NFL 2011 Draft Analysis

The 2011 NFL Draft is now in the books as the on-again, off-again lockout is now on-again.

As I fly today from Dayton, Ohio to Atlanta, Georgia and then to Columbia, South Carolina, here is my quick analysis of the 32 picks of the first round.

1.) Carolina Panthers–Quarterback Cam Newton. This was a very dicey pick but the Panthers were backed into a corner. They wanted to trade down but in a very rare (perhaps unprecedented) scenario, nobody else wanted to trade up. Not a single team wanted the top pick. Part of it is the possible $55 million signing bonus. Part of it is that while Newton has plenty of talent, he has had off the field issues. He could be the next JaMarcus Russell. Yet the Panthers were left holding the bag, and they either have their quarterback of the future or a nightmare.

2.) Denver Broncos–Linebacker Von Miller. Jon Fox went from the worst team to the second worst team, but his forte is defense. This was a safe pick that was totally sensible. Denver needs defense.

3.) Buffalo Bills–Defensive Tackle Marcel Darreus. This was another safe pick. The Bills need help everywhere, and defense is the way to build through the draft.

4.) Cincinnati Bengals–Wide Receiver AJ Green. I hate this pick. The Bengals have offensive talent, but are a mess on defense. Maybe this kid will get Carson Palmer to unretire, but is Green a replacement for Chad Johnson or Terrell Owens, or does the team now have three receivers to complain and share the ball? Then the Bengals in the second round draft quarterback Andy Dalton, showing zero regard for Palmer. If Palmer does retire, Dalton will start surrounded by malcontents. Only Mike Brown could create such a mess.

5.) Arizona Cardinals–Cornerback Patrick Peterson. While the Cardinals still have not found the quarterback to replace Kurt Warner, it is hard to argue with this pick. Their division rivals have Michael Crabtree. Somebody needs to play better defense in this division.

6.) Atlanta Falcons–Wide Receiver Julio Jones. This might be the worst pick in the entire draft given that the Falcons gave up a king’s ransom. A pair of # 1s, a 3, and a pair of 4s? That might win in poker, but in the NFL? Atlanta is built right now to win it all, and yes this kid will be a great toy for Matt Ryan. Yet it was not the offense that gave up 48 points at home in the playoffs to Green Bay. They should have fortified the defense that got torched. If they do not win it all, they will decline rapidly. Super Bowl or bust.

7.) San Francisco 49ers–Defensive End Aldon Smith. Jim Harbaugh knows quarterbacks, and with several available I guess he did not like what he saw. This pick could have been made by Mike Singletary, but that does not mean there is anything wrong with it.¬† Shoring up the defense is never a bad thing.

8.) Tennessee Titans–Quarterback Jake Locker. This pick surprised me. While Mike Munchak said that Vince Young was not coming back, this did seem to be a bit early to take Locker. Tennessee should have tried to trade down. Then again, the kid will be ok if he knows how to hand off to Chris Johnson.

9.) Dallas Cowboys–Offensive Tackle Tyron Smith. I love this pick. Tony Romo ended last year on injured reserve. For years Flozell Adams protected the blind side, and now Romo has his shield.

10.) Jacksonville Jaguars–Quarterback Blaine Gabbert. This pick makes zero sense to me. I understand Jack Del Rio is on the hot seat and the team may have to move cities if they do not get a big name to put people in the stands. This is similar to Denver taking Tim Tebow when Kyle Orton was not the problem. There is nothing wrong with David Garrard, and this shoves Garrard under the bus. The Jaguars should have gone with defense, but anything other than quarterback made sense.

11.) Houston Texans–Defensive End JJ Watt. This pick is solid. Gary Kubiak has a fantastic offense but is on the hot seat because of a dreadful defense. Bring in Wade Phillips as defensive coordinator, and add a new toy to play alongside of Mario Williams and Brian Cushing. This was very smart. Matt Schaub, Arriun Foster, and Andre Johnson finally have help on the other side of the ball. Playoffs or blow the team up.

