Updated mock draft: 09/27

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.


  1. PRP

    its always the same thing with QBs, and its not going to change… You are always going to take a gamble, and honestly ROb i think next year you are going to say pretty much the same thing again… This guy is this and that he has this tools, but im extremely concerned because of this and that. They are not Pros.

    Im glad you dont have the man crush with Mallet anymore, i think he has all the tools but remember Ryan Leaf? I rather take a gamble on a guy like Jake Locker who is a leader and has the physical tools than take my chances with a guy like Ryan Mallet who has been inconsistent all his college career and has some issues same thing goes with Luck, although he seems more like a calmed guy.

    Like Steve young said, the draft gurus have not found a fool proof method to draft QBs, but what i know is that to be successful he has to throw the ball in the right place at the right time anything besides that is useless.

    • Rob

      In fairness I was always high on Stafford, Sanchez and Bradford. There were concerns… Stafford (threw a lot into double coverage), Sanchez (release/mechanics) and Bradford (injuries). However, you just knew all of those technical issues could be tweaked easily and with Bradford, you just needed to feel confident about the shoulder. My concerns about Luck, Locker and Mallett are much greater, which is why I’ve gone this direction with the mock. Undoubtedly, one will go very early, possibly #1 depending on who has the pick. But whilst teams also value the QB position, they’ve also shown a fear factor – which is one of the reasons a lot of teams desperate for QB help passed on Clausen even at the top of round two. I think Locker will be a R1 pick, but I think he’s more likely to go in the 20’s as of today, but things can change.

  2. diehard82

    Don’t you think you should call this 1/2 Mock draft since you only go to pick 16?

    Also, personality, leadership, demeanor, are all important ingredients for a successful QB in the NFL. That’s how a noodle armed guy like Hasselbeck earns his keep. And why tremendously talented guys like Rivers and Cutler will never win a Superbowl. Locker can learn, he has all the tools, not just the physical ones. Luck may not be as physically talented as Locker, but he can be as good as Kyle Orton. I worry about Mallett. In the end, I still think Locker goes first of the bunch, followed by Luck, Ponder and Mallett. Foles should stay for another year.

    • Rob

      I agree that Locker can learn, but he will need time. There’s a possibility at this early projection stage that Luck goes #1 because teams will feel he can start quickly. Certainly, he’s got a much lower ceiling than Locker but he’s perhaps – even as a RSS – closer to his peak. The #1 team drafts a QB to start and for me, Locker cannot start week one. He’s one for the future, who has to learn to much to max out his potential. That, in my opinion, will stop he going very early in round one… but things can change.

  3. Matt

    Rob, completely agree with you on Luck. Everytime I watch him, I just don’t see it. Underwhelming arm strength and accuracy. Even his youtube highlights are really unimpressive which to me speaks volumes about how many throws he’s really made. I don’t doubt he’s a very intelligent kid, but to me, he seems like Christian Ponder. Smart guy who you might be able to win with because of their intelligence. Both fairly mobile, decent arm strength and accuracy. Ultimately I don’t think they are guys that will singlehandedly “win” games at the next level.

    Locker scares me, but if he fails in the NFL it will have nothing to do with work ethic or off field issues. To me, it’s a no brainer between him and Luck. It’s such an inexact science that I’d rather go with the toolsy guy (considering both have excellent work habits) and give him the time and build an offense around his strengths.

    I think this draft may be the most interesting draft in recent memory. Keep up the awesome work Rob. Been loving this site for a few years now.

    • Rob

      Thanks for the kind words Matt, and I agree with everything you say there. In fact, I think if you switched Ponder for Luck we may even be talking about Ponder as the #1 pick and Luck as a R2-3 choice. Both are mobile, intelligent QB’s that don’t have the big arm or great accuracy… they can manage a game well. It wouldn’t surprise me if Stanford went to Oklahoma that we wouldn’t see a very similar hammering that FSU had with Luck struggling – it happened in the bowl game (although Luck was injured for that). I don’t think either QB will translate particularly well to the next level because they’re neither physically elite nor incredibly accurate.

  4. akki

    There are too many teams in those top 15 picks with fanbases that are clamoring for new qbs – Buffalo, Cleveland, Carolina, Jacksonville, Washington (if McNabb leaves), Arizona, San Francisco, Minnesota. I can’t imagine all of them but one deciding that they can take care of qb later in the draft. (Yeah, I know that Clausen falling into the second round is a mark against my argument, but I think it still mostly applies).

    I haven’t seen anything of the top guys that suggests any of them will be Bradford. But consider that you historically get qbs taken in the 1st half of the 1st round despite warning signs.
    -sub 60% completion percentage, suggesting questionable accuracy – Joey Harrington, Akili Smith, Cade McNown, Michael Vick, Ryan Leaf, even Jay Cutler
    -played in systems without pro reads – Alex Smith, Tim Couch
    -obvious slow release and no mobility – Byron Leftwich
    Teams are willing to take guys high even if they have some warts.

    Couple more things on Luck:
    1) I don’t think at the end of the year, he’ll shed your game manager label, because that’s what Harbaugh asks him to do. It’s like, say, Joe Flacco and Mark Sanchez could put up huge numbers somewhere, but they won’t as long as they continue to play for teams with defense and run first philosophies.
    2) I’ve been maintaining that Luck wouldn’t come out after this year, but I’ll have to start reconsidering every time I hear about a NFL team wanting to hire Harbaugh. If Harbaugh jumps from Stanford, it’s much more likely to Luck to take off rather than learn a new system and deal with the potential downsides of it.

  5. Rob

    Tony Pauline, who has spoken with Luck’s family I believe, suggested it’s very likely Luck will declare. The NFL is seen as the key thing for them and apparently they want to ‘strike whilst the iron is hottest’. It’s unlikely Stanford will better whatever they achieve this year – and with other QB’s struggling it looks to me increasingly like Luck will declare.

    I appreciate there are a lot of teams who need a QB, but the idea of the projections (as with last year) is to review different possibilities and see what could happen rather than try and accurately predict this early what will happen. I certianly envisage a scenario where both Locker and Mallett drop, it’s not unrealistic despite those needs. Having had all three QB’s in my mocks at high positions, I felt the need to review other possibilities, this being one.

    • akki

      Understand the whole scenarios thing. It’s really a bunch of thought experiments when it’s so early, with 2/3 of the college season yet to go. You’re basically running a what-if based on 2 of the 3 top qbs being exposed, if not crashing and burning this year. It’s a possibility although none of them is pulling a Snead yet.

      • Rob

        Absolutely, none are going to have the dramatic fall Snead did. Mallett, depending on off the field issues which have bee speculated, may fall but not out of the draft completely. Locker, in my opinion, will be a first round pick – just not sure where right now. He has enough games against good teams to repair any damage created against Nebraska.

  6. drrew

    Andrew Luck is a super nice kid, I’ve spoken with him on a couple different occasions as his dad was President of the Houston Dynamo and Andrew came up a few times when they were playing the Sounders.

    So, as I said, super nice kid, but he doesn’t really have the persona that screams alpha male, leader of the team. Jake Locker has much more of an in person presence than Andrew Luck does, it’s just something intangible. I should note that most of my time talking to Luck was before he really arrived on the national scene, and he may have grown into the role more.

    That being said, Eli Manning doesn’t have that presence, and he’s a SuperBowl winning QB, while it literally emanates out of someone like Marques Tuiasosopo, and he couldn’t get on the field. So it may not mean anything.

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