2011 NFL Draft Re-Do: What First 15 Picks Should Have Looked Like
The year is 2025. I'm sitting in an armchair sipping a hot beverage reading the morning comics when I think to myself, "hmm, I wonder why Christian Ponder went 12th overall in 2011?".
That got me thinking about the entire 2011 NFL Draft. I looked up the first round and realized that the picks were historically flawed based on production.
This is a look back upon the 2011 NFL Draft and how the first fifteen picks should have looked based on player performance over these last 14 seasons.
Panthers, First Overall: QB Christian Ponder
Christian Ponder has just announced his retirement after 14 Pro Bowl seasons, ending his career as one of the best player in NFL history.
Ponder is clearly the best player taken from the 2011 NFL Draft, and 11 teams are still kicking themselves for not taking Ponder. The Vikings have enjoyed numerous great seasons from Ponder, including Super Bowl winning seasons 2014, 2015, and 2018. That's not even mentioning his 2016 season when he passed for 54 touchdowns, beating out the previous record of 51 by Kevin Kolb.
He wasted no time entering the NFL Stage, unanimously winning Rookie of the Year in 2011 after leading the Vikings to a Division title without injured running back Adrian Peterson. He finished second in MVP voting behind his 4222 yards passing and 39 TDs.
There is no doubt at this point that Ponder should have been the overall pick considering he is a top five NFL player of all time. The Vikings are going to be hard pressed to replace his 4400 yards passing last year with a suitable rookie.
But hey, you never know, maybe they will get lucky and draft another stud in the first round this year.
Nothing is impossible.
Broncos, Second Overall: Randall Cobb
Packer's WR Randall Cobb retired last season after what many consider the best career by a wide receiver since Terrell Owens.
Randall became Aaron Rodgers favorite target in 2013 when he burst onto the scene in 2013 by catching 126 passes for 1745 yards and 15 TDs.
That's not nearly as good as his MVP 2017 season, though, when he caught 139 passes for 2088 yards and 28 TDs.
Cobb is commonly considered the best punt returner in NFL history with 13 punt return touchdowns, all of them coming in his rookie season.
Bills, Third Overall: Ricky Stanzi
Ricky Stanzi is still going strong with the NFL's best team last season, the Cheifs.
The Chiefs won the Super Bowl last year behind Stanzi's 450 yards passing. He threw 5 TDs, all to Jonathon Baldwin, and won the MVP by beating the Vikings and long time rival, Christian Ponder.
After Matt Cassel suffered a career ending injury after falling off his roof in a freak accident in the 2011 pre-season, Stanzi came in to have a surprise rookie season. He led the league in passing yards with 4874 and had 24 TDs, but the Cheifs only could muster 4 wins on the season with, statistically, the worst defense in the history of the league.
Stanzi went on to win 6 MVP awards after single handedly leading the Cheifs to division title after division title. There is no debate that Stanzi is a top five NFL Quarterback with his 63,123 career passing yards already.
Bengals, Fourth Overall: Mike Pouncey
The best Center in the history of the NFL, Mike Pouncey, was fifth in the MVP voting in 2015 as a center. He single handedly made the Dolphins the best offensive line of all time, plowing the way for Ronnie Brown to lead the league in rushing two straight seasons.
He makes Hall of Famer Maurkice Pouncey look like Allen Barbre out there, and that is all you need to know about this 14 time pro bowl center.
Cardinals, Fifth Overall: Ricky Elmore
Ricky Elmore has had an illustrious career behind the defensive line for the Minnesota Vikings. After becoming a free agent in 2014, the Vikings decided to take a chance on Elmore who was coming off an elbow injury in 2013 and had 5 sacks in 2012.
Elmore exploded in 2014 with 18.5 sacks and won the Super Bowl MVP award with a pick six and 3 sacks.
He is considered to be a first ballot Hall of Famer once he hangs up his cleats. At the ripe old age of 36, Elmore had only 5.5 sacks for the Vikings last year. Howevere, he continues to be a leader for them and has not yet made any indicaton to retire.
Elmore will never return to his record breaking 2017 season where he recorded 26.5 sacks, but he will continue to be known as a historical sack master.
Browns, Sixth Overall: Tyler Sash
Tyler Sash has drawn many comparisions to Ed Reed throughout his career. He's made 12 pro bowls and has 87 carrer interceptions to go along with 2 rings with the Chiefs.
Sash has been one of the most dominating safeties of te past decade, making opposing passers look silly attemtpting to throw his way.
Sash is expected to retire later this month, but no one will ever forget his 5 picks in the first half of the 2018 divisional playoffs against the Browns.
