Category: NFL Draft Positional Rankings


1- Janzen Jackson, FS, Tennessee
Analysis:
Jackson played one season with Eric Berry and I think that Berry passed the torch as the best safety in the country to Jackson, however there is a lot of uncertainty of whether or not he will actually be on the field this year. He left the program in February according to what I have read to deal with personal reasons, and Tennessee’s Head Coach Derek Dooley has repeatedly said he left on his own accord to deal with personal issues and that he was not suspended or kicked off the team. Hopefully Jackson will be able to get his head right and his life in order in time for him to come back to play this season because he really is an incredible talent. So even though there is no guarantee that he will be back I am obligated to rank him as my top safety because if he comes back that is exactly what he will be: the best safety in the country.
2- Robert Lester, FS, Alabama
Analysis: I watched Lester play quite a bit last year when I was scouting Alabama and I have to say I was pretty impressed. He is a ball-hawk in the secondary and definitely has a lot of potential as such, but he is not a very good tackler at all if I remember. He has his upside but also has things he needs to work on. But he is definitely one of the best safeties in the country. Last season he produced 52 tackles (29 solo), 1.5 TFL, 1.0 sacks, 8 INT’s (102 return yards), 1 FR and 4 pass deflections. I am looking forward to see him play in one of the best secondaries in the country next year as I believe Alabama returns all four of their starting DB’s.
3- T.J. McDonald, FS, Southern Cal
Analysis: McDonald won’t be playing in a bowl game this year and while I wish they would have taken the bowl ban off of USC’s program there is little to do about it now. However, McDonald should emerge as a very good player this year and I think he will live up to my #3 safety in the country ranking. He has good size at 6’2″, 205 pounds and has a listed 40 time of 4.54, plus last year he produced 89 total tackles (54 solo), 3.0 TFL, 1.0 sack, 3 INT’s, 4 pass break-ups and 1 kick/punt block. He was productive last year but I am anxious to see him in coverage this season as I didn’t get to see him a  lot in that capacity last year. I have heard one of his weaknesses may be long speed but if he has a good burst to close as well as quality ball skills and hopefully good tackling fundamentals that won’t be much of an issue, at least not in my opinion.
4- Markelle Martin, SS, Oklahoma State
Analysis: Martin is a quality safety on Oklahoma State, a team and program I am liking more and more every year. I actually just visited their stadium when I was in Oklahoma for the weekend and my Facebook profile picture is me striking a pose in their end zone. They have a great stadium and I really like their team, so I am glad I have an excuse to watch their defense so I can see Martin play this year. He has pretty solid size for a safety at 6’1, 195 pounds and he has a 4.47 40 yard dash time. Last year he had 55 total tackles and a remarkable 49 solo tackles, I’ve never seen a tackle total quite like that. He also had 2.0 TFL, 3 INT’s (1 TD), and 10 pass break-ups. He was very productive last year but I want to see how he plays in coverage and I’d like to see if he is as good of a tackler as his stat sheet would seem to indicate. I can’t wait to watch him and Go Cowboys!
5- Trenton Robinson, FS, Michigan State
Analysis: Robinson is going to be the anchor of Michigan State’s secondary and even though he is the size of a corner he is quite the effective safety. He stands at 5’10”, 195 pounds and has a 4.46 40 yard dash time, but he played safety and recorded 76 total tackles (35 solo), 4 INT’s, and 8 pass break-ups last season. I am looking forward to evaluating him because I have not seen him play much and I didn’t pay much attention to him when I watched Michigan State this past season. Between Jerell Worthy and Robinson the Spartans definitely have some talent on defense.
6- George Iloka, FS, Boise State
Analysis: Iloka is big for a safety as he stands at 6’3″, 215 pounds and has a listed 4.50 40 yard dash time. He was productive last year for Boise State as a junior when he totaled 63 total tackles (49 solo), 3.0 TFL, 2 INT’s, 5 pass break-ups and 1 FF. I have no idea as far as what his tendencies are and I haven’t seen him play much, so I will definitely be looking into Boise State this year so I can evaluate him.
7- Aaron Henry, FS, Wisconsin
Analysis: Henry is easily the best player in Wisconsin’s secondary and is probably one of the best players on Wisconsin’s defense now that Watt has left for the NFL. He has solid size at 6’0″, 210 pounds and has a listed 4.52 40 yard dash time. Last season he produced 57 total tackles (46 solo), 0.5 TFL, 2 INT’s (2 TD’s), 7 pass break-ups, 2 FR’s (1 TD). It will be interesting to see how he does this year since I am not sure how good Wisconsin’s pass rush is going to be, and their pass defense wasn’t exactly elite last year even with J.J. Watt living in the backfield.
8- Tony Dye, SS, UCLA
Analysis: Dye has solid safety size at 5’11”, 206 pounds and has a listed 40 yard dash time of 4.52. He played opposite Rahim Moore last year and it will be interesting to see how he does this season without Moore ballhawking in the backfield. Last year he produced 96 total tackles (59 solo), 3.5 TFL, 1 INT, and 9 pass deflections. This year he will be the man in the secondary as a Senior and he will have to step up in pass coverage. It will be interesting to see how he does.
9- Antonio Allen, SS, South Carolina
Analysis: Allen is part of a pretty talented secondary for South Carolina. They have a few potential starting safeties but I think Allen might be the best of the bunch. He is 6’1″, 208 pounds and has a listed 4.57 40 yard dash time. Last year he produced 69 total tackles (38 solo), 10.5 TFL, 2.5 sacks, 1 INT (1 TD), 4 pass break-ups, and 2 FF. I can’t believe he had 10.5 tackles for loss as a safety, but he seems to be a quality tackler. I can’t wait to evaluate him and the other talented players on South Carolina’s defense next year. They could have quite a defense in 2011.
10- Rashard Hall, FS, Clemson
Analysis: Hall has an intriguing combination of size and speed for the safety position. He is 6’2″, 200 pounds and has a listed 4.52 40 yard dash time. He totaled 62 total tackles (35 solo), 1.0 TFL, 2 INT’s (1 TD), and 2 pass deflections last season. He will be playing safety without DeAndre McDaniel this year so it will be interesting to see how he does. He seems like a pretty cerebral player contrary to a lot of Clemson players I have scouted in years past, so it will be interesting to see if that proves to be true and if he can step up to lead Clemson’s secondary this season.

And that concludes my safety rankings but also all of my pre-season rankings for this season. It feels good to be done, and hopefully you all enjoyed reading them. I’ll update them throughout the year, but for now I need a break from them to be honest. They can be a grind. I am going to start watching film now and get to work on putting up some early pre-season scouting reports based off of the film I watch. Ryan Lindley will be the first one I post as I have already watched all the film I have on him, so expect that either later today or tonight. Thanks for reading!

