Ryan Mallett

Thoughts on Ryan Mallett to the New England Patriots

Ryan Mallet (scouting report) was a boom-or-bust prospect no matter where he landed, but that may be even more true now that he’s a New England Patriot.

Mallett will be a doing a lot of standing around in New England over the next 3 years

Barring an injury to Tom Brady, we won’t see Mallett on the field for an extended period of time for at least three years. Meaning he’ll be given every opportunity to sit, watch and learn.

And that goes for more than just the on-field side of things. New England’s cast of veterans, Brady included, will teach Mallett how to be a professional – assuming he’s willing to learn.

As an outside it’s easy to say that Mallett will be better off watching and learning (because it’s true), but it’s much harder to be in that position. Imagine being Mallett today. You’re arguably the most NFL ready quarterback in this year’s draft class and have obvious 1st-round talent. The draft is filled with teams in desperate need of a quarterback. And you end up falling until the 3rd round to a team with no use for you until three or four years down the road. That’s gotta hurt.

How Mallett responds will determine his future success. If he takes advantage of the opportunity Belichick has given him, I have absolutely no doubt that he will be successful. But if he doesn’t and becomes a distraction in the locker room, Belichick will have no problem cutting him lose before he ever sees the field.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 2011 NFL Draft, Patriots 1 Comment

10 Bold Predictions for the NFL Draft

10. Al Davis will shake things up
Normally this wouldn’t be a bold prediction, but without a 1st-round pick Davis will have to get creative.  Perhaps he’ll trade into the 1st round in an effort to land Jason Campbell’s eventual replacement. Ryan Mallet certainly fits the mold of an Al Davis quarterback…

9. Two or fewer trades occur in 1st round
After this weekend, no one knows when the next time will be that teams will have opportunity to fill holes. This could be their only chance to address some needs before the free agency period – which may not be as active as we’re used to. Draft picks are more valuable than ever this year and most teams will be reluctant to part with them.

8. Patrick Peterson comes off the board within the first six picks
Most mock drafts have Peterson falling to the 49ers, but he won’t last that long (sorry Niners fans). Denver supposedly likes him. Buffalo is unpredictable, so who knows what they’ll do. Arizona could settle for him. Dallas could trade up. And if all else fails, the Browns will snatch him up at No. 6.

7.  Mark Herzlich has a looooong wait in Radio City Music Hall
Herzlich is one of the 25 players attending the draft, and while the cancer survivor will get a great ovation when he is finally selected, he’s going to be waiting awhile. He clearly lost a step after returning to the field this past year, and he is unlikely to come off the board with in the first three rounds. 

6. Three receivers go in the 1st round
A.J. Green and Julio Jones will go in the top 10, but someone else will join them later in the 1st round.  The Rams could trade back and select some such as Titus Young or Jon Baldwin. The Falcons and Jets are two others possibly interested in a receiver in the late 1st.

5. Mark Ingram falls to the late 1st… and possibly further
Running backs have such a short lifespan in the NFL and are so readily available in the middle rounds of the draft that teams are becoming increasingly less interested in spending high picks on them. Ingram is the consensus top available player at the position, but there are very few teams desperate to fill a hole at that position. If the Dolphins don’t take him at No. 15, he’ll fall into the 20s and possibly into the 2nd round.

4. The Jaguars shock us with their 1st round pick
It will be tough to top the Tyson Alualu selection, but GM Gene Smith will surprise us once again.  Maybe they decide to go for a quarterback? Mallett? Locker? Ponder? Or maybe they reach for a receiver? Titus Young? Torrey Smith?

3. Rumors of Da’Quan Bowers’ fall prove to be greatly overstated
Those screaming the loudest that Bowers knee is probably are probably the ones hoping he falls to them. I wouldn’t be shocked if he lands in Cleveland at No. 6 and I have a hard time seeing him fall further than No. 12 to the Vikings. Sorry Bucs fans, he’s not going be there at No. 20.

