2011 NFL Draft Winners
Here are the 2011 NFL Draft Winners in my view. It’s impossible to say for certain who did the best until at least a few year down the road. Below are the teams that I thought did the very best who either selected quality players or/and filled needs properly. You’ll see some old faces like GB and NE, but you will also see some new ones like the Texans and Browns. I limited myself to 12 out of 32 teams.
Cleveland Browns: The trade with the Falcons was mutually beneficial, but I LOVE what the Browns did with the picks. They drafted one of my favorite players Greg Little, who I’ve compared to Mike Williams, a possession receiver with great feet. The trade basically was: Julio Jones for Greg Little, 2 first round picks, and 2 fourth round picks, WOW. In the first round they drafted Phil Taylor who was incredible leading up to the draft. He is a versatile DL who will be critical as they change from a 3-4 to a 4-3. Not many, if any, guys 337 can move like he does. Also, they added Jabaal Sheard who moved up draft boards even with a stacked DL class – highlights are impressive. They continued to kill it in the final day, getting former bball player Jordan Cameron TE to pair with Watson, Buster Skine a sleeper CB who can return with great speed, Owen Marecic who will be lethal with Hillis, and OT Jason Pinkston way late. Very well done Mr. Heckert.
New England Patriots: Another winner for Bill Belichick. They constantly traded back gaining an additional 1st and 2nd-rounder for next year, which could be seen as a win in itself. They also drafted their backfield of the future with inside hard running Stevan Ridley and the super-fast Shane Vereen, who could replace Faullk. They get the guy many analysts have called the #1 ready qb prospect, in the third round. In addition they got two great OL prospects in Nate Solder and Marcus Cannon. And with the first pick of the second day took a fast and tall CB (Ras-I Dowling). Also, added Lee Smith, a sleeper of mine, who will replace Alge Crumpler. They understand value and embrace trading down, while other teams don’t and NE reaps most the benefits.
Denver Broncos: It must feel good for Broncos fans to be acquiring talent during the draft instead of McDaniels dumping it. Beginning with one of the safest prospects in the Draft (Von Miller), they have added solid college players to contribute to their defense. On day two they drafted Rahim Moore, who has great range for safety and could learn a lot from Brian Dawkins. Next it was Orlando Franklin, an OL from Miami who should help fill out the line or provide depth that was lacking last season. Last but certainly not least was Nate Irving. Irving was severely injured in a car accident before the 2009 season and began to regain explosiveness last year, he could be a steal. Really liked the Carter and Green picks on day 3.
New Orleans Saints: The Saints got three top players at their position and they filled needs with each selection. On day one, they drafted 2 of my top 15 prospects, in the 20s, Mark Ingram and Cameron Jordan. The Saints lost the balance in their offense with numerous injuries in the backfield. Mark Ingram should make an immediate impact and for the versatile offense. I love the thought of him pounding the middle of defenses behind perhaps the best set of guards in the league. Cameron Jordan can play many positions and will become a stalwart on the DL. Combined with Sedrick Ellis, another favorite of mine, they should do damage whether in the 3-4 or 4-3. Their spectacular draft continued Saturday when Martez Wilson fell into their laps. He is a strong-side LB who can fly, running a 4.4 at the Combine. He could become a force of the edge rushing the passer. They also got super athletic corner Johnny Patrick and you can never have too many CBs these days. Greg Romeus could be a rewarding 7th round pick since he used to be rated much higher but came off a disappointing Senior season.
Houston Texans: The Texans and new defensive coordinator Wade Phillips had one simple mission, to improve and change an atrocious defense, which they succeed in doing. Throughout the Draft the Texans drafted building blocks for their new 3-4 defense. JJ Watt has to be one of the safer picks in the draft and he should entrench himself at DE. Next they got a OLB who can rush the passer in Brooks Reid. Watt and Reid should add great pressure, something the Texans haven’t gotten on opposing QBs. Brandon Harris was the next pick, I thought Harris fell a little too far after having a great Combine and being the son of a coach. Continuing their theme on D, the Texans drafted two of my sleepers: Shiloh Keo and Rashard Carmichael who should bolster the secondary. Keo was one of Mike Mayock’s favorite players at the combine and Carmichael is a Virginia Tech corner who should make the transition well.
