Re-Drafting the First 3 Rounds of the 2011 NFL Draft
The 2011 NFL draft featured players who were incredibly productive in their rookie seasons. It might have been the best class of rookies to come into the league based on their performances in Year 1.
It appears as if the transition for players coming into the NFL is not as drastic as it once was and players are more ready than ever to play now. From offensive players like quarterbacks and running backs to defensive players like ends who rush the quarterback, they are all ready to play.
In this article, we are re-drafting the first three rounds of the 2011 NFL draft based on what happened in 2011, what happened in free agency and what the draft is shaping up to be.
Many things have changed for these teams since the original picks were made, and this article will take them all into account. This is where the players should have gone based on everything we know today.
Round 1: Picks 1-16
1. Carolina Panthers—Cam Newton, QB, Auburn
There is no way to justify going anywhere else with this pick. Cam was lights out this year in multiple ways and sparked the entire Carolina offense. He does need to improve as a passer, but he can drive the ball down the field, which allows Steve Smith to go up and make plays. Newton was simply remarkable as a rookie.
(2011 Original Selection: Cam Newton, QB, Auburn)
2. Denver Broncos—Von Miller, LB, Texas A&M
Von Miller did exactly what he was supposed to do as a rookie, and that was get after the quarterback. He totaled 11.5 sacks in his first year. In the new NFL where the passing game is king, his ability to get home is invaluable. Miller is going to terrorize offenses going forward.
(2011 Original Selection: Von Miller, LB, Texas A&M)
3. Buffalo Bills—Marcell Dareus, DT, Alabama
Dareus was fairly productive as a first-year player, but we are just seeing the beginning. The free-agent signing of Mario Williams gives Buffalo an explosive combination of players on that defensive line. Dareus is a force along the interior and commands double-teams, which allows the players around him to make plays.
(2011 Original Selection: Marcell Dareus, DT, Alabama)
4. Cincinnati Bengals—A.J. Green, WR, Georgia
Green was dominant in his first year as a playmaker down the field. He had 65 catches for 1,057 yards and scored seven times. He is a premier athlete who is just scratching the surface at this point.
(2011 Original Selection: A.J. Green, WR, Georgia)
5. Arizona Cardinals—Andy Dalton, QB, TCU
Dalton really proved the doubters wrong last year, but it wasn't a total surprise. He was super productive in college and was accurate with his short and deep throws in his first season in the NFL. He showed the ability to read the defense and put his team in a position to be successful.
(2011 Original Selection: Patrick Peterson, CB, LSU)
6. Atlanta Falcons—Julio Jones, WR, Alabama
Jones was a very expensive toy to add to the Atlanta offense, but his ability to challenge defenses vertically was on display throughout his rookie season. He registered 54 catches for 959 yards and scored eight times. He is an electric athlete and a perfect player to pair opposite Roddy White.
(2011 Original Selection: Julio Jones, WR, Alabama)
7. San Francisco 49ers—Aldon Smith, DE, Missouri
Aldon Smith was another rookie who had a tremendous impact on his team. He showed an incredible ability to pressure the quarterback and finish the play when he got there. He registered 14 sacks and was dominant at times. It is going to be exciting to watch his career going forward.
(2011 Original Selection: Aldon Smith, DE, Missouri)
8. Tennessee Titans—Patrick Peterson, CB, LSU
Patrick Peterson is an electric football player and one who changes a game in multiple ways. He was a solid cornerback as a rookie, but he really changed things as a returner. The Titans have since lost Cortland Finnegan, and Peterson is the kind of cornerback who would mitigate that loss.
(2011 Original Selection: Jake Locker, QB, Washington)
9. Dallas Cowboys—Tyron Smith, OT, USC
Tyron Smith had a good year for the Dallas Cowboys, starting 16 games at right tackle. Those numbers are very impressive for a rookie. He has had a very good start to his career.
(2011 Original Selection: Tyron Smith, OT, USC)
10. Jacksonville Jaguars—Jake Locker, QB, Washington
Jake Locker is an athletic quarterback and a future franchise signal-caller. He is a poised quarterback with a good arm and good mobility. He is a natural leader and a feisty athlete.
(2011 Original Selection: Blaine Gabbert, QB, Missouri)
11. Houston Texans—J.J. Watt, DE, Wisconsin
J.J. Watt is a max effort, all-out-assault-on-the-ball type of player. He got to the quarterback, registering 5.5 sacks, and had 56 total tackles. He is not the prettiest football player, but he is one that offenses will have to account for in the future.
(2011 Original Selection: J.J. Watt, DE, Wisconsin)
12. Minnesota Vikings—Christian Ponder, QB, Florida State
Christian Ponder showed flashes last year playing for a team that had very little to offer at the receiver position. He started 10 games and threw 13 touchdown passes to go along with 13 interceptions. He had a passer rating of 70.1. There needs to be more talent around him for there to be a fair judgment on what his future might hold.
(2011 Original Selection: Christian Ponder, QB, Florida State)
13. Detroit Lions—Nick Fairley, DT, Auburn
Nick Fairley was a gift handed to the Detroit Lions. The Lions de-prioritize the cornerback position and use the pressure that they create from their four-man front to limit what quarterbacks can do against them. When this defensive line is getting pressure, the Lions defense can be dominant, and Fairley is going to be a big piece in that. He struggled to overcome the foot he fractured in training camp, and it limited him all year.
(2011 Original Selection: Nick Fairley, DT, Auburn)
14. St. Louis Rams—Nate Solder, OT, Colorado
Nate Solder is an enormous tackle who is ready to play now and could protect Sam Bradford's blind side for years to come. The Rams have made a huge investment in Bradford and need to keep him upright and healthy. Surrounding Bradford with players who can protect him is a priority.
(2011 Original Selection: Robert Quinn, DE, North Carolina)
15. Miami Dolphins—Mike Pouncey, C, Florida
Pouncey filled a big need for the Dolphins, who ran the ball very well last year. He anchors the offensive line and will for years to come. There is no other player who could have helped the Dolphins the way that Pouncey did.
(2011 Original Selection: Mike Pouncey, C, Florida)
16. Washington Redskins—Ryan Kerrigan, DE, Purdue
Kerrigan was a steal at this point. The pairing of Kerrigan and Brian Orakpo is going to be lethal, and it showed last year. The Redskins defense is trending up and should be a strength of the team.
(2011 Original Selection: Ryan Kerrigan, DE, Purdue)
Round 1: Picks 17-32
17. New England Patriots—Phil Taylor, DT, Baylor
Phil Taylor is a massive football player, and he has a dominant interior presence that fits the mold. Coach Bill Belichick loves his defensive linemen to be stout and athletic, everything that Taylor is. He can play the nose or the No. 1 technique.
(2011 Original Selection: Nate Solder, OT, Colorado)
18. San Diego Chargers—Adrian Clayborn, DE, Iowa
The Chargers have struggled to get pressure on the quarterback, and Clayborn has shown that he can do that. He would give the Chargers a presence they have not had for some time.
(2011 Original Selection: Corey Liuget, DT, Illinois)
19. New York Giants—Prince Amukamara, CB, Nebraska
Prince Amukamara has the ability to be an effective cornerback in the NFL. He also fills a need for the Giants, who struggle to cover in the back end. Amukamara broke his foot in training camp and really wasn't recovered until late in the season. He did show some nice things toward the end of the 2011 season.
(2011 Original Selection: Prince Amukamara, CB, Nebraska)
20. Tampa Bay Buccaneers—Torrey Smith, WR, Maryland
Torrey Smith can stretch the field in a big way. He gives the Buccaneers offense something it is really missing. Mike Williams is a nice receiver, but he is not a vertical threat. Quarterback Josh Freeman has a very strong arm and could develop nicely with this pair of young receivers.
(2011 Original Selection: Adrian Clayborn, DE, Iowa)
21. Cleveland Browns—Jonathan Baldwin, WR, Pittsburgh
The Browns need some playmakers on offense, and Baldwin fits the bill. He is big and can run well enough to be a vertical threat. Quarterback Colt McCoy needs some help, and the Browns need to put talent on the field for him. Wide receiver Jonathan Baldwin would be a nice start.
(2011 Original Selection: Phil Taylor, DT, Baylor)
22. Indianapolis Colts—Anthony Castonzo, OT, Boston College
Anthony Castonzo has the size, strength and mobility to protect the quarterback for years to come. He represents really good value at this point in the draft. He showed some very nice things before he was injured.
(2011 Original Selection: Anthony Castonzo, OT, Boston College)
23. Philadelphia Eagles—Derek Sherrod, OT, Mississippi State
The Eagles need help at tackle, and Sherrod can step in and play at right tackle right now and left tackle in the future. All-Pro tackle Jason Peters tore his Achilles tendon at the end of March and is going to miss the season. Sherrod is a player that could step in and mitigate the loss.
(2011 Original Selection: Danny Watkins, OG, Baylor)
24. New Orleans Saints—Jabaal Sheard, DE, Pittsburgh
The Saints are looking for pass-rush help at this point in the draft, and Sheard can step in right away and supply it. He is an athletic defensive end and a player who can get to the quarterback while helping out against the run. He had 8.5 sacks as a Brown last year, and one would think he could be even more productive with better talent around him.
(2011 Original Selection: Cameron Jordan, DE, California)
25. Seattle Seahawks—Stefen Wisniewski, OG, Penn State
Wisniewski is a nasty run-blocker and a player who instantly fits in with the Seahawks' identity running the ball. He helps out along the interior of the offensive line and helps to anchor the unit as a whole. He upgrades the offensive line right away.
(2011 Original Selection: James Carpenter, OG, Alabama)
26. Kansas City Chiefs—Corey Liuget, DT, Illinois
Corey Liuget is a run-stopper in the middle of the defense. He is versatile and can play either tackle position in a 4-3 or as a defensive end in a 3-4. He is a disruptive football player and a player who will help a defense immediately.
(2011 Original Selection: Jonathan Baldwin, WR, Pittsburgh)
27. Baltimore Ravens—Jimmy Smith, CB, Colorado
This is the perfect place for Jimmy Smith to play in the NFL. There are a lot of veteran voices in the Ravens locker room, and they will guide him and teach him to become a professional. Smith has a lot of natural ability as a cornerback.
(2011 Original Selection: Jimmy Smith, CB, Colorado)
28. New Orleans Saints—Mark Ingram, RB, Alabama
Mark Ingram is a smooth running back who has great ability to finish and score touchdowns. This is the perfect spot for Ingram. The Saints offense is explosive, and adding an element like Ingram only strengthens this offense more.
(2011 Original Selection: Mark Ingram, RB, Alabama)
29. Chicago Bears—Greg Little, WR, North Carolina
The Bears are desperate to add size and playmaking ability to their offense. Quarterback Jay Cutler has a very strong arm, but the offense is hampered because the roster really has nothing to offer in the way of a No. 1 wide receiver. The Bears like to run the ball, but adding a vertical threat will help keep defenses from swarming the line of scrimmage.
(2011 Original Selection: Gabe Carimi, OT, Wisconsin)
30. New York Jets—Muhammad Wilkerson, DT, Temple
The New York Jets need a presence in the interior of their defense, and Wilkerson gives them that. He is big and athletic and should be a piece of their defense for years. He started all 16 games and registered 49 tackles, three sacks and a tackle for a safety as a rookie.
(2011 Original Selection: Muhammad Wilkerson, DT, Temple)
31. Pittsburgh Steelers—Danny Watkins, OG, Baylor
The idea behind this pick is to help keep quarterback Ben Roethlisberger safe. The better the Steelers can do that, the better they will be. Roethlisberger is at his best keeping plays alive and playing like he is on a playground. The Steelers need to get better at the point of attack to allow him to be at his best. Watkins adds stability right away along the interior of the offensive line.
(2011 Original Selection: Cameron Heyward, DE, Ohio State)
32. Green Bay Packers—DeMarco Murray, RB, Oklahoma
It is an understatement to say that the Packers are in need of some kind of threat in the running game. Murray instantly adds explosion and playmaking ability to an offense that is already incredibly talented. Adding Murray to the mix gives the Packers a dual threat, and it might make defenses put more players near the line of scrimmage, making quarterback Aaron Rodgers even more deadly.
(2011 Original Selection: Derek Sherrod, OT, Mississippi State)
33. New England Patriots—Cameron Jordan, DE, California
Jordan would give the Patriots some power and ability off the edge. He is a good run-defender and can pressure the quarterback, something the Patriots need desperately. He played the run very well and finished his rookie campaign with 31 total tackles and one sack.
(2011 Original Selection: Ras-I Dowling, CB, Virginia)
34. Buffalo Bills—Aaron Williams, CB, Texas
Williams is a big, physical cornerback who will fit in the division very well. He can run well and defend the run, as he has good size. He was hurt and missed seven games, but he started six as a rookie and finished with 32 total tackles and one interception.
(2011 Original Selection: Aaron Williams, CB, Texas)
35. Cincinnati Bengals—Blaine Gabbert, QB, Missouri
Gabbert is a good quarterback to grab at this point of the draft. He can be a franchise signal-caller, but he has to have time to develop. He was hot and cold as a rookie, and he showed some nice things, but he needs time.
(2011 Original Selection: Andy Dalton, QB, TCU)
36. San Francisco 49ers—Colin Kaepernick, QB, Nevada
Kaepernick could very well be the future at quarterback for the 49ers. He is big, tough, talented and has all the tools to succeed in the NFL. It should surprise no one when Kaepernick becomes very successful if Alex Smith falters early in 2012.
(2011 Original Selection: Colin Kaepernick, QB, Nevada)
37. Cleveland Browns—Robert Quinn, DE, North Carolina
Quinn has all of the tools to be an effective edge-rusher and is a good value at this point in the draft. He will immediately improve Cleveland's defense. He had a nice rookie season, finishing with 23 total tackles and five sacks.
(2011 Original Selection: Jabaal Sheard, DE, Pittsburgh)
38. Arizona Cardinals—Gabe Carimi, OT, Wisconsin
Arizona's offensive line needs some work, and Carimi is a talented hard worker. He is a gritty run-blocker and a mauler. Carimi started two games and played well but was injured and missed the rest of the season. He will be ready for training camp.
(2011 Original Selection: Ryan Williams, RB, Virginia Tech)
39. Tennessee Titans—James Carpenter, OG, Alabama
Carpenter adds stability and punch to an offensive line that really needs it. He is versatile and can play in multiple places. He will instantly make this offensive line tougher to play against. Carpenter started nine games as a rookie and was very effective.
(2011 Original Selection: Akeem Ayers, LB, UCLA)
40. Dallas Cowboys—Bruce Carter, LB, North Carolina
Carter fits the Dallas defense perfectly. He is an edge presence, and Dallas won't ask him to do too much in coverage. He is an outstanding athlete who will develop into a good player. He had a quiet season as a rookie, finishing with eight total tackles while playing in 10 games.
(2011 Original Selection: Bruce Carter, LB, North Carolina)
41. Washington Redskins—Jarvis Jenkins, DT, Clemson
Jenkins was going to be a perfect fit to eat up space in the interior of the Redskins defense. That would free up the players around him to go and attack the line of scrimmage. However, he tore his ACL in training camp and missed the entire 2011 season. The Redskins and their defensive ends can look forward to the 2012 season with Jenkins commanding double-teams.
(2011 Original Selection: Jarvis Jenkins, DT, Clemson)
42. Houston Texans—Brooks Reed, DE, Arizona
Reed was a force in Houston's 3-4 defense, as he was allowed to pressure the quarterback and make plays. He registered 45 total tackles and six sacks as a rookie. He is a maximum-effort player and will make an impact for quite some time.
(2011 Original Selection: Brooks Reed, DE, Arizona)
43. Minnesota Vikings—Akeem Ayers, LB, UCLA
Ayers is the best available linebacker, and he fits a need for the Vikings, as their LB group is aging. Ayers is a very sure tackler and a player that is going to make a lot of tackles as a professional. He finished the season with 76 total tackles, two sacks and a forced fumble.
(2011 Original Selection: Kyle Rudolph, TE, Notre Dame)
44. Detroit Lions—Titus Young, WR, Boise State
Young is in a great situation for a young player. He joins an electric passing game as a realistic second option. Young has a chance to be a real player for the Lions as he develops with quarterback Matt Stafford. In a sneaky good rookie season, he caught 48 passes for 607 yards and six touchdowns, scoring touchdowns in six of his last nine games.
(2011 Original Selection: Titus Young, WR, Boise State)
45. Denver Broncos—Rahim Moore, S, UCLA
The Broncos need to prepare for the eventuality of Brian Dawkins retiring. Moore is a good athlete, and the more he can learn from Dawkins, the better the Broncos will be for it. Moore had a solid rookie season, tallying 31 total tackles and one interception.
(2011 Original Selection: Rahim Moore, S, UCLA)
46. Denver Broncos—Orlando Franklin, OT, Miami (FL)
Franklin is a steal at this point in the draft, as he started 16 games for the Broncos at right tackle as a rookie. With quarterback Peyton Manning coming in, the offensive line needs to be as solid as it can be to keep Manning clean. Franklin looks to be a fixture on the Denver offensive line.
(2011 Original Selection: Orlando Franklin, OT, Miami (FL))
47. St. Louis Rams—Lance Kendricks, TE, Wisconsin
Kendricks is the perfect choice for the Rams, as they are looking to add playmakers to an offense that needs them. The Rams need to surround Bradford with as much receiving talent as they can. Kendricks could be Bradford's security blanket for years to come.
(2011 Original Selection: Lance Kendricks, TE, Wisconsin)
48. Oakland Raiders—Cameron Heyward, DE, Ohio State
Heyward is a big, strong defensive end who is versatile enough to play the run and get to the quarterback. He fits the Raiders defense very well. A quiet rookie season saw him finish with 11 total tackles, one sack and a forced fumble.
(2011 Original Selection: Stefen Wisniewski, OG, Penn State)
49. Indianapolis Colts—Ben Ijalana, OT, Villanova
With future No. 1 pick Andrew Luck coming into the fold in 2012, the Colts have solidified their tackle position. Ijalana projects to right tackle in the NFL, and paired with Castonzo, the Colts look to have secured the edges of their offensive line with young players. Shoring up the offensive line will be critical with Luck coming in to play quarterback.
(2011 Original Selection: Ben Ijalana, OT, Villanova)
50. San Diego Chargers—Richard Sherman, CB, Stanford
Sherman is a big corner at 6'3" and 195 pounds. He is a capable player who can play the ball and can turn and run with bigger wide receivers. Sherman had an extremely productive year, finishing with 55 total tackles, four interceptions and a forced fumble.
(2011 Original Selection: Marcus Gilchrist, CB, Clemson)
51. Tampa Bay Buccaneers—Da'Quan Bowers, DE, Clemson
Bowers was once considered a top-five pick in this draft, but knee concerns dropped him to this point. Bowers joins a potentially dominant front in Tampa Bay. Playing in 16 games, he finished with 25 total tackles and 1.5 sacks.
(2011 Original Selection: Da'Quan Bowers, DE, Clemson)
52. New York Giants—Marvin Austin, DE, North Carolina
There are high hopes for Austin as a space-eating defensive tackle on the interior of the Giants defense. He tore his pectoral muscle in the preseason and missed the entire regular season. The Giants continue to add depth and size to their defensive line, a position of strength for them.
(2011 Original Selection: Marvin Austin, DE, North Carolina)
53. Chicago Bears—Stephen Paea, DT, Oregon State
Paea is a physical powerhouse and a very difficult player to move off the ball. He registered 14 total tackles and two sacks in limited time as a rookie. Bears coach Lovie Smith has said how high the Bears are on Paea, and they still expect big things from him.
(2011 Original Selection: Stephen Paea, DT, Oregon State)
54. Philadelphia Eagles—Kelvin Sheppard, LB, LSU
The Eagles could really use an inside linebacker who can tackle. Sheppard is a sure tackler and a player that has very good size for the middle of a defense. He had a very good rookie season with the Bills, finishing with 70 total tackles in 16 games played.
(2011 Original Selection: Jaiquawn Jarrett, S, Temple)
55. Kansas City Chiefs—Rodney Hudson, OG, Florida State
Hudson gives instant stability to the interior of the offensive line. He played in 16 games as a rookie and started one. He is in the mix to start for the Chiefs in 2012 and will be a solid piece for their offensive line.
(2011 Original Selection: Rodney Hudson, OG, Florida State)
56. New England Patriots—Roy Helu, RB, Nebraska
Helu was very productive as a rookie, and with the loss of BenJarvus Green-Ellis, the Patriots will need some production from their backfield. Helu tallied 1,019 total yards and scored three touchdowns as a rookie. He was also a factor in the passing game as he caught 49 passes.
(2011 Original Selection: Shane Vereen, RB, California)
57. Detroit Lions—Mikel Leshoure, RB, Illinois
Leshoure is a very good running back. Coming out of college, he was projected to be the main ball-carrier for the Lions until he tore his Achilles tendon in training camp. He should be good to go in 2012, and he gives the Lions a presence they have not had in some time at the running back position. Leshoure has a great opportunity before him, as he will be the back that comes in to finish games and kill the clock.
(2011 Original Selection: Mikel Leshoure, RB, Illinois)
58. Baltimore Ravens—Denarius Moore, WR, Tennessee
Moore has the speed to be a serious vertical threat in the Ravens' passing attack. He has shown that he has the playmaking ability and skills to be very productive in the NFL. As a rookie, he showed his vertical capabilities by catching 33 passes for 618 yards and averaging 18.7 yards per catch. He also scored five touchdowns.
(2011 Original Selection: Torrey Smith, WR, Maryland)
59. Cleveland Browns—Vincent Brown, WR, San Diego State
Brown has good size and is a productive football player at the wide receiver position. He can make plays, has good hands and is a reliable secondary wide receiver. He had a good rookie campaign with 19 catches for 329 yards and two touchdowns.
(2011 Original Selection: Greg Little, WR, North Carolina)
60. Houston Texans—Brandon Harris, CB, Miami (FL)
Harris is a talented cornerback and a player that can be productive at the NFL level. He can turn and run well and is a solid all-around football player. Harris had a very quiet rookie season, but his talent should make a difference for the Texans defense starting in 2012.
(2011 Original Selection: Brandon Harris, CB, Miami (FL))
61. San Diego Chargers—Ras-I Dowling, CB, Virginia
The Chargers play in a division with some explosive passing attacks, and they need to be able to defend the pass. Dowling is a big, physical corner who can turn and run. He played in the first two games of the season for the Patriots before he was injured and placed on injured reserve, which caused him to miss the rest of the season.
(2011 Original Selection: Jonas Mouton, LB, Michigan)
62. Miami Dolphins—Daniel Thomas, RB, Kansas State
Thomas is the future in Miami at running back. He is a big, athletic football player who can make guys miss. A workhorse type of running back with great size at 6'1" and 230 pounds, he had a good season and finished with 581 yards rushing on 165 carries. The future is bright in Miami for Thomas.
(2011 Original Selection: Daniel Thomas, RB, Kansas State)
63. Pittsburgh Steelers—Marcus Gilbert, OT, Florida
Gilbert was named the Steelers' rookie of the year playing right tackle. He started 13 games and solidified the right side of their line. The Steelers have made it clear that Gilbert will be moving to left tackle in 2012, which makes him a vital piece of their offense for years to come.
(2011 Original Selection: Marcus Gilbert, OT, Florida)
64. Green Bay Packers—Randall Cobb, WR, Kentucky
Cobb excelled in the return game for the Packers, giving them a threat to take a return to the end zone at any time. He registered over 1,000 return yards as a rookie and also caught 25 passes for 375 yards. Cobb is just another Packers player that is explosive and has big play written all over him.
(2011 Original Selection: Randall Cobb, WR, Kentucky)
65. Carolina Panthers—Karl Klug, DE, Iowa
Klug showed the ability to get after the quarterback this year, registering seven sacks as a rookie. The Panthers need to get more pressure on the quarterback, and it can’t be only from Charles Johnson. Klug would fill a big need for Carolina.
(2011 Original Selection: Terrell McClain, DT, South Florida)
66. Cincinnati Bengals—Mason Foster, LB, Washington
Foster is a tackling machine, and he showed it by finishing his rookie campaign with 84 tackles. The Bengals need to be able to stop the run, especially in the division that they play in. Foster would immediately improve their defense.
(2011 Original Selection: Dontay Moch, LB, Nevada)
67. Denver Broncos—Jacquian Williams, LB, South Florida
Williams is an instant upgrade for the Denver defense, as he can move very well and is a sure tackler. He showed his abilities as a rookie by registering 78 tackles. He fills a need for the Broncos and is an upgrade.
(2011 Original Selection: Nate Irving, LB, North Carolina State)
68. Buffalo Bills—K.J. Wright, LB, Mississippi State
Buffalo needs to get more athletic on defense, and Wright fills that need. He flashed his athletic ability as a rookie and finished the season with 65 tackles. Wright is an upgrade among its linebacker group.
(2011 Original Selection: Kelvin Sheppard, LB, LSU)
69. Arizona Cardinals—Kyle Rudolph, TE, Notre Dame
Rudolph is a premier playmaking tight end that fills a need for the Arizona Cardinals. They need another player to step up and take some coverage away from Larry Fitzgerald. Rudolph is a great value at this point in the draft.
(2011 Original Selection: Rob Housler, TE, Florida Atlantic)
70. Kansas City Chiefs—Justin Houston, DE, Georgia
Houston is an athletic monster at 6’3” and 270 pounds. He is a dominant force at the point of attack, and he finished his rookie season with 56 tackles and a forced fumble. Houston fits an area of need for the Chiefs.
(2011 Original Selection: Justin Houston, DE, Georgia)
71. Dallas Cowboys—Ryan Williams, RB, Virginia Tech
The Cowboys are desperate for running back help, as Felix Jones is not getting it done. Williams is a very good running back who missed the season with a torn knee tendon. He is an integral piece of the Cowboys' future running game.
(2011 Original Selection: DeMarco Murray, RB, Oklahoma)
72. New Orleans Saints—Martez Wilson, LB, Illinois
Wilson is a big part of the future for the Saints defense. He is athletic and has good tackling ability. Though he had a quiet season for the Saints, the future is very cloudy for New Orleans and some of the current players. Wilson is going to be relied upon as a linebacker in this defense.
(2011 Original Selection: Martez Wilson, LB, Illinois)
73. New England Patriots—Stevan Ridley, RB, LSU
Ridley had a nice rookie season, rushing for 441 yards in 2011. Starting running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis is gone, and Ridley is a natural replacement for him. Ridley has a solid future with the Patriots, and it should surprise no one when he puts up respectable numbers in 2012.
(2011 Original Selection: Stevan Ridley, RB, LSU)
74. New England Patriots—Ryan Mallett, QB, Arkansas
Mallett is a developmental player for the Patriots. He will learn under the tutelage of Tom Brady and get very valuable experience watching one of the game’s best manage the offense. Mallett is a project and is years away from doing that at the NFL level.
(2011 Original Selection: Ryan Mallett, QB, Arkansas)
75. Seattle Seahawks—John Moffitt, OG, Wisconsin
Moffitt showed his abilities as a rookie, as he started nine games in 2011 for the Seahawks. He is a nice part of their future as an interior lineman. He came in and helped stabilize the offensive line and the running game.
(2011 Original Selection: John Moffitt, OG, Wisconsin)
76. Jacksonville Jaguars—Will Rackley, OG, Lehigh
Rackley started 14 games and appeared in 15 games as a rookie. The Jaguars are a run-first team with Maurice Jones-Drew. Rackley helped the Jaguars in the running game and as a pass-protector. He is clearly a big piece of their future on their offensive line.
(2011 Original Selection: Will Rackley, OG, Lehigh)
77. Tennessee Titans—Jurrell Casey, DT, USC
Casey was a steal at this point for the Titans. He started 15 games as a rookie and finished the season with 52 total tackles and 2.5 sacks. Casey is a big part of the Titans' defensive line going forward.
(2011 Original Selection: Jurrell Casey, DT, USC)
78. St. Louis Rams—Doug Baldwin, WR, Stanford
The Rams need to get playmakers on the field for Sam Bradford. They have a need for wide receivers that can run and threaten a defense vertically. Baldwin showed his athleticism as a rookie by catching 51 passes for 788 yards and four touchdowns.
(2011 Original Selection: Austin Pettis, WR, Boise State)
79. Washington Redskins—Marcus Gilchrist, CB, Clemson
Gilchrist is a player that can help out in the back end of the defense, which is a critical need for the Redskins. He flashed his athleticism as a rookie and showed he was more than capable of handling himself as a cornerback.
(2011 Original Selection: Leonard Hankerson, WR, Miami (FL))
80. San Francisco 49ers—Chris Culliver, CB, South Carolina
Culliver played a lot in nickel coverage as a rookie and displayed really good athleticism. He finished the season with 35 tackles and seven passes defended. He also recorded an interception. Culliver is a nice player that the 49ers will rely on in the future.
(2011 Original Selection: Chris Culliver, CB, South Carolina)
81. Oakland Raiders—DeMarcus Van Dyke, CB, Miami (FL)
Van Dyke can flat-out fly as a runner, clocking a 4.28-second 40-yard dash at the 2011 combine. The Raiders love their speed, and Van Dyke can run. He is a big part of the Raiders secondary going forward.
(2011 Original Selection: DeMarcus Van Dyke, CB, Miami (FL))
82. San Diego Chargers—Sam Acho, DE, Texas
The Chargers have struggled for years to get pressure on the quarterback, and Acho really showed an ability to get pressure as a rookie. He finished his rookie season with 40 tackles, seven sacks and four forced fumbles. This is the kind of player the Chargers need to help their defense put pressure on offenses.
(2011 Original Selection: Vincent Brown, WR, San Diego State)
83. New York Giants—Chris Harris, CB, Kansas
Harris showed great things during his rookie season, finishing with 72 tackles and one interception. He has great ability to help defend the run and the pass. The Giants struggle with pass defense, and Harris is an instant upgrade in the secondary.
(2011 Original Selection: Jerrel Jernigan, WR, Troy)
84. Tampa Bay Buccaneers—Casey Matthews, LB, Oregon
The Buccaneers have an effective defensive front, but they need to get younger and more athletic at their linebacker position. Matthews is a nice player that looked very good as a rookie. He finished his rookie season with 37 tackles and a sack.
(2011 Original Selection: Mason Foster, LB, Washington)
85. Baltimore Ravens—Jah Reid, OT, Central Florida
Jah Reid is a key offensive lineman for the Ravens. He played in 16 games as a rookie and proved his worth. Reid could be a big part of the Ravens for years to come, as he has prototypical size, is versatile and can be moved all along the offensive line.
(2011 Original Selection: Jah Reid, OT, Central Florida)
86. Kansas City Chiefs—Allen Bailey, DE, Miami (FL)
Bailey is an athletic freak and could develop into a long-term pass-rush menace for the Chiefs. He had a quiet season as a rookie but is a big part of the Chiefs' future plans as a pass-rush specialist.
(2011 Original Selection: Allen Bailey, DE, Miami (FL))
87. Indianapolis Colts—Kendall Hunter, RB, Oklahoma State
Hunter is an explosive running back, and he fits a massive need for the Colts offense. Gone is Joseph Addai, and all that is left is Donald Brown. Brown has not shown much in his career, and the Colts need a spark. Hunter finished his rookie season with 473 yards rushing and looked good doing it.
(2011 Original Selection: Drake Nevis, DT, LSU)
88. New Orleans Saints—T.J. Yates, QB, North Carolina
The New Orleans Saints need to develop a young quarterback to take the reins when Drew Brees is done. Yates has good pocket presence and awareness, and he showed that as a rookie. He is the kind of player that can do well being thrust into a starting job in the event of an injury.
(2011 Original Selection: Johnny Patrick, CB, Louisville)
89. San Diego Chargers—Clint Boling, OG, Georgia
The Chargers are retooling their offensive line on the fly, and they need to stabilize it for the sake of quarterback Philip Rivers and their running game. Boling fared well as a rookie and would instantly upgrade the play of the Chargers' interior line. It is a need for them, and Boling is a natural fit.
(2011 Original Selection: Shareece Wright, CB, USC)
90. Philadelphia Eagles—Mark Herzlich, LB, Boston College
The Eagles are thin at the linebacker position, and Herzlich fits the need and brings a lot of character with him. He played very well as a rookie, showing that he was more than capable of playing at the NFL level.
(2011 Original Selection: Curtis Marsh, CB, Utah State)
91. Atlanta Falcons—Akeem Dent, LB, Georgia
Dent is a future key piece to the Atlanta defense. He is a great tackler and played well as a rookie. He flashed his athleticism as he appeared in all 16 games, finishing with 20 total tackles.
(2011 Original Selection: Akeem Dent, LB, Georgia)
92. Oakland Raiders—Delone Carter, RB, Syracuse
Delone Carter is a big, bruising running back and would be a great complementary piece to Darren McFadden. Michael Bush is gone, and Carter is a perfect fit as a complementary piece in the running game.
(2011 Original Selection: Joseph Barksdale, OT, LSU)
93. Chicago Bears—Austin Pettis, WR, Boise State
The Bears are in great need of players that can threaten vertically, and they need to get them on the field to showcase Jay Cutler’s arm strength and accuracy. Pettis is a player who can get vertical, but he is also a good-sized wide receiver at 6’3” and 207 pounds who can catch the football. He had a nice rookie season with 27 catches for 256 yards.
(2011 Original Selection: Chris Conte, S, California)
94. New York Jets—Kenrick Ellis, DT, Hampton
Ellis is a monster-sized football player on the interior of a defense. He is 6’4” and 346 pounds, and he won’t be moved off the football. I would never expect great numbers from him, but he is going to dominate players at the line of scrimmage.
(2011 Original Selection: Kenrick Ellis, DT, Hampton)
95. Pittsburgh Steelers—Curtis Brown, CB, Texas
Curtis Brown had a promising rookie season with the Steelers until he was injured in December and was placed on IR. He finished his rookie season with 14 tackles and a forced fumble. After having surgery for a torn meniscus, he will be ready for training camp in 2012.
(2011 Original Selection: Curtis Brown, CB, Texas)
96. Green Bay Packers—Joseph Barksdale, OT, LSU
Barksdale is a huge offensive lineman. He is a versatile player who can play right tackle or can be moved inside. The Packers play in a division against very big, athletic defensive tackles, and they need to account for them. The addition of Barksdale helps their run game instantly.
(2011 Original Selection: Alex Green, RB, Hawaii)
97. Carolina Panthers—Sione Fua, DT, Stanford
Sione Fua had a nice rookie season and started 11 games. He is a big, one-gap penetrating defensive tackle who will be a big part of Carolina's defensive line for years to come.
(2011 Original Selection: Sione Fua, DT, Stanford)