"You're no daisy.  You're no daisy at all."   Doc Holliday.

The Matriculator Top 15

          The Matriculator has seen enough, and we have the top 15 players in the 2011 Draft.  You’ll notice some names that you won’t see as first round picks on most sites.  This is our ranking, not where we think they will actually be drafted.  Last year our top fifteen included 2nd rounder Lamarr Houston, 3rd rounder Jimmy Graham and 4th rounder Mike Williams, all of whom look like top fifteen picks now.  We also had Dez Bryant, Darryl Washington and disappointing Kyle Wilson.  We were wrong about Joe Haden who we thought was a number two corner.  You’ll notice we have two huge defensive lineman in our top fifteen.  There are so few great stuffers in the middle and in the past few years their contracts have grown with their waistline as teams, especially, 3-4 teams, covet the hosses in the middle.

1.  Cam Newton-  You simply can’t pass up one of the great talents to ever come out of college at the premier position, though we won’t be at all surprised if he goes Hollywood. Read Newton's Law.

2.  Patrick Peterson- Big, physical, fast, instinctive corners only come around every once in a while and they are worth their weight in gold.

3. Von Miller-  An athletic freak who will have to be accounted for on every passing play.

4. A.J. Green-  He has the tools to be a top-five receiver for years to come.

5. Ryan Kerrigan-  Nobody has him this high but us.  He has spent the past three years at Purdue in opposing backfields while going against some of the best offensive linemen in college.  He tested great at the Combine and has a motor that never stops.  Why teams would take other players ahead of him is one of this year’s draft mysteries.

6. Phil Taylor-  We can already hear, “Ahead of Marcell Dareus, are you crazy?”  Yes, we’re crazy but we’re also usually correct.  Taylor is an immovable monster at 350 pounds who has the potential to be the next Haloti Ngata/Casey Hampton type.

7. Marcell Dareus- Dareus will be a very solid defensive tackle who should be a good fit for a 4-3 team.  He’s not disruptive enough in the passing game, nor big enough to command the double teams of someone as big as Taylor, but he will be good from day one.

8. Gabe Carimi-  We have him this high even though he may be a right tackle.  He’s a strong, mudder who will fight on every play and is athletic enough to play left tackle.  Wherever he plays we think he eventually makes several Pro Bowls.

9. Mike Pouncey-  Markice Pouncey single handedly carried the Pittsburgh Steelers to the Super Bowl in 2010.  He was that important.  He held together a rag tag offensive line and made them decent.  Center and guard are not viewed as premier positions, but we disagree.  Mike is the consensus best interior lineman and his versatility will be invaluable to whichever team drafts him.

10. Corey Liuget-  There is no real difference between Liuget and Marcell Dareus.  He should start as a rookie and be a high end tackle for years.

11. Julio Jones-  We’ve said all along he won’t be a game changer, but he’s a hard worker who should rack up huge reception numbers. 

12. Colin Kaepernick-  Yes, he could be a huge bust.  Yes, his delivery looks funky.  Yes, he played in a spread formation against lesser competition.  If he figures it out though, he’s a top ten quarterback who can move in the pocket and deliver the ball downfield.  He is also a leader of men, which we can’t say about Blaine Gabbert or Ryan Mallett.

13.Muhammed Wilkerson-  Another massive player with elite movement skills, he needs a more consistent motor but he has the potential to be a force in the middle.

14. Rodney Hudson-  An undersized interior lineman who may have the highest football IQ of any player in this draft.  If he can keep his weight around 300 and stay injury free, he’ll make many a Pro Bowl.

15. Randall Cobb-  We think he’s the second coming of Hines Ward.  If he is, we don’t have him rated high enough.

           Where is everybody’s post-National Championship number one pick, Blaine Gabbert?  He’s just outside our top fifteen.  He’s never going to be great and so we wouldn’t take him in the top fifteen.  He’ll be good and probably have a long career similar to that of Kerry Collins, though Gabbert is a better athlete. The players who have top fifteen talent who we don’t have on our list because of character concerns include Ryan Mallett, Nick Fairley, Jimmy Smith and Greg Little.  If they can stay out of trouble they have the potential to be great.  Those we didn’t include because of injury concerns include Da’Quan Bowers, Mark Ingram and Robert Quinn (benign tumor).  If Aaron Williams had committed to playing safety, we probably would have put him at the end of our list.   Cameron Jordan and JJ Watt will probably be good football players, but you’ll never notice because a 3-4 defensive end is not a premium position.  They’ll probably average 3 tackles a game and 5-6 sacks per year.   Late first round that’s okay, but top fifteen it’s not.   Mike Sherrod, Mikel Leshoure and Marvin Austin were on the edge of our list.  Tyron Smith is on the outside because of the horrible track record of USC players and because he added 25 pounds of muscle after the season ended in a move that brings back memories of Tony Mandarich.  Prince Amukamara is a former running back and you can see that in his ball skills. 

           A number of the players in our top 15 will be drafted in the second or third round, but we don’t care.  Our neck is on the chopping block and we can only hope the guillotine hasn't been sharpened.