1. Andrew Luck, Jr, Stanford, 6’4 235,
-The prototype for the position both mentally and physically. Luck may’ve been the best player in last year’s draft class; outstanding prospect that grades out highly in all areas.
2. Matt Barkley, Jr, USC, 6’2 220
– Shows good overall tools in the passing game but lacks an elite quality. A strong year could push him into the top half of the first round. Experience in a West Coast offense is a plus.
3. Landry Jones, Jr, Oklahoma, 6’4 220
– Has all the measurables you look for at the position. Will need to continue to show progression in his timing, accuracy, and poise under pressure.
4. Ryan Lindley, Sr, San Diego State, 6’4 215
– Pocket passer with good size. Lindley possesses the strongest arm in this draft class but will need to polish up his overall game this season; a potential first rounder if he does.
5. Terrelle Pryor, Sr, Ohio State, 6’6 235
– Pryor has great size, running speed, and very good arm strength. His route anticipation and pocket awareness will need to improve in 2011. A suspension will keep him from playing the first five games.
Players to Watch: Kirk Cousins, Sr, Michigan State 6’3 205, Nick Foles, Sr, Arizona 6’5 245, Brandon Weeden, Sr, Oklahoma St., 6’4 220, Ryan Tannehill, Sr, Texas A&M, 6’4 219
Comments: Besides Andrew Luck the quarterback class as a whole will need this season to validate another early first round selection. The one positive is that more of these prospects have experience in a pro style offense compared to last year‘s class. Teams will be able to assess the quarterback’s ability to drive back from center, set their feet, go through progressions, and deliver the football with timing.
1. Knile Davis, Jr, Arkansas, 6’0 220
– He may have the best size/speed combination since Adrian Peterson left Oklahoma. Shows good strength between the tackles and the ability to go the distance from anywhere on the field.
2. Trent Richardson, Jr, Alabama, 5’11 220
– Tough inside runner who proves hard to bring down. Richardson shows good patience, vision, and playing speed. He may be a better overall athlete than former teammate Mark Ingram.
3. Andre Ellington, Jr, Clemson, 5’10 190
– Very similar to former Tiger C.J. Spiller, Ellington has an elite combination of speed, quickness, and change of direction ability. Also shows the willingness to run between the tackles.
4. Cyrus Gray, Sr, Texas A&M, 5’10 200
– Solid inside-out runner who shows good balance and body lean. Reliable pass catcher with sure hands; dangerous on screens and in space.
5. LaMichael James, Jr, Oregon, 5’8 185
– Heisman Trophy finalist shows good foot quickness and cut-back ability. He possesses good lateral agility with enough speed to get to the perimeter. Great stamina.
Players to Watch: Chris Polk, Jr, Washington, 5’11 215, Dan (Boom) Herron, Ohio State, Sr, 5’10 205, Isaiah Pead, Sr, Cincinnati, 5’10 200, Jeff Demps, Jr, Florida 5’8 190
Comments: The running back position seems to be dropping in value with most teams employing a heavy rotation system to their backfield. Knile Davis looks to be an early first round selection as long as he remains healthy. There’s plenty of speed and quickness in this draft class with many of these running backs able to separate from defenders at the second level.
1. Justin Blackmon, Jr, Oklahoma State, 6’1 210
– Blackmon would’ve been my second best receiver in this year’s draft class. Has all the tools to be a dominant X receiver at the next level. He can stretch the field vertically, shows quickness in his break, and is very good after the catch.
2. Alshon Jeffery, Jr, South Carolina, 6’4 232
– Big receiver who almost looks like a tight end. Good route runner with the ability to setup defenders and separate at the top of his route. Has uncommon movement for his overall size.
3. Jeff Fuller, Sr, Texas A&M, 6’3 215
– Physical receiver who runs very good routes; instinctive and knows where the ball is going to be. He played very well against top ten pick Patrick Petersen in the Cotton Bowl, showing good strength to handle the jam.
4. Michael Floyd, Sr, Notre Dame, 6’3 228
– Floyd does a great job using size and strength to win leverage and gain position for the jump ball. Physical and isn’t afraid to mix it up with cornerbacks and safeties.
5. Greg Childs, Sr, Arkansas, 6’3 217
– Shows a good combination of size and quickness. Childs has gained a thorough understanding of route combinations in the Arkansas offense, he’s aware of coverages and makes the necessary adjustments. A playmaker.
Players to Watch: Mohamed Sanu, Jr, Rutgers, 6’2 218, DeVier Posey, Sr, Ohio State, 6’2 213, Russell Shepard, Jr, LSU, 6’0 188, Ryan Broyles, Sr, Oklahoma 5’11 185, Jermaine Kearse, Sr, Washington, 6’2 205, Chris Owusu, Sr, Stanford, 6’2 200,
Comments: The wide receiver position is loaded with talent this year. If everyone performs up to their capabilities there could be 5 or 6 receivers drafted in the first round, and up to 15 players drafted in the first three rounds. It’s the most impressive class of receivers that I can remember coming into a season when you consider talent level and depth.
