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2011 NFL Draft Grades: 5 Winners and 5 Losers from Round 1 of the Draft

Zach KruseSenior Analyst IJune 26, 2016

2011 NFL Draft Grades: 5 Winners and 5 Losers from Round 1 of the Draft

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    NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 28:  NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell looks on 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

    2011 NFL Draft Grades: Detroit Lions, New Orleans Saints Among the Winners; Minnesota Vikings, New England Patriots Among the Losers

    Round 1 of the 2011 NFL draft was officially capped off Thursday night when the Green Bay Packers took Derek Sherrod 32nd overall. 

    And with the end of the first round comes the beginning of grades for each team's selections. 

    Here are five winners and five losers in terms of first-round grades for the NFL draft. And don't forget, these grades are based only on what happened during Day 1. 

Loser: Minnesota Vikings

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    CHESTNUT HILL, MA - OCTOBER 03:  Christian Ponder #7 of the Florida State Seminoles calls out the play in the first half against the Boston College Eagles on October 3, 2009 at Alumni Stadium in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
    Elsa/Getty Images

    Who they picked

    Florida State quarterback Christian Ponder, No. 12 overall

    Why they lost

    You have to give the Vikings a certain amount of credit—they knew quarterback was a gaping hole and they took a risk to fill it. 

    However, reaching for Ponder so early in this draft makes them a Day 1 loser. They tried to trade down from 12 to a spot that made more sense value-wise, but no team made them a substantive offer.

    As a result, the Vikings were forced to do what they did. But that doesn't mean they did the right thing. Minnesota could have taken one of the impact defensive players on the board at 12 and traded back up to take Ponder later on in the first or early second. 

    Grade

    C+

Winner: New Orleans Saints

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    NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 28:  NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell (L) poses for a photo with Mark Ingram, #28 overall pick by the New Orleans Saints, holds up a jersey on stage during the 2011 NFL Draft at Radio City Music Hall on April 28, 2011 in New York City.
    Chris Trotman/Getty Images

    Who they picked

    California defensive end Cameron Jordan, No. 24; Alabama running back Mark Ingram, No. 28

    Why they won

    This is a no-brainer. The Saints got one of the best defensive ends in the class and a running back that draws favorable comparisons to Emmitt Smith. 

    And while Jordan should be able to make an impact immediately for the defense, Ingram is the guy that makes this an unbelievable first round for New Orleans. The Saints were at their best when the offense was balanced, and that's exactly what Ingram will give them.

    Grade

    A

Loser: San Francisco 49ers

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    NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 28:  NFL Commissoner Roger Goodell greets Aldon Smith, #7 overall pick by the San Francisco 49ers, 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

    Who they picked

    Missouri linebacker Aldon Smith, No. 7 overall

    Why they lost

    The 49ers didn't lose because they picked Smith—he could be the answer to their obvious pass-rushing woes. They lost because they didn't select a quarterback, and Blaine Gabbert was available to them at No. 7.

    Of course, this is without knowledge of whether or not the 49ers will be able to find an answer at quarterback in free agency or trades. They could potentially get their hands on either Kevin Kolb or Donovan McNabb down the road.

    Still, San Francisco is just a quarterback away from being the class of the NFC West, and it was disappointing to see them not take a chance with Gabbert.

    Grade

    B-

Winner: Detroit Lions

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    NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 28:  NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell poses for a photo with Nick Fairley, #13 overall pick by the Detriot Lions, during the 2011 NFL Draft at Radio City Music Hall on April 28, 2011 in New York City.  (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Imag
    Chris Trotman/Getty Images

    Who they picked

    Auburn defensive tackle Nick Fairley, No. 13 overall

    Why the won

    You have to applaud what the Lions did with their first pick. There were other players still available at positions of greater need—namely Prince Amukamara—but they stuck to their board and took Fairley. 

    With him in Detroit, the Lions now have arguably the best defensive line in football. If their front four can consistently dominate teams up front like they should, Detroit's defense will be markedly better than 2010.

    Grade

    A-

Loser: New England Patriots

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    FOXBORO, MA - DECEMBER 06:  Head coach Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots looks on after the Patriots won 45-3 against the New York Jets at Gillette Stadium on December 6, 2010 in Foxboro, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
    Elsa/Getty Images

    Who they picked

    Colorado offensive tackle Nate Solder, No. 17 overall. 

