2011 NFL Draft: Comparing Prospects to Pros
So much time is spent analyzing where prospects will be picked in the 2011 NFL Draft but what matters most to fans is what players will do once they land on their teams.
The easiest way to give fans an idea of what type of pro player a prospect can be is by comparing them to a current or former pro.
This doesn't work for every NFL Draft prospect, many are trying to force a Vince Young comparison on Cam Newton or Emmit Smith on Mark Ingram but there are some very favorable comparisons to be had.
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Nick Fairley & Albert Haynesworth
When motivated, both players absolutely dominate. They have elite size and natural hand skills that allow them to wreak havoc in the backfield.
When unmotivated Fairley can't qualify for a D1 program academically and Haynesworth is getting kicked out of practice.
Both players have mean-streaks that can get them into trouble. That nastiness is also the reason they have a reputation for punishing QBs.
As a prospect Haynesworth flashed his athleticism with a 4.82 at 317 pounds (Fairley 4.87 @ 291) but he only managed 17 reps in the bench, part of the reason he was picked 15th--the 4th DT off the board.
Fairley's performance in the National Championship should keep him in the top 10, I see him going to the Bengals at four.
Daniel Thomas & Mike Bush
Even fans who follow the draft diligently haven't heard much about Daniel Thomas this off-season because he has been hampered with a hamstring injury, keeping him out of the Senior Bowl and Combine. Michael Bush didn't do much before the 2007 draft because of a broken leg which resulted in him becoming a 4th round pick.
The comparisons don't end there. Thomas comes in 6'2", 227 and has an upright running style, similar to Bush who was 6'2", 245 entering the NFL.
The upright style might be because both have played quarterback in the past. When it comes time for contact both know how to get low and deliver the blow.
Due to the hamstring there is a strong chance Thomas will fall to the third or fourth round after being considered a fringe first rounder during the season. His wildcat abilities and power running make him an ideal fit for the Miami Dolphins.
J.J. Watt & Adam Carriker
Between the 2007 Combine and his Pro Day, Adam Carriker posted ridiculous numbers like a 4.72 40, 33 inch vert, and 33 reps at 6'6" and 297 pounds. Coming out of Nebraska he seemed like a can't miss DE/DT hybrid.
To date he has less than five sacks and one serious injury that kept him out of the 2009 season.
Standing 6'5", 290 pounds Watt's 4.84 40, 34 inch vert, and 34 reps have impressed but many draft experts feel he is best suited as a 3-4 DE, a blue-collar position not known for producing stats.
The sky is the limit for the focused Watt but he isn't the first big, strong, and athletic DE prospect and he won't be the last to enter the NFL.
Carriker was the 13th overall selection which is where Watt's name starts to come into consideration.
Julio Jones & Braylon Edwards
6'2" size? Check.
Sub 4.4 speed? Check.
38 inch vert? Check.
Almost mirror images, Jones and Edwards are the prototypical NFL receiver.
We've seen Edwards have some on-and-off field focus issues since joining the NFL. Hopefully Jones can keep a clean off-field reputation but on the field he has been accused of a drop here and there.
While A.J. Green has earned the media's title of best receiver in the draft class, Jones is the one who has been in college football's limelight for the past three years. Much like Edwards was a Michigan.
It doesn't look like Jones will go third overall like Edwards but top 10 is a possibility.
Phil Taylor & Shaun Rogers
You don't see many 350 pound men move the way Phil Taylor and Shaun Rogers do. Bigger than a Smart car, they can get skinny and shoot through gaps from their nose position leaving centers and guards dumbfounded.
Don't let me walk to down the wrong pat though. Taylor and Rogers are run-stuffers first and foremost.
Rogers has a little more versatility to slide up and down the line but he is best in the middle of the defense.
Over-shadowed by Casey Hampton at Texas, Rogers was a late second round pick who has risen to become a Pro Bowl talent. Taylor hopes to crack the first round but he didn't get much shine to the Bowl season and may be a 3-4 only prospect.
Von Miller & Derrick Thomas
At Alabama DT had 27 in one season and 52 in his career. In KC he had 7 in one game.
22 years after Thomas won the Butkus Award, Miller came away with the title due to his reputation as a sack master with 27.5 in the last two years.
Both Miller and Thomas are long, lean, and fast. Their rare ability to turn the corner is what gives offensive tackles nightmares.
Thomas was the fourth overall selection in 1989 and Miller looks like a top 5 selection.
Ryan Kerrigan & David Pollack
Don't stop, can't stop, won't stop.
Both Kerrigan and Pollack earned reputations for their motors and its a trait that translates to the weight room.
At 6'2" and 265 pounds Pollack ran a 4.75, jumped 37 inches, and benched 25 reps. At 6'3", 267 Kerrigan posted 4.71, 33, and 31 respectively.
A broken neck caused Pollack to leave the game early but any SEC fan remembers the hell he raised while at Georgia.
He was the 17th overall pick in 2005, right around where Kerrigan projects.
Mike Pouncey & Maurkice Pouncey
It doesn't get much easier as far as comparisons go than putting twins side-by-side.
Although Maurkice entered the NFL one year earlier than Mike, the current Gator has worked hard to close any gaps between the two.
Both use a rare blend of size, strength, and agility to win POA battle, get to the second level, and erase foes in space.
Maurkice was the 18th overall selection and made the Pro Bowl which is why I have a hard time seeing Mike fall out of the top 20.
Marcel Dareus & Warren Sapp
When you think of Warren Sapp you think of a player who defined what it meant to be a cover 2 penetrating 3-tech. So it may come as a surprised to see him compared to one of the most versatile d-line prospects in recent draft history.
The truth is Sapp would have been a beast in any scheme. He was a dynamic talent who owned his gap for a decade.
If a 4-3 cover 2 team gets their hands on Darues, they may have the next Sapp. If he goes to a 3-4 team you could see Dareus lineup from 0 to wide 9 as he did at Alabama.
Sapp was the 12th overall pick in 1995 which looks like a steal in retrospect. Teams won't let Dareus slide that far, right now the consensus is he will go to Denver at two.
Danny Watkins & Richie Incognito
You can think it, but you might want to think twice before calling Danny Watkins or Richie Incognito baby face to their faces.
They may look sweet but these are two of the nastiest guys strapping on pads in the country.
Incognito is notorious for his anger management issues and while Watkins isn't the same hot-head he plays with an unrivaled mean-streak.
Watkins played tackle at Baylor, like Incognito at Nebraska, but it looks like he will play or center in the NFL--the same move Richie made.
Red flags sent Incognito to the third round. It looks like Watkins will be a second rounder but his unusual age (26) could hurt him.