The 2 Point Conversion

The Complete NFL Scoop

2011…The Best Draft Class Ever (Defense)


You’ve seen all the supremely talented quarterbacks, receivers, and left tackles. One could make a case that the defense is an even bigger strength than the offense for this class. Teams sitting at 11th or 12th overall will be very excited at the level of talent they can get without paying top dollar. Let’s break it down position by position.

There are quite a few top-notch pass rushers in this class. Greg Romeus has prototypical size and was a terror off the edge last season for Pitt. He should be a top 15 pick, but will probably go even higher. Robert Quinn (North Carolina) had 19 TFLs and 11 sacks last year as a sophomore. He should be a top 10 pick and would fit in any scheme. He could soar to a top 3 spot if he has a big season. Adrian Clayborn of Iowa has a ton of talent and production, but has some character issues. When all is said and done, he may be the first end off the board or could slip all the way down to the latter part of round 1. Jeremy Beal (Oklahoma), Sam Acho (Texas), and Da’Quan Bowers (Clemson) all have a shot at round 1 if they produce next year. Von Miller of Texas A&M is really undersized, but has mad skills and may run close to a 4.5. He bested Russell Okung (6th overall) in their matchup last year. Akeem Ayers (UCLA), Jack Crawford (Penn State), and Ugo Chinasa (Oklahoma State) all know how to get after the quarterback. At least ten pass rushers will go in the top 2 rounds.

Everybody is raving about the Buckeyes’ Cameron Heyward and the Tar Heels’ Marvin Austin. Neither is as good as he is cracked up to be, but are legit top 15 talents. Heyward will be a 3-4 end and Austin will probably be a 4-3 tackle. Either could go in the top 5, and both will probably be top 10 picks. Marcell Dareus is a phenomenal player in Nick Saban’s 3-4 as an end, and will also wind up in the top 15. Miami’s Allen Bailey is finally playing at his talent level, and is also a solid first round pick. Nebraska’s Jared Crick can play in any scheme and will also be a first rounder if he can get it done without Suh by his side. The small school wonder this season is Hampton’s Kendrick Ellis, a 340 pound monster. He won’t get as much recognition as #1 nose tackle Jerrell Powe of Ole Miss, however. USC’s Jurrell Casey and LSU’s Drake Nevis are also good bets to go on day 2. Even with all the great offensive playmakers, seven of the top fifteen picks could be defensive linemen.

The 2011 linebacker crop doesn’t have any superstars but is very underrated by my estimations. Though undersized, Michigan State’s Greg Jones is a monster who can play the MIKE or WILL in a 4-3 or inside in a 3-4. He has 354 tackles in 3 seasons. That’s insane, especially if you consider that he led his team in tackles when he was a TRUE freshman. He should go in the 20-30 range on draft day. Oklahoma’s Travis Lewis (strictly 4-3 SAM or WILL) is extremely talented and had 108 tackles as a sophomore. He should go in the 20-40 range. There are about eight other linebackers who will go in rounds 2 or 3, but I will have my eye on Mark Herzlich, Boston College’s stud. He was the ACC defensive player of the year, then was diagnosed with cancer a few months later. He could be a top 50 pick if he does well. I also really like Miami’s Colin McCarthy and LSU’s Kelvin Sheppard.

With all those great, big receivers, you need people to cover them. This is where LSU Tiger Patrick Peterson comes in. He is 6-1, 210 and an absolute shutdown corner. He is the best prospect at his position to come along since maybe Champ Bailey in 1999, but I’m sure DeAngelo Hall would have something to say about that. Nebraska’s Prince Amukamara, who is also 6-1 and picked off 5 passes last season, is also deserving of a top 20 pick. The Texas duo of Aaron Williams and Curtis Brown will be gone by round 2, and North Carolina’s Kendric Burney is really good despite his height and reminds me of Alfonso Smith, formerly of Wake Forest, now with Denver. Ras-I Dowling (Virginia) and Rashad Carmichael (Virginia Tech) should also be second rounders. The small school sleeper is Davon House of New Mexico State, who has great height (6-0) and speed (4.4).

The ACC is putting out some really impressive defenders this season. The trend continues as the two top safeties are from that very conference. Clemson’s DeAndre McDaniel has 8 interceptions and has amazing physical tools, which will allow him to play strong or free safety. North Carolina’s Deunta Williams had 6 picks and was 1st team all ACC. Both should be picked in the 12-25 range on draft day and I expect each to impress. UCLA’s Rahim Moore had 10 interceptions as a sophomore, and should be an early 2nd round pick if he declares early. He also has a shot at the bottom of round 1. Alabama’s Mark Barron is very physical, but still picked off seven passes. He reminds me of Sean Jones and should be a 2nd round pick along with Florida’s Will Hill, Oklahoma’s Quinton Carter, and Iowa’s Tyler Sash.

The 2011 draft will be very good to those who stockpile picks in the top three rounds. I wouldn’t be surprised if some teams were able to squeeze five starters out of this draft.

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May 31, 2010 - Posted by | NFL Draft 2011

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