2011 NFL Draft Reviews, Volume 3 (Cowboys, Redskins, Texans, Vikings)
By reflecting back on the Drafts of all 32 teams, I will look ahead to how each team’s Draft will impact their future, and whether each team maximized their ability to draft well this year.
In each draft review, teams will be assessed of how well they drafted both on board value and filling team needs, displaying both how teams made great selections, and where they made big mistakes.
The reviews continue with Volume Three of Eight, featuring the Dallas Cowboys, Washington Redskins, Houston Texans, and Minnesota Vikings, the four teams which originally held picks 9 through 12 in the 2011 NFL Draft.
Dallas Cowboys: No. 9 Pick Tyron Smith Not the Best Offensive Tackle Available
Round 3, Pick 71: DeMarco Murray, RB, Oklahoma (38th overall prospect)
DeMarco Murray was consistently plagued by injuries throughout his collegiate career, which resulted in his drop to the third round of the 2011 NFL Draft, where the Cowboys capitalized on a bargain.
While the Cowboys already had a solid group at the running back position, Murray is a dynamic back who is a very good pass-catcher out of the backfield, and has an ability to make plays happen.
Adding Murray gives the Cowboys something extra out of the backfield, and he was great value in the third round.
Round 4, Pick 110: David Arkin, G, Southwest Missouri State (196th overall prospect)
It is unusual that I would appreciate a draft selection where a player was taken 86 spots ahead of his overall ranking, but I actually like the Dallas Cowboys’ pick of David Arkin.
Offensive line is often a position where small-school sleepers succeed, and I believe that Arkin will be the prime example out of the 2011 NFL Draft class.
Arkin is a good guard who had a very impressive showing in the East-West Shrine Game, and I believe he could be a solid enough player to win the Cowboys’ starting spot at right guard as a rookie.
Admittedly, I ranked Arkin too low in my rankings, for while he may have been somewhat of a reach as a fourth-round selection, I do like this choice.
Round 6, Pick 176: Dwayne Harris, WR, East Carolina (122nd overall prospect)
Harris is a very solid slot receiver who lacks great speed, but was very productive in his collegiate career at East Carolina, and I believed he would be selected early on Day 3. Instead, he fell to the sixth round, and the Cowboys capitalized on great value.
Wide receiver is another position that was not necessarily a need for the Cowboys, but Harris is a good addition who should contribute offensively as well as on special teams, and was great value at this pick.
Round 1, Pick 9: Tyron Smith, OT, USC (58th overall prospect)
The Dallas Cowboys needed to select an offensive tackle, but Tyron Smith should not have been the first offensive tackle selected in the 2011 NFL Draft. Gabe Carimi is the best offensive tackle in this draft class, and either he or Nate Solder should have been the selection here.
However, this pick could end up working out well for the Cowboys. Smith is much less polished than Carimi and Solder, and only played right tackle in college.
However, he has high upside, and with the Cowboys since having resigned Doug Free, the plan is to play Smith at right tackle, where he could end up becoming one of the best in the league over time.
I still believe that passing up potential franchise left tackles in Carimi and Solder was a mistake, but Smith was not a bad selection, even though selecting a right tackle in the top 10 is not very good value.
Round 7, Pick 220: Shaun Chapas, FB, Georgia (388th overall prospect)
Looking for a big-bodied, lead-blocking fullback, Shaun Chapas was a solid seventh-round choice for the Dallas Cowboys.
Chapas’s collegiate career was affected by injuries, and the best lead-blocking fullback in the Draft, Pittsburgh’s Henry Hynoski, was still available, so the Cowboys did not make the best pick here, but Chapas is still capable of filling that role, so this is not necessarily a bad pick.
Not the Best Pick
Round 2, Pick 40: Bruce Carter, ILB, North Carolina (48th overall prospect)
Bruce Carter is a very talented linebacker, who may have been a first-round selection had it not been for an injury-riddled senior season. However, he was not worth a second-round selection for the Dallas Cowboys.
Carter’s natural fit comes as a 4-3 outside linebacker, and while he should be able to play inside linebacker in the Cowboys’ 3-4 defense, this was not a real area of need for the Cowboys.
