2011 NFL Draft

NFL Draft 2011: Power Ranking the Top 10 Prospects from the Big Ten

Matt SmithContributor IIIApril 11, 2011

NFL Draft 2011: Power Ranking the Top 10 Prospects from the Big Ten

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    IOWA CITY, IA - OCTOBER 23- Quarterback Scott Tolzien #16 of the Wisconsin Badgers throws under pressure from Defensive lineman Adrian Clayborn #94 of the University of Iowa Hawkeyes as offensive lineman Gabe Carimi #68 defends during the first half of pl
    David Purdy/Getty Images

    The Big Ten, among other conferences, is losing a considerable amount of talent to the draft this year.

    There are quite a few first round prospects, many of them who could give a nice boost to an NFL team immediately.

    While not all of them will go in the first round, who are the Top 10 NFL Prospects from the Big Ten?

    Note: Nebraska is not included as a Big Ten school in this slideshow, as the prospects faced Big 12 competition last year.

10. Christian Ballard, DT, Iowa

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    STATE COLLEGE, PA - SEPTEMBER 26:  Broderick Binns #91 of the Iowa Hawkeye's celebrates a second quarter safty with Christian Ballard #46 in front of Dennis Landolt #73 of the Penn State Nittnay Lions on September 26, 2009 at Beaver Stadium in State Colle
    Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

    Earlier on in the year, you could see Ballard going to the Packers at the end of a first round mock.

    As unwarranted as that was, Ballard is still a good player.

    Ballard's strength is against the run. He has good quickness and good strength and can wrap up a runner, but hasn't been too successful getting to the passer in his college career.

    Projection: second or third round

9. Tandon Doss, WR, Indiana

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    COLUMBUS, OH - OCTOBER 9:  Brandon Saine #3 of the Ohio State Buckeyes attempts to make a tackle on Tandon Doss #2 of the Indiana Hoosiers during a kickoff return at Ohio Stadium on October 9, 2010 in Columbus, Ohio.  (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
    Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

    By drafting Doss, not only do you get a receiver, but you also get a more-than-adequate return man.

    Doss finished fourth in the nation in all purpose yards per game with 175.8

    Doss should be able to become a starting receiver in the NFL, as he has above average speed and can catch the ball in traffic. In addition to receiver, he could be on special teams as a return man if needed.

    Projection: second round

8. Martez Wilson, LB, Illinois

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    INDIANAPOLIS, IN - FEBRUARY 28: Martez Wilson of Illinois works out during the 2011 NFL Scouting Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium on February 28, 2011 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
    Joe Robbins/Getty Images

    Wilson played inside linebacker in college, but projects to be more of an outside linebacker at the next level.

    The fastest linebacker at the combine, Wilson used his speed to do it all for Illinois, recording over 100 tackles and four sacks.

    Wilson is a physically impressive player and should be a starting linebacker in the NFL.

    Projection: Early second round

7. Cameron Heyward, DE, Ohio State

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    COLUMBUS, OH - NOVEMBER 13:  Cameron Heyward #97 of the Ohio State Buckeyes chases after quarterback Matt McGloin #11 of the Penn State Nittany Lions at Ohio Stadium on November 13, 2010 in Columbus, Ohio.  (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
    Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

    One of Heyward's biggest attractions is his versatility. Heyward should be able to play in both a 4-3 and a 3-4.

    He didn't put up superb stats at Ohio State, but instead anchored the line for them.

    Heyward also has NFL blood, as his father Craig "Ironhead" Heyward played in the NFL for 11 seasons.

    Heyward is another prospect who isn't exceedingly good at the pass rush, but is a better run stuffer instead.

    Projection: Late first or early second round

6. Mikel LeShoure, RB, Illinois

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    CHICAGO - NOVEMBER 20: Mikel Leshoure #5 of the Illinois Fighting Illini runs as Brian Peters #10 of the Northwestern Wildcats closes in during a game played at Wrigley Field on November 20, 2010 in Chicago, Illinois. Illinois defeated Northwestern 48-27.
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    In my eyes, Leshoure is one of the more underrated prospects in this draft.

