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It's been fun New Orleans.
Aw, poor Reggie. The guy was picked 2nd overall in 2006, got a gigantic ton of money dropped in his lap, and has earned hardly any of it. So, it makes perfect sense that he'd be hurt at the prospect of - GASP - actually having to earn his spot on the Saints' roster!
None of us should be surprised at Bush's overwhelming sense of entitlement. He was coddled at USC, as all star players are, and he's used to living a superstar's lifestyle. Now that a hard-working, gritty, tough runner (the polar opposite of Reggie Bush) has joined the team, you can see why he may think his time in New Orleans is up.
Saints head coach Sean Payton has since said that drafting Ingram doesn't mean the team is done with Bush. That sounds like a compliment to Bush, but if we dig a little deeper, you can see that the plan to keep Reggie is just affirmation of what everyone else in the NFL thinks of Reggie Bush, other than Reggie himself. Here's a quote from Payton from the above-linked article:
"I think we've got a real clear vision for Reggie Bush, and what we expect and how we want to utilize him -- and that's not changed."
Translation: "Reggie Bush is a return man and an occasional change of pace back... but mostly a slot receiver. That's what we've done with him so far, so why would that change? If we hadn't drafted Ingram, we could have brought in any other RB who can actually run with some toughness and get the difficult yards better than Reggie Bush EVER can, so what really is the problem here, Reggie?"
Now that the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals has effectively re-instituted the NFL Lockout, the future of prospects not drafted on the final day of the 2011 NFL Draft is in doubt.
After being "re-opened for business" briefly, the NFL has chained the doors once again, and the undrafted free agency signing frenzy that happens once the last round is complete is now on hold.
Prospects may face some difficult decisions, as the status of the 2011 NFL season is still in doubt. The UFL will certainly make a play for several of the undrafted prospects, but many of them will hold out for NFL money if they're smart.
Aside from the procedural side of the lockout, the actual on-field effect could be very significant in terms of these rookies, who typically jump right into rookie orientations. Of course, all of them need as much time as possible to get ramped up to the NFL, but these less-talented undrafted guys stand to lose the most from a football standpoint.
Standout Fresno St. OLB Chris Carter was expected to be a good value in the third, or even fourth round of the 2011 NFL Draft. Imagine the Steelers' surprise then, when he was still available late in the fifth round.
Carter, who several draft analysts tabbed as an underrated prospect, is headed to a franchise that knows a thing or two about developing linebackers. With Dick LeBeau running the defense, and good depth already in place, Carter is in a great position to learn, even if he doesn't get on the field as much as he'd like to.
Another touted defensive prospect who tumbled down the board a bit is Iowa strong safety Tyler Sash. Near the top of many SS positional rankings, Sash is headed to the New York Giants. Sash is a great locker room leader, and is demonstrative on the field. We'll see if his enthusiasm for football can withstand the onslaught of being coached by Tom Coughlin.
While I loved the Locker pick from the second it was made, because I think he's the worst quarterback in this draft and was in glee to see him playing for my least favorite team, the Titans actually did a pretty good job in the next two rounds here. Ayers gives them some actual rush from their linebackers, which they have been lacking for awhile, and Casey should be another solid piece in a defensive line rotation with Jason Jones, Tony Brown, and Jovan Haye. Thankfully the Locker pick still leaves me giddy, or I might actually be angry about the haul that the Titans made out with on Day Two.
A pair of trade-ups made this a very interesting draft for the Jaguars. In the long term I think they have made a good move in going up to get Gabbert, but it probably weakens them next year, which is good news for the Texans. Rackley is an offensive line project from tiny Lehigh college, and while it might take him some time to beat out his competition, he should eventually give the Jags a mauling guard to take over for Uche Nwaneri.
Love this draft for the Colts so far. Like I said yesterday, I thought Costanzo was the best tackle in the draft and he should really help turn around the protection problems for Peyton Manning. Ijalana has a lot of promise as well, and should be able to help fortify the interior of their line. Nevis is a perfect fit for their type of defense, and should give them the kind of penetrator inside that they haven't had since Anthony McFarland was still hanging around. The rich get richer.
As J.J. Watt strolls down the walkway to Houston here in an about an hour or so, Texans defensive coordinator Wade Phillips has an idea of who he wants Watt to emulate: ex-Bills defensive end Phil Hansen, who started on the Buffalo Super Bowl teams that he coordinated. At a news conference last night, Phillips went over how he thinks the two stack up:
He reminds me a lot of Phil Hansen, who I had at Buffalo for a while, that same kind of size, movement and temperament. If he plays anywhere close to Phil Hansen, that'd be great for us. I think the kid is very talented athletically. He ran a 4.81, I believe, at 290 pounds. They worked him out as an outside backer and he actually didn't look bad at 290 pounds as an outside backer. He's really a defensive lineman and at 6'5½", 34 reps, he's strong and we think he can come in and help our defensive line and play really well in our area.