–Tom

1- Alfonso Dennard, CB, Nebraska
Analysis: Dennard is probably the best corner in this draft class and I noticed his ability last year even while watching Prince Amukamara. He teamed up with Prince to help form what was probably the best cornerback combination in the entire nation last year, but this year he will be the leading man for Nebraska. Dennard is a physical corner who can jam at the line of scrimmage, turn and run with the receiver and he locates and plays the ball well in the air. I am really excited to watch him this year. At 5’10”, 205 pounds with a listed 4.49 40 yard dash he definitely has upside, plus last year he produced 30 total tackles (18 solo), 4 INT’s (1 TD), 7 pass break-ups, and 1 FF. I think he will be able to replicate these stat’s pretty easily even with teams avoiding him to attack Nebraska’s number two corner.
2- Janoris Jenkins, CB, North Alabama
Analysis: A lot of people are going to be surprised that I have Jenkins this high, but he was one of the best corners in the nation last year and the fact that he transferred to North Alabama does not change his level of ability. He has some definite character issues that will have to be sorted out, but there is no denying his talent on the field. I’m not saying he is going to be the second corner off the board next April, but I am saying he is one of the best cornerbacks in the nation even if he is not at Florida anymore. It will be interesting not only to see how well he plays this year, but also to see if he gets in any more trouble or if he matures at all. I really hope he does because he has an abundance of talent that belongs in the NFL.
3- Chase Minnifield, CB, Virginia
Analysis: Minnifield was one of the players I highlighted in my break-out post a few weeks ago and I think he definitely warrants this high ranking even though not a lot of people have seen him play. He has a good combination of size and speed as he stands at 6’0″, 185 pounds and has a 4.48 listed 40 yard dash time. He was productive last year as a junior and I expect him to replicate this season again this year. Last year he produced 48 total tackles (34 solo), 3.0 TFL, 0.5 sacks, 6 INT’s, and 4 pass deflections. I am excited to see him play more this season.
4- Dre Kirkpatrick, CB, Alabama
Analysis: Kirkpatrick is a guy that I was impressed by when I watched Alabama last year to get a feel for all of their prospects on each side of the ball. He looked good in man coverage and showed a good burst to close which I liked to see. He has impressive size at 6’2″, 192 pounds and has a listed 4.49 40 yard dash time. Last season he produced 53 total tackles (39 solo), 4.0 TFL, 3 INT’s, 7 pass deflections and 1 FF. He is going to be returning to a secondary that returns all of it’s starters if I remember correctly, so they should be one of the better secondaries in the SEC at least.
5- Cliff Harris, CB, Oregon
Analysis: Cliff Harris is another uber talented player that does not seem to have his head on straight, similar to Janoris Jenkins. However, the talent he has is undeniable. He is a playmaker as a cornerback and as a punt returner as evidenced by his 33 total tackles (24 solo), 1.0 TFL, 6 INT’s (1 TD) and an amazing 17 pass deflections. Additionally, he produced 143 yards as a kick returner (20.43 yard average per return) and an incredible 546 yards (18.83 yard average per return) returning punts along with four touchdowns in one year. He is a very dynamic playmaker and while he is only 5’11”, 180 pounds he has great speed and ball skills, making him a very intriguing corner prospect. It will be interesting to see if this last off-field incident helps him get his head on straight or if he will continue to have problems.
6- Jayron Hosley, CB, Virginia Tech
Analysis: Hosley is another dynamic playmaker in this potential cornerback class but he does not have the character questions that Jenkins and Harris both do. He does have the productivity though, as he produced 39 total tackles (34 solo), 1.0 TFL, 9 INT’s, and 8 pass deflections. Plus, he had 190 kick return yards (21.11 yards per return) as well as 239 yards returning punts (12.58 yards per return) with one punt return touchdown. I am really excited to see him play again this year, however without Rashad Carmichael opposite him he is probably not going to get targeted as often because teams know that he can and will make them pay. So while his stats might drop this year, I don’t think it will necessarily be an indication of a drop in performance.
7- Casey Hayward, CB, Vanderbilt
Analysis: Hayward is a guy that I have not seen much of, but I am definitely going to be looking into Vandy this year as they have a couple prospects for me to watch. Hayward is definitely one of them. He has good size at 6’0″, 185 pounds and has a 4.53 listed 40 yard dash time. Last year he produced 70 total tackles (56 solo), 2.0 TFL, 6 INT’s, 11 pass break-ups and 1 FF. He definitely has ability and while Vandy probably won’t be very good this year you have to keep in mind that he is putting these numbers up on a bad team against very impressive SEC competition for the most part. That is really intriguing.
8- Donnie Fletcher, CB, Boston College
Analysis: Fletcher has a good combination of size and speed for the position as he stands at 6’1″, 200 pounds and a 4.53 listed 40 yard dash. He was productive last year for Boston College as he amassed 56 total tackles (43 solo), 2.5 TFL, 5 INT’s, 1 FR and 3 pass deflections. He had a productive season last year and while I haven’t seen him play much yet I am excited to get a good look at him this upcoming season.
9- Morris Claiborne, CB, LSU
Analysis: Claiborne seems to be the heir apparent to Patrick Peterson this season at cornerback for LSU. He has a good combination of size and speed as he is 6’0″, 178 pounds and has a listed 40 yard dash time of 4.45. He is skinny though so he needs to get stronger, but despite that he produced 37 total tackles (19 solo), 1.0 TFL, 5 INT’s and 6 pass break-ups. It will be interesting to see how he does without Peterson opposite him this year, but I think Claiborne can step up to help replace him.
10- Coryell Judie, CB, Texas A&M
Analysis: Judie has a nice combination of size and speed as he is 5’11”, 188 pounds and has an impressive listed 40 yard dash time of 4.42. Last season he produced 57 total tackles (29 solo), 2.0 TFL, 4 INT’s, and 4 pass break-ups. Additionally, he totalted 605 kickoff return yards (30.25 yards per return) and two touchdowns as a return man last year. He definitely has potential and I am excited to see him play this season, I never saw him play much last year.

Hopefully you enjoyed reading through my cornerback rankings! This corner class definitely has a lot of potential and a number of the corners I have ranked here are also productive return men. That versatility is always intriguing. Feel free to comment and as always thanks for reading!

