NFL Draft Projections: Best Players By Position
by Trevor Whenham - 4/26/2011
As we draw near the NFL Draft this week, here’s my attempt to select the best player at each position in the draft -- or at least the one that I think has the most potential to shine: Here are my NFL Draft projections for the best players at each position and these are the guys I would draft if I were an NFL executive.
QB - Andy Dalton, TCU - We’ll start with what could be a controversial pick. Dalton will be far from the first QB off the board, and he might not even make the first round. A few years from now, though, my hunch is he’ll be the best of the lot. He’s a proven winner, his game is reasonably transferable, he has the skills, he’s a brilliant leader, he has little baggage -- I could go on. The point, though, is that Dalton has more upside and far less risk in my eyes than the other choices. Newton requires too much change from both him and the team that picks him, and his style of QB seems to struggle at the next level. Gabbert just doesn’t impress me -- I have never liked watching him play. Mallett is a character risk, and Locker is a basket case who can’t handle pressure. In the right spot Dalton will shine.
RB - Mark Ingram, Alabama – It’s an incredibly underwhelming running back class, so it would be hard not to pick a guy who has won a Heisman Trophy. He has been knocked for a lack of speed in the 40, but he lacked that speed when he won all his hardware, too, so that’s not much of a concern.
WR - A.J. Green, Georgia - I have been a Julio Jones guy for months, but I have come around to Green’s side now. Jones is more fragile than Green is. More significantly, Green just looks like a star -- from his size and athleticism to the way he moves and handles the ball. Green has the capability to look like a star in his first year -- a rare thing for receivers.
TE - Kyle Rudolph, Notre Dame - This isn’t much of a contest. Rudolph has an outside shot at the first round. No other TE is likely to go before the third round. It’s not a strong class, but Rudolph has game.
OT - Gabe Carimi, Wisconsin - Carimi won’t be the first one off the board and there are others who are flashier or have more upside, but Carimi is my confident pick here. He is simply a beast. When he locks onto a guy he frequently drives him 10 yards down the field just because he can. He’s big and strong, and he knows what he needs to do and how to do it. He’s the kind of guy who can be plugged in -- perhaps first on the right side and then the left -- and then be forgotten for a decade.
OG/C - Mike Pouncey, Florida - His brother certainly shone last year for the Steelers, and this Pouncey looks pretty close to Maurkice is key ways, so he’s the clear choice here. He offers a lot of versatility because he can play three of the five positions on the line, so he’s a nice solution for a lot of teams.
DT - Marcell Dareus, Alabama - Dareus is athletic, he is versatile enough to shift between schemes and roles, he can play against the run and the pass effectively, he’ll play every down, he creates pressure effectively, and he has almost no baggage. There really isn’t much not to like about Dareus. Last year, Ndamukong Suh showed us how much of an impact a great player in the middle can make. Dareus may not quite be Suh, but he’s close.
DE - Robert Quinn, North Carolina - I came very close to picking Da’Quan Bowers here. If the knee wasn’t a concern for Bowers then he’d be a stone cold lock here. That means I have to give Quinn a lukewarm endorsement. I’m less excited about him than most guys on this list, though.
LB - Von Miller, Texas A&M - Miller is an absolute beast. He’s the best pass rusher in the class, and he can be a disruptive force at linebacker right away. My concern is that the last linebacker who was this exciting at this point was Aaron Curry, and he has been generally disappointing as a pro.
CB - Patrick Peterson, LSU - This is another no-brainer. Peterson is the best athlete on the board. He’ll make an immediate impact as a returner, and has all the tools to be an effective -- or maybe even excellent -- corner for a long time. There is no one else that can be considered an alternative.
S - Rahim Moore, UCLA - This is not a good year to need a safety. Moore is the best of the bunch, but he’ll likely not go until midway through the second round. He’s solid, but he lacks versatility and could be bigger.
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