Hansen was never a Pro Bowl threat, but he gave the Bills many strong seasons and contributed as both a run stopper and a pass rusher in the 3-4, so the comparison definitely helps both critics and supporters of the pick. Supporters can point to Hansen's long-term value as a key member of Super Bowl defenses, and critics can look at how he was never really an elite player that changed the game.
Faithful SB Nation Houston readers, I was not surprised that the Houston Texans selected Wisconsin Badger defensive end J.J. Watt last night in the first round of the 2011 NFL Draft. In my last mock draft, I thought the Texans would grab a defensive end. I just had chosen
The rumors were, indeed, right. Rick Smith and Wade Phillips had their eyes set on
Fairley was, in my estimations, never considered. Coming off his lone good college season, Fairley was a great 3-technique – the undertackle position that Amobi Okoye played last year. The same Okoye many have speculated is on his way out because he doesn’t fit the new defensive scheme Phillips will install here. Aside from not fitting the defensive scheme, Fairley’s attitude and work ethic (often compared to Albert Haynesworth) made teams shy away from the guy who was in debate for the first overall pick.
I had said Quinn would be passed on if the Texans had a chance at him, and I turned out to be right. My feeble attempts to grab credibility aside, I never saw Robert Quinn as a 3-4 outside linebacker. I don’t think he would’ve been as effective standing up than with his hand on the ground as that smaller, quicker defensive end that could cause some havoc. Not only that, Quinn had struggles in contributing to any run defense. Philips likes his players to be versatile and contribute to both the run and pass. Finally, as was said during the ESPN broadcast, Quinn didn’t clear some teams’ medical tests and wasn’t even on some draft boards due to his benign brain tumor. Seeing
As for Amukamara, I guess the Texans were really gun shy about another first round cornerback. Let’s see if they draft a mid-round guy, as all signs pointed to by their visits, and pick up a top-flight free agent cornerback.
Now onto Watt – the All-Big Ten, All-American, Wisconsin MVP defensive end. I’ll state upfront, the redshirt junior will make an impact. As a two-year starter, J.J. Watt has shown the ability to disrupt plays in the backfield with 14 quarterback hurries, 36 tackles for a loss, and 11.5 sacks. He’s also long enough to have broken up 12 passes, intercepted another pass, and blocked four kicks. At 6’5’’and 290 pounds, you have someone strong enough to hold the point of attack (he had 35 reps at the Combine) and fast enough to get after the passer (his Combine times in the 40-yard dash, 20-yard shuffle, and three-cone drill were all comparable to teammate Mario Williams). Fans shouldn't let the description of a high-motor guy deceive them. Watt has the physical capabilities to be a dominant 3-4 defensive end, as he was often described during this entire pre-draft process when he was mocked as high as 7 and as low as 18.
Is it a safe pick? Yeah, absolutely it is. Watt brings no character risk, no injury history, and has demonstrated his talent on the field of play. The newest Texan has also improved every year - from his time at community college through both seasons at
Per Wade’s comments, he envisions Watt playing end (the five-technique) on the first two downs before sliding into tackle on third down passing situations alongside Antonio Smith while being sandwiched between Williams and Connor Barwin. Just the thought of that defensive line, with its mix of speed and power, is enticing. As with all Texan first rounders, J.J. Watt is going to get his chance to make an impact early and often.
I know fans will eventually come around on Watt. He will make plays on the field, put in the effort on the field and in practice, and likely do good things for the community. Above all else, he’s not afraid to shy away from any expectations and set a high bar for himself. As J.J. said last night, "I'm going to put a ton of time in the film room, the weight room and on the field. Like I said, I'm going to give you everything I have on every single play, and at the end of the day, we're going to win football games because of it."
With the first round still fresh in our minds, let's look at who hit the jackpot and whose fan bases are drowning their sorrows in a six-pack of beer.
Seattle Seahawks - They bolstered their offensive line with a potential right tackle. That was a nice idea, but they must have not seen Gabe Carimi on the draft board. Instead, Seattle takes 2nd/3rd round talent James Carpenter. Yes, he's SEC tested, but he could have been had in the 2nd round or 3rd round. Why not take someone else in the 1st? Or, better yet, why not take the best tackle available (and arguably in the draft)? A Barkley-esque turrible pick.
Carolina Panthers - I just don't buy Cam Newton as a quarterback, simple as that.
Atlanta Falcons - I won't deny that Julio Jones is a talented receiver, but they gave up a lot to get him. Correct me if I'm wrong, but they got shredded in their playoff loss last season, right? Why move up for a receiver when you need more defense? If you're going to burn those picks then why not go for a pass rusher or cornerback? It's a confusing move to me.
