Big Board: The Top 100

Patrick Peterson is the best player in the 2011 NFL Draft.
Patrick Peterson is the best player in the 2011 NFL Draft. /
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Prince Amukamara is an elite talent.
Prince Amukamara is an elite talent. /

11.) Prince Amukamara, CB, Nebraska – Very talented corner out of Nebraska that is high-character, instinctual and amongst the most athletic players in the draft. He could easily sneak into the top ten and is going to be a top-tier corner for the next decade for some lucky NFL team.

12.) Cameron Jordan, DE, Cal – Big defensive end out of Cal that projects better as a 3-4 end than in a 4-3.  He’s a high-character, high-effort prospect that started 50 of 51 career games in college.

13.) Mark Ingram, RB, Alabama – Ingram has been the top running back in this draft class for two years. A very talented, multi-dimensional back from Alabama, Ingram looks NFL-ready.

14.) Robert Quinn, DE, North Carolina – Robert Quinn truly does get by on sheer athleticism, something that makes him very enticing as a prospect. Quinn is inconsistent off the snap and is often amongst the last players off the line, aside from a rip move and jab-step, he shows very little in the way of pass-rushing technique. And yet he is still dominant off the edge.

15.) Tyron Smith, OT, USC – Smith is the top tackle in this year’s draft class. He combines prototype speed with tremendous athleticism and should be capable of playing at a high level for a while in the NFL. Smith is probably the best pass-blocker in the draft, his run-blocking is solid but he needs to learn to finish blocks more consistently and he has a tendency to get lazy at points coming off the line.

16.) Christian Ponder, QB, FSU – Despite injury concerns, Ponder is one of the best QB prospects in this year’s draft. A good mixture of athleticism and intelligence, Ponder is going to make some team very happy.

Ryan Kerrigan figures to be a solid DE.
Ryan Kerrigan figures to be a solid DE. /

17.) Ryan Kerrigan, DE, Purdue – The undisputed leader and captain of the Purdue defense, he was nicknamed Superman by his teammates for his max effort and tireless work ethic. Kerrigan may not be as physically gifted as some of the other guys on this list but he works a lot harder and will ultimately find success because of it.

18.) JJ Watt, DE, Wisconsin – Watt transferred to Wisconsin from Central Michigan, changed positions on the fly and became a starter. He’s got a lot of impressive tools, including good quickness, nimble feet, above-average agility and good strength. He’s a very solid pass-rusher and he can be effective against the run as well. Ideally would be best served to add a little bit of weight and perfect his technique.

19.) Akeem Ayers, OLB/DE, UCLA – Ayers is a very capable pass rusher who possesses great quickness and athleticism, but not elite top-speed. He genuinely seems to enjoy the physicality of hitting and has no reservations about sticking his nose in the run game. Based on his size and quickness he may be a better rush-end in a 4-3 and his ability to anchor and play the run would allow him enough versatility to stay in the game most downs.

20.) Mike Pouncey, G/C, Florida – Pouncey started as a defensive tackle at UF before transitioning to right guard in 2008. Last year, after his brother left school early, Pouncey moved to center. He’s capable of playing all three of the interior line positions and has all the size and athleticism you could ask for in an NFL prospect.

21.) Gabe Carimi, OT, Wisconsin – Gabe Carimi is a man-child standing at 6’7 314 lbs. At this point he is a more complete tackle than Tyron Smith, however his athleticism and potential don’t measure up which is why he finds himself further down on this list.

22.) Jimmy Smith, CB, Colorado – Smith is a classic big-body corner. He’s got about two inches and about 20 pounds on the other top corners and is capable of being a lot more physical because of it. Smith has a surprising amount of athleticism for his size and is more than capable of taking bigger receivers out of the picture while still having the flexibility and quickness to cover smaller, faster receivers as well.

Corey Liuget should be a first rounder.
Corey Liuget should be a first rounder. /

23.) Corey Liuget, DT, Illinois – On the field Liuget is solid, he doesn’t possess elite footwork but has the quickness and strength to require a double-team from most defenses. He has a low center of gravity that he uses to his advantage. He does tend to wear down if he’s played a lot at the end of the game, but NFL strength coaches will have something to say about that and this kid has the work ethic to improve it.

