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2011 NFL Draft Grades: Pick-by-Pick Grades for Cam Newton and Draft Picks 1-4

Nathaniel UyAnalyst IJanuary 18, 2017

2011 NFL Draft Grades: Pick-by-Pick Grades for Cam Newton and Draft Picks 1-4

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    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

    The 2011 NFL draft day is upon us. After spending countless days predicting how this draft would shape up, now it's time to stop looking forward and start looking back.

    Did the teams make the best choices?  Are they taking too big of a risk?

    Can Cam Newton really become the face of the Carolina Panthers franchise? 

    Those are just some of the questions and topics we'll be evaluating. We're breaking down the top picks with our analysis. 

    The choices have been made and grades are here. Let's get started.

1. Carolina Panthers: Cam Newton, QB, Auburn

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    NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 28:  NFL COmmissioner Roger Goodell poses for a photo with Carolina Panthers #1 overall pick Cam Newton from Auburn during the 2011 NFL Draft at Radio City Music Hall on April 28, 2011 in New York City.  (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty
    Chris Trotman/Getty Images

    The question about Newton is whether or not he can carry an NFL franchise with his play on the football field instead of his smile and charisma.

    He's a very talented athlete with prototypical quarterback size at 6'6", 260 lbs. and great potential to become a difference-maker in this league.

    But there are also some negatives. 

    He's had only one full year of college football under his belt, has had a history of trouble from his time in Florida and NCAA investigation last season for a pay-for-play allegation and has had very little experience running a pro-style offense.

    This is a big risk that could reap big rewards latter.  Or, he could just bust.

    Grade: B

2. Denver Broncos: Von Miller, OLB/DE, Texas A&M

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    NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 28:  NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell poses for a photo with Von Miller, #2 overall pick by the Denver Broncos, as he holds up a jersey on stage during the 2011 NFL Draft at Radio City Music Hall on April 28, 2011 in New York City.  (Ph
    Chris Trotman/Getty Images

    Now that John Fox is in charge, it's probably a good idea to address their defensive deficiencies. 

    Marcell Dareus could be a choice at this selection, but this draft boasts plenty of talented interior linemen that can help fortify Denver's league-worst run defense.

    Von Miller, on the other hand, is a freak athlete that can has great burst and athleticism like no one else in this draft class.

    His versatility as an athlete and overall explosion from the standup position can immediately make him one of Fox's favorite players.

    Grade: A

3. Buffalo Bills: Marcell Dareus, DT/DE, Alabama

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    NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 28:  NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell poses for a photo with Marcell Dareus, #3 overall pick by the Buffalo Bills, as Dareus holds up a jersey during the 2011 NFL Draft at Radio City Music Hall on April 28, 2011 in New York City.  (Phot
    Chris Trotman/Getty Images

    A defensively handicapped football team like the Buffalo Bills get a run-stopper in Dareus.

    This is a solid pickup by the Bills, who may have been swayed by the idea of drafting Blaine Gabbert.  But Gabbert just didn't make much sense with Ryan Fitzpatrick around.

    They had a gaping hole on their defensive line, and big Marcell Dareus just filled that with his large frame. 

    It's a safe pick for Buffalo, since Dareus is the least likely to bust out of all the defensive linemen available.  He bring with him leadership and championship experience from Nick Saban's title-winning team in 2009.

    Grade: A-

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

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    NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 28:  NFL Commissioner ROger Goodell poses for a photo with A.J. Green, #4 overall pick by the Cincinnati Bengals, as Green holds up a jersey during the 2011 NFL Draft at Radio City Music Hall on April 28, 2011 in New York City.  (Phot
    Chris Trotman/Getty Images

    There's no question Green is the best wide receiver prospect in this draft—he's also clearly one of the top athletes available at this point.

    That's why he's an obvious choice here at No. 4.

    But with not quarterback locked in to throw him the football, how can the Bengals expect Green to develop?  Perhaps this could all been motivated by their desire to convince Carson Palmer to stay.

    Green may be a playmaker with great size and potential, but expecting him contribute right away could be asking too much. Receivers need time to adjust in this league and the quarterback uncertainty in Cincy could stunt Green's growth as a pro.

    With all the Larry Fitzgerald comparisons that he's been getting, it's only fair to make the parallel that Fitz was largely ineffective last year because he didn't have a solid quarterback throwing him the football.

    Grade: B-

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