2011 NFL Draft Grades: First Round Grades and Report Cards for All 32 Picks
2011 NFL Draft Grades, Results and pick-by-pick analysis.
Earlier tonight, Day One of the NFL Draft got underway and it started with a bang.
"WE WANT FOOTBALL" chants echoed throughout Radio City Music Hall, and the only thing Roger Goodell had to say was, "I hear you."
He also seemed surprised when the chants didn't stop at his request; welcome to New York, Roger.
So I won't beat around the bush here, I'll just get right down to it. Here are full results, pick-by-pick analysis and grades for Round 1 of the 2011 NFL Draft.
1. Carolina Panthers: Cam Newton, QB, Auburn
The Panthers took a huge chance by making Cam Newton the first overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft. He is the definition of a boom-or-bust player.
There were safer players on the board, like Marcell Dareus and Patrick Peterson, but when you're as bad as Carolina, sometimes these are the chances you need to take.
I like this pick a lot, but there's too much risk here for me to make this grade an 'A.'
2. Denver Broncos: Von Miller, OLB, Texas A&M
I absolutely love this pick. In my opinion, he was the second-best player in the entire draft behind Patrick Peterson.
This guy should be an excellent pass rusher in the NFL; I think he'll be among the best in the league, fast.
With Elvis Dumervil and Von Miller coming off the edges for the Broncos, quarterbacks beware next season.
3. Buffalo Bills: Marcell Dareus, DT, Alabama
I love this pick almost as much as I love Von Miller to the Broncos. The Bills finished dead last in the NFL last season in run defense, but with Dareus joining, that won't be the case next season.
This guy is powerful and quick, and he should make every single player on the Bills defense better.
Buffalo got a great player tonight.
4. Cincinnati Bengals: A.J. Green, WR, Georgia
Some people wanted to see Blaine Gabbert here, but I think the Bengals made the right choice.
A.J. Green is an absolute stud, and the best offensive player in the draft if you ask me. He reminds me a lot of Andre Johnson.
They had a few other needs that they could have addressed, but when a player like A.J. Green comes around, it's tough to let him go by.
This a guy who the Bengals can build their offense around.
5. Arizona Cardinals: Patrick Peterson, CB, LSU
Forget about their problems at quarterback, a player like Patrick Peterson rarely comes around.
He's been compared to Deion Sanders and Charles Woodson; he's a shutdown corner who returns kicks.
Peterson was the best player in this draft, and he's so superior to Blaine Gabbert that it makes sense to take the best player on the board here.
This guy is an amazing talent.
6. TRADE ALERT: Atlanta Falcons, Julio Jones, WR, Alabama
Trade: Cleveland gets: 27th overall pick (Phil Taylor), and Atlanta's second-round pick, fourth round pick, first-round pick next season, fourth-round pick next season, Atlanta gets: sixth overall pick (Julio Jones)
I think Julio Jones will be a great receiver in the league, and I love the aggressiveness of Atlanta trading up to get their man, but I don't really understand the thinking here.
The Falcons got torched by Green Bay in the playoffs last season, they'll probably be seeing them again in the playoffs this season, if not they'll have to deal with other offensive powerhouses like the Eagles and Saints in the NFC.
Where the Falcons really need an impact player is on defense.
Plus, they gave up far too much to draft a skill position player when they seemed to do just fine scoring points last season.
Still, Jones should be a fantastic player, I'm just not so sure he was worth all Atlanta gave for him.
7. San Francisco 49ers: Aldon Smith, DE/OLB, Missouri
Interesting pick here by the 49ers. They pass on Blaine Gabbert and instead reach for Aldon Smith.
The 49ers did have a need at outside linebacker, and I think Smith will be a good player, but this is definitely a reach.
I don't love this pick, but it's not a bad pick, either.
8. Tennessee Titans: Jake Locker, QB, Washington
I'm proud to say that I'm possibly the only man in America who isn't surprised by this pick. In two of my three mock drafts I had Locker going to the Titans at eight.
I think Locker will be an excellent NFL quarterback, but I also do believe Tennessee could have traded down and still gotten Locker, which is the only thing keeping this grade from being an 'A.'
I think he'll be better than Gabbert and I like this pick; the Titans could be a surprise playoff team next season.
Locker is a stud, and the most underrated player in the draft. The Titans made a better pick than most people realize.
9. Dallas Cowboys: Tyron Smith, OT, USC
Good for Dallas, finally picking for need for a change. Smith should be a pretty good tackle in the league. I don't think he'll ever be elite, but he'll be a welcome addition to the Cowboys dreadful offensive line.
Tyron Smith should keep Tony Romo clean for the rest of his career in Dallas.
10. TRADE ALERT: Jacksonville Jaguars: Blaine Gabbert, QB, Missouri
Trade: Jacksonville receives 10th overall pick (Blaine Gabbert), Washington receives: 27th overall pick, 49th overall pick.
First of all, seeing the Jaguars trade up has to be the shock of the draft for me. It's so unlike their front office, who usually goes with the absolute safest player on the board, and rarely trades up.
