1. A.J. Green, WR, Georgia
It’s rare to find a wide receiver with A.J. Green’s ability. He’s a smooth athlete with tremendous body control. He has great hands and he can consistently make catches away from his frame with his long arms. He may not have elite top-end speed, but he knows how to get separation. He should be an immediate contributor. Green is a star in the making.
2. Prince Amukamara, CB, Nebraska
If you put Prince Amukamara in a press man scheme, he will be a stud. Coming into the Combine many questioned Amukamara’s physical ability. Well, he went step for step with Patrick Peterson in nearly every event. He is a physical corner with good ball skills and tremendous footwork. He answered all his doubters and his tape speaks for itself.
3. Patrick Peterson, CB, LSU
Patrick Peterson is the Calvin Johnson of cornerbacks. We have never seen a cornerback prospect that combines his size, speed and athleticism. He has some technique flaws when it comes to tackling and playing off coverage, but his upside is tremendous. He has the talent to become one of the league’s best at the position.
4. Marcell Dareus, DE/DT, Alabama
Dareus has the athleticism and the versatility to be an impact player in any scheme. He’s an explosive prospect with incredible footwork. He’s a physical player that uses his violent hands to shed blocks. He never really put up big stats with the Crimson Tide, but there is no doubting the fact that he has the size, power and athleticism to become a special player.
5. Da’Quan Bowers, DE, Clemson
While he doesn’t quite have the same burst, Bowers is the closest thing we have seen to Julius Peppers as a prospect. Da’Quan came to Clemson with a ton of hype, however he didn’t live up to the billing until this past season. He has a great motor and he really fights hard in the run game. With a little more polish he could become a perennial Pro-Bowler.
6. Mark Ingram, RB, Alabama
The Emmitt Smith comparisons are well deserved. Mark Ingram is a compact back that does real damage after contact. However, it’s his quick feet and vision that set him apart. He doesn’t have the long speed to be a home-run hitter, but I love what he brings to the table. He’s a high character kid that was born to tote the rock.
7. Nick Fairley, DT, Auburn
You can make a serious argument that Nick Fairley was the most dominant player in college football this past season. He was incredibly disruptive for the Auburn Tigers and he played big in big games. However, his hot and cold motor coupled with one year’s worth of production concern me. I don’t know if he has the work ethic to truly be great, but I can’t deny his natural talent.
8. J.J. Watt, DE, Wisconsin
J.J. Watt really opened my eyes at the Combine as he put up measurables on par with Mario Williams’ 2006 Combine performance. As a converted tight end he still has room to grow, but he is one of the most physically gifted prospects in this draft. He’s versatile and with some time he could become a dominant player.
9. Adrian Clayborn, DE, Iowa
Coming off of a lackluster senior year many people have questioned Clayborn’s talent. Not me. He has the most violent hands in this draft and his instincts are superb. Many wonder how his Erb’s Palsy will affect him in the future, but to date it hasn’t hindered him. I think he will have a long productive career. He came to the Combine in great shape and he seems to have developed a chip on his shoulder.
10. Cameron Jordan, DE, California
I just love this DE class and Cameron Jordan is right up there with Watt and Clayborn. Jordan is a guy that was moved all over in Cal’s defense and he is as versatile as any prospect in this draft. He’s a consistent player with a well developed pass-rush repertoire and unique athleticism. While he has never put up a double digit sack season he has that potential. He’s one of the safer prospects in this class.
11. Julio Jones, WR, Alabama
Julio Jones gutted out a fractured foot during the Combine and still put up awesome numbers. He’s the most physically impressive WR in this draft with the size, strength and speed to be a true #1 wide receiver. His inconsistent hands really rub me the wrong way, though. He could become the next Terrell Owens or he could become the next David Terrell. His hit-or-miss hands keep him out of my top-10.
12. Von Miller, OLB, Texas A&M
As far as 3-4 outside linebackers go, Von Miller is clearly the cream of the crop. His explosiveness around the corner cannot be taught. His speed rush is the best in the country, but his play against the run leaves a lot to be desired. He simply doesn’t have the bulk to hold his own in the run game. He’s a bit one dimensional, but it wouldn’t surprise me if he’s drafted in the top-5.
13. Aldon Smith, DE, Missouri
Aldon Smith’s impressive frame and Stretch Armstrong arms make him quite the intriguing prospect. He’s a gifted defensive end that knows how to get after the passer. He’s much stronger than he gets credit for and when he kicks down inside he’s incredibly tough to block. His length gives offensive lineman fits and if he develops more variety as a pass-rusher he could end up becoming the best defensive end from this class.
