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2011 NFL Draft - 1st Round Talents
Alabama WR Julio Jones
Alabama WR Julio Jones
CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Apr 25, 2011


It's finally here ... NFL Draft Week starts up Thursday night with the first round. What players have the talent go in the top 32? How about in the second round and beyond? From the college football perspective, here's CFN's pre-draft ranking, breakdown, and analysis of the top 264 prospects - more like the CFN Draft Board - with Alabama WR Julio Jones among the stars of the show.

2011 NFL Draft Position Rankings

First Round Talents


By Pete Fiutak

2011 CFN Talent Rankings
- 1st Rounders
- 2nd Rounders
- 3rd Rounders
- 4th Rounders
- 5th Rounders
- 6th Rounders
- 7th Rounders 
- Top Free Agent Talents 

2011 NFL Prospect Rankings & Breakdowns
- QBs | RBs | FBs | WRs
- TEs | OTs | OGs | Cs 
- OLBs | ILBs | DTs | DEs
- CBs | Ss

- CFN 2010 NFL Draft Team Rankings

2011 NFL Draft Top Prospects
- Offensive | Defense 

2010 NFL Draft Analysis

1st Round (1-16)
1st Round (17-32)
2nd Round
3rd Round
4th Round
5th Round
6th Round
7th Round
Top Free Agents

2010 CFN Talent Rankings

- 1st Rounders
- 2nd Rounders
- 3rd Rounders
- 4th Rounders
- 5th Rounders
- 6th Rounders
- 7th Rounders 
- Top Free Agent Talents 

2010 CFN Position Rankings & Analysis

- QBs | RBs | WRs | TEs
- Cs | OTs | OGs | DEs
- DTs | ILBs | OLBs
- Ss | CBs 

1. CB Patrick Peterson, LSU 6-0, 219 (Jr.)
If there’s such a thing as a perfect defensive back prospect, Peterson might be it. He’s big, smooth as silk, a strong hitter, and very, very fast checking in with a 4.34 in the 40. He has no problems getting physical and isn’t going to shy away from making a stop, and he makes teams pay for trying to go his way with the ability to take the ball away and do something big with it. While he can be a lock-down cover-corner on any No. 1 target, he might end up making the biggest splash, eventually, as a whale of a free safety with limitless range and playmaking potential. The only possible problem might be a slight issue of consistency. He rose to the occasion, but he also needed a challenge. And then there’s the issue with the hype. Like all great corners, the ego is overflowing, and now the fawning has become so over the top that anything less than a perennial Pro Bowl career will be a disappointment.
CFN Projection: First Round

2. WR A.J. Green, Georgia 6-4, 211 (Jr.)
With all the tools, he’s the ideal receiver prospect and is a legitimate No. 1, go-to target who should be a franchise-shaper. He was the only thing the Georgia offense had going for it at times (after he came off suspension) and he still produced at the highest of SEC levels. He has the size, the speed, the athleticism, the hands, and the willingness to go across the middle. The one big knock is his lack of bulk; he’s not going to be an Andre Johnson or Larry Fitzgerald when it comes to his size. Yes, he’s a great athlete, but he came up with an underwhelming Combine compared to Julio Jones, has smallish hands, and it’s not like a post-grad degree at M.I.T. is an option, but he’s a hard worker, is missing the diva trait, and he does everything you want on the field and he’ll instantly be the featured star of a passing game from the moment he steps on the field.
CFN Projection:
First Round

3. QB Cam Newton, Auburn 6-5, 248 (Jr.)
One of the most polarizing NFL draft prospect in years, he’s the ultimate boom-or-bust pick. There are screaming, seemingly-obvious warning signs that will keep several teams from investing their hopes into, but his talent is so immense and his raw skills are so great that anyone who passes on him might be blowing off the next big thing.