2. Jake Locker falls further than expected
Rumors have swirled that the Redskins may want him at No. 10. If I had to bet I’d say they do like him, but would prefer to wait until the 41st selection. Nothing he did on the field this year resembled a 1st-round pick, let alone a top-10 pick. Most teams love his talent – and it only takes one to make him a 1st-round pick – but he still has a 2nd or 3rd round grade on most draft boards. 

1. Only three quarterbacks will go in the 1st round
Despite rumors that as many as five signal callers could go in the top 32 picks, only three will actually come off the board – Newton, Gabbert and third (possibly to the Dolphins). Everyone else will wisely wait until the 2nd and 3rd round where less money will be on the line.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 2011 NFL Draft Comments Off

Leslie Frazier: Vikings need QB in draft

It’s no secret that the Vikings need a new quarterback. Brett Favre is retired. Tarvaris Jackson is a free agent. And Joe Webb, a guy who was drafted as a receiver, probably isn’t the long term answer.

However, many have speculated that the Vikings would prefer to address that need in free agency or through a trade. Just two years removed from the NFC Championship Game, the Vikings aren’t exactly in rebuilding mode. A veteran quarterback (McNabb? Kolb?) could easily lead them back to the playoffs.

In a recent interview with Pro Football Weekly, Vikings head coach Leslie Frazier hinted that the Vikings may actually be targeting a quarterback in the draft.

When asked about the important of acquiring a star quarterback Frazier responded:

It’ll probably be just like it will be here in Minnesota, in this draft, to get that star quarterback.

Frazier continued, discussing some of the qualities he and his staff will look for in the Vikings future franchise quarterback:

[I would] like to find a guy of high character who has leadership abilities, a strong leader in that regard. A guy who is very competitive, who has a strong desire to win. Of course, he has to have the talent to be accurate with the football. The leadership and the character, along with the competitive spirit — I mean those are the key characteristics that you look for.

These comments are interesting for two reasons:

1) We’ve assumed for awhile that the Vikings would consider a quarterback in the draft, but we now have that confirmed.

2) His comments regarding leadership and a competitive nature make me wonder if the Vikings are team that could fall for someone like Jake Locker, much like the Broncos fell in love with Tim Tebow last year. Locker lacks 1st-round talent, but has potential, work ethic and leadership abilities. On the flip side, would they rule out Ryan Mallett for those same reasons? He’s more polished than Locker, but the perception is that he may lack the desire to be great, along with some other character concerns.

I currently have the Vikings selecting Mallett in my most recent mock draft. Mike Band has them passing on Mallett and taking Gabe Carimi instead.

At this point, both options are still realistic. Until they sit down with Mallett, even the Vikings won’t have a concrete opinion about his character concerns and how he may fit into their locker room. I suspect we’ll get a better idea as to which quarterback prospects they’re interested in after the combine when teams really begin the process of narrowing down their draft board.


Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 2011 NFL Draft, Vikings 3 Comments

Ryan Mallett Scouting Report

Ryan Mallett QB Arkansas #15

Ht: 6’7

Wt: 238

Strengths:
Impressive height. Elite arm strength. Fundamentals are solid. Does a nice job of reading the entire field. Looks very patient in the pocket and knows when to check down or throw it away. Experienced in a pro-style offense. Adequate quickness; can occassionally buy time with his feet.
Weaknesses:
Decision making crumbles under pressure. He’ll force throws when his team needs a big play. Needs to improve his ability to keep his composure and remain consistent. Accuracy is average, but nothing special. Would benefit from bulking up; height is great, but he’s a little on the skinny side.
Comments:
Transferred from Michigan, where he filled in for an injured Chad Henne as a true freshman. Mallett certainly looks like a big-time quarterback, but his production hasn’t always matched his ability. An encouraging sign, however, is the fact that he improved dramatically from his junior to senior year at Arkansas. It’s tough to penalize a guy for this, but it’s worth noting that Bobby Petrino quarterbacks tend to put up big numbers in college and then flop in the NFL (Chris Redman, Brian Brohm, etc.).
Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in Scouting Reports - 2011 1 Comment

10 teams looking for a new starting quarterback

Nearly one-third of the league could have new starting quarterbacks by September. Due to a greater demand than supply, it’s likely that not all of these teams find themselves a new signal caller, but here are the top 10 teams we’ve identified as most likely to have a new quarterback in 2011.

