NFL Draft 2011: The Most Hyped and Most Underrated of this Crop. How Many Ford's and Veldheer's this time around?

On the day of the commencement of a hearing that awaits the imminent court decision to decide the status of the lockout and a day we hope to see the promise of our season going uninterrupted fulfilled, I look no less forward to the draft. This looking at the year's potential game changers of tomorrow and possibly a few guys who could disappear as quickly as they have become central to football discussions nationwide will help pass the, "couple weeks," before the draft, the decision, and the consequent ramifications for free agency and its proximity to the draft, in hopes the lockout is lifted and our Raiders can resume getting better.

With a first or high second round pick come some very high expectations. Will we have a Jamarcus Russell or Darrius Heyward-Bey type pick again this year, or will we be super solid with a McClain type pick almost everyone lauded us for and for which we still await big things but have reason to believe we will get them, followed by another stud in Houston, then a rookie good enough to start at left tackle and a dude named Jacoby who needs no introduction.

With that, let us look at some of the most hyped guys this year, some at positions of our need, some not so much, but like every year, there's no shortage of talent. This time around, the workout freak is not also the guy everyone is saying Al will take, but there are a lot of guys who are fast who he just might have his eyes on...

Last year, Bruce Campbell was the one guy everyone was sure had turned heads in Oakland, and Emmitt Smith and others had him going first round in their mocks to our Raiders. We have yet to see if the fourth rounder on him will be worth it. I hope to see him playing this season at guard and maybe even right tackle, as we still suck at pass protecting on that side. Let's look at who tops most draft boards, where the Raiders currently have no picks, so though no trading up scenarios appear on our horizon, we'll see if any of these players skyrocketing up draft boards figure to be wearing silver and black anytime soon.

Here's an interesting list of Chad Reuter's risers and fallers:

Reuter from nfldraftscout.com

The Chris Prosinski kid could be one of Al's athletic guys at one of his positions, and Davon House has been projected going to us first in more than one mock draft, both here and elsewhere on some reputable websites. Campbell is our guy at qb, so don't expect any of the top prospects there to get our attention.

We'll look at DEs first, since so many are projected to go in the first round and half where we have no picks. While the Raiders are good at this position, it promises to be one of the most impactful and deep ones of the draft.

Hit the jump to see the list....

Rank Player Pos. Position
Rank
School Class Ht. Wt. 40 Time Bench
Reps
6 Robert Quinn DE 1 North Carolina Jr 6-4 265 4.62 22
7 Da'Quan Bowers DE 2 Clemson Jr 6-3 280 4.84 22
13 Cameron Jordan DE 3 California Sr 6-4 287 4.74 25
15 J.J. Watt DE 4 Wisconsin rJr 6-5 290 4.81 34
17 Adrian Clayborn DE 5 Iowa rSr 6-3 281 4.78 --
18 Ryan Kerrigan DE 6 Purdue Sr 6-4 267 4.67 31
19 Aldon Smith DE 7 Missouri rSo 6-4 263 4.74 20
25 Cameron Heyward DE 8 Ohio State Sr 6-5 294 4.95 --
34 Jabaal Sheard DE 9 Pittsburgh Sr 6-3 264 4.68 --
53 Christian Ballard DE 10 Iowa Sr 6-4 283 4.75 --
66 Allen Bailey DE 11 Miami (Fla.) Sr 6-3 285 4.71 27
98 Pernell McPhee DE 12 Mississippi State Sr 6-3 278 4.91 20
117 Pierre Allen DE 13 Nebraska rSr 6-4 273 4.78 --
125 Greg Romeus DE 14 Pittsburgh rSr 6-5 264 4.79 --

So who among these guys might be tomorrow's Dwight Freeney or another Ndamukong Suh type impact player this year? J.J. Watt has that freak blend of size, strength, speed, and athleticism, and it's becoming amazing how many guys pushing 300 or more can run like these guys can. In the past there would be one or two guys in the whole batch, but anymore, there are dozens. The forty times remain pretty solid all the way off the draft board, for some still very big guys, but the Raiders don't need a lineman, so... maybe a luxury in later rounds? Who's your riser among these guys? Who's a sleeper? Any guys who can convert position?