14. Mikel LeShoure, RB, Illinois
Mikel LeShoure is a patient runner with very nice footwork for a big back. He’s a bull between the tackles and he can dish out some punishing blows when he lowers his shoulder. He won’t beat you laterally, but as a North-South runner he can definitely get the job done. His short-area quickness and hardnosed running style should help him transition to the pro game early.
15. Robert Quinn, DE, UNC
As a sophomore Robert Quinn was superb. He has a non-stop motor and very good athleticism, but he is consistently one of the last players to come off of the ball. Despite being suspended I don’t question his character at all. He’s a good kid. It’s his game on the field that leaves me with more questions than answers. One year away from football doesn’t help matters either.
16. Jimmy Smith, CB, Colorado
A shut-down corner in the true sense of the word, Jimmy Smith only allowed 11 completions in man-to-man coverage over the last two seasons. He’s a physical defensive back that can eliminate his side of the field. That being said he’s immature and his character worries me. With a couple arrests and a failed drug test in his past it’s tough to trust him as a prospect. Boom or bust.
17. Cam Newton, QB, Auburn
Cam Newton looks like a bigger version of Vince Young. He has prototypical size, video game type athleticism and the arm to make all the throws. However, coming out of Gus Malzahn’s offense he is still incredibly raw as a passer. He wasn’t asked to make pre-snap reads, he doesn’t look comfortable scanning the field and his mechanics are shaky at best. He’s loaded with upside, but will he ever get there?
18. Derek Sherrod, OT, Mississippi State
In my eyes Sherrod is the best left tackle prospect in the draft. He’s a smooth athlete on the field with long arms and good size. He’s a dominant run blocker and he can reach the 2nd level of the defense. He needs to work on his consistency when it comes to maintaining his leverage. If this guy can learn to stay low he can develop into a bookend blindside tackle.
19. Brandon Harris, CB, Miami
Brandon Harris’ 5’9” height is really my biggest concern. Over his career he has had trouble with bigger receivers and I wonder if he will be able to make it on the outside. However, his instincts and closing speed make him a dangerous playmaker. He’s a natural athlete that doesn’t get beat deep often. He’s a tough kid and he has the football smarts to make a name for himself in the NFL.
20. Gabe Carimi, OT, Wisconsin
This guy has Pro Bowl right tackle written all over him. He’s the most physical and the most experienced tackle in this class. Carimi is a downright bulldozing run blocker with a nasty demeanor on the field. He falls a bit down my board because I don’t see him playing left tackle, however if I need a right tackle in this draft I would be happy to draft him. He should be a starter as a rookie.
21. Ryan Kerrigan, DE, Purdue
Active hands, leadership, energizer bunny-type motor….Ryan Kerrigan has a lot of tools that make him a good prospect. He has been one of the most consistent performers on the field over the past three seasons and he has one of the higher floors in this draft. His inconsistent run defense and his lack of pass-rush moves concern me, but I think he will make some team very happy.
22. Tyron Smith, OT, USC
Tyron Smith is a gifted athlete with tons of untapped potential. As a converted tight end he has packed on the pounds well. He looks like he was carved out of granite. His freakishly long arms should give him an advantage in the NFL as well. I just worry about his transition from right tackle to left tackle. He certainly has the athleticism to make it work, but there is some uncertainty there.
23. Stephen Paea, DT, Oregon State
Anytime you set a Combine record you are going to get people to notice you. At only 303 pounds, Stephen Paea put up a remarkable 49 reps of 225 pounds on the bench press. He easily overpowers blockers in front him and he also has explosive short area quickness. His short arms and lack of size may limit him, but I think he can be a potential difference maker in the middle.
24. Justin Houston, DE/OLB, Georgia
Justin Houston is a gifted pass-rusher with the burst to consistently threaten the edge. He has bulked up to 270 pounds while maintaining his athleticism. He needs work with his hand technique and he needs to develop some sort of a counter move, but the raw ability is there. He needs some seasoning, but as a rush linebacker in a 3-4 or as a right defensive end in a 4-3 he can do some damage.
25. Akeem Ayers, OLB, UCLA
Akeem Ayers can be as good as he wants to be. He has awesome athleticism and the size to make an impact in any defensive scheme. Pass-rushing, stopping the run, dropping into coverage….he can truly do it all. However, he will disappear from games, he has an inconsistent motor and at times he plays soft. If he wants to be a star, he can be a star. It’s all up to him.