The Heisman winner carried Auburn to the national title with a slippery running style and tremendous leadership and clutch play, but he also finished second n the nation in passing efficiency. With 30 touchdown passes, 1,473 rushing yards, and 20 scores on the ground, and with the national championship, he had the greatest single season of any quarterback in college football history.

He’s huge. He’s Daunte Culpepper, but bigger, strong, and even more athletic. While he can shake off pass rushers without a problem, he can also run around them when needed. Auburn didn’t ask him to do anything crazy with the passing game, mainly using him to see-throw/make-throw, but coaches crowed that he would’ve been special in any passing system. The arm is there, the athleticism is peerless for a guy with his bulk, and despite what others might have you believe, he was a leader the rest of the Tigers rallied around.

The problem is 1) the entire act comes across as phony; 2) he only did it for one year and will need to take his lumps for a few seasons; and 3) he isn’t exactly the most trustworthy of characters. Can he handle it when he stinks it up as a rookie and gets lustily booed? Can he handle failure after failure? No college quarterback has ever had to undergo the scrutiny he went through, yet he always compartmentalized well and came up with great performance after great performance. However, now he’s outside of the bunker-down, kiss-butt Auburn bubble. While he needs tons of work on his mechanics, and there’s a big Buyer Beware sign around his neck, but if someone is willing to be very, very patient, and if he’s coddled, the upside is limitless.
CFN Projection:
Top Ten Overall

4. WR Julio Jones, Alabama 6-3, 220 (Jr.)
Everyone knew he was a next-level prospect coming out of high school as the rare player who physically could’ve made the jump right away, and then came the NFL Combine. He put on an all-timer of a show with a sub-4.4 while jumping out of the stadium and cutting like a much smaller player. With a phenomenal attitude, a great competitive fire, and a good personality, he’s the type of prospect you want to be your No. 1 guy. There are two problems. 1) He was okay as a collegian but he was hardly special on a consistent basis. It was partly due to the offense, but a player of his talent should’ve done more. 2) He was ALWAYS hurt. While he’s tough and plays through pain, he always had a big ding of some sort he had to overcome. With his tools and his physical style, he’s a star in the making who’ll blow up if he can stay on the field. If it was a guarantee that he could play a full 16 games on a regular basis, he’d be the No. 1 receiver on the board.
CFN Projection:
First Round

5. DT Marcell Dareus, Alabama (DE) 6-3, 319 (Jr.)
Extremely versatile and explosive, Dareus is the ideal defensive lineman in any scheme with the quickness to work as a one-gap playmaker and the size and toughness to sit on the nose if absolutely needed. With all the right tools, he’s quick off the line, tough when blocked, and fast enough to get to the runner down the field. There aren’t too many problems, but he wasn’t quite as productive as a top-shelf NFL prospect should be. He needs to keep his weight in check and he’ll need a constant push to reach his full potential, but if he decides he wants to be the best defensive tackle in pro football, he might just do it. The sky is the limit on his talent, but there’s bust potential is he doesn’t keep developing. Being a big athlete alone isn’t going to get it done at the next level.
CFN Projection: First Round

6. QB Blaine Gabbert, Missouri 6-4, 234 (Jr.)
There’s no wow factor. There’s no bust potential, but there’s nothing in Gabbert’s game to suggest that he’ll be a special, “I’m going to Disney World” type of superstar. He has all the tools, the athleticism, and the personality and make-up to be a very, VERY good pro for the next 15 years, but it’s not like he was a special college player – he was the only quarterback who couldn’t seem to throw against the miserable 2010 Texas Tech pass defense - and he had major problems against anyone with a strong pass rush. On the plus side, most of his negatives can be quickly fixed. His throwing motion doesn’t need that much tweaking, and for those who don’t think he can connect on the deep ball on a consistent basis, go back to the pills he was slinging to Danario Alexander two years ago. The bigger issue is that he’s not Cam Newton. Gabbert is the safe, secure pick who should be a rock-steady starter in two years, but if you’re passing on Newton for him, you’re not slinging for the stars … and that might not be a bad thing. Gabbert has the rare issue of still scratching the surface on what he can be, while also having a hard ceiling on where he can take a team. If he ends up winning a Super Bowl, it’ll be because he’s a good player on a special team.
CFN Projection: Top Ten Overall