I thought Ryan Kerrigan was a lock to the Jaguars, guess I was wrong.
Still, I don't really get this. David Garrard had one of the best seasons of his career last year (even though he is 33). But I guess they like Blaine Gabbert, and think he was a good bargain at 10.
I think Gabbert will wind up being a bust, but I've been wrong before.
11. Houston Texans: JJ Watt, DE, Wisconsin
I like Watt, I love his work ethic and think he'll be a fantastic NFL player, but the reason I give this a 'B+' grade rather than an 'A' is because I think their were better fits for Houston on the board.
I think Robert Quinn would have been a better choice; same goes for Prince Amukamara, but the Texans didn't make a bad pick here.
Watt will be a good NFL player, but the Texans reached a little bit.
12. Minnesota Vikings: Christian Ponder, QB, FSU
I like Christian Ponder, but not at 12 overall. He'll be a solid NFL quarterback, but c'mon, a replacement for the Williams Wall is staring them right in the face in Nick Fairley, and they don't pick him?
They could have gotten Ponder much later in the draft, maybe even the second round. Andy Dalton would have been a better choice here, I think Ryan Mallett has more upside as well.
To the Vikings credit, they did try to trade down but were unsuccessful, so they knew this was a reach.
13. Detroit Lions: Nick Fairley, DT, Auburn
Oh, baby. Ndamukong Suh AND Nick Fairley on the same defensive line, that's scary.
Plus they also have Corey Williams.
The Lions are on their way to being the new Vikings. Don't expect to run the ball on these guys.
People can say that CB was a bigger need all they'd like, but when you have a chance to get a guy like Nick Fairley at 13th overall, and you already have a guy like Suh, you have to pick him.
Detroit won't regret this.
14. St. Louis Rams: Robert Quinn, DE/OLB, UNC
Most people had Robert Quinn as the second-best DE/OLB type player in the draft behind Von Miller.
There's a little bit of risk here being that he didn't play at all last season and he has some health concern, but he's a great value at 14.
Good pick for the Rams, glad they chose Quinn over the less-talented Corey Liuget.
15. Miami Dolphins: Mike Pouncey, OG/C, Florida
I have no problem with this pick, but I don't particularly agree with it.
No team is more reliant on its running backs than Miami, Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams are both declining, and they're both free agents.
There's only one running back in this draft who has superstar potential, and it's Mark Ingram. He won't be there next time Miami picks.
I think Mike Pouncey will be good, but he's not his brother. But the Dolphins better hope they can find somebody to run the wildcat.
16. TRADE ALERT: Washington Redskins: Ryan Kerrigan, DE/OLB, Purdue
Trade: Jacksonville receives 10th overall pick (Blaine Gabbert), Washington receives: 27th overall pick, 49th overall pick.
Good pick for the Redskins. With no receiver or quarterback worth this pick, the Redskins decided to get Brian Orakpo a running mate rather than picking up a 3-4 end like Cameron Jordan or Muhammad Wilkerson.
I don't think Kerrigan will be a star, but he'll always give 100 percent effort, and he and Orakpo should be one hell of a sack combo for years to come.
The Redskins definitely got better with this pick.
17. New England Patriots: Nate Solder, OT, Colorado
Say what? Nate Solder.
Earlier today, there were rumors of the Patriots trading into the top 10 for Cameron Jordan, now he's available at 17 and they don't take him?
They don't even go with Muhammad Wilkerson or Justin Houston or any other player who would fit their team better.
He wasn't even the best offensive tackle on the board.
I'm thinking the Pats know something we don't; they rarely make bad picks.
18. San Diego Chargers: Corey Liuget, DT, Illinois
I'm not a fan of this pick. Liuget reminds me a lot of former DT bust of the Packers Justin Harrell.
And even though Liuget is a great fit for the system, Cameron Jordan and Muhammad Wilkerson will both be better 3-4 down linemen in my opinion.
Still, the Chargers got a guy who can play all the positions on the line, and I although I compared him to Harrell, I wouldn't be surprised to see Liuget become a good player in the league, either.
19. New York Giants: Prince Amukamara, CB, Nebraska
This is a bit of a surprise, but if you're a Giants fan it should be a pleasant surprise. While the Giants may have a bigger need on the O-Line, they get a steal in Amukamara and fill a need.
The Giants needed a cornerback (they have some depth but they didn't really have a shutdown corner), and they definitely didn't expect Amukamara to still be there when they picked at 19.
Great pick for the Giants.
20. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Adrian Clayborn, DE, Iowa
The Bucs have to be upset that Amukamara went the pick before them, but they still had tons of options here.
I think Clayborn should be a good NFL player, but he does bring health concerns, then again so does Da'Quan Bowers who was another option.
Brooks Reed and Justin Houston are both better if you ask me, and I would have taken the chance on Bowers rather than Clayborn, but there are plenty of people who had Clayborn ahead of all three of those guys on their big board, so it really depends who you ask.
I think the Bucs got a good player tonight.
