Top 5 Picks By Position

March 2nd, 2011

Joe wonders who new Bucs defensive line coach Keith Millard likes among this year's crop of defensive ends. Will he have a voice in the Bucs' process?

As a preview to his detailed position-by-position breakdowns, NFL Draft guru Justin Pawlowski, The Commish of WDAE-AM 620, serves up his top five potential draftees by position following the NFL Scouting combine. It’s all part of Joe’s exclusive daily draft coverage.

Joe’s got an idea. Pick up a pile of the best wings in Pinellas County from Mugs Grill & Bar in Clearwater, grab a cold one and enjoy. Pawlowski also answers your draft questions later today here in the Commish’s Inbox podcast.


1. Cam Newton – Auburn
2. Blaine Gabbert – Missouri
3. Christian Ponder – FSU
4. Jake Locker – Washington
5. Ryan Mallett – Arkansas
5. Colin Kaepernick – Nevada

Despite poor throwing at the combine, I still think Newton has the most potential.  This class of QBs has a ton of questions.  An interesting stat on Gabbert was that his completion percentage on throws more than 20 yards down the field was 30%.  Yuck.  Ponder and Locker were great at the combine.  Locker’s lack of accuracy and Ponder’s elbow still have me concerned. Mallett and Kaepernick have the strongest arms, but Mallet’s character issues are too much for me to ignore.

Running Backs
1. Mark Ingram – Alabama
2. Mikel Leshoure – Illinois
3. Ryan Williams – Va. Tech
4. Daniel Thomas – Kansas St.
5. Demarco Murray – Oklahoma

Ingram did not show very good speed at the combine, but that wasn’t really his strength. Leshoure is a big back with great vision.  Ryan Williams consistent health worries me.  With all that being said, I think the gap between these three RBs has narrowed. Thomas is another big back who will have a lot riding on his pro day, since he did not work out at the combine.  Murray had a nice combine and is a nice balanced back that can do a lot of things well.

Wide Receivers
1. AJ Green – Georgia
2. Julio Jones – Alabama
3. Jonathon Baldwin – Pitt.
4. Titus Young – Boise St.
5. Torrey Smith – Maryland

Green is still tops on this list because of his outstanding production and hands while at Georgia. Julio Jones was simply outstanding at the combine and might have done it all on a broken foot.  He will have surgery and not work out again before the draft.  Baldwin’s size and ability to be a go-to receiver separates him from the speed receivers in Titus Young and Torrey Smith.

Tight Ends
1. Kyle Rudolph – Notre Dame
2. Luke Stocker – Tennessee
3. Lance Kendricks – Wisconsin
4. DJ Williams – Arkansas
5. Virgil Green – Nevada

Kyle Rudolph didn’t workout in Indy, but he still keeps his status as the top tight end in this class.  Stocker and Kendricks are balanced tight ends that can block and catch the football.  DJ Williams had a nice combine and can stretch the middle of the field, but Green’s combine was outstanding and could start to see his stock really rise as people go back and watch his film.

Offensive Tackles
1. Tyron Smith – USC
2. Gabe Carimi – Wisconsin
3. Nate Solder – Colorado
4. Anthony Castonzo – Boston College

5.Derek Sherrod – Miss. St.
5. Marcus Cannon – TCU (OG)

There wasn’t much separation at offensive tackle at the combine.  I thought all the top choices were good, but no one was outstanding.  Smith showing up at 307 lbs after playing at 285 lbs was maybe the biggest positive for any lineman, especially with his extremely long arms.  Castonzo was great in drills and still probably projects as the best potential left tackle in this class.  I like Carimi’s toughness and strength.  I really think he could be very solid at right tackle in the NFL for a number of years.

Offensive Guards/Centers
1. Mike Pouncey – Florida
2. Danny Watkins – Baylor
3. Rodney Hudson – FSU
4. Stefan Wisniewski – Penn St.
5. Clint Boling – Georgia

This was another position where not much happened.  I don’t see Pouncey getting out of the 1st round.  I doubt the Steelers would pass at the opportunity to pair him up with his brother again.  Watkins was very solid and is tall enough to play guard or tackle.  Hudson and Wisniewski did enough to earn themselves 2nd round grades.

Defensive Ends
1. Robert Quinn – North Carolina
2. Da’Quan Bowers – Clemson
3. Aldon Smith – Missouri
4. JJ Watt – Wisconsin
5. Cameron Jordan – Cal.
5. Ryan Kerrigan – Purdue

I figured I would go ahead and make the switch.  I like Bowers and think he is a very good player, but there are as many questions with him as there is with any other defensive end.  Quinn is more explosive than Bowers and that might end up being the biggest difference between the 2.  Aldon Smith did not disappoint, and, as predicted, his stock is going up.  Another guy’s stock going up is JJ Watt.  He is a monster and could be the top 5-technique for a 3-4 defense in this draft. I thought Jordan and Kerrigan both tested very well.

Defensive Tackles
1. Marcell Dareus – Alabama
2. Nick Fairley – Auburn
3. Corey Liuget – Illinois
4. Muhammed Wilkerson – Temple
5. Stephen Paea – Oregon St.

Another tight race at this position.  This is also another reason the combine is important.  When you watch the film, both Fairly and Dareus are very good. When they line up at the combine, Dareus is 30 lbs heavier than Fairly, but just as fast and has better burst of the line of scrimmage. Dareus could now be in the mix for the 1st pick.  Paea was the strongest player at the combine, but I like the potential of Liuget and Wilkerson a little more than Paea.