–Tom

1- Luke Kuechly, ILB, Boston College
Analysis: Kuechly emerged out of Mark Herzlich’s heroic shadow this year thanks to an extremely impressive season statistically. Standing at 6’3″, 235 pounds Kuechly produced an astonishing 183 total tackles (11o solo), 10.5 TFL, 1.5 sacks, 3 INT’s, 2 FF’s and 3 pass deflections. He was hugely productive and he deserves this ranking as the top linebacker in the country despite only being a junior this season. The fact that he had 183 total tackles and 110 solo tackles as a sophomore is mind-blowing, especially considering that his 110 solo tackles would have tied him for 48th place in the country if every other players assisted tackles were included in their total. He also produced 158 tackles the year before as a freshman, demonstrating remarkable consistency from the start that makes me believe he will probably leave after his junior season. It also leads me to believe that if Kuechly stays healthy for his junior season it’s a safe bet he will end up with 150 tackles for a third year in a row.
2- Manti Te’o, ILB, Notre Dame
Analysis: Te’o has impressed me every single time I have watched Notre Dame and he has impressed me so much that it has led me to ranking him as the #2 ILB in the entire country. A lot of people may be surprised that Burfict or Hightower aren’t in this spot, but I think Te’o is a more cerebral player than any of those guys and that, combined with his 6’2″, 245 pound frame, 4.59 listed 40 yard dash time and 129 total tackles (64 solo), 8.5 TFL, 1.0 sacks, 1 FF and 3 pass deflections makes him quite the linebacker prospect. I can’t wait to watch more of him this year to see if he lives up to the hype I am giving him before the season starts.
3- Vontaze Burfict, ILB, Arizona State
Analysis: Vontaze Burfict is an absolute beast at 6’3, 245 pounds and plays an extremely physical style of football. He produced 90 total tackles this year (54 solo), 8.5 TFL, 2 FF’s and 3 pass break-ups. I’m not sure he has the mental capacity to be a great player at this point, so while he is a great athletic specimen I don’t know that he will ever be a true student of the game. He has more than enough athletic ability to warrant 1st round consideration though.
4- Jerry Franklin, ILB, Arkansas
Analysis: Franklin has always impressed me when I have watched Arkansas and he has a pretty nice combination of size and athletic ability at 6’1″, 245 pounds with a listed 4.66 40 yard dash time. He produced 95 total tackles (58 solo), 13.0 TFL, 6.5 sacks, 1 FF and 2 pass break-ups last season as a junior. He is one of the best linebackers in the SEC which says a lot considering the great tradition of producing defensive players the SEC has. I am very excited to see how he looks as a senior this season.
5- Dont’a Hightower, ILB, Alabama
Analysis: Dont’a Hightower first and foremost is a pretty impressive athlete. He is 6’4″, 260 pounds and he has great speed and strength to go with his impressive size. He is a very versatile player than can line up at middle linebacker on one play and then put his hand down and rush the passer in nickel packages the next. I don’t think he is very good in pass coverage, but he does support the run quite well. This season he managed 69 total tackles (30 solo), 3.5 TFL and 3 pass break-ups. I tend to think he is a bit overrated because of his lack of production both as an overall linebacker but especially as a pass rusher because he frequently rushes the passer as a blitzer or when he puts his hand in the dirt. He does get some hits on quarterbacks, but while he is an impressive athlete I just don’t know if he is cerebral enough to maximize his ability. We will have to see how he develops as a junior.
6- James-Michael Johnson, ILB, Nevada
Analysis: I will admit that I don’t know a whole lot about James-Michael Johnson and I haven’t seen him play much, but I do know that he has pretty good size at 6’2″, 240 pounds and a listed 4.68 40 yard dash time. Plus, he produced 88 total tackles (51 solo), 8.0 TFL, 2.5 sacks, 3 FF’s, 1 FR and 2 pass break-ups. I didn’t see him much last year when I was watching Dontay Moch or Colin Kaepernick, so I am looking forward to evaluating him for the first time this season.
7- Korey Williams, ILB, Southern Mississippi
Analysis: Williams is a guy I have not seen play yet but he has pretty impressive size for a linebacker at 6’2″, 243 pounds and has a listed 40 yard dash time of 4.65 seconds. As a junior last year he produced 92 total tackles (52 solo), 14.5 TFL, 3.0 sacks, 1 INT and 1 FF. I am looking forward to seeing him play this upcoming season.
8- Chris Marve, ILB, Vanderbilt
Analysis:
Marve is one of the best prospects Vanderbilt has had in recent years from what I can remember. Marve doesn’t have elite size, but at 6’0″, 230 pounds he has enough size for the inside linebacker spot. Last season as a sophomore Marve managed to produce 80 total tackles (45 solo), 8.0 TFL, 2.5 sacks and 2 pass break-ups. I am excited to watch Vanderbilt this year because I haven’t had much reason to watch them in recent years.
9- Kevin Reddick, ILB, North Carolina
Analysis: Reddick is another talented player on North Carolina’s defense, and it seems that UNC has a chance to replicate the dominant defense they were supposed to have this past season prior to the suspensions doled out by the NCAA. Reddick has good size at 6’3″, 240 pounds and a listed 4.67 40 yard dash time. As a sophomore last season Reddick produced 74 total tackles (48 solo), 6.0 TFL, 1.0 sack, 2 INT’s (1 TD), and 5 pass deflections. I am really looking forward to seeing what he can do with an entire season starting inside at middle linebacker.
10- Shayne Skov, ILB, Stanford
Analysis: Skov may only be a junior but I think he could be one of the better linebackers in the country. He has impressive size at 6’3″, 243 pounds and a listed 4.65 40 yard dash time, plus he produced 83 total tackles (50 solo), 10.0 TFL, 7.0 sacks, 2 FF’s and 5 pass deflections. I am very much looking forward to seeing him play at Stanford this year as all eyes will be on Andrew Luck, but I’m sure Skov will draw some attention to himself with quality play.

Thanks for reading my pre-season inside linebacker rankings! Just two more rankings posts left before I get to some film break-down. The end is in sight! I’m excited to get a lot of film study underway, so hopefully either tomorrow night or Monday at some point I will be able to polish those last two rankings lists off. Thanks again!

–Tom

1- Zach Brown, OLB, North Carolina
Analysis: Brown has an impressive combination of size and speed. He has a listed sub 4.55 40 yard dash time and while he is only 6’2″, 225 pounds he can really fly around the field. He has a lot of potential and should help replace Bruce Carter and Quan Sturdivant at linebacker. As a junior Brown produced 72 total tackles (47 solo), 1.5 TFL and had 3 INT’s with an impressive 113 return yards after those interceptions. I expect Brown to step up and continue the strong defensive tradition that has developed recently at UNC.
2- Lavonte David, OLB, Nebraska
Analysis: David plays MLB for Nebraska from what I remember but at his size he will probably have to move to WLB in the NFL, though if he packed on some weight to get to 230+ he might have a shot at playing the Mike. Regardless, he might not have great size at 6’1″, 220 pounds but he is an absolute tackling machine. He ended last season with a remarkable 152 tackles (85 solo), 12.5 TFL, 6.0 sacks and 8 pass deflections. He is going to get knocked for his size but he can flat out play, and that’s why I have him ranked higher than a lot of other people.
3- Courtney Upshaw, OLB, Alabama
Analysis: Upshaw has a lot of potential and he is returning for his senior year which will be a huge lift for Alabama. He was productive last year as a junior and was arguably Alabama’s top pass rusher. At 6’2″, 265 pounds he is very well built and was able to amass 52 total tackles (32 solo), 14.5 TFL, 7.0 sacks, 4 FF’s and 2 pass deflections. He has a lot of potential and flashed some impressive hand usage last year if I recall correctly. I am anxious to evaluate him further, but I was always impressed with him when I saw him last season.
4- Travis Lews, OLB, Oklahoma

