The post-collegiate all-star games are completed and all the underclassmen have decided their eligibility. Most players are working out at special athletic facilities designed to improve their performances in Combine tests and elevate profiles or iron out deficiencies.
A couple of general observations before the list begins:
--the more game tapes I watch, the less I like this class overall. For what is supposed to be one of the deepest draft classes ever, I don?t see it measuring up to either of the last two years.
--I am not one easily swayed by Combine or Pro Day performances other than interviews, so there will likely be little change from this version to the final edition.
1. Gerald McCoy, DT, Oklahoma--the more I watched him play and saw his explosive quickness and hand technique, the more I think he?ll make more plays at the NFL level than Ndamukong Suh...
2. Ndamukong Suh, DT, Nebraska--...but Suh has more versatility and a different, more powerful style that will also translate very well to the NFL.
3. Joe Haden, CB, Florida--the comparisons to Darrelle Revis are legit; Haden is as close to a surefire star at CB as you could find entering any draft.
4. Eric Berry, S, Tennessee--the only real question is his lack of size, but his footwork and quickness will allow how to be a top-flight corner if the safety deal doesn?t pan out.
5. Derrick Morgan, DE, Georgia Tech--has the complete arsenal of speed, power, and tenacity. Probably not a good fit for a 30 front, which may cost him draft slotting.
6. Dez Bryant, WR, Oklahoma State--big, fast, and blessed with great hands and the ability to consistently get good separation from all sorts of corners.
7. C.J. Spiller, RB, Clemson--his speed is game-changing, and the comparisons to Chris Johnson are not without validity, though Spiller?s ceiling is lower.
8. Mike Iupati, G, Idaho--dominated a pretty good class of defensive linemen during Senior Bowl workouts at guard, though he also showed he?s likely limited to playing guard, which will hurt his stock in some eyes.
9. Anthony Davis, T, Rutgers--his upside is the next Ryan Clady, he only has to prove he wants to be that good. No player needs to ace the interviews in Indy more than Davis.
10. Brandon Graham, DE, Michigan--he plays eerily similar to Dwight Freeney, and faces the same sort of questions about his size that Freeney has laughed away in his stellar career. Want to see him dominate? Check out what he did to Bryan Bulaga and Kyle Calloway of Iowa, two tackles who will be top 75 picks in this draft.
11. Jimmy Clausen, QB, Notre Dame--has the arm to make all the throws, plus experience in an NFL offense. Improved mental toughness and leadership make him the top QB.
12. Rolando McClain, LB, Alabama--thumping intimidator in the middle who can quickly diagnose and react. Has some Patrick Willis to his game, though not as fast to the sidelines.
13. Maurkice Pouncey, C, Florida--smart, quick, and powerful. Comes across on game tape very similar to Nick Mangold during his Buckeyes tenure.
14. Russell Okung, T, Oklahoma State--has great mirror skills and upper body strength, but game tapes revealed him to be a little more passive and not as strong a run blocker as I thought.
15. Corey Wootton, DE, Northwestern--even his harshest critics will admit he played at no more than 80% last season after coming off knee surgery, and he still often made it look easy. Has 3-4 DE potential, which helps his value as seemingly every 3-4 team needs more ends.
16. Earl Thomas, S, Texas--much like Eric Berry, the biggest worries are his body being able to hold up because he?s light, and if he?s better at safety or corner.
17. Aaron Hernandez, TE, Florida--no player improved his stock more in my eyes upon further film study than Hernandez, who has a lot of Jason Witten to his game. His downfield blocking stood out, aside from his great receiving skills.
18. Carlos Dunlap, DE, Florida--will need strong coaching to keep him motivated, but he?s got the total physical package and bevy of moves as a pass rusher.
19. Jonathan Dwyer, RB, Georgia Tech--draws comparisons to Jonathan Stewart with his big lower body and quick feet. Will need a little adjusting to more conventional offensive sets, but has the vision and patience to make it happen.
20. Demaryius Thomas, WR, Georgia Tech--got little opportunity to show off his skills in Tech?s offense, but he?s big, strong, fast, and hard to cover. The hands and top-end speed are questions that he needs to answer in Indy.
21. Nate Allen, S, South Florida
22. Trent Williams, T, Oklahoma
23. Golden Tate, WR, Notre Dame
24. Dexter McCluster, RB/WR, Ole Miss--the Percy Harvin of this draft class, though he?s smaller.
25. Jason Pierre-Paul, DE, South Florida
26. Chad Jones, S, LSU
27. Sergio Kindle, OLB, Texas
28. Brian Price, DT, UCLA--moving up; smart decision to declare early
29. Kyle Wilson, CB, Boise State
30. Jared Odrick, DL, Penn State
31. Donovan Warren, CB, Michigan
32. Rob Gronkowski, TE, Arizona--a guy for whom the Combine is critical to show he?s fully recovered from his back injury.
