2011 NFL Draft Results: Top 15 Biggest Draft Free Falls

Nathan BadleyCorrespondent IApril 30, 2011

2011 NFL Draft Results: Top 15 Biggest Draft Free Falls

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    With endless speculation leading up to the NFL draft, there is sure to be a group of players who are not chosen where they were expected. In fact, every draft is full of players who remain on the board long after they thought they'd be chosen.

    This draft is no exception. The 2011 NFL draft had 15 players who fell like a rock.

Da’Rel Scott, RB Maryland

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    After clocking in with the fastest time at the NFL Combine, more than one scout was talking about Da’Rel Scott as an early to mid-draft pick.

    Speed, however, is not enough to get you into the top half of the draft. With concerns about his ability to find holes in the line and avoid tacklers, Scott fell all the way to the seventh round. The New York Giants grabbed Scott.

    The Giants will have a good reserve back in Scott and one of the best grabs in the seventh round. 

Blaine Gabbert, QB Missouri

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    Several mock drafts had Blaine Gabbert being chosen early, some even choosing Gabbert over eventual first overall pick Cam Newton.

    Instead, Gabbert slipped down to 10th, having quarterback Jake Locker chosen before him. No need to worry for Gabbert: the Jaguars traded up to grab Gabbert, convinced he can be their franchise quarterback.

Jimmy Smith, CB Colorado

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    Jimmy Smith was expected by many to go early or middle of the first round.

    Instead, Smith was left on the board until the 27th pick, being scooped up by the Baltimore Ravens.

Nick Fairley, DT Auburn

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    Initially considered the most talented player in the 2011 draft, Nick Fairley was slated to go in the top three. Finishing 2010 with 12 sacks made him one of the most potentially dangerous defensive threats on the board.

    Teams began to question Fairley’s consistency, however. Fairley was grabbed 13th overall by the Detroit Lions, which could be a steal if those questions are proved unwarranted.

Aaron Williams, DB Texas

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    Aaron Williams was originally slated to go in the first round. As the draft approached, though, Williams fell down to the late first and eventually to the second.

    By the time he was chosen in the second, many people were saying even that was too high of a pick for Williams.

Andy Dalton, QB TCU

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    Andy Dalton was slated to go in the middle or late first round by many NFL writers.

    Although many teams were looking for quarterbacks, Dalton was forced back to 35th overall with several teams unsure of his ability to transition to the NFL.

Virgil Green, TE Nevada

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    Virgil Green was considered a solid tight end going into the draft. Many teams had him slated to go in the third round.

    After a knee injury, though, teams became very apprehensive.

    After a long wait, Green was finally picked up 204th overall by the Denver Broncos, a team finally willing to risk a pick on a player with a potentially serious injury.

Prince Amukara, DB Nebraska

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    Originally slated to go early in the first round, the New York Giants were surprised to find Prince Amukara available with the 19th pick.

    Many teams had their doubts about Amukara, considering him too unpolished for the NFL. The converted running back had the talent, he just was not ready for the pros.

    With a bit of coaching, the Giants will have a good, quick back in Amukara.

Torrey Smith, WR Maryland

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    Nearly every mock draft had Torrey Smith going at the 26th spot of the 2011 NFL draft. With his ability to grab high passes and his soft hands, he seemed like a lock for the first round.

    Instead, the Baltimore Ravens were elated to find him still available at the 58th spot in the draft. Smith will not disappoint, bringing pure athletic ability with him to Baltimore.

Marvin Austin, DT UNC

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    Throughout Austin’s career, he was considered to be a great pick, expected to go in the first round.

    After being kicked off of the North Carolina football team for accepting illegal benefits, Austin spent his entire senior year out of football.

    The Giants were willing to take on this risky pick, swooping in with the 52nd pick to grab Austin. If he is able to stay out of trouble, the Giants will be glad they did.

Chris Carter, DL Fresno St

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    Chris Carter was selected by many to go in the third round. With 11 sacks last season, scouts had Carter ranked as one of the better pass rushers in the 2011 draft.

    Instead, Carter fell to the bottom of the fifth round, being chosen by the Pittsburgh Steelers with the 162nd overall pick.

Akeem Ayers, LB UCLA

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    When Akeem Ayers left UCLA early for the NFL draft, many people had him slated to go in the middle of the first round. In fact, some said that anyone in the lower half of the first round would be lucky to get a shot at Ayers.

    These people were wrong.

    Ayers was chosen by the Titans 39th overall, almost falling all the way to the middle of the second round.

Justin Houston, OLB Georgia

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    Justin Houston was, without a doubt, one of the most talented linebackers in the 2011 NFL draft.
    Houston had 20 sacks in his career at Georgia, 10 of those coming in his junior year and was considered by many a potential star in the NFL.

    Unfortunately, legal trouble and a failed drug test stood in the way of Houston. Instead of going in the first round, Houston fell all the way to the third, being snapped up by the Kansas City Chiefs.

    Houston calls these “dumb mistakes.” If he is able to get past these troubles, this is quite a third-round steal.

Da’Quan Bowers, DE Clemson

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    Bowers is one of the biggest free falls of the NFL draft. Originally slated early in the first round, a knee injury left many teams with doubt, allowing Bowers to fall to the 51st overall spot, being grabbed by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

    If this knee injury is less serious than many believed, the Buccaneers have scored a great aggressive defensive end. If not, the other teams get to say “I told you so.”

Ryan Mallett, QB Arkansas

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    When the NCAA season ended, Ryan Mallett was slated to go in the first round.

    After skipping out on a visit with the Carolina Panthers, though, many teams began to doubt Mallett’s seriousness and willingness to work. This combined with rumors of his on-campus antics pulled Mallett off of many draft boards.

    After waiting a full day, the New England Patriots drafted Mallett in the third round. With Mallett, the Patriots have a natural passer who is a very able backup, and possible successor, to another quarterback who was drafted later: Tom Brady.