10. Broncos
It sounds as though Josh McDaniels was the lone Tebow support in Denver, and with him gone it seems likely that the Broncos will consider other options. John Fox has indicated that he likes Tim Tebow, but he also isn’t ready to commit to a starting quarterback. They’re unlikely to address this need in the draft, but signing a veteran is a strong possibility.

9. Raiders
Jason Campbell is still under contract but their other four quarterbacks (seriously, they have four other quarterbacks on the roster) are free agents. Keeping Campbell is a definite possibility, but you just never know what Al Davis as in mind. I wouldn’t rule out the possibility of them trading up into the 1st-round (they already traded their own 1st-round pick) in an effort to land Cam Newton or Jake Locker.

8. Seahawks
Matt Hasselbeck is a free agent and may return, but he doesn’t have much left in the tank. They would certainly love to have Hasselbeck around to groom a young quarterback, but I don’t expect the Seahawks to commit to him as the starter. If he wants a guarantee that he’ll be a starter for the next year or two, he may need to go elsewhere.

7. Dolphins
Owner Stephen Ross has stated that he wants a creative, hurry-up offense in 2011, and that won’t be happening with Chad Henne under center. The Dolphins have grown tired of his slow development and seem ready to move on. Drafting a quarterback (possibly Newton) is a possibility, but they may prefer to bring in a veteran in an effort to turn things around quickly.

6. Bills
With the 3rd pick in the draft the Bills could have their pick of the quarterbacks, and Blaine Gabbert is a definite possibility. But the reason I don’t rank them higher is because I think they’ll strongly consider bringing Ryan Fitzpatrick back for another season. He was one of the biggest surprises of the 2010 season. The Bills may even draft Gabbert, or someone in the 2nd or 3rd round, and let them sit for a year behind Fitzpatrick.

5. Titans
Vince Young is as good as gone, and Kerry Collins is a free agent. However, I wouldn’t rule out Collins’ return. The Titans are in position to draft a quarterback (Gabbert, Newton or Mallett) and I suspect Jeff Fisher will prefer to keep Collins around to help groom their future franchise quarterback.

4. Redskins
After getting benched in favor of Rex Grossman, it’s hard to imagine Donovan McNabb returning to Washington. It’s equally difficult to image the Redskins sticking with Grossman for 2011. With the 10th pick in the draft Mike Shanahan is in position to select his quarterback of the future. Ryan Mallett and Newton are both strong possibilities.

3. Vikings
We know Favre won’t be back (and I actually believe him this time) and Tarvaris Jackson is a free agent. Joe Webb performed far better than anyone could have expected of a guy who was drafted as a wide receiver, but I can’t imagine Leslie Frazier sticking with him for 2011. The Vikings will either draft a quarterback (Newton or Mallett) or bring in a veteran (possibly Kevin Kolb).

2. Cardinals
Ken Whisenhunt wasn’t happy with the Cardinals quarterback situation entering last season and I’m guessing he’s even less pleased after seeing how it played out.  Drafting Blaine Gabbert is a possibility, but I suspect Whisenhunt would prefer to bring a veteran aboard, as he did last offseason. Either way, their opening day starter is definitely not on the current roster.

1. 49ers
Alex Smith and Troy Smith are both free agent and I would be very surprised if either returned.  I currently have them selecting Gabbert in my mock draft, but trading for Kevin Kolb is also possibility. Another option is signing a veteran, such as Matt Hasselbeck or Seneca Wallace, to keep the seat warm for whoever Jim Harbaugh choses to groom for the position.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 2011 NFL Draft, 49ers, Bills, Broncos, Cardinals, Dolphins, Raiders, Redskins, Seahawks, Titans, Vikings Comments Off

Weighing in on Ryan Mallett’s “character concerns”

There has been a lot of talk about Ryan Mallett’s “character concerns” and “attitude problems” all season, and it came to a head over the past few days as we all prepared for the Sugar Bowl.

