SB Nation's own Mocking the Draft recently released an updated Top 200 Prospects List for the upcoming 2011 draft, and there are a number of defensive players who are highly ranked. Players the Denver Broncos should be interested in, such as DE Da'Quan Bowers, DE/DT Nick Fairley and CBs Patrick Peterson and Prince Amukamara are all ranked inside the top 10. Right now, we'll find these players in various places in the top 10, but Bowers and Peterson seem destined to be the top-ranked defensive players in the 2011 draft.
Somewhat interestingly, Georgia wide receiver A.J. Green is Mocking Dan's No. 1 overall prospect. On Wednesday night there were reports that Green, a junior, had already decided to enter April's draft. However, he later tweeted that he had yet to make a decision. Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck didn't fall far, coming in as the No. 2 prospect.
Other defensive players that could make their way into consideration for the Broncos should they do well during pre-draft workouts and interviews could be North Carolina defensive end Robert Quinn (No. 9) and Ohio State defensive end Cameron Heyward (No. 11). Quinn is a junior who would need to declare for the draft. Adrian Clayborn (No. 12) could also be in play. But beware of other players who could turn into workout warriors over the next few months.
There are only a few local products in this top 200. Both are from the Colorado Buffaloes: cornerback Jimmy Smith and offensive tackle Nate Solder. They come in consecutively at No. 35-No. 36, putting them on the bubble of the first round.
Solder is a 6-foot-9, 315-pound tackle who has been highly thought of for years. In this top 200, he is the fourth-rated offensive tackle, behind Ole Miss' Derek Sherrod, Boston College's Anthony Castonzo and Wisconsin's Gabe Carimi (who won the 2010 Outland Trophy). I wouldn't be surprised to see Solder move up into the first round come April.