With the NFL Draft less than a month away, NFL Soup has been working hard to churn out its Top 250 players for April. That’s right. We’re listing the Top 250 players in the NFL Draft and giving you reports on each of them.
Every NFL team sets up their own personal “Big Board” for drafting purposes. As players are drafted, they scratch a name off of the list, and when it’s time to pick, they generally use the entire time slot to decide amongst two or three individuals before finally making their selection.
So without further ado, NFL Soup presents its Top 250 NFL Draft Prospects for 2011!
1. Patrick Peterson, CB, LSU*- 6’0" 1/4 219
Peterson is one of the most special players in this draft. At 6’1 220, he’s a big cornerback who could also play free safety in the NFL. He’s excellent against the run, and he’s got an excellent change of direction ability. Peterson also has the hands of a wide receiver and is an excellent return man. It’s not often that you see a true cornerback that has top five talent, but Peterson is one of them. Peterson will excel in man coverage, but does need to improve his instincts.
2. Marcell Dareus, DE, Alabama*- 6’3" 1/8 319
Talk about a dominant big man up front, Marcel Dareus is a prototype 3-4 defensive end at the next level. He already plays the position at Alabama and is an impact player. He eats up blockers and is very strong, often forcing double teams. He moves well laterally and is a force against the run. With a lot of teams running a 3-4 in the NFL, Dareus will be coveted heavily.
3. A.J. Green, WR, Georgia*- 6’3" 5/8 211
There’s not much you can’t say about A.J. Green. He’s one of the most talented players in the nation and has great size at 6’4" 192 pounds. Green is a speedy wide receiver who runs excellent routes with excellent control of his body for making easy and tough catches. He can beat even the fastest of cornerbacks and gets excellent separation. Some maturity issues are a small concern, but if he really wants to be dominant, then he needs to get stronger and get a bit better fighting for the ball. He’s still a the top option at wide receiver.
4. Von Miller, DE, Texas A&M- 6’2" 5/8 246
Miller is quite the stud, and while he hasn’t been as amazing as he was in 2009, he’s still a surefire first round pick. He already played in a 3-4 defense at TAMU, and his pass rushing ability is fantastic. He’s very athletic and can make plays all over the field. He’s also very underrated against the run, and I have no doubt that he could play 4-3 outside linebacker as well, but he’d be a better fit in the 3-4.
5. Blaine Gabbert, QB, Missouri*- 6’4" 3/8 234
Gabbert is rising on a lot of draft boards, and there’s good reason to. He’s got a pretty strong arm and is exceptional making passes toward the sidelines. Like Cam Newton, he needs work throwing to the middle of the field, as he isn’t as good at threading the needle, but with improved accuracy, he could be a very good quarterback at the next level.
Gabbert also does well making plays with his feet, although he does tend to get happy feet in the pocket. He has an excellent throwing motion and quick release and is just a year or two from being coached up to be a top notch quarterback.
6. Cam Newton, QB, Auburn*- 6’5" 2548
Cam Newton has come out of nowhere to lead a talented Auburn team to the top of the NCAA rankings. What makes Newton special is his versatility. Newton is a threat in the passing game, and he makes huge plays on the run. Most scrambling quarterbacks tend to struggle throwing the ball, but Newton puts good zip on his passes and has surprisingly nice accuracy. When he sets his feet, he’s a threat to make a deep throw down field, but he could work on throwing to the middle of the field.
7. Julio Jones, WR, Alabama*- 6’2" 3/4 220
Jones is the biggest competition for A.J. Green in the top spot. What makes Jones so special is his possession ability. He has excellent size at 6’4" 220, and he fights corners for the football. He’s tough after the catch and is fast enough to beat receivers down the field. He’s excellent catching the ball in the middle of the field, as well as making tight sideline catches. His biggest flaw is his concentration. He often drops the easier passes and makes the tougher catches. While his college statistics are nothing to write home about, he suffers thanks to a heavy rushing attack by the Crimson Tide, but Jones always comes through when needed.
8. Nick Fairley, DT, Auburn*- 6’3" 7/8 291
You have to love what Fairley has done in 2010 to solidify his draft status as a first rounder. He is a dominant penetrating defensive tackle with great quickness and first step despite being nearly 300 pounds. Fairley is inexperienced at the NCAA level, only starting for one full season in 2010. He has a good motor and doesn’t take plays off. Fairley will most likely be a Top Five pick in the 2011 NFL Draft.
9. Cameron Jordan, DE, California- 6’3" 7/8 287
Jordan is a guy who could easily be a top 10 pick, as he has loads of potential as a penetrator in the NFL. He’s played defensive tackle and defensive end at Cal and has excelled doing both. He’s a strong bull rusher who can rip through even the better offensive lineman to get into the backfield. He moves well laterally and should be an option to play as a 3-4 defensive end.
10. Prince Amukamara, CB, Nebraska- 6’0" 206
That makes two years in a row that we have a Nebraska defender in the top 10 with a name we can’t pronounce.