I’m usually quick to knock a player down – especially a quarterback – due to character concerns, but I’m struggling to understand exactly what Mallett’s issues are.

To this point the allegations against Mallett are so vague I can’t even bring myself to hold them against him. I made an effort to pay close attention to Mallett’s expressions and body language on the field last night, but I saw very little which concerned me.

At one point Mallett did become frustrated, something which NFL Draft Scout’s Chad Reuter noticed as well. But overall I don’t think he crossed the line in terms of showing up his teammates. His receivers dropped multiple passes, which may have cost his team the game, but Mallett kept his composure. I’ve seen Peyton Manning in similar situations give his receivers some far dirtier looks than anything Mallett did on Tuesday night.

In order for these rumors to emerge, something must be going on behind the scenes. For whatever reason, someone out there doesn’t like Mallett and is quick to supply scouts with stories. Wes Bunting of the National Football Post recently quoted a scout as saying: “I got stuff on Mallett that no one even knows about and I wouldn’t touch him.”

Comments such as that may lead you to believe that Mallett will fall on draft day. It’s certainly possible, but not with the information that is currently out there. Prior to the 2006 draft I heard far worse about Jay Cutler – rumors which I will not repeat because I believe they hold no merit – and the Broncos still selected him in the 1st round.

There is no doubt that teams have heard the same vague reports, and possibly even more detailed comments from those close to the Arkansas program. They will drill Mallett during the interview process, talk to teammates, coaches and anyone else who knows him personally.

In the end, I don’t anticipate Mallett’s stock suffering from these rumors. I believe he is a 1st-round lock and could even come off the board as high as No. 3 to the Buffalo Bills.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 2011 NFL Draft 2 Comments

A quick “what if Luck stays in school” mock draft

It seems like every day a new reporter finds “sources” to tell him that Andrew Luck is leaning toward staying in school. I’m inclined to call “BS” on anyone who says Luck is leaning towards staying at Stanford, especially since it sounds as though Jim Harbaugh is as good as gone. But I’ll humor those who think he’s staying for a moment and throw together a quick mock draft based on the scenario that he stays. Here’s the top 10 of the “what if Luck stays” mock draft…

1. Panthers – Da’Quan Bowers – DE – Clemson
The Panthers don’t need a quarterback, so they won’t take one unless Luck is there. Their pass rush was abysmal this season, and they missed Julius Peppers even more than anyone could have anticipated. Bowers is coming off a monster year and should be an instant-impact pass rusher at the next level.

2. Broncos – Patrick Peterson – CB – LSU
With Josh McDaniels gone, the Broncos may be ready to give up on Tim Tebow after just three games. However, I don’t think they’ll reach for someone like Newton or Mallett with the second pick. The safe bet is to take Peterson, the best available player. Champ Bailiey may not return, and even if he does he’s on the downswing of his career.

3. Bengals – A.J. Green – WR – Georgia
One of the biggest decisions any team has to make this offseason is the Bengals’ looming decision about Carson Palmer. They could cut him loose and draft a new franchise quarterback here. I don’t think they’re willing to give up yet, however. A.J. Green is an elite talent and could be the young receiver Palmer needs to get the offense back on track.

4. Bills – Ryan Mallett – QB – Arkansas
The Bills need a quarterback to build around and should be able to get one in this year’s draft. But who will it be? Mallett, Locker and Newton are all worth considering. It’s pure speculation at this point, but I think Chan Gailey and Buddy Nix will lean toward the strong-armed Mallett.

5. Cardinals – Prince Amukamara – CB – Nebraska
The Cardinals are another team in need of a quarterback, but I expect Ken Whisenhunt to push for them to bring in a veteran.  As a result, they’ll turn their attention to the defense in the draft, landing either Amukamara, Cameron Jordan or Nick Fairley here.

6. 49ers – Cam Newton – QB – Auburn
Until a GM and a coach are in place it’s tough to predict how the 49ers will handle the draft. But one thing is certain: they need a quarterback. If they need to make a decision between Newton and Locker, expect Newton to be their guy.

