Sure, the 2010 NFL Draft hasn’t even been over for three months yet but NFL teams and their fans are already looking ahead to the 2011 NFL Draft. The college football season is about to get underway as well and some of the guys on this list are poised to have big seasons and could move up or even off of this list when it’s all said and done.
So let’s take a look at the top ten prospects in the 2011 NFL Draft as it stands right now for the month of July. There is some insight into why they are listed in these rankings and whether or not they could rise (if possible) or fall of this list by the end of the 2010 College Football Season.
1. Jake Locker-QB-Washington-Barring any kind of injury problem or complete breakdown in his passing game, Locker looks like the best bet to be number one in the draft next season. He has all the skills that you would want at the quarterback position and with some additional experience in college this year, he should go high. Could he fall? It’s possible, especially with quarterbacks but with his talent it’s not likely.
2. Marvin Austin-DT-North Carolina-Austin is a beast who will only get better in his final season in college. With teams concentrating on defensive line play, Austin may just be what the doctor ordered. With a strong final collegiate season, Austin could push his way into the number one spot in the draft next depending on how he does this coming season and what team gets “lucky enough” to get the first pick in the 2011 NFL Draft.
3. Gabe Carimi-OT-Wisconsin-Built in the same mold as current Cleveland Browns offensive tackle and former Wisconsin tackle Joe Thomas. If Carimi holds his own this season, he could challenge for the top spot in the draft next year but as it stands right now, he’s a lock to go in the top five. A team with a need for a good cornerstone offensive tackle is going to take Carimi and depending on where he goes he could be a Pro Bowler. Will he drop out or move up? He could move up but unless he suffers an injury he won’t move out of the top five.
4. Adrian Clayborn-DE-Iowa-Clayborn burst onto the scene in 2009 and should be able to follow that up with an even better season in 2010. Clayborn is the ideal pass rusher that could fit into either a 4-3 or a 3-4 defense at the end position and has the skill to start right away depending on where he lands. If the Hawkeyes don’t have a good season or he get’s injured he may end up falling down the rankings a little bit but if he can turn in the same kind of season that he had last year (and better) then he could move up but he is definitely a top five to top seven player in the 2011 NFL Draft.
5. Cameron Heyward-DE-Ohio State-Heyward, the son of former NFL player Craig “Ironhead” Heyward should become one of the more sought after defensive ends in the 2011 NFL Draft next spring thanks to solid season last year and a lot of potential. As long as Heyward is able to repeat what he did last season and improve (as well as stay healthy) there is no reason to think that he won’t be taken in the top five next season. He’s also going to have a solid career no matter where he ends up in the NFL.
6. Allen Bailey-DE-Miami (Fla)-The run on defensive linemen will continue after Bailey is taken somewhere in the top ten of the 2011 NFL Draft. Bailey is another one of those guys that had a solid (and somewhat quiet) season in 2009 and should be able to burst onto the scene and make himself well known in 2010. The only way that Bailey falls in these rankings are if he gets injured. He could quite possibly move up with a stellar season by both himself and the Miami Hurricanes. He will be an interesting player to watch in the NFL as well.
7. Prince Amukamara-CB-Nebraska-Amukamara should be the first cornerback taken in the 2011 NFL Draft next April providing something serious doesn’t happen this football season. Amukamara was somewhat unknown heading into the 2009 college football season and thanks to some solid play, as well as some strong play by the Cornhuskers, he has finally gotten the notice that he deserves. Right now, Amukamara will battle Ras-I Dowling (Virginia) for the number one cornerback spot in the draft but he represents the best value at the position right now. A good season will only serve to solidify his spot as the number one cornerback in the draft but if he turns in a poor season his stock will drop fast.
8. Greg Romeus-DE-Pittsburgh-Defense rules the day again as Romeus comes in at number eight on our list. Romeus has quietly made a name for himself at the University of Pittsburgh and with a great season there this coming year he should be able to make a lot of NFL scouts and head coaches notice him. Romeus should only improve his draft stock over the 2010 season barring any kind of injury and easily be top ten pick in next year’s draft.
9. Bruce Carter-OLB-North Carolina-The Tar Heels are going to have a great defense in 2010 and they have a lot of great players to go with that defense and we can now add Carter to this growing list of solid NFL prospects. Carter, like Austin, has flown under the radar a bit until now and with a solid season in 2010 he should come to the forefront as the best outside linebacking prospect in the nation and should be high on the list of many NFL teams heading into the 2011 NFL Draft. Does he fall down at all? He will if he can’t show some improvement over last year and keep his name in the press as the best outside linebacker in the country. But that shouldn’t happen.
10. Nate Solder-OT-Colorado-No one would think that Colorado would be able to produce such a sought after talent but Solder is the kind of player that NFL scouts are going to be looking at a lot in 2010. Solder could end up being the second offensive tackle taken in the 2011 NFL Draft as long as he stays healthy and gets plenty of recognition out there in Colorado. He has seemingly come out of nowhere and will continue to stay in the top ten as long as he has a solid season with the Buffaloes and doesn’t get injured.