second round.
39. Torrey Smith, WR Maryland
Torrey Smith had 67 catches and 12 touchdowns in 2010. He is big enough to fight with the corners for the ball and should be a high pick in the second round.
38. Ras-I-Dowling, DB Virginia
Ras-I-Dowling would be projected higher due to his athleticism and skills, but he battled injuries in 2010 and enters a draft deep in defensive backs.
37. Mikel Leshoure, RB Illinois
Mikel Leshoure has the advantage of coming out in a year not considered deep at the running back position.
Still, with more than 1,600 yards rushing and 20 touchdowns, he still is third on the depth chart of running backs in this year's draft.
36. Stephen Paea, DT Oregon State
Stephen Paea "won" the bench press, lifting 225 lbs. 49 times. The word of warning that comes with that feat is a lot of the prospects who killed it in the bench press washed out of the league fairly fast.
Paea has that stigma now.
Paea was considered a possible first-round pick going into the combine, though, so he is not just "coming out of nowhere" with his performance.
Paea has a rugby background and is considered a good pass rusher. He has a good chance to thwart the bench press curse.
35. Justin Houston, LB Georgia
Justin Houston is extremely talented and has the skills to be successful in the NFL. Some analysts wonder how he will do in open space, but Houston is talented enough to work on what he needs to to be a good player.
34. Cameron Heyward, DT Ohio State
Cameron Heyward is a second generation football player, the son of Craig "Ironhead" Heyward. Ohio State fans will rejoice because Heyward has a very good possibility of going in the first round.
He is fast, athletic and has the football smarts only the son of a professional football player can absorb.
33. Derek Sherrod, OL Mississippi State
Derek Sherrod is a good bet to go off the board in the first round. He is a good run blocker, and at 6'5", 321 lbs. has the size to eat up the lanes and shut down the pass rushers.
32. Ryan Mallett, QB Arkansas
This spot probably is too high for a quarterback who really has "bust" written all over him, but I am trying to be objective here.
Mallett is 6'7", 238 lbs., threw 32 touchdown passes and had a 64.7 percent completion rate.
However, despite having Derek Anderson's arm, he also has the tendency to make bad decisions under pressure like Anderson, and he appears to have Jimmy Clausen's attitude. This is not a good combination and any team that drafts him needs to be wary of the downsides to drafting Mallett.
31. Kyle Rudolph, TE Notre Dame
Kyle Rudolph is the only tight end in the Top 50, but he has a lot of talent, great size and probably will not get drafted as high as he should.
30. Jonathan Baldwin, WR Pittsburgh
Jonathan Baldwin is a receiver who quietly has been moving up the draft boards. He had 53 catches last season, and he looks like he can transition to the pros in his rookie year.
While not being talked about with A.J. Green and Julio Jones, Baldwin could end up being the third receiver off the board in April.
29. Mike Pouncey, OL Florida
The only reason Mike was not in the NFL in 2010 is because he decided to stay for his senior year at Florida.
His twin brother Maurkice made the Pro Bowl and Mike is expected to follow a similar path.
28. Jake Locker, QB Washington
Jake Locker has had questions over accuracy which no combine performance can answer. He is a great athlete and is smart, so Locker will go late first, early second round.
27. Muhammad Wilkerson, DT Temple
Wilkerson really got a lot of people's attention through the Combine. Wilkerson had 70 tackles and 9.5 sacks last year.
Wilkerson will be getting a lot more attention as we approach the draft.
26. Phil Taylor, DT Baylor
Phil Taylor is a beast at 6'4", 337 lbs., and he will draw a lot of interest going into the draft. Expect him to be a late pick in the first round.
25. Brandon Harris, DB Miami
Brandon Harris is projecting well going into the draft as he is very good in man-to-man coverage and also can break off and defend against the run.
24. Akeem Ayers, OLB UCLA
Akeem Ayers is a blitzing machine with great speed and will go in the first round. He had a very good showing at the combine and his skills are backed up on tape.
23. Gabe Carimi, OL Wisconsin
Gabe Carimi started every year in college and is 6'7", 327 lbs. Carimi has all the skills to be an elite offensive lineman and is a lock to go in the first round.
22. Corey Liuget, DT Illinois
Corey Liuget is a name mock draft gurus have known for quite some time, but the combine raised his visibility among the more casual fan.
Liuget had 63 tackles and 4.5 sacks in 2010.
21. Ryan Kerrigan, DE Purdue
Ryan Kerrigan is fast and already has a good reputation as a pass rusher, notching 12.5 sacks last season.
Kerrigan will be highly prized in the first round.
20. Jimmy Smith, DB Colorado
Jimmy Smith is another great cornerback prospect who had no interceptions in 2010. He has great speed, long arms and could go in the first round.
