2011 NFL Draft Grades: Live Pick-by-Pick First Round Grades and Analysis

Mike HaasContributor IIApril 28, 2011

2011 NFL Draft Grades: Live Pick-by-Pick First Round Grades and Analysis

0 of 32

    NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 28:  Cam Newton, #1 overall pick by the Carolina Panthers holds up a jersey on stage after he was picked during the 2011 NFL Draft at Radio City Music Hall on April 28, 2011 in New York City.  (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images)
    Chris Trotman/Getty Images

    After months of speculation, the NFL draft is finally upon us.

    Now, we can begin the months of analysis as we pick apart each team's selections

    As each player is called to the podium, we'll offer comprehensive analysis and grades of each pick.

    We'll tell you how each pick will fit with his new team and also list those players each team really wanted but just missed out on.

    Disagree? Think it wasn't a total reach for your team to draft that third-round prospect late in the first? Skewer me in the comments.

1. Carolina Panthers: Cam Newton, QB, Auburn

1 of 32

    INDIANAPOLIS, IN - FEBRUARY 27: Cam Newton passes the ball during the 2011 NFL Scouting Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium on February 27, 2011 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
    Joe Robbins/Getty Images

    First reaction: This is a pick that experts have been predicting for weeks now. Newton was one of the most electrifying performers at the NCAA level last year. He has his warts, including questions about his attitude and off-field behavior and his ability to run a pro-style offense.

    That said, Newton is a physical specimen at the game's most important position. Ultimately, new Panthers coach Ron Rivera couldn't pass on a potential franchise leader.

    How he fits: The Panthers don't have much at quarterback outside of Newton and last year's second-round pick, Jimmy Clausen. Those two will likely battle it out in training camp. Given Newton's lack of experience in an NFL-style offense, it wouldn't be a shock to see Clausen start the season at QB, but Newton will see the field sooner rather than later.

    Who they wish they'd gotten: With the pick of the litter, the Panthers got their man.

    Overall grade: B

    With no obvious starter at QB, the Panthers took an understandable shot on an imperfect but potentially great player.

2. Denver Broncos: Von Miller, LB, Texas A&M

2 of 32

    INDIANAPOLIS, IN - FEBRUARY 28: Von Miller of Texas A&M works out during the 2011 NFL Scouting Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium on February 28, 2011 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
    Joe Robbins/Getty Images

    First reaction: Von Miller is one of the top defensive prospects in this draft. Second overall is high for a linebacker, though, and Miller is an odd fit for the Broncos' scheme. That said, the Broncos struggled to rush the passer last season. Adding Miller to a returning Elvis Dumervil should significantly help that area.

    How he fits: New Denver coach John Fox will install a 4-3 defense for the Broncos, but Von Miller projects better as a pass-rushing outside linebacker in a 3-4 scheme. His pass-rush opportunities will be much more limited in a 4-3 setting.

    Who they wish they'd gotten: The Broncos likely weren't targeting Cam Newton, so Von Miller represents their top choice.

    Overall grade: C.

    There's no doubt that Miller is a big-time impact player. But plugging him into a 4-3 scheme could diminish his effectiveness. The Broncos might have been better off adding Marcell Dareus to help the defensive line.


3. Buffalo Bills: Marcell Dareus, DT, Alabama

3 of 32

    TUSCALOOSA, AL - OCTOBER 02:  Marcell Dareus #57 of the Alabama Crimson Tide against the Florida Gators at Bryant-Denny Stadium on October 2, 2010 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    First reaction: The Bills and their fans must be thrilled. Defensive tackle is a much more vital position to fill for a building team than outside linebacker. Dareus will step in immediately to provide a major boost to an anemic run defense.

    How he fits: The Bills ranked dead last against the run last year. Their defensive ineptitude helped cancel out some spirited performances by Ryan Fitzpatrick, Stevie Johnson, and the offense. Dareus should start right away and immediately improve the run defense.

    Who they wish they'd gotten: The Bills were known to covet Von Miller, particularly on the heels of the Aaron Maybin disaster. They also might have taken Newton if he had fallen far enough.

    Overall grade: B+

    Like the Newton pick, too much of a no-brainer to warrant a higher grade. The Bills definitely got lucky that they ended up with Dareus rather than Miller, who wouldn't have played as vital a position.


4. Cincinnati Bengals: A.J. Green, WR, Georgia

4 of 32

    INDIANAPOLIS, IN - FEBRUARY 27: Wide receiver A.J. Green of Georgia runs with the ball during the 2011 NFL Scouting Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium on February 27, 2011 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
    Joe Robbins/Getty Images

    First reaction: This was definitely going to be an offensive draft for Cincinnati, and Green is potentially the best offensive prospect on the board. Chad Johnson and Terrell Owens likely won't be back, and running back Cedric Benson is a free agent. Nobody knows if Carson Palmer will return or not. A new influx of talent on offense was badly needed.

