After a good amount of scouting this season, it’s time for my first big board of the year. These are coming before any all-star games, pre-draft workouts, or official measurables. This also isn’t entirely fair because there are a lot of prospects I haven’t watched, mainly because their team isn’t good enough or is too far away. Really, besides the SEC, I haven’t watched many teams on a consistent basis.
1. Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford. Looks the part of a franchise quarterback and his play has been next to flawless. He’s the best quarterback prospect since perhaps Peyton Manning.
2. Marcell Dareus, DE/DT, Alabama. Extremely stout against the run and collapses the pocket with great push. An impact defensive lineman in any scheme on any down, much like Ndamukong Suh.
3. Julio Jones, WR, Alabama. Plays physically and with a passion. I haven’t seen the flaws in his route running that others have claimed exist. He is a complete receiver and has elite size and speed.
4. A.J. Green, WR, Georgia. Essentially tied with Jones, but I haven’t seen him play as much. He can take over games with height, speed, and phenomenal hands. I would like to see him fill out his 6’4″ frame a bit more.
5. Ryan Mallett, QB, Arkansas. Many concerns exist about maturity, but he carries himself like a franchise quarterback and can pick apart even the toughest secondaries to crack with his phenomenal arm.
6. Patrick Peterson, CB, LSU. Big, fast, and physical corner who can lock down both quick and big receivers at the NFL level. Also a dangerous return man.
7. Nick Fairley, DT, Auburn. Most disruptive force in the draft and would be a great addition to any defensive line in the league. Very similar to Gerald McCoy from Oklahoma last year.
8. Da’Quan Bowers, DE, Clemson. Elite measurables, and finally has the production to match it. Still, he is in many ways a one year wonder who has recorded only 4 sacks leading up to his breakout season. The last of the elite prospects.
9. Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State. Had over 100 yards in every game he played in and recorded a touchdown in as many contests. He abused Prince Amukamara and can light it up at the next level as well.
10. J.J. Watt, DE, Wisconsin. A playmaker from his defensive end spot who can kick inside or play in a 3-4. He can rush the passer, tackle in space, and is a master at batting down passes at the line of scrimmage.
11. Nate Solder, OT, Colorado. Extremely athletic and his coaches love him. I haven’t watched him, but his tall and slight frame could hurt him against bull rushers and in the run game.
12. Prince Amukamara, CB, Nebraska. Not particularly impressive against top competition, but I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt and put him in the top 15. Very physical and good recognition skills. Similar to Malcolm Jenkins.
13. Mark Ingram, RB, Alabama. Is built to be a workhorse at the next level with a punishing style and good vision. Faster than most bruisers in the NFL, but just as powerful.
14. Janoris Jenkins, CB, Florida. Really has all scouts look for in an NFL corner. He is big enough, fast enough, and instinctive enough to earn a starting job from day one although he is not a shutdown guy like Peterson.
15. Akeem Ayers, OLB, UCLA. Ayers is all over the field with a great nose for the football. He can rush the passer, drop into coverage, and fill run lanes, making him scheme versatile and an overall playmaker.
16. Drake Nevis, DT, LSU. Slightly undersized, but plays with very good leverage and is quick and powerful. His best fit is in a one-gap scheme as a 4-3 under tackle. Penetrates at will and faces very good competition.
17. Mike Pouncey, C, Florida. Will be a much better guard than center, but possesses unbelievable agility and can play out in space very well. He also has the size to win battles in closed quarters as well.
18. Michael Floyd, WR, Notre Dame. Playmaker at receiver who has great size and adequate speed. If he can get separation from NFL corners, he will be a very good player. Huge red zone target as well.
19. Adrian Clayborn, DE, Iowa. Was a dominant presence as a junior, and has the size to be effective on first and second down in the NFL even if his pass rush skills don’t cut it at the next level.
20. Ryan Kerrigan, DE, Purdue. One of the most productive pass rushers in the country and comes from a program that has churned out a ton of NFL quarterback hunters (Anthony Spencer, Shaun Phillips, Rosevelt Colvin).
21. Cameron Jordan, DE, California. Jordan had an extremely effective season as a 3-4 defensive end with the Golden Bears, and his success should translate to another 3-4 team at the next level.
22. Von Miller, OLB, Texas A&M. After his 17 sacks as a junior, teams gameplanned for the undersized pass rusher, who still managed double digit sacks as a senior. At only 240 pounds, Miller is strictly a 3-4 rush linebacker.
23. Stephen Paea, DT, Oregon State. A short, squatty defensive tackle, Paea has been immovable up front for the Beavers and can also penetrate, counting 13 career sacks. Looks to be perfect for a two gap 4-3 scheme such as the Eagles’.
24. Cam Newton, QB, Auburn. Newton was very efficient as a passer, but faced eight and nine man fronts all season. His talent is undeniable, but he has no experience in a pro-style offense and will face stiffer competition in the pros.
25. Jeremy Beal, DE, Oklahoma. Beal has been a very good pass rusher for Oklahoma for the past few seasons, and while he is not an elite defensive end, he has the size and quickness to be productive at the next level.
26. Greg Jones, LB, Michigan State. Jones is a bit undersized, but he is a tackling machine. He is super productive and experienced, and can start from day 1 in the NFL and look like a seasoned veteran.
27. Jonathan Baldwin, WR, Pittsburgh. Baldwin is a 6’5″ beast who has outstanding leaping abilities. My main concern is his ability to get separation from NFL corners as his game speed is very pedestrian. He reminds me of Plaxico Burress.
28. Bruce Carter, OLB, North Carolina. Carter is undersized, but very rangy and makes plays all over the field. Is an ideal 4-3 WILL linebacker with his elite timed speed.
29. Quan Sturdivant, ILB, North Carolina. Sturdivant showed up in his bowl game, recording a sack, an interception, and 12 tackles against Tennessee. Just another playmaker on this ferocious Tar Heel defense.
30. Derek Sherrod, OT, Mississippi State. Tape doesn’t blow anybody away, and neither do measurables. However, Sherrod shows very sound technique and can be a starting left tackle in the league with more work.
31. DeMarcus Love, OT, Arkansas. An athletic left tackle who could probably make a position change, but he doesn’t always play with proper fundamentals or footwork. Has good potential, but is more of a project than Sherrod or Solder.
32. Corey Liuget, DT, Illinois. Flies under the radar, but Liuget is a very complete defensive tackle who can play the run and the pass very well. He would be a great fit for an attacking 4-3 defense.