Sure, there are still plenty of college football bowl games still going on, but it's never to early to talk about the NFL draft. The latest 2012 NFL mock draft is up at SB Nation, and a pair of USC Trojans juniors are expected to be drafted in the first round. It appears left tackle Matt Kalil and defensive end Nick Perry made wise financial decisions to leave school early.
Kalil is projected to be picked No. 2 in the draft by the St. Louis Rams according to Ryan Van Bibber, and with good reason. The All-American left tackle protected quarterback Matt Barkley's blind side all season, and was part of a unit that saw Barkley get sacked only eight times, the best in the nation. Kalil himself allowed zero sacks.
Perry, who led the Trojans with 9.5 sacks, is projected to be picked 18th by the San Diego Chargers. "Remember a time when the Chargers pass rush was feared?" Van Bibber asked. "The defense needs to recapture some of that. In a draft where no pass rushers stand out, Perry is a solid pick in this spot."
USC could have had three first round picks, but instead they will enjoy the alternative as Barkley decided just before Christmas that he would return to the Trojans for his senior season to lead a team that will almost certainly be ranked near the top of the preseason polls.
For more on USC football, head on over to Conquest Chronicles.