    How he fits: Green should step in immediately and provide a nice downfield compliment to posession receiver Jordan Shipley. Green might even help convince Carson Palmer to return.

    Who they wish they'd gotten: The Bengals were going to go offense, but likely wouldn't have picked Newton in the hopes that Palmer would come back, so Green was the top choice here.

    Overall grade: B.

    Again, a no-brainer, but a good pick at a position of need for the Bengals.


5. Arizona Cardinals: Patrick Peterson, CB, LSU

5 of 32

    INDIANAPOLIS, IN - MARCH 1: Defensive back Patrick Peterson of LSU works out during the 2011 NFL Scouting Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium on February 28, 2011 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
    Joe Robbins/Getty Images

    First reaction: The Cardinals' defense wasn't the team's main issue last year; that title belongs to an offense that couldn't move the ball. However, Ken Whisenhunt may be afraid to put his job security in the hands of a rookie QB like Blaine Gabbert. Larry Fitzgerald has also been pushing the front office to pursue a veteran QB. Ultimately, Peterson is perhaps the top overall player in this draft, he just may not turn the team's fortune around right away.

    How he fits: Peterson will slot in immediately as a starting corner across from Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie to form one of the better cover tandems in the league.

    Who they wish they'd gotten: The Cardinals could turn their fortunes around quickly with a quarterback, but a rookie wasn't in the cards. They have to be happy with maybe the top player in the draft.

    Overall grade: B+.

    Getting the top-ranked player at the fifth pick is great, but he may not help the Cards win many more games.


6. Atlanta Falcons: Julio Jones, WR, Alabama

6 of 32

    TUSCALOOSA, AL - NOVEMBER 26:  Julio Jones #8 of the Alabama Crimson Tide reacts after a long reception against the Auburn Tigers at Bryant-Denny Stadium on November 26, 2010 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    First reaction: The Falcons needed to trade up 21 slots for this pick, which makes it a little puzzling. Roddy White is already one of the top wide receivers in the league. Though he was Matt Ryan's only reliable receiving weapon last year, the Falcons might have been better-suited waiting for Notre Dame tight end Kyle Rudolph. Tony Gonzalez tailed off last year and has said this will be his last season.

    How he fits: Jones can slot in across the field from Roddy White to form a tough-to-cover duo. In a best-case scenario, he'll provide a reliable second weapon for Matt Ryan. An outstanding run-blocker, Jones should also fit well in the Falcons' power-running scheme.

    Who they wish they'd gotten: Trading up that far suggests that the Falcons got their man, though ESPN reported that the Falcons were prepared to trade up to the fourth pick to draft A.J. Green.

    Overall grade: C-.

    This was not a position of need for the Falcons. To give up two first-round picks, a second-round pick, and two fourth-round picks is a hefty price to pay for a luxury. That said, the Falcons aren't far from a Super Bowl. They may feel Jones can put them over the top.


7. San Francisco 49ers: Aldon Smith, DE, Missouri

7 of 32

    COLUMBIA, MO - OCTOBER 23: Aldon Smith #85 of the Missouri Tigers in action against the Oklahoma Sooners at Faurot Field/Memorial Stadium on October 23, 2010 in Columbia, Missouri.  The Tigers beat the Sooners 36-27.  (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Image
    Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

    First reaction: At first blush, this seems like a reach. In reality, though, the Niners picked up one of the draft's top players at a prime position. He was widely mocked within the top 12 picks, so this isn't a huge reach. He did miss some time with injuries this past season and is viewed as somewhat of a project, but fills a big need.

    How he fits: Smith can slot in at either defensive end or outside linebacker in the Niners' defensive scheme. He can play across from the solid Justin Smith on the line, or pair with Patrick Willis to form a potentially fearful linebacker corps.

    Who they wish they'd gotten: The Niners probably would have liked Patrick Peterson, but couldn't have expected him to be available.

    Overall grade: B

    Smith will be an impact player for San Francisco, but they seem to have reached just a tad.


8. Tennessee Titans: Jake Locker, QB, Washington

8 of 32

    INDIANAPOLIS, IN - FEBRUARY 27:  Quarterback Jake Locker of Washington runs a passing drill during the 2011 NFL Scouting Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium on February 27, 2011 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
    Joe Robbins/Getty Images

    First reaction: Huh? This seems like a monster reach for Locker, a guy who some had ranked fifth or sixth in this year's QB class. He's struggled with injuries and accuracy, has never won consistently in college, and has other question marks. That said, he's viewed as a strong leader and a very athletic QB.

