2011 NFL Draft: 15 Players Who Should Think Twice Before Declaring
The college football season is nearly over, with the national championship game taking place on Jan. 10. Not long after that last game is played, college football underclassmen have to decide whether they will declare for the NFL Draft.
The exact date is Jan. 14. Four days after the title game, we will know all the underclassmen who will be in the April's NFL Draft.
Typically when underclassmen come out of college early it's because their stock is so high right now that they can't possibly improve upon it, and they want to earn that big-time money.
The problem is that there are a number of players who declare for the draft every single year who think that they will be a top pick but see their stock fall because of a bad combine workout. Other times they are drafted in that high spot, but they fizzle out quickly in the NFL because they aren't ready for the prime-time stage and their skills don't properly develop.
Here are 15 college underclassmen who can declare for the NFL Draft but should really think twice before they do so.
Alabama RB Mark Ingram
Mark Ingram’s stock was never higher than after last year’s Heisman Trophy season.
But 2010 has been a different story.
His numbers have been good on the surface: He averaged 5.5 yards per carry. However, he was very inconsistent this season. In five of the 10 games that he played this season, he averaged 4.0 yards per carry or fewer.
Oklahoma State WR Justin Blackmon
Justin Blackmon had one of the greatest seasons any wide receiver has had in college football history. He had at least 100 yards receiving and one touchdown catch in every game this season.
However, the Big 12 isn’t crawling with elite defenses and Blackmon still needs to become a more precise route runner. He isn’t going to outmuscle the corners in the NFL.
Auburn QB Cam Newton
The fastest-rising player in all of college football, Cam Newton would be best served to stay at Auburn for another year.
He looks like Vince Young 2.0.
He has the ability to throw the ball, but at the end of the day, if he can’t find his first read, he is going to tuck the ball and run. He should work on becoming a passer first and an athlete second.
Arkansas QB Ryan Mallett
Ryan Mallett has improved dramatically in 2010. His accuracy got much better this year. He has great size for the quarterback position.
His problems came in the biggest games that Arkansas played—he was not very effective.
First, against Alabama he threw for over 300 yards but he threw three terrible interceptions that cost the team.
Then against Auburn, he got injured and the Razorbacks still put up 43 points. The team has succeeded at times in spite of Mallett. He will be a high pick because of his size and numbers, but a lot of those were put up in games against mediocre or bad teams.
Oklahoma WR Ryan Broyles
Ryan Broyles had a year that can rival Oklahoma State’s Justin Blackmon in terms of production. He had over 1,600 yards receiving and 14 touchdowns this year, while catching 131 passes.
His problem is his size. He is less than six-feet tall and doesn’t possess great speed. He could go into the draft this year and eventually turn into a decent slot receiver.
However, if he goes back and becomes a more precise route runner, he can improve his stock going into the 2012 draft.
Ohio State QB Terrelle Pryor
Yes, reports say that he “promised” to come back in exchange for being able to play in the Sugar Bowl.
However, if he were to have a great game against Arkansas, what’s to stop him from coming out?
He won’t be a quarterback in the NFL, but he is a solid athlete. He needs to work on a lot of things including his attitude and sense of entitlement that he seems to have.
Missouri QB Blaine Gabbert
Blaine Gabbert has declared for the draft and could be the second quarterback taken after Andrew Luck, assuming he comes out.
He has the size to be a good quarterback in the NFL. He will likely test well at the combine, which will add to his draft value.
His production at Missouri was pretty good. But he never really elevated the team into elite territory. The one big win that the Tigers had this year was against Oklahoma and Gabbert performed well in that game.
However, he stumbled big time in the next two games after that against the better defenses in the Big 12, Nebraska and Texas A&M. He’s not ready for the NFL right now.
Florida S Will Hill
The Florida safety has good size and speed for the safety position.
His issue comes from consistency. He has struggled with coverage during his entire college career and seems to fall asleep on some plays.
He needs to go back to school for his senior season and work on his coverage skills to improve his draft stock next year.
Pittsburgh RB Dion Lewis
Dion Lewis entered the 2010 season as one of the top running backs in the country and with good reason. His 2009 season was fantastic: 1,799 rushing yards and 17 touchdowns.
Lewis failed to live up to those expectations in 2010: 956 yards and his per-carry average dipped from 5.5 to 4.9. He split time this season with Ray Graham, who was terrific when he was given the chance.
His stock has taken a tumble and he would be best served to go back to Pitt in 2011 and re-establish his draft value.
UCLA LB Akeem Ayers
Akeem Ayers has declared for the 2011 NFL Draft and will be one of the top linebackers taken.
Watching footage of him, he doesn’t look ready. He has the physical tools, no question. But the game is about more than just having the physical tools. He doesn’t make good reads on defense and he isn’t a very effective tackler.
That’s not a good combination for a linebacker.
Florida CB Janoris Jenkins
This is not about Janoris Jenkins' physical tools. He has all of the tools to step into the NFL right now and be a very effective cornerback.
His problems come from his personal issues. He was arrested in 2009 after being involved in a fight. He was charged with a misdemeanor, but the NFL has cracked down so hard on off-field issues that you wonder if another clean year in college would serve him well.
Notre Dame WR Michael Floyd
Michael Floyd had a great year at Notre Dame in 2010: 79 receptions, 1,025 yards and 12 touchdowns. He has the size to be a good NFL receiver: 6’3”, 225 pounds.
He doesn’t have the speed to be a top NFL receiver. He lacks the ability to separate against defenders. He can be a solid No. 3 receiver in the future, but would be best served playing his senior season at Notre Dame.
Oregon State RB Jacquizz Rodgers
Jacquizz Rodgers has been in college for what seems like 10 years. He is only a junior and can, and should, go back to school for his senior season.
While he has been one of the most productive running backs in the country in his time at Oregon State, he is very small and could break down easily in the NFL. Plus, he lacks the speed that you would like to see from a running back.
USC DT Jurrell Casey
Jurrell Casey has the talent to be a good NFL player. The one thing that should stop him from entering the 2011 NFL Draft is the fact that his position is so deep.
There could be as many as five defensive tackles taken in the first round and Casey isn’t one of them. If he waits until next year, he could see his stock go higher when the defensive tackle field might not be so crowded.
He has solid talent, but he could stand to improve his ability as a pass rusher. Another year in school and he could become a first-round talent.
Virginia Tech RB Ryan Williams
Ryan Williams has been listed as the No. 2 running back by ESPN. He may have the physical tools to be successful in the NFL, but his production this year will scare away a lot of teams.
He missed four games with a bad hamstring this year. He saw his yards per carry drop from 5.6 in 2009 to 4.3 in 2010. His stock is going to be extremely low going into the draft.
Another year at Virginia Tech could get him some of that value back.