Analysis: Lewis has been a potential NFL draft pick since he was a redshirt sophomore so now that he is a senior he will finally be in the draft. He has impressive athleticism and has a good reputation in coverage, but I have never been that impressed with him when I have watched him periodically. I am withholding judgement until I see more of him however. Last year he produced 109 total tackles (64 solo), 5.5 TFL, 1.5 sacks, 3 INT’s and 5 pass deflections. I think if he replicates his junior season and demonstrates his ability in coverage to me and other talent evaluators he could be a top 50 pick in the draft.
5- Brandon Lindsey, OLB, Pittsburgh
Analysis: Lindsey plays DE for Pittsburgh but I am not sure whether he will be a 4-3 DE or a 3-4 OLB at this point or not. At 6’2″, 250 he might be forced to transition to OLB, but if he gained weight he might be able to stick as a 4-3 DE. We will have to wait and see on that front, a lot of that will have to do with how he plays and develops this year. As a junior who stepped up to replace Romeus in the lineup opposite Jabaal Sheard Lindsey produced 51 total tackles (32 solo), 18.0 TFL, 10.0 sacks, 3 FF’s and one pass deflection. He has a lot of pass rushing upside and was quite disruptive opposite Sheard last year, so it will be interesting to see if he can maintain his effectiveness now that Sheard has moved on to the NFL.
6- Bruce Irvin, OLB, West Virginia
Analysis: Irvin had a very big year as a pass rusher last year but was fairly one dimensional as he did not have a single tackle for loss that was not a sack, meaning he was not much of a factor playing the run. That’s not entirely surprising considering he was playing at a listed height and weight of 6’3″, 235 pounds. However, he was dynamic when rushing the passer as he amassed 21 total tackles (18 solo), 14.0 TFL, 14.0 sacks, 2 FF’s and 1 pass deflection. It will be interesting to see if he can reproduce that effectiveness as a pass rusher but even more interesting to see if he can be more effective versus the run.
7- Sean Spence, OLB, Miami
Analysis: Spence might be undersized for the position (about 6’0″, 220 pounds) but he is an impressive athlete and he is a tackling machine much like Lavonte David for Nebraska. Spence produced 111 total tackles (59 solo), a whopping 17.0 TFL, 2.5 sacks, 2 FF’s and 6 pass deflections. I don’t think he will be able to stick at MLB in the NFL necessarily, but he could play WLB effectively based off of what I have seen from him last year. He plays the run very well despite his size as evidenced by over 14 tackles in the backfield versus the run. He avoids blocks well but the true test of his potential will be how well he sheds blocks despite his relatively small stature.
8- Nigel Bradham, OLB, Florida State
Analysis: Bradham is on my list of potential break-out players in a previous post, and I think he has a good chance to do it. He stands at 6’2″, 241 pounds and produced 97 total tackles (53 solo), 5.5 TFL, 5.0 sacks, 5 pass break-ups and 1 kick/punt blocked as a junior last season. It will be interesting to see how well he plays the run and drops into pass defense, as I have not seen him play very much yet.
9- Nico Johnson, OLB, Alabama
Analysis: Nico Johnson is a junior who may emerge as the starter opposite Upshaw at OLB. He has a lot of potential at 6’3″, 238 pounds and in a rotation last season he managed 33 total tackles (22 solo), 3.5 TFL, 1 INT and 1 pass deflection. With Upshaw as a mentor he could very well develop into a dynamic pass rusher, though I have not seen him play much so I can’t elaborate on his edge speed or get-off from the stand-up linebacker position. It will be interesting to see what his role is this year, and if he forms a formidable duo with Upshaw for Alabama.
10- Emmanuel Acho, OLB, Texas
Analysis: Acho returns to a Texas unit with some emerging talent up front and that should give him the opportunity to make plays at linebacker. Last year as a junior he was productive and displayed a lot of talent when he finished with 81 total tackles (47 solo), 10.5 TFL, 3.5 sacks, 1 INT (returned for TD), 1 FF, 2 pass deflections. I am excited to see how he develops and progresses as a senior, but I have high hopes for him.

Thanks for reading my pre-season outside linebacker rankings! Hopefully you enjoyed them. Feel free to comment on them as you see fit. I will have my inside linebacker, cornerback and safety rankings up soon.

