I’ve published an updated mock draft following the opening weekend of the college football season. You can find the latest mock at any time by clicking the ‘Mock Draft’ link on the menu-bar or simply click here. We’re still nowhere close to making accurate projections on the 2011 draft, but I’ll keep publishing a regular weekly update. The thing that strikes me most in comparison to last year, is the lack of ‘sure things’ at the top of round one. Last year, Ndamukong Suh and Gerald McCoy never left my top-three picks and ultimately, that proved true on draft day. Sam Bradford, even with his injury, appeared almost certain to be the first quarterback taken and a top five pick. I wasn’t always convinced but many others had Eric Berry and Russell Okung as top-ten locks and I felt confident C.J. Spiller would fall in the same range. Good luck trying to find similar ‘sure-things’ for 2011.
Of course, there are the usual big names. Jake Locker is a consensus top-ten pick at the moment, but I need to be convinced. I’ve seen precious little from Locker – indeed his solid display against Arizona in 2009 is my only experience. However, I do have reservations even despite the most recent hype. Whilst speculation suggesting he received a second-round grade from the draft committee this year may be exaggerated, I would like to study how Locker has adapted to a pro-style offense and discover whether he can be steady most of the time, not necessarily mind blowing some of the time.
Andrew Luck is another much talked about quarterback. Again, I need to be convinced. I’ll be watching Stanford vs UCLA this weekend to see how he performs against a defense containing another of my favorite prospects, Akeem Ayers. For more on UCLA’s playmaker on defense download the latest Seahawks Draft Blog podcast. I specifically want to see Luck lead his team now that touchdown machine and Heisman finalist Toby Gerhart is in the NFL. The other issue is, Luck is a redshirt sophomore meaning he could stay with Stanford until the 2013 draft if he so wished. That’s unlikely of course, but it does mean there’s no pressure to declare for the 2011 event either. Sam Bradford and Jake Locker have most recently stayed in school when most expected them to declare so we’ll have to wait a while to find out Luck’s intentions.
The cloud hanging over many prospects also makes things difficult to project. Robert Quinn was one of a number of star names missing for UNC this weekend and we’re no nearer to finding out when he’ll be available. Could he miss a year like Dez Bryant in 2009? How will it affect his stock if he does miss a substantial amount of time? What about Georgia’s exciting receiver A.J. Green? It was announced today he’ll be suspended for four games – how will that affect his performance and draft stock?
Name a top prospect and I’ll give you an issue of some kind. Patrick Peterson? Left the field several times against UNC and likely won’t be thrown at much in 2010. Julio Jones? Dropped too many balls last year and needs to concentrate more. Ryan Mallett? Inconsistency was a real issue last year and some have asked questions about his character. Mark Ingram – injuries and physical running style. Adrian Clayborn – off the field incident that will need to be looked at by scouts. You get the picture.
So projections at this stage are more guess-work than last year for sure. Nevertheless, some really impressed in week one and deserve to be moving up boards (Christian Ponder) and others are unfortunate not to be included but deserve a mention (Akeem Ayers, Rodney Hudson, Jurrell Casey, Aaron Williams, Ryan Kerrigan). Others have a point to prove, but certainly own the talent to succeed (Michael Floyd, Jonathan Baldwin, Mark Ingram).