Saturday, April 23, 2011

2011 NFL Draft - Top 32 Prospects

A little side rant before I get started – With every passing year, the media’s inflation of prospects’ worth is becoming worse and worse. More and more you have to pay less and less attention to what is said about these players once the college football season finishes. Evaluate the players on their play during their careers, and ignore 99% of the “moving up, moving down” BS that the media floats between the BCS championship and draft day. Right now I think the count is up to 127 prospects with first round grades, a “declaration” that has become more laughable than informational. I personally use all the postseason stuff (All Star games, Combine, Pro Days) as a rankings modifier. You should know the players by now, and the postseason activities should serve as a tool for adjusting positional slots once you get to see these guys go head to head against the same level of talent. End rant.

Here are my top 32 prospects based on a combination of talent and my confidence in their potential at the next level:

1) Patrick Peterson (CB, LSU)
#1 by a large margin; game changer; unique size/speed combo; an aggressive playmaker with attitude; plus hands, ball skills, athleticism, and footwork; excellent build; safety size with cover corner ability; plus return man with great vision and elusiveness

2) Marcell Dareus (DT, Alabama)
Athletic bowling ball; disruptive presence; plus explosion and lateral quickness; makes a lot of plays by utilizing both strength and leverage/technique; could be equally effective inside in a 4-3 or outside in a 3-4

3) AJ Green (WR, Georgia)
Acrobatic receiver with plus body control, concentration, and ball skills; very effective on quick hitting patterns; shows no hesitation over the middle of the field; understands positioning; doesn’t get outplayed for the ball in the air

4) Da’Quan Bowers (DE, Clemson)
Ideal size/speed combo; nice use of hands, leverage, and upper body strength; busted out as pass rusher with 15 sacks and 25 TFL last year; very underrated against the run; big body, long arms, stoutness, and ability to shed; (* huge medical red flag; I’m basing my ranking on his injury not being serious)

5) Robert Quinn (DE, North Carolina)
Incredibly fluid; love his athleticism; impressive balance, lean, and foot chop when getting after QB; plays contain well and doesn’t overcommit; needs to use his hands better and improve shedding; huge ceiling; can be an elite 3-4 pass rusher but like him better overall in a 4-3

6) JJ Watt (DE, Wisconsin)
Great NFL body for multiple schemes; very strong pass rusher who shuts down the run; like him equally as a 4-3 LE or 3-4 5-technique; big guy who plays really long; love his potential and see very very little bust risk

7) Julio Jones (WR, Alabama)
NCAA’s top deep threat; huge, strong target who uses body well before and after catch; solid stiff arm; plays with attitude; questionable focus; tough over the middle; huge potential

8) Von Miller (OLB, Texas A&M)
Dominant stand up pass rusher who explodes off the edge; highlight reel hitter, impressed with how quickly he gets to the football and how consistently fundamentally sound he is as a tackler; relies too much on straight line speed; worry about run defense in pros

9) Cameron Jordan (DE, California)
Similar to Watt in that he’s strong and can play multiple schemes; very active hands; sheds well; impressive lateral quickness; don’t see him being a consistent pass rush threat but his size, strength, hands, and quickness should make him one of the safer picks in the draft

10) Prince Amukamara (CB, Nebraska)
Plus press coverage and football instincts; strong run supporter; impressive ability to diagnose the play and close on the ball; consistent jam on receiver at LOS; doesn’t have great speed; looked really bad against Oklahoma State (weaknesses exposed); worry about bigger, quicker NFL receivers beating him

11) Anthony Castonzo (T, Boston College)
Tall with long arms; smooth technical blocker; quickly cuts off edge rusher; maintains bubble for QB and centers himself well against rusher/defender; could play RT and possibly G but love his potential at LT

12) Justin Houston (DE/OLB, Georgia)
Love him most as a 4-3 RE; explodes off the edge; love his angles to the passer; nice speed/strength combo; like his base and leg drive when engaged by blocker; can line up in multiple spots, hand up or down on either side; stays with plays and finishes downfield better than most at his position

13) Ryan Kerrigan (DE, Purdue)
Competitive; always grinding; incredibly polished and productive; effort and technique make him dangerous against both the pass and run; strong and stout on the edge; possible 3-4 OLB flexibility

14) Jimmy Smith (CB, Colorado)
Elite size and exceptional speed; plays long, nice positional wingspan; reliable tackler who plays with physicality; off field issues will have him drafted later than talent would otherwise permit