Buffalo Bills: They Bills have addressed their defense with their first three picks, most notably drafting Aaron Williams who was one of the best players outside round one. He can play CB and S, he reminds Mayock of Malcolm Jenkins. Marcel Dareus is a rock on the DL were the Bills desperately needed help. Can’t go wrong with two year studs from the SEC. They also added two rock solid ILBs for their 3-4 in Kelvin Sheppard and Chris White. Some like White better than Sheppard but I think each was a wise selection. Searcy is a hard hitting SS who could potentially replace Donte Whitner. And RB White from UNC is a tougher inside runner than Spiller and a nice developmental pick. UNC was clearly the most talented college football team last season, shame they broke the rules.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Filled their biggest need at DE with Adrian Clayborn who can rush the passer and effectively play the run, a great fit for the Tampa-2. They also took a risk on Da’Quan Bowers who fell to them at 51 because of injury concern despite analysts saying he’s a top talent and leading the nation in sacks last season. The Bucs got two value picks when they selected Ahmad Black and Mason Foster, two productive college players who were undervalued possibly due to size. At the least, they will contribute on special teams. Also, Luke Stocker was a good get because of their lack of depth and the trend toward two tight end sets.
Green Bay Packers: Ted Thompson did a great job of manipulating the draft, trading back and selecting top talent. First, my sleeper OL Derek Sherrod who should protect Rodgers for the next ten years. Then they got Randall Cobb who will be a versatile weapon to replace James Jones and at the end of the 4th nabbed Davone House who is a size/speed corner who they will develop like Sam Shields, etc. Two more notable picks: D.J Williams (who fell way too far, my #2 TE) and Ricky Elmore.
Arizona Cardinals: Began by selecting two of my favorite players in the NFL Draft: Patrick Peterson and Ryan Williams. I said in my mock draft for weeks that the Cardinals would be foolish to pass on Peterson. He immediately improves a struggling defense and forms a formidable combination with D. Rodgers-Cromartie. In the second round they took stud tailback Ryan Williams who should have no problem supplanting Beanie “the Bust” Wells and Hightower is a “free agent”. The Cardinals also added something they’ve been without for years, a TE who is vertical threat, Rob Houseler, one of the hottest names before the draft. They ended the draft just as impressively by getting solid college player Sam Acho and stealing Quan Sturdivant with the 171st pick.
Baltimore Ravens: Once again the Ravens got talent and filled needs. They addressed two needs early by drafting Jimmy Smith (tall press corner) and Torrey Smith (speed WR). They had one of the slowest WR corps in the league last season and it showed. As for CB they have Webb (who I like) and Wilson (who was a good band-aid), but it was definitely time to add some size to the secondary. Then finished strongly by selected a couple of my sleepers in a row: Pernell McPhee (3-4 DE) and Chykie Brown, as well as Tyrod Taylor even later.
Pittsburgh Steelers: Slow and steady wins the race. Cameron Heyward received little buzz before the Draft but there is little doubt in my mind he will be a solid player. The Steelers also stole Chris Carter OLB from Fresno St. in the sixth round…In three years announcers will be asking, “where’d they find this guy?” Curtis Brown was a solid pick in the third as they addressed their CB needs with that selection and Allen.
Atlanta Falcons: Atlanta Falcons were determined to add more explosive plays to their offense and they succeeded. Before the Draft I even mocked them slot receivers but they went full speed, trading two 1st round picks, a second round picks, and two 4th round picks to draft Julio Jones. Jones will take pressure off Roddy White and the run-game. Later in the draft, they drafted Jaccquizz Rodgers with the 145 pick. Rodgers is shifty, can catch, and runs better inside than most think. Also like Matthews in the 7th.
Five Others I Liked
- NY Giants: Prince, Austin, Jones
- San Diego: Gilchrist, Brown, Wright
- Kansas City: Baldwin, Hudson, Houston
- Detroit: Fairley, Young, Leshoure
- Chicago: Carimi, Paea, Conte
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