7. Cowboys – Cameron Jordan – DE – California
Jordan isn’t nearly the most well-known of the top 3-4 defensive ends, but I believe he is the best of the bunch. The Cowboys will be looking to improve the defense, making Jordan a strong possibility here.

8. Texans – Nick Fairley – DT – Auburn
The Texans need to address their secondary, but with Peterson and Amukamara off the board they must turn their attention to the defensive line. Fairley is an elite pass-rushing interior lineman who reminds me of Ndamukong Suh.

9. Lions – Robert Quinn – DE – North Carolina
The Lions offense is progressing, but the defense still has some holes. Kyle Vanden Bosch hasn’t worked out and the Lions will likely look to upgrade their pass rush this offseason. Quinn may be the best pass-rushing end available in this draft class.

10. Browns – Julio Jones – WR – Alabama
The Browns are now committed to Colt McCoy, but now they need to supply him with some weapons. Jones, Justin Blackmon, Michael Floyd, Jon Baldwin and Torrey Smith could all be options depending on who leaves early for the draft.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 2011 NFL Draft, 49ers, Bengals, Bills, Broncos, Browns, Cardinals, Cowboys, Lions, Panthers, Texans 1 Comment

Draft prospects to watch on Saturday

DeMarcus Love – OT – Arkansas
Love is emerging as one of the top offensive lineman in this year’s draft class and he’ll have his toughest test of the season on Saturday. He’ll likely be lined up against Marcel Dareus for most of the day. I’m very interested to see how often he’s able to handle Dareus in a one-on-one matchup – or if Arkansas immediately double teams Dareus.

Marcell Dareus – DE/DT – Alabama
This is also a huge game for Dareus, who gets a chance to prove himself against one of the nation’s top tackles. He likely will face double teams throughout most of the game. How he handles those matchups will determine if teams take him seriously as a 3-4 defensive end prospect.

Ryan Mallett – QB – Arkansas
Sticking with the same game, Mallett also has a lot to prove. There’s no denying Mallett’s skills – he has all the physical attributes of an NFL quarterback. But does he have the accuracy and the composure in the pocket necessary to play the NFL game? This will be his best chance in college to prove himself against an elite defense.

Rahim Moore – S- UCLA
The Bruins face Texas, which has struggled on offense this year, and Moore could be a difference maker in this game. If he can force Garrett Gilbert into some mistakes – perhaps pick off a pass himself – the Bruins could hang in this ball game.

Stephen Paea – DT – Oregon State
Paea doesn’t have a particularly difficult assignment, but he does have the eyes of the nation on him as his Beavers take on Boise State. If he’s able to get into the backfield and disrupt Boise’s high-powered offense, scouts will take notice. I believe he has the talent to be a top-10 pick and this is a chance for him to prove he’s worthy of that ranking.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 2011 NFL Draft Comments Off

Draft Notes from Week 2

  • Andrew Luck is the real deal, and I’m going to take every chance I get to mention how much I like him. UCLA did a nice job pressuring him and taking away a lot of options in coverage, but Luck adjusted and took what was given him. He showed off his field awareness and accuracy on his first TD pass of the game to Ryan Whalen. He spun around, regrouped and hit led him perfectly into the corner.
  • I really liked what I saw from Cameron Heyward against Miami. A guy his size dropping back into coverage and picking off that pass from Jacory Harris is special. He could be the next Richard Seymour.
  • Another guy I like from OSU was Daniel “Boom” Herron. He reminds me of Justin Forsett. He’s only a junior and likely won’t leave early since he’s splitting time with Brandon Saine, but he could end up being the better pro prospect of the two.
  • GAINESVILLE, FL - SEPTEMBER 04: Safety Ahmad Black  of the Florida Gators runs after making an interception against the Miami University RedHawks at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on September 4, 2010 in Gainesville, Florida. (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)