    Why they lost

    The Patriots didn't lose because they picked Solder at No. 17. He solves a need on the offensive line and should be a good left tackle. New England loses on Day 1 because of all the players they passed on. 

    While they gave themselves plenty of ammunition for the second round, New England passed on Cameron Jordan, Prince Amukamara, Mark Ingram and Corey Liuget—all players who could have immediately helped them in 2011. It's hard to fault the Pats for sticking to their history, but they let some big-time talents go.

    Grade

    B-

Winner: Cleveland Browns

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    NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 28:  NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell (L) poses for a photo with Phil Taylor, #21 overall pick by the Cleveland Browns, on stage during the 2011 NFL Draft at Radio City Music Hall on April 28, 2011 in New York City.  (Photo by Chris Tro
    Chris Trotman/Getty Images

    Who they picked

    Baylor defensive tackle Phil Taylor, No. 21 overall

    Why they won

    With a roster in need of filling numerous holes, the Browns made away like bandits by trading with the Falcons. Atlanta gave up a second- and fourth-rounder in this year's draft plus a first and fourth in 2012 to move up the 21 spots to No. 6. 

    And while a player at No. 6 could have helped the Browns more than Taylor, the decision by Mike Holmgren and his staff to gain the extra picks was a savvy move that will pay dividends in rebuilding the franchise. 

    Grade

    B+

Loser: Seattle Seahawks

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    CHICAGO, IL - JANUARY 16:  Head coach Pete Carroll of the Seattle Seahawks looks on from the sideline in the first quarter against the Chicago Bears in the 2011 NFC divisional playoff game at Soldier Field on January 16, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo
    Andy Lyons/Getty Images

    Who they picked

    Alabama guard/tackle James Carpenter, No. 25 overall

    Why they lost

    If the Vikings had the biggest reach of the first round with Christian Ponder, the Seahawks were a close second with Carpenter. 

    Very few had him in the first round, and Seattle took him before Gabe Carimi and Derek Sherrod were off the board. The Seahawks also bailed on taking a quarterback in the first round, meaning they could miss out on one altogether. 

    Grade

    C


Winner: New York Giants

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    NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 28:  NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell (L) poses for a photo with Prince Amukamara, #19 overall pick by the New York Giants, on stage during the 2011 NFL Draft at Radio City Music Hall on April 28, 2011 in New York City.  (Photo by Chris
    Chris Trotman/Getty Images

    Who they picked

    Nebraska cornerback Prince Amukamara, No. 19 overall

    Why they won

    The fall of Amukamara to No. 19 was one of the more surprising happenings of the first round. He was the consensus No. 2 cornerback, complete with a clean background and very few holes in his game. 

    The Giants wound up the beneficiary of his fall down the first round. Cornerback wasn't their biggest need, but it was clear that Amukamara was one of the best players available at No. 19. New York got tremendous value with this pick.

    Grade

    A

Loser: Da'Quan Bowers

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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

    Where he was picked

    N/A, not in first round

    Why he lost

    With every team taking a pass on Bowers in the first round, it's painfully obvious that his knee just isn't right. He did everything he could to discourage talk about his knee, but Bowers just couldn't overcome the worries teams had medically. In fact, several teams took Bowers completely off their boards. 

    Who takes him now?

    Even with the medical risk, Bowers is likely the best player available. He should still hear him name called early on Day 2, with the Cleveland Browns being a likely spot at pick No. 37. 

Winner: Jacksonville Jaguars

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    NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 28:  NFL Commissoner Roger Goodell poses for a photo with Blaine Gabbert, #11 overall pick by the Jacksonville Jaguars, holds up a jersey during the 2011 NFL Draft at Radio City Music Hall on April 28, 2011 in New York City.  (Photo b
    Chris Trotman/Getty Images

    Who they took

    Missouri quarterback Blaine Gabbert, No. 10 overall

    Why they won

    The Jaguars have been skating by too long with David Garrard at quarterback, and they finally took steps to upgrade the position. While they lucked out that Gabbert got to No. 10, the risk to move up to that spot was worth it. If Gabbert pans out, they should finally have a quarterback that can compete with Peyton Manning and Matt Schaub in the AFC South. 

    Grade

    A-

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