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2011 NFL Draft Early Entries - Official List
Georgia OLB Justin Houston
Georgia OLB Justin Houston
Posted Jan 20, 2011

Who's making a mistake, who's more than ready to go, and who needs to get out now? We'll update the list of early entries for the 2011 NFL Draft.

2011 NFL Draft Early Entries   

Good or Bad Move?

- The 2010 Early Entries and what happened to them
- The 2009 Early Entries and what happened to them
- The 2008 Early Entries and what happened to them
- The 2007 Early Entries and what happened to them

By Pete Fiutak

It's that time of year again when several superstar college players weigh whether or not they're ready to make the big leap into the land of the mercenaries. The top players take off early to save drafts from the mediocre seniors who chose to stick around, and this year is no exception.

The rule of thumb for pro prospects is this: If your game relies purely on speed, come out. Every football player needs speed to some degree, but a receiver, running back and defensive back only has so many years of blazing speed in them. Any slippage in that top gear, and you're out of the league. Running backs can only take so many shots and should come out as soon as humanly possible. Everyone else should stay in school unless they're a sure-fire first or second round pick. With that in mind, here are the early entries with where they're projected to go. 

Top Players Returning
1. Andrew Luck, QB Stanford
2. LaMichael James, RB Oregon
3. Janoris Jenkins, CB Florida
4. Justin Blackmon, WR Oklahoma State
5. Matt Reynolds, OT BYU
6. Donta Hightower, LB Alabama
7. Ryan Broyles, WR Oklahoma
8. Michael Floyd, WR Notre Dame
9. Trinton Sturdivant, OT Georgia

2011 NFL Draft Order (so far)
1. Carolina
2. Denver
3. Buffalo
4. Cincinnati
5. Arizona
6. Cleveland
7. San Francisco
8. Tennessee
9. Dallas
10. Washington
11. Houston
12. Minnesota
13. Detroit
14. St. Louis
15. Miami
16. Jacksonville
17. Oakland
18. San Diego
19. NY Giants
20. Tampa Bay 
Darvin Adams, WR Auburn
Projected: Fifth Round
Good or Bad Move? He's getting out now that his quarterback is gone. Adams was mostly a deep threat for Cam Newton, and while he has good size and great deep ability, he's not likely to be anything better than a mid-round flier.  

Marvin Austin, DT North Carolina
Projected: Top 50 Overall, Likely Second Round
Good or Bad Move? With nice size and excellent interior pass rushing potential, the ability is there to be a devastating 4-3, one-gap, 3-technique tackle, even though he has just enough size to see a little time on the nose. The question will be his attitude and desire. He has top ten ability, but a second round motor..  

Akeem Ayers, LB UCLA
Projected: First Round
Good or Bad Move? There's a chance he could be the first hybrid 3-4 outside linebacker off the board. At 6-4 and 250 pounds, he has great size and great pass rushing ability, and while he's tall, he's thickly built. He could be used in a variety of ways, including as a pass rushing end from time to time. Flip a coin between Ayers and Texas A&M's Von Miller for which OLB one goes first.  

Jonathan Baldwin, WR Pitt
Projected: Second Round to Third Round
Good or Bad Move? Is he really a sub-4.5 runner? At 6-5 and 230 pounds he has freakish size and No. 1 receiver ability, but he needs to show of decent wheels in workouts. He's rumored to be a 4.4 runner, but the proof will be in the Combine. 4.4 puts him late in the first round, but 4.6 makes him a tweener and probably in the middle of the third.. 

Da'Quan Bowers, DE Clemson
Projected: Top Five Overall
Good or Bad Move? It'll be a complete and total shocker if he's not a top three overall pick. After committing to become a better player, his game turned around and he went from good to special. With size, speed, and pass rushing skills, he can play in any scheme and has franchise-cornerstone skills. There's no way he's getting past Buffalo at the three, and he could go to Denver at the two. 