De'Quan Bowers - The guy who was once in the number one overall pick conversation is now sitting wondering if he'll go in round two. One of the great NFL Draft free falls.
NFC North Quarterbacks - Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley are teammates. The middle of the Detroit Lions defensive line is as deadly as they come. If Suh and Kyle Vanden Bosch can push Fairley into staying on the straight and narrow, the Lions are going to find themselves with an intimidating defense.
Baltimore Ravens - They got the talented, yet risky, Jimmy Smith, but this is more about missing their pick. It was confusing and gave us all a laugh. Not losers really, but definitely Ozzie's worst draft moment.
Chicago Bears - They needed an offensive lineman and word was they coveted Gabe Carimi. As fate would have it, Carimi made it past New York, Kansas City, Indianapolis, and Seattle. Now, Jay Cutler will have some much needed protection from a tackle spot.
Cleveland Browns - They got a bunch of draft picks to help their rebuilding process and then used some to get a guy (Phil Taylor) who can potentially be an anchor in their defense. It didn't matter who they drafted in round one, picking up four extra picks was a winning move.
New York Giants - A guy with top-10 talent fell to 19 and has no injury or character concerns. Way to luck out there, Big Blue.
New England Patriots - Once again, they take a talented player they like (Nate Solder) and then trade a pick for more picks (picking up a third 2nd round pick and a second 1st round pick with a potential rookie salary cap in place next season). New England knows how to stock up on assets.
New Orleans Saints - The first round's biggest winner. Cameron Jordan was being talked about at the ninth overall pick. He falls to 24 and fills a need that the Saints have on the defensive line. Then the Saints turn their 2nd rounder (with the help of next year's 1st) into Mark Ingram who will A) rid them of Reggie Bush and B) bring balance to their dynamic offense. They got a player they didn't think they had a shot at and one they were hoping for. A fantastic night for New Orleans.
Pittsburgh Steelers - I know Cameron Heyward was rated, somehow, as a late first round pick, but Pittsburgh was able to nab a talented player. Heyward can really do it all as a defensive lineman and will be a great fit in Dick LeBeau's zone blitz. He can rush the passer, stop the run, drop into coverage, and is a high-character hard working football player. Pittsburgh will love this kid and rightfully so.
On the whole, I think more teams made good picks than bad ones. You saw a lot of teams building their offensive and defensive lines, so there is some skilled talent available in round two for teams to pluck. Will the Houston Texans find someone talented at 42 like a Brandon Harris? We'll know in less than a day.
With the 32nd pick, and final selection in the first round, the defending Super Bowl champion Green Bay Packers selected Mississippi State offensive tackle Derek Sherrod.
Chad Clifton is up there in age and Bryan Bulaga has been tabbed as one replacement. Given how incredible Aaron Rodgers is, the Packers had better do everything possible to keep him upright and healthy. Sherrod is SEC tested and a guy with high intelligence and good feet. He needs to get a bit stronger and learn how to properly use his hands, but he can give Rodgers the protection he needs to rack up some more Super Bowl wins. It's not a steal per se, but this is a nice pick for the Packers who have the young talent to win more Super Bowls.
About four hours later, the first round is over. Thanks to those who have stuck with this thread all night. Stay tuned to SB Nation Houston for a recap of round one's winners and losers, more in-depth analysis of the Houston Texans selection of Wisconsin defensive end J.J. Watt, and the rest of the weekend's draft action.
With the 31st overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, the Pittsburgh Steelers selected Ohio State defensive end Cameron Heyward.
This is how the Pittsburgh Steelers are consistently good. People reach for talent in front of them and someone talented falls in their laps. At the start of the NFL Draft pre-season, I proclaimed my draft crush on Heyward. He can rush inside, outside, drop into coverage on a zone blitz and defend passes, is a hard worker, and does whatever he can to make a play. For a Steelers team with an aging defensive line, Heyward will be a spark plug and defensive guru Dick LeBeau will find ways to get every ounce of potential out of this kid.
Yet another late round steal here for a playoff team. An unbelievable value pick for the defending AFC Champion Steelers who just got a lot better defensively - like they needed to get better, right?
With the 30th overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, the New York Jets selected Temple DE/DT Muhammad Wilkerson.
Every year, a smaller school player rises to the first round. Wilkerson is that guy this year. With Kris Jenkins almost always injured and Shaun Ellis getting older, the Jets needed to invest in their defensive line - especially in Rex Ryan's defensive scheme. Wilkerson has all of the physical tools to be a dominant lineman. Long arms, quick speed for a 315 pound man, strength to hold the point of attack, and overall a great physical specimen. Can he play with elite competition? Rex Ryan thinks so. I am unsure of what to make of Wilkerson, but a lot of people are high on him and the Jets are happy with him.
