2011 NFL Draft: The 20 Most Inexplicable Selections
Every draft year there are picks that make you scratch your head, the ones you really just don't get.
The 2011 NFL draft is no exception.
This list is about those inexplicable picks.
Please know that the players that made this list aren't necessarily future busts.
They might be; they might not.
However, a far more important factor in most cases is that the teams that selected these players either monumentally reached for the player, didn't need help at the particular position, or neglected to choose a more skilled or appropriate player or a more needed position.
The majority of these players were taken in the draft's earlier rounds because, in stating that a pick was inexplicable, the expected value of the selection has to be taken into consideration.
In other words, it would be really unfair to put a player taken in the draft's seventh round on this list.
By the time the draft's later rounds are taking place, most teams are essentially just filling needs and taking some long-shot chances.
Julio Jones, WR, No. 6, Atlanta Falcons
The problem with this pick is not Jones. He will team up with Falcons wide receiver Roddy White to give quarterback Matt Ryan a great 1-2 punch.
However, in giving the Cleveland Browns picks No. 27, No. 59 and No. 124 in 2011, and a first- and fourth-round pick in 2012, Atlanta surrendered all the ammunition it had to improve an aging (defensive end John Abraham, about to turn 33, comes to mind) and suspect defense.
Jake Locker, QB, No. 8, Tennessee Titans
So, let's get this straight…
The Titans just got rid of a starting quarterback in Vince Young who struggled with accuracy throughout his career. Young has a 57.9 completion percentage in his five NFL seasons.
So they replaced Young with Washington quarterback Jake Locker who has a career 54 percent completion percentage.
The Titans did this with their eighth pick.
Look, Locker might turn into a great player one day, but he is a multi-year project. The Titans needed a guy to step in on day one and Locker is not it.
Former head coach Jeff Fisher might be one of the luckiest men in America right now because this is a team in serious transition.
Christian Ponder, QB, No. 12, Minnesota Vikings
This is a little painful personally. I just interviewed Ponder and found him to be intelligent, composed and ready for life in the National Football League.
That interview is here.
I think Ponder can play in the NFL, but I think he steps into another bad situation in Minnesota.
This is a team with a lot of veterans on offense that have quite honestly underachieved, especially last season with Brett Favre at quarterback.
Now, Ponder has to compete with incumbent Joe Webb to win over a team and fanbase that are desperate not just to win, but to win a Super Bowl.
Experts have talked about the Vikings bringing in Washington quarterback Donovan McNabb after the Redskins expectedly release him. But, Minnesota didn't select Ponder at No. 12 to sit for very long.
Durability concerns are also going to plague Ponder at least until he goes through an entire season healthy.
Nate Solder, OT, No. 17, New England Patriots
Ex-Colorado offensive tackle Nate Solder has a lot of athletic ability, but when you draft a former converted tight end, you have to expect a learning curve into the professional ranks.
The problem is that the Patriots are built to win now and protecting Tom Brady has to be priority one. For a kid that lacks functional playing strength, occasionally has problems getting depth in pass protection and is raw, Solder isn't the right fit here.
Adrian Clayborn, DE, No. 20, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Clayborn's sack totals decreased from 11.5 in 2009 to just 3.5 in 2009. His tackles for loss went down from 20 to seven during the same span.
He was engulfed by fellow first-round draft pick, the newest Chicago Bears OT, Gabe Carimi.
He might only be able to play on the right side due to the Erb's Palsy he has had in his right shoulder since birth.
This doesn't add up to the 20th pick overall. The Bucs took another medical question mark at the 50th overall pick in Da'Quan Bowers. That's a better spot to take a chance. Instead the Bucs took two big risks.
James Carpenter, OT, No. 25, Seattle Seahawks
Did anybody else see Nick Saban, Carpenter's coach at Alabama, shake his head in disbelief and disgust after the pick was announced?
It's because Carpenter was selected at least a full round before he actually should have been.
With Sean Locklear being a free agent for the Seahawks, Carpenter makes some sense. But, Seattle and Pete Carroll need to understand the concept of "best available player."
Jon Baldwin, WR, No. 26, Kansas City Chiefs
Kansas City, let me ask you a question.
Did you really want to take a player in the first round who, upon entering the draft, threw his coaching staff under the bus?
“Heck yeah I'm leaving,” Baldwin told the website NFLDraftScout.com. “It can only get worse. They had me running a lot of deep routes [this year] and yards were hard to come by. I barely ran intermediate routes; it felt like they were purposely trying to disrupt my draft stock."
Personally, I watched this kid give up on routes against Connecticut last season. Maybe he puts it together in the NFL, but wagering a first-round draft pick on him was dumbfounding.
Aaron Williams, CB/S, No. 34, Buffalo Bills
The Bills better hope that quarterback Andy Dalton (35th overall to Cincinnati) or Colin Kaepernick (36th overall to San Francisco) don't turn out to be elite quarterbacks in the NFL.
Williams is a different kind of tweener. He is part corner and part safety but not really great at either position.
I actually like his Longhorns teammate Curtis Brown, who was selected by the Pittsburgh Steelers, a lot more.
Jabaal Sheard, DE, No. 37, Cleveland Browns
Two huge problems with this pick. The Browns offense was awful minus Peyton Hillis in 2010, yet they spent their first two picks on defense.
Also, according to Pro Football Weekly, Sheard has an "elbow injury that might require further surgery." Selecting players with medical flags at pick No. 37 is not a component of a great business model.