–Tom

1- Kheeston Randall, DT, Texas
Analysis: Randall is a huge guy at 6’5″, 295 pounds and I think he will be very disruptive during his senior year at Texas. Texas has been churning out some quality defensive line prospects in recent years, and I don’t think Randall will be an exception to that. Last year as a junior he produced 33 tackles (22 solo), 10.0 TFL, 1.0 sack, 2 pass deflections and he blocked two kicks/punts. I am excited to watch him play this year and I think he has a lot of NFL potential.
2- Tydreke Powell, DT, North Carolina
Analysis: Powell is another talented North Carolina defensive lineman that has the potential to help make North Carolina’s defense very dangerous if they can avoid the problems that last year’s talented defenders ran into. Powell is a very large man at 6’3″, 310 pounds and should be a very effective nose tackle for the Tar Heels this season. Last year as a junior he managed 47 total tackles (25 solo), 3.0 TFL, 2.5 sacks, 1 FF and 1 pass deflection. He may not rack up a lot of stats this year, but his impact will be felt if North Carolina can stuff the run, especially up the middle. I look forward to seeing if he can stuff the run but also collapse the pocket as a pass rusher this season.
3- Jared Crick, DT, Nebraska
Analysis: Crick is a very tall guy at 6’6″, 285 pounds and may be an ideal 3-4 DE candidate in the NFL. However, for now I have him ranked as a DT until I can further evaluate his potential as a 3-4 DE, but I thought I’d make sure everyone knew that the potential was there. Last year he had a very good season even without Ndamukong Suh when he amassed 70 total tackles (36 solo), 14.5 TFL, 9.5 sacks, 1 FF and 1 pass deflection. He is the man on the Nebraska defensive line now and he will have a talented player next to him much like Suh did as a senior as Baker Steinkuhler looks to emerge as a junior. It will be interesting to see how this tandem fairs in the Big-10 and if they can disrupt offenses anywhere nearly as effectively as Suh and Crick did two years ago.
4- Alameda Ta’amu, DT, Washington
Analysis: Ta’amu is a huge man weighing in at 6’3″, 330 pounds. He is an ideal nose tackle and I think he will get a lot of interest from 3-4 teams for that reason. I haven’t seen him play much so I don’t know his tendencies yet, but I know he has the ability and potential to completely plug up the interior of the field thanks to his sheer size. Last year as a junior he produced 39 tackles (21 solo), 5.0 TFL, 1.5 sacks and one pass break-up. Like Powell, Ta’amu’s true impact won’t be measured on the stat sheet but on the outcome of the game. If he plays effectively the opposing team’s running game should be significantly hindered, especially up the middle. I am excited to see if he lives up to the billing that I am giving him in my pre-season rankings this year.
5- Marcus Forston, DT, Miami
Analysis: Forston is another player that I outlined as a potential break-out star in my break-out post from a few weeks ago. He has a lot of potential and will be playing on an incredibly talented Miami defense as a whole, but the defensive line is going to be the strength of their team. Adewale Ojomo, Olivier Vernon and Forston should form a very dominant starting line-up, plus they have a lot of depth to keep the pressure on opposing offenses. Forston should have a lot of success this season, but last season he still managed 37 total tackles (16 solo), 12.0 TFL, 3.0 sacks and one interception. I expect him to improve on all of those statistics this season, as I expect that he could very well get 50+ tackles, 12+ TFL’s and 6+ sacks as a junior. He has a ton of ability and on that talented defensive front he should have every opportunity to show it.
6- Billy Winn, DT, Boise State
Analysis: Winn is a guy that I think could have either been a break-out player or a sleeper but I didn’t know how well known he was. He has great size at 6’4″, 288 pounds which might also make him a candidate for the 3-4 DE position down the road. He was quite disruptive as a junior even though I believe he was in a rotation at the time. He produced 29 total tackles (12 solo), 10.5 TFL, 5.5 sacks, 2 FF’s and 1 pass deflection. I expect him to improve on all of these totals as a senior and I think he could surprise a lot of people. He definitely stuck out when I watched Boise State last year, and I have had my eye on him ever since. I expect him to really emerge this year.
7- Kendall Reyes, DT, Connecticut
Analysis: Reyes had something of a coming out party last year as a junior. He has impressive size at 6’4″, 298 pounds and was quite productive last season. He managed 39 total tackles (26 solo), 10.0 TFL, 2.5 sacks, 2 INT’s, 1 FF and 4 pass deflections. I was particularly surprised that he had not only made one interception last year, he had made two and had a combined total of 81 return yards from both of them. That demonstrates some level of athleticism, and while I haven’t specifically watched him I have to say I am intrigued and interested in watching him this year.
8- Jerel Worthy, DT, Michigan State
Analysis: Worthy has impressive size and while he is only a junior he was still productive as a sophomore. He produced 40 total tackles (14 solo), 8.0 TFL, 4.0 sacks and 3 pass break-ups. He also has pretty impressive size at 6’3″, 305 pounds. I haven’t seen him play much yet, but I will definitely be watching a lot of Michigan State this year to evaluate Kirk Cousins among others. Worthy will definitely be one of the players I take a look at.
9- Josh Chapman, DT, Alabama
Analysis: Chapman is a stocky nose tackle for Alabama and while I haven’t seen him play much yet I am anxious to see how he holds up if he is indeed their 3-4 NT. He is 6’1″ but still weighs 310 pounds, making him a sound fit at the position if he is strong enough to stand up to double teams. Last year as a junior he managed 31 total tackles (18 solo), 3.5 TFL, 1.0 sack and 2 pass break-ups. It will be interesting to see how he does without some of the talent that Alabama lost to the draft, especially Marcell Dareus.
10- Jaye Howard, DT, Florida
Analysis: Howard may not be that well known, but I am pretty high on him. He was very disruptive last year for Florida, and he has pretty good size for the DT position. He is 6’3″, 302 pounds, and as a junior he produced 28 total tackles (19 solo), 10.0 TFL and 2.5 sacks. He is very active in the backfield against the run, but I haven’t seen him enough to evaluate just how dominant he is against the run and I haven’t evaluated him much against the pass yet either. I had to put him in my top ten though because I really think he has that kind of ability.

Hopefully you enjoyed my early defensive tackle rankings! I really think this defensive line class has the potential to rival that of this past year’s class, as highly touted as that was. Thanks for reading!