With great values still on the board in Florida State guard Rodney Hudson, Oregon State defensive lineman Stephen Paea, and UCLA free safety Rahim Moore, the Cowboys could have addressed an area of need while getting fantastic value, rather than taking a player they did not need and is not a great fit for the Cowboys defense.
Round 5, Pick 143: Josh Thomas, CB, Buffalo (281st overall prospect)
The Cowboys needed to add a cornerback in this Draft, but in the fifth round, Josh Thomas should not have been that addition. Many better cornerbacks, such as Richmond’s Justin Rogers and North Carolina’s Kendric Burney, would end up being drafted much later or not at all, but the Cowboys instead reached on a seventh-round prospect in the fifth round.
This pick is not all bad, for Thomas is a physical cornerback who will play tough, and should be able to contribute to the Cowboys as a dime back and on special teams. However, the Cowboys should have at least waited another round to draft him.
Round 7, Pick 252: Bill Nagy, C, Wisconsin (Not in Top 400)
Bill Nagy was a draft sleeper that I kept in the back of my mind. While he did not start at center for Wisconsin, he performed tremendously when he had to step in for an injured Peter Konz, leading me to believe that he could be a solid backup center in the National Football League.
However, with so many of the top centers in the Draft, including TCU’s Jake Kirkpatrick and Missouri’s Tim Barnes, still available, the Cowboys should have passed on Nagy, and hoped to get him later as an undrafted free agent.
I do like Nagy’s chances of making the roster as a versatile interior lineman, but the Cowboys should have gone with the better value at the position.
The Dallas Cowboys forfeited their seventh-round draft pick to select nose tackle Josh Brent in the 2010 Supplemental Draft.
In his rookie season, Josh Brent looked decent as a backup nose tackle, so he appears to have been worth the forfeited seventh-round selection. He is better than any backup nose tackle they could have drafted in the seventh round, so this was a chance that turns out to have been worth taking.
The Cowboys filled their major void at offensive tackle with the first-round selection of Tyron Smith, although their grade is damaged by the fact that there were better offensive tackles available. Bruce Carter was not a great second-round choice, but the Cowboys did get a third-round bargain in DeMarco Murray.
While the Cowboys upgraded their offensive line, they did fail to address major needs at defensive end and safety. The Cowboys made some solid picks, but with a few questionable choices and some needs left unmet, the Cowboys grade out with a B-.
Washington Redskins: Many Needs Go Unmet While Puzzling Selections Are Made
Round 7, Pick 224: Markus White, OLB, Florida State (148th overall prospect)
Markus White is a raw talent, but his upside makes him a player well worth taking a chance on in the seventh round.
If White puts it all together on the field, he could be a very good situational pass rusher, and a real steal in the last round of the Draft, considering he would have been a quality fifth-round selection.
Round 1, Pick 16: Ryan Kerrigan, OLB, Purdue (11th overall prospect)
Initially, I criticized this selection, simply because there were still two fantastic values on the board in California defensive end Cameron Jordan and Nebraska cornerback Prince Amukamara, both of who are top-10 prospects in the draft class, and would have been great fits to fill needs. However, in retrospect, that seems ridiculous.
With needs at virtually every position, the Redskins still drafted one of the best players in the 2011 NFL Draft in Ryan Kerrigan, a very well-rounded player who should be able to make the transition to the 3-4 outside linebacker spot, and gives the Redskins a fantastic duo at outside linebacker with Brian Orakpo.
So while the Redskins may have been able to get an even better talent at a position of greater need, they still made a key upgrade with one of the Draft’s safest picks and top talents, and they should not be criticized for that.
Round 3, Pick 79: Leonard Hankerson, WR, Miami (62nd overall prospect)
The Washington Redskins needed to add a big, athletic wide receiver to their passing game, and got very good value on Leonard Hankerson in the third round. Hankerson has the skills to be a high-quality starting wide receiver in the National Football League, and although the Redskins do not yet have a steady quarterback to pass to Hankerson, he will help their offense.
