2011 Combine Buzz - The Best Position Is ...
Missouri DE Aldon Smith
Missouri DE Aldon Smith
Posted Feb 22, 2011

The buzz around the 2011 NFL Combine -The strongest position is ...

2011 NFL Combine Buzz

The Best Position Is ...

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2011 Pre-Combine Buzz
- The Luckless quarterback class
- Cam Newton is expected to do it all
- The star defensive tackles
- All the North Carolina talent and what they'll do
- Where have all the good running backs gone?
- The lousy tight end class
- The 40 star speedster will be ...
- The three players everyone will be talking about
- The offensive tackle pecking order
- The strongest position is ...
- Da'Quan Bowers' knee
- Breaking Down the 2011 NFL Combine

2011 NFL Combine Invites & Draft Projection
- QBs | RBs | WRs | TEs | OG/Cs | OTs
- DEs | DTs | LBs | Ss | CBs | Ps & Ks 

As young men start to parade in their underwear in front of old guys with notepads, here are ten things that all the NFL types are talking about before the fun and merriment of the Combine in Indianapolis kicks in this weekend.

The best position is …

Defensive end, and it's not even close. Throw in the idea that Texas A&M's Von Miller, Georgia's Justin Houston, and UCLA's Akeem Ayers could be used at times like defensive ends, even though they're going to be outside linebackers, and the potential is there for this to be an all-timer of a class of pass rushers.

Clemson's Da'Quan Bowers is the star of the show and is the one marquee, sure-thing top five pick, but Missouri's Aldon Smith, Cal's Cameron Jordan, Ohio State's Cameron Heyward, Iowa's Adrian Clayborn, Purdue's Ryan Kerrigan, Miami's Allen Bailey, and Wisconsin's J.J. Watt are all in the mix to be first rounders if they can shine this week.

Could eight defensive ends possibly go in the first 32 picks? Absolutely, and if North Carolina's Robert Quinn is as athletic and as jaw-dropping as expected, it could be nine.

At 270 pounds, Quinn has the size, and he has the moves to be a top five overall talent, but many are going to shy away from him because of the want-to factor. Scouts are going to want to see him as a eat glass, workout warrior of a football player, so while the drills won't be a problem, the interviews will be his moneymaker.

Heyward has the versatility to work in a 3-4 or a 4-3, and while he's tough, productive, and a game-changer (watch the Sugar Bowl against Arkansas again), he's not necessarily a dominant athlete. At the moment, he's a good NFL starter, but he might have a limited upside. Even so, his as is talent is more than enough for a very productive, fringe-Pro Bowl career.

Kerrigan was an ultra-productive collegian and a peerless pass rusher, but he's a tweener. He's a pure 4-3 defensive end who can't be an outside linebacker and can't be a 3-4 end. The problem is that he's not enough of a top-shelf athlete to overcome his lack of bulk, so to be a first rounder he has to blow up all the agility drills.

Bailey should be great in the weight room and he'll impress with his size and athleticism, but he needed to use all his tools and all his want-to a bit better at Miami. He was good; he wasn't special. Now is when he should change a lot of minds and should shoot up the draft boards; the Combine is made for him. He's an athlete who should be able to fly through all the drills like a linebacker, and he'll be fantastic in interviews. He'll be the type of player everyone wants on their team.

Clayborn has to be calm and cool in interviews when he gets asked over and over again about why he didn't do more in his senior year. He's build more like an undersized tackle, and while he's as tough as they come, he was erased far too often by big, mauling offensive linemen (like Wisconsin's Gabe Carimi and the double-teaming by Northwestern's line). At his size, he has to show off the athleticism that could make him more of a pass rushing threat at the next level.

Watt will be a great interview because of his great story about being a former walk-on from Central Michigan, but his Combine will come down to how he looks on his cuts. A full-time, non-stop worker who never took a play off, he got by on desire more than his athleticism. He has to look fluid working around the cones and he has to look the part of an NFL pass rusher.

Smith is nothing but a pass rusher, and anyone who drafts him will know exactly what they're getting. Forget about being a tough run stopper, and forget about him being the type of leader who'll be the one everyone works around on the line. The former Mizzou star will be asked to get to the quarterback on a regular basis and will be asked to be disruptive, so if he doesn't look like an elite athlete among the ends, his stock will quickly fall.

Jordan was the darling of the Senior Bowl, and he's possibly the most versatile end in the top part of the draft, Bowers included. While he's strong, gets off the line in a hurry, and is the type of leader and personality who can be the face of a defensive front, he's not a top-shelf run defender and might not be a star in a 3-4. The team that drafts him will have to have a plan. Will he bulk up to be an athletic tackle of a 3-4 end, or will he slim down to be a true 4-3 end? His Combine should determine what his best role will be.