By Rob Staton
Let's make this clear right away - this isn't a serious attempt to try and predict what will happen in 12 months time. Events during the 2010 college season will almost certainly make most of this redundant by the time we begin to seriously try and guess what will happen in the 2011 draft. In what could be a strong year for quarterbacks, there's about 4-5 prospects who could legitimately make big moves up a draft board by the end of the year. What I've written below is merely for the purpose of being able to look back a year from now and see how just how things changed or if any of this actually came true. I decided the draft order randomly. Without further ado, here's my premature 2011 mock draft:
#1 Buffalo: Ryan Mallett (QB, Arkansas)
If the Bills are picking first overall, they'll almost certainly draft the top ranked quarterback. Mallett has a cannon arm and retains a lot of his weapons in Arkansas. With an extra year's seasoning, he could be #1 material in 12 months time.
#2 Tampa Bay: Gabe Carimi (OT, Wisconsin)
If the Buccs are picking this high, we might see big changes within the organisation. If this is the start of another rebuild, they might invest in the top offensive lineman.
#3 Kansas City: Jake Locker (QB, Washington)
If the Chiefs are picking this high, they could cut Matt Cassel (his contract has an easy get out after 2010). Finding a long term answer at quarterback is a must for Kansas City.
#4 St. Louis: Patrick Peterson (CB, LSU)
Taking a top defensive lineman could be an alternative, but Peterson really impressed me when watching LSU last year. If he can develop into more of a playmaker, he could easily be a high pick next year.
#5 Cleveland: Adrian Clayborn (DE, Iowa)
This guy is fun to watch. Whether Cleveland sticks with a 3-4 or move to a 4-3, he fits either scheme. Off the field issues could push him down the board, but talent is worthy of a top pick.
#6 Detroit: Prince Amukamara (CB, Nebraska)
We'll soon find out just how good Nebraska's existing defensive talent really is now that Ndamukong Suh is in the NFL. Amukamara had five picks last year and looked very good, but how much was down to pressure up front with Suh and Crick?
#7 Seattle: Jonathan Baldwin (WR, Pittsburgh)
Baldwin is big (6'5", 225lbs), he gets downfield, he has strong hands and he can make spectacular catches. For me, this is the #1 receiver prospect to keep an eye on in 2010. He fits what Seattle is looking for in a #1 receiver.
#8 Denver: Allen Bailey (DE, Miami)
The Broncos have moved prime veterans on and drafted potential replacements. It might take a while to come together. Bailey would play as a 3-4 five technique which will probably be a big need area for Denver next year.
#9 Jacksonville: Jerrod Johnson (QB, Texas A&M)
If the Jaguars don't improve upon last year, they're another team who might make big changes. Quarterback would probably be a target area and Johnson has the potential to put himself in a strong position if he continues his development.
#10 Pittsburgh: Mark Ingram (RB, Alabama)
The Steelers could have a bad year. Roethlisberger's suspension and a tough division could lead to a top ten pick. Ingram is a Pittsburgh type of football player, but he might lose some snaps to talented sophomore Trent Richardson next year.