Outside Linebackers
1. Von Miller – Texas A&M
2. Justin Houston – Georgia
3. Akeem Ayers – UCLA
4. Dontay Moch – Nevada
5. Bruce Carter – North Carolina

Von Miller was one of the top performers at the combine and will not get passed the Cardinals in the draft.  Justin Houston also confirmed what I thought before the combine that he was the 2nd best linebacker in this draft.  He was outstanding and can play end or outside linebacker.  Ayers’ times weren’t good, but his production is enough for a 1st round grade.  One of my favorite players form the combine was Dontay Moch with his 4.44 time in the 40 at 248 lbs.

Inside Linebackers
1. Martez Wilson – Illinois
2. Colin McCarthy – Miami
3. Nate Irving – NC St.
4. Greg Jones – Michigan St.
5. Kelvin Sheppard – LSU

Wilson confirmed what I thought of him and answered questions of his speed with an exclamation point. At 6’4’’ and 250 lbs, Wilson ran his 40 at 4.49.  Colin McCarthy is as safe at middle a]linebacker as anyone else in this draft.  He’s not the flashiest player, but does get the job done. The rest of this position is not very flashy.

1. Patrick Peterson – LSU
2. Prince Amukamara – Nebraska
3. Jimmy Smith – Colorado
4. Aaron Williams – Texas
5. Brandon Harris – Miami

The top of the corner class is big and fast.  Peterson is as safe a pick as anyone in this draft. The big surprise was Prince Amukamara, with questions of his speed, running in the 4.4 range.  Jimmy Smith has plenty of character questions, but at 6’2’’ and over 200 lbs he ran in the low 4.4 range as well. Aaron Williams has great bloodlines and could be in the mold of a physical corner like Aaron Ross.  Brandon Harris’ stock is starting to slip and there are plenty of candidates to take his slot in the top 5.

1. Rahim Moore – UCLA
2. Quinton Carter – Oklahoma
3. DeAndre McDaniel – Clemson
4. Deunta Williams – North Carolina
5. Robert Sands – West Virginia

There wasn’t a more disappointing position this weekend than the safety position.  Yuck!  Moore is the best of a very mediocre class, but he ran his 40 at 4.62 and has just decent ball skills.  Carter and McDaniel both also ran in the 4.6’s, but both are decent tacklers.  Ahmad Black falls off my top 5 because of his size (5’9’’ 184 lbs) and his speed after he ran his 40-yard dashes at 4.78 and 4.74. That’s just not a good combination. Don’t be shocked if only one safety goes in the first two rounds of the draft this year.

10 Responses to “Top 5 Picks By Position”

  1. Bruce Davis Says:

    To All Ahmad Hater, Just sit back where he go and He is 5’10 by NFL Combine Status. Ahmad was a Top Performer in all the other stills station. Great Job Ahmad & GO Gators ……….

  2. gotbbucs Says:

    I think this list could use a division between 3-4 and 4-3 front seven players.

  3. jvato24 Says:

    I would love to see some 10 yard split times over the 40 yd dash .. That is what is used in 90% of football

    The 40 is overrated .. IMO .. Football is about burst quickness fluidity instincts .. and oh yeah .. Playing Football

    Although with Corners and WRs is a bit more important.

  4. SteveFromOregon Says:

    I normally love to read these things, but when I got down to Ponder on the list of QB’s, I had to stop reading. He had a pathetic combine…makes me wonder what was being evaluated?

  5. BonesMahoney Says:

    Only thing I really disagree with is Robert Sands being in the Top 5 Safeties. Yes he is tall and fast(for his size) but he looked terrible in the drills at the combine. Easily the worst DB I saw. But it is a poor safety class so maybe he is just there by default…

  6. Dave Says:


    I agree. The split times in the 40 are much more important, mainly at 10 & 20 yards.

    I don’t hold a lot of stock in the combine though. I like what Dominick said about it. Basically, he said the film tells you 95% of what you need to know, the combine is great for interviews and getting to know the player a little better.

  7. woo Says:

    I disagree about the safeties – there’s some good quality, just no top 10’ers. But we knew that before the combine. There are some interesting possibilities in this draft class that we’ll likely be able to get in mid to late rounds. I’d love to see Shiloh Keo as a Buc. That guy is an animal. If we can sneak him in the 5th round, I think he’d be a tremendous value pick. I also thought Mark LeGree from Appalachian State had a good combine (his predecessor was Corey Lynch).

    I’d like us to pick up a nickel corner like Curtis Brown, Aaron Williams or even Jimmy Smith if he’s around in the 2nd round. Did you see Curtis’s catch at the combine?

    Kerrigan and Clayborn have my vote for DE picks.

  8. hunter Says:

    Aldon Smith at #3 is ridiculous. He shouldnt be in the top 5. Watt and Quinn are the top ends. Aaron williams is a pro safety not a corner.He’s no where near fluid enough to play corner in the NFL. Robert Sands is way too raw to be in anyone’s top five. Mallet is a much better pro prospect than Locker forget about the off the field issues.

  9. Dave Says:

    I would be very happy if they grabbed Kerrigan or Watt.

    Still have mixed feelings on Clayborne. He seems like he will be a beast, but a lot of red flags. FI he is selected, I trust they will have done their homework on him.

  10. RastaMon Says:

    Well thanks Joe…looks like the cat is out of the bag now….
    1. Mark Ingram – Alabama
    2. Mikel Leshoure – Illinois