11.) David DeCastro, OG, Stanford
DeCastro is the best interior lineman in the draft, hands down. An absolute mauler from a big-time program, DeCastro is an NFL-ready guard who will immediately make an impact as a starter for whatever team drafts him. If not for the number of tackles with a first round grade, DeCastro would probably be in the top ten, but as it stand he’ll make whatever team that drafts him extremely happy in the long-term.
12.) Fletcher Cox, DT, Mississippi State
The top defensive tackle in the draft, Cox could easily go in the top ten depending on the early demand for defensive tackles. Cox should add a little mass to his frame when he gets to the NFL, but should see the field immediately. I like Cox, he has a big physical frame and he’s got the versatility to play outside on the end in a 3-4 defensive scheme. He’s a high IQ, high effort kid who goes full speed from opening snap to closing whistle. What he isn’t, yet, is dominant. But that will come.
13.) Dre Kirkpatrick, CB, Alabama
Kirkpatrick would be in the top ten if not for an off-season arrest. A Nick Saban-coach corner, Kilpatrick played on the nation’s top defense last season and was a stand-out, he should start immediately in the NFL and when it’s all said and done, I could see him having a better career than Mo Claiborne (the only CB ahead of him).
14.) Mark Barron, S, Alabama
Barron has been one of the draft’s fastest risers in the past couple of months and a lot of that stems from a Pro Day workout where Barron showed off his football IQ and leadership abilities in front of all 32 teams. Whatever NFL team gets Barron won’t have to worry about the player holding down their secondary for a good decade, Barron is the best safety to come out in years.
15.) Quinton Coples, DE, North Carolina
Coples has been all over this board, as high as six and as low as 25. He’s not an elite pass-rusher nor is he the most gifted defensive lineman to come out in a while, but he will be solid and brings plenty of versatility with him to the NFL. He can play as a 3-4 end or can play inside or out in a 4-3 scheme. Coples will likely need a full year in the NFL before he hits his stride, but I do believe he’ll eventually hit it.
16.) Melvin Ingram, OLB/DE, South Carolina
Ingram played down on the line in college a lot of the time, the move to linebacker is still somewhat new to him. I like what Ingram brings to the table from a pass-rushing standpoint. He’s probably a better fit in a 3-4 than in a 4-3 but could work in either. The former Gamecock has the speed and quickness to rush the edge successfully and he’s also got a good stutter move where he fakes outside and cuts underneath. He is relentless and gets plenty of second-effort sacks, but lacks a lot of explosion off the line.
17.) Michael Floyd, WR, Notre Dame
Floyd is an exceptional combination of size, speed and hands. At 6-3, 220 he’s a big physical presence that can take apart a secondary. If you look at the majority of the alpha receivers in the NFL, they’re all 6-3+, all 210-230 and with the exception of Andre Johnson most of them aren’t winning by running past defenders. With a 4.47-40 and a very physical style of play Floyd more than fits that mold.
18.) Dontari Poe, DT, Memphis
With Poe it’s almost all focused on the upside, the potential to add strength to an already massive frame and become a stalwart NFL nose tackle. At 6-4, 340, you can imagine why Poe has made the eyes of so many NFL defensive coordinators light up. Those kind of measurables just don’t come along often.
19.) Cordy Glenn, OL, Georgia
Glenn had a very solid career at the University of Georgia and projects as another first rounder in this year’s draft. A lot of scouts have Glenn higher, above Jonathan Martin, and it’s close, but Glenn just doesn’t seem to have the same explosion and nastiness that I see in Martin. That’s not to say he can’t still be an elite tackle at the NFL level though.
20.) Michael Brockers, DT, LSU
Of all the guys in this class, it’s Brockers who has the highest ceiling of anyone. At 6-6 and about 330, Brockers is massive and has surprising athleticism to boot. His burst out of his stance and overall strength is amongst the best in the draft and he will be able to wreak havoc on NFL defenses for years to come. His 2011 season was fairly unexpected to those outside of Baton Rouge, though Les Miles was on record before the season even started calling the DT a load to handle inside. As Brockers continues to develop in the NFL and add strength and technique, it’s possible he turns into an elite defensive lineman.
21.) Whitney Mercilus, DE/OLB, Illinois
Mercilus is the only other outside ‘backer to receive a first round grade in this class. But, when it’s all said and done I think he’ll end up being the best of the bunch. Mercilus is 80 percent potential, 20 percent reality at this point. The son of two Haitian immigrants, Mercilus was a soccer player for most of his life before starting football later in high school. He went to Illinois as a defensive end and after two unspectacular seasons erupted for 13.5 sacks his junior season, earning him the distinction as the best defensive end in college last season.