    How he fits: Tough to say. Locker doesn't seem like the kind of player who could step in immediately and lead an NFL offense. That said, the Titans' other option is, um, Rusty Smith. So, yeah. We could see Locker right away.

    Who they wish they'd gotten: The Titans were probably going to need to pick up a quarterback, so they must have gotten their guy. That said, why not Blaine Gabbert?

    Overall grade: C-.

    Can I see a quarterback here? Yes. Can I see Jake Locker here? Nope.


9. Dallas Cowboys: Tyron Smith, OT, USC

9 of 32

    TEMPE, AZ - NOVEMBER 7:  Tyron Smith #70 of the USC Trojans stretches before the game against the Arizona State Sun Devils on November 7, 2009 at Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe, Arizona.  USC won 14-9.  (Photo by Jeff Golden/Getty Images)
    Jeff Golden/Getty Images

    First reaction: A great pick for the Cowboys. Smith is a superior athlete and answered questions about whether he can put on weight and keep it on. The Cowboys needed to invest in greater protection for Tony Romo, who suffered a broken collarbone last year. It's not often the top tackle in the draft falls to the ninth pick. Whether that says more about Smith or the players above him remains to be seen.

    How he fits: Smith ultimately projects as a left tackle, but could start on the right side. Either way, he should be a rookie starter and help stabilize a line that struggled at times last season.

    Who they wish they'd gotten: The Cowboys' greatest positions of need were cornerback and offensive tackle. Nobody expected Peterson to fall that far, so the Cowboys likely got their man.

    Overall grade: A-.

    Tyron Smith is not Joe Thomas or Jake Long. He lacks prototypical size for an offensive tackle, but played in a big-time program in college and has outstanding athleticism. He also fills a huge need for the 'Boys.


10. Jacksonville Jaguars: Blaine Gabbert, QB, Missouri

10 of 32

    INDIANAPOLIS, IN - FEBRUARY 25:  Missouri Tigers quarterback Blaine Gabbert answers questions during a media session at the 2011 NFL Scouting Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium on February 25, 2011 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
    Joe Robbins/Getty Images

    First reaction: Great pick all around. For the Redskins, trading down lets them add depth to their draft and fill numerous huge holes. For the Jaguars, this represents a major decision for the franchise. David Garrard didn't have a poor season last year, but it appears the regime has decided he's not the quarterback of the future. That's probably right, since I think we've seen Garrard's ceiling. Questions exist about Gabbert's experience and so-so college statistics, but he was widely assumed to be a top-7 pick or so. Once he slipped, Jacksonville pounced.

    How he fits: A great thing about this pick is that Gabbert won't have to start right away. He'll have time to learn behind David Garrard and develop his abilities in a pro-style offense. Once he does start, he'll be backed by Maurice Jones-Drew. Unless the Jags struggle mightily, we many not see Gabbert at all this year.

    Who they wish they'd gotten: The Jaguars also could have really used pass-rush help, but Gabbert is a prime pick here.

    Overall grade: A.

    Let's get this straight: I'm not a huge Gabbert fan. I'm not sold on him at all. But this is a fantastic situation for the young QB. He can learn behind an established quarterback on a decent team, and he'll eventually be supported by one of the league's top running games. This could be a huge step forward for the Jacksonville organization.


11. Houston Texans: J.J. Watt, DE, Wisconsin

11 of 32

    PASADENA, CA - JANUARY 01:  Defensive lineman J.J. Watt #99 of the Wisconsin Badgers rushes the TCU Horned Frogs in the 97th Rose Bowl game on January 1, 2011 in Pasadena, California.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
    Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

    First reaction: The Texans were incredibly futile defending the pass last year. This selection makes little sense to me, and won't improve that area much. The Texans were hesitant to spend back-to-back first rounders on corners, but Kareem Jackson was awful last year. With Amukamara available, why not pick him? Or Robert Quinn, a better pass-rusher than Watt, and someone who would probably indirectly help the pass defense more. 

    How he fits: Watt is a three-down defensive end who will line up across from Mario Williams. There's nothing wrong with Watt, he just seems to be an odd pick in this spot.

    Who they wish they'd gotten: Who knows? They might have preferred Aldon Smith, but Smith seems more similar to Quinn, who the Texans could've taken.

    Overall grade: D.

    I have no problem with Watt. But the Texans can look forward to another awful year defending the pass. In a division with Peyton Manning, that won't cut it.


12. Minnesota Vikings: Christian Ponder, QB, Florida State

12 of 32

    TALLAHASSEE, FL - NOVEMBER 27:  Christian Ponder #7 of the Florida State Seminoles throws for a first down during a game against the Florida Gators at Doak Campbell Stadium on November 27, 2010 in Tallahassee, Florida.  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images
    Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

    First reaction: Some analysts predicted that the high number of teams in need of a quarterback would lead to quarterbacks going much earlier than they otherwise would. I'd say that's about right at this point. Ponder is an extremely accurate quarterback who's had some questions about shoulder issues in his career. ESPN reported that the Vikings feverishly tried to trade down, but apparently they felt they would miss out on Ponder unless they drafted him right away. 

