Here's a report from Real Football Services on 20 of the top college seniors expected to be available in the 2011 NFL Draft:
It's that time of year. With the leaves falling, college football begins to position itself for the bowl season, while NFL teams enter the stretch run in an effort to separate the contenders and the pretenders. For scouts and personnel people, it's a time to begin gathering and compiling all the data they have collected over the past year on the incoming draft class.
Though there is still plenty of evaluation to come, the actual tapes and scouting reports from this season's games will weigh heavily in the selection process. Here's a look at some of the top prospects before we head into the workout season. (Underclassmen not included.)
1. Prince Amukamara, CB, Nebraska (6'0", 205) —Size, strength and speed make him an ideal press man corner, but he also has great closing speed and is a physical tackler playing in zones.
2. Cameron Jordan, DE, California (6'4", 285) —The son of former Vikings Pro Bowler Steve Jordan, his size and versatility and his experience in the 3-4 makes him a highly regarded prospect. Plays a lot like his former college teammate, Tyson Alualu.
3. Ryan Kerrigan, DE, Purdue (6'4", 263) — Tough, smart and tenacious, he just makes effort plays all over the field. Has over 30 career sacks and holds the NCAA record for forced fumbles (14). He's a rising player who is on the watch list for every defensive award.
4. Derek Sherrod, T, Mississippi State (6'5", 305) — Possesses good balance and quick feet and is athletic in pass protection. Moves his feet well as a run blocker and has the upper-body strength to excel in that area as well.
5. Adrian Clayborn, DE, Iowa (6'3", 286) — Not a natural pass rusher, he makes great use of his hands and natural strength. Effective tackler and run defender. His coaches like his character and work ethic, but he has not been productive as a senior and some may question his conditioning.
6. Anthony Castonzo, T, Boston College (6'7", 308) — Smart, hard-working and athletic. Some believe he could be the top tackle in the draft, but he needs to add bulk and strength to be more effective against bull rushers. Can also play RT.
7. Cameron Heyward, DE, Ohio State (6'5", 288) — Excellent quickness, explosiveness and strength as both a pass rusher and a run defender. Can line up anywhere on the field and would be an ideal fit in a 3-4. High-energy, high-character guy who is the son of Craig "Ironhead" Heyward.
8. Bruce Carter, OLB, North Carolina (6'3", 235) — A rare athlete who plays with his hair on fire, making plays all over the field. Extremely talented, but needs to be more consistent.
9. DeMarco Murray, RB, Oklahoma (6'1", 208) — A slasher who has quick feet and good field vision. Is an excellent receiver who can catch passes out of the backfield and can split out. Some scouts see him more as a receiver or a Reggie Bush-type dual threat at the next level.
10. Jake Locker, QB, Washington (6'3", 230) — Has great physical tools and good upside, but has struggled with his accuracy and ability to read defenses this season. His stock is falling and he may turn out to be a long-term project at the next level.
11. Von Miller, OLB, Texas A&M (6'2", 243) — An elite pass rusher who led the nation with 17 sacks as a junior, he has great burst off the edge and is an explosive finisher. He needs to improve in coverage and be more consistent vs. the run, but is built to be a pass-rushing OLB in a 3-4.
12. Stephen Paea, DT, Oregon State (6'1", 312) — A former rugby player from Tonga, Paea has a unique combination of quickness and remarkable strength. A penetrating DT who is probably the best interior lineman in the country.
13. Jimmy Smith, CB, Colorado (6'2", 205) — A big, physical corner who can tackle well and makes plays on the ball. Considered coming out after his junior season, but decided to return for one more year.
14. Nate Solder, T, Colorado (6'8", 315) — Though the Buffs have struggled, he's made his mark on the draft landscape. Has rare size but moves extremely well with quick feet and good agility, which help him against speed rushers off the edge.
15. Gabe Carimi, T, Wisconsin (6'7", 327) — Possesses prototypical size and is extremely agile and athletic. Has a remarkable first step in his kickout and rarely gets beat off the edge. Also displays ideal upper- and lower-body strength as a run blocker. He's a riser right now.
16. Allen Bailey, DE, Miami (6'4", 285) — Once thought to be the top DL in the country, his numbers are way down this year. To his credit, he has faced constant double teams and also played DT, but his inability to face that challenge and his inconsistency this season have hurt.
17. Jeremy Beal, OLB, Oklahoma (6'3", 267) — Does not possess elite physical tools or talent, but is a high-effort player who wins with hustle. A solid all-around player who can rush the passer standing up or with his hand in the dirt.
18. Mark Herzlich, OLB, Boston College (6'4", 245) — A great personal story, Herzlich overcame cancer after earning ACC Defensive Player of the Year honors in 2008. Coaches love his heart, his hustle and his lunchpail attitude, and he has tremendous talent, but injuries have slowed him this season and durability may be a concern.
19. D.J. Williams, TE, Arkansas (6'2", 251) — The best TE in the draft, Williams is also the country's active leader in receptions and receiving yards among all TEs. He's been a reliable outlet receiver but with 4.5 speed can stretch the seam.
20. Stefen Wisniewski, C, Penn State (6'3", 306) — Smart, tough and physical, and his ability to play either C or G will help with his transition to the NFL. Scouts like his drive and work ethic, and he displays stellar character traits off the field.