21. TRADE ALERT: Cleveland Browns: Phil Taylor, DT, Baylor
Trade: Chiefs receive 27th overall pick, and the Browns' third-round pick, Browns receive 21st overall pick (Phil Taylor)
Phil Taylor should be a great replacement for Shaun Rogers in Cleveland.
I like this pick a lot, I see Taylor as an above-average run defender in the near future.
The Browns play in a division with the Steelers and Ravens; they need to be able to defend the run.
Phil Taylor helps them do that.
22. Indianapolis Colts: Anthony Castonzo, OT, Boston College
You know the Colts are happy with this pick. This was their guy all along; they prayed that Castonzo would fall to them.
They were going offensive line here for sure, and they picked the right man.
23. Philadelphia Eagles: Danny Watkins, OG/T, Baylor
I'm a little surprised by this pick. Sure, Watkins is an instant starter, but Gabe Carimi would have been a better pick if the Eagles wanted an offensive lineman.
I'm also surprised they passed on Jimmy Smith here; they have a big need at corner.
Watkins isn't a bad pick, but there were definitely better fits for the Eagles available.
24. New Orleans Saints: Cameron Jordan, DE, Cal
Wow, I can't believe Jordan fell this far.
He's not a good fit in the Saints defense, but they made the right choice here. He has too much talent to pass on here.
The Saints will find a way to use him.
25. Seattle Seahawks: James Carpenter, OG/T, Alabama
What's going on with these offensive lineman?
First the Patriots reach for Nate Solder, then the Eagles reach for Danny Watkins, and now the Seahawks make the reach of the first round for James Carpenter(?).
Did they forget that Derek Sherrod and Gabe Carimi were still on the board? What about Andy Dalton?
I'm not sure what the thinking is here.
Looks like we have this year's Tyson Alualu.
26. PASS ALERT: Kansas City Chiefs: Jon Baldwin, WR, Pitt
Pass: The Baltimore Ravens ran out of time with the 26th overall pick so the Chiefs will pick 26th; if you want to see the details of their trade go on to the next slide.
I'm not impressed with this pick at all. The Chiefs rushed to get their pick in before the Ravens as if they thought Baltimore had Baldwin in mind, and because of it they may have lost a chance to trade down and still get Baldwin.
Brooks Reed, Justin Houston and Gabe Carimi would have all been better picks here.
This is a big reach.
27. TRADE ALERT, PASS ALERT: Baltimore Ravens: Jimmy Smith, CB, Colorado
Trade: Cleveland gets: 27th overall pick (Jon Baldwin), and Atlanta's second round pick, fourth round pick, first round pick next season, fourth round pick next season, Atlanta gets: sixth overall pick (Julio Jones)
Re-Trade: Chiefs receive 27th overall pick, and the Browns third round pick, Browns receive 21st overall pick (Phil Taylor)
Pass: The Ravens ran out of time with the 26th overall pick and are now picking 27th
Great pick by the Ravens here, they needed a corner and they got a great one. His character issues are the only reason he fell this far and he got picked into the perfect locker room.
Passing on their pick didn't hurt them one bit, they had no interest in Baldwin as far as I know.
28. TRADE ALERT: New Orleans Saints: Mark Ingram, RB, Alabama
Trade: Patriots receive 56th overall pick and 2012 first round pick, Saints receive 28th overall pick (Mark Ingram)
Great pick by the Saints, they may have had to trade a first- and second-round pick, but they got a stud tonight.
I like Ingram a lot, and I think this spells the end of Pierre Thomas in New Orleans.
Two years ago, the Patriots traded out of the first round and let the Packers pick up Clay Matthews, keep that in mind. Unimpressive first day for the Patriots this year.
The Saints had a great first round this year, getting both Ingram and Cameron Jordan, two steals.
29. Chicago Bears: GABE CARIMI, OT, Wisconsin
Bears fans should be doing cartwheels right now. Having Carimi fall to them at 29 was the best possible case scenario, and that's what happened.
Don't expect Jay Cutler to take nearly as much of a beating this season.
30. New York Jets: Muhammad Wilkerson, DE, Temple
Great pick by the Jets.
They needed a 3-4 lineman and they got one of the best in the draft. I was hoping he'd fall to Green Bay.
Jets fans may not be happy right this second, but they will be when they see him play.
31. Pittsburgh Steelers: Cameron Heyward, DE, OSU
Nice pick by the Steelers here, but I would have liked to have seen them pick a corner or offensive lineman.
Still, Heyward should be a good fit to an elite Pittsburgh defense.
Steelers fans should be content, if not happy with this pick.
32. Green Bay Packers: Derek Sherrod, OT, Mississippi
If you're a Packers fan (like myself), you can't be too happy with this pick.
With Brooks Reed, Justin Houston and Akeem Ayers all on the board, I think most Packers fans would have like to pick up one of them, but Sherrod is a nice player.
Let's hope Ted Thompson has a plan to trade up in the second round tomorrow to get one of the three. Pray for Brooks Reed.