Friday, April 29, 2011

2011 NFL Draft: Round One

So round one is done and dusted. All the teams have now retired for the night to assess their strategies ahead of day two which will bring us rounds two and three. That gives us the opportunity to look back at how it all played out and for me to share my thoughts on the various picks, some of which were very surprising to say the least;

1. Carolina Panthers select; Cam Newton, QB.
I hate the Panthers, so I'm glad they took Newton number one overall. As it turns out they were on the phone already before they even officially came on the clock. I just think this is such a stupid pick. They already have Jimmy Clausen, who may not be the best in the world, but with time and some extra help could have developed. Now they've got a new boy in town and they're banking their future on the hope that his freakish athletic ability (which to be fair to him, is freakishly immense) will carry the day. Because his passing sure as hell wont.

2. Denver Broncos select; Von Miller, LB.
Part of the reason I hate the Panthers is because of John Fox so I'm glad he took Von Miller, because I don't like Miller either. I keep hearing about Miller as this elite NFL talent, but the tape tells a vastly different story, e.g. someone whose pass rush technique is really bad. With coaching his physical gifts may one day shine, but as a day one of the season prospect? Don't hold your breath Broncos fans.

3. Buffalo Bills select; Marcell Dareus, DT.
Now we're talking. A slightly lighter, less strong, but more versatile Ndamukong Suh type tackle to anchor the middle of the Bills line. If they can hang on to LB Paul Posluszny and corners like Drayton Florence then the Bills actually have the central core of what could be a good defense.

4. Cincinnati Bengals select; A.J. Green, WR.
Just about the one position offensively that the Bengals really didn't need any more help with. So naturally that's precisely where they go. To be honest, they've just picked up a great receiver in A.J. Green, but that kind of misses the point. They could have gone elsewhere. They'd better hope that Carson Palmer stays now or this pick is going to look kind of stupid.

5. Arizona Cardinals select; Patrick Peterson, CB.
My greatest fear coming into the draft was that the 49ers might take Peterson. Luckily our good friends in Arizona bit instead. I honestly can't understand the hype around Peterson. I don't see a lot on film that says to me "shutdown corner", or anything that would approach that level. Good luck propping up the NFC West for another year.

6. Cleveland Browns trade to Atlanta Falcons who select; Julio Jones, WR.
Mike Holmgren, the Dark Lord of the West Coast Offense, sits in his black tower on a throne of skulls and laughs at his pitiful victims for their greed. Namely the Falcons, who threw away the 27th pick overall, plus a second and fourth rounder this year and then their first and fourth round selections in the 2012 draft. A kings ransom indeed. And what for? Julio Jones, an average wide receiver at best. The thinking is obviously super Bowl this year, or bust. In which case someone needs to check the Falcons credit line to make sure they're good for what they just gambled, because I have a feeling they'll be paying up soon.

7. San Francisco 49ers select; Aldon Smith, DE.
I love Jim Harbaugh and Trent Baalke so much right now. I love Smith too. This is a great pick. He can play as a 3-4 DE opposite Justin Smith or stand up and rush as an Outside backer. Either way, Smith has the tools to be an outstanding first round pick that will provide the 49ers with the pass rush they desperately need.

8. Tennessee Titans select; Jake Locker, QB.
There was collectively a large gasp in Radio City Music Hall, and probably across the entire United States, as this pick was announced. Jake Locker? Really? Damn! The Titans obviously looking to put to rest the memories of a QB who made a college career out of his physical skills and not so much his passing... by selecting a QB who made a college career out of his physical skills and not so much his passing. Of course that's a little harsh, but broadly true. Titans fans are going to be missing Jeff Fisher badly come December time.

9. Dallas Cowboys select; Tyron Smith, OT.
Haha, nice one Jerry! The Cowboys haven't selected a tackle in the first round for about a million years or something, so I'm told. This is why; because Jerry can't spot a decent tackle despite the hours of tape that should have told him that there were a plethora of better options on the table. Expect Tony Romo to spend much of 2011 on his butt.