15) Adrian Clayborn (DE, Iowa)
Ideal size and strength; understands leverage; consistently strong hand usage; not an explosive pass rusher but is quick in short spaces; played injured in ’10; could probably play end in a 3-4 but is probably best suited as a 4-3 LE

16) Mikel Leshoure (RB, Illinois)
Nice tight build; durable back who can take pounding; shows nice burst through hole; gets to top speed quickly, impressively; underrated receiver; impressive shake and cutting ability for a bigger back; protects the football; keeps feet churning after contact; I project him similarly to another Illini back, Rashard Mendenhall; in time will clearly prove to be the draft’s best back

17) Jake Locker (QB, Washington)
Athletic passer who throws really well on the run; love his vision and toughness; plus runner who looks to make plays and not get out of bounds; impressive arm strength; like his timing on deep routes; will be a winner in the NFL

18) Aldon Smith (DE, Missouri)
Huge wingspan; plays with a lot of speed; active arms; needs to add strength and improve technique; looks stiff (plays too high too much) and doesn’t change directions as quickly/smoothly as I’d like

19) Christian Ponder (QB, FSU)
Confident, poised, instinctive leader; great mobility and touch; quick release and underrated arm strength; very coachable; most pro ready QB in class in my opinion

20) Nick Fairley (DT, Auburn)
Interior penetrator who makes a ton of plays in the backfield; plays hard (dirty?); shows impressive lateral pursuit speed; don’t like him as a 5-technique; worry about his stamina, strength, and lack of lengthy resume

21) Gabe Carimi (T, Wisconsin)
Huge, strong run blocker with great anchor; underrated pass protector; seems like you could put him at RT and have the position covered for 10 years; slow feet and reaction/adjustment speed might limit him to right side on some teams; wish he wasn’t as stiff and played with a little more balance

22) Corey Liuget (DT, Illinois)
Strong penetrator who will only get better over time; athletic hustler with some scheme versatility; three down player with a high ceiling; impressed with how low he gets and how well he holds his ground for a guy who isn’t the biggest DT; watched a lot of him this offseason and really love his game

23) Randall Cobb (WR, Kentucky)
Extremely versatile (RB, QB, WR, RET) and athletic; reminds me of Hines Ward; love his combination of plus hands, quickness in and out of breaks, and sharp routes; big time yards after catch guy; believe he’s going to be a huge playmaker at the next level; an intelligent leader

24) Ras-I Dowling (CB, Virginia)
Tall, physical corner who plays with attitude; love his length/wingspan; good play recognition and a plus run supporter; defends ball well in the air; doesn’t have great catch up speed; needs to put injuries behind him

25) Ryan Williams (RB, Virginia Tech)
Grinder with speed; squares shoulders really well when hitting hole; plus lower body strength; love his vision; underrated hands; complete 3 down back; no ball security issues; coming into the draft really under the radar and will be a steal mid-late R2

26) Derek Sherrod (T, Mississippi State)
Most pro-ready tackle; love his size, agility, and feet; not overly strong but has a nice punch to stun rushers; mirrors defender really well

27) Mark Ingram (RB, Alabama)
Accomplished inside rusher; takes on and breaks tackles; love his consistent pad level; nice hands; decisive runner with little wasted motion or effort; doesn’t have great speed or ideal acceleration to top speed; doesn’t make defenders miss

28) Blaine Gabbert (QB, Missouri)
Technically sound; nice arm action and release; throws an attractive, catchable ball; big arm; personally don’t think he’s as accurate a passer as given credit for; doesn’t display the decision making and vision I’d need in a possible top 5 pick; has really poor pocket presence

29) Rodney Hudson (G, FSU)
Elite technician with plus athleticism and quickness; reacts very quickly to movement/stunts; great feet and range; you never see him reach; excellent blocker on the move; size is his biggest weakness; not limited to but will excel and have a long career in a ZBS

30) Stephan Paea (DT, Oregon State)
Impressive strength and agility combination; a rare player who anchors well and penetrates regularly; plays with a good first step and punch; consistently blows up plays in backfield

31) Muhammad Wilkerson (DT, Temple)
Strong, athletic penetrator with a lot of DL versatility; would likely rank him higher if I had seen him play more; want to see how stout he is against interior NFL blockers

32) Cameron Heyward (DE, Ohio State)
Huge, overpowering defender; plays long and wide; some scheme versatility but probably best as a 5-technique; impressive bull rusher; shows good anchor when not fatigued; limited range and suddenness

No comments:

Post a Comment