    How he fits: Ponder could start right away. It's unlikely that the Vikings plan on Joe Webb taking the reins. Tarvaris Jackson is not a good starting NFL QB. At least Ponder would have a top running back behind him in Adrian Peterson.

    Who they wish they'd gotten: It's widely known that the Vikings were hoping for Locker, and were probably disappointed to see the Titans snag him early.

    Overall grade: C.

    Give the Vikings credit for drafting the guy they wanted at the position they needed, but this was the reach of the draft so far. They need to hope Ponder pans out. They also need to bring back Sidney Rice. 


13. Detroit Lions: Nick Fairley, DT, Auburn

13 of 32

    INDIANAPOLIS, IN - FEBRUARY 28:  Defensive lineman Nick Fairley of Auburn runs a drill during the 2011 NFL Scouting Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium on February 28, 2011 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
    Joe Robbins/Getty Images

    First reaction: The Lions almost always pick the top player on their board regardless of talent, and that continues here. Everyone knows the question marks surrounding Fairley: Was he a one-year wonder? Is he a junior college player at heart, as one scout labeled him after the combine? The talent is definitely there, and if the Lions can pair an effective Fairly with a dominant Ndamukong Suh, they could have the best interior line in the league.

    How he fits: Fairly will probably rotate in and out next to Suh. The Lions have to hope Suh helps to challenge Fairley and realize his potential. He and Suh could be an absolutely terrifying inside pass-rush duo.

    Who they wish they'd gotten: Had Tyron Smith slipped past the Cowboys, he very easily could have slid to the Lions and likely would have been their pick.

    Overall grade: B-.

    Fairley is a defensible pick as maybe the most talented player left in the draft. However, the Lions needed offensive line and defensive secondary help, It's tough to justify this pick when it might not plug any holes for the Lions.


14. St. Louis Rams: Robert Quinn, DE, UNC

14 of 32

    INDIANAPOLIS, IN - FEBRUARY 28:  Defensive lineman Robert Quinn of North Carolina runs through a drill during the 2011 NFL Scouting Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium on February 28, 2011 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
    Joe Robbins/Getty Images

    First reaction: This is a little surprising, given that the Rams are known to love Corey Liuget and he was available. That said, Quinn provided way too much value to pass up. He was a near-lock to go in the top ten, and is possibly the best pass-rusher in the draft. The Rams couldn't realistically hope for Julio Jones to fall to them, so they were in more of a best-player-available scenario. Quinn certainly fits that criterion. That said, some teams bumped Quinn down the rankings because of a benign brain tumor and a missed year of college.

    How he fits: Chris Long came on strong last year, and Quinn should slide in across the line from him to form a solid pass-rushing duo.

    Who they wish they'd gotten: The Rams were probably praying that Nick Fairley slipped one more pick, but are probably nearly as happy to pick up Robert Quinn this late.

    Overall grade: B.

    Quinn represents fantastic value here, just not great positional value for the Rams.


15. Miami Dolphins: Mike Pouncey, G/C, Florida

15 of 32

    NEW ORLEANS - JANUARY 01:  Tim Tebow #15 of the Florida Gators hugs teammate Mike Pouncey #55 after scoring a touchdown against the Cincinnati Bearcats during the Allstate Sugar Bowl at the Louisana Superdome on January 1, 2010 in New Orleans, Louisiana.
    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    First reaction: Pouncey has been mocked here for a while. He's a solid mid-first-round prospect and should fill in nicely along the Dolphins' line. If he's anything like his Pro Bowl brother, Maurkice of the Steelers, the Fins will be thrilled. That said, who will be block for? The Dolphins have major QB issues, top WR Brandon Marshall ran into domestic trouble recently, and Ricky Williams and Ronnie Brown may or may not be back. Interior offensive line probably should have been a lower priority.

    How he fits: Pouncey is very athletic and says he can play either center or guard. He played center for Florida this past season, but could easily end up a guard on the next level.

    Who they wish they'd gotten: It's possible that if Jake Locker or Christian Ponder slipped to 15, the Dolphins would have grabbed one. This could be a vote of confidence in Chad Henne, or simply a situation where no other QB worthy of the pick existed.

    Overall grade: B-.

    No problem with Pouncey going at 15, but he's not going to help out the Dolphins' anemic offense by himself.