All jokes aside, Amukamara is one of the most talented players on a tough Nebraska defense. He’s very fluid when changing direction and gets a great jam off of the line of scrimmage. He’s an excellent wrap up tackler, making him an ideal commodity in run support as well. Amukamara and Patrick Peterson are almost right next to each other in terms of overall talent and upside, and you can’t go wrong with either corner.
11. Jimmy Smith, CB, Colorado- 6’2" 1/4 211
Smith is one of the most athletic corners in this draft. He’s got ideal size and is a physical player. He is a stud against the run, making great wrap up tackles, even in the open field. He gets a great jam at the line in press coverage and plays the ball very well when it’s in the air. He plays a bit stiff at times and could afford to improve his change of direction. He also has very good play recognition skills.
12. Da’Quan Bowers, DE, Clemson*- 6’4" 280
Bowers is one of the most athletic 280-plus pound players in the NCAA. He’s strong enough for a bull rush on an offensive tackle, and he’s quick enough to get around the edge. He’s strictly a 4-3 defensive end. I do question his ability to play in space, which is why 3-4 outside linebacker is a bit of a reach. Bowers is very tough against the run and is one of the best penetrators in the nation. His lingering knee issues keeps him from breaking the top five.
13. Mark Ingram, RB, Alabama*- 5’9" 1/8 215
What can you say about the 5’11" 215 pound junior running back? Ingram is a tough north/south runner with good acceleration. He’s also an effective blocker in third down situations and is a true every down back in the NFL. He doesn’t run out of bounds and can take the hard hits, throwing the shoulder into opposing defenders and bruising them. He can break a long touchdown at any time and has the hands to catch the ball out of the backfield. Ingram’s initial explosiveness is one of the biggest things that makes him such a special runner.
14. Tyron Smith, T, USC*- 6’5" 307
Many people have fallen in love with Smith. While some think he should have returned back to school, one can’t fail to see just how big of upside he has. Smith is a bit undersized but uses excellent athleticism as well as surprising strength to effectively play his position. Physically, he has more room to grow and is a bit of a workout warrior. Comparisons of 2010 third round pick Bruce Campbell arise, in terms of overall athleticism and potential. He’s excellent in pass protection and doesn’t get a bad push in the run game. He is quite the project in the NFL, but will benefit most in a zone blocking scheme.
15. J.J. Watt, DE, Wisconsin*- 6’5" 3/8 290
Watt is a bullying defensive end who really has made a big impact in the run for the Badgers in 2010. He’s not a bad pass rusher and does a great job getting his arms in the air to bat balls down. Watt is very strong and gets a good jump off of the ball. For a big guy, he moves down the line well but is best in forcing double teams. He’s an ideal 3-4 defensive end prospect at the next level.
16. Aldon Smith, DE/OLB, Missouri**- 6’4" 1/4 263
Smith has been a force as a pass rusher in Missouri. Smith is very quick and has a great move to the outside, utilizing his speed to get around the edge and force pressure on the quarterback. He could afford to get stronger and plays a bit stiff at times. He’s very raw, which is why he should stay in school for another season. He could be a dominant 3-4 outside linebacker at the next level and has plenty of room to grow.
17. Justin Houston, DE/OLB, Georgia*- 6’2" 7/8 270
Houston has had a breakout junior campaign and has been the heart and soul of the Georgia pass rush. Houston looks like he could be a pure pass rusher in a 3-4 defense, but there’s no doubt he can stick to defensive end at the next level. He gets a good push off the ball, often bull rushing his opponent. Houston should go in the Top 20, as he’s very talented, and his stock may not get much higher.
18. Corey Liuget, DT, Illinois*- 6’2" 1/8 299
Liuget is a strong bull rushing defensive tackle who gets in the backfield and makes tackles. He’s very underrated and under-appreciated. He’s a force against the run and is solid when rushing the passer from the inside. He’s a natural two gap penetrating defensive tackle who has played some end. He lost some weight before 2010 season and improved athletically. Liuget has an excellent motor and doesn’t give up on plays; however, he tends to lose steam as the game progresses. At times, he looks unconditioned, and past weight problems could hurt his draft stock.
19. Anthony Castonzo, T, Boston College- 6’7" 311
Castonzo is one of the most athletic tackles in the draft. A four year starter, Castonzo has developed into a dominating tackle in pass protection. His athleticism helps him deal with even the quickest of rushers. He lacks push in the run game, as his strength is quite average, but that can be improved with an NFL strength and conditioning program. He looks to be one of the top offensive tackles off the board in April.
20. Cameron Heyward, DE, Ohio State- 6’5" 294
The son of the late Craig “Ironhead” Heyward, Cameron is a big bodied run stuffer with some pass rush ability. His best fit at the next level is as a 3-4 defensive end. Like Cam Jordan, he’s played defensive tackle and end in his career at Ohio State and has been a force in the run game. He moves well in pursuit of the quarterback, doing a great job in contain on the edge. Heyward could be a first round pick, but his stock has slipped, as he hasn’t been as dominant in 2010.
21. Ryan Kerrigan, DE, Purdue- 6’3" 7/8 267
Kerrigan is a pass rushing defensive end who uses his strength and his quickness off of the ball to penetrate the backfield. His athleticism makes him somewhat limited in coverage, which is why his best fit is probably in a 4-3. He plays a lot like former Purdue defender Ray Edwards, who is now a stud for the Vikings. He does very well in contain and gets a good push against the run.