7. DT Nick Fairley, Auburn 6-4, 291 (Jr.)
If he wants it – REALLY wants it – he’ll be a dominant NFL pass rusher. There’s a concern that he went from being a promising part of the Auburn defensive interior rotation to an all-timer of a star way too quickly, but his 2010 was too breathtaking to ignore. If you can destroy the SEC, you can destroy anyone, and he was unblockable at times proving to be almost as important to the national title defense as Cam Newton was to the offense. He beats up runners, flies into the backfield, and explodes out of his stance. An ideal 3-technique tackle, and with the quickness to be moved to a true defensive end if needed, the expectations are going to be sky high from Day One. Fine, so he might be a cheap shot artist, he’s not exactly known for his impeccable character, and his rise was so meteoric that the temptation will be there to think he might flame out in a hurry, but tackles with his ability to get into the backfield are rare. There’s bust potential, but he might just be worth the risk.
CFN Projection: First Round

8. OLB Von Miller, Texas A&M 6-3, 246
He was really a defensive end in college and will have to prove he can be a full-time star in more space in a true outside linebacker role. While he won the Butkus Award as the nation’s best linebacker, he didn’t always look natural in workouts making the transition; too many scouts were glossing over the concerns because they’re blinded by the athleticism and the pass rushing skills. Yes, he blazed through the short runs and put up great times, but he didn’t always appear to move instinctively well enough in outside linebacker football drills. Not a defensive end at an NFL level, he might be faster than anyone he’ll line up against, but he doesn’t have the bulk to work on every down up front. He might turn out to be a very, very expensive one-trick pony, but that one-trick could be dominant enough to send him to Honolulu on a regular basis. With his speed and burst, he should be an absolute terror at getting to the quarterback and being a game-changer. Is he going to be a top-shelf, all-around outside linebacker? Probably not, and it’s not always a sure-thing that some players can make the little position adjustments needed to shine – like former Wake Forest “sure-thing” Aaron Curry - but prospects with Miller’s talents are rare. There’s a good chance Miller can be a faster, lighter, more athletic Clay Matthews.
CFN Projection: First Round

9. DE Da'Quan Bowers, Clemson 6-3, 280 (Jr.)
With tremendous size and the right athleticism, Bowers has it all. It took a little while to live up to the expectations coming out of high school, but when he decided to commit to being special, and when inspired by the tragic deaths of both his father and former Clemson star, Gaines Adams, he turned his game up several notches and became a devastating terror into the backfield. As soon as he announced he was leaving school early, he was immediately put into the No. 1 overall slot in most mock drafts, or was at least in the top three, and then he had surgery on his knee and he started to drop. It was quickly forgotten that knees heal, and it’s not like he had to undergo reconstructive surgery. When he’s right, he has all the moves with strength to push his way into the backfield, and the quickness to get to the edge when needed if he’s put in a 4-3. His money will be made as an athletic 3-4 end, but he has to continue to dedicate himself to his craft and has to continue to work for it. Very quickly, he could go from being a rock of an athlete to a fleshy 300+ defender who’ll lose his edge. Can he continue to build on his one big year? If his knee is right, yes.
CFN Projection: First Round

10. CB Prince Amukamara, Nebraska 6-0, 206
While all the hype and all the attention is going to Patrick Peterson, Amukamara could be a better value. With great size, tremendous speed, and all the tools needed to be someone’s No. 1 cornerback, he’s a top talent who looks the part. Not just a finesse corner, he’s great against the run and has no problems whatsoever getting his nose dirty. The problem is his lack of big plays, failing to make a pick last year (but he made five as a junior), and he’s not going to be the type of offensive defensive back who takes the ball to the house, but he’ll be a sound, consistent corner who becomes a key part of a defense. Throw him out there and don’t worry for the next ten years.
CFN Projection: First Round