16. Washington Redskins: Ryan Kerrigan, DE/LB, Purdue

16 of 32

    WEST LAFAYETTE, IN - SEPTEMBER 20:  Quarterback Dan LeFevour #13 of the Central Michigan Chippewas is tackled by Ryan Kerrigan #94 of the Purdue Boilermakers at Ross-Ade Stadium on September 20, 2008 in West Lafayette, Indiana.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/
    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    First reaction: The Redskins desperately needed to improve an awful pass rush from last year, and Kerrigan will help lighten the load for elite pass-rusher Brian Orakpo. Kerrigan's specialty is rushing the passer, and he's got a great motor. The Redskins also would have liked to upgrade the receiving corps, but no remaining player was worth a pick at this point. 

    How he fits: Kerrigan will probably fill an outside linebacker position in the Redskins 3-4. He's the ideal size for the position and has good burst and effort coming off the edge.

    Who they wish they'd gotten: The Redskins probably would have been ecstatic if they'd been able to trade down and still get Robert Quinn. They almost did.

    Overall grade: B+.

    This is right around where most projected Kerrigan. The Redskins needed pass-rushing help, and lucked into one of the deepest drafts for pass-rushers in a long time.


17. New England Patriots: Nate Solder, OT, Colorado

17 of 32

    BOULDER, CO - OCTOBER 04:  Brian Orakpo #98 of the Texas Longhorns rushes against Nate Solder #78 the Colorado Buffaloes at Folsom Field on October 4, 2008 in Boulder, Colorado. Texas defeated Colorado 38-14.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
    Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

    First reaction: It's no surprise that the Patriots looked to the offensive line here. Matt Light probably won't be back, and they need to protect Brady. It's surprising, though, that the Pats didn't go with Anthony Castonzo. Solder is probably the most athletic tackle in the draft, and has the most intriguing size, but Castonzo is regarded as the most ready tackle of those remaining to step in immediately and play.

    How he fits: He'll probably have a shot to start the season at left tackle with the Patriots, and Solder did start for the past three seasons at Colorado. That said, he's a little bit of a project technique-wise and needs to add strength.

    Who they wish they'd gotten: Bill Belichick is tough to predict. Many predicted that the Patriots liked J.J. Watt, though they could have taken Cameron Jordan and didn't.

    Overall grade: B-.

    At this point, it's tough to second-guess Belichick, particularly in the draft. That said, the Pats could find themselves in trouble if Solder can't step in right away on the left side. Castonzo could have.


18. San Diego Chargers: Corey Liuget, DT, Illinois

18 of 32

    First reaction: The Chargers were widely predicted to go with a pick along the defensive line, and Liuget fits those needs. He was a very solid if unspectacular player at Illinois, and many believed that he could go as high as 14 to the Rams. Again, though, why not Cameron Jordan? Jordan is a local product who also would have fit well in the Chargers' scheme, and was regarded as maybe the most complete DE in this draft. His fall continues to puzzle.

    How he fits: Liuget will step in immediately along the defensive line for the Chargers.

    Who they wish they'd gotten: The Chargers might have preferred Ryan Kerrigan as a potential outside pass-rusher in their 3-4 defense.

    Overall grade: B.

    Liuget projects as a solid starter, but lacks the upside of a Nick Fairley. It's also puzzling that the team didn't look for additional pass-rush help.


19. New York Giants: Prince Amukamara, CB, Nebraska

19 of 32

    LINCOLN, NE - NOVEMBER 26: Prince Amukamara #21 of the Nebraska Cornhuskers misses a chance at an interception from Scotty McKnight #21 of the Colorado Buffaloes during the second half of their game at Memorial Stadium on November 26, 2010 in Lincoln, Neb
    Eric Francis/Getty Images

    First reaction: Wow. Prince Amukamara slipped anywhere from six to 12 picks, depending on who you ask. Few expected him to get past Detroit at 13. At this point in the draft, he represents tremendous value. The only question on Amukamara revolves around his ball skills, but other than that, he would have easily been the top corner in any draft not featuring Patrick Peterson. 

    How he fits: The Giants don't have much on the corners, and Amukamara will step in immediately as a starter. He should team with Kenny Phillips and Antrel Rolle to form a very, very good defensive backfield. In a division with Mike Vick and Tony Romo, that's a must.

    Who they wish they'd gotten: There are other guys the Giants were probably targeting, but only because they didn't think Amukamara would be available. They must be thrilled.

    Overall grade: A.

    Amukamara represents tremendous value at this point, and the Giants helped fill a minor position of need as well.


20. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Adrian Clayborn, DE, Iowa

20 of 32

    TEMPE, AZ - DECEMBER 28:  Defensive end Adrian Clayborn #94 of the Iowa Hawkeyes during the Insight Bowl against the Missouri Tigers at Sun Devil Stadium on December 28, 2010 in Tempe, Arizona. The Hawkeyes defeated the Tigers 27-24.  (Photo by Christian
    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    First reaction: This was a no-brainer, a pick that many have mocked for a long time. As little as a year ago, Clayborn was regarded as a top-10 talent. Though his stock slipped some last year, he is still regarded as a great talent. Easy pick for the Bucs, and they hope he slots in next to an improved Gerald McCoy this year.

    How he fits: The Buccaneers haven't had a serious impact defensive end since...well, since Simeon Rice, probably. The pass rush was a big weakness for a surprising playoff team last year. Clayborn should step in immediately to boost that area of the game.

    Who they wish they'd gotten: The Bucs were known to like Adrian Clayborn more than a couple other defensive ends that went above him. Walterfootball.com reported that the Bucs would have traded up for another end, but apparently liked Clayborn enough to stay put.

    Overall grade: B+

    Another team that needed help on the defensive line in the best possible draft to find some. Clayborn is good value here and should make a quick impact.


21. Cleveland Browns: Phil Taylor, DT, Baylor

21 of 32

    COLUMBIA, MO - NOVEMBER 07:  Defensive tackle Phil Taylor #11 of the Baylor Bears in action during the game against the Missouri Tigers at Faurot Field at Memorial Stadium on November 7, 2009 in Columbia, Missouri.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
    Jamie Squire/Getty Images

    First reaction: When the Browns traded up from the Falcons' old slot, I thought, "Wow, they traded down and they'll still get Cameron Jordan!" The Taylor pick is puzzling, because the Browns will likely run a 4-3 this year and Taylor projects as a prototypical nose tackle. It's also not an exaggeration to say that the Browns have nothing at defensive end. The top DE on their depth chart has never started a full season in the league. Taylor is worth a pick here, but with defensive ends still on the board, that would have been a better pick. 

    How he fits: Taylor is a load, and he'll start immediately on the interior of the defensive line. He's had weight problems in the past, though, and will have to prove he's a four-quarter, three-down player. He may rotate out for a better pass rusher on third-and-long.

    Who they wish they'd gotten: The Browns must have liked Taylor, considering they traded back up to get him.

    Overall grade: C.

    Taylor is a good player, but positionally this doesn't make a lot of sense unless the Browns will be changing defensive schemes this year. At least it's a defensive line upgrade.


22. Indianapolis Colts: Anthony Castonzo, OT, Boston College

22 of 32

    CHESTNUT HILL, MA - OCTOBER 03:  Anthony Castonzo #74 of the Boston College Eagles congratulates teammate Montel Harris #2 after Harris scored a touchdown in the first quarter against the Florida State Seminoles on October 3, 2009 at Alumni Stadium in Che
    Elsa/Getty Images

    First reaction: The Colts are delighted that Castonzo was available. This is a team that doesn't have a viable left tackle. On a team that's nothing without its starting quarterback, that's a problem. After Bill Polian admitted that he made a mistake passing on Rodger Saffold last year, he gets a second chance with Castonzo.

    How he fits: Behind Tyron Smith, Anthony Castonzo was regarded as the most immediately NFL-ready offensive tackle in the draft. He should step in right away and protect Peyton Manning's blindside.

    Who they wish they'd gotten: Probably nobody. Lots of analysts expected Castonzo to be off the board to either New England or the Giants by now.

    Overall grade: A.

    It's always great when one of the top players overall also fills a position of need for a team. The Colts lucked out here.


23. Philadelphia Eagles: Danny Watkins, OG, Baylor

23 of 32

    First reaction: The draft fell perfectly for the Eagles. They had their pick of improving the offensive line with Gabe Carimi, their secondary with Jimmy Smith, or the defensive line with Cameron Jordan or Da'Quan Bowers. Ultimately, they went with none of the conventional picks, which tends to be Andy Reid's M.O. There were definitely other directions to go in here. 

    How he fits: Right guard was the biggest weakness in an otherwise lethal Philadelphia offense last season. Watkins, older and more mature than most rookies, should plug that hole immediately and help keep defensive linemen off of Mike Vick.

    Who they wish they'd gotten: Probably no one. They could have had Carimi, Smith, or Jordan, all of whom would have been immediate full-time starters. Instead, they went with a guard.

    Overall grade: D+.

    Danny Watkins, who will be 27 this fall, was a pick for a team who was one or two players away from a Super Bowl. The Eagles are not that team. They have a giant, gaping hole in a secondary that was terrible last year and lost its second-best player in Quintin Mikell, who's not expected to return. They have no full-time player across from Trent Cole. Just a puzzling pick, though Watkins will contribute immediately.