Round 5, Pick 155: Niles Paul, WR, Nebraska (203rd overall prospect)
With a major need at wide receiver, it made sense to add a second player at the position in this Draft, and as the Redskins clearly left open the Nebraska page of their draft guide for a couple rounds, Niles Paul was a solid choice.
There were many better wide receivers still available, and Paul was a bit of a reach in the fifth round following a subpar collegiate career, but Paul does have an enticing combination of size, athleticism, and playmaking ability, so he was a solid choice late in the fifth round.
Round 7, Pick 252: Chris Neild, NT, West Virginia (268th overall prospect)
The Redskins made a very solid choice in selecting Chris Neild with one of the final picks of the 2011 NFL Draft. Neild is a strong, powerful run stopper who is a good fit at nose tackle in the 3-4 defense.
He will never be a great player, but he should be a solid backup for the Redskins at the key anchor position on the three-man front. Good choice late in the Draft.
Round 2, Pick 41: Jarvis Jenkins, DE, Clemson (72nd overall prospect)
Jarvis Jenkins is an interesting second-round choice from the Washington Redskins. Jenkins has a very good combination of size and quickness, and has talent as both an interior pass rusher and run stopper.
However, he never excelled during his collegiate career, and was a reach above the third round.
He should be a good fit at a defensive end for the Redskins, and has the versatility to kick inside to nose tackle if necessary, but with Oregon State’s Stephen Paea and North Carolina’s Marvin Austin still available, the Redskins could have gotten better value with a better player.
Not necessarily a bad pick selecting Jenkins, but not the best.
Not the Best Pick
Round 4, Pick 105: Roy Helu, RB, Nebraska (117th overall prospect)
The Washington Redskins needed to add a running back, but instead of starting a run on Nebraska players to the Redskins, they should have gone with one of a number of better running backs still available in Connecticut’s Jordan Todman, Oklahoma State’s Kendall Hunter or Pittsburgh’s Dion Lewis.
Helu is a solid running back with a good combination of speed and power, and otherwise would be a very solid fourth-round pick, but the Redskins should not have left much better value on the board.
Round 5, Pick 146: DeJon Gomes, FS, Nebraska (202nd overall prospect)
With all of the needs the Redskins had coming into the 2011 NFL Draft, the one position at which they had no need was at safety, yet puzzlingly, the Redskins still drafted one.
It is not as though DeJon Gomes, a sixth-round value, was of good value at this point, and while he is a versatile defensive back, he lacks the hip fluidity to be more than a dime back at the cornerback position.
Gomes should be able to contribute as a rotational defensive back and a special teams player, but given the Redskins’ many needs still unanswered, the Redskins could have done much better than drafting Gomes in the fifth round.
Round 6, Pick 177: Evan Royster, RB, Penn State (264th overall prospect)
With a second-round value in Connecticut running back Jordan Todman still available, reaching for Evan Royster in the sixth round made absolutely no sense, especially considering the Redskins had already drafted one running back, and could have filled another need with this pick instead.
Royster is a decent power back, but for a team with many decent but unspectacular backs, they really did not need to another in Royster.
“What The …?” Picks
Round 6, Pick 178: Aldrick Robinson, WR, Southern Methodist (334th overall prospect)
Yes, the Washington Redskins needed receivers, but with such a vast array of needs, the Redskins did not need to draft three of them.
Once again, it is not as though they got good value with this selection; Aldrick Robinson never met his potential at SMU, and should have been a seventh-round selection at best.
The Redskins did not need to add another slot-type receiver.
Round 7, Pick 213: Brandyn Thompson, CB, Boise State (Not in Top 400)
By coming up with a few opportune plays in big games during his career at Boise State, cornerback Brandyn Thompson made a name for himself, but that did not mean he should have been a drafted player.
Thompson is a very inconsistent defensive back who has more coverage lapses than he does big plays, while he has no spectacular skills for the position.
The Redskins could have drafted for another need here, or added a much better cornerback prospect in Kendric Burney, rather than waste a seventh-round selection.
Round 7, Pick 217: Maurice Hurt, OT, Florida (Not in Top 400)
Unfortunately for Maurice, his surname is much too accurate...he was often Hurt in his time at Florida.