11. DE Ryan Kerrigan, Purdue 6-4, 267
With the ultimate motor and with a variety of skills and moves, he could be the best edge rusher in the draft. He might not be lightning fast and he’s not the most fluid of athletes, but he’s relentless when it comes to getting into the backfield, and he has the drive and the desire to do whatever it takes to get better. There’s no questioning his character, and he improved his stock in a big way at the Combine in the interviews, on the bench, and in the quickness drills. He’s not going to fly off the ball at an NFL level and he’s not going to be a pure speed rusher, but there’s no bust potential and he could be a statistical superstar with the right help from the rest of the line.
CFN Projection: First Round

12. RB Mark Ingram, Alabama 5-9, 215 (Jr.)
The 2009 Heisman winner and main cog for a national title team is the one back in the draft who might be a franchise difference maker. In today’s day and age of multiple back rotations and dime-a-dozen runners, Ingram has it when it comes to that special something that makes a great back special. Emmitt Smith didn’t run fast and wasn’t all that big, but he always seemed to know how to produce, and that’s Ingram … to a point.

He’s a very thick, very tough runner with better hands than he gets credit for, and with an innate ability to make the right cut at the very last nanosecond, he’s the definition of a downhill runner. Patient, he rarely makes a wrong decision and he makes up for his errors with power and always fighting through contact.

While he had a decent Combine, showed he doesn’t have elite speed and is a mediocre athlete. Forget about any home runs and he’s not going to provide the Adrian Peterson-like highlight runs. He was dinged up early last year and was never consistent, and there might be some concern that he’s a bit of a one-year wonder. With his running style he might have a short shelf life, but he’ll be ultra-productive for a few years on the right team. CFN Projection: First Round

13. OLB Aldon Smith, Missouri (DE) 6-4, 263 (Soph.)
Is he an outside linebacker or is he an end? He’s a tweener, but in a good way with the outstanding athleticism needed to work as a 3-4 outside defender and the strength to hold up in a 4-3. Fluid, he moves like a much smaller player with the ability to get around the edge like a breeze. Not just a pass rushing specialist, he’s strong, doesn’t mind contact, and will battle hard with a great fire and competitiveness. In a good way, he’s not there yet. Still very young, he’s still tapping his potential and could go from being a great prospect to a top-shelf all-star with just a little bit of work. Arguably the best pure pass rusher in the draft, he can be turned loose right away with the knowledge that there’s a lot more to come from his game down the road.
CFN Projection: First Round

14. DT Corey Liuget, Illinois 6-2, 298
While he might be a bit undersized, he’s extremely strong and became ultra-athletic after getting in better shape. Bulk is sort of his issue. He was too big in a bad way a few years ago, and then he worked on his body-type, got rid of most of his bad weight, and became a star. When he’s on, he’s a game-changer who can dominate in the backfield and can be strong against the run in a true anchor sort of way. An almost ideal 3-technique defender, he’ll shoot the gap and he’ll sit on quarterbacks’ heads on a regular basis if he’s surrounded by a few big-bodied rocks. With his ability to play anywhere on a defensive front, he’ll be a coach’s dream; he can fit in any scheme.
CFN Projection: Second Round

15. DE Robert Quinn, North Carolina (OLB) 6-4, 265 (Jr.)
With a dream combination of size and skills, he’s a phenomenal athlete who comes in out of central casting. While he wasn’t all that impressive at the Combine considering the hype, he plays fast, gets off the ball in a hiccup, and he’s a rock. No, he didn’t quite blow up in Indianapolis, but he still impressed with the way he came in cut after missing all of last year suspended. Will he be more of a playmaker against the run and not just into the glory plays in the backfield? Is he really a star, or did he look great because he was surrounded by NFL talent? There are question marks about his all-around game and he’s hardly a finished product, but the skills and upside are all in place to become a special defender with a little bit of time.
CFN Projection: First Round

