These are my first published rankings of the 2011 season. I don’t like to create any rankings too early in the process because everything ends up changing around up until about a month before the draft, which is exactly where we are now.
What’s different about these rankings from most others you have seen is that I separated my top 32 prospects into six different “tiers”. The tiers are markers of different talent levels. For example, if both Marcel Dareus and Julio Jones were left on the board, because Dareus is in the 2nd tier and Jones in the 3rd, I’d select Dareus every time. If I were submitting this to an NFL team as a scout, each player would have a numerical value assigned to them (Usually on a 5-8 scale). The only situation where I wouldn’t stay true to my board is if I had a star player at defensive tackle, and had a need at WR. I think the benefit of using tiers is because it shows a drop-off in talent level, and gives teams an advantage in understanding good trading situations.
A few explanations of some player rankings:
– I have Jimmy Smith as the second ranked corner by a small margin because of his potential as a shutdown corner. I think at worst he is an Antonio Cromartie type player, but at best he could be one of the best cornerback’s in the NFL.
– Da’Quan Bowers is lower on my list than some others partly due to the fact that I think he gets more credit than he deserves for his pass rushing ability. He’s still a top 15 pick, but I don’t see him as the top 5 player some made him out to be.
– I have Mark Ingram as my second ranked back because I think he’s going to be a solid player, but I don’t see anything special about him. He’s either good or above average at everything, but he doesn’t excel at one particular thing. Mikel Leshoure has big-time potential as a bigger back with nice burst and it pushes him to my top RB in 2011.
– Finally, I have Blaine Gabbert ranked as my 4th quarterback now, and it’s not going to change. He wasn’t that impressive on the field, shows a lack of instincts, and I think will take a long time adjusting to the speed of NFL defenses.
1. AJ Green*, WR Georgia
2. Patrick Peterson*, CB LSU
3. Cam Newton*, QB Auburn
4. Nick Fairley*, DT Auburn
5. Robert Quinn*, OLB/DE North Carolina
6. Julio Jones*, WR Alabama
7. Marcell Dareus*, DT Alabama
8. Von Miller, OLB Texas A&M
9. JJ Watt*, DE Wisconsin
10. Cameron Jordan, DE California
11. Jimmy Smith, CB Colorado
12. Prince Amukamara, CB Nebraska
13. Da’Quan Bowers*, DE Clemson
14. Gabe Camiri, OT Wisconsin
15. Cameron Heyward, DT Ohio State
16. Ryan Kerrigan, DE Purdue
17. Derek Sherrod, OT Mississippi State
18. Mikel Leshoure*, RB Illinois
19. Tyron Smith*, OT USC
20. Mark Ingram*, RB Alabama
21. Martez Wilson*, LB Illinois
22. Phil Taylor, NT Baylor
23. Brooks Reed, LB/DE Arizona
24. Jake Locker, QB Washington
25. Aldon Smith*, DE Missouri
26. Leonard Hankerson, WR Miami (Fl)
27. Anthony Castonzo. OT Boston College
28. Muhammad Wilkerson, DT Temple
29. Corey Liuget, DT Illinois
30. Justin Houston*, OLB Georgia
31. Blaine Gabbert, QB Missouri
32. Ben Ijalana, OT/OG Villanova