22.) Andre Branch, DE, Clemson
Some people may think this is high, but I really like Branch and much like UNC, Clemson has developed quite a good reputation for creating defensive linemen lately. Branch follows in the footsteps of Da’Quan Bowers and Gaines Adams and will likely have little trouble making a solid jump into the NFL. Branch is admittedly more potential than product at this stage. He’s a very athletic, flexible former linebacker that was voted All-ACC in 2011 after leading Clemson with 10.5 sacks.
23.) Mike Adams, OT, Ohio State
Adams is another tackle with prototype size and strength, but there’s a hole in his pass-blocking that gives me some cause for concern. Much like Martin, Adams sometimes has trouble with keeping his feet moving on some blocks, but Adams is also susceptible to double-moves (specifically ones that go outside and then head back in), that’s a dangerous mix and one that will get a quarterback hurt if it’s not addressed.
24.) Peter Konz, C, Wisconsin
The most attractive part of Konz’s resume is actually between his ears. He’s got a brilliant football mind, that’s evident on pre-snap adjustments, it’s evident in practice and you can even see it in the blocking angles he takes from his center position. It’s not often you can turn on tape and see intelligence, but it’s plain as day with the Badger center. Konz might have the best football IQ of anyone in this draft outside of Luke Kuechly.
25.) Nick Perry, DE, Southern California
A bit of a ‘tweener,’ Perry could be a linebacker or an end, but has bulked up during the draft cycle to try and demonstrate he’s more of an end to scouts. Last season at USC Perry lead the Trojans with 9.5 sacks and at times looked dominant. I’m not in love with Perry’s body-type, at 6’3 270 he’s not exactly a specimen the same way Branch or Coples are. But Perry is another guy with outstanding potential as he fully develops into an NFL defensive end.
26.) Janoris Jenkins, CB, North Alabama
Regardless of character issues, Jenkins is a stud. In terms of coverage, he’s arguably the best corner in the draft, he’s great in man sets and has good instincts to play in zone schemes to boot. His ball skills are above-average to good and he has the size and athleticism to cover almost anyone. The only legitimate complaint is his tackling, which can improve with coaching and effort. But off the field issues will push Jenkins to the back half of the first, maybe even early second.
27.) Dont’a Hightower, ILB, Alabama
The other of the middle linebackers to receive a first round grade, I may be higher on Hightower than a lot of scouts but I love his college pedigree and the fact he’s won two national titles in three years at ‘Bama. One thing you know you’re getting when you draft a guy like Hightower out of Alabama is a well-polished player who knows what kind of effort and practice habits it takes to be successful. Hightower is no different, a big, physical specimen, Hightower has a good grasp on technique but lacks some of the high-end athleticism to be in the top half of the first round.
28.) Devon Still, DT, Penn State
In scouting Devon Still I saw him compared to N’Damakong Suh, but nicer. Whereas in polite society that would be a good thing, that’s not a good thing to say about a defensive tackle. At 6-5, 310, Still is a physical specimen that easily passes the eye test. He’s tall and strong with good explosiveness off the line and a good football IQ. He just lacks the nastiness you really want to see in the trenches. That can be developed though.
29.) Kevin Zeitler, OG, Wisconsin
Zeitler is another stalwart from the Wisconsin line. At 6-4, 320 and with a hard-nosed, grinder mentality, everything about Zeitler is blue collar. Wisconsin absolutely dominated the line of scrimmage last year, amassing major ground yardage and winning the Big 10 and Zeitler was a big part of that success. He’s more at home in a zone blocking system but could be effective in just about any scheme.
30.) Stephen Hill, WR, Georgia Tech
Seriously, the Yellow Jackets tossed the ball a whopping 162 times this year, yet Hill still managed to rangle 820 yards and five touchdowns. When Georgia Tech passes, Hill is literally the only guy worth covering on that team, often he’s the only receiver on the field at all (it’s mostly tight ends and fullbacks) and he still dominates secondaries. He’s 6-4, 215 and runs a 4.37, has off-the-chart leaping ability, great agility and flexibility on his routes and the guy can catch too. At almost any other school he challenges for the Biletnikoff, at Georgia Tech he has to settle for a 29.3 yards per catch average and learn to block.