24.) Allen Bailey, DE, Miami (FL) – Bailey is an impressive physical specimen that needs to perfect his game. He changed positions from linebacker to end in college to help the Canes’ defense. His coaches call him a high character, team-first guy.

25.) DeMarco Murrary, RB, Oklahoma – Murray has ideal NFL size and athleticism and comes with the pedigree of having replaced a major star (Adrian Peterson) at a major program. Murray can contribute on special teams in addition to taking solid carries. And even with his collegiate injuries his production was still more than impressive. 50 touchdowns and a 4.9 YPC average is not easy to come by at Oklahoma.

26.) Anthony Castonzo, OT, Boston College – Effort and durability are never going to be issues with Castonzo, while he may not have the high-end athleticism of Tyron Smith or the technical prowess of Gabe Carimi, Castonzo is a nice mixture of both and has all the tools to be a solid player at the next level.

27.) Aldon Smith, DE, Missouri – Very talented player with massive potential but just two years experience at the college level. Still, Smith is a tough kid and played through a broken ankle in 2010.

28.) Rahim Moore, S, UCLA – Moore is an impressive specimen, the first true freshman starter for the Bruins since 2001. Moore is a classic ball-hawking safety with the ability to play good zone coverage and above average man. Is a high effort kind of player but needs to work on field-discipline (has a tendency to run himself out of plays) and his tackling.

With some coaching Brandon Harris could be elite.
With some coaching Brandon Harris could be elite. /

29.) Brandon Harris, CB, Miami (FL) – Harris is supremely athletic, a former track-star with a track-and-field pedigree, Harris has more than enough ability to be a successful NFL corner, he just needs coaching. Harris is an incomplete player, skating by in college largely on athleticism, he needs to improve his technique in order to reach his impressive potential.

30.) Nate Solder, OT, Colorado – Solder is a big, hulking left tackle. He’s not the guy you’re going to ask to pull or do anything too fancy, his agility and athleticism are not top-end, but he’s also not a guy that defenders have a good time getting around either. At 6’8, nearly 320 lbs he’s got all the size and strength you look for in an NFL tackle.

31.) Adrian Clayborn, DE, Iowa – Clayborn is touted by Iowa coaches as being a true leader and high-character guy, but he also has had run-ins with the law in the past as well. Very talented player with first-round ability but he could slide because of the loaded class at defensive end this year.

32.) Danny Watkins, OG, Baylor – Watkins was a left tackle in college but lacks the size to continue at that position in the NFL. At 26 he is a bit older than other prospects and his fundamentals are hardly amongst the best in the draft, but he is still incredibly effective. Tenacity is the name of Watkins’ game, he is a max-effort player with a true nasty streak.

33.) Colin Kaepernick, QB, Nevada – A project QB that will require some time to adjust to a pro-style system, Kaepernick is a winner with all the intangibles to be successful in the NFL one day.

34.) Derek Sherrod, OT, Mississippi State – In the NFL everyone is a good defender, so where as in college Derek could get by on athleticism and strength, in the NFL he will need to improve his technique. But, the capability is there. Sherrod, may never be top-tier, but he can be a serviceable NFL starter with some good coaching.

Rodney Hudson is undersized by NFL Standards.
Rodney Hudson is undersized by NFL Standards. /

35.) Rodney Hudson, G, FSU – Hudson is supremely athletic, but that may come as a detriment to him in the NFL. Whereas in college the FSU offensive system required blockers to be quick and athletic, the NFL likes bulk and strength, two things Hudson doesn’t have a ton of.

36.) Jake Locker, QB, Washington – There’s two ways to perceive Locker, he was an incredible player on an incredibly bad team and even when shining his absolute brightest was rarely able to elevate Washington. Or, Locker never lived up to the hype generated by a promising freshman season (that looks much less impressive now in hindsight). Truth be told the reality is probably somewhere in the middle.