–Tom

1- Quentin Coples, DE, North Carolina
Analysis: Coples really emerged last year after the suspensions to North Carolina’s two defensive linemen at the time, Marvin Austin and Robert Quinn. He produced 59 total tackles (33 solo), 15.5 TFL, 10.0 sacks, 2 FF and 2 pass deflections last year, which is a great season. He elected to come back to school and now will be one of the top defensive end prospects in this entire draft. Hopefully he avoids the same fate as Quinn and Austin and actually gets to play the year before he enters the draft, but the NCAA is investigating UNC again and Coples has been photographed multiple times at a party with UNC alums now in the NFL and they are wondering how he paid for airfare, hotel, etc. Hopefully he doesn’t get suspended for the entire season, but I’m not holding my breath that he won’t miss any games after last year.
2- Brandon Jenkins, DE, Florida State
Analysis: Jenkins was an absolute beast last year. As a sophomore he produced 63 tackles (42 solo), 21.5 TFL, 13.5 sacks, 2 FF and 2 pass deflections. He is now entering his junior season and is definitely one of the best defensive ends in the entire country. I am excited to see if he can replicate the season he had last year, and if he can he should be a top 10 pick without a doubt. He is incredibly fast off the line and has great edge speed, so if he produces again he will be a very hot commodity come draft time.
3- Devin Taylor, DE, South Carolina
Analysis: A lot of you may not know Devin Taylor but I highlighted him as a player I expect to break out in 2011. So I expect a lot from him, because he really impressed me last year and demonstrated some incredible potential. As a 6’7″, 250 pound sophomore not yet in the starting line-up Taylor managed 46 total tackles (33 solo), 13.0 TFL, 7.5 sacks, 1 INT (returned for TD), 1 fumble recovery and EIGHT pass deflections. He is so tall, so fast and has such long arms that he is an incredible handful for anyone to block, and even when he gets blocked he has demonstrated his ability to get his hands into passing lanes to alter throws or knock them down altogether. I think Taylor has shades of Julius Peppers in him, he has that kind of combination of size, arm length and athletic ability in my opinion. I am really excited to see him play again this year.
4- Vinny Curry, DE, Marshall
Analysis: Vinny Curry had a beast of a season last year, and really put himself on the map because of it. He was absolutely everywhere when Marshall jumped out to a big lead against West Virginia but WVU managed to come back and win late. However, Curry still had a great season, especially statistically. He managed 94 total tackles (44 solo), 18.0 TFL, 12.0 sacks, 2 FF and 3 pass deflections. He didn’t play the greatest competition, but in his first two games of the season (against Ohio State and then West Virginia) he had two sacks in each game against significantly better teams, which shows at least to a degree that he can play with anyone. I really look forward to watching him again this year, and I hope he can replicate his disruptiveness from last season.
5- Donte Paige-Moss, DE, North Carolina
Analysis: Paige-Moss is a guy that I’m not that familiar with despite him being on my team (UNC) but I was surprised at just how productive he was last year. He managed 49 total tackles (28 solo), 13.5 TFL, 7.0 sacks, 1 FF, 1 pass deflection and one kick/punt blocked. That’s impressive production for a guy who wasn’t expected to play a lot or start before Quinn’s suspension, so I am excited to see North Carolina’s pass rush this year if Coples and Paige-Moss are both on the field at the same time.
6- Olivier Vernon, DE, Miami
Analysis: I have been a fan of Vernon since I saw him play as a freshman, and I watched him toss Gabe Carimi like a rag doll on a run play in the Champs Bowl two years ago. Since then I have kept an eye on him, and he has been impressive. Last year as a sophomore he managed 39 total tackles (25 solo), 10.5 TFL and 6.0 sacks. He is very fast off the ball, has flashed great hand usage and is very strong. He will be on a very talented Miami defensive line this year, and I can’t wait for him to truly emerge and show people what he can do. He has incredible potential, and while he has flashed it more and more as he gets older he has not dominated yet, but I think that may happen this season.
7- Alex Okafor, DE, Texas
Analysis: Okafor didn’t put up insane stats last year as a sophomore either, but he flashed potential and should be in the starting lineup this year. He produced 27 tackles (13 solo), 3.5 TFL, 3.5 sacks and one fumble forced as a part of a rotation. With Okafor and Kheeston Randall rushing the passer Texas has the potential to have a very dangerous defensive front.
8- Nick Perry, DE, Southern Cal
Analysis: Perry is a guy that I have been waiting to break out for over a year now, but I think this is the year he will do it. He has crazy potential and a great combination of size and speed, and last year he managed 25 total tackles (15 solo), 7.5 TFL, 4.0 sacks, 2 FF’s and 3 pass break-ups. He apparently looked very good in the spring, so I am excited to see how he produces this year for Southern Cal. He has a ton of potential.
9- Jake Bequette, DE, Arkansas
Analysis: Bequette is a guy that impressed me a lot when I watched Arkansas. He reminds me a lot of Ryan Kerrigan in that he has pretty good size and athleticism with surprising edge speed. Last year he produced 32 total tackles (17 solo), 8.5 TFL, 7.0 sacks, 1 FF and 3 pass deflections. He is entering his senior season and much like Kerrigan last year I expect him to step up and threaten the 10 sack mark and solidify himself as a top 60 pick candidate . He’s not very flashy, but he has a great motor and should get serious consideration as a 4-3 LE.
10- Jonathan Massaquoi, DE, Troy
Analysis: Massaquoi really emerged last season as a sophomore and is now entering his junior season after producing 76 total tackles (54 solo), 20.5 TFL, 12.5 sacks, 1 FF and 1 pass deflection. He doesn’t have great size at 6’2″, 250 pounds and his lack of height will be criticized through the draft process much like Brandon Graham’s was, but if he can prove that he has the edge speed, the get-off and at least some hand usage then he will be able to be drafted in the top 2-3 rounds. It will be interesting to see how he does this year as a junior now that all the focus will be on him, and I look forward to critiquing his game now that he has become a known commodity.

Hopefully you enjoyed my early defensive end rankings for the 2012 Draft. If some of these juniors declare this defensive end class could be incredibly impressive. I won’t say it would be as good or better as this past class, but I was not a huge fan of some of the guys in this class so depending on how the season goes I might actually like this one better.

Thanks for reading!

–Tom

1- Mike Brewster, C, Ohio State
Analysis: Brewster has great size and a lot of starting experience for Ohio State. He started 10 games as a freshman and has started every game since as far as I’m aware. He will enter his senior season with about 35 games of starting experience which is pretty incredible for a program like Ohio State, especially at Center. That is typically a tough position to step into, especially because of all the responsibility you have for line calls, etc. I can’t imagine that was made any easier for him since I doubt Terrelle Pryor was ever much help in blitz pick-up. This is a talented class of Centers, but I think Brewster is the best of the bunch at this point.
2- David Molk, C, Michigan
Analysis: Molk is another good center and one of the few NFL caliber prospects on Michigan at this point. He is also a three year starter and has 29 games of starting experience for Michigan, which is quite impressive. He and Brewster are both on the Rimington watch list, and it would not surprise me in the least if one of them ended up winning the award. They are two of the best Centers not only in the Big-10 but in the entire country.
3- Ben Jones, C, Georgia
Analysis: Having Ben Jones at #3 surprised me because I was impressed by him when I watched a lot of Georgia games last year to take a look at A.J. Green, but obviously I noticed a lot of the other talent they have. Jones is another Center who has a lot of starting experience at the position, as he started 10 games as a freshman, all 13 as a sophomore and 12 as a junior. It is going to be a very interesting battle between these top four senior pivots to see who goes first. Imagine if they were all at the Senior Bowl! What a show that would be (yes, I just said that about Centers).
4- William Vlachos, C, Alabama
Analysis: Vlachos has 27 games of starting experience, making this class one of the deepest and most talented Center classes that I have ever seen. There isn’t a dominant junior at this point like there are at times (though Peter Konz could make a run at that title) but having four quality senior center prospects like this is incredibly rare. As Mihai Mitrache over at OGDraft.com told me today: “This is probably the first time anyone has ever said ‘Dang, this is a good Center class.'” I tend to agree, and all of the top four centers I have listed here have 27 games of starting experience or more, and the top three are three year starters. That is pretty incredible, and I am looking forward to watching all of them this year.
5- Peter Konz, C, Wisconsin
Analysis: Konz is only a junior but he is a talented center and enters this season with 20 games of starting experience the past two years, and should help keep the Wisconsin offensive line formidable along with returning offensive guard Kevin Zeitler inside. Surprisingly I found out that before the Hawaii game his freshman year (2009) he was brought to the hospital where they found two blood clots in his lungs. Apparently it was nothing serious since they caught it early, but that is the kind of thing that might freak teams out when they go through what I can only imagine is an incredibly thorough medical check. Hopefully that was a fluke and he won’t have any more problems with clots.
6- Moe Petrus, C, Connecticut
Analysis: Petrus is a converted Center (he converted from guard after his freshman season when he started all 13 games at guard, then started all 13 at Center as a sophomore) and while I can’t speak to how good he is he is another guy in this class who has a boatload of starting experience. I don’t know how many games he started as a junior, but he had 26 games of starting experience in his first two seasons which is pretty remarkable. The more I look into this Center class the deeper it seems to be.
7- Philip Blake, C, Baylor
Analysis: Blake started his career out in Junior College and then joined Baylor as a sophomore. There he started 12 games at Right Tackle, then shifted inside to Center last year where he started 13 games. He is obviously new to the position, so it will be interesting to see just how effective he is inside at this point. He is a big guy as he is listed at 6’2″, 315 pounds, which is pretty huge for a Center. I am interested to see how well he moves around, and how well he handles defensive tackles one on one at the point of attack. At his size, he has a solid shot to neutralize DT’s one on one which would make him very intriguing to NFL teams.
8- Ben Habern, C, Oklahoma
Analysis: Habern is a junior, but he is a talented one. He has started the last 24 games at center (10 as a redshirt freshman after a medical redshirt as a freshman, and 14 as a sophomore) and should be the starter again this season. He isn’t a huge guy at 6’2″, 290 pounds but I expect that he is pretty mobile, so it will be interesting to see just how well he moves when I watch him this year. He is probably the #2 junior at this point, and while I doubt he would declare I still think he is one of the best centers in the country.
9- Grant Garner, C, Oklahoma State
Analysis: Garner has only one season of starting experience, but he started every game last year as a junior from what I understand and was spoken of as the leader of the offensive line. They were great in pass protection and were a big reason why Weeden was only sacked 10 times in 13 games, which is an incredible statistic. It will be interesting to see how he plays this season and if Oklahoma State can recreate their explosive offense againt his year even without Kendall Hunter.
10- Scott Wedige, C, Northern Illinois
Analysis: I believe Wedige is a second year starter after starting all year for Northern Illinois last year. I haven’t watched him play much at all, so I am looking forward to getting a feel for his game this year. I just don’t know much about him at this point. I have a couple of Northern Illinois games I can watch before the season starts, so if I have time I will check those out to get a better feel for his ability.