22. Robert Quinn, DE, North Carolina*- 6’4" 265
It’s hard to tell how well Quinn will perform after not playing a down in 2010 thanks to the Player/Agent scandal with North Carolina. However, there is no questioning his physical ability. The 6’5" 270 pound defensive end has an excellent motor, and ACC offensive linemen have had trouble stopping his speed rush. Quinn is one of the most athletic prospects for 2011, and he could really make some noise in the NFL with a little more strength. He looks to be an ideal 3-4 outside linebacker candidate, especially if he can improve in coverage.
23. Muhammad Wilkerson, DT, Temple*- 6’4" 1/8 315
When you think of the term run stuffer, Wilkerson comes right to mind. The big defensive tackle is a tackling machine and doesn’t let much get past him. He’s a solid penetrator that can get to the quarterback, but his strength is what really allows him to get a great push against the interior line. Wilkerson’s best bet is to play in a 3-4 defense, where he can utilize his strength and double team ability at the most. He could play both nose tackle and defensive end, most likely, as he’s surprisingly versatile.
24. Gabe Carimi, T, Wisconsin- 6’7" 314
Carimi is a top three offensive tackle on most peoples’ draft boards. But he’s falling a bit on mine. The more I watch him, the more I see that his future may be at right tackle in the NFL. He’s a mauling tackle who paves the way for running backs and does a great job capping the end, allowing the runner to cut off of his back. He’s not the most athletic tackle, and he struggles against speed rushers. He doesn’t do a great job of punching the defender off the snap and tends to get too close, forcing himself to get his arms behind the defender and potentially causing a holding call.
25. Phil Taylor, DT, Baylor- 6’3" 1/4 334
How about those Baylor Bears? Taylor lead a solid Baylor defensive line with pure strength. He takes up a lot of space and forces double teams consistently. His ceiling is as a pure 3-4 nose tackle at the next level. He’s kept control of weight issues over the last one to two seasons as well, which is exciting to see for NFL scouts.
26. Brandon Harris, CB, Miami (Fl.)*- 5’9" 1/2 191
Harris is another speedy corner who excels in man coverage. He’s not the most physical player, but he can help in run support when needed. Harris has an excellent backpedal and can change direction quickly. Harris has high upside, as he’s somewhat raw, but is very talented and is quite coachable. He could use work in making tackles in the open field, and could improve in reading and reacting.
27. Adrian Clayborn, DE, Iowa- 6’2" 5/8 281
Clayborn is another quick defensive end who really does well shooting down the line, making a play on runners going the opposite direction. He’s very stout against the run and does a great job of slapping the tackle’s hands down and getting a good push against the pass. He moves well laterally but needs work on wrapping up and finishing plays, often trying to make arm tackles. He could be a good fit playing a five technique at the next level with a little more strength.
28. Nate Solder, T, Colorado- 6’8" 1/4 319
Solder is quite the physical specimen. He stands tall at 6’9" and is very strong, getting great push in the run game. His quick feet allow him to stay in front of his opponent in pass protection, and his long arms allow him to punch the defender with ease. The former tight end has started in every game since 2008 since bulking up and moving to left tackle.
29. DeAndre McDaniel, SS, Clemson- 6’0" 1/8 217
NFL teams have to be drooling over McDaniel, who is one of the most dominant safeties in the nation. He’s very experienced, as he has started since his freshman year at Clemson, and he’s made a big impact in the Tiger secondary. McDaniel is a great wrap up tackler and reads plays well, often getting to the ball carrier quickly and getting off blocks. He’s a great zone defender, and is a ball hawk. He can hit you hard and make you lose the ball. He’s just an overall stud and should be a first round draft pick. Some questions about character could hurt his stock a touch.
30. Jabaal Sheard, DE, Pittsburgh- 6’2" 7/8 264
Sheard could be the next Kamerion Wimbley, Derrick Harvey or Tyson Alualu, as guys who come out of nowhere to become first round picks. Sheard is a big, agile defensive end who has the athleticism to play outside linebacker in a 3-4 scheme. Sheard is solid against the run, and while he lacks a great inside move, he does well using his hands to get off of the block. He’s a pure pass rusher who has the ability to make a huge impact immediately.
31. Mike Pouncey, G, Florida- 6’5" 303
Pouncey is playing center in his senior campaign and is struggling with the transition. Although his blocking hasn’t been terrible, he’s had problems in popping up right after the snap, and it’s led to fumbles for Florida. He’ll switch back to guard in the NFL and be a force in the run game. He gets great leverage and stands up defenders well, keeping them from pushing him back.
32. Christian Ballard, DT, Iowa- 6’3" 3/4 283
Ballard is quickly rising up draft boards with his play in 2010. He’s a versatile lineman, playing both defensive tackle and defensive end. He’s excellent in contain as an end and just needs to work on his strength to become a great five technique player in a 3-4 defense. Ballard is a penetrator and moves very well laterally. He could be taken before fellow Iowa defensive lineman Adrian Clayborn.