Ryan Williams, RB, No. 38, Arizona Cardinals
I changed my mind on this pick once I really thought about it. Initially, I figured that since Beanie Wells has really struggled with injuries in Arizona and the Cardinals ranked dead last in rushing in 2010 that selecting a running back made perfect sense.
Then I came to my senses. Williams battled injuries all of last season and faces questions as to whether at his size he can hold up in the NFL. Arizona is supposed to be running a football team not a MASH unit.
Rahim Moore, S, No. 45, Denver Broncos
This is a little bit of a head-scratcher for a different reason. The Broncos clearly needed a safety because Brian Dawkins is 37 years old.
But, I openly wonder how a bone-crushing, tough guy like Dawkins is going to react to mentoring an inconsistent tackler known much more for his ball skills than his physical presence.
Then the Broncos took hard-hitting safety Quinton Carter in the fourth round.
This was one of the worst safety classes in recent memory, and the Broncos took two of them. Yet, they needed a defensive tackle in the worst way. More on that in a moment…
Orlando Franklin, OT, No. 46, Denver Broncos
Yes, I have the Broncos on the list for consecutive second-round picks.
Orlando Franklin is somewhat stiff in pass protection and doesn't use his hands particularly well either. While his strength is supposed to be in the run game, he didn't exactly open massive holes for Hurricanes running backs either, especially in crucial situations.
More importantly, Denver didn't take a defensive lineman until the seventh round of the draft (Oklahoma's undersized Jeremy Beal). That's not good enough for a defensive line that started the likes of Kevin Vickerson, Jamal Williams and Justin Bannan.
Marcus Gilchrist, S, No. 49, San Diego Chargers
So, the Chargers need a physical presence at safety and they draft a 5'10", 193-pound player who projects as a cornerback.
Then with the 89th pick in Round 3, San Diego comes back and drafts a 5'11", 182-pound cornerback in USC's Shareece Wright.
Jonas Mouton, LB, No. 61, San Diego Chargers
San Diego selects an undersized linebacker in Jonas Mouton out of Michigan. Heck, he is a converted safety so maybe the Chargers will move him back.
If not, the analysis on NFL.com suggests, "He might eventually find a role as an every-down player, but expect him to make an immediate contribution as a special teamer."
You don't go for special teams contributors with second-round picks.
Kelvin Shephard, ILB, No. 68, Buffalo Bills
According to Pro Football Weekly, this is what a scout had to say about this player: "(LSU's) Kelvin Sheppard is too soft for me. I don't like the instincts. For us, I don't know where you would play him."
Beyond the fact that Buffalo selected a player that easily could have gone two or three rounds lower, the Bills had a chance to really improve on both offense and defense in this draft.
Instead they devoted just two picks to offense, OL Chris Hairston and RB Johnny White. Neither player figures to have a huge impact on the 25th-ranked NFL offense in 2010, although White could contribute.
Stevan Ridley, RB, No. 72, New England Patriots
The Patriots find themselves on this list for a second time and could have been made it here a third time for their selection of another running back, Shane Vereen (the 56th overall pick). Vereen was taken before arguably better backs Mikel Leshoure and Daniel Thomas.
Still, the Patriots could have seen something special in Vereen and he projected to be taken somewhere in the second or third round. Then they took Ridley. The former LSU Tiger is a bigger back, but has just one year of slightly above-average numbers. He isn't especially fast, explosive or elusive.
The bigger issue is that with BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Vereen already in the fold in New England, and the Patriots passing to set up the run, one wonders how many touches Ridley will earn.
DeMarcus Van Dyke, CB, No. 81, Oakland Raiders
Heavens, the Raiders are predictable. Oakland takes the fastest player in the draft in Van Dyke.
So, yes, Van Dyke is probably faster than a deer and at 6'1" and 176 pounds (if that), he is as physical as Bambi. I shudder to think what a big receiver like Dwayne Bowe or Vincent Jackson will do to this kid on Sundays.
Someone tell Al Davis that a football player is different than a guy who runs track.
Joseph Barksdale, OT, No. 92, Oakland Raiders
Maybe the AFC West should not be allowed to draft in 2012. Yes, this makes the ninth player on my list from this division.
This is what NFL.com had to say about Barksdale pre-draft. "Developmental prospect worthy of a late-round pick."
Does it count that Barksdale was selected late in the third round, and late on Friday night?
Seriously, though Barksdale has the physical tools to play in the NFL but has not shown the consistent effort to do so yet.
Kris Durham, WR, No. 110, Seattle Seahawks
So the Seahawks once again reach for a guy that virtually no one figured would go in the round Seattle decides to choose him in.
Look, Durham did step up somewhat when A.J. Green was suspended for four games in the beginning of the 2010 season.
But Durham has all of 64 career catches. He is 6'5", but only 210 pounds, which means he is going to get jammed unmercifully at the next level.
Finally, there were just much better players and wide receivers available at that point.
Alex Henery, K, No. 120, Philadelphia Eagles
First of all, you don't take kickers in the fourth round.
Second, Henery is just 3-of-8 on field goal attempts beyond 50 yards in his career.
Third, granted incumbent Eagles kicker David Akers is a free agent, but he has been a Pro Bowl kicker for this team for years. Yes, he missed two field goals in the playoff game against Green Bay, but I think he might have been a little distracted by his daughter undergoing tests for cancer.
No one would have thought twice if competition was brought in to challenge Akers, but spending a fourth-round pick on Henery seems to send a message that Akers is not wanted back.