*Underclassmen, **Redshirt Sophomores
Washington OLB, Mason Foster – The Jaguars defense is in need of leadership. They’re lacking that one guy who can get in the faces of players and inspire them, someone who is physically and mentally tough and can impose their will. This player in a 4-3 defense is typically a linebacker. Mason Foster is all of the above. He is a beast in the run game, is always around the ball, and is a natural and vocal leader.
Baylor OG, Danny Watkins – The Chargers need to improve their running game if they truly want to compete for a Super Bowl. Their backfield is talented, but their is a lack of execution amongst the offensive line. The coaching staff also has a short fuse when it comes to the running game, but that’s a problem for a different day. The draft can’t fix the decisions the coaching staff makes, but it can strength the offensive line. Danny Watkins is a 27 year old linemen who is one of the nastiest players in the nation. His technique is sound, and he possesses very good strength. His stock is rising rapidly after a solid Senior Bowl week.
North Carolina, OLB – Bruce Carter – I love what the Buccaneers are doing. The insurgence of youth and talent over the past year has been amazing. There is still some work to do however. The Bucs could use an outside linebacker that can play sideline to sideline. Bruce Carter is a gifted athlete that can come in and add some speed to the defense. He is a good fit for the cover-2 scheme.
Maryland ILB, Nate Irving – It always seems like the Giants are looking for a linebacker. Keith Bullock is up there in age, and i’m not that impressed with Jonathan Goff. Picking in the middle of the second round is a great place to find a replacement for either player. In 2009, Nate Irving suffered a plethora of injuries after being involved in a serious car accident. This year, he returned to action and showed the same skills that had everyone excited about his future. If it had not been for that accident, Irving might of been considered a late first round pick.
Maryland WR, *Torrey Smith – It became pretty evident for Chiefs fans in their playoff loss to the Baltimore Ravens, that the Chiefs are in dire need of a second receiver to compliment Bowe. They signed Kevin Curtis off the street 4 days prior to the game, and opted to start the 32-year old over the likes of Chris Chambers, Terrance Copper, and Verran Tucker. That is saying something! The Chiefs need someone who can stretch the defense, beat one on one coverage, and lift the 8-man box. Torrey Smith can do all of the above. He is a dynamic receiver that can make plays all over the field, including in the return game. He reminds me of Jamaal Charles at the receiver position. There are still concerns with his ball skills. He tends to catch the ball with his forearms and body, instead of plucking the ball with his hands. I am not worried though. Head coach, Todd Haley is an ex-receivers coach and seems to work wonders with receivers and their technique.
USC DT, *Jurrell Casey – The Indianapolis Colts continue to work on their trenches. Defensive tackle has been a weak spot on their defense for some time now. The position needs to be filled if they want to become consistent at stopping the run, which is a reoccurring theme every year. Jurrell Casey is a player that shows some suddenness and can penetrate into the backfield. He’s tough to move off of his spot and makes a ton of plays with linemen attached to him. Adding Casey to a healthy unitt, improves their run defense.
Michigan State ILB, Greg Jones – Like the Giants, the Eagles seem to always be in the market for a linebacker. For some reason, the ones currently on the roster always end up suffering significant injuries. Taking Greg Jones here adds a young tackling machine to a defense that has a good amount of young talent already. They also need a cornerback, but there isn’t one with a second round grade that fits what the Eagles like to do one defense.
Virginia Tech RB, **Ryan Williams – I bet New Orleans Saints fans are sick and tired of the running back carousel. There was no consistency to their backfield in 2010, which resulted in an unbalanced offense in. Pierre Thomas is set to hit free agency, and I’m pretty sure the Saints will try to rid themselves of the over-priced and often injured Reggie Bush. Now is the perfect time to find their replacement. Ryan Williams is a spectacular running back that excels in every facet of running the ball. He was bothered by nagging injuries all year, but still managed to put up decent numbers. If you go back to his 2009 season, you’ll see that his production was insane. To put up 21 touchdowns and 1650+ rushing yards as a freshman is out of this world. A combination of Corey Ivory and Ryan Williams would go a long way to revitalizing the balance in the Saints offense.