31.) Coby Fleener, TE, Stanford
Fleener is widely considered the best in a mediocre class of Tight Ends, I happen to think Fleener is actually quite a bit better than he’s getting credit for though. At Stanford he was Andrew Luck’s guy, he lined up at pretty much every receiver position at some point and demonstrated more than enough athleticism to be effective. The benefit of that is he comes from a pro style offense at Stanford where he worked with an NFL caliber quarterback and line, he’s got the kind of pedigree you really like in a player.
32.) Lamar Miller, HB, Miami (FL)
If this were a speculative exercise and we were investing solely on potential returns, Miller would be the stock to buy, but he is a highly developmental back. I think with a year in a good offense, Miller will be ready to become one of the top runners in the NFL, but if he is drafted by a team that lacks the capacity to develop him he could also be a bust.
33.) Jerel Worthy, DT, Michigan State
Worthy is never going to be a big sack guy but he does have a knack for pressuring quarterbacks and hailing from the run-happy Big Ten, he’s more than proficient against the run. I like Worthy at the top half off round two, probably first 10 picks of round two actually. He’ll eventually develop into a solid NFL DT, though I’m not sure he’s ever going to be elite.
34.) Zebrie Sanders, OT, Florida State
Because of the inconsistency on the line around him, it’s tough to really gauge where he was last year, but going back to his junior tape you see a very solid player. Sanders brings good size and strength to the table, but his intelligence and athleticism are what’s worth mentioning. Sanders is more of a right tackle, as we saw in the Senior bowl practices (as well as in games against UF and Oklahoma) superior edge rushers can give Sanders problems. There are ways to improve his technique, but he’s probably a better bet on the right side. As a run blocker though, Sanders may be the best tackle of the bunch.
35.) Harrison Smith, S, Notre Dame
Smith is a safety more in the mold of a John Lynch than a ballhawking kind of guy. Smith really relishes the contact, part of that may stem from the fact he also played linebacker in at Notre Dame. He’s definitely a true strong safety and comes into the box to offer additional run support with aplomb. He does still have quite a bit more developing to do though, he’s far from technically sound and he could work a little bit on his ability to quickly diagnose what’s happening in front of him, though part of that can also be attributed to the change in position.
36.) Courtney Upshaw, DE/OLB, Alabama
Upshaw is another ‘tweener’ though in his case I think playing down as an end is a mistake. Upshaw was very good in Nick Saban’s defense as a linebacker, and despite adding some bulk to his frame I still think his body-type is better suited to stand up in the NFL. Regardless though, Upshaw brings a big-time college pedigree from a top-notch program with great defensive coaches. He comes equipped with a high football IQ and a good foundation for the NFL.
37.) Brandon Weeden, QB, Oklahoma State
Here’s the deal, right now, in terms of being NFL ready he’s the third best quarterback in the draft. He doesn’t necessarily have a higher ceiling than some of the quarterbacks behind him, but age aside he’s a damn good quarterback right now and he has played on some good teams.
38.) Amini Silatou, OG, Midwestern State
At Northwestern State he was high recognized as one of the top linemen nationally playing left tackle, but in the pros look for him to move inside to guard where he will be a more natural fit. Outside of issues with his grades and coming from a small school though, this guy is all upside. He boasts tremendous athleticism for his frame and he is absolutely nasty when it comes to run blocking.
39.) Kendall Wright, WR, Baylor
Kendall Wright is a future NFL slot receiver in the making, he’s more quick than fast but he’s got the moves in the open field to more than make up for his lack of elite top-speed. People are hung up on his 4.5-40, but Wes Welker (the league’s best slot guy) ran a 4.75-40, I don’t think anyone still calls Welker slow. Wright will be fine in the NFL, 40’s are overrated.
40.) Chandler Jones, DE, Syracuse
Jones comes with good bloodlines, his brother Arthur plays for the Ravens, his other brother Jon goes by Bones and beats skulls in at UFC pay-per-views. That’s not a good reason to draft him, but it does give insight as to his athleticism. Jones was injured for part of 2011, and there are questions about that, but his overall ability and potential easily land him in the top five of this class for ends, and had he gone back for his senior year he may very well have come out in 2013 as the top-rated player at his position.
41.) Zach Brown, OLB, North Carolina
Zach Brown is a guy who boasts fantastic athleticism but isn’t necessarily the same guy on the field as he appears to be during workouts. At 6-1, 240 I’m not going to call him prototypical, but he has decent size to play in either scheme and the athleticism to be good there. The problems are his instincts and intensity on game days.
