NFL Draft 2011: Finding the 5 Best Value Picks Available on Day 2
Well, that was officially the best (and for some teams, the worst) first round I've ever seen.
Nearly every pick was a talented player, with some names falling off sharply, and others coming seemingly out of thin air and being selected earlier than anybody would've thought.
I was glued to the screen as pick after pick tore my mock draft (which I was keeping track of) apart. In the end, I got all of six and a half picks out of 32 correct (the half comes from having the right player but the wrong team).
However, with some guys on the rise, others were forgotten. Some, justifiably, others not so much. One thing is for absolute certain, there is some talent to be had in the second round of this draft, and this article will pick out the players to watch for eight hours from now.
1. Da'Quan Bowers, DE Clemson
We knew he would fall, it was just a matter of to where.
Some people thought the Cleveland Browns would take him at No. 21 when they traded up with the Kansas City Chiefs. However, Bowers has certainly slipped through the cracks.
Falling out of the Top 10? Definitely justified. Falling out of the first round? Not so much.
Bowers has the potential to light up the league. Claims that he is a one-year wonder and that his knee injury is scary are valid, but you'd think a team would draft him on potential alone, right? Even Christian Ponder got moved up into the first round, so Bowers really shouldn't have fallen.
But he has.
Seeing that he has free fallen into the second round is surprising and I think anybody who is gets this guy is a getting a great deal. The guy was a consensus Top 10 pick only a few weeks ago.
There are a few teams in the second round that are licking their chops in delight.
2. Brooks Reed, DE/OLB Arizona
There was a lot of speculation that Brooks Reed would go late in the first round, possibly to the Steelers, Patriots or Packers. It'd certainly be a warranted pick. This guy is one of the better pass rushers in the draft and ran a ridiculous 4.65 40-yard dash.
He's a guy that won't fall far in the second round, as he's big, mean and at times resembles current Packers' favorite Clay Matthews. If there's a successor to Matthews in this draft, it isn't his brother Casey, it's this guy.
I've only heard good things about Reed, and opposing offenses had to literally plan their offensive blocking assignments around him, resulting in the high productivity of teammate Ricky Elmore.
Reed is kind of a 'tweener, not quite big enough to be a 4-3 defensive end, but he's a little bigger than most outside linebackers. This only adds to Reed's value as he will be productive in almost any system.
3. Andy Dalton, QB TCU
Perhaps the only marquee quarterback left, Dalton is sort of a wildcard in this draft.
He plays with a style extremely similar to former Texas and current Cleveland Browns' quarterback Colt McCoy. He has a high completion percentage and good athleticism, but has questions regarding his arm strength.
Given that there are a few west coast offense teams that are in need of a quarterback (namely San Francisco, Seattle and Cincinnati) I see this guy being a hot commodity in the second round this season.
With such a weak quarterback class, and given the relative success of McCoy last season, Dalton is really catching on with a lot of teams.
As a guy with very few questions, I am extremely surprised that Dalton was not snatched up in the first round by Seattle, but I would even more shocked if he's not taken by Cincinnati if he falls to them.
Fear not, Bengals fans—there's hope of getting a good quarterback yet.
4. Mikel Leshoure, RB Illinois
This guy was said to have first round talent, but I think it's better that he fell into the second round. With the near free-fall of Mark Ingram, Leshoure kind of the got the "second best" treatment. Make no mistake, he is the second best.
What Leshoure could offer the team that drafts him, however, is a very hard power runner, who has a very good open field burst. While his college production doesn't match Ingram, he may very well end up having a better rookie season depending on where he ends up.
He has a running style reminiscent of Ryan Matthews from last years draft. Second round is just about the right spot for this guy to go, and he's explosive enough to jump start some offensive teams as early as this season.
5. Martez Wilson, ILB Illinois
Wilson is the premier middle linebacker in this draft, and the only one that's truly noteworthy.
While Kelvin Sheppard, Greg Jones and Quan Surdivant are all good players in their own right, Wilson seems like he is the only one that could go on to be a Pro Bowler some day.
A very underrated pass rusher, Wilson may end up on a team as an outside linebacker, but he played on the inside for Illinois and I don't think any team can complain with his production or the spark he provides.
He isn't going to fall very far into the second, and many teams are looking to build up their front seven, and this guy would provide some immediate relief.
Honorable Mention: Justin Houston, OLB/DE Georgia
Now this was a guy that I thought would be taken in the first, despite the fact that there were a few guys more worthy of consideration. Houston had a breakout season at Georgia this season, finishing with 18.5 tackles for loss and 10 sacks in his first season in Georgia's new 3-4 defense.
Previously, Houston was an undersized defensive end, and he finished 2009 with 15.5 tackles for loss and 7.5 sacks while starting only 10 games for the Bulldogs. This season he was credited with 44 quarterback hurries!
Houston is one of the premier pass rushers in the draft, nearly as good as guys like Nick Fairley, Da'Quan Bowers and Von Miller. He's good at getting to the ball and could end up being invaluable in the rushing game as well, depending on the scheme of the team that drafts him.
Overall, he looks to be either a great outside linebacker in the 3-4, or a pretty darn good 4-3 pass rusher.
He reportedly failed a drug test at the scouting combine, which might have led to a drop in his draft stock. Overall, definitely a guy to watch.