2011 NFL Draft: The Biggest "Wow" Moments of Round 1
The first round of the 2011 NFL Draft concluded late last night. It was a typical first round, full of both surprise picks, as well as expected selections.
As always, there were surprises, such as Blaine Gabbert falling past the Bengals, Cardinals, 49ers, and Titans down to the 10th overall pick, which the Washington Redskins traded to the Jacksonville Jaguars, who used the pick to nab Gabbert.
There were also the moments where all you could say is, "Wow."
Those are moments we will be recapping, those "wow" moments that probably surprised the player selected as much as it surprised the fans.
7. Lions Pass On Offensive Tackle and Cornerback, Take Fairley
This pick was not surprising because Fairley fell to No. 13 overall, although that was somewhat unexpected. This pick was a surprise because the Lions were expected to take an offensive tackle or a cornerback.
Instead, the Lions chose defensive tackle Nick Fairley. Fairley was regarded as one of the best DTs in the 2011 Draft.
What makes this pick so awesome, is just last year, the Lions took DT Ndamukong Suh second overall. Suh had quite the rookie season, winning the defensive rookie of the year award.
Suh and Fairley playing next to one another in the Lions 4-3 defense is nothing short of scary. The Lions defensive front got a huge boost with the selection of Fairley.
While the Lions may still need an OT, they may not need a CB with the kind of penetration that their defense line front will be constantly getting. When the opposing quarterbacks have under three seconds to throw, even the Lions corners will be able to make plays.
Kidding aside, the Lions defensive line is now in great shape with the selection of Fairley. I was certainly surprised when I saw Fairley holding up a Lions jersey identical to the one Ndamukong Suh held up one year ago.
6. Seattle Seahawks Reach for James Carpenter
With the 25th overall pick in the draft, the Seattle Seahawks selected offensive tackle James Carpenter.
Just who is James Carpenter?
Carpenter is an offensive tackle out of Alabama. He is a solid blocker who is effective in the running game as he spent his college career blocking for Alabama RB Mark Ingram.
Carpenter, however, was expected to be taken in the second, if not third round. Several big boards have other OTs on the board ahead of Carpenter, and here is what makes the pick so surprising: at the time the Seahawks picked, both OT Gabe Carimi and OT Derek Sherrod were still on the board.
Apparently the Seahawks saw something in Carpenter they really liked. Hopefully, for their sake, he will turn out to be as good as Carimi and Sherrod. The Seahawks selection really surprised me, and probably all of Seattle.
5. San Francisco 49ers Pass On Quarterback, Take Smith
As new San Francisco 49ers Head Coach Jim Harbaugh settled into his new job, many expected Harbaugh and the 49ers to go after a new quarterback with the seventh overall pick in the 2011 draft.
The 49ers decided they were set with current QB Alex Smith, and proceeded to take defensive end Aldon Smith.
Smith going in the top 10 isn't too surprising, as most had him going in the top 15, but it is surprising that the 49ers passed on a quarterback with Blaine Gabbert and others still on the board.
Aldon Smith will help out the 49ers defensive line, and provide an excellent pass rush off the edge, but one can only wonder, is Alex Smith really the answer in San Francisco?
4. New Orleans Saints Trade Up to Take Ingram
This move surprised me, because although the New Orleans Saints had some running back troubles in 2010, I thought that they would be set going into 2011.
The Saints RBs Pierre Thomas and Reggie Bush both suffered injuries in 2010. Rookie RB Chris Ivory stepped up when Thomas and Bush were out and performed well.
Mark Ingram was considered the top running back in the 2011 draft, and many had Ingram going as high as 15th overall to the Miami Dolphins, but he fell to 28th overall.
The 28th overall selection belonged to the New England Patriots, who also had the 17th overall selection which they used to take OT Nate Solder. The Saints traded the 56th overall pick as well as their first round pick in 2012 for the Patriots' 28th overall selection.
I like this pick for the Saints. They also added DE Cameron Jordan at 24th overall, making this an excellent first round for the Saints.
It is going to be very interesting to see what the Saints RB corps looks like at the start of the 2011 season. It is possible that Ingram may even be their starting RB in 2011.
3. Atlanta Falcons Trade Up for Julio Jones
This pick was anticipated minutes before the draft began, but it was shocking nonetheless.
The Atlanta Falcons traded their 27th overall pick, 59th overall pick, 124th overall pick, as well as their first and fourth round picks in 2012 to the Cleveland Browns to move up to sixth overall. Yes, five picks—three this year and two next year—to move up to sixth overall.
The Falcons used the expensive pick to draft Alabama WR Julio Jones. Jones was considered the second best WR in the draft, just behind A.J. Green, who went to the Cincinnati Bengals at No. 4.
The combination of Roddy White and Julio Jones will be lethal. Matt Ryan will certainly be pleased with his new toy. Everyone will be happy, unless Jones is a bust that Atlanta essentially traded away their draft for.
This pick is going to be interesting. Hopefully, the Falcons will have found a great WR in Jones.
Besides, he looks good in red.
2. Tennessee Titans Take Jake Locker
The Tennessee Titans selection of Washington QB Jake Locker was a big "wow" moment. Locker was one of the top five QBs in the 2011 draft, but few expected him to go this early, especially with Blaine Gabbert still on the board.
Locker was expected to go in the first round, but the Titans took a chance and took him eighth overall. The pick makes sense, because Locker seems to be a good fit in the Titans offense, but it was surprising how early he went.
The decision to take Locker seemed to be a good one, as quarterbacks went on to be taken at 10th overall and 12th overall as well.
The Titans felt as though Locker was the second best QB in the draft, and deserving of the eighth overall selection, so they went ahead and made the pick.
Titans Head Coach Mike Munchak replaced former Titans head coach Jeff Fisher this offseason, and now he gets his QB of the future in Jake Locker. Hopefully the two can grow together and get a strong passing attack going in Tennessee.
1. Minnesota Vikings Take Christian Ponder
If you saw this pick coming, pat yourself on the back, because I don't think anyone expected this.
The Minnesota Vikings used their 12th overall selection to select Florida State QB Christan Ponder. This could be viewed as a major reach or a perfect pick.
This could be a reach because some didn't even expect Ponder to be drafted in the first round, let alone in the top 15. 12th overall may have been too early for him.
However, this could be the perfect pick because many view Christian Ponder as the best available QB to fit the Vikings scheme. If Ponder was indeed the best QB available in the Vikings eyes, then they made a great pick.
This pick will be talked about for quite some time. Ponder will have two excellent receivers to throw to in Sidney Rice and Percy Harvin, and a great running back to hand the ball off to in Adrian Peterson. I can't wait to see how this story ends up.
In my mind, Ponder to the Vikings was the biggest "wow" moment in the draft.