    Leshoure doesn't have elite speed but has the speed desired to be an effective back. Leshoure is elusive and can drag defenders with him in the run, but isn't much of a factor in the passing game.

    Whatever team picks him up could have one of the biggest steals in the draft.

    Projection: Early second round

5. Adrian Clayborn, DE, Iowa

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    TEMPE, AZ - DECEMBER 28:  Defensive end Adrian Clayborn #94 of the Iowa Hawkeyes in action during the Insight Bowl against the Missouri Tigers at Sun Devil Stadium on December 28, 2010 in Tempe, Arizona. The Hawkeyes defeated the Tigers 27-24.  (Photo by
    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    Clayborn had enormous expectations coming into his senior season at Iowa. Though he didn't live up to them, he is still considered a first round prospect.

    The Iowa product is a sterling pass rusher but relies too much on power.

    The main issue with Clayborn is character concern, but his talent should overshadow that.

    Projection: Mid to late first round

4. Gabe Carimi, OT, Wisconsin

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    TAMPA, FL -  JANUARY 1: Lineman Gabe Carimi #68 of the Wisconsin Badgers sets to block  against the Tennessee Volunteers in the 2008 Outback Bowl at Raymond James Stadium on January 1, 2008 in Tampa, Florida.  The Volunteers won 21 - 17. (Photo by Al Mess
    Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

    Wisconsin is known for producing excellent offensive linemen, and Carimi is no exception.

    The 2010 Outland Trophy winner was among the best offensive lineman in the nation and should be one of the top linemen selected in the draft.

    Carimi's ideal size allows him to be a great run blocker and a solid enough pass protector. Though he played on the left side in Wisconsin, he may have to move to right tackle in the NFL.

    Projection: Mid to late first round

3. Corey Liuget, DT, Illinois

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    Liuget is one of the biggest risers in the draft, as he has skyrocketed up many people's boards as of late.

    His premier ability is his run stuffing, which he is one of the best at in the NCAA, but also displays flashes of pass rushing brilliance.

    Liuget sheds off linemen with ease and has both good speed and power.

    Projection: Mid first round

2. Ryan Kerrigan, OLB/DE, Purdue

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    WEST LAFAYETTE, IN - SEPTEMBER 20:  Quarterback Dan LeFevour #13 of the Central Michigan Chippewas is tackled by Ryan Kerrigan #94 of the Purdue Boilermakers at Ross-Ade Stadium on September 20, 2008 in West Lafayette, Indiana.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/
    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    Though ESPN gave him their number one spot overall in the Big Ten, he barely misses out on it here.

    Kerrigan is a master of ripping the ball loose, as he recorded five forced fumbles. He is also one of the premier pass rushers of this class, recording 12.5 sacks in his senior campaign.

    Questions about his size project Kerrigan to be a defensive end in a 4-3 scheme or an outside linebacker in a 3-4 scheme.

    Projection: Mid first round

1. JJ Watt, DE, Wisconsin

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    PASADENA, CA - JANUARY 01:  Defensive lineman J.J. Watt #99 of the Wisconsin Badgers walks off the field after losing 21-19 to the TCU Horned Frogs in the 97th Rose Bowl game on January 1, 2011 in Pasadena, California.  (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty I
    Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

    Here at No.1 is JJ Watt, another of the Big Ten's versatile defensive linemen and a player who could play the end spot in either a 4-3 or 3-4 scheme.

    Watt uses his hands extremely well to shake off defenders from the start. While he isn't as good of a pass rusher as Kerrigan, Watt does most things extremely well.

    A member of the All-Big Ten first-team, Watt batted down eight passes, blocked three kicks, and recorded seven sacks.

    The place where he could most stand to improve would be in the strength and speed departments.

    Projection: Early-Mid First Round

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