33. Mikel Leshoure, RB, Illinois*- 5’11" 227
LeShoure is a big back in the mold of his predecessor Rashard Mendenhall. He is tough between the tackles, but lacks ideal speed. Regardless, he’s not an easy back to take down, and his stock has increased heavily. He had an excellent bowl game and carried Illinois to a winning season and a bowl win. He could be a solid work horse at the next level.
34. Brooks Reed- DE/OLB, Arizona- 6’2" 1/2 263
Reed is one of the big time workout warriors in the 2011 NFL Draft. He’s very strong and very fast for a 260 pound defensive end. He has the athleticism to make the transition to the 3-4 as an outside linebacker at the next level, but his strength and bull rushing pass rush ability makes him ideal for the 4-3. Reed is one of the hardest working athletes in the nation.
35. Marcus Cannon, T/G, TCU- 6’5" 358
Cannon is an offensive tackle right now, but his best play could come at guard in the NFL. He is athletic enough to play both guard and tackle positions and has quick feet to guard against even the quickest defenders. He rarely gives up sacks and is a big reason for Andy Dalton’s success. He’s one of the most NFL ready offensive linemen in the draft. Cannon excels in the passing game and could bolster the run game for many teams.
36. Jonathan Baldwin, WR, Pittsburgh*- 6’4" 3/8 228
Jon Baldwin is an intimidating wide receiver at 6’5" 230 pounds. Some collegiate tight ends are smaller than him. He has excellent hands and body control, as he’s also a very strong wide receiver. For being such a big wide out, his downfield ability is limited; however, there is huge upside. He’s got solid speed, but needs to learn to better create separation from corner backs. Baldwin’s hands make him a top prospect, still, as he can catch well and runs very well after the catch.
37. Bruce Carter, OLB, North Carolina- 6’2" 241
Carter is one of the most instinctive linebackers in college football. His ability to read and react is incredible, as is his knowledge of the game. He’s very well rounded and could play all three linebacker positions in a 4-3 scheme. He’s a very quick, sideline to sideline tackler who does well in wrapping up. Carter could easily be the first linebacker off the board, but he’s restricted to a 4-3 defense.
38. Stephen Paea, DT, Oregon State- 6’1" 1/4 303
Paea is a very athletic defensive tackle who uses his quickness to penetrate the offensive line consistently. He takes up double teams quite often despite not being the biggest tackle, and his strength is exceptional. He’s a pure wrap up tackler who needs to stay healthy in order to prove that he’s as good as advertised.
39. Rahim Moore, FS, UCLA*- 5’11" 3/4 202
Moore is an extremely athletic playmaker who leads the UCLA defense. Moore has been a three year starter and broke out even more in his sophomore season, when he recorded 10 interceptions. Moore is one of the best zone safeties in the nation. He also has the speed and hips to play in man coverage on a slot receiver and could probably play corner at the next level. He’s not a very good tackler, often not being very aggressive and taking bad angles, however.
40. Ryan Mallett, QB, Arkansas*- 6’6" 3/4 253
Mallett is a big, strong armed quarterback. Mallett stands tall in the pocket and delivers throws all over the field, but really has a knack for finding his receivers deep. He’s greatly improved his accuracy in the middle of the field and zips the ball on a rope to his receivers. His deep ball accuracy could improve, but in one on one situations, he generally doesn’t fail. He’s a risk taker down the field, sometimes a bit too confident in his arm, but that can be improved. He threw for an outstanding 9.0 per attempt in 2009.
41. Aaron Williams, CB, Texas*- 5’11" 204
Williams is the ideal zone coverage cornerback and has first round talent. He has a fluid back pedal and has quick hips. Williams is an above average tackler, often involved in blitz packages as well. Williams could afford to improve in man on coverage and jam the receivers, but he has the build to excel if that’s what he plays more of in the NFL. He does a good job in play recognition as well.
42. Titus Young, WR, Boise State- 5’11" 3/8 174
This wide receiver class is lined with guys who can out run entire defenses. Young is another one of those smaller guys who excels in the return game and was heavily utilized in quick slants and screen passes. He’s excellent after the catch and makes defenders miss in the open field.
43. Martez Wilson, ILB, Illinois*- 6’4" 250
Wilson started off playing more outside linebacker at Illinois. He injured his neck that cost him all but the first game of the 2009 season, but has become a force switching to middle backer in 2010. Wilson has great size and strength and knows how to tackle. He could afford to learn to read and react better and plays soft at times, but his potential is huge. He could be a great 3-4 inside linebacker if a coach can get him to play to the max every play.
44. Leonard Hankerson, WR, Miami (Fl.)- 6’1" 1/2 209
Hankerson is a lanky receiver who is as sure-handed as they come. Hankerson broke out in 2009 and has followed up with a stellar senior campaign despite mediocre quarterback play. He’s an excellent red zone threat, although he tends to catch the ball with his body moreso than his hands, which is something that NFL coaching will have to fix.
