When you consider all the changes that can happen thanks to so many factors -- bad performances, injuries, system changes, positional moves, coaching shake-ups, combine missteps, plain old bad luck -- Patrick Peterson didn't end up far from where he started. Almost a year ago, when I released the first Big Board for the 2011 NFL draft, Peterson was right there at No. 10.
He finishes the 2011 NFL draft season as the top player on my board. With a dynamic skill set, safety size with frightening speed at corner, great hands and an asset in the return game, Peterson has so much to offer. But so does every other guy here. Think about the thousands of players we see (and evaluate) week in and week out. It's an impossibly subjective science, and you can make lots of mistakes. I'm happy to note that of the top ten players listed a year ago on the first 2011 list, I expect nine to be drafted before pick No. 40. So there's been continuity. Only Andrew Luck won't.
Again, this is a reflection of value. It's by no means a statement on where a player should be picked. Many factors go into that. But it's time for the draft -- finally.
As always, juniors and draft-eligible sophomores are noted with an asterisk.
Analysis: An extraordinary athlete, Peterson has 4.3-second 40 speed, safety size, good cover skills and a willingness to hit. Big threat in return game. Ends at No. 1. Last week: No. 1
Analysis: Miller can impact NFL games early in his career as a pass-rushing 3-4 outside linebacker, but he also has coverage skills. Heady, big-time athlete. Last week: No. 2
Analysis: Premier wideout in the draft. Good route-runner, great size and hands, good speed (4.48 in Indy). Immediate help. Last week: No. 3
Analysis: Dareus is a gifted penetrator with pass-rush skills to burn and a good motor. Well-liked, scheme-versatile; I like him most as a penetrating 3-4 DE. Last week: No. 5
Analysis: Has worked out well after facing some questions about his size, and the pile of tape is still immense. Versatility and skills imply star potential. Last week: No. 4