I hope you enjoyed my Center rankings! I’m not kidding when I say that this class is one of the best I have ever seen. I haven’t been around that long, but I’m not sure when I could think of so many good centers in one class, especially centers with so much starting experience. Look out for a Terrelle Pryor post shortly, plus the start of my defensive rankings!

Thanks for reading!

–Tom

1- Kelechi Osemele, OG, Iowa State
Analysis: Osemele is an offensive tackle at Iowa State I believe but I don’t think he will stick at LT in the NFL so I think he will be a RT or an OG based off of what little I have seen of him. I am interested to watch him more to see if I think he for sure has to be a guard or if I think he can stick at one of the tackle positions.
2- Kevin Zeitler, OG, Wisconsin
Analysis: Zeitler was part of a very talented offensive line at Wisconsin and it’s hard not to like Wisconsin offensive linemen because they churn out some good ones. I am excited to see him play because I obviously paid more attention to Carimi and Moffitt when I was scouting last year.
3- David DeCastro, OG, Stanford
Analysis: Stanford is another team that has a good offensive line and they are powerful, so I am interested to see what DeCastro has as a blocker in the run game and as a pass blocker.
4- Cordy Glenn, OG, Georgia
Analysis: Glenn is a very big offensive lineman that might play offensive tackle for the Bulldogs but I am not sure. I haven’t paid specific attention to him when I watched Georgia but at his size he would be a very imposing offensive guard. I just question how much lateral agility he could have to stick at tackle if that is his position. I am looking forward to getting a chance to evaluate him further this year.
5- Stephen Good, OG, Oklahoma
Analysis: Good is a quality guard prospect and while I haven’t scouted him specifically I think he warrants this top five ranking. He might end up being ranked higher than this as the year progresses. Good will definitely get a chance to demonstrate his pass blocking ability as Oklahoma figures to be passing the ball a lot, but I am interested to evaluate him as a run and pass blocker this season.
6- Kevious Watkins, OG, South Carolina
Analysis: Watkins is going to be paving the way for one of the best running backs in the nation in Marcus Lattimore so I would not be surprised if we got to see him run blocking very frequently, especially with relative uncertainty at the QB position even if Stephen Garcia ends up being the starter. I haven’t paid attention to him before when watching South Carolina though, so I will have to do that this year.
7- Brandon Washington, OG, Miami
Analysis: Washington may only be a junior but he is going to be on a very talented Miami team this season, and while I haven’t scouted him specifically I have pretty high expectations for him given what I have read about him and what little I have seen of him.
8- Chris Jacobson, OG, Pittsburgh
Analysis: Jacobson helped pave the way for a very successful rushing attack the past couple of years, but the passing attack has been lackluster. I don’t know much about his ability as a run or pass blocker, but I will find out as soon as I get to watch him more this season.
9- Jaymes Brooks, OG, Kentucky
Analysis: Brooks is left on a Kentucky team that lost a boatload of talent to the draft, most notably Randall Cobb, Derrick Locke, Mike Hartline and Chris Matthews. However, they have some returning talent, especially at running back, and it will be up to Brooks to help give them some running room this season.
10- Barrett Jones, OG, Alabama
Analysis: Jones will be playing on a team that lost a lot of talent to the NFL as well, but Alabama has become one of the powers that doesn’t rebuild, it just reloads. It will be interesting to see how much of a passing attack they can generate without McElroy and Julio Jones, but Jones will be busy run blocking for Trent Richardson this season to be sure.

Hopefully you enjoyed my preliminary break-down on the top offensive guards in this 2012 Draft Class. Thanks for reading!