24. New Orleans Saints: Cameron Jordan, DE, California

24 of 32

    MOBILE, AL - JANUARY 29:Defensive lineman Cameron Jordan #97 of the North Team during  the Under Armour Senior Bowl on January 29, 2011 at Ladd-Pebbles Stadium in Mobile, Alabama. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images for Under Armour)
    Sean Gardner/Getty Images

    First reaction: Finally, Cameron Jordan is off the board. An outstanding five-technique lineman who can stop the run and rush the passer, Jordan represents unbelievable value at this point in the draft. The Saints were looking to upgrade the defensive line, and have to be ecstatic that Jordan is available.

    How he fits: He'll likely step in right away on an attacking defense. He will probably play outside on rushing downs and shift inside on third down.

    Who they wish they'd gotten: Again, probably nobody. If Amukamara had slipped another couple of picks, he could've been the choice here.

    Overall grade: A-.

    Again, a team fills a need with possibly the best player available.


25. Seattle Seahawks: James Carpenter, OG, Alabama

25 of 32

    First reaction: Another "what?" pick here. Carpenter is a guy who has been climbing up draft boards recently, and the Seahawks definitely have a need on the offensive line. But most graded Carpenter as a mid-to-late second-round pick at best. It's particularly surprising that he would go off the board before Gabe Carimi. 

    How he fits: Carpenter will step in right away along the offensive line. The Seahawks will probably start him at guard with an eye on moving him to tackle eventually.

    Who they wish they'd gotten: They could have been aiming for Solder, who many thought would be available at 25.

    Overall grade: C.

    Carpenter fills a need here, but it's hard to describe this as anything but a reach. Guards are rarely worth first-round picks, so Carpenter will either need to excel or successfully move to tackle to justify this selection.


26. Kansas City Chiefs: Jonathon Baldwin, WR, Pittsburgh

26 of 32

    CHARLOTTE, NC - DECEMBER 26:  Jonathan Baldwin #82 of the Pittsburgh Panthers is tackled by teammates Da'Norris Searcy #21 and Deunta Williams #27 of the North Carolina Tar Heels during their game on December 26, 2009 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo
    Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

    First reaction: Kansas City jumped into this spot when the Baltimore Ravens actually decided to pass on their pick in order to hammer out the details of a trade. This is a bit of a puzzling selection here, but is defensible. Dwayne Bowe was one of the most dominating receivers in the game last year, and Baldwin will help open up the field even more for Bowe and Jamaal Charles. That said, the Chiefs could have used an outside pass rusher, or a right tackle. Gabe Carimi might have made more sense.

    How he fits: Last year's starters across from Bowe included Chris Chambers and Terrance Copper. I'd say Baldwin probably starts right off the bat.

    Who they wish they'd gotten: Going with a wide receiver when Gabe Carimi was on the board, it's tough to imagine they would have liked anyone else better than Baldwin.

    Overall grade: C-.

    Baldwin is a physical specimen, but his stock has been dropping due to character concerns. Wide receiver is a position that could have been addressed later in the draft.


27. Baltimore Ravens: Jimmy Smith, CB, Colorado

27 of 32

    AUSTIN, TX - OCTOBER 10: Cornerback Jimmy Smith #3 of the Colorado Buffaloes picks up the loose ball which was knocked out of the hand of quarterback Colt McCoy of the Texas Longhorns as he rolled out in the second quarter on October 10, 2009 at Darrell K
    Brian Bahr/Getty Images

    First reaction: Jimmy Smith is a fantastic pick here. The Ravens' defense was effective last year even without any above-average corners, and Smith will allow that ferocious Baltimore pass rush even more time to operate. He comes with serious character concerns, but could be an absolute monster shutdown corner.

    How he fits: The Ravens' cornerback depth chart is a little jumbled right now. Several corners are potential free agents, and may not be back. It wouldn't be a shock to see Smith step in on day one, as long as he behaves himself.

    Who they wish they'd gotten: It sounds like the Ravens might have preferred to trade down, but the team has to be happy with Smith at this juncture.

    Overall grade: A-.

    Smith could be a huge bust due to character concerns, but he's also a top-notch cover corner who will make the Ravens defense even better.


28. New Orleans Saints: Mark Ingram, RB, Alabama

28 of 32

    INDIANAPOLIS, IN - FEBRUARY 27: Running back Mark Ingram of Alabama looks on during the 2011 NFL Scouting Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium on February 27, 2011 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
    Joe Robbins/Getty Images

    First reaction: It's no surprise that the Patriots traded down here to stockpile more picks. The Saints pick up the top runner in this year's draft, helping fill a position of major need on offense. Pierre Thomas struggled with injury last year, and the Saints have a big decision to make about Reggie Bush's contract. Ingram could make that decision much easier, and will make the Saints offense more lethal. Some worry about his history of knee injury, but a healthy Ingram possesses great burst and vision.