Even when he was healthy, he was an unspectacular player, and he really lacks athleticism, even for an offensive lineman.
There were better options still available on the offensive line, such as Auburn offensive tackle Lee Ziemba, than selecting Hurt here.
The Picks They Traded
Round 3, Pick 72 was traded to the New Orleans Saints in June 2010 in exchange for offensive tackle Jammal Brown.
This trade has worked out fairly well for the Redskins. Jammal Brown immediately became the starting right tackle, and he has been re-signed by the team, so the Redskins ended up with one of the NFL’s better right tackles out of this trade.
The best right tackle the Redskins could have gotten at this point in the Draft would have been Pittsburgh’s Jason Pinkston or UCF’s Jah Reid, so this trade is a win for the Redskins.
Round 4, Pick 104 was traded along with a 2010 second-round selection in April 2010 in exchange for quarterback Donovan McNabb.
Oh, how the Redskins would like to have this trade back. Donovan McNabb’s lone season in Washington was an absolute disaster. As typical of McNabb, he started out the first few weeks of the strong, but his play quickly deteriorated, and by the end of the season he had been benched in favor of Rex Grossman.
Now, McNabb has been traded away for a sixth-round selection, so the Redskins traded a second-round pick and a fourth-round pick for one awful season out of a quarterback, then a sixth-round pick. This trade looked bad from the beginning, but it ended up being even worse than even I would have thought.
The Washington Redskins came into the 2011 NFL Draft with many needs, more than they could possibly meet all of them.
In the first round, the Redskins added one of the best pass rushers in the draft class is Ryan Kerrigan, a great addition. Jarvis Jenkins was a solid addition to the defensive line, although the Redskins could have gotten better value, but they made a very good third-round selection in Leonard Hankerson.
The Redskins did use their original third-round pick from this draft last year to get a very good right tackle in Jammal Brown, but their fourth-round pick was a complete waste as a casualty of the Donovan McNabb debacle.
On Day 3, with a plethora of picks, the Redskins’ draft strategy went downright puzzling. They selected three Nebraska players in a row, none of which were great selections, and doubled and tripled up on players at same positions, which neglected other needs such as offensive line, inside linebacker, and oh yeah, the Redskins still do not have a quarterback other than John Beck or Rex Grossman... that could be a problem.
Adding Kerrigan is a big addition to the Redskins, as is Hankerson, but with many puzzling picks of poor value, as well as neglected needs, the Redskins grade out with a C- for this Draft.
Houston Texans: Big Additions for New Defensive Scheme in Watt, Reed, Harris
Round 2, Pick 60: Brandon Harris, CB, Miami (34th overall prospect)
The Houston Texans traded their fifth-round draft pick in order to move up 14 spots from their third-round selection, so that they could select Miami cornerback Brandon Harris. Considering Harris’ value, this was a fantastic move by the Texans.
Harris struggled with inconsistency during his career at Miami, which likely resulted in his drop to late in the second round, but he has the ability to be a fantastic defensive back in the National Football League. Harris is a very good athlete with big play-making ability.
The Texans had a real need at the cornerback position, and Harris has the talent to be a starting-caliber cornerback, so they really made a good move trading up to get him at bargain value.
Round 7, Pick 214: Derek Newton, OT, Arkansas State (133rd overall prospect)
While there was not much value remaining at offensive tackle in the late rounds of the Draft, the one talent who did fall into the seventh round was Derek Newton, a bargain on which the Texans capitalized.
Newton did not get great exposure playing at Arkansas State, but he has a great frame, and very good athleticism for his size. Newton is an intriguing developmental project who may have the potential to develop into a left tackle down the line, but has the versatility to play right tackle or kick inside to guard also. As a versatile backup offensive lineman, which Newton will be for the Texans, they got a real bargain on him in Round 7.
Round 1, Pick 11: J.J. Watt, DE, Wisconsin (9th overall prospect)
Transitioning to a 3-4 defense, the Houston Texans really needed to add a 5-technique defensive end in the 2011 NFL Draft. They selected one of the best prospects for that position in the draft class in Wisconsin’s J.J. Watt.
