2011 NFL Draft Grades: Top 5 Winners from Round 1 of NFL Draft

Elliott PohnlFeatured ColumnistApril 29, 2011

2011 NFL Draft Grades: Top 5 Winners from Round 1 of NFL Draft

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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

    2011 NFL Draft Grades are a long way from being complete, but the first round of the NFL Draft certainly provided plenty of material for NFL fans to dissect.

    Cam Newton came off the board first, followed by a run of defensive players destined to make an immediate impact on their new teams.

    Then the Cincinnati Bengals made a smart move at No. 4, snatching Georgia star A.J. Green and in the process taking another step towards pushing Chad Ochocinco out the door.

    While the Tennessee Titans and Minnesota Vikings made questionable selections, several other teams struck in rich.

    Here's a look at the five biggest first-round winners of the 2011 NFL Draft.

No. 5: Washington Redskins Take Steady Ryan Kerrigan Instead of a Quarterback

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    NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 28:  NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell (L) poses for a photo with Ryan Kerrigan, #16 overall pick by the Washington Redskins, on stage during the 2011 NFL Draft at Radio City Music Hall on April 28, 2011 in New York City.  (Photo by Chri
    Chris Trotman/Getty Images

    Instead of taking a chance on a quarterback, the Washington Redskins went with a safe pick in Purdue stud Ryan Kerrigan.

    The skinny on Kerrigan to the Redskins: Brian Orakpo on one side, Ryan Kerrigan on the other.

    Get ready for plenty of sacks for many years to come.

    While Adrian Clayborn and Cameron Heyward got all the hype, Kerrigan was arguably the most dominant player in the Big Ten during the last two seasons.

    Despite facing constant double-teams and having little talent around him at Purdue, Kerrigan was a constant force.

    His high-motor will make him a star at the next level.

    Grade: B+

    The Redskins could have traded down to stockpile more picks in the draft, or potentially tried to move up to snag a talented receiver like Julio Jones.

    Unlike many players in this draft class, Kerrigan doesn't come with questions.  Simply a solid, safe pick by the 'Skins at No. 16.

    What's Next: Washington needs to find a receiver somewhere in this draft, otherwise things will be rough offensively once again within Mike Shanahan's offense.

No. 4: Detroit Lions Get Even Better on Defensive Line

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    NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 28:  Nick Fairley, #13 overall pick by the Detriot Lions, holds up a jersey 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

    The Detroit Lions had other needs, but nabbing Nick Fairley at No. 13 was a brilliant move.

    The Skinny on Fairley to Detroit Lions: We've all heard the concerns about Fairley, who became the most polarizing defensive player in the SEC by being one of the dirtiest players in all of college football.

    Is that really such a bad thing?

    Ndamukong Suh and Fairley will give the Lions a much-needed swagger and provide chaos to the likes of Jay Cutler and Aaron Rodgers in the NFC North.

    Grade: B

    What's Next: Now that that general manager Martin Mayhew has added some beef up front, the next step is to bolster a weak secondary.

    The Lions have needs at corner and safety, and could look to Iowa's Tyler Sash or Clemson's DeAndre McDaniels on Day 2.

    The eternal climb towards respectability marches along in the 313.

No. 3: San Diego Chargers Address Need with Corey Luiget

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    NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 28:  NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell (L) poses for a photo with Corey Liuget, #18 overall pick by the San Diego Chargers, 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

    The San Diego Chargers looked to Corey Luiget to fill void along the defensive line.

    The Skinny on Luiget to the Chargers: Heading in the 2011 NFL Draft, prevailing opinion had Luiget rapidly rising up draft boards.

    Surprisingly, he was still available when the Chargers went on the clock at No. 18.

    Playing on inconsistent Illinois teams left Luiget in relative anonymity, but NFL scouts took notice of his athleticism and strength.

    With Jacques Cesaire hitting the free agent market—at some point this offseason—the Chargers needed someone capable of playing in gaps.

    Grade: B+

    Luiget is still a bit raw, but his upside is difficult to miss.  San Diego could have a real steal with its First Round pick in the 2011 NFL Draft.

    What's Next for the Chargers: Like the Redskins and Lions, the Chargers could use some help at wide receiver.

No. 2: New Orleans Saints Take Talented Cameron Jordan, Reliable Mark Ingram

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    NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 28:  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.  (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images)
    Chris Trotman/Getty Images

    Mark Ingram gives the New Orleans Saints fans reason to feel blessed, but could landing Cal star Cameron Jordan actually be a bigger steal in the first round?

    The skinny on Ingram and Jordan to the Saints: New Orleans wanted a defensive end in the draft, and taking Jordan over Cameron Heyward at No. 24 was a fantastic move.

    But that wasn't the move that had everyone buzzing late Thursday night.

    With no running game to speak of, the Saints where fortunate to grab Mark Ingram all the way at No. 28.

    Ingram's arrival likely signaled the end of Reggie Bush's run in New Orleans, something Saints fans won't be crying about.

    Grade: A

    What's Next For the Saints: Could the Saints look to a quarterback in the later rounds?

    It hasn't been discussed, but drafting a legitimate potential successor to Drew Brees might not be a terrible move.  Otherwise, defensive back appears to be the biggest team need.


No. 1: New York Giants Welcome Prince Amukamara at No. 19

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    NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 28:  Prince Amukamara, #19 overall pick by the New York Giants, holds up a jersey on stage 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

    Once regarded as a lock for a top-10 pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, Prince Amukamara plummeted down the board to No. 19.

    The Skinny on Amukamara to the Giants: When it comes to team needs, the Giants had plenty, including at cornerback.

    With Patrick Peterson coming off the board first, Amukamara had to sit and wait while several other teams in need of defensive back help passed on his services.

    Although his stock took a major hit leading up to the draft, the Nebraska star has the size and physicality to thrive in the NFL.

    Grade: A+

    When it comes to value, it's tough to get better than landing a sure-fire starter and potential Pro Bowler at No. 19.

    What's Next for the Giants: Offensive line is still a need, and running back is a strong possibility.

    Hawaii's Alex Green could be a late-round gem worth a look by the Giants, with good size and the ability to catch the ball out of the backfield.

    For more NFL Draft Talk, check out NFL Draft 2011 Results: Recap, Grades for All 32 First Round Picks