DeAndre Brown, WR Southern Miss
Projected: Sixth Round to Free Agent
Good or Bad Move? He has the the 6-6, 231-pound size and the fluid athletic ability to become a dangerous NFL target, but he suffered a horrific injury a few years ago and hasn't been quite the same. He missed a bulk of this season hurt, but when he was right, he was terrific catching 20 passes for 305 yards and three touchdowns in his limited time. Injury issues will be a concern, but he could be a good mid-round flier if he can prove his leg isn't going to fall off. 

Brandon Burton, CB Utah
Projected: Second Round To Early Fourth Round
Good or Bad Move? While he's not all that big, he's a nice tackler with excellent upside. With a great workout, he'll be an early second rounder, but if he doesn't rip off a great 40, he'll slide into the fourth. He'll be a decent second corner and nickel defender.. 

Jurrell Casey, DT USC
Projected: Second Round
Good or Bad Move? Because the NFL cares about height, Casey will fall to the mid-to-late second round and possibly the third. He was the Trojans' best pass rusher with a team-leading 4.5 sacks with 11 tackles for loss, but his quickness will be used more as a run stopper in a rotation. While he can work as a 3-4 end who can shoot the gap, he could thrive as a short, squatty 4-3 tackle.

John Clay, RB Wisconsin
Projected: Fourth Round
Good or Bad Move? It all depends on whether or not he can get in shape. The big, bruising Badger back got way, way too large up front, got hurt way too often, and despite finishing as a Doak Walker finalist he likely would've lost time to James White and Montee Ball. With his style, there are a limited number of carries in him and he has to find a role as a Brandon Jacobs type. 

Nick Clayor, OT Georgia Tech
Projected: Sixth Round to Free Agent
Good or Bad Move? This only works if he's in the right type of zone-blocking system. At only 285 pounds on his 6-6 frame, he's not all that big and he's not athletic enough to make up for it. he might be drafted as a backup tackle for someone's rotation, but there are a limited number of teams that might have an interest, and they might think they can get him as a priority free agent.  

Randall Cobb, WR Kentucky
Projected: Third Round
Good or Bad Move? The multi-talented playmaker will be used in a variety of ways. He's a good receiver, but he doesn't have the raw speed to be used as an elite, No. 1 target. He'll be a returner and a dangerous No. 2 receiver for someone, but he'll have to be used next to a go-to star. . 

Marcel Dareus, DT Alabama

Projected: First Round
Good or Bad Move? While Auburn's Nick Fairley might be the No. 1 defensive tackle on most boards, Dareus is No. 1A with the size to hold up on the inside of a 4-3 and the quickness to be a pass rusher in a 3-4. He has the prototype size and he'll work to make himself better. Don't be shocked if he goes in the top five. 

Tandon Doss, WR Indiana
Projected: Fifth Round or Lower
Good or Bad Move? He would've been a bright, shining star in Kevin Wilson's offense, but instead he's rolling the dice. One of the Big Ten's most productive receivers over the last two seasons, he had a bit of a down year despite destroying Michigan for 221 yards on five catches and finishing up with a three-score day in the win over Purdue. At 6-3 and 195 pounds he has excellent size and game-breaking ability, but he’s not a home run hitting speedster.

Darren Evans, RB Virginia Tech
Projected: Late Fourth Round to Early Sixth Round
Good or Bad Move? An ACC star a few years ago, he suffered a knee injury in 2009 and wasn't the same when he came back last year. The problem will be the questions about his durability. He's not going to be anyone's running back right away, and he'll have to make his mark on special teams and he'll have to find a niche as a good, tough runner. With a wife and young child to support, he'll be motivated.

Nick Fairley, DT Auburn
Projected: Top Five Overall
Good or Bad Move? Stud defensive tackles are almost as vital as a good quarterback, and Fairley will be drafted accordingly. It'll be a shock if he's not top five overall, and he could be first to Carolina with a strong workout. Considering he was an afterthought of a starter coming into the season, his rise is as meteoric as Cam Newton's.