Watt is a perfect fit to play defensive end in the 3-4 system, for he is a big, physical defensive end who is a very good run stopper, but also has very good athleticism and the ability to be a pass rusher.
The Texans came into the Draft not having the proper personnel to make the change in defensive philosophy, but the selection of Watt should be a huge contributor on Houston’s new defensive line, and was a fantastic first-round pick.
Round 2, Pick 42: Brooks Reed, OLB, Arizona (87th overall prospect)
I do believe that Brooks Reed, who was never particularly productive or a standout in his collegiate career, became overrated in the pre-draft process. Even so, while he may have been somewhat of a reach early in Round 2, Reed is a choice that I like from the Texans.
With the Texans switching to a 3-4 defense, it was truly imperative that the Texans find another hybrid pass rusher, and Reed really fits the bill. He may have been the superstar of Senior Bowl week, and he is a good athlete who should be able to make the transition from 4-3 defensive end to 3-4 outside linebacker.
Georgia’s Justin Houston would have been the best value here as an all-around 3-4 outside linebacker prospect, but the Texans likely felt that Justin’s character concerns were more concerning than Reed’s collegiate inconsistency, and therefore went with the player with more upside as a pass rusher in Reed.
Round 4, Pick 127: Rashad Carmichael, CB, Virginia Tech (130th overall prospect)
For a team really hurting in the secondary, it made sense to draft another cornerback. Rashad Carmichael was very solid value in Round 4.
Carmichael needs to become a better tackler, but he is a very good athlete and still plays the position with physicality, a trait which Virginia Tech boundary cornerbacks are known to have. He is a raw talent, but a player that the Texans could be able to groom into a very productive nickel cornerback. Quality selection.
Round 5, Pick 152: T.J. Yates, QB, North Carolina (142nd overall prospect)
The Houston Texans decided to upgrade at backup quarterback in Round 5 with the selection of T.J. Yates.
Yates never got much hype as a draft prospect, and had to work as a “throwing quarterback” to participate at the 2011 NFL Scouting Combine, but the underrated prospect ended up getting drafted right in the range that he should have been.
Yates has very solid tools as a passer, and is a talent worth developing as a backup to Matt Schaub at signal-caller. Quality choice in Round 5 given the value of Yates at this point in the Draft.
Round 5, Pick 144: Shiloh Keo, SS, Idaho (265th overall prospect)
The Texans had to fill a need at strong safety with the pending departure of unrestricted free agent Bernard Pollard, but there were better choices in Round 5 than Shiloh Keo.
As a hard-hitting, strong tackler who will play well as an in-the-box strong safety, Keo actually has some similarities to Pollard.
However, Keo lacks athleticism, and will be a liability in pass coverage, which means that Keo is set to be a situational player on run downs and a special teams standout, not a potential starting safety.
While Keo ranked as the ninth-best strong safety in the draft class, all of the top eight were still available, including Clemson’s DeAndre McDaniel and Iowa’s Tyler Sash.
This selection is not all bad, for Keo should be a significant contributor at least on special teams, but the Texans could have done better in finding a strong safety in Round 5.
Round 7, Pick 254: Cheta Ozougwu, OLB, Rice (380th overall prospect)
I am not about to criticize the Houston Texans for who they selected as “Mr. Irrelevant.” The Texans were smart to use this selection to bring in another pass rusher, and Cheta Ozougwu is an intriguing prospect.
While Ozougwu did not have a highly productive collegiate career, his combination of size and athleticism make him a project worth developing as a 3-4 outside linebacker.
There were better options at the same position still available in Boston College’s Mark Herzlich and Oregon’s Kenny Rowe who would go undrafted, but Ozougwu’s upside could make him a relevant player down the line.
The Houston Texans really needed to add personnel to their defense as they make the philosophical switch for a 4-3 to a 3-4, and they did a good job of doing so. The Texans used their first-round selection on a great 5-technique prospect in J.J. Watt who should become the star of their three-man front.
