Week 7 on the college football schedule saw another change at the top as Ohio State fell from the ranks of the unbeaten. It also provided evidence that the 2011 NFL Draft will offer a large number of quality prospects on the defensive line as several players from that position continued to impress NFL scouts. (*Denotes underclassmen)
Jonathan Baldwin*/WR/Pittsburgh: Baldwin was rated as one of the better underclassmen receivers and a potential top 15 pick entering the season, but his play since September has been pedestrian. Poor quarterback play has been part of the problem. Still, Baldwin has yet to post a dominant performance to solidify his reputation as a game-controlling wideout.
Von Miller/LB/Texas A&M: Miller has been struggling with assorted injuries and has only made a disappointing 20 tackles and a pair of sacks during the Aggies six games. Scouts gave him a first-round grade and rated him just behind Mark Herzlich on the linebacker list coming into the season. Miller is struggling to stay in the draft's top 32 selections at this point.
Terrell McClain/DT/South Florida: The senior was considered a late-round prospect. Unfortunately, he's watching his draft stock drop as he too struggles with injuries. In six games, McClain has a mere six tackles.
Ryan Kerrigan/DE/Purdue: Kerrigan has been flying up draft boards as fast as any other senior in the nation. He leads the Boilermakers with 41 tackles and the Big Ten in tackles for loss (14) and sacks (5.5). Kerrigan's football skills compliment his impressive work ethic and high character. Scouts have said the sum total could push Kerrigan into the middle of round one.
JJ Watt*/DL/Wisconsin: The Badgers impressive underclassman continues to play at a high level. The 6-foot-5, 290-pound Watt has the size to stuff the run and athleticism to rush the passer. His upside is tremendous, and he'll get consideration from a number of 3-4 teams as well as those with conventional defenses.
Chris White/LB/Mississippi State: White has taken his game to another level this season and is rising up boards at the middle linebacker position. He's near the top of the list in the SEC for tackles, tackles for loss and sacks. During the victory over Florida last weekend White led the Bulldogs with 11 tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss and 2.5 sacks. He's a fierce two-down defender with a nose for the football.
Rodney Hudson/OL/Florida State: Hudson continues to establish himself as the top zone-blocking prospect in the nation. His ability to remove linebackers or defensive backs blocking in motion has allowed the Seminoles running game to take off. Scouts are split as to whether Hudson will be better off at center or guard in the NFL, yet most feel he has starting potential.
Joe Lefeged/S/Rutgers: The Scarlet Knights starting safety over the past three seasons is developing a complete game as a senior. Lefeged has always been a terrific run defender; he's second on the team with 41 tackles this year. His six pass defenses to date are a career high. The senior is also a terrific special teams player. He's blocked two kicks this season besides averaging just under 28 yards on 14 kick returns.
Jerrel Jernigan/WR/Troy State: Jernigan registered 70 or more receptions each of the past two seasons and is putting up career numbers as a senior. The all-purpose player has also made an impact on special teams. This season Jernigan has averaged 18 yards on eight punt returns with one score and 34.4-yards on nine kick returns with another touchdown. His 75-yard punt return on Saturday helped swing the game in Troy's favor in its victory over conference rival Louisiana-Lafayette. Jernigan also caught six passes during the game.
NFL teams needing a reliable receiver who doubles as a return specialist are sure to look Jernigan's way, starting in the third round next April.
Chase Minnifield*/CB/Virginia: Playing with Ras-I Dowling this season and behind Chris Cook one year ago means Minnifield is often overlooked. Yet the junior has taken advantage of his opportunity in 2010 and is turning into one of the better cornerbacks in the ACC. His combination of three interceptions and four pass break-ups stands as one of the best marks in the conference. Minnifield offers the size and ball skills to develop into a starting cornerback at the next level.
Dwayne Harris/WR/ECU: Harris doesn't get the headlines, but scouts are aware of his talents and gave him a third-round grade coming into the season. He has proved himself worthy of the mark, most recently catching nine passes for 99 yards and one score during the Pirates' upending of North Carolina State. He's a reliable possession wideout with possibilities as a number three at the next level.
SLEEPER ALERT -- Greg Salas/WR/Hawaii: Hawaii is in the midst of a terrific season and Salas has been the team's driving force on offense. During the upset over ranked Nevada, the receiver registered 11 receptions for 153 yards, accounting for more than half of the Warriors' offense. He's on pace to top last season's 106 receptions and 1,590 receiving yards. Salas is a well-sized receiver with deceptive speed as evidenced by his per-catch average of 15 yards. Graded as a fringe late-round pick entering the season, Salas has since moved into the middle frames.
• Houston Cougar senior quarterback Case Keenum, who was lost for the season after suffering a torn knee ligament last month, has announced he will seek a sixth year of eligibility from the NCAA. Considering the top two underclassmen quarterbacks (Andrew Luck/Stanford, Ryan Mallett/Arkansas) are likely to enter the draft, scouts feel this is the best course of action for Keenum.
• Notre Dame junior Kyle Rudolph, who was rumored to be heading to the NFL after the season, will have to rethink his plans. The tight end underwent successful surgery to repair a damaged tendon in his hamstring. Recovery, however, could take six months. Rudolph's injury deals a blow to an already poor crop of tight ends, though few stamped him as a first-round pick.