One key to successful drafting is having a solid plan for the future and that's not including the immediate future. It's best to go into draft with some sort of plan and idea of what your going to do next year as well. The 2011 draft will be in a couple months and I know the second it's over some of you will be start making a mock draft for 2012. However a smart GM's not going to wait till after the draft to start scouting the available talent. Most of their resources will be focused on this years draft but they will have an idea of what will be available next year. It would not smart to go into a draft with no idea what will be available next year and knowing what will be available next year can influence what a team decides to do this year. So with further adieu, here are some of the top picks of 2012:
Note: I am not saying we should base our draft solely on what will be available next year. Just saying we should have an idea of what will be available next year and to have a plan beyond one year.
Also note that it can be hard to scout for a draft past the upcoming one so if I missed any names (and I know I did) please feel free to mention them in the comments section. This post is meant to introduce a bunch of next years top picks. It's not meant to rank them.
I'm including qb because by the end of 2011 we will hopefully have an idea on whether of not the Tebow experiment will be a success and if we should consider taking a qb with our top pick
Andrew Luck, Standford - Right now he is the #1 pick and is considered the next elite level qb. My opinion is that with a new coach at Stanford he won't have the same success he had last year but I doubt he'll take a Locker nose drop (remember Locker was considered ahead of Bradford in 09 but is now considered a borderline 1st round talent). He's a lock for the top five Top 5.
Landry Jones, Oklahoma - Had a very impressive sophomore year throwing for 4,700 yards, 38 touchdowns vs. 12 ints and a 146 passer rating. With a good year next year, will be a top 10 lock.
Matt Barkley, USC - Good qb that plays for a mediocre team. As a sophomore in 2010 he threw for 2,700 yards, 26 touchdowns, 12 interceptions and had a 141 qb rating. Inconsistent at times. Like Jones, with a good year, he'll be a top 10 lock due to position played.
Other mentionable names - John Brantley Florida, Terrelle Pryor Ohio State, Kirk Cousins Michigan State
Quinton Coples North, Carolina - Stept up for the Tar Heels with Robert Quinn being suspended and is built exactly like Quinn at 6-6 273 lbs. Registered 10 sacks and 15.5 TFLs. Top 10 talent.
Courtney Upshaw, Alabama - more of a rush LB then a DE, Upshaw had 14.5 TFL and 7.5 sacks. Top 25
Devin Taylor South, Carolina - this physically gifted DE notched 7.5 sacks and 12 TFLs. 1st round pick
Other mentionable names - Nick Perry USC, Jared Crick Nebraska, Andre Branch Clemson, Kawaan Short Purdue, Jack Crawford Penn State, Julian Miller West Virginia
Jerel Worthy, Michigan State - As a sophomore faced constant double teams so his stats aren't great but he has tons of potential. Top 15 talent
Marcus Forston, Miami - is a big man at 6-3 310 lbs but is also a gifted athlete. Top 20 talent
Other notable names - Kerrel Murphy Alabama, Derel Wolfe Cincinatti
Vontaze Burflict, Arizona State - This guy is a stud. As a sophomore he had 90 tackles including 8.5 for losses. I'd say top 10 pick but because of his position he'll probably fall to the teens.
Manti Te'o, Notre Dame - Another stud. As a sophomore he notched 123 tackles and 8.5 TFL. Once again i'd say top 10 but will probably fall to around 15-20.
Luke Kuechly, Boston College - Going by stats alone this guy would be awesome. As a freshman he had a 158 tackles including 13 TFL's. If he declares for the draft he's considered a borderline 1st round pick.
Other notable names - Donta Hightower Alabama, Tank Carder TCU, Brandon May Clemson, Korey Williams Southern Miss
Zach Brown, North Carolina - Considered a WILL LB, right now one of the top ranked OLB. Borderline 1st round pick
Lawrence Wilson, Connecticut - Another WILL, has alot of potential but is considered a 2nd or 3rd round talent
Other notable names - i didn't find much here, some good mid round prospects but nothing more
Dre Kirkpatrick, Alabama- The Patrick Peterson of this years draft. Just as physically gifted and much more fluid. One of my biggest arguments against taking Peterson would be to target this guy. I'm putting him as a top 10 pick right now because of his position but if he has a solid year he could be a top 5.
Stephen Gilmore, South Carolina - started as a freshman and had a solid sophomore year. Not as physically gifted as Kirkpatrick but just as talented. Top 15 pick.
Other notable names - Cliff Harris Oregon, Alfonzo Dennard Nebraska, Desmond Trufant Washington, Neiko Thorpe Auburn, Kenny Okoro Wake Forest, Cameron Chism Maryland (note the first three are 1st round talents, i was just lazy and didn't wanna write out a summary of them).
Janzen Jackson, Tennesse - a physically gifted FS who notched 70 tackles and 5 INTs this year. Top 20 talent
Ray Ray Armstrong, Miami - the name alone spells hard hitting strong safety lol. 1st round talent
Kenny Tate, Maryland - this guy is huge and can play either FS or SS. borderline 1st round talent
Other mentionable names - Rashard Hall Clemson (FS), Brandon Taylor LSU (FS)
Both this years and next years draft's are pretty good. This year's strength (pertaining to our needs) is the entire defensive line and next year is ILB and DE. CB in both this years and next years draft's are pretty good but i think i'd have to give the edge to 2012. If I were the broncos, I'd heavily target the defensive line this year (particularily inside) with our 1st 4 picks. If a solid starting CB isn't had in 2011 or Perrish Cox isn't working out, one can easily be targeted in 2012. ILB should be the main focus in 2012. I know Casey Matthews and few other good ILB's are available this year but if I was the Broncos I'd pick up a decent OLB (probably in free agency) this year and wait till next year to find our next Al Wilson. The only position that might be hard to upgrade this year or next is safety. I left TE and RT off because I figure we'll address both those positions this year and both don't need to be addressed with a top pick anyways.
All in all, the Broncos could very easily completely rebuild the defense over the next two years. With some solid drafting, a few good free agent pickups and some slight tinkering on the offense, this team will once again be competing at the high level we use to know very well.
Go Broncos... Orange Crush FTW!