    Ahmad Black is having a breakout season

  • Florida safety Ahmad Black has already done a lot to boost his stock this season. He bailed out the Gators with a key interception against USF on Saturday, and played an all-around great game. He’s looked like a solid 2nd or 3rd round pick.
  • I know they’ve only played Tennessee Tech and Louisiana-Monroe, but Ryan Mallett has completed 73.1 pct of his passes. That is a huge step in the right direction. He completed just over 55 pct in 2009 and was below 50 pct in 2007 with Michigan. A player with his ability in that offense needs to be around 60 percent to be considered a legitimate 1st-round prospect.
  • How bad is the ACC? (I know that’s unrelated to the draft, but had to say something.)
Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 2011 NFL Draft 1 Comment

Never too early to look ahead: 2011 NFL Draft Board

Its never too early to look ahead to next year. So with that in mind, lets unveil DraftAce’s first 2011 draft board. We’ve ranked the top 32 draft-eligible players (seniors, juniors and redshirt sophomores) and have compared them to a current NFL player. Obviously they won’t all live up to these expectations, but think of it as a “best case scenario” comparison.

1. Ryan Mallett – JR – QB – Arkansas
Mallett certainly looks the part (6’6″) and has a rocket arm. He was inconsistent at times in 2009, but it was his first year leading the Razorbacks’ offense after transferring from Michigan. Expect big things from him in 2010. NFL Comparison: Joe Flacco

2. Cameron Heyward – SR – DE – Ohio State
The son of Craig “Ironhead” Heyward was a 1st-round lock, potentially as the top defensive end selected, had he entered this year’s draft. He returned to Ohio State, however, where he’ll continue to dominate as a defensive end/tackle ‘tweener. He has the size to play in a 3-4 scheme, but also has the athleticism to be a compete pass rusher/run stuffer in a 4-3. NFL Comparison: Mario Williams

3. Robert Quinn – JR – DE North Carolina
Quinn could be the premier pass rusher in next year’s draft. He terrorized ACC quarterbacks as a sophomore in 2009 and with defensive line mate Marvin Austin back for the 2010 season he should continue to improve. NFL Comparison: Tamba Hali

4. A.J. Green – JR – WR – Georgia
Green burst onto the scene as a true freshman in 2008 and continued to dominate the SEC in ’09. At 6’4″, 208 pounds he has the size to be a true No. 4 receiver. NFL Comparison: Randy Moss

5. Gabe Carimi – SR – OT – Wisconsin
Carimi took over for Joe Thomas as a freshman in 2007 and lived up to expectations from day one. The similarities to Thomas eerie. They have a similar build and a remarkably similar skill set. Both have the athleticism to excel as pass blockers but also play with a mean streak that allows them to dominate in the running game. NFL Comparison: Joe Thomas

6. Patrick Peterson – JR – CB – LSU
Peterson has the size of a free safety (6’1″, 211 pounds) but the athleticism to a shutdown corner. If he fulfills expectations as a junior, he could be one of the highest-rated corners to enter the draft in a number of years. NFL Comparison: Charles Woodson

7. Blaine Gabbert – JR – QB – Missouri
With just one year under his belt as a starter, we still have a lot to learn about Gabbert. As a sophomore, he looked like a future star. He has an NFL body with a strong arm and more than adequately filled the shoes of Missouri legend Chase Daniel. NFL Comparison: Phillip Rivers

8. Marvin Austin – SR – DT – North Carolina
Austin turned down a guaranteed stop in the 2010 1st-round because he wanted to return to school to have an Ndamukong Suh-like senior year. Its a lofty goal, you have to admire his dedication. If he comes close to fulfilling his own expectations he’ll find himself in the early half of the 1st round.
NFL Comparison: Kyle Williams

9. Greg Romeus – SR – DE – Pittsburgh
Romeus is yet another player who had a chance to come off the board in the 1st round in 2009, but elected to return to school. Romeus isn’t strong as Heyward or as quick as Quinn, but he’s a complete play who can excel against the run and the pass.
NFL Comparison: Justin Tuck