12.) Minnesota Vikings–Quarterback Christian Ponder. No way. Not at all. Look, we all think we know that # 4 Brett Favre is finally retired for real this time. We also know that backup Tarvaris Jackson was not the answer. Yet 3rd stringer Joe Webb looked impressive and should have been given a fair shot. Minnesota could have waited for this pick to fall. They got antsy. An offensive lineman would have made more sense.

13.) Detroit Lions–Defensive Tackle Nick Fairley. Excellent pick. The Detroit Lions after years of losing ended last year 4-0. To have this guy line up next to Ndamokung Suh is fantastic. This entire team hinges on Matthew Stafford finally staying healthy. Phil Simms was injured early and often, but when he finally got healthy he was everything New York could want. Detroit could actually have a winning record this year. It may be time to stop belittling the Lions. They have had a couple excellent consecutive drafts at the top. Calvin Johnson is all world, and the defense should make his efforts worth it.

14.) St. Louis Rams–Defensive End Robert Quinn. The Rams struck gold with quarterback Matthew Stafford last year, and having Quinn line up with Chris Long should really keep the Rams in the hunt. They play in the NFC Worst, and nearly made the playoffs last year. This was a good pick.

15.) Miami Dolphins–Center Mike Pouncey. This was a good pick. Chad Henne is not washed up at quarterback, and this kid might help him stay upright longer.

16.) Washington Redskins–Defensive End Ryan Kerrigan. While Mike Shanahan has played Russian Roulette with his quarterbacks, this could make everybody forget about miscreant Albert Haynesworth. The pick made sense.

17.) New England Patriots–Offensive Lineman Nate Solder. This pick obtained from the Oakland Raiders for Richard Seymour is a good pickup. Keeping Tom Brady healthy is the difference between being contenders and missing the playoffs entirely.

18.) San Diego Chargers–Defensive Tackle Corey Liuget. The Chargers win in the regular season after a slow start and then blow up when it counts. They are simply soft. Too much finesse meant adding somebody like Liuget. He is not finesse. Perhaps the Chargers should have added help on their punt protection team, but nobody should be spending a 1st rounder on that. This pick was fine.

19.) New York Giants–Cornerback Prince Amukamara. He was not supposed to be available, so this was considered a steal. They got good value for a good price. Solid selection.

20.) Tampa Bay Buccaneers–Defensive Lineman Adrian Clayborn. Raheem Morris took the Buccaneers from losers to winners faster than anticipated. He is a defensive guy, and this pick fits in well.

21.) Cleveland Browns–Defensive Lineman Phil Taylor. Walrus Mike Holmgren robbed the Falcons blind and then traded up to take a sensible pick. They have all of those extra picks, and seem to be on the right track to restoring their franchise.

22.) Indianapolis Colts–Offensive Tackle Anthony Castonzo. As with rival New England, Indianapolis understands that keeping Peyton Manning healthy at all costs is the key. This pick is totally appropriate for a franchise that lives and dies by their signal caller.

23.) Philadelphia Eagles–Offensive Tackle Danny Watkins. Ditto keeping Michael Vick upright. Walrus Lite Andy Reid could have shocked the world and chosen a fullback who can gain a yard on 3rd and 1, but a good blocker is good enough. This pick is a good one.

24.) New Orleans Saints–Defensive End Cameron Jordan. The offense under Sean Payton and Drew Brees is as potent as ever, but the defense got gashed by a 7-9 Seattle team in the playoffs for 47 points. Shoring up the defense was absolutely the smart thing to do, and the Saints did it.

25.) Seattle Seahawks–Offensive Lineman James Carpenter. Quarterback Matt Hasselbeck may be eligible for social security, but he was not getting injured when he had perhaps the greatest left tackle in pro football history in Walter Jones. Whoever plays quarterback for Pete Carroll has a better chance of surviving with good protection.

26.) Kansas City Chiefs–Wide Receiver Jonathan Baldwin. I am not so sure about this pick. I still believe the Chiefs were a fluke last year. While this is a good addition for Matt Cassel to complement Dwayne Bowe, I would have considered going defense.