    How he fits: He'll probably split carries with one of Thomas, Chris Ivory, or Bush. The Saints will look to protect a player that saw a ton of carries in college and has past knee injuries. He should still be an impact player.

    Who they wish they'd gotten: The Saints traded up for Ingram as their second first-round pick, so it's unlikely they targeted anyone else.

    Overall grade: B.

    A lot of teams downgraded Ingram based on his knee history, and he doesn't possess blazing speed. He's no surefire pick but has the potential to be the main workhorse of a top offense.


29. Chicago Bears: Gabe Carimi, OT, Wisconsin

29 of 32

    PASADENA, CA - JANUARY 01:  Offensive lineman Gabe Carimi #68 of the Wisconsin Badgers warms up prior to playing the TCU Horned Frogs in the 97th Rose Bowl game on January 1, 2011 in Pasadena, California.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
    Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

    First reaction: The Bears are probably pinching themselves. There's no way they could have expected Carimi to be available at the 29th pick. For a team that has struggled to protect the quarterback for years, Carimi will provide a major boost. He's a giant on the field, and though he'll need work in pass protection, Carimi should immediately open holes for Matt Forte on the right side.

    How he fits: No doubt Carimi starts immediately. The Bears will be counting on him to be not only a starter, but a major upgrade on the line.

    Who they wish they'd gotten: They might have liked Solder or Castonzo more, but were definitely going offensive line with this pick.

    Overall grade: A

    Another top player fills another top need for a team in this draft. Carimi will be huge this season.


30. New York Jets: Muhammad Wilkerson, DT, Temple

30 of 32

    First reaction: The Jets are a team without a lot of major holes. Wilkerson rocketed up boards over the past couple of weeks, to the point where some analysts felt he could go in the top 20. Wilkerson is a ferocious pass rusher who will slot well into an attacking Jets defense.

    How he fits: Wilkerson might not be a full-time player immediately, but will definitely come in on obvious passing downs. He has great straight-line speed and lateral quickness that will help him get into the backfield.

    Who they wish they'd gotten: It's entirely possible that the Jets were hoping Phil Taylor fell to them. Taylor is a more prototypical 3-4 nose tackle than Wilkerson.

    Overall grade: B.

    Wilkerson seems like good value here, but didn't face great competition in college and will need to prove his athleticism translates on the field.


31. Pittsburgh Steelers: Cameron Heyward, DE, Ohio State

31 of 32

    COLUMBUS, OH - NOVEMBER 13:  Cameron Heyward #97 of the Ohio State Buckeyes chases after quarterback Matt McGloin #11 of the Penn State Nittany Lions at Ohio Stadium on November 13, 2010 in Columbus, Ohio.  (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
    Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

    First reaction: Like the Jets, the Steelers have few obvious holes. It's a little surprising to see them avoid a corner or safety here, perhaps Aaron Williams or Brandon Harris, as Pittsburgh has age and talent issues in the secondary. That said, Heyward consistently produced against top competition in college and would have been a much higher pick in a less defensive end-heavy draft. 

    How he fits: Heyward should rotate in and out nicely and eventually occupy a full-time end position in the Steelers' 3-4.

    Who they wish they'd gotten: They very well could have taken Gabe Carimi if he'd fallen one more pick. The Steelers have had injury issues on the offensive line.

    Overall grade: B-.

    A solid overall pick, and decent value, but the Steelers definitely had some bigger needs.


32. Green Bay Packers: Derek Sherrod, OT, Mississippi State

32 of 32

    TUSCALOOSA, AL - NOVEMBER 15:  J.C. Brignone #70 and Derek Sherrod #79of the Mississippi State Bulldogs get ready on the line of scrimmage during the game against the Alabama Crimson Tide at Bryant-Denny Stadium on November 15, 2008 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama
    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    First reaction: A great late pick by a team that has the luxury of filling minor holes. Sherrod's stock has slipped ever so slightly recently, but in Green Bay he'll have a chance to learn behind solid veteran Chad Clifton. Sherrod may grade out better as a right tackle than a left tackle, which is a problem because last year's first-rounder, Bryan Bulaga, looked good on the right side as a rookie. But Clifton will be on his way out soon, and the Packers may have found a long-term successor. 

    How he fits: Sherrod won't start right away. But Clifton is old and has battled injuries at times, so it wouldn't be shocking if Sherrod saw the field this year.

    Who they wish they'd gotten: If the team thinks Bulaga can play left tackle eventually, Carimi would have been a nice pick. If Ingram had fallen, he could've easily been the choice as well.

    Overall grade: B.

    The Packers don't have a ton of holes. This pick could pan out, or it could blow up if neither Bulaga or Sherrod show the ability to play the left side when Clifton leaves.