Here are the top prospects for the 2011 NFL Draft that will be on the field Thursday night when the Panthers face the Utes in Salt Lake City.
University of Pittsburgh at University of Utah, 7:30 p.m. on Versus
(1st-Round) #91 DE Greg Romeus (right), 6-5, 268 pounds, 4.79 seconds in 40-yard dash, Redshirt-Senior.
The ’09 Big East Conference Co-Defensive Player of the Year with 43 tackles 11.5 TFL and eight sacks. Romeus clinched victory over Notre Dame by forcing a fumble by QB Jimmy Clausen with 2:10 left to play that was recovered by Pitt. He has 19.5 career sacks. Romeus played just one year of high school football and was known more as a basketball player at Coral Glades HS in Florida. He petitioned NFL Adivsory Committee last year and was told he was not a first-round pick, so he returned for his final season of eligiblity. Romeus suffered from back spasms during Pitt’s camp, missing a week of practice.
(1st-Round)#82 WR Jon Baldwin, 6-5, 225 pounds, 4.48 seconds, Junior
A Larry Fitzgerald-like product out of the Pitt offense, Baldwin was a first team All-Big East receiver in ’09 as a sophomore, catching 57 passes for 1,111 yards and eight TD catches. Among those scoring catches were touchdwons of 71 and 79 yards. Coming out of Aliquippa H.S., he was a football-basketball-track standout. He’s big, strong and fast — a prototypical package for today’s NFL receiver.
(2nd-Round) #77 OT Jason Pinkston, 6-4, 308, 5.12 seconds, Redshirt-Senior.First-team All-Big East Conference left tackle in ’09, Pinkston has battled shoulder problems in his career. He missed most of ’07 season with a left shoulder injury that required surgery. He missed the Sun Bowl in ’08 with a right shoulder problem. He has 28 career starts the last 25 at left tackle. Pinkston began his Pitt career as a defensive tackle after graduating from Baldwin H.S. in suburban Pittsburgh.
(3rd-Round) #97 DE Jabaal Sheard, 6-3, 255, 4.76 seconds, Senior.
He’s entering his third season as a starter at defensive end, as Sheard has opened 26 consecutive games and contributed 10.5 sacks, 87 tackles, 21 TFLs and 23 QB hurries in the ’08-’09 seasons. He was arrested in July in Pittsburgh for throwing a man through the glass doors of an art gallery in a fight. Sheard pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct and was fined $300 and he had to pay for the other man’s medical bills. A Florida product out of Hollywood Hills H.S., Sheard was once timed in the 40 at 4.6 seconds.
(5th-Round) #27 CB Brandon Burton, 6-0, 185 pounds, 4.49, Redshirt-Junior.
Selected a pre-season All-Mountain West Conference defensive back for the 2010 season Burton broke up 10 passes last year. He also broke up 10 passes and had 47 tackles, with four TFL and a sack. Burton came out of Clear Creek H.S. in Texas.
(5th-round) #36 RB Eddie Wide (left), 5-9Â½, 195 pounds, 4.53, Senior.
He broke through last year when he ran for 1,069 yards for the Utes, on 203 carries with 12 rushing TDs. Wide had six straight 100-yard games and averaged 82.2 yards per game. He earned first team All-Mountain West Conference designation. Coming out of Cimarron Memorial H.S. in Nevada, he has won several academic honors.
(6th-Round) #96 DE Junior Tui’one, 6-4, 265 pounds, 4.64, Senior
He played in nine games last year and had 1.5 sacks backing up Koa Misi, a second-round pick by Miami in the ’09 NFL Draft. An older college senior (he’ll be 25 in December) because of a two-year LDS mission to Panama, he began his career at El Camino JUCO before signing with Utah. Tui’one played at Leuzinger H.S. in California.
(6th-Round) #77 C Zane Taylor, 6-2, 300 pounds, 5.06, Redshirt-Senior.
A two-year starter at center for the Utes, he was named second team All-Mountain West Conference for the ’09 season. He’s very smart, registering GPA’s in the high 3.8 range and earning conference all-academic honors each year he’s been at Utah. Taylor is the strongest player on the team, with a bench press of 440 pounds and he completed 41 reps at 225 pounds. He played at Grand County H.S. in Utah.