With the 29th overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, the Chicago Bears
gleefully stole selected Wisconsin offensive tackle Gabe Carimi.
Jay Cutler can breathe easy now. Carimi, the most pro-ready tackle in the draft in my opinion, will be an anchor on that offensive line. One of the best in the country at Wisconsin, Carimi, at the minimum, will lockdown the right tackle position for 10-15 years. I think, along with others, that Carimi has the athleticism to play left tackle. I think people sell Carimi short by calling him just a right tackle.
The Bears had a terrible offensive line that got quarterbacks killed last year. Gabe Carimi is an instant starter and improvement for Chicago. Another team that has the board fall their way by adding the big fellow from Madison.
With the 28th overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, and after the Kansas City/Baltimore confusion, the New England Patriots (surprisingly) traded their pick to the New Orleans Saints. The Saints, as I predicted earlier, moved up (with a 2011 2nd round pick and 2012 1st round pick) to select Alabama running back Mark Ingram.
Why did I say this would happen? The Saints needed a workhorse running back. Pierre Thomas gets hurt too often, Reggie Bush is an overpaid third down running back, and Christopher Ivory had an injury prone rookie season. All that adds up to a nonexistent Saints running game and an out of balance offense. The 2010 Heisman Trophy winning running back will change all of that. Ingram can run between the tackles, get the tough yards, is a willing blocker, and can catch passes out of the backfield.
At the end of the day, Ingram makes that offense better and is the missing piece to bring them back to a well-balanced attack. The Saints got tremendous value with Jordan and a much needed piece in Ingram - one of the big day one draft winners. For the Patriots, they have three 2nd round picks tomorrow and two first round picks in 2012 - which they can trade for more draft picks. Once again, the Patriots only move down, not up, in the draft.
With the 26th overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, the Baltimore Ravens passed on their pick. The Kansas City Chiefs selected Pittsburgh wide receiver Jonathan Baldwin. The Ravens turned around and selected Colorado cornerback Jimmy Smith with the 27th overall pick.
Apart from making a tired blogger confused, both picks address needs for the teams.
The Chiefs grab a big possession wide receiver to compliment Dwayne Bowe and the Kansas City running game. It may be a bit high for Baldwin, but the Chiefs wanted to make sure they got their guy who can use his big frame to add some size to a small receiving kid.
For the Ravens, they grab a talented cornerback, but he has a lot of character issues that scared a lot of teams off. The Ravens trust that their veteran locker room can reign in the kid and set him on the straight and narrow. I wouldn't want to cross Ray Lewis, so maybe Ozzie Newsome knows what he is doing. What am I saying? Of course, Ozzie knows best. This is the NFL Draft after all.
With the 25th overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, the Seattle Seahawks selected Alabama offensive tackle/guard James Carpenter.
Ummm, okay? I honestly do not know what Seattle just did. They grabbed a guy who projected to be a second or third round draft pick at pick 25. Not only that but they passed on Wisconsin offensive tackle Gabe Carimi who could also play at right tackle, opposite of Russell Okung, or slide into guard. Carpenter played at Alabama, so he has experience in the vaunted SEC. However, I just cannot approve of this pick when a much more talented player is on the board. This has to be the worst pick in the first round and Seattle should have taken Carimi.
With the 24th overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, the New Orleans Saints selected California defensive end/tackle Cameron Jordan.
The Saints just got tremendous value and a steal in round one. I realize 23 other teams passed on Cam Jordan, but this is a guy with top-ten talent. Jordan can play defensive end or tackle for the Saints - both positions of need for New Orleans.
Gregg Williams loves to bring pressure, so he must be ready to hit Bourbon Street after this pick. Jordan will bolster that defensive line and, maybe, cause enough havoc to bring back that takeaway hungry defense. I also would not be surprised if New Orleans moved back into round one to pick up another player who fills a need - Alabama running back Mark Ingram. Even if they do not make that move, I really like this pick for New Orleans and think Cam Jordan will be a disruptive force for them.
With the 23rd overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, the Philadelphia Eagles selected Baylor offensive guard Danny Watkins.
It would not be an NFL Draft without Andy Reid taking an offensive or defensive lineman. Watkins, the 26 year old rookie lineman and firefighter, should step into the starting lineup now. Not only due to his age but because he is definitely pro-ready. His age, position, and low ceiling knock him down, but the Eagles needed offensive line help. Last year, Michael Vick, while electric, was beat up. Philadelphia could not keep Vick upright and they cannot afford to have him miss games this season if they are dreaming about a Super Bowl.
I imagine Baylor alumnus and Houston Chronicle writer John McClain must be awful happy with his second Bear first-round pick. I know Andy Reid is happy and so is Mike Vick. The Philadelphia Eagles made the right pick here.
With the 22nd overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, the Indianapolis Colts selected Boston College offensive tackle Anthony Costanzo.
