2011 NFL Draft: 10 of the Hardest Players to Place in Your Mock Draft

Keet Bailey@@KeetBaileyCorrespondent IIApril 11, 2011

SEATTLE - SEPTEMBER 18: Quarterback Jake Locker #10 of the Washington Huskies hands off against the Nebraska Cornhuskers on September 18, 2010 at Husky Stadium in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

Despite the disagreements among the owners and the players in the NFL, the 2011 NFL Draft is still approaching and will happen, thankfully, for us draft fans. 

Perhaps everybody’s favorite game is a Mock Draft contest during this time of year. Many draftnik’s will research player statistics, watch YouTube videos of select players, and compare NFL Draft website mock drafts to try and create the perfect mock draft.

But there are always players out there that are specifically harder to place in those mock drafts more than the rest. The following ten names are the guys you’ll be scratching your head to find room for in your mock.

Jake Locker, QB, Washington

We all know the story with Locker. He has all of the talent and potential, but it seems that it has yet to be tapped. It’s as if NFL Scouts are drilling for oil and are digging deeper and deeper and trying to strike the oil flow.

But we haven’t seen it. Locker’s inconsistent accuracy, questionable decision making, and happy feet are keeping some scouts away. But it’s still possible that he could end up a Top 15 pick. It’s unlikely in my eyes, but there are ALWAYS surprises come draft time. Locker should be off the board anywhere between pick 10 and pick 60. That’s quite a large range to be drafted in.

Ryan Mallett, QB, Arkansas

Prior to the Arkansas/Ohio State Sugar Bowl matchup, some scouts were talking up Ryan Mallett to be a Top Five selection come April. But with his continuous failures in the fourth quarter in big games, teams have to be questioning whether Mallett has the “It” factor.

Add in the fact that Mallett has had allegations of substance abuse with marijuana and cocaine into the mix, and you could see a free fall for the strong armed quarterback. He was forced to do a hair follicle test at the NFL Combine, rather than the standard urine test, which means that scouts are on to him.

Mallett’s short/intermediate accuracy problems remind many of Derek Anderson, as well as his deep ball risk taking. However, he threw very well at the NFL Combine and impressed many. Mallett could go as high as the No. 1 overall pick, although unlikely, but could also fall as low as the third round.

Adrian Clayborn, DE, Iowa

The story with Adrian Clayborn seems to be an odd one. Some scouts seem to love what he brings to the table, and many others are unimpressed. In Clayborn’s 2009 campaign, he looked like a legit Top 15 draft pick. But in 2010, Clayborn lacked consistency, and his statistics were hurt a bit as well.

Clayborn hasn’t seemed to show very much in the off-season either, not being overly impressive, while also not showing signs of being less than mediocre. But Clayborn was once talked about as a Top 15 pick, and now some scouts have him listed as a late first/early second round selection come April.

Jabaal Sheard, DE/OLB, Pittsburgh

Jabaal Sheard happens to be one of my favorite players in this draft. There’s no doubting that the talent is there, but some may question his character.

In July of 2010, Sheard was accused of assault after throwing a man through a window in a bar fight. Although the story is that he was protecting a friend of his, it makes some scouts wonder if he’ll be able to stay out of these situations when he has an NFL paycheck.

Sheard should sneak into the first round similar to Derrick Harvey, Jason Pierre-Paul and Tyson Alualu. But he could also find himself falling to the middle of the third round.

Torrey Smith, WR, Maryland

When you watch the highlights of Torrey Smith, you have to wonder how this guy isn’t being talked about as a Top 15 pick. Smith became a legit play maker for Maryland, and sort of came out nowhere, much like former Terp Darrius Heyward-Bey.

Smith came into the combine and measured in at 6’0" and 204 lbs., but he only registered 8 5/8 inch hands, which is a big red flag. Scouts love players with big, strong hands. Smith has showed a great ability… at dropping passes, and that simply doesn’t sit well with many NFL Scouts. Smith could be drafted anywhere between pick 25 and pick 70 in April’s Draft.

Casey Matthews, LB, Oregon

Everybody in the NFL knows the Matthews name. It’s a name that’s been around for years with grandfather Clay, Clay Matthews II, Bruce Matthews and most recently Clay Matthews III. But there’s yet another Matthews.

Much like Clay, Matthews wasn’t an athletic freak in college and had to work his way up from the bottom of the depth chart.

But will teams draft Casey higher than perhaps he deserves based on the family name, or will they feel that he doesn’t have the potential that Clay does, and keep him down in the fifth or sixth round. Some scouts feel that he is worthy of a late second round selection, while others seem to rate him as a fifth round prospect.

Martez Wilson, LB, Illinois

The athletic freak, Martez Wilson, has loads of potential. He was a highly recruited defensive end by Ron Zook, and came in to play a bit of outside linebacker for the Illini before suffering a season ending neck injury in 2009. He came back in 2010 to start at middle linebacker and looked fierce.

But while Wilson is athletic, and a very physical player, he doesn’t always play the part. He struggles in traffic, doesn’t have great instincts, and can’t seem to get off of blocks efficiently. Some may call him a work out warrior, but for a guy as athletic as him, he shouldn’t look as stiff as he did at Illinois’ pro day.
Wilson could be drafted as high as pick 17, but also shoot down to the bottom of the second round if teams don’t feel that he can actually play the part.

Ryan Williams, RB, Virginia Tech

Placing Ryan Williams in mock drafts isn’t particularly easy, and the reason has a bit of irony attached. Injuries derailed part of Williams’ 2010 campaign, which is also what allowed him to take over the starting job for Virginia Tech after Darren Evans tore his ACL early in the season.

Williams’ hamstring injury clearly lingered throughout the season as he managed to struggle for much of the season. At the 2011 NFL Scouting Combine, Williams ran a 4.61 forty yard dash which wasn’t particularly exciting.

But Williams’ vision and balance sets him apart from many of the backs, and if he’s 100 percent healthy, he may be one of the best in the entire NFL Draft. Williams is a stretch to make it in the first round, but he could go between the second and fourth rounds.

Leonard Hankerson, WR, (Miami Fl.)

What a ride it has been for Leonard Hankerson. He had a promising senior season, showing his ability to make plays after the catch, but he also had some lowlights, dropping quite a few passes.

Hankerson shined in the Senior Bowl according to many scouts, and even though he dropped a few passes each day, he performed quite well overall.

But he struggles to catch the ball efficiently with his hands, often having mental lapses and not always getting great separation. That being said, Hankerson’s NFL Combine was solid, running an excellent 4.43 second forty yard dash, and measuring with 10 5/8 inch hands. Hankerson has potential for the late first round, but could fall to the beginning of the third round.

Allen Bailey, DE, Miami (Fl.)

Once talked about as a potential Top 10 talent, Allen Bailey has fallen off the map. Halfway through the 2010 season, I started to see regression in Bailey, as he seemed to start taking plays off.

Bailey didn’t dominate like he was expected in 2010, and received chances in the Senior Bowl and the NFL Combine to prove people wrong. But his combine numbers were above average at best, and he looked poor at the Senior Bowl.

However, Bailey still has exceptional upside, and scouts are always looking for gems. It’s possible that Bailey is drafted early in the second round, but it’s most likely that he falls closer to the fourth or even fifth rounds.


Follow me on Twitter @NFLSoupKeet


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