45. Ben Ijalana, T/G, Villanova – 6’3" 5/8 317
Ijalana is one of the best interior line prospects in this draft. He’s severely underrated do to playing in the FCS, but he is best known for his ability in the passing game. He has good strength in the run game and finishes blocks quickly to get to the next level. He’s a fantastic overall guard with great leverage and balance, beating up on even the biggest and strongest defensive tackles in the game.
46. Drake Nevis, DT, LSU- 6’0" 5/8 294
Nevis has really come into his own in 2010. He has turned into a dominant penetrating defensive tackle often disrupting the backfield and making a tackle for loss. He’s not easy to block, as he is fairly strong. However, his athleticism and lateral ability is what separates him from most of the defensive tackles in the SEC.
47. Torrey Smith, WR, Maryland*- 6’0" 7/8 204
Smith has made a name for himself with his speed down the field. He has excellent hands and gets a good release off of the snap. He’s not the most physical receiver, but he creates separation and can make big plays all over the field, especially after the catch.
48. Jake Locker, QB, Washington- 6’3" 230
This 6’3" 230 pound specimen is one of the most talented players in college football. He puts good zip on the ball, really doing well with the short-intermediate routes. He’s improved each season, and with a bit more accuracy, he will become an elite NFL quarterback. We want to see Locker set his feet and throw more, however. He has the arm, and he can throw the ball with accuracy, but he’s often throwing on the run and forcing the ball in some instances. He’s been known to miss wide open receivers, often over thinking the throw, but the upside is as good as anybody else in the draft.
49. Kyle Rudolph, TE, Notre Dame*- 6’6" 1/8 259
It’s tough to question Rudolph’s ability, as he’s one of the most athletic tight ends in all of college football. While he’s not the fastest tight end, he does have solid speed for a guy his size, but his best asset is his hands. He’s very reliable all over the field and runs routes like a wide receiver. A season ending hamstring injury cut his junior campaign short, but in a weak tight end class, he could still come out and be the first tight end off of the board, despite a plethora of injury issues.
50. Akeem Ayers, OLB, UCLA*- 6’2" 1/2 254
Ayers is one of my favorite prospects in all of college football. He’s so athletic for such a thick player, and he has great instincts at the outside linebacker position. He can rush the passer, keep contain on the outside when lined up at defensive end and he can cover. He has the versatility to play in either a 4-3 or 3-4 scheme. If he goes to a 3-4, look for him to be more of a utility linebacker, a la Mike Vrabel.
51. Derek Sherrod, T, Mississippi State- 6’5" 3/8 321
The Mississippi State product is one of the most well rounded tackles in the nation. He’s got quick feet and gets a good push in the running game. His athleticism allows him to shut down many of the quick pass rushers in the SEC, and he does a good job punching defensive ends and maintaining separation. Sherrod could easily be a first round pick, although he could afford to bulk up a slight bit and gain strength, but that’s just nitpicking.
52. Rodney Hudson, G/C, Florida State- 6’2" 299
Hudson is a great talent and has helped bolster what could be the best left side of the offensive line in college football with Andrew Datko. Despite his lack of weight, which is a big of a concern, he’s got good strength and does well standing up defensive tackles using his leverage to his advantage. Hudson is also solid in pass protection, as few defenders have gotten through him to register a sack. He needs to bulk up a bit and maintain his athleticism. His versatility will only help his draft stock, as he can play both guard positions as well as center.
53. Marvin Austin, DT, North Carolina- 6’1" 5/8 309
To open up the season, Marvin Austin looked like a surefire Top 10 pick. He was dismissed from the UNC football team after being investigated for receiving benefits from NFL agents.
But Austin’s talent just cannot be ignored. He has an excellent blend of size and quickness as well as strength. Austin can penetrate backfields, but he’s so strong he often requires a double team. Austin is a pure 4-3 tackle that could also move to a five technique at the next level. Character concerns are what may make him slide into the second or even third rounds, but it’s likely that a team takes a chance based on his talent alone.
54. Deunta Williams, FS, North Carolina- 6’2" 215
Williams is a top notch safety who starred on a North Carolina defense with a ton of talent. Williams has fantastic size for the safety position, and he is a defensive play maker. The term “ballhawk” comes to mind when talking about Williams, who seems to be where the ball is. He’s excellent in covering in zone situations and can hold with his man in man coverage situations. He needs to work on wrapping up, as he’s not the most sure tackler, but he’s got a lot of room to grow.
55. Stefen Wisniewski, C, Penn State- 6’3" 313
You may recognize the last name, as he’s from a fantastic football pedigree. Wisniewski has the ability to play guard or center at the next level. He’s not an overly strong player, but he is very smart and does a great job of being the lower man at the point of attack. He should have no problem bulking up with a bit of room to grow, but he could become a top notch center or guard at the next level.
56. Kendall Hunter, RB, Oklahoma State- 5’7" 1/4 199
Hunter is sneaking up on 2011 draft boards with his exceptional running ability. While he’s on the small side, he has a lot of positives that will make him a coveted running back in April. Hunter is very quick and shifty, and his best attribute is his patience in letting the blockers set up. He has a fantastic burst off the plant, often cutting off of a block and excelling up the field quickly, making defenders miss. Hunter’s pass blocking ability can’t be frowned upon either, as he has shown a nice ability to stay in and protect on passing downs.
