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2011 NFL Draft Projections: Big East Conference

So far, several Big East Conference underclassmen have declared themselves eligible for the 2011 NFL Draft. Those players are Jordan Todman of Connecticut, and safety Robert Sands of West Virginia, as have three players from Pittsburgh. The Panthers who have declared are running back Dion Lewis, receiver Jon Baldwin and fullback Henry Hynoski. Players have until Jan. 15 to decide to enter the draft.

Let's look at each of the three players and see where they may fit in the upcoming draft a few months from now. (If you know of other Big East underclassmen who have declared, let us know. These are the only ones I was able to find).

Jordan Todman

A 5-foot-9, 193-pound junior, Todman finished fourth in the country in 2010 with 1,695 rushing yards. He averaged 5.1 yards per carry and scored 14 touchdowns rushing. He was named Big East Offensive Player of the Year. In 2009, he also averaged 5.1 yards per carry, gaining 1,188 yards. Todman can also catch the ball out of the backfield, having caught 40 passes for the Huskies the past two seasons.

Here is a scouting report from Sideline Scouting:

Positives: Above average speed, can beat defenders to the corner... Very shifty, has quick feet and routintely makes the first man miss... Good change of direction ability, changes his running pace constantly, makes him tough to track down... Good vision, does a great job finding the hole and would excel in a zone blocking system... Patient runner, waits for his blockers... Great receiver out of the backfield, can line up in the slot and run routes... Versatility will appeal to a lot of teams looking for a playmaker on offense... Connecticut has put some good running backs into the NFL over the past couple years (Donald Brown, Andre Dixon)... Has experience returning kicks.

Negatives: Small, doesn't have a great frame, needs to add bulk... Not a great runner between the tackles, likes to bounce everything to the outside... Likely nothing more than a situational back at the NFL level.

Dion Lewis

Lewis was the Big East Offensive Player of the Year in 2009, rushing for 1,799 yards. He carried the ball 325 times as freshman. In 2010, he carried less often -- 219 times -- but still gained 1,061 yards (4.8 yards per carry). He is a sophomore, but the 5-foot-8, 195-pounder is draft eligible because he spent a year in prep school.

Here is a scouting report from Sideline Scouting:

Positives: Strong for his size, reportedly can bench press 400 pounds, over twice his body weight... Rarely fumbles, does a good job of holding the football high and tight... Very quick and shifty in the open field, shakes a lot of tacklers... Great short area burst, hard to contain... Surprisingly good runner between the tackles, keeps his pad level low... Outstanding vision, finds the crease almost immediately... Patient runner, consistently waits for his blockers to set up... Good hands out of the backfield, secures the ball with both hands.

Negatives: More quick than fast, doesn't have elite speed considering his small stature... Very small, is generously listed at 195 pounds... Most of his yards between the tackles comes from his vision/patience, doesn't pack a punch and can get engulfed by larger defenders... Does not have experience returning kicks or punts.

Jon Baldwin

Baldwin is a 6-foot-5, 230-pound junior who ESPN Big East blogger Brian Bennett calls "a first-round type of talent since he stepped onto Pittsburgh's campus."

Here is a scouting report from Sideline Scouting:

Positives: Great size and speed combination... Long arms and big hands make him a viable deep threat... Goes after the ball at its highest point, consistently wins jump balls... Good hands, rarely drops easy passes... Strong, can play in the middle the field... Is a long strider, covers a lot of ground quickly... Red zone threat, combination of size, leaping ability, and hands makes him a difficult cover near the end zone... High ceiling, can be a legit number one receiver in the NFL.

Negatives: Comes with some character concerns, was charged with disorderly conduct and harassment in 2009... Needs to work on his route running, slows down to change direction and runs too much in a straight line... Has trouble getting off the line of scrimmage despite his frame...  Has not dominated the way that he should with his physical gifts.

Robert Sands

From Sideline Scouting, here is a report on the 6-foot-5, 221-pound West Virginia safety:

Positives: Tremendous size for a defensive back, has long arms and big hands, will have no problem winning jump-ball battles against most receivers... Possesses pretty good speed (mid 4.40-40), mix of size and speed a big positive for the position... Recorded five interceptions in 2009, has the ability to go get the football in the air... Durability is not a concern, has not missed a game due to injury... Has experience playing cornerback, is a versatile player who matches up well against tall receivers.

Negatives: Could stand to take better angles when coming up in run support, plays fast, but a little out of control at times... Man coverage skills need improvement.

Henry Hynoski

The Pitt redshirt junior is right now considered by some the best fullback in the draft.

From NFL Draft 101:

Best leader blocker in the draft - a roadgrader in mold of Lorenzo Neal ... Throwback fullback - does the dirty work ... Picks up the blitz ... Has a nasty streak.