42.) Chase Minnifield, CB, Virginia
Minnifield is blue collar in every sense of the word, he’s a technically superior corner that is an exceptional tackler and rarely plays out of position. While he isn’t the best athlete in this class of corners, he may be the most polished corner in terms of technique and experience. In the right system he’s an alpha corner, but at the very least he’s a competent number two with plenty of room to grow.
43.) Alfonzo Dennard, CB, Nebraska
He reminds me vaguely of Vontae Davis although Davis was a better tackler coming out of school. Dennard has never been asked to factor into run support as much though so he’s less proven, but he is good at the line on the jam. Dennard is more of a zone scheme corner than a man guy, where he can occasionally get exposed. The former Husker corner has above average ball skills and could factor on special teams early too if needed.
44.) Alshon Jeffrey, WR, South Carolina
I was actually a lot higher on Jeffrey right after the season, then he got on this speed kick where he lost a bunch of weight and didn’t add a whole lot of burst, while also losing strength. That’s a bad recipe. Jeffrey is best about 230 to go along with his 6-3 frame and good arm length. He’s never going to be a burner, he fits more into the same mold as Michael Floyd and some of the bigger receivers in the league.
45.) Lavonte David, OLB, Nebraska
The knock on David is his size, at just 6-foot a lot of NFL scouts have questioned whether he wouldn’t be better off as a safety. He wouldn’t be. Unlike Zach Brown, David is extremely instinctual and more often than not can be found with his helmet on the ball. He is undersized, no doubt about it, but with a good defensive line in front of him to keep the blockers off, he would be an instant upgrade for the Bucs at the Will linebacker position.
46.) Shea McClellin, OLB, Boise State
A big (6-3, 260) linebacker, McClellin was a jack of all trades in college lining up all over the defensive line, at linebacker and occasionally even in nickel packages. He brings the size and athleticism to be a good NFL starting linebacker down the road, even if I have some questions with regard to his technique at times. Aside from needing a little coaching here and there, I like McClellin quite a bit.
47.) Isaiah Pead, RB, Cincinnati
Pead has a couple of traits that I think will make him a successful NFL back, even in spite of the advantage in athleticism the first two backs on the list have over him. Pead is a north-south runner, he doesn’t goof around trying to make people miss laterally, he has great straight-line burst and once he picks his angle he goes. The NFL is not a league that affords the runner many liberties side-to-side, even Reggie Bush had to learn north-south, Pead’s natural inclination towards that style puts him at an advantage to translate well.
48.) Vinny Curry, DE, Marshall
Curry is an absolutely relentless pass-rusher who has a knack for strip-sacks. He has very solid technique with one major exception, he becomes overzealous and plays too up-right. Once he gets his technique straightened out he is one of the better pass-rushers in this group.
49.) Trumaine Johnson, CB, Montana
Johnson is an extremely intriguing prospect, he’s got prototype size with good athleticism and he may be amongst the best pure cover corners in the draft. While he’s not the top-end athlete some of the corners at the top of the list are, Johnson has ideal size and athleticism to be a lockdown NFL corner. Needs to learn to be more physical, but could develop into something special.
50.) David Wilson, RB, Virginia Tech
This is where Wilson’s value is high, he’s an extremely high effort back that is extremely fast in the open field. If given the opportunity to find the right system he could be 10-15 carry back that also factors on special teams as a returner. But between the tackles, he’s extremely raw and he fumbles.
51.) Brandon Thompson, DT, Clemson
Thompson may be the best pass-rushing defensive tackle in the group, but that’s not going to translate well into the NFL. Thompson has great initial explosion, but lacks the strength to take advantage of that against pro linemen. That will change, he’ll develop strength and technique to match his burst and quickness, but that’s down the line.
52.) Brandon Brooks, OG, Miami (OH)
Hailing from Miami-Ohio, Brook is a massive man with a physically imposing frame that he actually seems to have grown into at times. Often when it comes to a person of that stature, they play almost in spite of their physical size. The problem with Brooks is he’s inconsistent. He isn’t always on his game. He looked the part of an NFL lineman at his pro day, but at times in his career he has looked overweight and slow too.