Going into the draft, everyone knew the Colts had to improve their offensive line especially given the amount of hits Peyton Manning took last season. Costanzo, in theory, should help that line. I say in theory because I thought they would have taken the more pro-ready Gabe Carimi. I think Carimi would have also helped their running game. Costanzo is a much better pass blocker than a run blocker which means the Colts offense will still be pass-heavy (duh, I know). He's still a rookie offensive tackle, so it will be interesting to see how he will hold up against Mario Williams and whoever is playing outside linebacker. While I'm not high on Anthony Costanzo, he is still an improvement over Ryan Diem which means Indianapolis just got better. Can he grow fast enough to keep Manning clean? We'll find out.
With the 21st overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, the Kansas City Chiefs traded their pick to the Cleveland Browns. The Browns selected Phil Taylor with their 21st overall pick.
The Browns released Shaun Rogers back in February, so they had a hole in their defense. The Browns add in the huge Baylor Bear to be the Pat Williams, in a manner of speaking, of their defensive line. Adding Taylor also adds the possibility to throw some three man fronts in Cleveland. Taylor has great strength and will clog the middle of the defense to free up his linebacking teammates.
His problem? Taylor gasses out, and when he gasses out he becomes a push over. If he's in a rotation or can improve his stamina then Cleveland will have a dominant anchor for their defense. The Baylor Bear alum has worked hard since transferring from Penn State, and I think Brown fans will be happy with their new rookie.
With the 20th overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers selected Iowa defensive end Adrian Clayborn.
Raheem Morris continues to build upfront, a theme that can be seen with other young up and comers Detroit and St. Louis. While the Bucs took two defensive tackles last year, they still lacked a dominant end pass rusher. Clayborn is that kind of guy. The two-time 1st team All Big Ten defensive end has a motor and will get after the quarterback. I liked Clayborn because he had more than one pass rushing move, but, as is the case, injury concerns knocked him down.
If Clayborn stays healthy, the Bucs have a defensive line that is set for the next decade. If you can dominate the trenches then you'll win football games. Tampa Bay looks poised to win more football games over the next ten years. I imagine they'll look for a cornerback in round two.
With the 19th overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, the New York Giants selected Nebraska cornerback Prince Amukarama.
This pick has to be pure best available talent. The Giants did not, at least by my estimation, need a cornerback. Still, they could not have expected an opportunity to draft Amukamara. I really like the young Prince. I think he comes off as a Johnathan Joseph and Leon Hall type of cornerback. Namely, he can run, get physical, and is more of a ball-swatter as opposed to an interceptor.
I imagine the Giants will probably put him in the nickel to counter the vaunted passing attacks of the Eagles and Cowboys. I thought the Giants might have gone linebacker or offensive line, but they'll probably target that tomorrow. I like the Prince pick though strictly because it provides great value.
With the 18th pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, the San Diego Chargers selected Illinois defensive tackle/end Corey Liuget.
One of the guys who really rose his stock during this pre-draft season, Liuget adds another talent to one of the league's best defensive units. Liuget, who played defensive tackle for the Fighting Illini, will likely play end for San Diego. The Chargers could use an aggressive defensive end for their defense. Liuget should be able to get pressure from the five-technique and give San Diego what it has lacked since Shawne Merriman got injured.
Like New England, the Chargers are a case of the rich getting richer. For them, the question is if Liuget can help put this team over the top?
With the 17th overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, the New England Patriots selected Colorado offensive tackle Nate Solder.
Do you really expect me to knock draft guru Bill Belichick? The guy plays the draft like a fiddle. Coming off a 14-2 season, New England does not need much so most picks are a value pick. Solder, the tall Buffalo, will book end the line with Sebastian Volmer for the next decade...eventually. Solder has the tools to be a dominant tackle in the league, but he has to add some muscle to his frame and work on his hands. He has, arguably, the best upside of any offensive tackle if he can clean up his flaws.
Still, the Patriots had the luxury to take who they wanted and you know Belichick will coach him up well. Even if it doesn't feel a need, the Patriots can afford to take talent with picks at 28 and 33.
With the 16th overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, the Washington Redskins selected Purdue defensive end/outside linebacker Ryan Kerrigan.
Last season, the Washington Redskins had trouble getting pressure on the quarterback by anyone not named Brian Orakpo. They add Kerrigan to solve that issue. Or does he solve the issue? Kerrigan will be making the switch to the outside linebacker role for Jim Haslett's defense.
Me? I am not a fan of Kerrigan in the 3-4. I think he showed nothing at the Senior Bowl aside from looking lost as an OLB. Kerrigan will work hard and Washington picked up extra picks to slide back, but I don't know if Kerrigan can make the transition to the 3-4. If he can then Washington will be looking smart in the future for getting their guy and picking up extra picks.