57. Ras-I Dowling, CB, Virginia- 6’1" 3/8 198
Dowling is a physical corner who has put on a show when he’s healthy enough to stay on the field. Durability is somewhat of a concern, but production is not. Dowling is more of a zone cornerback and will have to face slightly slower receivers in the NFL. He doesn’t have great speed, but he makes up for that with a good football IQ. He isn’t afraid to make a tackle and is great in run support. He needs to become more fluid when changing direction.
58. Quan Sturdivant, ILB, North Carolina- 6’2" 235
Sturdivant is one of the most reliable tacklers in the nation. What he lacks in size he makes up for with athleticism and versatility. Sturdy Sturdivant has the ability to make plays all over the field. Most likely, his fit is as an OLB or ILB in a 4-3 defense, but he could bulk up and play as a coverage outside linebacker in a 3-4, but that’s a long shot. Sturdivant hasn’t had trouble with injuries and is one of the best linebackers in the nation.
59. Ahmad Black, SS, Florida- 5’9" 185
Black is an extremely athletic, big hitting strong safety who has excelled with the Gators. He is excellent in reacting to the play and makes plays against the run on a regular basis. His height is one of the biggest factors keeping him from being a first round talent. The good news is that he will be coveted by many teams despite his height and could still move into the second round. He should fare quite well in the combine, as he’s very fast also.
60. Jeron Johnson, CB/S, Boise State- 5’11" 195
Johnson has been an under-appreciated part of an underrated Boise State defense. While Kellen Moore and the offense gets all the love, Johnson is busy on the defensive side making plays against the run and keeping receivers from making big plays. Johnson isn’t the biggest defender, but he can hit you hard. He’s a bit of a liability in man coverage but has excellent overall instincts.
61. Ryan Williams, RB, Virginia Tech**- 5’9" 3/8 212
Williams is a surprisingly powerful runner with the speed to break a play outside. He has excellent hands out of the backfield as well. Williams does a nice job hitting the hole and using his vision to gain extra yardage. His speed doesn’t seem to be where is was as a freshman, but if he can get that back, he could be a steal in the late second or third round.
62. Vincent Brown, WR, San Diego State- 5’11" 1/4 187
Brown is one of the faster receivers in college football. He’s excellent down the field and can make plays after the catch. His hands need a little bit of work, but he gets great separation and uses his speed to make defenders miss.
63. Lance Kendricks, TE, Wisconsin- 6’2" 7/8 243
Kendricks is another athletic tight end in this draft class who has a lot of experience in Wisconsin. Kendricks has good ability to run after the catch and has reliable hands. He doesn’t see as many receptions as he’d like as the Badgers aren’t a huge passing team, but he makes plays when his number is called.
64. Daniel Thomas, RB, Kansas State- 6’0 "1/4 230
One of the most physically gifted players in the NCAA, Thomas can do it all. He can run, he can catch and he can run the ball down your throat. With another great season for the mediocre Kansas State Wildcats, Thomas could solidify himself as a top running back in the entire nation, and potentially end up a first round pick. He’s extremely talented and runs hard. He’s very quick and slippery, but is also very good between the tackles.
65. Clint Boling, T/G, Georgia- 6’4" 1/2 308
Boling is a versatile lineman with solid footwork. He struggles off the snap with his dropstep in pass protection, but uses his hands well. His best bet may be to switch to guard in the NFL. He does a nice job getting underneath his opponents' pads, however.
66. Randall Cobb, WR, Kentucky*- 5’10" 1/4 191
Cobb is a versatile player that Kentucky is going to miss. He ran the ball and he caught everything that was thrown his way. He’s an electrifying play maker who can line up all over the field and is extremely athletic. Cobb may follow in the footsteps of guys like Brad Smith, Antwan Randle El, etc.
67. Davon House, CB, New Mexico State- 6’0" 1/2 200
House is a speedy corner who has excellent size for the position. He’s quick to read and react and is a ball hawk, but can get over confident in attacking the ball, sometimes giving up a big play. He will excel in zone coverage as a CB2 in the NFL. House isn’t the best tackler and often gets caught out of position. The upside is there, but while he’s athletic, he relies on it too heavily at times. His lack of great competition is somewhat worrisome.
68. Danny Watkins, OG, Baylor- 6’3" 3/8 310
Watkins has been a nice surprise for Baylor fans. Watkins is 27 years old, but he’s still playing like he’s 20. He’s got a very wide upper body and he’s very strong. He is solid in both pass protection as well as getting to the second level in the run game. He’s very strong and gets good leverage on even the strongest defensive tackles. He has quick feet and is a very hard worker.
69. Shane Vereen, RB, California*- 5’10" 1/4 210
Shane Vereen is almost identical to Jahvid Best in terms of overall ability. He’s an excellent open field runner and is a threat to make a play catching the ball out of the backfield. He’s blessed with exceptional speed and has a knack for making defenders miss. He needs a bit of work in pass protection, but in a two running back league, he could fill a big role for many teams.