53.) Rueben Randle, WR, LSU
Randle seems to have the foundation to be solid, but needs to refine parts of his game. He lacks elite speed but has the size to be successful and the quickness and agility to play well at his size. Could have used another year in college, but questions facing LSU’s offense convinced him to come out as a junior.
54.) Mitchell Schwartz, OT, California
Schwartz is an extremely bright lineman with a good frame and solid strength. I think he projects as more of a right tackle at the next level, but he could be pressed into duty on the left-side if needed. He needs to work on becoming more physically imposing and playing with better leverage, but he’s got good potential.
55.) Dwayne Allen, TE, Clemson
Another former basketball player, Allen cashed in on a huge junior season at Clemson and turned pro. Allen is more of a receiver than a blocker, his body control, flexibility and soft hands make him an incredible target, especially in the red zone. But questions about his speed and blocking persist, he isn’t an accomplished blocker despite having relatively good technique and his frame will probably never allow him to excel in this area.
56.) LaMichael James, RB, Oregon
The thing that sets James apart is his collegiate production, both him and Trent Richardson put up huge numbers for major programs that played lots of big, meanginful games. Production does legitimately mean something and in one of the most high octane offenses in the country, surrounded by weapons, James still lead the nation in rushing with 1,700+ yards in 2011. I think he’s a top five back in this class.
57.) Bobby Massie, OT, Ole Miss
I don’t think Massie did himself any favors by declaring early. He has prototype size, speed and strength but that’s what he got by on in college and it’s prevented him from learning the technique necessary to play immediately at the next level. He’s going to need time to develop as a football player before he’s really where you want him to be mentally, but he does have a very high ceiling.
58.) Doug Martin, RB, Boise State
I really like Martin, but not in Tampa. He’s a very talented, muscular back in a compact frame. He has good quickness and top speed, runs low to the ground and shows ability in the flats as a receiver, but he comes from a pass-first program and struggles at pass-pro, that’s a red flag to me for some reason.
59.) Kendall Reyes, DT, Connecticut
Reyes is another good DT in that second tier of players that have great potential but are lacking one or two key components needed to be NFL-ready. In Reyes’ case it is strength, At 6-4, 300, Reyes has a fantastic frame to build on and he comes with a very good work ethic, but he’s not quite developed enough yet to warrant a top pick.
60.) Jayron Hosley, CB, Virginia Tech
Aside from elite top speed, Hosley is one of the better athletes in this class. That comes at the expense of his technique though. If Hosley gets the right coaching in the NFL he’s got a level of potential that competes with Kirkpatrick and Claiborne. Hosley may be smarter than both though in terms of football IQ too, having shown a knack for learning from opposing receivers’ and quarterbacks’ cues and getting stronger in coverage as games continue.
61.) Stephen Gilmore, CB, South Carolina
I’ve come to really like Gilmore, he’s not a great candidate to play man in the NFL but in a zone scheme he could be excellent. He’s very knowledgeable and has great anticipation jumping routes. Gilmore would be a good grab for Tampa if they plan on using a zone and he’s there late in two or in early three.
62.) Chris Givens, WR, Wake Forest
I really like Chris Givens, he’s extremely athletic and he’s a smart player who has refined his craft in his time at Wake. A 4.35-40 is only the tip of the iceberg with Givens, who contributed as a receiver, tailback and returner at Wake. Givens will likely be a natural at the slot in most NFL offenses and should find a home on day two of the draft.
63.) Ben Jones, C, Georgia
Ben Jones is not the best athlete in his positional class, but he may be the most experienced. I don’t buy into the SEC being bar-none the best league in the country, but they do have the best defenses without a doubt. So starting 48 games at center for UGA in the SEC is about as much of an NFL pedigree as any player could reasonably have entering the draft.
64.) Bruce Irvin, OLB, West Virginia
Irvin is a big, athletic player with plenty of potential and plenty left to learn. Having never been eligible to play in high school and having served a stint in a juvenile detention center, there are some questions about Irvin, but when you see him play it’s another story. Amongst the strongest pass-rushers in the draft, Irvin is only going to get better as he improves his technique.
65.) Juron Criney, WR, Arizona
If Criney came out last year he may have been top five at his position, then a medical condition almost cost him his 2011 season and threw a lot of his future into question. Criney seems to be fine, but there’s still trepidation from the NFL over the mysterious neurological ailment that hospitalized Criney prior to his senior season. That aside, Criney is as good a receiver as anyone in the draft and that includes Floyd and Blackmon.