Blaine Gabbert, QB Missouri
Projected: Top Ten Overall
Good or Bad Move? A nice player with all the tools, the spotlight will be on now that Andrew Luck is staying. Is Gabbert a No. 1 overall pick type of talent? No, but he's sound enough and good enough to possibly be a top five overall pick and the first quarterback off the board. As a player he might not be at his peak, but there's no arguing with being a first round selection.

Tori Gurley, WR South Carolina
Projected: Sixth Round or Lower
Good or Bad Move? A curious move the 6-4 third-year sophomore isn't a blazer and he isn't going to be any sort of a deep threat at the next level, but he has great size, is physical, and has the upside for someone to want to take a flier. Dissatisfied with his second banana role in the South Carolina offense, he's bailing now, but with another year and a little work, he would've been a hot commodity for the 2012 draft.

Lawrence Guy, DT Arizona State
Projected: Fourth Round
Good or Bad Move? There's a chance he becomes a high riser as the draft nears. He's not massive and he's not built for every system, but he has nice 6-5, 300-pound size and is one of the most athletic tackle prospects in the draft. Someone might stick him in a 3-4 as an end and get a decent run stuffer who can occasionally get into the backfield. . 

A.J. Green, WR Georgia
Projected: First Round, Top 10
Good or Bad Move? He was ready for the NFL as a freshman. With size, speed, hands, and the fight to go over the middle and the flash to hit the home run, he'll be the No. 1 receiver off the board and could be a franchise-making top five pick.

Jamie Harper, RB Clemson
Projected: Fourth Round
Good or Bad Move? A big, pounding back with little speed, Clemson's leading rusher is taking off now considering his style and the potential for another year of taking big shots. Not just a runner, he has nice hands and can be used in a variety of ways, but he'll have to fight to find a role considering he's not quite bruising enough to be an every down back, and he's not quite quick enough to be a regular receiver. 

Brandon Harris, CB Miami
Projected: Late First Round to Early Second
Good or Bad Move? Great move after Florida's Janoris Jenkins chose to stay. Harris was a fringe first rounder before, but now there's an outside shot that he could be the second corner taken off the board after LSU's Patrick Peterson or third after Nebraska's Prince Amukamara. He's a great hitter and he busts his tail, but he's not all that big and is purely a corner.  

Will Hill, S Florida
Projected: Fifth Round or Lower
Good or Bad Move? Horrible move. he has the the 6-1, 205 pound size and he can move well enough to be a playmaker in someone's cover-two scheme, but he'll mostly work as a nickel or dime defender early on until he can prove he can do more against the run. The Georgia game aside, he needs to be more of a ball-hawker. While he has been a good hitter and he can contribute on special teams, he'd have been a star under Will Muschamp and his draft stock would've been far higher in 2012.

Justin Houston, DE/LB Georgia
Projected: Late First Round to Early Second Round
Good or Bad Move? There aren't too many top tweener hybrid prospects in the first two rounds, and while Texas A&M's Von Miller ight be the best of the lot, and UCLA's Akeem Ayers is up there, Houston will be in the hunt for a first round pay day. He might be the best pure pass rusher of the lot and he's more than ready to make the jump. He won't go lower than 40 and could be in the top 20 with a nice workout. 

Henry Hynoski, FB Pitt
Projected: Sixth Round to Free Agent
Good or Bad Move? It's not like fullbacks are a desired commodity, but the 6-2, 260-pound slegehammer could be an interesting prospect on size alone. He's not going to run the ball, ever, and he can't be used as a receiver, but he could stick on someone's team as purely a short yardage blocker. He wasn't going to be a fit in any way for Todd Graham's offense at Pitt. 

Mark Ingram, RB Alabama

Projected: First Round
Good or Bad Move? While he might not be the sure-thing top 15 pick he was expected to be at the end of last year, he's the best running back coming out and could end up sliding up the charts considering how weak the class of running backs is. Durability might be a bit of an issue, but he'll be a No. 1 back from the moment he gets on the field. 