37.) Jabaal Sheard, DE, Pittsburgh – Sheard plays a lot stronger than he looks on paper, a solid pass-rusher who is above-average against the run he has character concerns stemming from July 2010 fight where he threw a man through a plate-glass window.

38.) Muhammad Wilkerson, DT, Temple – Wilkerson is a monster at 6’5 300 lbs. At just 21, he is still somewhat green and will require some coaching but the athleticism he possesses is extremely impressive.

39.) Phil Taylor, DT, Baylor – Taylor started at Penn State but lost his chance to start to Jared Odrick (first round pick by Miami last year) and transfered to Baylor, where he was dominant. Has a few questions about character that will drop his stock despite immense talent though.

40.) GregMcElroy, QB, Alabama – Somewhat unremarkable from a physical standpoint, but his ability to manage and win with a pro-style offense at Alabama is also something that’s highly underrated.

Martez Wilson is the top MLB.
Martez Wilson is the top MLB. /

41.) Martez Wilson, MLB, Illinois – Wilson is a very athletic linebacker, at times in college that allowed him to skate by though. His measurables are amazing, 6’4-250 with a 4.42-40. He’s more than capable of playing the pass and is adequate against the run. A very good tackler due to his length and speed, he’s going to need to add bulk and strength at the NFL level to stack up to blocks better and corral some of the bigger ball-carriers in the league.

42.) Aaron Williams, CB, Texas – Williams is another big corner, he plays very smart, fundamental football but lacks the high-end athleticism of some of the other players at his position. Williams is never going to be overly fast or quick, but he’s adequate in the right situation.

43.) Leonard Hankerson, WR, Miami (FL) – Miami is a school that has churned out Santana Moss, Reggie Wayne, Michael Irvin and Andre Johnson. Those guys caught passes from Heisman candidates and never had the type of year Hankerson did with Jacory Harris and a true freshman hurling it at him.

44.) Cameron Heyward, DE, Ohio State – Not a true outside pass-rusher, he still manages to apply good pressure from all over the field. Heyward is a high character guy with a great work ethic.

45.) Kyle Rudolph, TE, Notre Dame – Rudolph is a high-character kid who runs like a receiver, has above average hands and will get nasty after the catch. Questions about his injury history may cause him to fall a little though.

46.) Mikel Leshoure, RB, Illinois – Leshoure exploded on to the national scene by decimating the Big Ten on the ground in 2010. Averaging six yards per attempt for just under 1,700 yards and 17 touchdowns, Leshoure proved to be an incredibly versatile runner.

Justin Houston is an interesting prospect at OLB.
Justin Houston is an interesting prospect at OLB. /

47.) Justin Houston, OLB, Georgia – Initially a defensive end, Houston is a very talented pass-rusher with tremendous burst up-field, he’s not really going to be big enough to play defensive end at the next level so he will feature more as pass-rushing outside linebacker.

48.) Quinton Carter, S, Oklahoma – Has some of the best instincts in the draft, very quick to react and is typically right the first time. Carter plays the game with very good physicality, is a force when he needs to come up and play the run and has enough speed to keep himself in most pass coverage.

49.) Colin McCarthy, MLB, Miami (FL) – Colin McCarthy is a very instinctual, high-motor player at middle linebacker. Definitely more adept at stopping the run than covering the pass, he is relentless at the point of attack and manages to fight off most blocks with quickness and deceptive strength. Not amongst the most athletically gifted of the linebackers in the 2011 class, McCarthy more than makes up for it with passion and tenacity.

50.) Torrey Smith, WR, Maryland – Smith is an athletic marvel, he has tremendous speed, agility and all the potential you can imagine. What he doesn’t have is a polished game at receiver.

51.) Andy Dalton, QB, TCU – Dalton had a prolific career at TCU, taking them from so-so mid-major to BCS-Buster to a Big East invitation, he’s a smart, hard-working kid who knows what it takes to win. Of all the next-tier quarterbacks in this draft who could come from no where to blow people away, Dalton has the best shot.

52.) Ryan Mallett, QB, Arkansas – Mallett is a talented quarterback with the best arm in the draft but concerns about his maturity and past drug use will cause a lot of teams to back off.

