The NFL Draft is one of the more exciting events of the football year. And each year's draft brings plenty of surprises.
Some players are snapped up well before the scouts and experts think they should be, while others fall well below where they're targeted because of injury concerns or perceived character flaws.
But while there were plenty of great value picks made in Thursday night's first round at Radio City Music Hall in New York City—think Nick Fairley to the Lions at No. 13 or Cameron Heyward to the Steelers at No. 31—there were also a number of odd selections.
Here are seven NFL GMs whose surprising draft-day decisions deserve plenty of second-guessing.
Hey, there’s nothing wrong with isolating a player you want and going after him. That’s what the Atlanta Falcons and GM Thomas Dimitroff did with Alabama wide receiver Julio Jones. But they gave up a lot to get him.
To trade up to No. 6, Atlanta gave Cleveland its first-round pick (No. 27 overall), its second- and fourth-rounders this year and their first- and fourth-round picks in 2012.
That’s a bunch of picks, especially when you already have wideouts Michael Jenkins and Harry Douglas in the mix.
I would imagine that the NFL folks are pretty clear with the 10-minute time limits they place on teams selecting in the first round. The countdown clock is posted on every television screen in America, for crissakes!
So how did the Ravens end up running out of time with the 26th pick?
Well, logic would suggest that they were trying to make a trade and they couldn’t get a deal done in time. Or maybe they were trying to make a decision between two potential picks, and they ran out of time before someone made the call.
Sure, they ended up with Colorado’s Jimmy Smith at No. 27, a good value pick, just minutes after the Chiefs swooped into Baltimore's original spot and took wideout Jonathan Baldwin.
No harm, no foul.
But passing on your pick because you didn't get it in on time? It just seemed bush league.
I love Mark Ingram. He’s a great story, he seems like a great kid and I have a soft spot in my heart for short, pudgy kids who overachieve in sports.
And he’s a solid value with the 28th pick in the NFL Draft.
But not for the New Orleans Saints, who traded a first-round and second-round pick to move up to get the former Heisman winner from Alabama.
And especially not for the New Orleans Saints, who already have leading rusher Chris Ivory returning, Pierre Thomas signed to a four-year extension and another Heisman winner in Reggie Bush waiting in the wings.
So you’re lucky enough to get Blaine Gabbert—not only the top quarterback in the draft, in the estimation of some scouts, but the No. 1 player in the draft overall!—to fall to you at No. 8…
…and instead you take JAKE LOCKER?
Jake Locker? The guy whose decision-making skills were questionable at best as a collegiate quarterback?
Jake Locker? The guy who, according to scouts, “didn't make the improvement reading defenses or accurately placing passes” he should have as a senior?
Jake Locker? The guy many scouts slotted as a solid early second-round pick?
If Locker doesn’t work out somewhat quickly, there will be plenty of questions to be answered in Tennessee.
I was surrounded by 49ers fans while watching the draft, and, according to them, the most important move that Baalke made was not drafting quarterback Blaine Gabbert with the seventh pick. Baalke gets a pass on that front.
But the selection of Missouri defensive end Aldon Smith raised lots of eyebrows.
Sure, the sophomore has plenty of upside, but he’s still very young—"just a puppy," said the ESPN announcing crew. Also, since he’s not a 3-4 defensive end, where will the Niners play him?
Smith is not a horrible pick, but with seemingly steadier defensive linemen like Nick Fairley and Robert Quinn still on the board, this seemed misguided.
It reeks of the Raiders taking Darrius Heyward-Bey in 2009.
It’s been well documented that Donovan McNabb has become persona non grata in Washington.
Despite Washington shelling out $78 million and a new five-year extension to the 13-year veteran quarterback out of Syracuse, Skins coach Mike Shanahan had McNabb riding the pine toward the end of the 2010 season in favor of Rex Grossman.
So you have the No. 10 pick in the draft, and quarterback Blaine Gabbert—seen by some as the safest No. 1 pick in the entire draft—magically falls to you.
What do you do, Dan Snyder and GM Bruce Allen (pictured on the right)?
Of course, you trade that pick to Jacksonville.
Have fun with “Sexy Rexy” as your starter in Week 1.
I know that Brett Favre is done. I know that Tarvaris Jackson hasn’t performed well when he’s had the chance. I know that Joe Webb isn’t your idea of a franchise QB. I know that Rhett Bomar…. OK, honestly, who is Rhett Bomar?
Apparently the Vikings weren’t put off by Christian Ponder’s arm troubles and limited production as a senior at Florida State.
Apparently it didn’t faze the Minnesota management that most scouts had Ponder as a late first-round pick or early second-rounder.
“It was crisis management,” writes ESPN.com’s Kevin Seifert. “The Vikings didn't take the best player available. They took the best quarterback available, at least on their board, and in a quarterback-driven league, they have no choice but to tie their hopes to him.”
This was the only first-round selection to get a grade of “F” from the ESPN.com analysts. Congratulations!