Florida State OC/OG, Rodney Hudson – Not in a million years did I expect the Seahawks to make the 2010-2011 playoffs. Well, they proved me wrong. Not in a billion years did I expect the Seahawks to beat the defending Super Bowl Champions, the New Orleans Saints, in the wild card round. Again, they proved me wrong. They won that playoff game because the running game showed up. I am a firm believer in having a running game to compliment your passing attack. In 2011, I look for the Seahawks to put more emphasis on the running the ball. The first step to having a good and consistent running game is having linemen that can block. Rodney Hudson is one of the best, most versatile offensive linemen in this years draft. His technique is sound, he’s a former team captain, and has a ton of experience. He can come in, play one of three interior positions and help Russell Okung re-esthablish that running game.
Utah CB, *Brandon Burton – Gone are the days of Chris McAllister and Samari Rolle. The Ravens have a huge weakness in the secondary and it must be attended too immediately. Brandon Burton is a tall and speedy cornerback that can come in and contribute immediately. He’s got the ball skills and fluidity to challenge any cornerback currently on the roster. Adding a solid cornerback can help that Ravens defense become elite again.
Troy WR, *Jerrel Jernigan – Matt Ryan needs more weapons. Roddy White needs someone to take the double teams off of him. Michael Turner needs someone to lift the occasional 8-man fronts. Jerrel Jernigan can do that all and more. Jernigan is a dynamic playmaker that can make plays at all three levels of the field. He’s shifty, elusive, quick, and strong. Don’t let his size fool you. He is as tough as nails and never shies away from contact. He is also versatile. He can play in the slot or outside the hashes. He’s a team captain and has the character the Falcons are looking for. It’s a win, win, win situation.
Pittsburgh DE, Jabaal Sheard – The Patriots need to find their pass rush. It ran away and never came back a few years ago. With the amount of playmakers they have in the secondary, it is a must they get consistent pressure on the quarterback. It will greatly help the defense create more negative plays and turnovers. Jabaal Sheard is a guy who can stand up or play with his hand in the dirt. He’s got tremendous size and can get after the quarterback.
Illinois ILB, *Martez Wilson – Stephen Cooper may not be back with the Chargers next year, and they’ll need to find someone to replace him. Martez Wilson is athletically gifted. Covers ground well and plays the game with a lot of speed. He can also line up on the outside and rush the passer. His versatility will allow the Chargers to create mismatches and exploit weaknesses of opposing offenses.
North Carolina DT, Marvin Austin – The Bears need offensive line help, specifically at the tackle position, but it is best not to reach for something that is not their. Quality offensive linemen can be had in the later rounds. The Bears are also in need of some youthful talent at the defensive tackle position. Adding a dynamic guy along side Julius Peppers makes things even more scary for opposing offenses. Marvin Austin was previously considered a sure first round pick, prior to his 2010 NCAA suspension. After having a year off, he will need to shake off the rust and show scouts that he still retains the same skills that made him a top prospect. I think he will, but character issues will hold him back from reaching the first round. If the Bears are bold enough to pull the trigger on him, they’ll find themselves reaping the benefits of a stud defensive tackle.
Arizona DE, Brooks Reed – I seriously can’t find many weaknesses on the Packers team. They have done an excellent job of drafting and developing players. Their entire team is solid. One area that I would improve on is the outside linebacker position, opposite of Clay Matthews. Matthews started the season hot, but offenses began to game plan around him. Adding another pass rusher not only helps Matthews maintain his productivity, but it helps that gifted secondary cover for far less time. Brooks Reed is a buzz saw coming off the edge. His motor is non-stop and he just simply looks like the part of a Packers player.
Virginia CB, Ras-I Dowling – Like the Packers, the Steelers do not have many weaknesses. Their secondary can use an upgrade though. The Steelers tend to prefer big and physical players, so Ras-I Dowling would fit right in. He had an injury plagued 2010 season, but he is still considered a solid prospect. He plays with great physicality and has good balls skills. The Steelers never rush draft picks onto the field, so he’ll have the luxury of developing.