Julio Jones, WR Alabama
Projected: First Round
Good or Bad Move? If there weren't any questions about his durability, he'd be a top 15 pick with comparisons to Randy Moss. However, with as much talent as any receiver in college football, he never quite put it all together as a star target thanks to a slew of dings and being in an offense that's not conducive to bombing away. His workouts will be off the charts. 

Tom Keiser, LB Stanford
Projected: Fifth Round to Free Agent
Good or Bad Move? Uhhhhh, okay. He had a year left even though he was all but done academically, but he only made 38 tackles this year. He's a nice pass rusher and could make a name for himself on special teams. The former defensive end is a tweener who'll need to come up with a whale of a workout. 

Dion Lewis, RB Pitt
Projected: Fifth Round
Good or Bad Move? He's NOT LeSean McCoy. A puny scat back with marginal speed, the 5-7, 195-pounder will have to prove he's faster than the 4.6 he'll likely run in workouts. He was productive, and someone will like him based on a few nice games, but there's also a chance he doesn't get drafted. The hiring of Todd Graham must not have agreed with him.

Javes Lewis, FS Oregon
Projected: Sixth Round to Free Agent
Good or Bad Move? While he's a nice tackler and he has decent size, this is a curious move considering he was a reserve this year. He had 13 career starts for the Ducks, but there's little buzz about him and he'll have to fight to get drafted. He'll likely be a priority free agent. 

Mikel LeShoure, RB Illinois
Projected: Second Round
Good or Bad Move? While he's not Rashard Mendenhall, he's 6-0, 230-pounds and tough enough to run on the inside and just quick enough to bounce to the outside. He'll almost certainly be the No. 2 running back taken in the draft behind Mark Ingram, but he's not a sure-thing, must-have first rounder. He'll be a steal somewhere around the 40s. 

Corey Liuget, DT Illinois

Projected: Late First Round to Second Round
Good or Bad Move? While he might be the fourth or fifth defensive tackle taken, he still could end up going in the first round. An active and athletic 6-3, 300 pounds, he's more than ready to work in someone's rotation in the interior. He'll be best as a 3-4 end, but he could be solid as a 4-3 pass rushing tackle.  

Greg Little, WR North Carolina
Projected: Fourth Round to Sixth Round
Good or Bad Move? Little is a big, strong former running back who's still a work in progress. He was suspended last year, but he has the athleticism and all-around talent to be a high-riser with a few good workouts. However, he still needs time and lots of work before he reaches his potential. 

Ryan Mallett, QB Arkansas
Projected: First Round
Good or Bad Move? While there are a ton of flaws in his game, his arm will make him an intriguing early pick. The decision by Andrew Luck to stay in school might move Mallett up from the end of the first round to the top ten if the right team likes him more than Jake Locker. Football-wise, he could use another year. Business-wise, this is a great move. 

Rahim Moore, S UCLA
Projected: Second Round
Good or Bad Move? A premier playmaker when the ball is in the air, Moore isn't all that big and he isn't a thumper, but he picks off everything that comes his way. He'll be one of the faster safeties, but he's a pure free safety of a Cover Two defender; he can't be used a strong safety in any way. After two great years, though, he's ready for the next level.

Cam Newton, QB Auburn
Projected: First Round
Good or Bad Move? Is he going to generate a JaMarcus Russell-like buzz and move up to No. 1 overall, or will he slide down the first round and become the third or fourth quarterback taken? Either way, he'll never be hotter and the time is to get out now with his Heisman and national title to go along with him.

Zane Parr, DE Virginia
Projected: Free Agent
Good or Bad Move? He has nice 6-6, 275-pound size for a potential 4-3 end, but he's not an elite pass rusher and he doesn't do any one thing special. He might be drafted late, but it'll be a shock if he's nothing more than a priority free agent.  

