2011 NFL Draft

2011 NFL Draft Grades: How Many Clubs Earned a Failing Grade in Round 1?

Joseph BurkeyAnalyst IApril 29, 2011

2011 NFL Draft Grades: How Many Clubs Earned a Failing Grade in Round 1?

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    NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 28:  A general view of the Draft 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

    The first round of the NFL Draft saw some big winners Thursday, but not every team scored perfectly with fans and the media.

    It's easy to say "They should have done this" or "that guy's a reach at that pick, they could have gotten more picks if they traded down" or "they sacrificed way to much to get him" which is why that is exactly what I'm about to do.

    The secrecy and deception of clubs over the last several months regarding the draft is impressive to say the least. People saw their mock drafts shattered by the 10th pick. By the 15th pick, all bets were off.

Tenessee Titans, No. 8: Jake Locker

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    TUCSON, AZ - OCTOBER 23:  Quarterback Jake Locker #10 of the Washington Huskies drops back to pass during the college football game against the Arizona Wildcats at Arizona Stadium on October 23, 2010 in Tucson, Arizona. The Wildcats defeated the Huskies 4
    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    When you consider his stock was top-shelf last year, this pick actually makes a lot of sense. Locker was supposed to go No. 1 overall. Tennessee's need for a quarterback is obvious, considering the age of Kerry Collins and Vince Young's contract situation.

    But the kid saw his projected stock plummet after his senior season. The earliest he was expected to go would be to the Seattle Seahawks. Yet the Titans decided he was the man—over Blaine Gabbert—at the eighth pick.

Atlanta Falcons, No. 6: Julio Jones

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    TUSCALOOSA, AL - NOVEMBER 26:  Julio Jones #8 of the Alabama Crimson Tide reacts after a long reception against the Auburn Tigers at Bryant-Denny Stadium on November 26, 2010 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    The Falcon's needs were few and far between. There really aren't a lot of roster spots out there in Atlanta, and they finished with a very nice 13-3 record in 2010.

    Roddy White has a friend now, and that friend is going to take away opponents' ability to double cover him.

    But Atlanta gave away the farm to move up and take Jones at the sixth spot. The GM is already getting the stink eye from the fans and the media.

San Francisco 49ers, No.7: Aldon Smith

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    COLUMBIA, MO - OCTOBER 23: Aldon Smith #85 of the Missouri Tigers in action against the Oklahoma Sooners at Faurot Field/Memorial Stadium on October 23, 2010 in Columbia, Missouri.  The Tigers beat the Sooners 36-27.  (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Image
    Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

    With the Von Millers, Patrick Petersons, Prince Amukamaras and Robert Quinns out there, I literally forgot this guy existed.

    Smith's upside is borderline incredible: he entered the draft with two years of eligibility left, he was a monster as a red-shirt freshman and played gritty through a fractured leg his sophomore year . His frame suggests he'll fill out a little, and can probably improve his first step.

    But experts say SF could have moved down and still gotten him.

Minnesota Vikings, No. 12: Christian Ponder

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    RALEIGH, NC - OCTOBER 28:  Christian Ponder #7 of the Florida State Seminoles against the North Carolina State Wolfpack during their game at Carter-Finley Stadium on October 28, 2010 in Raleigh, North Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
    Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

    Christian Ponder increased his stock over the last few months. From a third-round prospect, Ponder had a great Senior Bowl, impressed at the combine and reassured scouts at FSU's pro-day.

    Hes got very nice speed, a good cannon, standard height and played in a pro-style offense.

    The Vikings needed a quarterback, no question about it, but 12th overall was a bit of stretch for an injury-prone passer who didn't finish the first half of his last Bowl Game.

New England Patriots, No. 17 and No. 28: Nate Solder, and 2 More Draft Picks

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    Elsa/Getty Images

    How do you have two first-round picks, but only come away with one player?

    We actually have no business questioning or criticizing Bill Belichick's dynasty: his keen eye to the future is unrivaled in the NFL.

    But I'm gonna do it anyway.

    Nate Solder may be a tree-sized monster with the feet of a linebacker, but he'll take a little time to adjust in the NFL. Tom Brady is too valuable to the Patriots to abide a rookie protecting his blind side.

    The Saints traded their first pick next year, which might be lower than the one they traded this year. They threw in another second rounder this year, bringing New England to three picks in Round 2. That's just too many picks! How will they be able to focus that round?

    Satire aside though, the strategy is impeccable.

Roger Goodell

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    NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 28:  NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell speaks at the podium 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

    Okay, so he played it off the best he could: he laughed and smiled. But we all heard the booing and chanting every time the commissioner emerged.

    Those same players with the welcoming hugs now will be sitting across from him at the bargaining table soon enough.

    Goodell plays the villain role perfectly, doesn't he?

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