27.) Baltimore Ravens–Cornerback Jimmy Smith. A ton of confusion over a trade with the Chicago Bears that did not happen due to a “clerical error” by the Bears eventually led both teams getting who they wanted anyway. Ed Reed is getting old, and the secondary needs some new life breathed into it. Ray Lewis and Haloti Ngata will do the job up front, and now John Harbaugh has another piece. This is another team built to win now.

28.) New Orleans Saints–Running Back Mark Ingram. This may be the end of Reggie Bush. Bush was electrifying on punt returns but overrated out of the backfield. The son of the former New York great with the same name should fit in well with an offense that is heavy on the pass. Ingram will not be expected to carry the load.

29.) Chicago Bears–Offensive Lineman Gabe Carimi. This will be a boon to Jay Cutler. Yes I sound like a broken record, but quarterbacks need to be standing up to throw. They wanted to trade up to get him and screwed up the trade. They should give the Ravens the agreed upon 4th rounder anyway, and Roger Goodell should enforce this if they refuse. Saying sorry doesn’t cut it. The pick was fine, but the Bears offered to give up more to get it and should not let their own incompetence prevent them from honoring their agreement with Baltimore.

30.) New York Jets–Defensive Tackle Muhammad Wilkerson. Is anybody shocked that Rex Ryan took a defensive tackle? This is like watching Bill Parcell. We know what Rex Ryan likes, and what he does works. So getting another defender will hopefully get the Jets over the hump, since they believe this is their year. Rex Ryan believes that every year, but the throttling of New England in the playoffs last year gives them plenty of credibility in claiming that going into this season.

31.) Pittsburgh Steelers–Defensive Tackle Cam Heyward. While Mike Tomlin does it with less flash and brashness than his New York counterpart, this is another defensive coach taking a defensive guy on a team that is loaded virtually everywhere. New York came close but Pittsburgh came even closer. Pittsburgh was just shy of becoming another dynasty, and this selection may help them with that quest.

32.) Green Bay Packers–Offensive Lineman Derek Sherrod. This pick makes perfect sense. Despite winning the Super Bowl, one crack in the foundation of Green Bay is that Aaron Rodgers is one good hit away from retirement. He has suffered injuries and concussions in his brief career after following the Iron Man who did not miss a game for almost 20 years. Despite winning it all, Rodgers will still not be compared favorably if his career ends prematurely. This pick is designed to prevent that.

The most controversial pick in the draft outside of the ridiculous ransom the Falcons gave the Browns may have been the Patriots taking a quarterback in the third round. Tom Brady let the world know he plans to play another ten years. Favre kept Rodgers waiting forever, and Brady has no intention of letting Ryan Mallett see the field any time soon.

The only team not to have a 1st round pick was the Oakland Raiders. This was not a bad thing for several reasons. They gave up the pick for Richard Seymour, who has been a standout and helped turned the franchise around after several losing seasons. Also, this was a particularly weak 1st round draft overall compared to years past. There were no “can’t miss” quarterbacks like a John Elway or Peyton Manning. There was value in the later rounds. The Raiders suffered miserably with JaMarcus Russell but struck gold with Darren McFadden (when he is healthy).

The Raiders did not pick until the second round, # 48 overall. They could not have made a better choice. Stefen Wisniewski is the nephew of Raiders great Steve Wisniewski, the Perennial Pro Bowler and future Hall of Famer. One thing Al Davis has always done well is promoting from within, and having the elder Wisniewski on his staff as an offensive line coach is fantastic. Getting the younger Wiz kid is a great choice. Stefen can play center and guard. Robert Gallery was supposed to be the heir apparent to the elder Wiz. Gallery flopped at tackle but has beena  decent enough guard. So now the Raiders should have stability at offensive line not seen since the tragic pre-Super Bowl meltdown of another center.

Hue Jackson got it right, and if everyone wants to blame Al Davis for the bad picks, give him credit for the good ones. This was a good one, and the Silver and Black should be pleased. Let’s not declare the kid the next Art Shell, Gene Upshaw, or Jim Otto, but the name Wisniewski on an offensive line is every bit as valid as a Manning at quarterback.

Now to just get this lockout solved since there are only 4 /2 months until kickoff.


One Response to “NFL 2011 Draft Analysis”

  1. Micky 2 says:

    WEEEHAAAW !!!!


Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.