I know, I know. It's absurd. Less than a week has passed since the completion of the 2011 NFL Draft, yet draftniks are already looking ahead to the 2012 NFL Draft by releasing the most preliminary of mocks. A million things can change between now and next April obviously, but the main obstacle to doing a compelling mock at this point is the simple fact that we don't know what order the NFL's 32 teams will be selecting at this time next year. Nevertheless, it's not entirely an exercise in futility to look ahead to what each team's primary needs might be next offseason, and then which college players might make sense as good fits for teams.â†µ
So, with that said, let's see what ESPN's Todd McShay had to say in his intial 2012 NFL Mock Draft ($). McShay begins with Andrew Luck, the Stanford Cardinal quarterback who opted to return to Palo Alto for his senior season despite head coach Jim Harbaugh packing his bags and making the short trip over to the San Francisco 49ers headquarters.
2010 record: 5-11 | Needs: ROT, OLB, CB, OG, WRâ†µ
Andrew Luck*, QB, Stanfordâ†µ
Luck is a once-in-a-decade kind of talent with all the tools to be an elite NFL quarterback. He returned to Stanford for the 2011 season even though coach Jim Harbaugh moved to the NFL, and the team with the No. 1 overall pick in 2012 should trade its existing quarterback to draft Luck. He's that good. If not, the pick will be up for public auction.â†µ
Hmm. Interesting. Not the part where Luck goes No. 1, but the fact that McShay thinks it will be Cleveland who winds up with the worst record in the NFL in 2011. I mean, the Browns definitely have work to do before they're positioned to compete for playoff berths with the likes of the Steelers and Baltimore Ravens. But the Browns are definitely on the right track after last year's campaign and this year's draft haul. I also don't think that Colt McCoy is going to have the type of season in '11 that allows Mike Holmgren and the rest of the Browns' front office to even consider trading him away.â†µ
Let's move on to the Steelers, though.â†µ
2010 record: 12-4 | Needs: NT, CB, WR, TE, OGâ†µ
Kelechi Osemele, OL, Iowa Stateâ†µ
A versatile prospect, Osemele (6-4, 325) starts at left tackle for Iowa State and is arguably the best overall player for the Cyclones. He could potentially play guard or right tackle in the NFL.â†µ
Can't say I've yet to dig in and learn anything about next year's crop of NFL hopefuls. But I'll keep an eye on the Cyclones OT. The selection makes sense. I, for one, am not convinced that the Steelers found their tackle of the future in Marcus Gilbert - be it on the right or left side. More importantly, though, we'll have a better idea of what the depth chart at OT looks like after this coming season. Flozell Adams' contract will be up, and at his age, you have to think that '11 might be the end of the road for him. With Willie Colon, the Steelers will know for sure whether the 2006 draft pick will be under contract or already released and playing for another team once the NFL Lockout is finally resolved sometime in the future.â†µ
Okay, back to reality. We have plenty of time before returning our undivided attention to the draft. Like months and months of time. But still, interesting to see what the 'experts' think the pre-draft landscape will look like around the league in the spring of 2012.