Oh, we in the media never learn. Less than a week removed from thousands of mock drafts being blown to smithereens by trades, deals, slides and reaches… NFL writers are already posting their projections for next year’s draft.
Newsflash: If folks can’t get a mock draft done the night before the actual draft right, how the heck can anyone pay attention to a mock draft done 12 months in advance? There’s simply no telling which players will have health on their side for the next year. There’s no way of knowing which player will punch a fellow student this summer or a cop the weekend before next year’s draft, undermining his own on-field exploits. We can’t know who’ll show up big, small, fast, slow, strong or weak at the NFL combine next February.
And, oh yeah, we haven’t seen any of these guys play any football during the 2012 season yet because that season is still four months a way. Not to mention the fact that we have no idea what next year’s NFL draft order will be because that league’s season is still four months and one week away.
All that said, Andrew Perloff of SI.com has already put himself out on the ledge with his prognostications for next year’s selection process. The big surprise? That all-everything quarterback prospect Matt Barkley of Southern Cal isn’t at the top of his draft board. In fact, he’s not even the top quarterback on Perloff’s list. Or even the second, for that matter.
Nope, Perloff lists a pair of Southeastern Conference signal-callers named Tyler ahead of Barkley. His top Tyler is Arkansas’ Tyler Wilson. He’s currently projected by Perloff to be the top pick in next year’s draft overall:
“1. Jacksonville Jaguars — Tyler Wilson, QB, Arkansas
The Jaguars made a commitment to Blaine Gabbert this offseason by improving his receiving corps, but those efforts may give them an excuse for dumping him if the offense struggles again this season. They can say they tried to put Gabbert in a position to succeed, and move on. Wilson may have been the third quarterback taken if he had entered this year’s draft. He doesn’t jump out at you as a classic No. 1 overall, but will end up grading higher than both Matt Barkley and Tyler Bray.”
From that description, you can probably guess the other SEC Tyler who Perloff sees going before Barkley:
“4. Oakland Raiders — Tyler Bray, QB, Tennessee
If you want to see what an NFL throw looks like, look up Bray on YouTube. But the 6-foot-6 signal-caller has been inconsistent at Tennessee — in part because he and his receivers have been injured. He’s a boom-or-bust prospect a year out — he’s been fragile and could move up to No. 1 or fall back into the pack.”
For the record, Bray was recruited to Knoxville by Barkley’s current coach — Lane Kiffin — during his lone season in the Smokies. Ironically, Perloff finally has Barkley being selected with the #8 pick of next year’s draft by the man who signed him at Southern Cal, Pete Carroll of the Seattle Seahawks.
As for Perloff’s other SEC projections, here goes:
2. Luke Joeckel, OT, Texas A&M to the Colts
6. Sam Montgomery, DE, LSU to the Browns
9. Barrett Jones, OT, Alabama to the Rams
10. Jarvis Jones, OLB, Georgia to the Panthers
11. Johnthan Banks, CB, Mississippi State to the Redskins
12. Chris Fault, OT, LSU to the Bills
15. Marcus Lattimore, RB, South Carolina to the Lions
16. Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M to the Cowboys
18. Justin Hunter, WR, Tennessee to the Bengals
24. Barkevious Mingo, DE/OLB, LSU to the Saints
26. DJ Fluker, OT, Alabama to the 49ers
30. Eric Reid, S, LSU to the Eagles
31. John Jenkins, DT, Georgia to the Steelers
32. Sean Porter, OLB, Texas A&M to the Packers
For those keeping track at home, that’s 16 of the first 32 picks in next year’s NFL draft who Perloff projects to emerge from the Southeastern Conference. (This line has been corrected and #2 overall predicted pick Joeckel has been added to our list. Sorry we missed him the first time ’round.)