66.) Chris Polk, RB, Washington
Polk had a fantastic pro day which will likely help his stock, but in terms of production and ability on the field, I wouldn’t rank him any higher than this. He’s a very good inside runner, but lacks explosiveness to take runs long. Still, he’s a solid blocker, breaks tackles well and is above average out of the backfield in the pass game.
67.) Brandon Washington, OG, Miami (FL)
Unless there were extenuating circumstances that forced Washington to leave Miami early there is absolutely no reason he should have come out after his junior year. If there were ever a player that truly could have used another year to develop, it’s Washington. As he is now, Washington is a stout run blocker with above average pass-blocking skills. He’s still raw, but he has upside. I just think he would have been better served to finish at Miami.
68.) Cam Johnson, DE, Virginia
Johnson is a solid defensive end who fits more in the 4-3 defensive end mold, though he could work in either scheme. He’s 6-4, 270 with long arms and a ton of strength. Another converted linebacker, he’s an excellent tackler with a great motor. He has good speed to get the edge though at time he looks inflexible and struggles to smoothly change directions, he’s better as a bull-rusher and in run support.
69.) Josh Chapman, DT, Alabama
Josh Chapman will be the steal of the draft, mark my words. He should be a first-rounder but he played on a torn ACL and meniscus in 2011 and will take time to recover. That will drop you down a draft board, but keep in mind he anchored the middle of the nation’s top defense last year, played through pain to win a national title and oh yeah, was never at full strength despite dominating in the SEC all year.
70.) Matt McCants, OT, UAB
McCants could be an exceptional pass blocker with some coaching, he has the quickness and speed to protect the edge but he needs to work on his balance and leverage before he’s ready to protect it in the NFL. He also grades out as an above average run blocker. He would likely be a solid right tackle right now, and could potentially develop into a left tackle with coaching.
71.) Orson Charles, TE, Georgia
Charles is a bit undersized, he’s not going to be the kind of receiver Allen or Fleener could be in the NFL, but he’s a much better blocker with a mean streak that should serve him well in the pros. Charles is likely a better option as a second tight end early in his career or possibly even an H-back. He genuinely seems to enjoy the contact that comes with blocking and happily attacks bigger defenders with serious pop and solid technique.
72.) Mike Harris, CB, Florida State
Harris is an underrated corner with good size and instincts. He needs a little bit of work in terms of diagnosing some plays and can be caught out of position from time to time but he had the recovery speed and athleticism to get away with it at Florida State. He will need to get better in the pro’s, but his physicality and willingness to play the run make him an attractive developmental prospect.
73.) Chris Rainey, RB, Florida
I love Rainey’s speed and ability out of the backfield. He’ll make a very good compliment back, he’ll be good on special teams and he could find a place in some teams passing attacks, but he’s not ever going to be an every down back and I have serious questions about his attitude after a string of ugly incidents at the University of Florida.
74.) George Iloka, S, Boise State
I’m going to say right up front one of the most exciting parts of Iloka, more than even his college resume, is his size and athleticism. Iloka is 6-4, 220. He’s quick, he can play in a man or a zone scheme and he lined up at both safety and corner in college. The potential to have a safety that size roaming the secondary is exceptionally exciting, especially considering the elite receivers in the league are predominantly 6-3 and taller.
75.) James Brown, OG, Troy
Brown is the definition of a tweener, he started 37 games at tackle for the Trojans in college but lacks the ideal size to play the position in the pros, unfortunately he isn’t considered thick enough to be an NFL guard yet either. I think he ultimately projects a little better as a guard, but he’s a project. He needs to improve his technique and strength, add some mass and pick a position for good, but he has the tools to one day be a solid guard in the league.
76.) Sean Spence, OLB, Miami (FL)
Even when the whole program is down the Hurricanes still produce linebackers as good as any school in the country, and Spence was their most recent alpha linebacker. He plays bigger than his frame, is very physical and is one of the best athletes in this class once the pads go on. I just don’t know how the size element factors into his NFL future. If he’s there on day three though I think he’ll be a steal.
77.) Jared Crick, DE, Nebraska
Crick is another relentless pass rusher, which is a nice way of saying he wins with strength and effort, not finesse. That being said, Crick still got to the QB 9.5 times each of the last two seasons. He’s a better run defender though where he holds the point and sheds blocks well to pursue. He has a good frame but, could add a little strength. More of a 3-4 end in my eyes.
