Re-Drafting the 2011 NFL Draft
The 2013 NFL draft is less than a week away, and it features a first round that appears to be one of the most unpredictable in recent memory—one that is destined to go down as one of the more memorable opening rounds in draft history.
Another first round that is ingrained in our consciousness is 2011's. Remember the NFL lockout? Well, I don't like to either, but it did happen, and it cast a palpable pall over that entire draft—specifically the first round, with fans booing Commissioner Goodell as the league and player's association hadn't yet come to an agreement.
That first round also contained a few shock picks, with teams taking quarterbacks well ahead of their projections (Jake Locker, Blaine Gabbert, Christian Ponder).
So, with two years of hindsight, how would a redraft of the 2011 first round look?
I'm glad you asked.
Pick No. 1, Carolina Panthers: Colin Kaepernick, QB, Nevada
2011 pick: QB Cam Newton
Redraft pick: QB Colin Kaepernick
Cam Newton was a fantastic selection at first overall, and he had a rookie season for the ages, capturing the Offensive Rookie of the Year title.
But, he hasn't been without headaches. Whether it's calling a reporter "sweetheart," his poor body language or his celebrating after touchdowns when down by double digits, he's rubbed people the wrong way.
If the Panthers had a chance to redraft, they'd select Colin Kaepernick to be their franchise quarterback, as he comes with all the talent, minus the drama.
Pick No. 2, Denver Broncos: Von Miller, LB, Texas A&M
2011 pick: LB Von Miller
Redraft pick: LB Von Miller
John Elway, Hall of Fame quarterback and the Broncos executive vice president of football operations, knocked his first-ever draft selection out of the park.
Von Miller was an outstanding pick. He's been nothing short of a pass-rushing demon, terrorizing opposing quarterbacks to the tune of 30 sacks in two seasons.
With Peyton Manning having been added to the fold in 2012, it's easy to slide Miller in as the second overall pick once again.
Pick No. 3, Buffalo Bills: Cam Newton, QB, Auburn
2011 pick: DT Marcell Dareus
Redraft pick: QB Cam Newton
While Newton hasn't rubbed everyone the right way, there's no denying his massive talent and immense potential.
Could you imagine him running Chan Gailey's offense? I truly believe that Gailey would still be the head coach of the Bills had they gotten a chance to select Newton. He would have sparkled in Western New York.
Pick No. 4, Cincinnati Bengals: A.J. Green, WR, Georgia
2011 pick: WR A.J. Green
Redraft pick: WR A.J. Green
A.J. Green has been nothing short of stellar for the Bengals, who desperately needed to add a playmaker of his ilk.
With two Pro Bowl berths in two seasons, he's definitely still their pick.
Pick No. 5, Arizona Cardinals: J.J. Watt, DE, Wisconsin
2011 pick: CB Patrick Peterson
Redraft pick: DE J.J. Watt
In today's NFL, you win by passing the ball and rushing the opposing passer.
With no quarterback on the board worth selecting at fifth overall, the Cardinals opt to add the draft's best pass-rusher, J.J. Watt.
I understand that the Cardinals have Calais Campbell and Darnell Dockett already. I don't care about that.
Watt would have joined them to form one of the most dominant fronts in all of football.
Pick No. 6, Atlanta Falcons: Julio Jones, WR, Alabama
2011 pick: WR Julio Jones
Redraft pick: WR Julio Jones
While Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff was mostly criticized for his huge draft-day trade with Cleveland to move up to No. 6 for wide receiver Julio Jones, it's proven to be an excellent, prescient move.
Jones has been a star opposite Roddy White, providing Atlanta with everything it expected after Dimitroff paid a king's ransom for the right to draft him.
And, if Dimitroff could do it over, he definitely would.
That makes Jones the obvious pick in this redraft.
Pick No. 7, San Francisco 49ers: Aldon Smith, LB, Missouri
2011 pick: LB Aldon Smith
Redraft pick: LB Aldon Smith
The 49ers nailed this pick, as Smith has been a monster at rushing the passer, with 33.5 sacks in his two seasons.
They're glad to snatch him up again in this redraft.
Pick No. 8, Tennessee Titans: Andy Dalton, QB, TCU
2011 pick: QB Jake Locker
Redraft pick: QB Andy Dalton
I don't fault Mike Munchak for wanting to select a franchise quarterback with his first draft pick as Titans head coach.
However, I do fault him for believing Jake Locker was the guy to take at No. 8.
This isn't a moratorium on Locker's career; he can certainly still blossom.
But, Andy Dalton has proven to be the better player, with two postseason trips in two seasons.
He'd be the pick if Tennessee could redraft.
Pick No. 9, Dallas Cowboys: Tyron Smith, OT, USC
2011 pick: OT Tyron Smith
Redraft pick: OT Tyron Smith
Dallas nailed this pick the first time around, as Tyron Smith has done a fantastic job protecting Tony Romo. He's been the bright spot on an otherwise awful Cowboys offensive line.
