This week’s update comes two-days early. Mock drafts this early are always difficult and this remains a loose projection at best. We’re still yet to see the likes of A.J. Green and Robert Quinn in action this year due to suspension, although Green returns after week four. However, I’m starting to feel like we’re getting there slowly and some prospects are starting to make their move to secure high grades. You can see the updated mock draft by clicking here.
First the positives…
Mark Ingram deserves to go as early as I’ve placed him. I truly believe he’s a star in the making and he could be the best overall prospect in this draft class. It’s close between Ingram, Patrick Peterson (CB, LSU) and A.J. Green (WR, Georgia) – all underclassmen. I have no issues placing a running back this early because he’s good enough. He’ll be a star. I went back and watched last year’s BCS Title game against Texas. I went back and watched ‘Bama’s win over Florida. I watched Saturday’s win at Arkansas. Ingram will start in week one next year (health permitting) and he will win games of football.
I’m not convinced Ryan Kerrigan will necessarily go this early due to a lack of elite edge burst, but he’s moving up the board. With five sacks so far, if he continues to produce his stock will continue to rise. He’s a relentless pass rusher with solid production who’s compared favorably to Chris Long. Kerrigan won’t go 2nd overall like Long and some teams will be wary of the comparison. However – it could help him crack the first round and potentially go top-15.
No pick for the Seahawks this time round as it’s only a top-15 projection. This is the first time since the blog started that I haven’t included Seattle in a mock, because they’ve always been amongst the early selections. Whilst they share a lead of the NFC West and with Arizona scraping past Oakland and St. Louis, ranking Seattle #1 in the NFC West is enough to see them picking 21st overall at best. Therefore, no pick this time round – which is a positive for the team’s ambitions.
Now the negatives…
The quarterback debate continues to rage on. Here’s the issue I have – for differing reasons I have major concerns with Andrew Luck, Ryan Mallett and Jake Locker – the only three realistic candidates to go early in 2011. Although concerns also surfaced on Matt Stafford, Mark Sanchez and Sam Bradford, none of the previous mentioned trio match up to the most recent top draft picks at the position. You have to believe one will go early, probably even first overall, because of the importance of the QB position. I’ve gone with Andrew Luck not because I’m high on his pro-prospects (I think he could be Joey Harrington mark II). I’ve gone with Luck because whilst he carries the lowest ceiling, he also offers the least risk. One poor team will believe he can start early because of that, alongside his humble personality, intelligence and winning season with Stanford. In reality, I’m not sure he isn’t just a game-manager in college who is yet to dominate with his arm and whom relies on one of the best ground games in CFB.
I’ve also left Locker and Mallett out of the top-15 for the first time despite a few teams really needing a franchise quarterback. Locker may fall because for me, despite his huge potential he simply is nowhere near ready to start in the NFL. He absolutely must have a two-year redshirt period similar to Aaron Rodgers in Green Bay. Of course, all rookie QB’s could use that. However, Locker needs it more than most. That could easily put some teams off and lead to a slight fall into the 20′s. Mallett has great physical qualities but he too has a lot to learn and concerns remain about his character and ability to lead a franchise. A lot of quarterback needy teams didn’t entertain selecting Jimmy Clausen last year, so it wouldn’t surprise me if they were over cautious again in 2011.