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2012 NFL Mock Draft: Is Luke Kuechly A First Rounder Next Year?

Brian: Because apparently it's never too early to look ahead to the next NFL Draft, SB Nation's Brian Galliford took a crack at projecting out the first round of next year's Draft. And with the 31st overall pick of the 2012 NFL Draft, the New England Patriots select ...

"Luke Kuechly, LB, Boston College. This local product is a perfect fit for the Patriots, even if they've already got Jerod Mayo and Brandon Spikes inside."

Uh oh. Kuechly turning pro a year early? What do you think? Is next year it for Kuechly? And do you think he's a first rounder?

Jeff: No, I do not think next year is it for Kuechly. For Kuechly to leave early, he would have to be a first rounder. I don't see him leaving if he's projected any less than a first round pick. From everything we know, he is not having any trouble academically and is happy at BC. Kuechly is a great player but does not have the typical size and speed measurables that NFL teams usually look for. He might be the best college linebacker in college football next season but there is no scenario where I see him being the top linebacker selected in the 2012 or 2013 NFL Draft. An NFL team will not use that high a pick on a linebacker that doesn't have more size and at least just as much quickness.

Kuechly has superior instincts to those who he'll be compared to but that trait will not be given enough weight by the GMs of the NFL to make him the top one or two LBs selected in the draft. I think Luke Kuechly will play two more seasons and then will get drafted, but probably a second or third round pick.

Brian: Any other BC players on your radar for 2012 NFL Draft prospects? Where do you think BC running back Montel Harris projects? How about Colin Larmond Jr or Ifeanyi Momah? Your thoughts?

Jeff: I expect Montel Harris to be a 2012 draft pick. If he recovers fully from injury and has a great statistical season this year, then I think he will even be a first round pick. How high Harris will go is still very much up in the air, but I think it is highly likely that he'll be drafted especially since smaller backs in the NFL have had a little more success recently. Who else will get drafted this season though? I don't know. I do not think any wide outs will get drafted. There are not many prospects to be future NFL players for 2012 in my opinion, partly because we just don't have many seniors this year.