10. Washington Redskins trade to Jacksonville Jaguars who select; Blaine Gabbert, QB.
Just when you thought the Jaguars were on the road to recovery, this happens. Despite having two quarterbacks in David Garrard and Luke McCown who are both capable of battling for the starting job, they just felt compelled to go out and take the worst QB in the face of the pass rush that they could. Can't wait to see how he handles Freeney and Mathis twice a season. And they gave up a second rounder as well.

11. Houston Texans select; J.J. Watt, DE.
Will play either DE or OLB in their 3-4 scheme. Either way Houston has finally nailed a decent pick. They needed to go defense and they've just got a great pass rusher with an uncanny burst off the snap for a man his size. Well done Houston.

12. Minnesota Vikings select; Christian Ponder, QB.
People have been laughing at this pick. Minnesota fans at a large draft party booed their butts off at this. All the draft analysts called it a reach. But I think this is a great pick. Ponder is easily up there with guys like Mallett, Stanzi and Enderle as top "proper" quarterbacks in the draft, and in particular Ponders excellent footwork and rhythm will fit the system in Minnesota well. This could turn out to be the smartest "reach" in recent draft history.

13. Detroit Lions select; Nick Fairley, DT.
A surprising pick given the multitude of directions that Detroit could have gone, but I really like this pick. Fairley will make a great compliment to Suh and give the Lions a really stout, tough middle to their D-line. Adrian Peterson may have just been devalued as a fantasy player over night. Congratulations to Jim Schwartz and the Lions back office staff.

14. St. Louis Rams select; Robert Quinn, DE.
Well, the Rams have been looking to boost their defense, especially with a defense minded head coach. But Quinn is a dodgy pick. I'm not convinced with him as a first round talent, more so given that he hasn't played for a year. Has off the field issues to boot and I can see this pick blowing up in the Rams face. Which as a 49ers fan I'm delighted about.

15. Miami Dolphins select; Mike Pouncey, OG.
Bring back Bill Parcells. Mike Pouncey is not the player everyone seems to think he is. And the Dolphins, a very strong running team, had other needs besides their offensive line. Can't buy this pick.

16. Washington Redskins select; Ryan Kerrigan, DE.
The transition from 4-3 to 3-4 continues for the Redskins, and they've picked a great kid to play OLB. Kerrigan is a great pass rusher and should really give them a great help. Considering the 'skins traded back with Jacksonville to get this pick, I have to take my hat off to them. They've worked this well.

17. New England Patriots select; Nate Solder, OT.
This was the pick that the Patriots acquired from the Raiders last year and it was expected that they would use it on Mark Ingram, but instead they took Solder. Who I hate. He looked great in shorts at the combine, but on the field on gameday he looked distinctly average. Will probably fill the Right Tackle slot.

18. San Diego Chargers select; Coery Liguet, DT.
Liguet has potential, but I worry. Too often I saw him getting hung up amidst a sprawl of bodies and not really fighting his way out. Liguet could go either way. He'll either be a great addition to a great D, or he'll be a non existant ghost.

19. New York Giants select; Prince Amukamara, CB.
I'm not a huge Amukamara fan. But New York needs help at corner and Amukamara is not a bad pick. Could have taken Jimmy Smith instead who I'd have thought would have been more use against guys like Mike Vick and Tony Romo. Ah well. C'est la vie.

20. Tampa Bay Buccaneers select; Adrian Clayborn, DE.
Great pick. Put Clayborn alongside Brian Price at DT and opposite Gerald McCoy (who plays better at DE than DT at this level) and you may just have the makings of a great defense. If they get the balance on their D-line right, then exect Tampa to whoop some serious butt in 2011. Well done Tampa.

21. Kansas City Chiefs traded to Cleveland Browns who select; Phil Taylor, DT.
Cleveland swapped picks with Kansas and sent them a third round pick in order to trade up and grab Phil Taylor, the D-Tackle from Baylor. Probably looking at a Nose Tackle replacement for Shaun Rogers and I think they might be disappointed in Taylor. Rogers was so great because of his hard work and athleticism. Taylor stood out for me because of his lack of both of those.

22. Indianapolis Colts select; Anthony Castonzo, OT.
The Colts had better hope that Peyton Manning can keep his fast release going into 2011, if he even re-signs (he's a free agent remember, franchise tagged). If what I've seen holds up, Castonzo is not going to handle guys like the newly acquired J.J. Watt from Houston. Oh dear.

