Updated 2011 Mock Draft (09/08)

Florida State's Christian Ponder deserves greater attention

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).


  1. Seahawk Addicts

    Totally agree with you re: Locker. It’s blasphemy to say anything against him in Seattle, and hard to argue that he’s not one of the top three, but to proclaim him unequivocally the best with so much left to prove? Silly.

    I really like Ponder from what I’ve seen, but I’ll be tuning into that Oklahoma game in a major way. Need to see more from Luck.

    Great stuff as always, Rob!

  2. Attyla the Hawk

    I think that speaks more to the general depth of this draft across the board. In 2009, we had 3-5 OTs, 2 DTs and some other consolation prizes. It was so generically shallow in terms of breadth, that 2 safeties cracked the top 14 before a CB.

    This year, we have 2-3 QBs, 2-3 DEs, 2-3 DTs, 2-3 WRs, 1-2 CBs that all could go top 10. Last year you had just a small handful of talents at just a few positions that it wasn’t hard to see where value and opportunity intersected for a player to get drafted where they were.

    This year, there are a lot of talents several players deep. So team need will dictate more than available talent. There are probably 15-20 players that could be legitimate top 10 picks. That means some will slip through no fault of their own. But simply because some team picking at say #6 needs a CB more than a DT.

    Especially as last year closed, it became easy to see who would go where. The only questions being, would the Rams pass on a QB again, would Detroit opt for a LT to protect Stafford or to defense. And that’s about it. Once the draft order came out, it became pretty anticlimactic as to who would go where.

    I don’t see a Suh or McCoy dominating the DT picture this year. But then again, I don’t see a Tyson Alualu type of player even getting a sniff in the top 32. The depth in the 6 to 25 range is really really elite. And that’s right now — not even accounting for the half dozen underclassmen that come out of nowhere to get into the top 20.

    • Rob

      Some fair points Attyla. I think the last few drafts have lacked real elite talent and this will be no different. Last year, I think Bradford, Suh and McCoy were worthy of the top three picks. After that, you had a top ten filled with guys that could easily have gone 10-25.

      Next year might be the same, although Quinn isn’t the same kind of obvious choice a Suh or McCoy will have been this year. I’m also not convinced any of the QB prospects have the same kind of potential as Bradford and I do anticipate a QB will go #1 again so long as the team picking first hasn’t just spent a top pick on a QB.

      What it does mean is you’re not necessarily worse off picking at 15 then you are 5. Picking early is more expensive, but you’re more likely to get the guys you want. That might be vital for Seattle next year if they’re after a QB and the likes of Luck, Ponder, Locker, Mallett etc can prove worthy of high picks.

  3. Attyla the Hawk

    Picking early may be virtually painless in the new CBA. The obvious change would be the expected rookie pay scale. Going forward, teams won’t be blowing large portions of their cap space on untested rookies. By nipping it in the bud from the start, there isn’t even the spectre of needing to get out from under failed selections either.

    I’d be surprised if the first 5 picks don’t get half of what Bradford signed for combined.

    It will be fun to follow this season no question.

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