2011 NFL Draft Prospects: Top 40 Players in Draft
by Aaron Smith - 4/22/2011
The NFL Draft is fast approaching. No one knows whether the teams will actually be on the field in September, but there is still a lot of excitement surrounding the draft. This particular draft strikes me as heavy on defensive talent. Unfortunately for a lot of teams, there isn’t much depth at the quarterback position. Let’s take a look at my top 40 NFL Draft prospects for 2011.
NFL Draft Prospects: Top 40 Players
40. Jonathan Baldwin (Pittsburgh, WR) – Baldwin is a project, but his 6’5 frame will be tough for cornerbacks to deal with.
39. Aaron Williams (Texas, CB) – Williams has impressive top-end speed and makes good decisions in coverage.
38. Brandon Harris (Miami, CB) – Harris is a little less than 5’10, but he has great quickness and good hands.
37. Phil Taylor (Baylor, OT) – Taylor is one of the best run blockers in this draft. He has some durability concerns.
36. Randall Cobb (Kentucky, WR) – Cobb is one of the quickest players in the draft this year. He’ll be utilized in a number of ways.
35. Mikel LeShoure (Illinois, RB) – LeShoure excelled at Illinois despite the team having almost no passing game.
34. Marvin Austin (North Carolina, DT) – Austin is climbing up the charts as the days pass. He has a terrific first step for a defensive tackle.
33. Torrey Smith (Maryland, WR) – Smith ran a 4.47 40-yard dash, and he wowed scouts with a 41-inch vertical leap.
32. Rahim Moore (UCLA, S) – Moore finished his UCLA career with 14 interceptions, and I think he’s the best safety available.
31. Danny Watkins (Baylor, OT) – Watkins worked as a firefighter before enrolling at Baylor and dominating on the offensive line.
30. Jimmy Smith (Colorado, CB) – Smith played on a bad defense at Colorado, but he often shut down his receiver.
29. Stephen Paea (Oregon State, DT) – Paea broke the NFL combine record with 49 bench press repetitions of 225 pounds.
28. Derek Sherrod (Mississippi State, OT) – Sherrod was one of the main reasons the Mississippi State program came to life in the last two years.
27. Kyle Rudolph (Notre Dame, TE) – Rudolph is a great pass-catching tight end, but durability is a question mark.
26. Cameron Heyward (Ohio State, DE) – Heyward is great against the run and average when rushing the quarterback.
25. Muhammed Wilkerson (Temple, DT) – Wilkerson is a tremendous pass rusher, and he started all 25 games in his career at Temple.
24. Jake Locker (Washington, QB) – Locker’s stock dropped from last year, but he could still be a serviceable quarterback.
23. Ryan Kerrigan (Purdue, DE) – Kerrigan racked up 26 tackles for loss in 2010. He has a great motor.
22. Cory Liuget (Illinois, DT) – Liuget has an exceptional closing burst for a defensive tackle, and he is dominating against the run.
21. Mark Ingram (Alabama, RB) – Ingram didn’t meet expectations in 2010, but he is still clearly the best running back in this draft.
20. Mike Pouncey (Florida, OG) – I expect Pouncey to have a great rookie year; just like his older brother Markice did last year.
19. Nate Solder (Colorado, OT) – Looking for a big offensive tackle? Solder stands 6’9 and 315 pounds.
18. Adrian Clayborn (Iowa, DE) – Clayborn didn’t put up huge numbers in 2010, but he faced double-teams constantly.
17. Gabe Carimi (Wisconsin, OT) – Carimi was the single most dominant offensive lineman in college football last year.
16. Aldon Smith (Missouri, OLB) – Smith takes a back seat to no one in terms of athleticism. He is extremely versatile.
15. Cam Newton (Auburn, QB) – Newton is a tough one to rank because of the unknowns, but he proved he knows how to win.
14. Cameron Jordan (California, DE) – No one has been moving up the draft board faster. Jordan’s offseason workouts have the scouts raving.
13. J.J. Watt (Wisconsin, DE) – A relentless force at the defensive end position, I expect him to shine in the NFL.
12. Anthony Castonzo (Boston College, OT) – Castonzo is intelligent on and off the field. He has long arms and is extremely durable.
11. Da’Quan Bowers (Clemson, DE) – Bowers has a tremendous amount of upside potential, but he comes with far more risks than most players.
10. Blaine Gabbert (Missouri, QB) – Gabbert played behind a poor offensive line at Missouri. His passing accuracy is much better than most believe.
9. Julio Jones (Alabama, WR) – Jones ran a 4.34 40-yard dash at the combine. He is more than willing to work the middle of the field.
8. Prince Amukamara (Nebraska, CB) – In a normal year Amukamara would easily be the best cornerback in the draft. He is aggressive in pass coverage and solid in run support.
7. Tyron Smith (USC, OT) – Smith ran a 4.88 40-yard dash, which was easily the best time for an offensive lineman. He has great techniques in the trenches.
6. Nick Fairley (Auburn, DT) – There are some concerns about Fairley’s work ethic. He has the potential to be a game-changing pass rusher.
5. Robert Quinn (North Carolina, DE) – Quinn ran a 4.62 40-yard dash, which was the best mark of any defensive lineman. His athleticism has him leaping on draft boards.
4. A.J. Green (Georgia, WR) – Green is easily the best offensive prospect in this year’s draft. His ball skills are second-to-none. Green is an amazing route runner.
3. Von Miller (Texas A&M, OLB) – Miller racked up 27.5 sacks in his last two years in college. He could quickly become one of the best pass rushers in the NFL.
2. Marcell Dareus (Alabama, DT) – Dareus is exceptionally agile for a 319-pound defensive tackle. Dareus is great against both the run and the pass.
1. Patrick Peterson (LSU, CB) – Peterson has an amazing combination of size and speed. He can hit like a safety, but he has skills to be a lockdown corner. He should immediately become of the best returners in the game.
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