1. Michael Egnew, Sr, Missouri, 6’6 235
– Looks and plays more like a big receiver than an NFL tight end. Very sure-handed with good movement in space for his 6’6 frame. Used almost exclusively in the slot; able to create mismatches.
2. George Bryan, Sr, North Carolina State, 6’5 264
– More of a traditional tight end, Bryan is a physical in-line blocker who shows good routes and provides a safety valve underneath. Strong runner after the catch to pick up tough yards.
3. Orson Charles, Jr, Georgia, 6’3 240
– Charles may be the best athlete available at the position; a converted wide receiver. He’s still a bit raw, but had a coming out game against Florida in 2010. He needs to continue to show improvement against the run and in his route running.
4. Dwayne Allen, Jr, Clemson, 6’4 255
– A physical blocker with a good combination of size and pass catching ability. Allen could be a fast riser if he continues to progress this season. Can be very effective blocking and catching.
5. Coby Fleener, Sr, Stanford, 6’6 248
– Fleener was Andrew Luck’s primary target in the Orange Bowl, catching 6 passes for 173 yards and 3 touchdowns. He shows the consistent ability to make tough catches away from his body. He should have a big year in 2011.
Players to Watch: David Paulson Sr, Oregon 6’4 241, Rhett Ellison, Sr, USC, 6’5 245, David Duran, Sr, Coastal Carolina, 6’5 240, Ladarius Green, Sr, Louisiana-Lafayette 6’6 230.
Comments: The tight end class this year lacks a dominant talent. But the class as a whole shows plenty of potential going into this season. Overall, I don’t see the caliber player of Jermaine Gresham, Rob Gronkowski, or Kyle Rudolph at this point. I’m really interested in seeing how Orson Charles and Dwayne Allen progress this season.
1. Matt Kalil, Jr, USC, 6’6 295
– Kalil will be starting his third year at left tackle for USC. Shows a quick set and good arm extension in pass protection and plays to the whistle against the run. Lower body could use more size, but he shows the skills to be a starting NFL left tackle.
2. Jonathan Martin, Jr, Stanford, 6’6 305
– A very physical player against the run, Martin looks for contact in space and drives through when he latches on blocks. Has the potential to be drafted very high if he maintains his progression.
3. Levy Adcock, Sr, Oklahoma St, 6’5 318
– Played the right tackle position last year for the Cowboys but has the footwork and bend to play the left side. Shows good technique and aggressiveness.
4. Mike Adams, Sr, Ohio State, 6’8 305
– Excellent size and arm length. Adams could rise to the early first round if he’s able to polish up his technique.
5. Matt Reynolds, Sr, BYU, 6’6 322
– This will be Reynolds’ fourth year as the Cougars left tackle. The son of a coach who plays the position with textbook technique. He may be best suited for the right side in the NFL.
Players to Watch: Nate Potter, Sr, Boise State, 6’6 295, Kelechi Osemele, Sr, Iowa State, 6’5 335, Andrew Datko, Sr, Florida State 6’6 305, Riley Reiff, Jr, Iowa 6’6 300,
Comments: Matt Kalil and Jonathan Martin are both at the top of the class and should be battling for the top spot throughout the season. The tackle class lacks the elite athlete we saw in Tyron Smith last year or Russell Okung two seasons ago. But there are plenty of very good, well-balanced prospects available that can raise their stock this year.
1. Kevin Zeitler, Sr, OG, Wisconsin, 6’4 312
– Wisconsin is known for producing NFL ready lineman, it continues this year with Kevin Zeitler. Zeitler is expected to move over to left guard from the right side. Extremely physical with great size and strength.
2. Ben Jones, Sr, OC, Georgia, 6’3 315
– A three year starter, Jones hasn’t missed a game since his freshman year. A complete lineman in protection and with run support; I like him better than most starting NFL centers.
3. Rokevious Watkins, Sr, OG, South Carolina, 6’4 325
– Physically dominating right guard is a mauler in the run game. He was South Carolina’s most consistent lineman last season and continues to progress in every area of his game.
4. Cordy Glenn, Sr, OG, Georgia, 6’5 330
– Glenn has experience at both guard positions and at tackle. He moves well for his size and doesn’t lose many one-on-one battles in run support. He and teammate Ben Jones give Georgia one of the best interiors in the NCAA.
5. Mike Brewster, Sr, OC, Ohio State, 6’5 295
– A smart and athletic pivot man who can slide in pass protect and get outside quickly to neutralize secondary defenders. Plays with consistent leverage; only lacks pure size.
Players to Watch: David DeCastro, Jr, OG, Stanford, 6’5 312, Stephen Good, Sr, OG, Oklahoma 6’6 300, Chris Jacobson, Sr, OG, Pittsburgh 6’3 290, William Vlachos, Sr, OC, Alabama 6’1 290
Comments: This will be a good draft class for interior lineman. There’s plenty of depth and experience available throughout the draft. There isn’t a player with the size/quickness/strength combination of Mike or Maurkice Pouncey, but there are a few first round caliber players available that project to be long term starters.