NFL Draft 2011: Five Players Rising Up Teams' Draft Boards
Teams in the 2011 NFL draft are continuing to shift around draft boards watching players rise and fall, even after the college season ends. Since then, players have attended the combine, various pro days and spoken with prospective employers.
Regardless of whether postseason actions can indicate a player's talent, coaches and GM's across the league are changing their opinion on players based on out-of-game experiences.
Which players have done the most for themselves since their last college game?
Jordan Todman (RB, UConn)
The former UConn running back and second-leading rusher in the nation last season impressed officials from various teams with his combine workout.
He clocked an impressive 4.40 in the 40-yard dash that might help ease concerns over his size (Todman measures in at 5'9"). He also outdid many of his peers at the bench press putting 225 pounds up 25 times.
Teams are most concerned about the injury-risk associated with Todman. Todman is a small back, but he doesn't avoid tacklers like prototypical smaller backs—think he invites the contact. Coaches and scouts worry this mentality could lead to injuries down the road.
Julio Jones (WR, Alabama)
Julio Jones also had a spectacular combine and separated himself from the pack of wide receivers in the draft.
After running a 4.39 40-yard dash and jumping 11'3" in the broad jump, Jones showed scouts and coaches that he has the speed and athletic ability to complement his height. Jones projects as a Dwyane Bowe-type player—a receiver that uses his height and athletic ability to get jump balls in the end zone.
At 6'2" and the longest broad jump at the combine, no receiver will be able to compete with Jones' jump ball ability.
Stephen Paea (DT, Oregon St.)
Stephen Paea has had a productive offseason, and with a record-setting combine performance he might slip into the bottom of the first round of the draft.
Paea repped 225 pounds on the bench press 49 times, setting a combine record.
Paea was able to convert his strength into production in college as a 2010 consensus All-American. Whether he can do so in the NFL is unclear, but it will be easier for him to overcome the strength of professional offensive lines than other rookies.
Christian Ponder (QB, Florida St.)
It's a strange year for quarterbacks in the NFL Draft with no consensus No. 1 pick.
Christian Ponder is not in the top tier of quarterbacks with Cam Newton and Blaine Gabbert, but he might have had a strong enough Senior Bowl and Combine to sneak higher in Round 1.
Ponder was injured for parts of the 2010 season and NFL teams were concerned with how it would affect his long-term play. His combination of raw talent and the preparation he showed scouts at the Senior Bowl have dramatically increased Ponder's draft value.
Ryan Kerrigan (DE, Purdue)
Ryan Kerrigan has consistently been successful, whether during the college season, the Senior Bowl or the Scouting Combine. He is starting to make his way up the board in many mock drafts.
Although Kerrigan is not the most athletic player, he is tireless and goes full speed at all times. He has a variety of moves to get by his guy on the line and was a natural leader on Purdue.