10. Jared Crick – JR – DT – Nebraska
Ndamukong Suh wasn’t the only force to be reckoned with on the Cornhuskers defensive line in 2009. Crick obviously has a ways to go before he can be compared to Suh, but he has a similar skill set and may actually be better against the run than his former teammate.
NFL Comparison: Darnell Dockett

11. Andrew Luck – SO – QB – Stanford
With Toby Gerhart out of the picture in Stanford, the Cardinal offense will no focus on Luck. He had flashes of greatness as a redshirt-freshman in 2009 and should take major strides this season now that the offense will be built around his arm.
NFL Comparison: Aaron Rodgers

12. Allen Bailey – SR – DT – Miami FL
After a surprising two-year drought, Miami could return to the 1st round in 2011. Bailey is an athletic three-technique tackle who excels at busting up plays in the backfield. He led the Hurricanes with 11 tackles for loss and seven sacks in 2009.
NFL Comparison: Kevin Williams

13. Michael Floyd – JR – WR – Notre Dame
Golden Tate received much of the attention this past season, but Floyd is the better pro prospect. He has elite size and strength for a receiver and enough speed to stretch the field. He’ll make his presence felt immediately as a red zone target.
NFL Comparison: Andre Johnson

14. Ryan Williams – SO – RB – Virginia Tech
As a redshirt freshman in 2009 Williams was arguably the nation’s best running back, yet flew under the radar due to Virginia Tech’s somewhat disappointing season. He posted five 150-yard games and dominated and finished 5th in the nation in rushing. If he builds upon that success he’ll find himself in the Heisman race and in the mix to be the top available running back in the 2011 draft.
NFL Comparison: DeAngelo Williams

15. Von Miller – SR – LB – Texas A&M
Miller burst onto the scene in 2009 playing a hybrid DE/OLB position for the Aggies, essentially acting as a pass-rush specialist. He led the nation with 16.5 sacks and ranked among the leaders in tackles for loss as well.
NFL Comparison: Shaun Phillips

16. Rahim Moore – JR – S – UCLA
Had Moore been eligible to enter the 2010 draft it would be him, not Earl Thomas, pushing Eric Berry for spot atop the draft boards at safety. Like Thomas, Moore is a ball-hawking free safety but has the size to help out against the run as well.
NFL Comparison: Kerry Rhodes

17. Bruce Carter – SR – LB – North Carolina
Carter will be a tough prospect to judge next season because he’s undersized. At only 225 pounds certain teams will scratch him off their list from the start. However, you can’t deny the fact that he’s a playmaker. He’ll fit nicely into someone’s 4-3 scheme at weakside linebacker.
NFL Comparison: Thomas Davis

18. Julio Jones – JR – WR – Alabama
Jones has the size and athleticism needed to excel at the next level. However, after a dominant freshman season he regressed in 2009. He caught just four touchdown passes in 2009 and had just one 100-yard game. He’ll need to bounce back in a big way in order to hang on to this slot in the top 32.
NFL Comparison: Randy Moss

19. Greg Jones – SR – LB – Michigan State
Jones is another player that cracks the top 32 based on potential rather than production. He’s already an effective against the run, but as an inside linebacker he needs to develop his skills in coverage. He has the athleticism of a top-10 pick, but he needs to become more disciplined to live up to his full potential.
NFL Comparison: DeMeco Ryans

20. Jake Locker – SR – QB – Washington
Numerous draftniks have Locker as the top-rated quarterback, but I’m not sold just yet. He’s a potential 1st-round pick based on potential, but he’s been just an average collegiate quarterback to this point in his career. His athleticism is unmatched by anyone else in this draft class, but that’s a small piece of the puzzle. He’s reckless with the football (11 interceptions) and has completed just 53 percent of his career pass attempts.
NFL Comparison: Donovan McNabb

21. Deunta Williams – SR – S – North Carolina
Williams is a ball-hawking free safety but also has the size to play strong safety in the pros. That versatility will help his draft stock next season and makes him the top senior prospect at safety.
NFL Comparison: Darren Sharper