With the 15th pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, the Miami Dolphins selected Florida guard/center Mike Pouncey.
Pouncey, the twin brother of last year's Pittsburgh Steelers first round pick, is a perfect pick by a franchise with the fingerprints of Bill Parcels. He's a big offensive lineman who has good feet and good hands. The Dolphins invested another high-value pick in the offensive line because they love to run. Miami had some interior line problems and Pouncey will help fix that issue.
Another "safe" pick, but you need safe when it comes to investing first round money into these prospects. The Dolphins need to add a young running back to their backfield, but whoever is back there will not have a weak offensive line to blame. Miami's got the potential to be one of the best offensive lines in the league.
With the 14th pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, the St. Louis Rams selected University of North Carolina defensive end Robert Quinn.
I was not a fan of the potential Quinn to Houston selection, but I do like Robert Quinn in the 4-3 defense. Quinn's a good pass rusher when his hand is on the ground. It's that burst, with his hand down, that makes him special. His speed makes him Dwight Freeney like as opposed to an average guy standing up. It's a different skill set that I did not think Quinn had.
There has to be concerns about his brain tumor which requires a bi-annual MRI to ensure it is still benign. In fact, there were teams whose team doctors did not clear Quinn which led to him being excluded from draft boards. There also has to be concerns about his run defense which is suspect. However, Steve Spagnuolo, like Jim Schwartz before him, loves to collect defensive linemen and the Rams now have a defensive end who can be special. It was a clear cut best available player pick which happens to suit a coach's style, so it's a very good pick for the Rams.
With the 13th pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, the Detroit Lions select Auburn defensive tackle Nick Fairley.
The NFC North quarterbacks just crapped their pants. The poor man's Ndamukong Suh is going to start right next to the real Ndamukong Suh. Jim Schwartz wanted to change the image of the Lions, and this move does just that. Fairley and Suh will destroy interior offensive lines a la what the New York Giants try to do with their four man front.
Fairley's big concern is his attitude, work ethic, and dirty play. Playing for a hard-nosed head coach and next to a true workhorse, the Lions must feel good about their ability to reign him in. What can't be reigned in? The Lions duo of deadly defensive tackles who will tear up NFC offensive lines for the next decade.
With the 12th pick, the Minnesota Vikings selected Florida State quarterback Christian Ponder.
A surprise? Yes and no. Ponder at 12 is a much higher pick than people thought, but a lot of people thought NFL general managers would panic and grab quarterbacks. The Vikings, with no real starter in place thanks to Brett Favre's retirement, had to grab Ponder.
Out of all the quarterbacks in the class, I liked Ponder the most. He's got an accurate arm and that will work for the Vikings who have the weapons to spread the field. Ponder can move, throw, and make the plays. There was a lot of talent on the board, so the Vikings must have really liked him to take him at 12. Can Ponder replace Favre? We'll see. Can he beat out Joe Webb and Tavarais Jackson for the opening day job? Stay tuned.
With the 11th pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, the Houston Texans - your Houston Texans - selected Wisconsin defensive end JJ Watt.
I said, in my final mock draft, that I considered Watt but chose Cameron Jordan over that because of the scheme fit. First, I am absolutely giddy that Robert Quinn wasn't the pick. It tells me that Quinn's brain tumor must be a huge cause for concern if Cleveland, San Francisco, Washington, and Houston passed on him.
As for Watt, he's the best 3-4 defensive end in this draft. Roughly the same size as Mario Williams, JJ Watt brings athleticism and a motor to Houston. He was a disruptive player for the Badgers against both the pass and run. I said during the pre-draft season that he reminded me of Pro Bowl defensive end Justin Smith. I think the Texans got a really good player at a position which they needed a third guy - especially if Mario Williams can't stay healthy. Not the best pick (I would have taken Prince Amukamara), but it's still better than taking Quinn or someone else with high bust potential.
With the 10th pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, the Washington Redskins traded the pick to the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Jaguars then selected Missouri quarterback Blaine Gabbert.
Now, the Jaguar fans can see the end of the David Garrard era as Gabbert is the future of the Jacksonville franchise. Garrard, coming off a good season, now will look over his shoulder with the heir apparent in place. Gabbert is an accurate quarterback (except he struggles with the deep pass), but he never wowed at Missouri. He didn't dominate the conference as Sam Bradford once did. He has the talent, especially in a short West Coast passing game, but I don't know if he'll pan out. That uncertainty is good if you're a Texans fan since the Jaguars are a division rival.
The Jacksonville Jaguars once again get their guy and once again make people scratch their heads with their draft pick.
With the ninth pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, the Dallas Cowboys selected USC offensive tackle Tyron Smith.