–Tom

1- Matt Kalil, OT, Southern Cal
Analysis: Kalil was so secure at left tackle for Southern Cal that Tyron Smith, an athletic freak for the tackle position, was relegated to the RT position for the Trojans. I haven’t scouted Kalil specifically, but my expectations for him are quite high because of how strong his hold on that position was when Smith was there. I look forward to seeing him play at length this season.
2- Riley Reiff, OT, Iowa
Analysis: Reiff was a guy that I thought was a dark-horse to declare this season even though he was a redshirt sophomore, but I think coming back to school was probably a good decision. He will have another year of starting experience under his belt and if he declares after a good junior season there is no reason he couldn’t go in the top 15 in the draft.
3- Jonathan Martin, OT, Stanford
Analysis: Martin definitely got some of the spotlight that was drawn from the media by Andrew Luck this past year, but I am not positive he is a LT in the NFL as of now so I couldn’t rate him over Kalil and Reiff who I am positive are NFL LT’s. I am looking forward to watching him this season to evaluate whether I think he is for sure a RT or potentially a LT.
4- Andrew Datko, OT, Florida State
Analysis: Datko might be a bit underrated at this point, but from what I know of him he is pretty athletic and I think that he should be a NFL LT. I haven’t watched him enough to say that for sure, but I think he could surprise some people. It will be interesting to see how he does protecting Manuel’s blind side this season, but I think he will impress this year.
5- Levy Adcock, OT, Oklahoma State
Analysis: Adcock is fairly unknown but I have a feeling he will catch some eyes this year when people are focusing on Weeden and Blackmon on their offensive unit. I haven’t seen much of him yet so I don’t know if he is a LT in the NFL or not yet, but I am looking forward to finding out over the course of the year.
6- Elvis Fisher, OT, Missouri
Analysis: Fisher might not get as much attention this year as he may have had Gabbert stayed and been considered an elite QB prospect as a Senior, but I think he warrants consideration as a LT in the NFL. I definitely haven’t scouted him specifically yet but I will be watching more of my Missouri tape later this summer and that should give me a better handle on him as a prospect before this season.
7- Tanner Hawkinson, OT, Kansas
Analysis: Hawkinson may be the best prospect on the Jayhawks at this point as he has started at LT since he was a freshman and is now a junior this season. He should have at least three years of starting experience by the time he declares for the draft, but there is no guarantee that he will come out after this year because he isn’t considered one of the top OT’s in the draft… yet. I am excited to watch the Kansas tape I have to see how he looks. I have been told he is a good guy and is pretty smart, so it’s hard for me not to like him as a potential sleeper.
8- Matt McCants, OT, UAB
Analysis: McCants has a lot of upside but struggled with academics earlier in his career after starting at LT as a freshman. He seems to have gotten himself back on track and from what I have read he seems to have learned from his experience, and I hope he has because it’s important to learn from mistakes you make in your life (especially of that magnitude, he had a 1.7 gpa and if he didn’t get it up to 2.0 he was going to be kicked out of the school besides already being ineligible for the football team). I haven’t seen him play, but I am going to work hard to get a look at him this year.
9- Nate Potter, OT, Boise State
Analysis: Potter is rated pretty high but I have never been very impressed with him and I am not sold on him as a LT in the NFL by any means. I think he might even have to move inside to guard, but that was just my initial impression. However, I definitely can’t rank him as a top five offensive tackle if I think he might be sliding inside. I will definitely keep an eye on him this year though because Boise State will have some talent I need to keep an eye on.
10- Mike Adams, OT, Ohio State
Analysis: Adams almost fell out of my top 10 and he might not be drafted as high as some expect him to because of the fallout of the Ohio State scandal going on right now. He is suspended for the first five games of the upcoming season and I am not convinced that he is a LT in the NFL, I think he is a RT at this point. If that is the case, he will have to fight an uphill battle to crack the 1st or 2nd round considering the suspension and the negative buzz around both him and his program that will be present this season. His character will come into question, but even as a player I am not sold on him being a top 50 pick at this point, but I need to watch more of him obviously.

Hopefully you enjoyed my Early 2012 Offensive Tackle Rankings. I am churning out the content now right? I’ll finish the offensive line in the next day or two and then get to defense which I am excited about. Thanks for reading!

–Tom

1- Orson Charles, TE, Georgia
Analysis: Charles is definitely my favorite TE in the country. It definitely isn’t a certainty that he will be in the 2012 Draft, but if he is then I wouldn’t be afraid to project him as a potential 1st rounder even though it is June. He was incredibly impressive to me when I watched them last year, and I am very eager to see if he and the rest of the offense step up to replace the nearly irreplacable A.J. Green this season. He and Aaron Murray have great chemistry together and they are really fun to watch.
2- Michael Egnew, TE, Missouri
Analysis: I definitely thought Egnew was going into his junior season but I was wrong, he will be a senior this year. Egnew really impressed me when I was watching Blaine Gabbert this past season and while his numbers may drop a bit from having a new QB I would be very surprised if he didn’t end up coming off the board first of all the Senior TE’s even though it is early. He is very talented and has fantastic hands and can make catches in traffic. He has work to do as a blocker, but he is a great receiving TE.
3- Ladarius Green, TE, Louisiana Lafayette
Analysis: I haven’t seen Green play much at all but I was impressed by his stat line and what I read about him. I am definitely going to try to track down whatever footage I can of him, and I am really looking forward to seeing him play at length next year.
4- David Paulson, TE, Oregon
Analysis: Paulson is overlooked on Oregon’s high powered offense but as Darron Thomas progresses I think he will get more exposure. I am looking forward to seeing him play more this season as I didn’t give him much of a look last year because I didn’t expect him to declare early. Now he will be a Senior and with Thomas playing with more experience under his belt I think Paulson could see more targets this year.
5- Coby Fleener, TE, Stanford
Analysis: Fleener had seven touchdowns last year as a Junior and figures to be targeted consistently by Andrew Luck again this year. It will be interesting to see how he progresses as a senior, and I’m excited to see how good his hands are and how effectively he blocks.
6- George Bryan, TE, North Carolina State
Analysis: Bryan had solid numbers last year as a junior but without Russell Wilson his numbers might decline. It will be interesting to see how Wilson’s departure affects Bryan’s numbers, but hopefully he is targeted more this year. I really want to see how well he can stretch the field, catch the ball away from his body and block in the run game.
7- Brad Herman, TE, Iowa
Analysis: Herman showed potential at the beginning of last year but I’m not really sure what happened after that. He only had 9 catches on the season, but Iowa has a good track record of churning out quality TE’s so I think Herman could surprise some people this year. It will be interesting to see if he proves me right.
8- Kevin Koger, TE, Michigan
Analysis: Koger didn’t have a very good year last year but I expect him to get more involved in the offense from a passing standpoint this season. He’s another Big-10 sleeper at this position that could surprise some people. He has the ability and he flashed production last year, he just has to get the ball more consistently this year. Hopefully Denard Robinson can make that happen.
9- Colter Phillips, TE, Virginia
Analysis: Phillips is another sleeper, of which there are apparently many on this version of my TE rankings, and I think that while Virginia’s team won’t be anything special that with another year of experience for their QB and Colter they should be able to improve on his statistics from the year before. I haven’t seen him play much at all, but I am excited to get to see him play next year.
10- Blake Ayles, TE, Miami
Analysis: I just found this out yesterday, but Ayles transferred from Southern Cal to Miami without having to sit out a year because of the sanctions on the program, and somehow that slipped under my radar. Regardless, Ayles is on the Hurricanes now and while injuries and inconsistency hampered his career with the Trojans I think that a fresh start on a very talented Hurricane team could be just what the doctor ordered for Ayles. He is very athletic and has potential, and I was literally thinking to myself earlier this offseason that Miami’s offense is a QB and a TE away from being incredibly dangerous, and Ayles may be the man to fill that void at TE. If Morris steps up and improves as a starter then he could be dishing the ball out to a very talented group of receivers including LaRon Byrd, Travis Benjamin and Ayles plus handing the ball off to Lamar Miller. What a scary offense that could be.

Hopefully you enjoyed my TE rankings. They are obviously a work in progress, but as I continue to churn out rankings I am just getting that much closer to being able to start watching some film on upcoming prospects. That’s something I didn’t get to do much of last summer, so I am really excited to get started on that. But I want to finish these rankings first! Hopefully I will get to OT’s in the next 24 hours or so. Thanks for reading!

–Tom