49ers, Seventh Overall: Kris Durham
Kris Durham has destroyed his college teammate, A.J. Green, in total production over both of their careers.
Even though the Seahawks have been a celler dwelling team for the past decade, Durham has been the lone flame in the Seahawks darkness. He recorded 155 catches and 1108 yards in his fourth season in the NFL. His career high in receiving yards came in 2016 when he had 1769 yards on 173 catches.
Durham is a future hall of famer with his knack for catching the ball and will always be remembered for getting third downs for Charlie Whitehurst.
Titans, Eighth Overall: Patrick Peterson
Patrick Peterson, one of the best middle linebackers in NFL History, has just recently been voted into the hall of fame. He had to retire in 2020 after getting a severe neck injury, but he sure made the most of his time on the field.
Peterson recorded 188 tackles in 2013 and also had 10 picks, 7 of them returned for touchdowns. That, however, does not even compare to his 2019 season, when he had 11 sacks, 203 tackles and 5 picks.
A converted CB, Peterson was the first non-bust in the 2011 NFL Draft going to the Cardinals with his 9 pro bowl seasons.
Cowboys, Ninth Overall: D.J. Williams
D.J. Williams, all-pro tight end for the Packers, has been retired for two years now. His last season was a rough go, but his years leading up to that point more than make up for for his shortcomings.
He had a good rookie year with 806 yards, but after Jermichael Finley demanded a trade after the 2011 season, he burst onto the scene in 2012 with 1655 yards and 16 TDs.
Williams was a matchup nightmare for teams with his speed and size, and will go down as the better version of Jermichael Finley, who played well with the Vikings.
Redskins, Tenth Overall: Joseph Barksdale
14 time reigning all-pro, Joseph Barksdale, is no doubt a top three offensive tackle of all time. He fell to the fourth round to the Raiders and remains one of the top fifteen steals in this draft.
Barksdale is commonly referred to by his famous nickname, "The House", which refers to his abilty to push back the line of scrimmage to the opposite endzone every play.
He is most likely soon to retire, but if Barksdale comes back next year there is no doubt he will remain a force at takcle.
Texans, Eleventh Overall: Cecil Shorts
Cecil Shorts would have made a great addition to the Texans roster.
He has had an awesome career with Jacksonville, racking up 12,445 career receiving yards with 117 touchdowns.
Cecil and Arian Foster would have made a deadly duo on the offensive side of the ball for the Texans, but Jacksonville fans (if they are not extinct yet) can appreciate him for being a hall of fame wide receiver for them.
Vikings, Twelth Overall: Owen Marecic
One of the rare Hall of Fame players to be inducted in two different positions, Marecic is probably one of the best fullbacks of all time and is a pro bowl linebacker as well.
In his best season as a pro, Marecic had 135 tackles and also piled up 1100 yards and 18 touchdowns as the Browns fullback.
Marecic is a flat out beast, playing 100% of the snaps in every game of the Browns season for 14 straight years now. He even held place kicks so he could have that record.
Browns fans still cherish his versitillity and effort during his miraculous career.
Lions, Thirteenth Overall: Nick Fairley
Nick Fairley had a good career as a Detriot Lion, but he was constantly overshadowed by his teammates on the defensive line.
While never the best player at his position, he had a remarkable career as a defensive lineman, recording 12.5 sacks in his rookie year. He won Rookie of the Year and also finished 6th in MVP voting in 2013 when he had 15.5 sacks.
His production was never that good the rest of his career, but he maintained a rush up the middle and stuffed runnings backs for losses consistently.
Rams, Fourteenth Overall: Mark Ingram
Mark Ingram had a good rookie season with the Saints, piling up 545 yards rushing and 3 touchdowns. Those were his career highs in both categories as he went on to have a lackluster career in the NFL.
The Rams would have no choice but to snab him up if the first thirteen picks went as so because he would be the best player available. The talent drop off after the first thirteen players is very significant and Mark Ingram holds the title of the best amongst the worst.
Dolphins, Fifteenth Overall: Nathan Enderle
After trading away the riddiculed Cutler, Bears fans were fast to turn on Nathan too when he perfomed worse than Cutler. He threw an NFL record 9 picks in a game and led the Bears to a 2-14 seaon in 2012.
He at least, however, was able to contribute as a starter on an NFL roster unlike the rest of this draft class.
The 2011 NFL Draft will be remembered as a group with amazing talent at the top but no depth to speak of, and that is why I will stop my re-do at pick 15.
Trust me, I am saving you the pain of having to read the awful busts behind Enderle's misfortunes as NFL players.
Everyone in 2011 will soon find out how this class turned out to be this way. I think you will enjoy the ride.