16. DE J.J. Watt, Wisconsin 6-5, 290 (Jr.)
The ultimate story of rags to riches, Watt started out his career as a skinny tight end at Central Michigan, decided he wanted to try making it at Wisconsin, walked-on, got a LOT bigger, and became one of college football’s most productive all-around defensive linemen. He plays with a passion and doesn’t take a play off, and with his combination of motor, size, and quickness, he’s the prototype 3-technique defender. He’s not going to dominate athletically at the next level and doesn’t have flash speed, but his raw strength is phenomenal and his work ethic will never be a question. At the very least, he’ll bust his tail to try to be good, but there could be a hard ceiling on what he can become once he can’t just get by on want-to.
CFN Projection: First Round

17. OT Tyron Smith, USC 6-5, 307
Out of all the decent tackle prospects at the top of the chain, Smith has the biggest upside. Very athletic, he moves well and has the look of a ten-year fixture at left tackle. There will be criticisms and concerns that he only played right tackle throughout his career, but that’s really not that big a deal; he’ll be more than fine moving over to the other side. With a little bit of time and a little bit of work, he should be able to handle the best of the speed rushers, and he could be the ideal lineman for a zone-blocking scheme. However, he can play in any system and be fine. The one problem is that he’ll never be a mauler. He had to work his tail off – or on – to get to over 300 pounds over the last few months, but he’s not likely to ever be more than 310 pounds on a regular basis.
CFN Projection: First Round

18. ILB Martez Wilson, Illinois 6-4, 250 (OLB)
Able to play inside or out, Wilson was a superstar recruit for the Illini who overcame getting stabbed in a bar fight, and suffering a neck injury, to have a fantastic 2010. The injury happened early enough in 2009 to give him a full year to heal, and then he showed what he could do as the leader of the Illini back seven. The prototype, he might not be a top prospect for the middle, but he’d dominate in an inside spot in a 4-3 and can shine as a pass rusher on the outside. He looks the part, was fantastic at the Combine, and has all the tools needed to be a producer at a high level for a long, long time. He’s still scratching the surface on what he can become, and he doesn’t have the best instincts, but players with his skills and body type are rare. He got by, though, simply by being far more talented than everyone else, and now he has to learn the finer points of the position to reach his Pro Bowl potential.
CFN Projection: Second Round

19. DT Marvin Austin, North Carolina 6-2, 309
There was a time not all that long ago when he was considered an almost certain top ten overall pick with ideal size for the interior, the quickness to get into the backfield, and tremendous strength against the run. There’s a huge, glaring question mark when it comes to his character and he has to prove that he wants to be great. He’d be a terror if he went full tilt all the time, and he doesn’t always play up to his potential and skills, but when he had to, he destroyed the drills in offseason workouts. When the lights were on and all the scouts were watching, particularly at the East-West Shrine practices, he was phenomenal. After being suspended for all of 2010 after his dealings with an agent, he needs to get back on the field and he has to get used to being in a lather again. On sheer talent and skills, he’s worth the risk; the potential is there to be a superstar if it all comes together.
CFN Projection: Second Round

20. OT Anthony Castonzo, Boston College 6-7, 311
Extremely smart and with impeccable character, he’s the type of player you want to be the leader of your line. With prototype size and great sliding skills as a pass protector, he’s a left tackle who should be more than fine right away, and he has the bulldozing skills to pound away for the ground game. However, he’s not a killer of a run blocker and he’s not going to throw anyone into the third row. While he’s never going to be a superstar, he should be a very good, very solid starter for a long time. There’s no bust potential.
CFN Projection: First Round