Stephen Paea may be the strongest player in the draft.
Stephen Paea may be the strongest player in the draft. /

53.) Stephen Paea, DT, Oregon State- Possibly the strongest player in the draft, squats 600, benches 500 and put up the 225 bar at the combine 49 times. Lacks lateral quickness though, is basically a bull-rusher every play.

54.) Tidus Young, WR, Boise State – Young is fantastically quick, he has tremendous burst out of his routes, an impressive “extra gear” for out-running defenders and he absolutely destroys corners that give him too much of a cushion. Young should be able to come in and contribute in the return-game right off the bat, but he should also translate into a solid NFL receiver as well, most likely working out of the slot.

55.) Kenrick Ellis, DT, Hampton – Ellis projects beautifully as a nose tackle, at 6’5 340 has ideal size to anchor the middle of a 3-4. He anchors well, can fight off a double team and has a surprisingly quick first step. He can play as a pass-rusher in addition to being nasty against the run. Questions about competition (FCS) will hurt him, but he is a major sleeper.

56.) Quan Sturdivant, MLB, North Carolina – Sturdivant is a good mixture of athleticism and intelligence. A decorated high school quarterback, Sturdivant graduated early to enroll at UNC in the spring and begin his transition to linebacker under the auspices of the Tar Heel coaching staff. Work ethic is not a question with Sturdivant.

57.) Dontay Moch, OLB, Nevada – Moch is former Defensive End that runs a 4.4. He looks to be a very good outside linebacker in the NFL. Moch will be capable of playing good zone coverage, will be solid against the run and should be an excellent speed rusher, but will struggle in man coverage due to stiff hips.

58.) Chimdi Chekwa, CB, Ohio State – Chekwa is a very athletic, physical corner but needs to improve his man coverage skills and tackling in order to be effective at the NFL level. Has impressive speed though, will likely contribute immediately on special teams and potentially in nickel sets.

Lance Kendricks is a talented pass-catching tight end.
Lance Kendricks is a talented pass-catching tight end. /

59.) Lance Kendricks, TE, Wisconsin – Kendricks is a receiver-turned-tight end. His ability to split the seam, catch the ball and run with it are all amongst the best at his position in this draft. Kendricks ran a 4.65-40 at the combine which he improved to 4.5 at Wisconsin’s pro-day.

60.) Kendall Hunter, RB, Oklahoma State – Hunter was one of the players that passed the eye-test in college on a consistent basis. Despite an injury his junior season he posted two 1,500 yard, 16 TD seasons as a sophomore and senior and played some of his best games when the national spotlight shone brightest.

61.) Randall Cobb, WR, Kentucky – Cobb is a bit undersized and could do to improve his blocking, but he is amongst the most polished and productive in this class of receivers beyond that.

62.) Ryan Williams, RB, Virginia Tech – Ryan Williams had a down year this past season at Virginia Tech but still has the potential to be a great NFL back. After posting 21 touchdowns and over 1,650 yards of rushing two years ago, last season he fell to below 500 yards and his average fell nearly a yard and half.

63.) Ras-I Dowling, CB, Virginia – A big, strong fast corner out of Virginia, Dowling lacks elite top-speed but is a solid all-around corner with great intangibles. A high character kid, was voted a team captain in 2010, but missed the majority of the season with injuries.

64.) Edmond Gates, WR, Abilene Christian – One of the older prospects (25) in this year’s draft, Gates is an absolute burner, running one of the fast 40′s at the combine and decimated sub-par competition at ACU.

Jerrel Jernigan is a small-school receiver with big potential.
Jerrel Jernigan is a small-school receiver with big potential. /

65.) Jerrel Jernigan, WR, Troy – Jernigan was one of the nation’s best receivers statistically during his collegiate career and has all the ability necessary to be a solid receiver in the NFL too. Receiver is also one position where coming from a smaller school isn’t a knock.

66.) Christian Ballard, DE, Iowa – Ballard is a hard-worker on the field and in the weight-room, something that will serve him well in the NFL. He needs to clean up the tackling, add strength and work on his leverage to be a successful NFL end though.

