NFL Draft 2011: Final Power Ranking of the Top 50 Prospects
The NFL draft is quickly approaching and NFL front offices are preparing their draft strategies. A successful draft can improve a team and make them playoff contenders for a long time to come.
Selecting one draft bust could set the franchise back for several years. With a lockout in place and several intriguing story lines this could be one of the most exciting drafts in NFL history.
Here is a power ranking of the top 50 prospects leading up to the 2011 NFL draft.
50. Christian Ponder, Florida State
Christian Ponder is a solid leader on the field, and unlike other field generals in the draft, he does not have any character issues.
He possesses a solid command of the field and has an excellent pocket presence. The major concern on Ponder his is durability.
49. Christian Ballard, Iowa
Christian Ballard is a very quick and athletic defensive tackle. Lacks some upper body strength and needs to use the initial burst to get leverage.
With time to grow in the right system and he is worthy of a draft pick.
48. Ryan Williams, Virginia Tech
47. Ras-I Dowling, Virginia
Ras-I Dowling has great size and speed for the position. He has a great feel for the game and is one of the most disciplined cornerbacks in the draft.
Not as quick to be a one-on-one cover man, but could help a team in nickel packages.
46. Randall Cobb, Kentucky
Randall Cobb has excellent college skills and the raw talent that will translate to the next level. Is not afraid to put his body on the line to make a catch and will block with a relentless drive.
Cobb has tremendous upside for a team willing to take a chance.
45. Rahim Moore, UCLA
44. Torrey Smith, Maryland
Torrey Smith has some serious upside and the potential to be a playmaker in the NFL. Gets off to a quick start off the line and has the speed that could outrun any secondary.
He will need some time to develop, but worth the draft pick.
43. Ryan Mallett, Arkansas
Ryan Mallett could easily be a first-round selection if not for the cloud of character flaws that has followed him throughout the draft process.
Mallett has the skill set to perform at the next level, and the recent drop on the draft board will benefit a team in need of a quarterback.
42. Martez Wilson, Illinois
Martez Wilson is a run specialist who shows the ability to track the ball and shut off running lanes. Wilson is also an above-average pass rusher who loves contact.
He is fundamentally sound and has decent speed for the position.
41. Mikel Leshoure, Illinois
Mikel Leshoure is a hard-nosed runner who can break tackles and get the short yardage when needed.
Needs to work on his pass receiving abilities, but is a hard worker who can be utilized at the next level.
40. Brooks Reed, Arizona
39. Jonathan Baldwin, Pittsburgh
Jonathan Baldwin will make a team very happy that may have missed out on Julio Jones and A.J. Green.
He still needs some work at the next level, but has the size and the speed to become a premier wide receiver.
Teams Most Likely To Draft Baldwin: Atlanta Falcons, San Diego Chargers
38. Stephen Paea, Oregon State
Stephen Paea is tough for his size and has the ability to knock over offensive linemen with his relentless attack.
Past knee injuries are a concern, but Paea could still evolve into a star player on Sundays.
37. Andy Dalton, TCU
Andy Dalton is quickly jumping up the draft board, as teams are impressed with his character and his approach to the game.
Dalton amassed a 34-3 record at TCU and grew into a leader respected by his teammates. Those intangibles are hard to find and Dalton could be a stunner and go in the first round.
36. Brandon Harris, Miami
Brandon Harris is a very talented cornerback, but with a bevy of other top corners, his draft stock could slip.
He is not a starter in the league but could start the season in nickel packages with his speed and athletic ability.
Harris has a promising future if a team is willing to groom his talents.
35. Akeem Ayers, UCLA
Akeem Ayers is an excellent fit on any team that needs the outsider linebacker slot filled.
Ayers pressures the quarterback but also defends well against the run, shedding would-be blockers to make tackles.
34. Kyle Rudolph, Notre Dame
Kyle Rudolph is one of the more popular draft risers on the board. Rudolph has performed well with the interview process and has teams taking notice.
Rudolph attacks the ball and can make stellar catches and will be a welcome addition to any pass happy offense.
Teams Most Likely To Draft Rudolph: Atlanta Falcons, Denver Broncos
33. Marvin Austin, North Carolina
Marvin Austin, like other North Carolina players in the draft, has some character issues.
However, for the team willing to take a chance, they will not be disappointed, as Austin can clog the lanes as a huge tackle on the front lines.
Teams Most Likely To Draft Austin: Chicago Bears, Minnesota Vikings
32 Justin Houston, Georgia
Justin Houston is a pass-rushing specialist who will start on passing plays in the league next year.
Houston can easily be converted to an every-down player with some work from a talented coaching staff. A project on defense, Houston is worth the risk.