This kid is intriguing, with explosive athleticism and great strength. His measurables would have you thinking he's caught Al's eye: D'Aundre Reed

03/15/2011 - Arizona Pro day: In total, 22 prospects were in attendance and performed outdoors, on FieldTurf. D'Aundre Reed (6-4, 260) had a 4.79 and 4.75 40, a 4.47 short shuttle and 7.48 cone-drill. He also posted a 36 vertical, 10-5 broad jump and kept his bench from combine. - Gil Brandt, NFL.com      

Jeff Reynolds of NFLDraftScout.com with his top offensive lineman selections. Once again, the need for the line's premier position, exceeds available talent, so some teams like us with picks where projected top tackles expect to be gone could find us taking a guard, like Ben Ijalana, who has moved up boards of late and out of our range. Stefen Wisniewski increases in likelihood daily. I have been intrigued by John Moffitt, and similarly to last year, another position on the line might have to supplant that of greatest need due to the guys we want potentially being gone. Here are guards:

Rank Player Pos. Position
Rank
School Class Ht. Wt. 40 Time Bench
Reps
21 Mike Pouncey OG 1 Florida Sr 6-5 303 5.12 --
32 Danny Watkins OG 2 Baylor Sr 6-3 310 5.36 29
52 Benjamin Ijalana OG 3 Villanova Sr 6-4 317 5.34 --
78 Will Rackley OG 4 Lehigh Sr 6-3 309 5.39 29
83 Clint Boling OG 5 Georgia Sr 6-5 308 5.28 28
115 Stephen Schilling OG 6 Michigan rSr 6-4 308 5.18 30
137 John Moffitt OG 7 Wisconsin rSr 6-4 319 5.51 23
154 Zach Hurd OG 8 Connecticut rSr 6-7 316 5.28 --
177 Keith Williams OG 9 Nebraska rSr 6-4 318 5.28 23
191 David Arkin OG 10 Missouri State rSr 6-5 300 5.31 25
214 Justin Boren OG 11 Ohio State rSr 6-3 309 5.40 28
232 Andrew Jackson OG 12 Fresno State rSr 6-5 299 5.27 25
253 Mike Person OG 13 Montana State rSr 6-5 299 5.07 21
262 Daniel Kilgore OG 14 Appalachian State Sr 6-3 308 5.28 23
290 Ray Dominguez OG 15 Arkansas rSr 6-4 334 5.45 21
293 Ricky Henry OG 16 Nebraska rSr 6-3 308 5.68 20

 

I list guards, because I believe we may see a guard taken before we expected, even if it's not Wisniewski, whom we have tossed around in mocks. The majority of movement on draft boards and in mocks that occurs in the final two weeks comes due to how players do in invitations to clubs, in workouts and interviews with staff. Like how Andy Dalton's stock rose after a reportedly solid workout and presumably real interest from the Indianapolis Colts. Unfortunately, fewer tires are kicked on guards than skills positions, and character concerns and issues if present are not as noteworthy or publicized. But corner backs and safeties, however, are... let's look at a few guys we perhaps haven't looked closely at:

278 Chris Prosinski FS 12 Wyoming rSr 6-1 201 4.42 N/A
03/22/2011 - NFL Draft Scout Riser: Chris Prosinski, FS, Wyoming: A very productive tackler in college, Prosinski surprised scouts with his athleticism; few expected the All-Mountain West pick to post a 4.39 40, 39 1/2-inch vertical, 4.28 short shuttle, and 11-foot-2-inch broad jump. That sort of performance may earn him late-round consideration, especially in a weak safety class. - Chad Reuter, NFLDraftScout.com

This kid has some nice measurables for a guy projected 278 overall, and could provide a late round addition if we go for others with our early picks. I have come to believe that Al makes certain moves (or lack of moves, like not renewing contracts) allowing players a period of time to respond, and if and when they do, his decision going forward is often made easier on the status of said player, as is appearing to be the case with Michael Huff, who may have opened his mouth one too many times for Mr. Davis' tastes. Here's another speedster projected late:

398 Colin Jones FS 16 TCU rSr 6-0 201 4.40 N/A

-- with some numbers from his pro day that have Andy Dalton not the only kid from TCU moving up boards:

03/15/2011 - TCU Pro day: QB Andy Dalton was the star of the show Friday at Texas Christian University's pro day, but another player who was a hot topic of conversation after the workout in front of representatives from 26 teams was defensive back Colin Jones. Jones, who was second-team All-Mountain West last season, was very good in everything he did Friday, impressing with 4.34 and 4.38 times in the 40-yard dash, a 37-inch vertical jump and a 10-foot-4 inch broad jump. I would describe Jones, who didn't play much before his senior season only starting five games in 2009, as a late bloomer. He reminds me some of Cliff Harris, who went to six Pro Bowls after we signed him with the Cowboys as an undrafted free agent in 1970. Jones really came out of the blue with his performance. He's a very good special teams player, and after today, I could see him getting drafted, probably in the late rounds. Jones (5-11 ??, 201) ??? He ran 4.34 and 4.38 in the 40, with a vertical of 37, a 10-4 broad jump, a 4.09 short shuttle and a 6.69 in the three-cone drill. Jones did 20 bench bench reps of 225 pounds. He was not at the combine. - Gil Brandt, NFL.com

Another topping Reuter's risers, the other corner back from Colorado, who might lack the speed to get our notice:

119 Jalil Brown CB 15 Colorado Sr 6-1 204 4.52 24

 

03/30/2011 - Underrated: Jalil Brown, Colorado: Overshadowed throughout much of his career by teammate Jimmy Smith, Brown's solid build (6-0, 204 pounds), speed and competitiveness make him a quality middle-round prospect. A high-effort player who is aggressive against the run, pass and on special teams, Brown might not enter the NFL with a lot of fanfare, but could develop into a quality starter within a year or two. - Rob Rang,

Here's another name, added 4/7/11, who is interesting, once projected off the board on many mocks, now looking somewhere in the fifth, and sitting 149 overall; he's a marine, from a military school, lauded as a sound tackler with good feet. Not quite the speed profile of Raiders, but keep an eye on this late riser:

149 Cortez Allen CB 19 Citadel rSr 6-1 197 4.50 18

Who's moving up your boards, that no one is talking about? 

Now for some interesting droppers... no, not "-" ..., and let's hope no one we take will be "developmental..."

While it's probably not fair to call him a faller, Mark Ingram was topping quite a few mocks initially, and with others moving up, he's slipping ever so slightly towards the latter half of the first round, and could be an interesting guy to watch. For the record, I'm ecstatic with our backs, not so much with Michael Bennett. So, on to other position guys falling.

Perhaps most notable for us, is an OT. Probably no danger of him landing in Oakland soon, or ever, with a poor showing in measurables:

514 Nick Claytor OT 36 Georgia Tech rJr 6-6 304 5.75 --

Funny how you never really see any undrafted tackles emerge as starters. It's even less likely perhaps, that any tackle that drops by draft day is any kind of steal, or even worth a pick that doesn't demand an immediate starter. He's not really dropping, but is already a late round prospect and one we've talked about who deserves mention because he has probably dropped on  our boards, and though he boasts ability to play tackle on both sides on his resume, his feet and lack of athleticism to translate to the pro-game make him a guy we should not look at, since we really need another tackle, and not another guy who gets by at the position and is really better suited as a guard. Mr. Love:

133 DeMarcus Love OT 12 Arkansas rSr 6-4 315 5.18 27

 

 Barksdale is another guy who has question marks, making him the same type of guy, and not really helping us:

136 Joseph Barksdale OT 13 LSU Sr 6-5 325 5.31 29

I'd love for us to be able to come away with a couple potential starters to compete for time up front, and it would be awesome if both have played tackle, but I'd prefer they be guys who work out at tackle in this league.

 

Later this week we'll look at quarterbacks and wide receivers, and by then there will no doubt be several new names added to an already big list.

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