67.) James Carpenter, OT, Alabama – Carpenter could be higher in this list, he comes from a pro-style Nick Saban offense and has very good athleticism in some regards but tends to play stiff and doesn’t have great footwork.

68.) Benjamain Ijalana, G, Villanova – Coming from the FCS division of the NCAA, Ijalana never faced the kind of competition that a lot of other players in this draft class saw. As a result of that, Ijalana got by in college with extra weight and sub-par footwork. That won’t fly in the NFL.

69.) Davon House, CB, New Mexico State – House is a hard-working corner with good measurables from a mid-major school. Questions about competition and a lack of urgency as a tackler are concerns but he has a great work ethic and instincts.

70.) Drake Nevis, DT, LSU – Probably needs to add a little bit more size at the next level but still factors as a late second or early third round pick.

Greg Jones is just a bit under-sized.
Greg Jones is just a bit under-sized. /

71.) Greg Jones, MLB, Michigan State – If Jones were a couple inches taller he’d potentially be a first rounder. Jones is a very smart, instinctual player who is high-character and high-effort. Voted a captain by his teammates, he was also the team’s defensive MVP and unquestioned leader, whether it was on the practice field, film study or the weight-room.

72.) Marcus Cannon, OT, TCU – At 6’5, 350 Cannon may be better suited to be a guard in the NFL. Despite his size he has some of the quicker feet in the draft and can be quite effective, but still struggles with speed off the edge.

73.) Luke Stocker, TE, Tennessee – Stocker is a very talented pass-catching tight end, he makes a big target in the middle of the field and has very soft hands. He’ll also bail his quarterback out on a lot of bad throws, something that is huge for a tight end.

74.) Orlando Franklin, OT, Miami (FL) – Franklin came to Miami as a heralded prospect and four years and 35 starts later didn’t really develop all that much. Has a very high ceiling but has had his football IQ questioned in the past.

75.) DeAndre McDaniel, S, Clemson – McDaniel is a solid all-around safety but lacks the top-tier athleticism to be an elite NFL safety. He has good coverage skills but tends to be a bit stiff in the hips, something he gets around by being good at diagnosing a play and reading the passer. As a former linebacker he’s well-suited to offer run support and does a lot of the physical things other safeties don’t do well.

76.) Bruce Carter, OLB, North Carolina – Carter has eye-popping athleticism that some scouts have compared to recent top-ten pick Aaron Curry. Carter, however is no where near as polished. Carter relies heavily on athleticism and his aggressiveness, oftentimes to his own detriment. Has the ability to be a very good 4-3 outside linebacker but needs a lot of coaching.

Stephen Wisniewski is the best true center in this class.
Stephen Wisniewski is the best true center in this class. /

77.) Stephen Wisniewski, C, Penn State – Wisniewski utilizes great technique pass-blocking and run-blocking, but could improve his strength to help with both. He’s highly intelligent, with good character and fundamentals, basically a coach’s dream. He also comes with the Big Ten pedigree, something that surprisingly still matters in NFL circles.

78.) Jarvis Jenkins, DT, Clemson – Big, durable tackle out of Clemson. Played in 48 games over his four years, starting 37. Not flashy, but solid.

79.) Will Rackley, G, LeHigh – If Rackley weren’t coming from a small school he’d likely be a first round pick. But he does come from a small school and questions about competition will keep him in the middle-to-late rounds.

80.) Taiwan Jones, RB, Eastern Washington – Classic case of an ultra-talented back coming out of a small school and fighting the uphill battle against questions of competition. He averaged 7.7 YPC for his career.

81.) Jon Baldwin, WR, Pittsburgh – Off-the-field questions and concerns about commitment and dedication have plagued Baldwin, but his size and ability to go up high and bring down tough passes will keep him in the top half of the draft.

82.) Jurrell Casey, DT, USC – Casey is a short, squatty defender with a body like a bowling ball. He’s tough to drive back and plays the run very well but has short arms and may struggle to disengage at the NFL-level.

