1st Round Draft Analysis: 2011 NFL Draft Observations
Cam Newton: Hey, there can be plenty of naysayers out there gashing this guy and his personality woes, but don’t get it twisted – this guy isn’t JaMarcus Russell. He’s big, he’s black, and he has a cannon for an arm – but please, he is a completely different guy. First and foremost, Newton is one of the most competitive cats on the field at all times. Right there he completely separates himself from Russell. 2nd of all, Newton works his tail off to be great at this game. Why? Because of his competitive streak. 3rd, you question his character, but how about the way he stepped up and played the game of football when everyone was blasting him? All the allegations and questions – he just went out there and killed it. Football-wise, there’s some questions – there’s some growing time that needs to happen before he can be great at the next level – but he’s an elite athlete, has a solid throwing motion, decent touch, and the right competitive nature to succeed in the NFL. Solid pick by the Panthers.
Julio Jones: Good player, definitely, but Julio can’t be worth 2 first round picks, a 2nd, a 3rd, and a 4th. That’s what the Falcons traded to get a guy who won’t be as good as the guy they have. Sure, he’s an improvement at the #2 receiver spot over Michael Jenkins, but the Falcons have some options. In the slot they had Harry Douglas, who will be better a full season recovered from his knee injury. They have an aging but still reliable Tony Gonzalez. And Jenkins was decent. They need lots of help defensively, however, and I don’t know how they get there now with their draft getting donated to the Browns. Unless, of course, they get a couple heroes in free agency. We’ll see, but even for a guy that I liked a lot coming in, the treasure chest they handed over was too much.
Jake Locker, Blaine Gabbert, Christian Ponder: One name doesn’t fit. Ponder was a huge reach, but I guess that’s what happens when quarterbacks start flying off the board. If you think you need one, you take the plunge. Of the three guys listed, it’s quite possible that Ponder is the most likely to be ready to start this coming season – so there’s something working on the Vikings’ side. Still, huge reach right there. A lot of people are calling Locker’s pick a reach as well, and while I’ve never been crazy about Jake’s quarterback play, I think the 8th overall selection for a guy of his makeup is completely justified. I watch him play the position and I’m not crazy about his feet, the way he always looks uncomfortable in the pocket, and his lack of accuracy – however, he has a cannon, he’s a super competitive kid with a drive for success. He’s always cared more about his teammates than himself, that’s been obvious – and he’s always been a leader, a big time leader. At #8, maybe a quarterback like that is more of a steal than a reach. Gabbert has all the tools as well. I know less about him than I know about Jake, but it’s obvious he’s a Top 10 guy. There’s nothing wrong with Blaine’s game – and a guy without holes is a nice pick at #10.
Steals: I’m not going to write a ton, but here’s a quick little taste…
Patrick Peterson: was the best secondary player in the draft and many had him rated as the best overall player. The Cardinals sucked everywhere last season, and it took a lot for them to skip over a couple QBs they weren’t crazy about to pick the best player on the board.
Nick Fairley: as far as I’m concerned, was the best defensive player in college football last season. I watched Auburn play to see this Newton guy, and it was Fairley impressing me the most. If the Lions find a way to get both he and Suh on the field, there will be no pockets for opposing passers. They are both forces against the run and pass. #13, steal.
Robert Quinn: dropped spots because a long time ago he was diagnosed with a brain tumor that is checked up on a ton, and has no immediate health risks. I have a couple moles that probably have more risk than Quinn’s situation. At #14 the Rams got a disruptive force – steal.
Prince Amukamara: has 5 sisters all with weird names like his – for example, Princess – and why not? That’s about where the questions stop with him. He didn’t have great technique, and doesn’t have perfect ball skills, but he lays hat, is real fast, and takes great angles. At #19? You bet!
Jimmy Smith: was said to have character concerns, like Talib – but stop it, they aren’t the same. Baltimore is the perfect place for him to go, Ray will have him straightened out in no time. Best cover guy in the draft at 26, please.
Cameron Jordan: is a perfect fit for the Saints who need a big bad man on the outside. They’ll be able to move him around and do some big things with him. Getting a guy with his size and versatility is a tough task late in Round 1, having him be a solid character guy makes it a great pick.