78.) Josh Robinson, CB, UCF
I frankly thought Josh Robinson should have stayed in school because he has plenty to develop and could have maybe earned a first round grade had he returned for his senior year. But as it stands Robinson has very good coverage skills and instincts, even if he needs to work on becoming more physical and learning to be more fundamentally sound in his back pedal and his technique on the jam.
79.) Ryan Tannehill, QB, Texas A&M
Tannehill is an exceptional athlete and he has a very high ceiling, but he hasn’t completely realized that talent yet. He’s a developmental guy and those are always gambles. Tannehill is rising up draft boards for three reasons, he’s got massive potential, there is a demand for QB’s and he’s not 28. Those are all valid points, but he also has a long way to come before he is as competent a quarterback as Weeden.
80.) Bobby Wagner, OLB, Utah State
A lot of people have Wagner a bit higher, and I admit he looks good on tape AND in shorts, but I don’t trust the level of competition he faced year in and year out at Utah State. Easily the best team the Aggies played all year was an 8-5 Auburn team in the season opener. You have the kind of year Wagner did in the Big 10, fine. You do it in the WAC and there are some questions.
81.) Mohamed Sanu, WR, Rutgers
Sanu is a solid guy, but likely not elite. He’s a big, physical receiver who is tough to jam at the line and finds success with the ball in his hands in the open field, but his 4.62-40 time has hurt his stock and another year at Rutgers likely could have helped him refine his technique and route running a bit more.
82.) Mychal Kendrick, ILB, California
Mychal Kendricks is another guy who gets the most out of what he’s got, but his ceiling may never be that high, and he’s no where close to as NFL-capable as Kuechly or Hightower are right now. Kendricks is likely to come off the board in late round two or more likely in round three. He’s a very strong, capable run-stopper who has worked as an inside and outside linebacker in a 3-4 set at Cal. The problem is he’s about 5-11, and he can be swallowed up a lot of the time by bigger blockers.
83.) Nigel Bradham, OLB, Florida State
There might not be a better all-around physical specimen in this group than Bradhman. At FSU, Bradham was a story of unrealized potential until the last half of his senior season. He was always solid for the ‘Noles, but never stood out at FSU like many thought he would when recruited. He has an NFL skill set and could likely start in the NFL down the road, but he will take time to learn the pro game and develop.
84.) Antonio Allen, S, South Carolina
Some people love Allen, others don’t. I think he’s worth a pick in late round two or early round three, but I admit I’ve flipped on him too. Allen is a multi-capable player with a very good football IQ, he can hit, he can blitz and he can cover. Oddly, he may be best as a blitzer where he displays a considerable knack of knifing through the line, getting through any chips and finding the passer. He’s also a very capable tackler who doesn’t mind putting his nose in the pile or moving into the box if need be.
85.) Mike Martin, DT, Michigan
Mike Martin is a guy I flip-flop on a lot. I love his motor and what he brings to the field, but his lack of ideal size, strength and athleticism are all kind of a big deal when you’re talking pro football. Martin is likely a day two guy, maybe early in round four on day three, but he’s got limitations as far as his potential. He could be a very solid guy in a 4-3 scheme, but he’s not likely to be elite.
86.) Brandon Mosley, OT, Auburn
Mosley has got good size and strength, but nothing to blow you away. He has good technique and leverage in pass blocking but occasionally struggles with superior athletes, he’s a serviceable run-blocker who has room to develop into a very good one. As a converted tight end, he’s still learning the position.
87.) Tyron Crawford, DE, Boise State
Crawford is another high-effort, relentless type kid who is more strong than quick. Not likely going to be an elite pass-rusher but more than sufficient in run defense with the ability to play in both a 4-3 or 3-4 scheme. I like him but the Boise schedule didn’t feature a ton of great competition.
88.) Taylor Thompson, TE, Southern Methodist
Thompson intrigues the hell out of me, he was a defensive end at SMU, and a solid one at that, but he’s decided to flip to tight end. Thompson has all the NFL size and measurables you could want, but absolutely no game-tape to go by. That makes him extremely difficult to evaluate, though his defensive game tape is solid, you see a player with a very good motor, good body control and burst and enough body strength. Now he has to flip from being the guy who gets past blockers, to the guy blocking though.
89.) Brandon Pierce, RB, Temple
Pierce has a big frame and runs with good toughness between the tackles, but he’s a bit stiff. He doesn’t have great speed or quickness and he seems a bit rigid in cuts and when changing speed, he also runs too upright for his size which makes him easier to tackle than he should be. Still, with coaching, Pierce could eventually become a legitimate back.