70. Rashad Carmichael, CB, Virginia Tech- 5’10" 192
Carmichael came onto the scene in a hurry at Va Tech. As soon as he started more games in 2008, he made more plays and forced opponents to stop trying to throw his way. Carmichael is quite fast, and his 40 time at the combine will be impressive.
But he’s quite raw in man coverage. He needs to jam his receivers better and not get caught staring into the backfield. His upside is great, but it will take him a year or two to really get settled in as a No. 2 corner. He reminds me a bit of DeAngelo Hall, another speedster out of Va Tech who was quite raw.
71. D.J. Williams, TE, Arkansas- 6’2" 1/8 245
If you haven’t noticed, the trend here is athleticism among the tight ends, and it doesn’t stop here. Williams is a better receiving tight end in the middle of the field and is a surprisingly good deep option. He can also run after the catch and has been a big reason for Mallett’s success. He could get separation better in the red zone, but he’s an efficient blocker as well.
72. Christian Ponder, QB, Florida State- 6’2" 229
I have Ponder a bit lower on my board than many others do. I don’t think Ponder is a bad quarterback at all, but his decision making really makes him a risky quarterback at the next level. Ponder has good sideline accuracy, but he doesn’t have a very strong arm and doesn’t put much zip on the football. He is great in eluding the pass rush and making plays on the run, but I want to see better decisions out of the guy. He’s a short-intermediate passer who rarely makes a big play. In 2010, his longest pass play has been just 41 yards. But the upside is there as he’s very coachable and intelligent.
73. Andy Dalton, QB, TCU- 6’3" 220
It’s not often that a TCU quarterback becomes a legit draft option, but Dalton has a lot of upside. While Dalton makes quite a few plays downfield, it’s his accuracy that really stands out. He seems to make the necessary plays late in the game that gives TCU the extra boost. He’s a smart passer and more of a game manager than anything, but he could be a solid option at the next level. He’s highly underrated, and his football IQ is fantastic. He has the intangibles to succeed and appears to be an excellent leader.
74. Jordan Todman, RB, UConn*- 5’8" 7/8 203
Todman is a smaller, tough runner between the tackles. He hits hard and can make plays out of the backfield. His production has been great in a rush heavy UConn offense. He won’t outrun NFL defenses, but his vision and ability to fight for the extra yards makes him a solid pickup in the second-third rounds.
75. Colin McCarthy, LB, Miami (Fl)- 6’1" 238
McCarthy is another one of those quicker, more athletic linebackers in Miami. McCarthy isn’t the best tackler, but he does well in pursuit and at least helps slow the ball carrier down. He’s better in coverage overall and could be more of a situational linebacker at the next level. He could afford to bulk up a bit.
76. Curtis Brown, CB, Texas- 5’11" 5/8 185
Perhaps the corner with the most potential to move up on draft boards is Brown. He’s an exceptional athlete with great speed who plays well in zone coverage. He’s a play maker who is a threat to return an interception for a touchdown at anytime. Brown could sneak into the top of the second round, as he may be the corner with the highest ceiling outside Patrick Peterson and Prince Amukamara.
77. Quinton Carter, FS, Oklahoma- 6’1 200
Carter may not be the biggest safety, but he sure can hit you. He’s not as fast as NFL teams would like to see, but he’s quick and makes up for not being the most athletic player with his football IQ. He takes great angles while tackling and covering, and he covers quite a bit of ground. He needs work wrapping up consistently and doesn’t play with a lot of aggression.
78. DeMarco Murray, RB, Oklahoma- 5’11" 5/8 207
Murray is a fast running back, and he’s a very special player. However, he hasn’t been able to have the success that Oklahoma has wanted after suffering injuries in his freshman and sophomore seasons. Even then, he averaged over five yards a carry (six yards per carry as a redshirt freshman) and got into the end zone quite a bit. Murray is excellent out of the backfield as a receiver and could easily be the best overall running back in this class. His health issues are reminiscent of former Top 10 pick Adrian Peterson, as he has been known to have nagging injuries.
79. Kendric Burney, CB, North Carolina- 5’9" 3/8 186
Burney is a great athlete and was a great corner for the Tar Heels. He missed some time in 2010 thanks to being suspended from the agent scandal and has been a bit rusty. Burney is a solid overall player. He plays well in man coverage, getting a good jam at the line, and has quick feet. He’s a top notch tackler, but his height brings up a bit of a concern. He doesn’t have good straight line speed, but he does a nice job changing direction and shutting down the quick slant.
80. Ricardo Lockette, WR, Fort Valley State- 6’2" 1/8 211
Lockette is blessed with great size with excellent speed. Not a big-time college performer. Fairly raw and inexperienced. Injury history is a concern.
81. Virgil Green, TE, Nevada- 6’3" 3/8 249
Green is one of the most under appreciated tight ends in this NFL Draft. He’s a big, soft handed receiving tight end who uses his athletic skills to his advantage. He’s an excellent red zone tight end, and he runs routes well. He’s good enough to stay in and block, although he could use improvement.