19. Cameron Jordan, DE California
Cameron Jordan is an elite defensive end in the making. At 6'4", 283 lbs., he is big and fast and should have a long career in the NFL.
18. Aldon Smith, DE Missouri
Aldon Smith had a great 2009 season and a good 2010 season despite battling injuries and missing some games.
Smith is a lock for the first round.
17. Adrian Clayborn, DE Iowa
Adrian Clayborn is projecting as an elite talent. His production dropped last season but all the skills are there. At 6'4", 285 lbs., he should be able to make the transition to the pros with little problem.
16. Tyron Smith, OT USC
Tyron Smith is big, athletic and has the long arms that make him ideal for the NFL.
Smith will be a first-round pick in April.
15. J.J. Watt, DE Wisconsin
J. J. Watt is a monster at 6'6", 279 lbs. Watt has unbelievable size for a defensive end, but he began his football career as a tight end, so he is versatile.
Watt could go as high as a Top 10 pick, or hang around until the end of the first round. Either way, he is a first-round pick.
14. Anthony Castonzo
Anthony Castonzo is 6'7", 308 lbs. and is projecting as a certain first-round pick.
Castonzo is a four-year starter and will have a long career in the NFL with his talents.
13. Mark Ingram, RB Alabama
Mark Ingram has the honor of being the sole running back consistently mocked in the first round, usually to the Dolphins.
Ingram is quick but slightly undersized. He is considered a good inside runner who will be a workhorse at the NFL level.
12. Nate Solder, OL Colorado
Nate Solder measured in at the combine at an incredible 6'9", 315 lbs. He has very long arms, is very athletic and could be the first offensive lineman off the board in April.
11. Julio Jones, WR Alabama
Julio Jones showed he is fast and tough. He ran a 4.4-second 40-yard dash on a broken foot. No matter how much Jones impressed scouts at the combine, though, there still is the matter of the inconsistency with his hands.
Jones could jump up in the draft based on combine results, but unless he holds on to the ball better, he might end up being a reach.
10. Prince Amukamara, CB Nebraska
Prince Amukamara is the second-rated cornerback in the draft. He had no interceptions in 2010 but is a two-year starter and very good in coverage.
9. Robert Quinn, DE North Carolina
Robert Quinn had 11 sacks in 2009 before being suspended for the 2010 season for an NCAA violation.
Quinn showed he is in great shape and will be highly prized in the 2011 draft.
8. A.J. Green, WR Georgia
A.J. Green is considered the top wide receiver in the draft, and his combine performance did nothing to change that. Julio Jones' combine performance just created a better argument over which receiver you would rather take.
Despite missing four games in 2010, Green still had 57 catches and nine touchdowns.
Green is the real thing and should have a great career in the NFL.
7. Von Miller, OLB Texas A&M
Von Miller is rocketing up the draft boards as scouts get more looks at the guy. He led the nation is sacks in 2009 and still had 10.5 sacks in 2010 despite battling injuries.
6. Patrick Peterson, CB LSU
Patrick Peterson is considered one of the best cornerback prospects to enter in the draft in many years, and his combine performance did nothing to change anyone's minds. He plays well against the pass and the run, and should be a Top 10 pick.
5. Cam Newton, QB Auburn
Cam Newton is one of the top prospects in the draft, but he does come with some questions and will have to be developed. Newton has a lot of talent, but it is all raw talent.
Newton should still go in the top five, but there always is a chance he falls in to the lower part of the top 10.
4. Marcell Dareus, DT Alabama
Marcell Dareus was considered a top 10 pick coming into the combine, but now he definitely is top five consideration with little chance he lasts past the Cleveland Browns and the sixth pick in the draft.
Dareus can play in both 4-3 and 3-4 schemes, and he is one of the hardest workers in this year's class.
3. Blaine Gabbert, QB Missouri
Blaine Gabbert is proving to be the most NFL-ready quarterback in the draft, and do not be surprised to see a team trade up to try and get him if they think he will be off the board by the time they pick.
Gabbert is accurate and mobile, and he is fast.
Gabbert could go as high as the Buffalo Bills at No. 3, or he could hang around until the Titans pick, but he will not last past the top 10.
2. Da'Quan Bowers, DE Clemson
Da'Quan Bowers is recovering from knee surgery, but his play on the field speaks for itself, and there is little the combine could do to change that.
He is fast and had 15.5 sacks in 2010. It is hard to argue with that number.
1. Nick Fairley, DT Auburn
Nick Fairley is 6'5", 300 lbs. of mean, tough muscle. Fairley already has a reputation for having a bit of a mean streak on the field, but a lot of teams see that as a good thing. You want your defensive linemen to have a bit of an edge.
Fairley is a great bet to go first in the draft, and even if the Panthers go in another direction, it is doubtful he falls further than Buffalo.