Patrick Peterson, CB LSU

Projected: Top Ten Overall
Good or Bad Move? With his combination of size, speed, and ball-hawking skills, he might have been the first corner taken in the 2010 NFL Draft. It'll be a stunner if he's not the first corner taken off the board this year and a possible top five pick. Throw in his return ability, and he's a must-have prospect who's more than ready to go.  

Jerrell Powe, NT Ole Miss
Projected: Third Round
Good or Bad Move? Ole Miss waited, and waited, and waited for him to get eligible, and he was fine, but not special, once he joined the team. He's a 6-2, 320-pound anchor for the middle of someone's line, but he's not consistent and he hasn't lived up to his potential. One big year would've made him a top 50 pick on his size and athleticism, but he's simply not that promising as an NFL level.  

Robert Quinn, DE North Carolina
Projected: Top Ten Overall
Good or Bad Move? While he's not the biggest defensive end and he might be built mostly for a 4-3, he's a phenomenal pass rusher who could easily be taken in the top five overall depending on his workouts. He might be behind Clemson's Da'Quan Bowers, but he'll likely be the second end off the board. 

Stevan Ridley, RB LSU
Projected: Fifth Round
Good or Bad Move? Did the loss of LSU offensive coordinator Gary Crowton to Maryland matter? No, but Ridley took a beating this year, had academic issues, and is more than ready to take off. His stock won't rise, but he's not going to tear off any big runs and will be hurt at the Combine by a disastrous 40 time. However, at 6-0 and 225 pounds, he brings the power.

Jacquizz Rodgers, RB Oregon State
Projected: Third Round
Good or Bad Move? Very fast and extremely productive, he'll be one of those jack-of-all-trades backs that every offensive coordinator loves to have. The problem is his 5-7, 192-pound size, but he's tough, durable, and can be a workhorse at times if needed. He needs to come up with a huge 40 time and can't be over 4.5. Mid-4.4s makes him a top 100 pick, but 4.55 or up will cause him to sink like a stone..

Kyle Rudolph, TE Notre Dame
Projected: Second Round
Good or Bad Move? In a bit of a dead year for tight ends, it'll be a slight shock if he's not the first one off the board. At 6-6 and 265 with great hands and excellent route running ability, he can do a little of everything. While he's not slow, he's not a blazer, and questions about the hamstring injury that cost him most of 2010 will bump him into the second round.

Robert Sands, S West Virginia
Projected: Middle Second Round to Fourth Round
Good or Bad Move? An interesting prospect, he's not all that fast, but he's 6-4, 220 pounds and bring the lumber whenever he has to come up with a big play against the run and better when the ball is in the air. The problem might be his lack of speed, but he's intriguing enough to be used in a variety of ways and be taken somewhere in the top 50.

Tyler Sash, S Iowa
Projected: Third Round
Good or Bad Move? While he hits like a ton of bricks, he also runs like he has them on his back. He's a big, tough defender who'll be great for a run defense, and he's a fiery playmaker who's always around the ball, at least at the collegiate level, but his stock could drop it he runs around a mid-4.6. 

Sealver Siliga, DT Utah
Projected: Sixth Round to Free Agent
Good or Bad Move? You can't coach 6-3, 305 pounds. He might not be huge but he's active and was productive as a marginal Mountain West all-star. However, it'll be a shocker if he gets drafted. He has nice size and good athleticism, but he would've been had a chance to be a mid-round pick with another year in school and more plays made in the backfield. A great year in the new Pac 12 would've done him wonders.. 

Aldon Smith, DE Missouri

Projected: Late First Round to Early Second Round
Good or Bad Move? A pure pass rusher, the only question might be his size. The 6-5, 260-pounder isn't an outside linebacker, but he's not quite bulky enough to be a regular defensive end against power running teams. The Mizzou single-season record holder with 11.5 sacks, he's a disruptive force who'll be high on someone's radar. Definitely a top 60 pick, he could slide into the first round with a great workout.
Torrey Smith, WR/KR Maryland
Projected: Second Round
Good or Bad Move? Speed, speed, and more speed. If Mike Leach or Gus Malzahn had taken over the Maryland coaching job, Smith should've stuck around and would've been a national name. Under Randy Edsall, though ... time to go. With 6-1, 205-pound size and sub-4.4 speed, he should be a lock to go in the top 50. If he can prove in workouts that he could be an NFL-caliber return man, he could sneak into the first round. He'll be a Combine hit.