33. Arthur Jones, DT, Syracuse
34. Sean Weatherspoon, LB, Missouri
35. Sam Bradford, QB, Oklahoma--has a lot of Tim Couch to him, both the positives that got Couch drafted #1 overall and led the expansion Browns to the playoffs and the negatives (including the shoulder issues) that left most people disappointed with him.
36. Jason Pierre-Paul, DE, South Florida--tremendous potential but scant experience
37. Arrelious Benn, WR, Illinois
38. Perrish Cox, CB/RS, Oklahoma State--reminds me a great deal of Dre Bly in coverage, a classic all-or-nothing corner
39. Tim Tebow, QB, Florida
40. Alex Carrington, DE, Arkansas State
41. Dan Williams, DT, Tennessee
42. Thaddeus Gibson, DE/OLB, Ohio State
43. Ricky Sapp, OLB, Clemson
44. Jermaine Gresham, TE, Oklahoma
45. John Jerry, G/T, Ole Miss--versatile and athletic enough to play any OL spot but C
46. Dominique Franks, CB, Oklahoma
47. Bryan Bulaga, T, Iowa
48. Daryl Washington, LB, TCU
49. Brandon LaFell, WR, LSU
50. Rodger Saffold, T, Indiana--game tape reveals his Shrine Game dominance was not unfounded
51. Colt McCoy, QB, Texas
52. Navorro Bowman, LB, Penn State
53. Bruce Campbell, T, Maryland--the difference between what he is right now and what many people think he can become is staggering.
54. Everson Griffen, DE, USC--not for everyone, but could develop into a great pass rusher
55. Chris Cook, CB, Virginia
56. Ryan Mathews, RB, Fresno State
57. Brandon Spikes, LB, Florida--his lack of speed and tendency to guess instead of read/react are limiting factors
58. Jared Veldheer, T, Hillsdale
59. Tony Pike, QB, Cincinnati
60. Jacoby Ford, WR, Clemson
61. Jahvid Best, RB, California
62. Devin McCourty, CB, Rutgers--upwardly mobile
63. Dezmon Briscoe, WR, Kansas
64. Ed Dickson, TE, Oregon
65. Kyle Calloway, T, Iowa
66. Terrence Cody, NT, Alabama--conditioning issues and questions about his fire lower his value. Could be a top 10 impact talent in this class, or could wash out quickly.
67. Amari Speivey, CB, Iowa
68. Anthony Dixon, RB, Mississippi State
69. Ryan Perriloux, QB, Jacksonville State--extremely upwardly mobile
70. Toby Gerhart, RB, Stanford
71. Eric Norwood, LB, South Carolina
72. Tony Moeaki, TE, Iowa
73. Charles Brown, T, USC--must improve his lower body strength quickly or else rating him this high looks foolish
74. Morgan Burnett, S, Georgia Tech
75. Jonathan Crompton, QB, Tennessee
76. Vlad Ducasse, G, UMass--at this point a better story than football player
77. Patrick Robinson, CB, Florida State
78. Taylor Price, WR, Ohio
79. Geno Atkins, DT, Georgia
80. Taylor Mays, S, USC--phenomenal athlete, but game tape reveals an oft-lost safety with questionable instincts
81. Dan Lefevour, QB, Central Michigan
82. Jordan Shipley, WR, Texas
83. Myron Lewis, CB, Vanderbilt
84. Jermaine Cunningham, LB, Florida
85. Brandon Carter, G, Texas Tech
86. Greg Hardy, DE, Ole Miss
87. O?Brien Schofield, LB, Wisconsin--will likely miss 2010 but was a borderline 1st rounder before tearing up his knee
88. Kam Chancellor, S, Virginia Tech
89. Mardy Gilyard, WR/RS, Cincinnati--don?t forget the primary function of a WR is to catch the ball, something Gilyard has struggled with throughout his career.
90. Matt Tennant, C, Boston College
91. Jeff Owens, DT, Georgia
92. D?Anthony Smith, DT, Louisiana Tech
93. Jason Worilds, OLB/DE, Virginia Tech--injury flags knock him down, has top 25-caliber talent if he can handle the rigors.
94. Eric Decker, WR, Minnesota
95. Reshad Jones, S, Georgia
96. Javier Arenas, CB, Alabama
97. Jerry Hughes, DE/OLB, TCU--I?ll quote an NFL GM on Hughes, ?a poor man?s Vernon Gholston?. Just enough potential to keep him rated.
98. Andre Roberts, WR, The Citadel
99. Akwasi Owusu-Ansah, CB, Indiana PA--the players he?s working out with all rave about his ability even though he?s still not recovered from a shoulder injury
100. Dekoda Watson, LB, Florida State
101. A.J. Edds, LB, Iowa
102. Antonio Coleman, DE, Auburn
103. Seji Ajirotutu, WR, Fresno State--ask Kyle Wilson how well this physical receiver can play
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