23. Philadelphia Eagles select; Danny Watkins, OG.
Will likely play guard in the the NFL, but I'd like to see him get a shot at Right Tackle where I think he will really excel. This is a good, solid, late first round pick either way. Got a great reception when he came onto the stage.

24. New Orleans Saints select; Cameron Jordan, DE.
I'm hesitant to comment on Jordan. He has strength and pursues the football well, but I noticed he spent a lot of time getting double teamed. In college he was more of tackle, but is listed now as a DE. Will he get that respect in the NFL or will he be left single blocked where he might have a chance to show his skills? The Saints will be hoping for number 2 because they could use the push up front.

25. Seattle Seahawks select; James Carpenter, OG.
What I saw was good, but I didn't get to see much. I've since got my grubby hands on some more Alabama film so I'll take another look. This is as good a time as any to point out I will also being going back and getting a closer look at many of the safeties I missed first time round. So I'll hold judgement on Carpenter for now.

26. Kansas City Chiefs select; Jonathan Baldwin, WR.
There was a bit of a hoo-hah about this one, because the Ravens were supposed to pick at 26. But they were on the phone to the Bears trying to work a deal out when time ran out. The Bears GM has since come out and taken ownership for that mistake. Ass hat. This was also the pick that the Chiefs acquired from the Browns, courtesy originally of Atlanta. As for Baldwin, everyone is raving about his pairing with Bowe. I'm less convinced. As I said before, maybe it was the poor QB play that mired his performance, but I really don't have a good feeling about Baldwin.

27. Baltimore Ravens select; Jimmy Smith, CB.
Pick and a half. This is exactly what the Ravens needed. Secondary, especially with the injuries they've had, has been a real problem and Smith is a great solution. When you're up against Roethlisberger, Palmer (possibly) and McCoy twice a season, it pays to have help on the back end. Really like this pick.

28. New England Patriots trade to New Orleans Saints who select; Mark Ingram, RB.
In exchange for this pick, Belichick receives a second rounder this year and a first rounder next year, the crafty old sod. And it was made all the more notable because the Saints selected Ingram in exactly the spot many believed the Patriots would take him. Ingram is a good back, perhaps not as wonderful as I initially believed, but good. And boy do the Saints need a strong back who can take the pressure off Pierre Thomas in the running game. It's also worthy of note that Reggie Bush tweeted later something along the lines of, "It's been fun New Orleans".

29. Chicago Bears select; Gabe Carimi, OT.
The blundering Bears were ringing Baltimore in order to trade up because they wanted to get their hands on Gabe Carimi. As it turned out, things went their way as it was and they got their man. Which is good, because Carimi is a good prospect at the tackle position and frankly, you could put an empty pair of shoulder pads and a hat at the right tackle spot for Chicago and it would be an upgrade over their performance in recent times.

30. New York Jets select; Muhammad Wilkerson, DT.
The ghost of the Temple defense. If you're not looking for him specifically, you'll probably miss him. I'm surprised the Jets didn't go for a fast outside backer to generate them some legitimate pressure, but each to his own. I can't see Wilkerson making much of an impact.

31. Pittsburgh Steelers select; Cameron Heyward, DT.
Flashes of potential, but I'm not a Heyward fan myself. To be fair, he's landed in just about the best possible spot. Pittsburgh don't need him day one, and he's going to have Mike Tomlin and Dick LeBeau all over his butt from now on. If he doesn't cut it here, there's no hope for him.

32. Green Bay Packers select; Derek Sherrod, OT.
I wasn't sure for a minute whether he would indeed make the first round. But he did. Green Bay are now pissing themselves laughing because Sherrod is an excellent tackle who somehow made it all the way into their lap. They can now stick him onto the line at right tackle, put Bryan Bulaga at the left tackle spot, then sit back comfortably and watch their O-line protect Aaron Rodgers from outside rushers for the next 10 years. Fantastic pick.

So, thats round one in the bag. Two more to come tomorrow and of course I'll be back to recap them all. Now if you'll excuse me, the Royal Wedding is on and as an Englishman I feel drawn to the telly by some absurd inner force that compels me to go and watch it, even though I hate weddings.

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