Muhammad Wilkerson: might be just as good as Cam Jordan, and he was picked 31st overall. The guy is a cat, flat out, he’ll be starting from Day 1 and giving the Jets something they didn’t have much of last season – good production from their DE spot.
Reaches: I don’t think these guys are bad, in fact, I really like most of them, I just think they were reaches in Round 1 because of the value of the draft…
Von Miller: will probably be a very good player, but an OLB at #2, I just don’t know about that. I think Dareus and Fairley and Peterson will all do more for their teams. Miller reminds me a lot of Aaron Curry, and while I think Curry is a solid player, a guy that will be much better this coming season, I don’t think he was worth his draft spot, either.
Julio Jones: Even without giving up 1st round picks, a 2nd, a 3rd, their unborn children, 6th overall was a little high for Julio in my opinion. It’s very possible that it could have been Cleveland’s reach if Atlanta didn’t trade up to get him, but it’s a reach nonetheless. Good player? Yessir! Great blocker, team guy, tough for a receiver – definitely – but there’s just some things you don’t do – draft WRs that aren’t amazing in the Top 10 (A.J. Green is the exception), draft RBs that aren’t Adrian Peterson in the Top 10, and trust Al Davis with a sharp pencil.
Aldon Smith: Love Harbaugh, hope I’m wrong and that Aldon proves his worth right off the bat, but this is a reach for a very unproven DE prospect. 7th overall? Yikes. Maybe the new coach is trying to get a project guy to help their cause for next season – I mean, in hopes of getting Andrew Luck.
Christian Ponder: But at least Jim didn’t pick Christian Ponder. Text message to my buddy after the Ponder pick: “christian ponder… haha. if the hawks had traded up to 12 to make that pick. i’d be boycotting everything blue and florescent green.” Pretty much. (PS- Home team here in the NW is the Seattle Sea-Chickens)
Mike Pouncey: Center, 15th overall, bad, bad, bad. I know Pouncey can play guard, and I know the Dolphins needed help inside more than just about anything else, and I also am pretty sure that Pouncey is going to be good – but he isn’t as good as his brother, and he climbed up to 15 because he’s got a twin brother that beat some ace last season. Reach.
James Carpenter: I actually like Carpenter a lot – and if they couldn’t trade back at all, I kind of get the pick, but he wasn’t on anybody’s 1st round list (well, except mine, see pick #31) and I think he was a reach for the Hawks. He will be a good player and help right off the bat as a starter for a team with no consistency on the offensive line, so it was a solid pick – just a reachy pick when Da’Quan Bowers, Brandon Harris, Gabe Carimi, and Jimmy Smith were on the board.
Jonathan Baldwin: Baldwin could be good. If you draft a receiver in the first round, you better be damn sure that he’s going to be good. I’m not sure. Reach.
Perfect: These guys were perfect fits, perfect value, and they all got perfect on the wonderlic (or so I lie)…
Marcell Dareus: This guy is a beast, and the Bills needed him more than anything. If he had been gone, I think they would have ended up doing something stupid – so not only was he a perfect value, a perfect fit, and one of the best players –but he saved the Bills from themselves – they’ve needed a guy to do that for a long time!
A.J. Green: You never pick a WR in the Top 10 unless he’s a guy like A.J. Green – write that down, it’s a draft day rule. Falcons, I said WRITE THAT DOWN! A.J. will be a star and he instantly makes the Bengals’ passing attack better.
Tyron Smith: The Cowboys got the best offensive lineman in the draft at Pick #9, and that would usually be a steal except this kid is still just 20 and may need some time. They have time, he’s a perfect pick.
Ryan Kerrigan: How bad did the Redskins need a consistent performer on the defensive line that would line up at safety or kicker if you asked him to? This kid is the anti-Haynesworth and he’s going to be good for a long time. Perfect pick value and situation at #16.
Nate Solder: Some people thought this was a reach, but the Patriots know offensive linemen as well as the Giants do, and the Giants were crushed when the Pats grabbed Solder two picks ahead of them. Talk about in the nick of time.
Anthony Castonzo: Maybe the most ready OT in the draft to help Peyton Manning stay clean. Safe and perfect.