21. DT Stephen Paea, Oregon State 6-1, 303
Prospects who destroy the weight room at the NFL Combine rarely work out well as real, live players, but Paea should be the exception. One of the strongest players to ever enter the NFL, he threw 49 reps of 225 up like he was benching a broom. A true nose with quickness to go along with his strength, he can also work in a 4-3 without a problem. He can beat up centers and can rip into the backfield with a variety of decent moves, but he needs to keep developing. While he might not be a franchise anchor, he won’t be heard from for long stretches, and he won’t go to Hawaii every year, he’ll always bring the effort and he’ll be a productive lineman for a decade.
CFN Projection: Second Round


22. OT Gabe Carimi, Wisconsin 6-7, 314
Very, very big and very, very tough, the Outland Trophy winner beat up the best the brightest defensive linemen the Big Ten had to offer, and he was the key part of the puzzle on a great run blocking line. There’s no real work needing to be done with his technique or his style; plug him in and let him go. Can he stay healthy? He got cut way too much and was chopped down, but he still has injury concerns. While he might not be athletic enough to handle the speediest NFL pass rushers, he’ll be a very steady, very good starter for a decade somewhere on a line. Outside of injury concerns, there’s no real downside.
CFN Projection: First Round

23. C Mike Pouncey, Florida (OG) 6-5, 303
While he’s not his brother, Maurkice, he’s a very big, very good blocker with an NFL-ready body and the talent and toughness to play anywhere in the interior of a line. However, he doesn’t have the NFL-ready game with some technique work to do and with a consistency problem. Fortunately, he wants to be great and will always fight and always work to be better - just like his brother. While he has way too many problems with the most basic of acts, snapping the ball, and he might be a more natural fit at guard. No matter where he plays, his size and skills are good enough to make him an anchor no matter where he plays.
CFN Projection: First Round

24. OT Benjamin Ijalana, Villanova (OG) 6-4, 319
Is he a guard or a tackle? Where he plays, he’s a massive, extremely strong prospect with just enough athleticism to get by. While he missed the Combine with a hernia problem, he was able to get through every game in his long career and fought through all the bumps and bruises. He doesn’t play up to his size or his bulk, and he might need some work to learn how use all his skills to become a killer. If someone is patient, he could eventually be someone’s left tackle, but he could be most amazing if he’s used on the right side.
CFN Projection: Second Round

25. OT Derek Sherrod, Mississippi State 6-6, 321
Very big and very long, he has the prototype size and bulked up to get stronger and look even more like the ideal tackle. He moves well for is size and is good at burying his man when he’s able to lock on, but he’s not a consistent blaster for the ground game He’ll work to be good and he’s smart enough to adjust to the NFL immediately, however, he’s a good all-around prospect, but he doesn’t do any one thing at a high level. He’ll start, but he’ll be a cog and he definitely won’t be an anchor.
CFN Projection: Second Round

26. DE Cameron Heyward, Ohio State 6-5, 294
The son of former NFL star running back Craig “Ironhead” Heyward, Cameron has the strength and he has the athleticism to be the ideal 3-4 end. The problem is his lack of consistency. He should be great all the time, and when the lights were turned on and he was challenged, he dominated. The Buckeye line was being maligned two years ago, and he came out and destroyed Wisconsin. In the 2011 Sugar Bowl against Arkansas, he spent most of the evening sitting on Ryan Mallett’s head. His size and his football talent make him almost a sure thing not to bust, but he’s not a pure pass rusher and he doesn’t get off the ball in a hurry. While he’ll probably be a rock-solid ten-year starter, he’s not going to be a Pro Bowl dominator and there’s a hard ceiling on how good he can be.
CFN Projection: Second Round