He'd be their pick once again.
Pick No. 10, Jacksonville Jaguars: Patrick Peterson, CB, LSU
2011 pick: QB Blaine Gabbert
Redraft pick: CB Patrick Peterson
While Blaine Gabbert has time to turn his career around, he's been nothing short of an unmitigated disaster thus far in his two seasons.
If the Jags could redraft, they'd snatch up Patrick Peterson in a heartbeat. He'd immediately be their best corner and would provide a playmaking dimension on special teams that the team has sorely lacked.
Pick No. 11, Houston Texans: Torrey Smith, WR, Maryland
2011 pick: DE J.J. Watt
Redraft pick: WR Torrey Smith
With J.J. Watt off the board, the Texans turn to Torrey Smith, who is the receiver they've been dying to pair alongside Andre Johnson.
The Texans offense would be a scary sight with Smith and Johnson opening up running lanes for Arian Foster.
Pick No. 12, Minnesota Vikings: Christian Ponder, QB, Florida State
2011 pick: QB Christian Ponder
Redraft pick: QB Christian Ponder
I know I'm going to take a lot of flak for this one.
I don't care.
I've been stunned at the number of Vikings fans that have called into my shows on SiriusXM, calling for Minnesota to draft another quarterback this year. I know that Ponder hasn't sparkled just yet, but I believe in him.
Look at his performances in Weeks 16 and 17 in must-win games at Houston and home against Green Bay. Ponder was terrific in both, leading the Vikings to victory.
Even if Peyton Manning were the Vikings' quarterback, the offense would run through Adrian Peterson. Ponder doesn't need to throw for 35 touchdowns in that offense.
Ponder is good enough to lead the team to the postseason, and I think he deserves the chance to get them there again.
Pick No. 13, Detroit Lions: Richard Sherman, CB, Stanford
2011 pick: DT Nick Fairley
Redraft pick: CB Richard Sherman
The loquacious Richard Sherman has been a revelation for the Seahawks, who drafted him in the fifth round in 2011.
There's no way he would last that long in a redraft. He is one of the best cornerbacks in football, and the Lions, in dire need of help in the secondary, would love to have him.
Pick No. 14, St. Louis Rams: Randall Cobb, WR, Kentucky
2011 pick: DE Robert Quinn
Redraft pick: WR Randall Cobb
While Robert Quinn has been a nice fit in Jeff Fisher's defense, the Rams absolutely need to surround Sam Bradford with playmakers.
Cobb, a speedy wide receiver who also provides explosion on special teams, would be electric on the turf of the Edward Jones Dome.
Pick No. 15, Miami Dolphins: Mike Pouncey, C, Florida
2011 pick: C Mike Pouncey
Redraft pick: C Mike Pouncey
The Dolphins hit big-time with the selection of center Mike Pouncey, as he's stabilized the interior of their line and has proven to be one of the best young linemen in football.
Pick No. 16, Washington Redskins: Ryan Kerrigan, LB, Purdue
2011 pick: LB Ryan Kerrigan
Redraft pick: LB Ryan Kerrigan
The Redskins would love to select Ryan Kerrigan again, as he's been dynamite as an outside linebacker in their 3-4 defensive scheme, teaming with Brian Orakpo to form a fearsome pass-rush combination.
Pick No. 17, New England Patriots: Nate Solder, OT, Colorado
2011 pick: OT Nate Solder
Redraft pick: OT Nate Solder
Nate Solder has done a very good job protecting Tom Brady and has improved in the run game as well. There's no reason for New England to take someone else in this redraft.
Pick No. 18, San Diego Chargers: Muhammad Wilkerson, DT, Temple
2011 pick: DT Corey Liuget
Redraft pick: DT Muhammad Wilkerson
While Corey Liuget hasn't been a bad player by any means, he's not as good as Muhammad Wilkerson, who plays the same position. That makes Wilkerson the redraft pick.
Pick No. 19, New York Giants: Marcell Dareus, DT, Alabama
2011 pick: CB Prince Amukumara
Redraft pick: DT Marcell Dareus
While I like the potential of Prince Amukumara, he hasn't played up to his first round billing thus far for Big Blue.
Dareus would be a monster on the inside of the Giants defensive line, flanked by waves of pass-rusher. He'd be able to do serious damage, and that makes him the redraft pick.
Pick No. 20,Tampa Bay Buccaneers: DE Jabaal Sheard
2011 pick: DE Adrian Clayborn
Redraft pick: DE/LB Jabaal Sheard
The Buccaneers desperately needed pass-rush help in 2011, and still need it now.
Jabaal Sheard is an ascending player, and he's just what the Bucs could use on their defense.
