Part three of draft expert Josh Liskiewitz's draft board.
(Independent scout and draft expert Josh Liskiewitz will contribute regularly to RoarReport.com in the days, weeks and months leading up to the annual NFL draft. To determine Josh's street cred, check his bio beneath the article -- Thanks, Ed.)
Positioning prospects on a draft board isn’t as simple as ranking them from 1 to X. Just because the board has a “top 32” doesn’t mean that 32 players have first round grades. This is part one of my first round draft board, which will be comprised of 26 prospects this year (neither of the previous two classes had more than 20, so this is clearly a deep class at the top of the draft). These eleven players are what I classify as “Late 1st Round” prospects, or players that are expected to start early and play at a high level throughout their careers.
*** Edited 2/17/2011
(While I have broken down extensive film on over 200 prospects, I still have several key players yet to grade that are generally considered at least day two prospects, namely the players from Illinois and Missouri. Last week, I had my first opportunity to scout Illinois DT Corey Liuget (6-2 300), and he clearly belongs amongst the top prospects in this year’s class. In the games I graded he was dominant against both the run and pass, as he is was consistently explosive off the ball while at the same time showing excellent hand usage and natural power. For now I am ranking him as the No. 9 overall prospect (and No. 2 DT) in this year’s draft class, which makes him a tier 2 or “top 15” caliber prospect.
I am also moving Illinois RB Mikel LeShoure (6-0 230) onto the list at No. 26 overall, making him a late first round value. He has ideal NFL bulk for the position, and has an excellent combination of power and quickness. He is currently my No. 2 rated RB, behind Ryan Williams of Virginia Tech and just ahead of Jacquizz Rodgers of Oregon State. Alabama RB Mark Ingram comes in at No. 4, and grades out as an early second-round prospect.
In the near future I hope to get a better grasp on the skill sets of Alabama DL Marcell Dareus and the two highly regarded Missouri prospects, QB Blaine Gabbert and DE/OLB Aldon Smith. For now I am giving them all second round values, but expect to see all of them included in the majority of my first round mocks.)
Smith is a quick, athletic tackle that plays stronger than his size would suggest. He should be able to add needed bulk to his frame, and he should be a solid starting left tackle once he learns consistency off the ball.
Only his injury history keeps Williams from being considered amongst the elite. He is an explosive athlete on the perimeter and out in space, but what is most surprising is his power and aggressive running style between the tackles.
On film Hankerson looks like an impressive possession receiver, but he blew scouts away during Senior Bowl week with his agility, speed, and precision. He has the physical skill set to be at worst a high level #2 receiver in the NFL.
Sheard had an impressive senior season at Pitt and is only going to get better. He has an excellent first step, and has the natural strength, quickness, and hand usage to be a very productive defender against both the run and pass.
Kerrigan was thought of as a simple high motor pass rusher until he blew up as a senior at Purdue. He is clearly a much better athlete than he is given credit for, and his speed off the edge gave both Senior Bowl squads fits throughout the week.
The only glaring question on Hudson was his ability to gain weight, and he quieted his critics by weighing in at 291 during the Senior Bowl without losing any of his quickness. He will be one of the most athletic interior linemen in the NFL.
Jernigan is an explosive playmaker that is a threat to score any time he touches the ball, whether it be as a receiver or returner. He will create consistent separation because of his quickness and efficiency, and he also possesses outstanding hands.
Wisniewski is a very similar player to Hudson. He plays much stronger than his size would suggest because of his athleticism, and he is a highly intelligent pass defender who works very well with his other linemen and plays with excellent hand usage.
Watt is an ideal 5-technique DE for a 3-4 scheme. He may not have an explosive first step, but he is ultra competitive and plays with excellent hands. He is the ideal type of defensive lineman for a team like New England because of his size and motor.
Clayborn fits best as a 3-4 defensive end or an under tackle (3-technique DT) for a 4-3 scheme. He has impressive strength and hand usage as a run stopper, but lacks the explosiveness to be an edge rusher.
Sherrod is an athletic tackle who not only has the quickness to defend the edge against explosive pass rushers but the technique and desire to be a solid run blocker as well. He needs to add strength and play with more consistent technique.
Nevis was an explosive and highly disruptive playmaker on the interior of LSU’s defensive line, but some teams may be turned off by his size. However, his production and consistency at the highest level of college football can’t be ignored.
Carter is an outstanding athlete for his size, and would be rated much higher if it weren’t for his ACL injury. If he checks out medically at the Combine, he is well worth a late 1st round selection as his size and athleticism will allow him to be versatile in any scheme.
Solder has a rare combination of size and athleticism. He clearly has the physical ability to be a franchise left tackle in the NFL, but must be more consistent with his footwork, as he tends to rely on his length too much instead of using consistent technique.
26. Mikel LeShoure RB Illinois 6-0 230
He has ideal NFL bulk for the position, and has an excellent combination of power and quickness.
Don’t mistake Rodgers for just another undersized, change of pace 3rd down back. He may be small in stature, but he has thick legs and is a super aggressive and productive runner between the hashes who is hard to find and almost never gets taken down off initial contact.
Josh Liskiewitz has been an independent scout for four years, the last two with GM Jr as a college scout. He is a self professed "film junkie," watching upwards of 50 hours of film per week year round on hundreds of NFL prospects. He credits Russ Lande, former NFL scout and founder and president of GM Jr Scouting LLC, with aiding in the development of his foundation in scouting and unique perspective on football.