Last year, the Dallas Cowboy offensive line showed that it was old, falling apart, and not that talented. I mean, the age just hit that line. Smith makes sense because the Cowboys have the skill players, but need to keep Tony Romo upright if they want to win. Smith is athletic, big, and fits what Jerry Jones wants in an offensive lineman.
This is a pick that is not a surprise as Smith to Dallas has picked up steam over the past four weeks. It's not a flashy Jerry pick, but this tells you he wants to win and is listening to head coach Jason Garrett. I expect Dallas to pour in picks to their offensive and defensive lines. If they do, I expect Dallas to bounce back after a disappointing season last year.
With the eight pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, the Tennessee Titans selected Washington quarterback Jake Locker.
The Vince Young era is long and dead as the Titans stun the world. With rumors that they were smitten with TCU quarterback Andy Dalton, the Titans take Locker and Houston fans should be happy.
While Locker has upside with his mobility and arm, the knock on Locker is his inaccuracy. In fact, his inaccurate arm knocked him down a lot of draft boards. Can new Titans offensive coordinator Chris Palmer develop Locker or will Locker be like former Palmer students Tim Couch and David Carr? It's a risky pick for Tennessee, but you often have to take risks to reap rewards. All we know now is that Vince Young will be released, likely tomorrow.
With the seventh pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, the San Francisco 49ers selected Missouri defensive end/outside linebacker Aldon Smith.
Here is your first big surprise of the draft. Few had Smith going to San Francisco. In fact, most had Aldon Smith going to the Houston Texans at the eleventh overall pick.
The 49ers have lacked a true pass rusher since the 2002 season - the last season where they had someone who had 10+ sacks in a season. They have a great front seven minus that pass rusher and Aldon Smith can be that. With Patrick Willis next to him, Aldon will be able to pin his ears back and rush the passer to give San Francisco their best pass rusher since Andre Carter.
As a guy who is partal to the 49ers, I like the pick and find it interesting that they passed on Robert Quinn. Might the tumor caused them to get cold feet? Regardless, Aldon Smith will make that front seven stout.
The Cleveland Browns have traded the sixth overall pick to the Atlanta Falcons. With the sixth pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, the Atlanta Falcons selected Alabama wide receiver Julio Jones.
The Falcons must have paid a ransom. I don't know exactly what they paid, but this could rival the New Orleans Saints trade for Ricky Williams. Not only that, but Atlanta bolstered their receiving corps as opposed to their defense - the same one that got torched by Aaron Rodgers in the playoffs.
Julio Jones is a great receiver, no question. His hands are a bit shaky, so the natural comparison is to Terrell Owens with the size, speed, and shaky hands. JJ is no TO when it comes to attitude though, so I expect Jones to work. Despite Julio's great upside, I just think the price is too high for Atlanta to pass on adding to their defense. Can Julio Jones make the Falcons offense unstoppable? We will see in 2011.
With the fifth overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, the Arizona Cardinals select LSU cornerback Patrick Peterson.
It is a smart, safe pick for the Cardinals. Patrick Peterson is, in my opinion and others, the best talent in this draft. To get the best player at pick five is a small steal for Arizona and fits their MO for trying to take the best available player.
Peterson is a special talent. He's big, fast, strong, and will make a big impact in Arizona for the next decade. Teaming up with Dominique Rogers-Cromartie and Adrian Wilson, Peterson gives the Cardinals the potential to have one of the best secondaries in the league. Peterson can also return kicks, if needed. All around, a great player and someone who will rack up the accolades over a long, lengthy career that will likely see him end up as a free safety when he gets older. Another great pick, even if Arizona didn't 100% need a cornerback.
With the fourth pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, the Cincinnati Bengals selected Georgia wide receiver A.J. Green.
It's no surprise here as Green has been mocked to Cincinnati for almost the entire pre-draft season, so score another for the mockers. Green's been the class of this year's wide receiver class and could be a tool to make disgruntled Bengals quarterback Carson Palmer happy.
A.J. Green is 6'4'' and 211 pounds with great hands and signals the end of Terrell Owens in Cincinnati and maybe Chad Ochocinco too. Whether Palmer retires or not, Green will headline a young crop of wide receivers in Cincinnati for whomever wants to throw it to him and his new teammates - such as Jordan Shipley and Jermaine Grisham. I like the pick, it fills a need and makes sense for the Cincinnati Bengals who are looking to rebound from a rough season and return to the playoffs in 2011.
The first two picks of the 2011 NFL Draft are in, and a Texas A&M graduate has already seen his name called, OLB/DE Vin Miller who was selected as the No. 2 overall pick by the Denver Broncos. There are some questions about why a 3-4 pass rushing linebacker like Miller would be taken by the Broncos who run a 4-3 defense. But the transition to a 3-4 is already being made by the Broncos, so it’s only a matter of time before Miller’s unique skill set will be maximized in a revamped Broncos defensive system.