Pick No. 21, Cleveland Browns: Phil Taylor, DT, Baylor
2011 pick: DT Phil Taylor
Redraft pick: DT Phil Taylor
While Phil Taylor's 2012 season was lost to injury, I'm excited for his comeback in 2013. He was ascending prior to injury, and with Ray Horton bringing his aggressive, 3-4 scheme to Cleveland, Taylor will wreak havoc in the middle of their front.
Pick No. 22, Indianapolis Colts: Justin Houston, DE, Georgia
2011 pick: OT Anthony Castonzo
Redraft pick: DE/LB Justin Houston
The Colts whiffed with their pick of Anthony Castonzo, and it ended up costing former general manager Bill Polian his job. One of the great "What-If?"'s in NFL history is if the Colts had drafted Andy Dalton to groom as Peyton Manning's successor, as Andrew Luck wouldn't be a Colt and Polian would still be running the team.
But, as we know, that didn't happen, and the Colts ended up with Luck. That makes a pass-rusher their most glaring need, and Houston, who has sparkled in Kansas City, fits the bill.
Pick No. 23, Philadelphia Eagles: Orlando Franklin, OT, Miami
2011 pick: OG Danny Watkins
Redraft pick: OT Orlando Franklin
Danny Watkins has proved to be a bust for the Eagles, and with the team needing help on the offensive line, they snatch up the best tackle available with Orlando Franklin.
Pick No. 24, New Orleans Saints: Robert Quinn, DE, North Carolina
2011 pick: DE Cameron Jordan
Redraft pick: DE Robert Quinn
The New Orleans Saints desperately need help on the defensive side of the ball, and while Cameron Jordan has been a nice player, Robert Quinn is better, and that makes him the redraft pick.
Pick No. 25, Seattle Seahawks: Cameron Jordan, DE, Cal
2011 pick: OG James Carpenter
Redraft pick: DE Cameron Jordan
The Seahawks, in need of pass-rushing fortification, would be thrilled to see Cameron Jordan drop to them, and snatch him up in this redraft.
Pick No. 26, Kansas City Chiefs: Ryan Mallett, QB, Arkansas
2011 pick: WR Jonathan Baldwin
Redraft pick: QB Ryan Mallett
The Chiefs could have really used a quarterback in 2011, and if they'd selected Ryan Mallett, I believe Scott Pioli would still have a job.
Mallett would be the better choice than either Jake Locker or Blaine Gabbert, as he's had no off-field issues since joining New England.
Pick No. 27, Baltimore Ravens: Jimmy Smith, CB, Colorado
2011 pick: CB Jimmy Smith
Redraft pick: CB Jimmy Smith
The Ravens would stand pat with their original 2011 selection and redraft Jimmy Smith, a rangy corner with impressive potential.
Pick No. 28, New Orleans Saints: Corey Liuget, DT, Illinois
2011 pick: RB Mark Ingram
Redraft pick: DT Corey Liuget
The Saints struck out with their trade-up for Alabama running back Mark Ingram. They didn't need him, and he has barely seen the field, with New Orleans already stocked with talented tailbacks.
With the defense needing help, Corey Liuget would be the pick. He'd help fortify the defensive front.
Pick No. 29, Chicago Bears: Nick Fairley, DT, Auburn
2011 pick: OT Gabe Carimi
Redraft pick: DT Nick Fairley
Gabe Carimi hasn't gotten the job done, and head coach Marc Trestman recently described him as more of a guard (per ESPN's Jeff Dickerson).
That means the Bears will be looking elsewhere in this redraft, and with the Bears loving to fortify their defensive interior, Fairley is the logical selection.
Pick No. 30, New York Jets: Brooks Reed, LB, Arizona
2011 pick: DT Muhammad Wilkerson
Redraft pick: LB Brooks Reed
With Muhammad Wilkerson off the board, the Jets stay on the defensive side of the ball and seek to help their pass rush, which has been lackluster. Brooks Reed is the pick.
Pick No. 31, Pittsburgh Steelers: DeMarco Murray, RB, Oklahoma
2011 pick: DE Cam Heyward
Redraft pick: RB DeMarco Murray
Pittsburgh really struggled to run the ball in 2012, while Heyward hasn't yet hit his stride as a player.
DeMarco Murray fits the Steelers' offensive modus operandi: tough, physical football. He'd quickly become a folk hero in Pittsburgh.
Pick No. 32, Green Bay Packers: Stevan Ridley, RB, LSU
2011 pick: OT Derek Sherrod
Redraft pick: RB Stevan Ridley
With Derek Sherrod still not having cracked the starting lineup, the Packers are looking elsewhere in this redraft.
Green Bay hasn't been able to run the ball with consistency in the Aaron Rodgers era, and Stevan Ridley would change that. He'd add another dimension to the Packers offense, and that would only make the team more dangerous.