31. Aaron Williams, Texas
Aaron Williams is a great cover corner with great instincts on the field.
A risk-taker, Williams will make the move to get six points and not worry about getting burned deep.
Teams Most Likely To Draft Williams: Dallas Cowboys, Pittsburgh Steelers
30 Danny Watkins, Baylor
29. Derek Sherrod, Mississippi State
Derek Sherrod is versatile enough to be plugged in at guard or tackle and will battle for a starting position in camp.
He has excellent footwork and is consistent with his protection. Sherrod is a solid future investment for any NFL team looking or help up front.
28. Phil Taylor, Baylor
Phil Taylor is a physical specimen who can run well when motivated. Character issues have his draft stock in flux, but with the right coaching staff he could be an asset.
He is a mountain in the middle that is nearly impossible to move.
27. Cameron Heyward, Ohio State
Cameron Heyward is a coach’s wet dream who will play through injuries and leave it all on the field.
A stunning run blocker with some pass-rush skills, Heyward will make the cut and get picked in the first round.
26. Mike Pouncey, Florida
25. Jake Locker, Washington
24. Mark Ingram, Alabama
Mark Ingram is the highest-rated running back in the power rankings.
Lately, his durability has caused some concerns, but he should still be selected in the first round. Runs hard and level to the ground with great balance.
23 Gabe Carimi, Wisconsin
Gabe Carimi has the flexibility to start at either tackle spot. He is a strong run blocker who sustains blocks downfield.
A worthy pass blocker who can fit into most pro sets. He is a very consistent blocker with a physical size that matches up.
Teams Most likely teams To Draft Carimi: Philadelphia Eagles, Kansas City Chiefs
22. Ryan Kerrigan, Purdue
Ryan Kerrigan is not the biggest player in the draft, but his skill-set will allow him to challenge for a starting spot on Day One.
Kerrigan has a unique ability of slipping blockers to make the sure-handed tackle.
Teams Most Likely To Draft Kerrigan: Jacksonville Jaguars, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
21. Nate Solder, Colorado
Nate Solder is a project on the offensive line that presents versatility to any NFL team.
Solder can help with the run and is very physical inside.
Teams Most Likely To Draft Solder: Chicago Bears, Indianapolis Colts
20. Adrian Clayborn, Iowa
Adrian Clayborn is a force off the end as a pass rusher and could provide instant assistance to any team lacking in that department.
Disciplined against the run and receives rave reviews as a future star in the league.
Teams Most Likely To Draft Clayborn: New Orleans Saints, Atlanta Falcons
19. Anthony Castonzo, Boston College
Anthony Castonzo is one of the most intelligent players in the draft and is a reliable option on the front line.
Castonzo is reliable and has solid footwork, making him a can’t-miss prospect in the first round.
Teams Most Likely To Draft Castonzo: Indianapolis Colts, Philadelphia Eagles, New England Patriots
18. Tyron Smith, USC
Tyron Smith is a bit overshadowed in this draft but is the best offensive lineman to choose from.
He is quick to react and added some bulk that could make him a Top 10 pick.
Teams Most Likely To Draft Smith: Dallas Cowboys, New York Giants
17. Jimmy Smith, Colorado
Jimmy Smith adds to the talented corps of cornerbacks in this year’s draft. Smith has shutdown ability and great speed to keep up with quick wide-outs.
Character issues have kept him sliding down the draft board, but he will still be a great pull for a team in need of an improvement in the secondary.
Teams Most Likely To Draft Smith: Baltimore Ravens, Oakland Raiders
16. Cam Newton, Auburn
There is no questioning the upside of Cam Newton, and in the meantime, the team that drafts him should benefit from a rise in popularity and jersey sales.
He has the ability to shine on the field if he can translate to the next level.
Teams Most Likely To Draft Newton: Carolina Panthers, Buffalo Bills
15. Aldon Smith, Missouri
Aldon Smith jumps in the power rankings as another defensive player that will get scooped up in the first round.
Smith is very athletic and shows signs of promise as a hard worker on the interior of any defense.
Teams Most Likely To Draft Smith: Jacksonville Jaguars, San Diego Chargers
14. Cameron Jordan, California
Cameron Jordan is a premier end in the draft.
Jordan has above-average speed for the position and football smarts that should make him a success in the NFL.
Teams Most Likely To Draft Jordan: New England Patriots, Minnesota Vikings, San Diego Chargers
13. Blaine Gabbert, Missouri
Blaine Gabbert is the best quarterback in a draft full of young prospects.
Gabbert is the prototype NFL quarterback with the physical skills and accuracy to play at the next level.
He may not be the first pick of the draft, but he is tops in the power ranking.