27. DE Cameron Jordan, California 6-4, 287
Everyone’s darling of the post-season workout circuit, Jordan was awesome in Senior Bowl practices showing off his tremendous size, good athleticism, and high motor. Very, very long, he has a big frame that carries his weight extremely well. The problem is that he wasn’t always a killer in Pac 10 play, even though he was consistent and productive. He’ll be asked to become a dominant pass rusher in a 3-4, but he’s a better athlete than a polished sack artist and will disappear for long stretches. With his versatility and with his drive he’ll be an excellent pro for a long time. However, don’t be shocked if he’s a slight disappointment compared to other top ends in the draft.
CFN Projection: First Round

28. OT Nate Solder, Colorado 6-8, 319
With great size and a fantastic frame, he’s tough to get around with long arms and the room to get even bigger and bulkier. However, there might not be much of a need to do much to get larger if it’ll cost him any of his great athleticism. Very quick and great on the move, he’s an ideal pass protector who’ll wall off pass rushers without a problem. He’ll also do the work needed to improve; he’s always trying to get better and he’ll be happy to do whatever the coaches ask. With his height and lack of strength, though, he’s not going to beat up anyone for the ground game. He needs to be in the right system, and he’s not going to work in a power-running attack.
CFN Projection: First Round

29. DE Adrian Clayborn, Iowa 6-3, 281
After choosing to come back for his senior year, when many projected he’d be a top ten overall pick had he left early, he was a disappointment. As part of a loaded line full of NFL prospects, he disappeared way too often and almost never came up with the game-changing play a player of his talent should’ve. Even so, he’s a very strong, very versatile lineman who can get into the backfield as a 3-4 end or can hold up as a 4-3 tackle. Despite his problem with Erb’s Palsy, causing a weakness and paralysis in his arm, he doesn’t seem to have many problems because of it. However, he might have to only play on the right side. More of a football player than a top-shelf athlete, there’s a limit on what he can do, but he plays with a fire and a passion and should carve out a strong career.
CFN Projection: Second Round

30. RB Mikel Leshoure, Illinois 6-0, 227
He’s not going to be Rashard Mendenhall, but he has the toughness and ability to handle the rock 25 times per game. With just enough speed to get by, he can be a home run hitter and he’s extremely quick and decisive when he gets a little room to move. A great athlete who’s cut, strong, and looks like a prototype NFL back, all the parts are there to succeed. Does he need to be in the right system, like Mendenhall? No, but he’d be a 2010 Arian Foster-like superstar in a zone-blocking scheme and would be terrific in a power running system. While he can be anyone’s No. 1 back, he’ll be terrific as a 15-carry No. 2 hammer.
CFN Projection: Second Round

31. OLB Akeem Ayers, UCLA 6-3, 254
Known as an athletic, big outside linebacker, he didn’t do as well as hoped for at the Combine, but his game tape is still tremendous and still makes him the model outside linebacker. Fluid, he moves extremely well and has the quickness to go along with the size to be used as a pure pass rusher from time to time, but he’s a linebacker who can make things happen as a pass rusher. The problem is his lack of speed, and while he’s good enough to move well, he doesn’t have NFL wheels. How much will the offseason workouts matter? He was considered a Combine type of guy, but now he’ll have to be seen as a better football player than a workout warrior.
CFN Projection: Second Round

32. OLB Bruce Carter, North Carolina 6-2, 241
There’s a chance Carter could be one of the biggest steals in the draft, but it’ll be a bit of a risky pick after suffering a torn ACL late last year. A tremendous athlete, he has 4.5 speed and special quickness – at least before the injury – with sideline-to-sideline range and tremendous playmaking ability. He’s not physical enough against the run and he’s not a blow-him-up type of hitter, but once he’s healthy he’ll fly all over the field and will chase down plays and be great at getting into the backfield. However, he has to get a fire lit under him and the motor has to be running on every play. The skills are there to be a dominant defender, but if he isn’t back to form after his injury, and if he doesn’t want to be an eat-nails linebacker who destroys people, he could be merely average. With his skills, though, the potential is there to be great.
CFN Projection: Second Round