Day one of the 2011 NFL draft is in the books, and it was as unpredictable as expected with four quarterbacks being selected in Round 1. Trades were not as en vogue as expected though with just four trades in the opening.
It would not be a draft without prematurely declaring winners and losers (limited to five teams per category), so here is a look back Round 1:
Bill Polian entered the draft with the stated need of upgrading the offensive line and fulfilled it by landing Anthony Castonzo with the 22nd overall selection. Castonzo's strong fundamentals, pass-protection prowess and high football IQ are a perfect fit for the Colts offensive scheme.
St. Louis Rams
With the two elite receivers off the board, the Rams selected the best pass-rushing defensive end in the draft with the 14th pick thanks in large part to an early run at the quarterback position. Quinn is just the type of dynamic edge rusher head coach Steve Spagnuolo likes along his defensive front.
Green Bay Packers
By selecting Bryan Bulaga and Derek Sherrod in the first round of back-to-back drafts, the Packers have solidified their tackle position for the next five to 10 years. Neither is the sexiest tackle, but both are formidable run blockers and capable pass blockers.
In addition, Sherrod was the top tackle on our board and a great value selection at the end of Round 1.
With a bevy of need picks on the board, the Lions defied convention selecting Nick Fairley with the 13th overall selection. While passing on Prince Amukamara had to be difficult, the mere thought of Fairley and Ndamukong Suh playing alongside each other on the interior of the Lions defensive line had the set of NFL Network giving a chorus of "Wow's!!!"
The Lions defensive front just got downright scary.
New Orleans Saints
It is hard to create a list of first- round winners without including the Saints as they came away with two players ranked in the NFLDraft101 top 13.
By selecting defensive end Cameron Jordan with the 24th pick, the Saints made arguably the best value pick of the first round. Jordan is the draft's best all-around defensive end, and his versatility will be utilized to its fullest in Gregg Williams' aggressive scheme.
The Saints followed it up with an aggressive trade up with the Patriots to acquire the 28th pick and running back Mark Ingram. His combination of power and vision along with underrated receiving skills will make an explosive offense even more dangerous next season.
The only negative, was the Ingram trade came at a heavy price as they traded their 2011 second-rounder (54th overall) and a 2012 first- rounder.
With several quality offensive lineman on the board including offensive tackles Gabe Carimi, Derek Sherrod and Orlando Franklin not to mention interior linemen Rodney Hudson and Ben Ijalana on the board, the Seahawks reached for Alabama G/T James Carpenter to fill a need along the offensive front.
Carpenter was the reach of the day as he was the only player selected on day one who was not included in NFLDraft101's Top 64.
New England Patriots
Despite a major need at the defensive end position, the Patriots passed on the Cameron Jordan at 18 and Muhammed Wilkerson and Cameron Heyward at 28. Instead, they selected high risk/high reward OT Nate Solder at 18 and traded down as usual at 28.
Yes, they received a bounty (2012 first-rounder and 2011 second-rounder, pick 56) in the trade down, but one has to wonder if this was the year they should have been looking to move up for a pass rusher or use the 28th pick on the top running back in the draft in Mark Ingram.
That said, with their bounty of selections expect the Patriots to make a splash on day two.
The only problem with the Von Miller selection is the team's scheme.
If the Broncos were staying with the 3-4, this would have been a tremendous pick as Miller would team up with Elvis Dumervil for one of the best rush linebacker duos in the league.
However, as a 4-3 linebacker Miller is not a number two overall caliber talent as his pass-rushing prowess is minimized, and his average ability against the run is exposed.
San Diego Chargers
The selection of Corey Luiget was among the days most surprising as he is not great fit for the 3-4. Considered more of a one gap penetrator as a 3-technique, Luiget's struggles anchoring at the point of attack may be exposed as a 5-technique.
Coming off a rudderless 2-14 season, the Panthers took a huge leap of faith with the selection of high risk/high reward quarterback Cam Newton.
While he will provide a jolt to a lagging fan base, there are serious questions about whether he has the work ethic and intangibles to lead a major rebuilding project. An even more difficult selection to swallow just a year after selecting Jimmy Clausen with their second-round pick.
Considered a candidate for the No. 1 overall selection early in the draft process, Bowers' free fall has confirmed the knee concerns are as bad, if not worse, than expected.
Other Day One Thoughts:
As mentioned in the opening, the story of the day was the four quarterback selections in the top 12. If you are wondering why none of the team's besides Carolina ended up in the winners and losers section, it is because while two of the other three (Locker and Ponder) can be considered reaches, I feel they were selections the team's needed to make.
Yes, they were reaches, but both ran the risk of not getting a quarterback if they waited until Round 2. I also feel Gabbert, Locker and Ponder each landed in good situations, especially. Gabbert who will get the benefit of playing behind a veteran quarterback while he adapts to the pro game.
By the way, I was not surprised to see Andy Dalton not get selected in Round 1.
I felt fortunate to hit on two of my six bold first round predictions: Jonathan Baldwin going in the first round, and there will be no more than one trade up to get a QB in the latter stages of Round 1. Of course, the second prediction only came true because of four quarterbacks went in the top 12.
In a draft with quarterbacks in such high demand, it was surprising to see the draft's highest rated quarterback, Blaine Gabbert, fall all the way to 10th overall and the third quarterback selected. The biggest surprise was not Locker going ahead of him but rather the 49ers passing on him for Aldon Smith, a raw but high upside pass-rusher.
It felt good to predict 28 of the 32 players in the first round in my final mock draft, but I was disappointed to hit on only six of the actual picks (seven if you count Mark Ingram going 28th even if to the wrong team)
Cornerback Jimmy Smith landed in a good situation in Baltimore where veterans such as Ray Lewis and Ed Reed can show him what it means to be a pro.
The tweet of the day came from @SeniorBowl: "True story..set up an interview for Watkins during week with USAToday..he had no idea what it was..his excuse.."Hey, I'm Canadian.."
The bold move of the day was made by the Atlanta Falcons as they traded up 21 spots (from 27th to sixth) to select dynamic wide receiver Julio Jones. I like Jones' talent but question the decision to give up two firsts (2011 and 2012), a second (2011) and two fourths (2011 and 2012).
They did not overpay so much as they spread themselves thin (pick wise) to get him. I know receiver was a need and Jones opposite Roddy White is scary, but finding a much need pass rusher in Round 3 could prove difficult.
Lastly, one word of caution on Julio Jones. The most common denominator among wide receiver busts in the past 10 years has been great speed and questionable hands (see Ted Ginn, Troy Williamson and Darrius Heyward-Bey none of whom is as talent as Jones I might add).
Top Five Players on the Board for Day Two:
1. DE DaQuan Bowers
2. DT Stephen Paea
3. OLB Akeem Ayers
4. TE Kyle Rudolph
5. DE/OLB Justin Houston
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