Curtis Brown has the big-time college football pedigree.
Curtis Brown has the big-time college football pedigree. /

83.) Curtis Brown, CB, Texas – A solid corner with fairly average speed and strength, Brown will need to improve his technique and strength at the next level in order to be successful.

84.) Brooks Reed, OLB, Arizona – Reed is a bit of a tweener, he’s a bit too small to be effective agaisnt NFL linemen but may not have the agility and fluidity to be an effective outside linebacker. Ultimately will find a role as a special teamer and pass-rush specialist.

85.) Daniel Thomas, RB, Kansas State  – Had a huge senior year, shredding the Big 12 for 19 touchdowns and nearly 1,600 yards. Lacks great speed but has good size to make up for it.

86.) Tyler Sash, S, Iowa – Sash is a high-motor, bright kid with good instincts and leadership skills. He’s not an elite athlete but gets the most out of his ability and provides a great vocal presence on the field and in the locker-room.

87.) Sam Acho, OLB, Texas  – Acho is a very hard-working, intelligent player from a major college program. He lacks high-end athletic potential but could ultimately be an effective linebacker. Limited potential as a pass-rusher.

88.) Buster Skrine, CB, Chattanooga – Skrine is a very talented corner from a small school, needs to improve his strength and discipline but is a sleeper-style player who could see the field and surprise some people as a rookie.

Ricky Stanzi is an underrated prospect.
Ricky Stanzi is an underrated prospect. /

89.) Ricky Stanzi, QB, Iowa – Stanzi quietly had a fantastic senior season, cutting his interceptions from 15 to six and tossing 25 touchdowns. He’s an underrated prospect heading into the draft.

90.) DJ Williams, TE, Arkansas – In my opinion DJ is the best receiving tight end in the draft, at 6’2 245 he lacks the ideal size for a tight end but has all the athleticism and ability you could want out of a tight end, save one very important aspect. That aspect is blocking, where Williams’ lack of size render him less effective than bigger, stronger tight ends.

91.) Chris Conte, S, Cal – Conte is a corner turned safety that still plays the position a little too much like a corner. He is still developing his instincts at safety and will misread a play from time to time and find himself flat-footed and out of position. He has more than enough athleticism and should excel in coverage, but is never going to be a ball-hawk.

92.) Kelvin Sheppard, MLB, LSU – Sheppard is a very talented cover linebacker and will probably be able to find work in some team’s nickel package or possibly even on the outside in a 4-3, but he’s probably not going to be an NFL starter.

93.) Chris Carter, OLB, Fresno State – Carter is too small to play end in a 4-3 and has very little experience playing off the line. He has the instincts of a defensive end in a linebacker’s body.

94.) Jerrell Powe, DT, Ole Miss – A straight, run-stuffer out of Ole Miss, Powe provides very little in the way of a pass rush but won’t get driven back either. He actually has surprising lateral quickness, but tends to tire quickly and will need to work on conditioning in the NFL.

Jacquizz Rodgers brings a ton of speed.
Jacquizz Rodgers brings a ton of speed. /

95.) Jacquizz Rodgers, RB, Oregon State – An absolute burner with quickness and elusiveness to make just about anyone blush. Also happens to be just 5’7 and 170 pounds (soaking wet). Durability is a concern, ability is not.

96.) Noel Devine, RB, West Virginia – Much like Rodgers, Devine has massive speed and elusiveness and more than a few questions about his durability. Will make an elite NFL kick returner.

97.) Greg Romeus, DE, Pittsburgh – Romeus has all the tools to be a very good NFL pass-rusher including a prototype frame and above average athleticism. He needs to dramatically improve his technique and effort to reach that level though.

98.) Ahmad Black, S, Florida – A talented safety with a big-program pedigree that comes with size concerns. At just 5’9, Black lacks the athleticism to play corner but may not be durable to play safety in the NFL.

99.) Austin Pettis, WR, Boise State – I think this kid is just a gamer. Always a high production player, makes a big target for his quarterback and is willing to do a lot of the little things to get better.

100.) Clint Boling, G, Georgia – He gets the most out of limited athleticism, very smart and durable but doesn’t have a high athletic ceiling. Could be a starter in the right system though.