90.) Kirk Cousins, QB, Michigan State
Cousins is a smart quarterback who throws for a deceptively high completion percentage thanks largely to screens and check-downs. He’s got a decent arm, but it’s nothing to write home about and in the NFL there will be questions about whether he can stretch the field. That being said, he does have a high football IQ and in the right offense he could have decent success a la Chad Pennington, but don’t count on it.
91.) Brandon Boykin, CB, Georgia
Boykin was much higher on this list during the 2011 season but a fractured fibula at the Senior bowl has caused his stock to drop recently. I have Boykin this low entirely because of the injury, a number of other corners will be ready to play immediately upon being drafted whereas Boykin will likely still be recovering during OTA’s, minicamps and even into the start of training camp. That puts him behind. As far as potential though, he’s top five in a deep CB class.
92.) Josh Leribeus, OG, Southern Methodist
LeRibeus missed all of 2010, but prior to that had been named all-CUSA in his first year as a starter at left guard, he returned in 2011 to start 12 more games his senior season. In his time at SMU LeRibeus started 25 games and played in 35. He’s an above average prospect at guard who should go in the middle rounds.
93.) Keenan Robinson, ILB, Texas
Robinson is a total project at this point, he has all the tools to one day be successful as a 4-3 middle linebacker but he’s got a lot of things to work on before he gets to that point. Robinson does have the size, athleticism and work ethic to succeed in the NFL but must work on his ability to read plays and also his tackling. He’s very bright though and if he catches the right coaching could likely develop into a quality NFL linebacker.
94.) Shawn Powell, P, Florida State
A punter? Yes, a punter. Powell would have lead the nation in 2011 in punting average (47.0 YPP) but he didn’t qualify for the minimum number of attempts. Powell has a massive leg and will most definitely be punting in the NFL in 2012. With field position as important as it, you can’t diminish the importance of special teams. Last off-season the Bucs gave a punter a 20-million dollar contract, trust me, someone will draft Powell.
95.) Ronnell Lewis, OLB, Oklahoma
got to see Lewis in person when Oklahoma came to Tallahassee last season, there were questions about whether he would be healthy enough to play headed in, but he was solid all night. I think right now as it stands Lewis has one of the higher ceilings in this draft, even if he’s more of a tweener to me than a true outside linebacker. But if he’d just gone back to Norman another year he’d like be the top-rated OLB in the next class. Not just a day two guy.
96.) Billy Winn, DE, Boise State
Another Boise guy, Winn will be the better of the duo when he adds a little more strength to his frame. Good technique and instincts, will be a second day guy. But again, I have questions because Boise didn’t play good competition consistently. Still I think Winn is a great sleeper.
97.) Markelle Martin, S, Oklahoma State
Martin is potentially the best cover guy of the safery group. He covers a lot of ground and he’s got great read and react ability, oftentimes breaking on routes as soon as he sees the quarterback’s eyes connect with the receiver. That over-aggressiveness can be a detriment at times too and will need to be reined in a little in the NFL, where he could be abused by double moves, but Martin’s raw coverage ability is impressive. He’s better in zone, but is adequate in man. Martin is also solid in run support, showing above average ability to fight off blocks, good read skills and and a willingness to hit.
98.) Nate Potter, OT, Boise State
Potter is a developmental guy, but a good one. He needs to work on adding some size to a frame that despite being tall is still somewhat lean. He’s consistent and reliable, but still a little raw. He is a very good run-blocker though and has the tools to become a great pass-blocker, with the right coaching and some time to develop he could become a very good NFL starter.
99.) Jeff Allen, OT, Illinois
Allen needs to work on his body-type, he carries some extra weight and could replace it with muscle and strength, whoever gets him in the NFL needs to get him working with a strength and conditioning coach ASAP. That being said, Allen has all the tools and the frame to evolve into a solid NFL tackle.
100.) Ladarius Green, TE, Louisiana-Lafayette
When Green was being recruited he was looked at as a big, lanky, slow receiver and didn’t get a whole lot of interest from major programs. He ended up at ULL, where he added serious weight to his sizable frame (he now stands 6-6, 240) without losing any speed. Now he’s a fairly fleet-footed tight end with a receiver skill set and a ton of intriguing potential. With a 35-inch vertical and an 82-inch wingspan, Green makes for one hell of a target.