2010's not here yet, but here's a glimpse of some of the guys who will be draft eligible in 2011. A few of these guys are red shirt sphomores and are actually draft eligible in 2010.
Scout.com: 2009 CFN All-Sophomore Defensive Team
Among the more interesting ones to me are (prospects eligible in 2010 are lited with an *):
- WR Jonathan Baldwin, Pittsburgh: "Though somewhat underutilized in the run-first Panther offense, Baldwin has still found a way to make 54 catches for 1,080 yards and eight touchdowns. A human mismatch at 6-5 and 225 pounds, he has the size to sky well above defensive backs and the long, smooth gait to cruise past them on deep routes." I found it interesting that Baldwin beat out AJ Green, Michael Floyd and Julio Jones on this list.
- OT Matt Reynolds, BYU: "A year after earning Freshman All-American honors, Reynolds is at it again as a sophomore. Surprisingly nimble for a 6-6, 329-pounder, heís had more than 60 knockdowns, yet still graded out well as the backside protector when Max Hall dropped back to pass. Named to the All-Mountain West first team, heíll be a fixture on all-star lists the next two seasons."
- DE (DE/OLB?) Robert Quinn, North Carolina: "Last year, Quinn was the ACCís Piccolo Award recipient for courage after bouncing back from brain surgery in his senior year of high school. This year, heís blossomed into one of the nationís most feared pass rushers, racking up 19 tackles for loss and 11 sacks en route to a spot on the all-conference first team. " At 6'5" 260# and timed in a 4.51 40, with tremendous strength, speed and work ethic, Quinn will be a top 10 pick in 2011.
- DE/DT Jared Crick*, Nebraska: "The ideal complement to Ndamukong Suh on the inside for the Huskers, Crick made the most of his second year, collecting 70 tackles, 15 tackles for loss, 9.5 sacks, and a slew of hurries. Playing at full speed on every down, he has the raw power at 6-6 and 285 pounds and the intensity to live in the other teamís backfield. "
- LB Travis Lewis*, Oklahoma: " A two-year tackling machine for the Sooners, Lewis was at it again this fall, leading the Sooners with 100 stops and nine tackles for loss to earn a spot on the All-Big 12 first team. He diagnoses plays about as well as any linebacker, regardless of class, and rarely misses his man in the open field."
- ILB Chris Galippo*, USC: "Already a semifinalist for the Butkus Award in his first season as a starter, Galippo is on track to become the next big thing at linebacker for the Trojans. An instinctive and physical run defender in the middle, he was second to Taylor Mays with 67 tackles, adding eight tackles for loss, and a couple of picks."
- S Earl Thomas*, Texas: "Few players in Austin made a bigger leap from freshman to sophomore year than Thomas, a finalist for the Thorpe Award and a member of the All-Big 12 first team. One of those rare physical safeties, who has the ball skills of an elite cornerback, he enters the national championship game with 71 tackles, five tackles for loss, eight interceptions, and a whopping two dozen passes defended."
- CB Patrick Peterson, LSU: "One of the many blue-chip athletes roaming around Baton Rouge, Peterson spent his sophomore year becoming one of the SECís top cover corners. Though built like a safety at 6-1 and 211 pounds, he possesses great hips and overall athleticism, making 47 stops and breaking up 15 passes in the regular season." Along with Quinn, my favorite defensive player in this group. I'd ideally like either Peterson or Quinn with the 2011 1st round pick from Oakland.
Another guy to keep an eye on is Missouri red shirt freshman DE Aldon Smith, who will be draft eligible in 2011: "Although itís early, Aldon appears ready to be the next great Smith to rush the passer in Columbia, joining Justin and Brian, who starred for the Tigers within the last decade. A relative unknown before the season began, heís erupted for 59 tackles, 18.5 tackles for loss, 11 sacks, and five pass break ups. " Smith is similar to Robert Quinn, a 6'5" 255# athletic freak with tremendous speed and a relentless motor.