82. Greg Little- North Carolina- 6’3" 220
This running back turned receiver still needs a lot of work, as he is very raw. He’s a physical wide receiver that fights for balls thrown his way. He needs to work on looking the ball into his hands.
83. Chykie Brown, CB, Texas- 5’11" 1/4 190
If you can’t already tell, the Texas secondary has been stacked in the last few years, and actually well before that also. Brown isn’t the most athletic or physical corner, but he’s smart. He could slide further down boards because he doesn’t excel at any one thing. He’s a mediocre tackler and solid in zone coverage. His lack of great speed doesn’t make him an ideal candidate to cover man on.
84. Cliff Matthews, DE/OLB, South Carolina- 6’3" 1/2 257
Matthews is a very quick pass rusher who uses his hands well to get to the quarterback. He’s got the speed around the edge to beat even the best offensive tackles and makes for a nice 3-4 outside linebacker at the next level. He could afford to get a bit stronger and add an inside move when rushing the passer, but he has the athleticism to make the transition and be somewhat effective in coverage as well.
85. Colin Kaepernick, QB, Nevada- 6’6" 230
Kaepernick’s run and shoot ability is fantastic at Nevada. Unfortunately, that’s not the sort of offense that’s run in the NFL often. He makes a lot of plays with his feet and in the air, as his big frame isn’t easily knocked down. As a drop back passer, Kaepernick has seemed to improve, however. He does a nice job when he has to set his feet and can make all of the NFL throws with his arm strength. His size is excellent, and he’s a playmaker that could make a nice impact in the NFL with more knowledge of the offense and ability to recognize different coverage packages.
86. Jerrell Jernigan, WR, Troy- 5’8" 7/8 185
Troy’s all-purpose receiver can run the ball well and catch even better. He’s a threat to take it to the house on every touch, but lacks ideal size.
87. Brandon Burton, CB, Utah*- 5’11" 5/8 190
Burton is a quick corner who plays above average in both zone and man coverage. He isn’t spectacular in either, but his speed suggests that he could excel more in man. He gets a good jam in press coverage and is fluid when changing direction. He is a solid wrap up tackler, but doesn’t really sacrifice himself to make a play and will get pushed back by receivers. He doesn’t play with much aggression.
88. Jerrell Powe, DT, Mississippi*- 6’1" 3/4 335
Powe is a very strong defensive tackle that holds the point of attack well. He will end up as a nose tackle in either a 3-4 or 4-3 as he is versatile. He’s surprisingly quick for his size as well, but he uses his hands well and gets a good push off of the ball. He does tend to take plays off at times and isn’t always reliable to stay on the field for most of the game, but that’s something that a great strength and conditioning coach could fix.
89. John Moffitt, G, Wisconsin- 6’4" 319
Moffitt is a big time mauler who punishes opposing defensive tackles. He gets low and keeps his hands inside getting a big time push, paving the way for the talented backs of Wisconsin. His footwork could use some work in the pass, as he tends to stand straight up in pass protection. Moffitt’s agility allows him to move well laterally on pulls. With the talent in front of him, a first round projection is doubtful, as he’s best off at the end of the second round.
90. Austin Pettis, WR, Boise State- 6’2" 5/8 209
For what Pettis lacks in top end speed, he makes up in route running and reliable hands. He’s not an easy guy to tackle either, and he does a very nice job using his body to snag passes out of the air.
91. Anthony Gray, DT, Southern Miss 6’0" 320
If you haven’t noticed, the trend right now is 3-4 nose tackles, and Gray is another big guy who gets a good push playing the zero and one technique. Gray gets double teamed regularly, helping to free up the linebackers to make tackles.
92. Kelvin Sheppard, ILB, LSU- 6’3" 245
Sheppard is one of the better tacklers out of all the linebackers in the nation, and he’s the leader of a strong LSU defense. Sheppard has started in games since he was a redshirt freshman, and he has a knack for finding the ball and making a play. He needs work in coverage, and he could afford to bulk up and shed blocks better, but he’s still got a lot of room to grow.
93. Dontay Moch, OLB, Nevada- 6’1" 3/8 248
Moch is one of the most athletic defensive end/linebackers in the NCAA. He’s very fast and gets up the field in a hurry as a pass rusher. His size is undesirable as a defensive end and will most likely be a 3-4 outside linebacker as a pure/situational pass rusher. He could be taken in the mid rounds as a project 4-3 outside linebacker as well purely based on athleticism, but that’s a long shot.
94. Brandon Fusco, C, Slippery Rock- 6’4" 306
It’s surprising to see a Slippery Rock graduate in here, but Fusco is the real deal. His strength and impressive ability to mirror defenders will make him a coveted option in the third or fourth rounds. Fusco is experienced and has a good football IQ. His size is ideal for the position; the only real worry is about the competition he faced.
You’ll see Bailey a bit higher on many other lists, but I question his ability to stop the run. Bailey is a very good pass rusher as a 4-3 defensive end. Despite his size, he lacks the strength to be a true 3-4 defensive end, and should stick to a 4-3 scheme. He’s athletic for a guy his size and gets a good push in the pass game. He could easily move into the first round, but he needs to get a bit stronger at the point of attack and get off of the snap a bit faster.
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