2011 NFL Draft: Broncos, Browns and Patriots Set to Be the Biggest Winners

Rob GregoryCorrespondent IIApril 14, 2011

CHICAGO - NOVEMBER 20: Mikel Leshoure #5 of the Illinois Fighting Illini runs past Bryce McNaul #51 of the Northwestern Wildcats on his way to a 339 yard rushing performance during a game played at Wrigley Field on November 20, 2010 in Chicago, Illinois. Illinois defeated Northwestern 48-27. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

They said from the beginning that this year's NFL draft could be unpredictable.

Nick Fairley, Patrick Peterson, Da’Quan Bowers, A.J. Green, Cam Newton, Marcell Dareus, Blaine Gabbert—these names keep getting shuffled around top-10 lists that by now it’s not clear who is most deserving of the No. 1 overall pick.

Thanks to this uncertainty, along with the tremendous depth at crucial positions like DT, DE, QB and CB, players that were once ranked at the top can possible fall well into the latter part of the first round, if not farther.

That means that a handful of teams are set to be the fortunate winners of an extremely talented and deep draft.

Putting a list of top names into the impeccably-calibrated rob-ometer 2000—which takes a player’s stats and measurables, multiplied by the squared integer of pi, and next divided by the pythagorean theorem, carry the two—I get the following list of projected winners, from least to greatest.


New England Patriots and Mikel LeShoure 

Ingram, Ingram, Ingram. That’s all I hear lately.

Alabama's Mark Ingram could be a solid back in the NFL, but he has durability concerns, and he doesn’t have the same combination of size and speed like Illinois alum Mikel LeShoure does. Many experts are comparing Mikel LeShoure to the Rams Steven Jackson and if you watch Mikel run the ball, it’s easy to see why.

The guy has great size and burst, and he is a terrific receiver and weapon out of the back-field. Oh, and he can block, so he is not a liability or a guy you have to sit on certain plays.

The Patriots are loaded at running back right? Not really. The current dynamic duo they employ now is nice, but LeShoure would be more than nice. He would be a consistent performer and fantasy football fans, like myself, can appreciate that. The Patriots are all about effort and consistency and Ingram would be a perfect fit.

Will we look back on this draft and ask, “How did Mikel LeShoure fall so far?” Probably.

Cleveland Browns and A.J. Green

The Cleveland Browns have not had a complete offense since the year that Derek Anderson blew up (and then subsequently came back to reality, with the rest of us), and by some miracle, Braylon Edwards became a dependable receiver, while Kellen Winslow Jr. showed himself to be a pass-catching machine.

It was all very temporary, as almost immediately following that season the Browns offense returned to standard form.

It doesn’t have to be that way. With Peyton Hillis and some other solid pieces on offense, the team is again on an upward swing.

First, the Browns must move beyond Mohamed Massaquoi and Josh Cribbs, as much as I like both of those players for what important roles they do serve. Let’s call Cribbs weapon-X and Massaquoi plan B, because, really, that’s what they are.

Neither should be considered the go-to-guy on offense; that’s asking too much of them.

A.J. Green on the other hand, well, he would come right in and help transform the offense into something much more formidable. And how does a guy like Green, who by all indications is the best wide receiver to come out since Calvin Johnson, drop this far in the draft?

Well, thanks to a loaded group of defensive players that happen to fill so many important voids on teams lacking a defensive identity, that’s how.

Many draft experts rage about A.J. Green being one of the best, if not the best, overall athlete available, so if the Browns could land a guy with that kind of talent and speed, by all means, call it fantastic luck.

Denver Broncos and Patrick Peterson

What a job John Elway has done with selling the football world on the notion that the Broncos will draft a quarterback. He should be applauded.

In reality, the Broncos want to increase the value of the No. 2 overall pick and find a trading partner to move down and accumulate picks. The Broncos have enough holes that six total draft picks are just not going to cut it.

Patrick Peterson was, and still is, considered by many to be the best overall player in the draft. Yet in some prominent mock drafts out there, I see him falling to the seventh, eighth and even 12th spot.

Has he suddenly lost his amazing athletic ability? No.

Is he no longer viewed as having Darelle Revis-like covering skills and Deion Branch-like return skills? Not at all.

Does he have a lingering and disconcerting injury like Da’Quan Bowers? Nope.

Maybe it’s a mystery that should be featured on the Discovery Channel, but Peterson is dropping in draft boards everywhere. If the Broncos are fortunate enough to trade down and draft Peterson, that would be like finding tickets to a Justin Bieber concert on the ground.

Of course you wouldn’t go watch the show, but you can sell them and pocket the winnings. Okay, bad analogy.

The point is that the Broncos could essentially spend a second-round pick on Casey Matthews, and then spend subsequent picks on the rest of Clay Matthews’ family—cousins, nephews, uncles, the whole bunch of them—and still come out of the draft with an A draft-grade from Mel Kiper Jr.

It would be classic John Elway, always coming through when it counts.


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