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2011 NFL Draft: Predicting Top Five Surprises in First Round of the Draft

Mihir BhagatSenior Analyst IIIApril 28, 2011

2011 NFL Draft: Predicting Top Five Surprises in First Round of the Draft

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    PASADENA, CA - JANUARY 01:  Quarterback Andy Dalton #14 of the TCU Horned Frogs looks on against the Wisconsin Badgers during the 97th Rose Bowl game on January 1, 2011 in Pasadena, California.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
    Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

    The 2011 NFL Draft is an exciting time for the league and its one of the biggest events of the year. In fact, months and months of preparation go into this while hours of analysis have been put into this by draft experts and fans all around and with it set to begin at 8 PM tomorrow night, it's time to make those last minute predictions.

    Every year, we've seen some moves be made that surprised us. Remember the Denver Broncos drafting Tim Tebow? Or the Jaguars taking Tyson Alualu. Or the Raiders actually taking a player which made sense? 

    What surprises are in store for us this time around? Here's my predictions for the top five surprises that nobody will see coming. 

1. Blaine Gabbert Falls out of the Top 10

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    ST. LOUIS - SEPTEMBER 4: Blaine Gabbert #11 of the University of Missouri Tigers looks to pass against the University of Illinois Fighting Illini during the State Farm Arch Rivalry game on September 4, 2010 at the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis, Missouri.
    Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

    Quarterback is the most in-demand position in the NFL as the league becomes more and more pass heavy.

    In this year's draft class, some consider Missouri QB Blaine Gabbert to be the top prospect at the position.

    However, I'm going to say that I wouldn't be surprised if Gabbert falls out of the Top 10.

    Yes, seven teams in the Top 10 have a need at quarterback and some project a team such as the Tennessee Titans to even go up and reach for Jake Locker, yet consider this scenario.

    Marcell Dareus, Von Miller, A.J. Green, Patrick Peterson, Robert Quinn, Prince Amukamara, Nick Fairley, J.J. Watt, and Julio Jones are all non-quarterbacks who could be drafted before Gabbert.

    Remember when Aaron Rodgers fell to pick 24 back in 2005? Nobody expected that to happen, but it did. Go back to last year, and some thought that Jimmy Clausen was a Top 10 pick but he went down to 46.

    While it may not be such a freefall with Gabbert, don't be shocked if he drops out of the Top 10. 

2. New England Patriots Don't Draft in the 1st Round

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    FOXBOROUGH - MAY 2: Coach Bill Bellichick watches during the New England Patriots Minicamp at Gillette Stadium May 2, 2009 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
    Jim Rogash/Getty Images

    The New England Patriots hold three of the first 33 picks, and two first round selections.

    However, I think there's a chance they trade down and end up not having a 1st round pick. The reason for it? Well aside from the fact that they're known for trading around in the draft, they hold these picks in very attractive slots and could receive offers that could be too good to pass up.

    At 17, some team could be looking to trade back into the 1st round to either take a quarterback like Jake Locker or possibly snatch an offensive tackle before they go on a run. 

    Then, at 28, a team could be looking to find a late 1st round steal with a player who may have slipped by some teams like defensive end Da'Quan Bowers. Or perhaps a team could want to move up to take Andy Dalton or possibly Ryan Mallet.

3. Colts Draft QB Andy Dalton

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    PASADENA, CA - JANUARY 01:  Quarterback Andy Dalton #14 of the TCU Horned Frogs looks to pass against the Wisconsin Badgers during the 97th Rose Bowl game on January 1, 2011 in Pasadena, California.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
    Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

    Peyton Manning is arguably the best quarterback today and is one of the greatest of all-time. Nevertheless, he's 35 and won't play forever.

    Is it time for the Indianapolis Colts to draft his successor or at the very least a player whom they can groom.

    In this draft, the best possible option seems to be TCU QB Andy Dalton and he should be available when the Colts pick at 22. 

    Even though it's a bit of a risk and a stretch to some extent, I think its a legitimate possibility. 

4. Da'Quan Bowers Falls out of the 1st Round

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    AUBURN, AL - SEPTEMBER 18:  Da'Quan Bowers #93 of the Clemson Tigers against the Auburn Tigers at Jordan-Hare Stadium on September 18, 2010 in Auburn, Alabama.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    Da'Quan Bowers was once potentially considered the first overall pick in the draft and rightfully so based on his unique ability.

    However, concerns have arisen surrounding his knee and its rapidly become one of the biggest red flags in the draft.

    WalterFootball.com currently has him at 24 to the New Orleans Saints, but I'll go out on a limb and say he may drop even further and if he passes them then I don't him fitting in any of the other teams drafting afterwards.

    If he does, indeed, fall out of the 1st round it may be one of the biggest draft stock collapses in recent history. 

5. Nick Fairley Free Falls

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    GLENDALE, AZ - JANUARY 10:  Nick Fairley #90 of the Auburn Tigers celebrates the Tigers 22-19 victory against the Oregon Ducks during the Tostitos BCS National Championship Game at University of Phoenix Stadium on January 10, 2011 in Glendale, Arizona.  (
    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    Auburn defensive tackle Nick Fairley was another player who was once considered the best overall prospect in this year's draft class.

    While his talent is undeniable, questions surround him regarding whether or not he's a one-year wonder and if he has the work ethic necessary to become an elite pro.

    Some teams stay clear of players like this and I could see that happening here especially if he falls past the Tennessee Titans.

    By the way, the last player drafted high with remarkable talent yet weak intangibles was JaMarcus Russell, and he's now unemployed. What other connection to Fairley and Russell have? Well, they went to the same high school. 

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