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April 25, 2010

Who will be the top pick in the 2011 NFL draft?

At the College Football Roundtable each week, we ask members of the coverage staff for their opinions about a topic in the sport. This weekend, we will have two roundtables - one Saturday and one today. Here is today's question:

We're done with the 2010 NFL draft, so let's look ahead: Who do you think will be the No. 1 pick in the 2011 draft?

Olin Buchanan's answer:
Making even an educated guess is difficult because we don't know what team will pick first. We won't know that team's primary needs or what players will declare for early entry into the draft. But we do know every team needs quarterbacks and pass rushers. A quarterback has been the top selection in eight of the past 10 drafts, so the odds would indicate that Washington's Jake Locker or Arkansas' Ryan Mallett would go first. But I'm going to go with Pittsburgh defensive end Greg Romeus, who I believe will have a strong 2010 season. Romeus is an excellent athlete and an imposing figure at 6 feet 6 and 270 pounds. He only played one year of high school football and has made great improvement at Pitt. Scouts will love his measurables and potential. At this time it appears a reach to suggest Romeus would be the first player taken, but if he has an exceptional season, it won't.

Tom Dienhart's answer:
I think it will be Washington quarterback Jake Locker. Many felt that had he entered this year's draft, he would have been the No. 1 overall selection. Locker is a better version of Tim Tebow, combining tremendous athletic skills with a top-rate NFL-arm. And that Locker - who needs to hone some of his fundamentals - will have played two seasons for Steve Sarkisian only will enhance his stock.

David Fox's answer:
When asked this question after last year's draft, I picked Sam Bradford. He could have gone No. 1 overall in the 2009 draft had he decided to leave school. Washington's Jake Locker is in a similar situation: He could have been the top pick but chose to stay in school. Another Ndamukong Suh could emerge in 2010 as the top overall prospect, but teams picking first usually need and take quarterbacks. Unless the Rams or Lions end up in this spot next season, Locker seems destined to be the No. 1 overall pick.

Mike Huguenin's answer:
I think it will be Washington's Jake Locker, who would be the ninth quarterback taken first overall in 11 years. The only way he doesn't go No. 1 is if he falls on his face this fall. One guy I'm intrigued by is Ohio State defensive end Cameron Heyward, a 6-foot-5, 288-pounder who also could slide inside and play tackle. I think he's primed for a monster senior season, which would mean he could join his dad (the late Craig "Ironhead" Heyward) as a first-round pick.

Steve Megargee's answer:
A quarterback has been taken with the first overall pick in each of the past two drafts. I'm guessing Washington's Jake Locker makes it three in a row next year. Many draft analysts had Locker rated as the top overall quarterback prospect before he decided to return for his senior season instead of entering the draft. That's quite a statement, particularly when you consider that Oklahoma quarterback Sam Bradford ended up being taken with the first overall pick. But that Locker was being mentioned alongside Bradford indicates that NFL teams apparently hold him in high regard. Locker possesses the type of athleticism that will have scouts drooling. Give him one more season to improve his accuracy while working with Steve Sarkisian, and Locker should develop into the type of player all quarterback-hungry teams will have atop their draft boards next year.

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