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Default gpngc 2011 NFL Draft Wrap-up

This has become an annual thing and I like to be held accountable with the evaluation, so quoted are my wrap-ups from 2009 and 2010 (wish I had it documented that every team who passed on DJax in 2007 was ******* ******** for doing so). Funny hits and misses are bolded.


The Best Draft-Day Move I've Ever Seen
Jets moving up from 17 to 5 to land Mark Sanchez.
In a weak draft, the Jets somehow pulled off the 12-spot jump-heist in order to secure the guy who most believe will be a franchise QB. It doesn't get much better than that. Actually, it does. They kept their 2010 first and gave up in my estimation FOUR backup players to move up 12 spots (Coleman technically is a starter but come on, Elam, Ratliff lol, and the second round pick which the Jets would have used on a ho-hum rookie WR or fringe 2nd round 5-tech prospect).

Jerry Reese Drafts Like a Draftnik Would
And it works. Sometimes these guys get way to cute and complicated. Reese somehow makes all the moves draftniks would make and magically most of them seem to pan out. He just surgically goes down the board and takes good, known players. This is not a coincidence. Other GMs are trying to prove people wrong and make obscure moves when sometimes it pays to just pull the trigger on a guy like Sintim or Beatty. Why are they falling? "I don't care, I'm Jerry f'in Reese." Andre Brown at 129? Seriously?

Belichick Runs the NFL
He flat-out told the world on live TV that he thought this draft was weak. Hours later he still somehow traded for three 2nd rounders in 2010. One of these years he's going to package a bunch of these picks and take a ridiculous player at an impact position like OLB, WR, RB, or DB. Eric Berry next year is now possible. And scary. And the funniest part is even with all the trading for future picks, the Pats still managed a pretty solid class here in 2009.

It's the Same Thing Every Year
The good teams make sensible picks, the bad teams don't. The Steelers, Colts, and Cardinals always draft well and it never changes. No matter where they're picking they select good players at every spot. It's not brain surgery. The Raiders, Chiefs, and Browns do weird things and are never good. This is not a coincidence.

Pioli's First Draft in KC
I thought he did a pretty bad job. I'm not so against Tyson Jackson at #3, but Alex Magee in the 3rd was an AWFUL pick. He's not a good fit as a 5-tech, plus he's been overrated from the getgo. AND unless they trade Dorsey, they'll have over $100 million invested in two DEs. What was the point of adding another? The secondary is one of the few bright spots with some talent and yet they chose to add project athlete Donald Washington and declined to address their anemic pass rush. I don't hate any of their other picks at all but this looks like the type of draft you come out with after you go to the Super Bowl, not after a 3-13 year. If Cassel isn't the franchise QB they're hoping for, it's going to take years for this team to get out of the gutter.

My 2010 Playoff Sleeper
The Cincinnati Bengals.
No one knows it, but the Bengals defense was actually pretty good last season. Carson Palmer comes back healthy, Cedric Benson continues where he left off, some of the young defensive players keep developing and they're in the playoffs. Plus they got two impact players in Andre Smith and Rey Maualuga. They needed a center- they got one. They needed pass rush help. They got a freak DE who could contribute on third down from day one. Heck, Bernard Scott might be a solid 1B RB. Anytime you can get the 2nd best player in the draft (Smith) at #6 overall and then a surefire heart-and-soul MLB at #38, you've had a good draft. I think personnel-wise that team could do BIG things. What they need is some changes at the top, and I just don't think Marvin Lewis is the head coach that'll get the most out of them.

We Would Never... Why Would We Reach for Him?... We Have Other Needs
You can't say anything like that to a mock draft. What if I told you...
-Jacksonville would take two OTs in the first two rounds.
-Oakland would take Michael Mitchell at 47.
-Tennessee would take a TE in the first three rounds.
-San Diego would take Larry English at 16.
-Baltimore wouldn't take a WR.
-San Francisco wouldn't take an OLB.
-Houston would take two TEs.

Team-by-team Grades (I apologize in advance for so many Bs. It's just so hard to knock or praise some of these picks because we really don't know.)

Love Shawn Nelson in the 4th. He could start from day one. This draft hinges on Maybin's ability to stop the run.

Curious that they didn't get a pass rusher but they sure helped the secondary, got a steal in Andrew Gardner and may have gotten the best football player in the entire draft at #44.

NE: A-
OL, DL, DB depth. Even if they bat .333 they're probably still improving the team with this class. Vollmer will probably be the RT for the next 10 years and Tate, McKenzie, and Pryor were steals. Plus Patrick Chung was a sneaky-good player who'll probably fit in perfect for them.

Franchise QB + franchise RB. The Jets making great decisions= the world is upside down. They have about two years to add a stud WR for a developed Sanchez. By that time Jenkins will be near the end, and Rhodes, Revis, and Harris will be in their primes. You have to admire Mr. T's relentlesness.

You know I'm just not so high on the Oher pick. I mean he could be a great player but it wasn't such a slam dunk. They're relying an awful lot on Mark Clayton and Derrick Mason. Something tells me Flacco is in for somewhat of a sophomore slump. Nothing else in the draft stands out although I do like Phillips if he can stay healthy.

It's possible they got seven starters out of this draft. McDonald was a steal also.

I mean I don't hate the Mack pick but you just have to wonder what this team is going to look like down the road. In terms of impact players, they're best threat drops way too many passes. Veikune could be good and Don Carey was a good pick but I'm not high on Mo Mass or James Davis and Robiskie will likely be a solid player but not an impact receiver.

I hate them. They are so good it's ridiculous. I could see every single one of their picks working out. They probably added a quality interior lineman (Shipley/Urbik), DL help (Hood/Harris), and a good young CB (Burnett- who we all know was real good- or Lewis). And Tomlin already nicknamed Summers Frank the tank. Jealousy doesn't even begin to explain it.

A lot of weird names but this really was solid. I'm not big on Cushing but I think Barwin was a good pick and they'll likely get a good DB in Quin. Caldwell was a great pick.

Just like the Steelers. Ridiculous. