My opinions of players are beginning to crystallize after the Senior Bowl and watching at least a little tape on all the highest profile prospects. So, here is my fourth big board, which should not change until the combine late this month.
1. Nick Fairley, DT/DE, Auburn
2. Julio Jones, WR, Alabama: I’m not sure why most people don’t have him as a top ten pick. He has all the physical tools you look for and has really polished his game this past season. He’s very tough and physical, and looks like a pro bowl receiver for the next ten years.
3. A.J. Green, WR, Georgia
4. Patrick Peterson, CB, LSU
5. Marcell Dareus, DE/DT, Alabama: Dareus is not as dominant as Fairley was down the stretch, but he is extremely disruptive and will be an impact player for somebody from day 1. He’s a great interior pass rusher as well.
6. Da’Quan Bowers, DE/OLB, Clemson
7. Von Miller, OLB, Texas AM
8. Robert Quinn, DE/OLB, North Carolina: The smoothest pass rusher since DeMarcus Ware, but I’d really like to see more moves. Quinn can run the arc as well as anybody on the planet, but doesn’t have much beyond that at this point.
9. Corey Liuget, DT/DE, Illinois: Liuget is great against the run and is an elite disruptive force. He doesn’t make the impact plays like Dareus or Fairley, but will be a very good player at the next level.
10. Ryan Kerrigan, DE/OLB, Purdue
11. Prince Amukamara, CB, Nebraksa: Amukamara looks like a can’t miss prospect against average players, but he will struggle against top-end competition. I would worry if he had to be a team’s top cover man as a rookie.
12. Ryan Mallett, QB, Arkansas: Say what you want about Mallett, he gets it done every week against the toughest competition. It may take a year or two on the bench, but Mallett will be a franchise quarterback down the road.
13. Gabe Carimi, OT, Wisconsin
14. Mark Ingram, RB, Alabama
15. J.J. Watt, DE, Wisconsin
16. Jabaal Sheard, DE/OLB, Pittsburgh: Sheard doesn’t get the attention he deserves. He plays the run great, is physical, and gets to the quarterback with ease. Keep an eye out for him.
17. Tyron Smith, OT, USC
18. Cameron Jordan, DE, California
19. Mike Pouncey, G/C, Florida
20. Akeem Ayers, OLB, UCLA
21. Adrian Clayborn, DE, Iowa: Clayborn is physical and plays the run well, but I don’t think he’ll be a feared pass rusher at the next level, so I would only draft him to be a complementary rusher. The Saints should be interested.
22. Aldon Smith, DE/OLB, Missouri
23. Aaron Williams, CB, Texas
24. Jonathan Baldwin, WR, Pittsburgh: He’s not the greatest route runner in the world, but will be able to stretch the field and be a game-breaker in the NFL. If a team like Cleveland can grab him at the top of round 2, they won’t regret it.
25. Ras-I Dowling, CB, Virginia: Dowling doesn’t have the speed to be an elite corner, but I love his physicality and instincts. He could be a great cover 2 corner or possibly a free safety. He reminds me of Charles Tillman.
26. Orlando Franklin, G/OT, Miami: Franklin is a tough, versatile, and gifted. He’s very underrated and will be a phenomenal guard who can also kick out to tackle if necessary.
27. Derek Sherrod, OT, Mississippi State
28. Drake Nevis, DT, LSU
29. Jurrell Casey, DT, USC
30. Stephen Paea, DT, Oregon State
31. Anthony Castonzo, OT, Boston College
32. James Carpenter, OT, Alabama: Carpenter isn’t highly regarded by pro scouts, but players who line up across from him agree that he’s the best lineman they’ve ever faced. He has great feet and technique and looks like a solid left tackle in the NFL, though he won’t dominate.
33. Mikel Leshoure, RB, Illinois
34. Jake Locker, QB, Washington
35. Torrey Smith, WR, Maryland
36. Ryan Williams, RB, Virginia Tech
37. Cam Newton, QB, Auburn: Newton has tremendous physical gifts and upside, but has a ton of adjusting and improving to do before he is ready to start in the NFL. I’m not sure that he has the drive that Tim Tebow had to avoid being a bust.
38. Quinton Carter, S, Oklahoma
39. Johnny Patrick, CB, Louisville: Patrick is fast, physical, and very competitive. He will challenge to start as a rookie if given the opportunity and will end up being a big-time steal.
40. Rahim Moore, S, UCLA
41. Jimmy Smith, CB, Colorado
42. Nate Solder, OT, Colorado: Solder is physically very gifted, but he has a very, very long way to go in the pass protection department before a team should consider inserting him into their starting lineup.
43. Marcus Cannon, OT/G, TCU
44. Ben Ijalana, OT/G, Villanova
45. Shareece Wright, CB, USC: Wright has everything you look for in a corner and really impressed me at the Senior Bowl while he consistently blanketed receivers and was never beaten badly.
46. Brooks Reed, DE/OLB, Arizona
47. Rashad Carmichael, CB, Virginia Tech
48. Curtis Brown, CB, Texas
49. Christian Ballard, DE/DT, Iowa
50. Muhammad Wilkerson, DT/DE, Temple