In Round 2, they made a slight reach on Brooks Reed, but made a fantastic move to get back into the round and get a great bargain in Brandon Harris.
The Texans recognized that they needed to draft for defense, and did so consistently throughout, aside from finding two players at good values to provide depth for their offense on Day 3 in T.J. Yates and Derek Newton.
Also, while not every pick for the Texans was a great selection, they did not make any bad selections. For filling their biggest needs and drafting smart value, the Texans grade out with an A.
Minnesota Vikings: No. 12 Pick Christian Ponder Is NOT a Franchise Quarterback
Round 2, Pick 43: Kyle Rudolph, TE, Notre Dame (20th overall prospect)
The Minnesota Vikings did not necessarily have a need at the tight end position, but getting Kyle Rudolph in the middle of the second round was tremendous value.
Rudolph is a complete tight end with a tremendous blend of size and athleticism, much like New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski. Also like Gronkowski, Rudolph slipped into the second round due to missing most of last season due to injury.
However, if Rudolph comes back strong, he is going to be a major weapon in the Vikings’ offense, and a big asset to the team, no matter who their quarterback ends up being. As a first-round talent, the Vikings got a steal by getting Rudolph in Round 2.
Round 4, Pick 106: Christian Ballard, DT, Iowa (42nd overall prospect)
Given that Christian Ballard had an unspectacular collegiate career, has concerns with work ethic and maturity, and tested positive for marijuana at the 2011 NFL Scouting Combine, it came as no surprise that Ballard slid to Day 3 of the Draft. Even so, the Vikings got a real bargain on Ballard as a fourth-round pick.
With tremendous showings at the Senior Bowl and Combine, Ballard showed that he is a highly-skilled athlete for his size, with the versatility to play both tackle and end in a defensive front, and is a very good interior pass rusher.
Ballard is raw, but his upside is very high, and the Vikings could end up with a major steal from getting him in Round 4.
Round 5, Pick 139: Brandon Burton, CB, Utah (115th overall prospect)
Considering the many cornerbacks that went before Brandon Burton, including many rated lower than him, the Minnesota Vikings got tremendous value with their Round 5 selection.
While Burton never quite put the whole package together to become a star at the collegiate level, he is a talented cornerback who plays the position well and has very good ball skills.
At the least, Burton should be a solid nickel or dime back in the National Football League, which would make him a great selection as a Round 5 pick.
Round 6, Pick 200: Ross Homan, OLB, Ohio State (141st overall prospect)
The Vikings needed to add an outside linebacker, and got very good value on Ross Homan in the compensatory portion of Round 6.
As the final pick of the 2011 NFL Draft’s first 200, Homan is a real bargain. He does not have great size or athleticism, but he is a very instinctive linebacker who tackles well and will be an asset as a run stopper and will be able to contribute on special teams. Good choice by the Vikings.
Round 6, Pick 168: DeMarcus Love, G, Arkansas (139th overall prospect)
The Minnesota Vikings had reason to upgrade on the offensive line, and got good value on DeMarcus Love in the sixth round.
Earlier in the draft process, Love was vastly overrated, with some considering him a potential first-round selection. Instead, Love ended up falling even farther than he should have, before the Vikings snapped him up in Round 6.
Love is a very big offensive lineman who has great strength and is a very powerful run blocker, but he has very poor footwork, and is much better suited to kick inside to guard than play offensive tackle, which was the position he played in college.
However, his versatility to play right tackle in addition to guard increases his value as a backup offensive lineman, and really makes him a great choice in Round 6.
“What The …?” Picks
Round 1, Pick 12: Christian Ponder, QB, Florida State (164th overall prospect)
Without a doubt, the Minnesota Vikings made the worst selection of the first round by selecting Christian Ponder at 12th overall.
On ESPN’s broadcast of the 2011 NFL Draft, Jon Gruden simply laughed at this selection, and I was in disbelief as I watched it unfold. While the Minnesota Vikings desperately needed a quarterback, Ponder should not have even been a first-round consideration.
Ponder is a natural leader and very smart, but he quite frankly lacks the skill set to be an NFL starting quarterback.