Teams Most Likely To Draft Gabbert: Buffalo Bills, Arizona Cardinals, Cincinnati Bengals
12. Corey Liuget, Illinois
Corey Liguet is another impressive penetrator on the front line who can clog up the run and break down the pass.
He had solid workouts on Pro Day and will be a solid first-round selection.
Teams Most Likely To Draft Liguet: Indianapolis Colts, St. Louis Rams
11. JJ Watt, Wisconsin
J.J. Watt is steamrolling up the draft board. Watt is very athletic for a big mane and never stops running until the whistle blows.
Watt is a can’t-miss prospect who will fit in with any team that selects him.
Teams Most Likely To Draft Watt: New England Patriots, Washington Redskins
10. Nick Fairley, Auburn
Nick Fairley has played big in big games. He is disruptive against the run and can pressure the passer.
Despite just one productive year at college, he deserves a ranking near the top of the big board.
Teams Most Likely To Draft Fairley: Tennessee Titans, Houston Texans
9. Muhammad Wilkerson, Temple
Muhammad Wilkerson did not get all of the press that other defensive lineman received heading into the draft, but he is just as talented. He is very strong and has all the tools to wreak havoc up front.
Wilkerson is flexible as a tackle that can line up at end. A nice pick for the team that is ready to improve up front.
Teams Most Likely To Draft Wilkerson: San Diego Chargers, Houston Texans, Kansas City Chiefs
8. Da'Quan Bowers
Da’Quan Bowers was at one time the No. 1 prospect in the draft, but injury concerns have sent his draft stock plummeting. He recently has had a good medical report, but the damage is done.
Bowers could be the best pass rusher in the draft and a nice fit for a defense that needs pressure.
Teams Most Likely To Draft Bowers: Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Minnesota Vikings, New England Patriots
7. Prince Amukamara, Nebraska
Prince Amukamara is a top prospect at the cornerback position. He has an above-average awareness for the field and good hands as well.
An automatic upgrade to any defense, Amukamara is a solid pick in the 2011 NFL draft.
Teams Most Likely To Draft Amukamara: Detroit Lions, Dallas Cowboys
6. Julio Jones, Alabama
Julio Jones has seen his stock slowly rise after the college football season ended. Jones ran a 4.39 with an ailing foot, which turned some heads at the combine.
Jones has incredible work ethic and works as hard on blocking as he does catching passes.
Some experts have him rated as the best wide receiver in the draft.
Teams Most Likely To Draft Jones: Cleveland Browns, Washington Redskins
5. Robert Quinn, North Carolina
Robert Quinn missed a year and is still one of the top prospects in the draft. Quinn had a great pro day to improve his draft stock. Silky smooth on the field and has excellent pursuit capabilities.
Despite a tumor and a cloudy past, Quinn is worth the investment.
Teams Most Likely To Draft Quinn: New England Patriots, Washington Redskins, Cleveland Browns
4. A.J. Green, Georgia
A.J. Green is the best wide receiver in the draft, despite the recent rise of Julio Jones.
With rock-solid catching ability due to strong hands, and good speed, he is a top five prospect. He is a playmaker who is ready to take over in the NFL.
Teams Most Likely To Draft Green: Cincinnati Bengals, Buffalo Bills
3. Von Miller, Texas A&M
Von Miller is an impressive prospect and is at the top of the wish list for many General Managers in the NFL.
Miller will excel in the NFL as a pass-rushing outside linebacker with a vast knowledge for the game.
Miller was a sack machine in college and has the skills to translate to the field in the NFL in year one.
Can drop back in coverage and will be a franchise-changing player for the lucky team that nabs him in the draft.
Teams Most Likely To Draft Miller: Buffalo Bills, Arizona Cardinals
2. Marcell Dareus, Alabama
If any team is looking to impact their front line with a disruptive powerhouse, Marcell Dareus is the man for the job.
Dareus can be a pass rusher from the outside or break blocking schemes if lined up on the interior.
He has elite awareness for the football and in a draft filled with defensive linemen, Dareus is the prized prospect.
Teams Most Likely To Draft Dareus: Denver Broncos, Carolina Panthers
1. Patrick Peterson, LSU
Patrick Peterson is one of the most athletic players in the draft and is a dual threat at cornerback and in the return game.
Peterson possesses great cover skills and will be an impact player from the start for any team lucky enough to get him in the draft.
Peterson is good enough to be selected No. 1 overall, but like great corners before him, he will most likely slip in the draft.
Teams Most Likely To Draft Peterson: San Francisco 49ers, Cincinnati Bengals
The players are ranked and now all that is left is for the 2011 NFL draft to get under way!
Matt Regaw is a B/R Featured Columnist and the founder of BookieBlitz.com, your one-stop shop for sports articles, previews and predictions. Feel free to contact Matt at firstname.lastname@example.org.