Tyron Smith, OT USC
Projected: Late First Rond
Good or Bad Move? Depending on where Wisconsin's Gabe Carimi and Colorado's Nate Solder end up going, the 6-5, 291-pound Smith should be no worse than the third offensive tackle off the board. He doesn't have the raw bulk and he's not a road grader, but he move and he can become someone's pass protecting left tackle for a long time if he can hit the weights to put on another 15 pounds. However, he'll need to be in the right fit and he could fall to the mid-second round if he doesn't wow in the workouts.

Jerrard Tarrant, S Georgia Tech
Projected: Fourth Round
Good or Bad Move? After missing all of 2008 suspended on charges of rape, which were dropped, he returned to become a strong playmaker with a team-leading three picks last year and 58 tackles. He's not lightning fast, but he has good size and is a solid, but not elite, player.

Jordan Todman, RB Connecticut
Projected: Third Round
Good or Bad Move? It all depends on who has an interest and what his role will be. There isn't much of a place in the NFL for 5-9, 195-pound workhorse backs, but Todman is ultra-tough and could be a fantastic No. 2 back in an Ahmad Bradshaw-like mold. Players of his size only have so many carries in them, and after 616 carries in 2.5 years, and with a new coaching staff coming in, it's time to get out.

Shane Vereen, RB California
Projected: Third Round
Good or Bad Move? He'll probably go late in the third round, but he needs to find a niche right away. He's a 5-10, 205-pound speedster, but there's nothing too special about him to be a No. 1 franchise back. However, he could quickly become a terrific No. 2 back in the rotation and could grow into a whale of a third down back. 

J.J. Watt, DE Wisconsin

Projected: Second Round 
Good or Bad Move? The walk-on, former Central Michigan tight end became an elite all-around defensive star for the Badgers. With size, pass rushing ability, and a non-stop, high-end motor, he could slide into the late first round with a great workout, or he could slip out of the top 60 picks if his athleticism on the field doesn't show up in Indianapolis.

Muhammad Wilkerson, DT Temple

Projected: Late Second Round to Early Third Round
Good or Bad Move? An interesting prospect who could be the X factor in the defensive lineman pecking order, the 6-5, 305-pound Owl has the bulk and he has the run stuffing ability to be planted in the middle of a line and serve as an anchor. However, his Combine numbers aren't expected to be off-the-charts, and he'll still need a ton or work. He's raw, but some defensive coordinator is going to see a wad of clay that can be molded into a work of art.

Aaron Williams, CB Texas
Projected: Late Second Round to Early Third Round
Good or Bad Move? In a mediocre year for corners, Williams will likely be around one of the top ten defensive backs taken depending on his 40 time. He has great size and excellent speed, and he's a phenomenal special teams playmaker with uncanny punt blocking skills. While he didn't pick off a pass this year, he was one of the team's biggest bright spots with ten broken up passes.

Ryan Williams, RB Virginia Tech
Projected: Late Second Round to Early Third Round
Good or Bad Move? The question is durability. He was the best player in the ACC two years ago, but he got hurt with a hamstring injury that wouldn't go away, and he wasn't the same..While he has the moves and the upside to be a strong No. 2 back, he might not be the sure-thing first round pick many think he is. However, he's probably the No. 2 back behind Mark Ingram and  isn't going to move up by staying another year.

Martez Wilson, LB Illinois
Projected: Second Round
Good or Bad Move? While he never quite panned out as the superstar linebacker he was projected to be coming out of high school, he overcame injuries to have a decent career. With his size and versatility, he has the potential to be a top 50 pick and a much better NFL player than a collegian.