2011 NFL Draft: Ranking the Top 11 Players

One of the primary reasons I created this blog was to be able to create my own content for the NFL and NBA drafts, which I spend way more time studying than could be reasonable. I love to create my own mocks and consider situations that could happen when the draft actually takes place. It’s fun for me because I’m that kind of weird.

The 2011 NFL draft season is officially upon us and I’ll be taking a bit of a breather from the NBA playoffs to jump in to my draft coverage for the next couple of days, so sit back and enjoy me talking about college players I’ve only seen a couple of times and how my experiences in those couple of times will definitely turn them into certain types of professional athletes.

If SpreeGoogs provides you with anything, it’s lists. And not just any lists, lists of 11 things, ranked in a way that establishes an actual hierarchy. And that’s exactly how I’ll kick off my 2011 NFL draft content. So here it is, my top 11 list of the best prospects in this year’s draft, starting at 11, so you have to wait to find out who’s the best (it’s Patrick Peterson).

11. Mike Pouncey – Center (Florida):

Mike Pouncey

He’s big, but also fast. I don’t see why Mike won’t be as effective as his brother Maurkice (Steelers). I admittedly don’t know much about the Center position, but Pouncey’s highlights show some footwork.  I don’t see too many O linemen at the top of many lists of prospects this year, but I think former-guard Pouncey can certainly handle the blocking aspect of the center position at the pro level.

10. Blaine Gabbert – Quarterback (Missouri):

Blaine Gabbert

Am I biased because I went to Missouri? Sure. I watched more of Gabbert than any other player in this draft, and I honestly see him as the closest to a sure thing at quarterback this year. He didn’t take snaps from under center at Mizzou, but are we really going to pretend that is difficult to learn? Gabbert is crazy accurate and possesses a gear that’s as close to “beast mode” as we’ll see out of this year’s QB class.

9. Julio Jones – Wide Receiver (Alabama):

Julio Jones

The great news for Jones is that he played in a very open offense at ‘Bama and that could attract some teams to pick him ahead of A.J. Green even though Green is slightly better at almost everything. Jones is still an extremely solid WR, and I can’t think of a team that wouldn’t want his 4.34 speed lining up to catch balls. There’s no way to say it statistically, but JJ makes more “No Way” catches than any player in this draft. He’ll be a fantastic compliment to a big, possession receiver in some offense’s slot next year.

8. Prince Amukamara – Cornerback (Nebraska):

Prince Amukamara

The bad news for Amukamara is that he just happened to end up in the same draft as Patrick Peterson. The good news is that he does almost everything else right. He’s extremely solid in coverage, although he didn’t intercept any balls last season. Probably tough when they won’t throw at you.
*No matter which teams drafts Amukamara, I would hope that his jersey will be the best seller of this year’s first rounders. Luckily, I don’t have to pronounce it much, and I still don’t know if I’m typing it right. 

7. Da’Quan Bowers – Defensive End (Clemson):

Da'Quan Bowers

If not for injury concerns, I’d have bowers ranked higher. I like his power a lot and if he can stay healthy he might make some teams feel stupid for passing on him this year. I’ve seen Bowers all over the place on other mock drafts, but you can rest assured that I will appropriately judge his professional abilities in my upcoming mock.

6. Robert Quinn – Defensive End (North Carolina):

Robert Quinn

This is the guy that I will overrate this year without good explanation. I just have a great feeling about him. When I see tape of him playing, it does something for me that I don’t get from other players. Quinn has excellent strength off the outside and a motor that will punish tackles who try to block him.

5. A.J. Green – Wide Receiver (Georgia):

A.J. Green

I feel like Green is this year’s best receiver available for all the typical reasons. Separation. Hands. Athleticism. Body control. I saw him play a few games this year and was generally impressed almost every time he ran a route. He also has a great ability to go up and get a ball, something that will definitely make him valuable in the pros. He’s good. Best receiver of the year good. He’ll be good, but we’ll have to wait and see if he’ll turn into a number-one option in the pros.

4. Marcell Dareus – Defensive Tackle (Alabama)

Marcell Dareus

Marcell Dareus

In case you haven’t noticed, Marcell Dareus is more than just a big man. He’s big. Man. Not only is he big, he’s strong. Not only is he big and strong, but he tackles well. The only thing not to like about Dareus is that Nick Fairley is better than him and plays the same position, although Dareus can play multiple schemes.

3. Nick Fairley – Defensive Tackle (Auburn):

Nick Fairley

I didn’t get to watch Fairley until the last three games of the season, but when I finally did, I generally cowered in awe of how much he could move an O-Line around. It is truly terrifying. When Nick Fairley sees a running back receive a handoff, he doesn’t just tackle that running back, he tackles the quarterback, the fullback, and the offensive line as well. Every single one of them for a loss.

2. Von Miller – Linebacker (Texas A&M):

Von Miller

I watch more Big 12 football than any other conference and no player was more impressive in thus conference than Miller. He has fantastic lateral movement and was directly in the middle of every tackle that Texas A&M made this year. Every single one. He’s close to impossible to block, and might as well be a bear when he’s pursuing a ball-carrier.

1. Patrick Peterson – Cornerback (LSU):
Peterson has been on top of my list for a long time. And way at the top. He is super quick (4.31 quick), has great hands and generally ends up in exactly the right spot all the time. It’s truly a shame that the teams with the first few picks aren’t considering Peterson this year, because he is going to be fantastic for some lucky team. His coverage skills are good enough to shrink the field down even as a rookie and any ball thrown generally around him is going to get picked. He’s awfully good. And I hope I mentioned how fast he was. Because it’s really important.

Thanks to foxsports on YouTube for that video.

That’s it for my top 11 players. Stay tuned later today for the rules of my second contest, an NFL Draft crapshoot.

Also, start preparing now for Carp’s guest post about the NFL draft, which should be here in the next couple of days. He’s got a little bit different attitude about the draft than I do, so get ready, because he’ll mix it up for sure.