22. Nate Solder – SR – OT – Colorado
Solder came to Boulder as tight end but switched to tackle as a sophomore in 2008. He’s still developing as a left tackle, but his upside is unlimited. At 6’9″ he has the size and athleticism to dominate the position for years to come. With an impressive senior year he could easily climb into the top five.
NFL Comparison: D’Brickashaw Ferguson

23. Chris Galippo – JR – LB – USC
Galippo may be the next great linebacker to come from Southern Cal. Like the rest of his teammates, he didn’t quite live up to expectations in 2009, but the bulk of the Trojans’ defense return for 2010 and big things are expected from the unit which is led by Galippo. He’s an instinctive linebacker who will only continue to get better with experience.
NFL Comparison: James Laurinaitis

24. Jamie Harper -JR – RB – Clemson
Harper is a bit of wildcard at this point, having only played in a backup role to this point in his career. He was brilliant as C.J. Spiller’s backup in 2009 and will become the focal point of the Tigers’ offense this season. He’s a powerful downhill runner (5’11″, 230 pounds) who has the strength to carry the load at the next level.
NFL Comparison: Michael Turner

25. Nate Potter – JR – OT – Boise State
Like Ryan Clady in 2008, it will be tough to judge Potter until the offseason workouts. He has dominated Boise State’s WAC opponents, but its a weak conference and he simply isn’t facing the talent which he will see in the NFL. He certainly appears to have the athleticism to take his game to the next level though, and his stock could skyrocket over of the course of the next year.
NFL Comparison: Michael Oher

26. Kyle Rudolph – JR – TE – Notre Dame
Notre Dame hasn’t exactly churned out elite skill position players in recent years, but that could change in 2011 as both Michael Floyd and Rudolph could come off the board in the 1st round. Rudolph has the size and athleticism to develop into a well-rounded tight end who can dominate as both a blocker and receiver in the NFL.
NFL Comparison: Jason Witten

27. DeAndre McDaniel – SR – S – Clemson
2011 figures to bring us another deep class of safeties. McDaniels toyed with the idea of entering this year’s draft class, but wisely stayed in school and could find himself in the 1st round in 2011. He has the size to play strong safety, but has the ball skills of a free safety – a combination which will help his value immensely.
NFL Comparison: Brandon Meriweather

28. Marcell Dareus – JR – DE – Alabama
Dareus is a stout lineman who excels in run defense, but also contributes as a pass rusher. He led the Crimson Tide in sacks in 2009 and they’re expecting big things from him this upcoming season. He’s a versatile prospect who could play end in either a 3-4 or 4-3 scheme and may also be able to transition to tackle in the 4-3.
NFL Comparison: Ty Warren

29. DaQuan Bowers – JR – DE – Clemson
Bowers has as much potential as anyone eligible to enter the 2011 draft class. He’s started from day one since coming to Clemson as a highly touted recruit in 2008. Bowers has just 4 sacks through his first two seasons, but we’re expecting big things from him in 2009. NFL Comparison: Trent Cole

30. Jerrell Powe – DT – Mississippi
As more and more teams switch to the 3-4 defense, the value of nose tackles is starting to skyrocket. Players such as Powe figure to see their stock rise far higher than similar players in years past. He’s a physical presence on the interior line, capable of taking on multiple blockers and anchoring a defensive line.
NFL Comparison: Vince Wilfork

31. Austin Pettis – SR – WR – Boise State
Pettis could become the first skill-position player selected in the 1st round from Boise State. He has the size and speed to take his game to the next level, but like anyone from Boise, he’ll need to prove he can compete at the highest level. As a team, the Broncos have earned the respect of the nation, but there’s still a lack of talent in the WAC which doesn’t fully prepare players for the NFL the way a BCS conference does.
NFL Comparison: Sidney Rice

32. Casey Matthews – SR – LB – Oregon
One thing I learned from scouting Clay Matthews in 2009: never bet against the Matthews family. Like his other brother, Casey doesn’t have elite physical talents but he has become the leader of the Ducks defense and has the instincts to excel at the next level.
NFL Comparison: Paul Posluszny

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 2011 NFL Draft 3 Comments