There is nothing special about Ponder’s game, and while he could be a steady backup in the league for many years, he is certainly not a franchise quarterback, and the Vikings are making a big mistake investing their future in him as the long-term option as signal-caller.
Ponder should have been a Day 3 selection, and the Vikings completely disregarded value by selecting him here.
In desperate need of a quarterback, the Vikings could have at least taken a chance on Nevada’s Colin Kaepernick or Arkansas’s Ryan Mallett with this choice, although the best selection would have been to address another need at defensive tackle with Auburn’s Nick Fairley. The Vikings completely wasted this first-round selection.
Round 6, Pick 170: Mistral Raymond, FS, South Florida (not in Top 400)
There is nothing special about Mistral Raymond’s game that made him worth being drafted at all, let alone in the first half of Round 6.
Raymond is a solid tackler who should be able to contribute on special teams, but while the Vikings did need to address the safety position, there were many better options available, including Clemson’s DeAndre McDaniel, Iowa’s Tyler Sash, and TCU’s Colin Jones.
There was no value at all in drafting Raymond in the sixth round.
Round 6, Pick 172: Brandon Fusco, C, Slippery Rock (335th overall prospect)
Not only did the Minnesota Vikings not need a center, but in choosing Brandon Fusco in Round 6, the Vikings passed up many of the best centers in the draft class.
Fusco has upside as a developmental project, but at the Senior Bowl, he really struggled and looked like a Division II player who could lack the strength to make the transition to the next level.
The Vikings would have been better off drafting for another position, possibly with another safety in Clemson’s DeAndre McDaniel or a wide receiver in East Carolina’s Dwayne Harris, but if they really wanted to select a center, then they should have at least gone with the best centers in the draft class in either TCU’s Jake Kirkpatrick or Missouri’s Tim Barnes.
Selecting Fusco did not make sense for the Vikings in terms of neither value nor need.
Round 7, Pick 215: D’Aundre Reed, DE, Arizona (not in Top 400)
There were not two defensive ends from Arizona with the surname Reed worthy of being selected in the 2011 NFL Draft, but two of them were drafted.
Of course, Brooks Reed was a very worthy draftee, but D’Aundre should not have been selected. He was a situational player at Arizona who does not have the size nor the skills to translate to the National Football League.
Drafting a defensive end was not a bad choice here for the Vikings, but while a pick such as Pittsburgh’s Greg Romeus or Florida State’s Markus White would have made sense, Reed did not.
Round 7, Pick 236: Stephen Burton, WR, West Texas A&M (not in Top 400)
Stephen Burton is a physical, large wideout who has potential as a red-zone and possession receiver, but he was best suited to be an undrafted free agent signing.
Instead of selecting Burton, the Vikings could have drafted a bargain at the wide receiver position in LSU’s Terrence Toliver or Auburn’s Darvin Adams.
Burton should find a way to contribute to the team, at least on special teams, and make the roster, but the Vikings did not very good value with this pick.
The Picks They Traded
Round 3, Pick 74 was traded in October 2010 in exchange for wide receiver Randy Moss.
Weeks after trading their 2011 third-round draft pick to bring Randy Moss back to Minnesota, he was released by the team, for which the Vikings received no compensation. Therefore, the Vikings gave up a Day 2 draft pick for a few weeks of rental on a disgruntled player. This is a trade the Vikings certainly regret making.
The Vikings made the poorest and most laughable selection of the first round with their selection of Christian Ponder, getting their Draft off to a really bad start.
With their only selection on Day 2, the Vikings found a terrific bargain with the selection of Kyle Rudolph, and the Vikings continued to make very good selections for most of Day 3, getting great value on Christian Ballard, Brandon Burton, and DeMarcus Love.
However, with many picks in rounds six and seven, the Vikings also wasted many of them with horrible selections. The Vikings drafted players at all of their need positions, but the lack of value with which they drafted some of these players really damaged the teams’ draft grade.
Salvaged only by the great bargains on Rudolph, Ballard, and Burton, but hurt significantly by the horrendous first-round selection of Ponder as well as the wasted third-round pick from the Randy Moss trade, the Vikings receive a D+.