2011 NFL Draft logo2011 NFL Draft

2011 NFL Draft Grades: Biggest 1st Round Winners and Losers

Mihir BhagatSenior Analyst IIIApril 29, 2011

2011 NFL Draft Grades: Biggest 1st Round Winners and Losers

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    Chris Trotman/Getty Images

    The 2011 NFL Draft is fully underway and the 1st round has come to an end. Some teams walk away confident with the moves made, and others will be left disappointed or at least should be.

    Like every other draft, there have been good picks and bad ones and I'm here to provide my thoughts on it all.

    Therefore, here are my biggest winners and losers of the first round. 

Winners: New Orleans Saints

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    Chris Trotman/Getty Images

    The New Orleans Saints were the only NFL team to select twice in the first round and with them they may have got two of the best value picks so far.

    It was a surprise that California defensive end Cameron Jordan would fall to them and with that position being a major area of need, I'm sure they were ecstatic to take him.

    In a division that features Drew Brees, the emerging Josh Freeman, and now No. 1 overall pick Cam Newton it's going to be critical to be able to put pressure on the quarterback.

    After they secured their edge rusher, they had the opportunity to take the best available player and they did so by trading back into the 1st round for former Heisman Trophy winner Alabama running back Mark Ingram.

    Now, even if Pierre Thomas leaves in free agency and Reggie Bush is released due to the massive sum of money he's set to receive, the Saints will have a backup plan.

    Moreover, the year that they won the Super Bowl they were 6th in the league in terms of rushing yards. Last year, they were 28th. Big difference and Ingram should bring them back to dominance.  

Loser: Minnesota Vikings

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    Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

    The Minnesota Vikings stood at pick No. 12 with some great options available including Auburn DT Nick Fairley, Nebraska CB Prince Amukamara, and Boston College OT Anthony Costanzo all of whom would've filled a need.

    Instead, because three quarterbacks had gone in the Top 10 they felt the need to reach for a guy who probably should've been a 2nd round pick.

    They probably thought that the rest of the quarterbacks like Andy Dalton, Ryan Mallet, and Colin Caepernick were going to go quickly in the 1st round as well, but guess what?

    They're all still available and had they known that I doubt they would've made the move.

    Too big of a risk, in my opinion, and considering that Ponder still isn't ready to be a day one starter they are the biggest losers from round 1.

Winner: Jacksonville Jaguars

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    Chris Trotman/Getty Images

    The Jacksonville Jaguars traded up six spots with the Washington Redskins to take Missouri quarterback Blaine Gabbert.

    At first, this move didn't make a ton of sense to me since they already have a solid signal caller in David Garrard. 

    But what they probably plan on doing is allowing Gabbert the time he needs to sit on the sidelines and develop before being forced out onto the field.

    This is the ideal situation for a rookie quarterback. It worked with Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, and there's no reason it shouldn't work with Gabbert.  

Loser: Seattle Seahawks

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    Did you know the Seattle Seahawks could've been drafting with the No. 7 overall pick had they lost their season finale to the St. Louis Rams

    Not saying they would've rather done that but looking at the talent level on their roster, they probably need it. 

    However, even at No. 25 when they selected, I believe they made a huge mistake which is in contrary to the brilliant moves they made in last year's draft.

    This time around they filled a need but stretched for Alabama guard James Carpenter, a player that they could've possibly traded back for. If no suitors were out there, I would've rather taken the best player available and considering they ranked 31st in rushing offense last year I was a big supporter of them taking Carpenter's teammate former Heisman Trophy winner running back Mark Ingram.

Winner: New York Giants

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    Chris Trotman/Getty Images

    When Nebraska cornerback Prince Amukamara was surprisingly available when the New York Giants selected at No. 19 the hometown fans at Radio City Music Hall chanted "We Want Prince, We Want Prince!". 

    Well, they get their wish and the Giants defense just took a big step forward by adding a potential shutdown cornerback.

    Probably one of the biggest steals of the 1st round and even though he doesn't fill a pressing need, I'm sure they wouldn't mind having him to defend the multi-wideout sets that division rival Dallas Cowboys or Philadelphia Eagles will throw at them.  

Loser: New England Patriots

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    Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

    Wow, you don't usually see such a well-run organization like the New England Patriots on the loser side of a draft. However, with their two picks they made two mistakes.

    First off, they took the wrong player at offensive tackle in my opinion. With Boston College OT Anthony Costanzo on the board, I felt that his versatility was exactly what they needed to replace either Matt Light or Logan Mankins. Instead, they go with Nate Solder who isn't ready to provide an immediate impact which doesn't make sense for a team that's ready to win now. His upside his higher but he currently lacks the technique which doesn't sound like a Patriots player to me.

    Then with their next pick at No. 28, they had three potential options they could've gone with all of whom would've been steals at the position. Former Heisman Trophy winner Alabama running back Mark Ingram was there and the New Olreans Saints ultimately traded up with the Patriots to snatch him. Then, two of the better five technique defensive ends were drafted by their rivals in the New York Jets (Muhammad Wilkerson) and the Pittsburgh Steelers (Cameron Heyward). After trading away Richard Seymour, the Patriots had a void along the defensive line and that was the best place to do it.

    Let's see what they do with the rest of their picks and of course looking back, they always seem to be on top so maybe this is all in the 'Bellichick master plan'  

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