By going No. 2 in the ’11 Draft, Miller joins Quentin Coryatt as the only Texas A&M products to be taken that high. Coryatt, selected second by the Indianapolis Colts in the 1992 Draft, went on to have a solid but hardly spectacular NFL career for his high draft status. Coryatt played six years in Indy before finishing his career after a lone season with the Dallas Cowboys, finishing with 8.5 sacks and over 520 tackles.
Stay tuned for more updates about the first round of this year’s draft as we wait to see who the Houston Texans select at No. 11.
With the third pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, the Buffalo Bills selected Alabama defensive tackle/end Marcell Dareus.
I love this pick for the Buffalo Bills. No, let me say that again. I LOVE this pick for Buffalo.
Dareus is the best defensive lineman in the draft, and Buffalo needed some impact defensive linemen to line up with Kyle Williams. In Buffalo's 3-4, Dareus will likely play the 5-technique. He's a strong, quick player who will make life easier for Williams and their linebackers. Dareus is also versatile enough to allow Chan Gailey and company the flexibility to move into a four man front if they so choose. I'm a believer that you have to build from the lines back, and everything fell together correctly for Buffalo.
Will Marcell Dareus help Buffalo climb out of the AFC East basement and back into the playoffs? I think the answer is yes, and Bills fans should be happy tonight.
With the second pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, the Denver Broncos selected Texas A&M outside linebacker Von Miller.
I am a bit surprised by this pick. Von Miller played 3-4 outside linebacker and was projected to play the same position in the NFL. With Denver, Miller, the highly touted Aggie, will likely play 4-3 weakside linebacker. I can't imagine him playing anything else. What adds to the surprise is that new Broncos head coach John Fox has a history of building from the lines back, so I did expect Marcell Dareus to be the pick.
Is Miller a playmaker? Yes. Is he able to rush the passer and drop into coverage? Yes. Is Denver getting someone who can make an impact? Maybe not as much as he would in the 3-4, but Miller is the best linebacker in the draft. Houston Texans fans know how fast a rookie linebacker can make an impact. It's a surprising pick, but Von Miller should make Denver fans happy.
With the first pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, the Carolina Panthers selected Auburn quarterback Cam Newton.
No surprise there as Newton had been linked to Carolina back in February alternately with other prospects, but he's really picked up steam since then as the number one pick.
Personally, I don't like the pick. I understand that quarterback is a premium position, and Cam has potential and name value for a franchise that has sort of fallen on hard times. Still, the Panthers spent two picks on quarterbacks last year and are staring Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck in the face. I would have rather given Jimmy Clausen a chance to prove himself and grab Luck.
It doesn't help the pick's cause that I don't view Newton as a first round talent. He only started 14 career games, doesn't have good accuracy, and mobile quarterbacks have been more miss than hit. I would take a flyer on Cam in the third round, but he wouldn't be the quarterback I bet my franchise on nor spend the first overall pick on. It'll be interesting to see if the self-described entertainer and icon can put in the work and help Carolina return to the Super Bowl.
Ladies and gentlemen, the 2011 NFL Draft begins tonight with the first round starting at 7 pm Houston time (or 43 minutes from the time I hit post). Tonight, we will get all the answers to the questions we have asked over the past few months.
Will Auburn quarterback Cam Newton go first? Who will land coveted talents such as LSU cornerback Patrick Peterson and Texas A&M OLB Von Miller? Will your Houston Texans make a pick that makes fans happy? Join us here at SB Nation Houston as we cover each first round pick live as it happens - all the picks, trades, and analysis.
2011 NFL Draft First Round Order:
1 (1) Carolina Panthers
2 (2) Denver Broncos
3 (3) Buffalo Bills
4 (4) Cincinnati Bengals
5 (5) Arizona Cardinals
6 (6) Cleveland Browns
7 (7) San Francisco 49ers
8 (8) Tennessee Titans
9 (9) Dallas Cowboys
10 (10) Washington Redskins
11 (11) Houston Texans
12 (12) Minnesota Vikings
13 (13) Detroit Lions
14 (14) St. Louis Rams
15 (15) Miami Dolphins
16 (16) Jacksonville Jaguars
17 (17) New England Patriots from Oakland Raiders
18 (18) San Diego Chargers
19 (19) New York Giants
20 (20) Tampa Bay Buccaneers
21 (21) Kansas City Chiefs
22 (22) Indianapolis Colts
23 (23) Philadelphia Eagles
24 (24) New Orleans Saints
25 (25) Seattle Seahawks
26 (26) Baltimore Ravens
27 (27) Atlanta Falcons
28 (28) New England
29 (29) Chicago Bears
30 (30) New York Jets
31 (31) Pittsburgh Steelers
32 (32) Green Bay Packers
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