The 2011 NFL Draft will be remembered for the stars selected in the first round, as some will undoubtedly become franchise players in the next couple of years.
While the early picks receive all the hype and fan fare, it's the middle and late rounds which ultimately determine wins and losses, and separate promotions from firings in the front offices around the league.
Finding starters on Day 3 (rounds 4-7) requires the ability to scout for hidden gems, to find which guys with some physical flaws may be the best fits for specific systems, which physically gifted players can learn to translate their abilities into football skills and which players have the heart and desire to continue to improve at the next level and earn starting roles.
I'm not here to go over which teams excelled on the final day. Instead, it's time to look at which teams squandered the most opportunities. Let's go...
I'm completely on board with what the Bengals accomplished early to help reshape the core of their offense, with the selections of A.J. Green and Andy Dalton.
Somebody should have told the Bengals management that just because you succeeded early, doesn't mean you can mail in the final day. Drafting Stanford receiver Ryan Whalen in the sixth round is extremely suspect, a possession receiver who only caught two touchdown passes and less than 500 yards in his senior year. Oh, and all the while, receiving passes from the top quarterback in college football in Andrew Luck. Taking an All-Pac 10 Honorable Mention Team player here won't really help this team except putting another body onto the field.
Taking a safety in Robert Sands who lacks the coverage skills to play in the NFL seems questionable in the fifth round as well.
No qualms with Clint Boling in the fourth round, as he'll provide versatility at either guard position.
Jordan Cameron, I mean look at this guy. The former USC Trojan basketball product (a term I use loosely, as he was far from an all-world hooper) was taken in the fourth round as a raw tight end prospect. With play-making tight ends like Virgil Green available, this pick doesn't fully add up.
Later in the round, taking Stanford fullback Owen Marecic makes you think a bit as well. Marecic is a stud, and will be a quality fullback in the NFL. However, he is made to open holes for shifty backs who need the space. Him and Peyton Hillis are not ideal backfield mates, so we'll see how this turns out.
Both fifth round selections, corner Buster Skrine and tackle Jason Pinkston, bring major question marks in terms of ability to play the run, and desire to improve in the weight room, respectively.
Pete Carroll pulled in an impressive haul in the 2010 NFL Draft, particularly stud safety Earl Thomas.
The 2011 NFL Draft has been about as pretty as the mess Carroll left behind at USC, and Day 3 was no different for the Seahawks.
With Aaron Curry as a starting standout outside linebacker, taking Mississippi State's K.J. Wright leaves a bit to be desired, while Stanford corner Richard Sherman is an even iffier pro prospect lacking instincts you'd like to see at the position in the fifth round.
Straight-line speed is much more important than actual football ability. I'm Al Davis, and I will never change this philosophy.
Plenty of guys taken on Day 3 who can run with the best of them. Plenty of guys on Day 3 with major concerns whether they'll ever develop into bonifide NFL football players.
Chimdi Chekwa and Denarius Moore fit the bill, per usual.
Best of luck, Raider Nation, best of luck.
We get that David Akers' days are done in Philly, but using a fourth-round pick on a kicker in Nebraska's Alex Henery reeks of desperation, and corn. A kicker rarely warrants a grade above the sixth round, so the Eagles better hope this guy turns into more than a solid starter.
A kicker this early? Really Andy Reid? Really?
Dion Lewis followed LeSean McCoy's footsteps well at Pitt, but his skills are so similar (minus McCoy's phenomenal receiving abilities) that it may be overkill, instead of bringing in a bigger back to better complement McCoy.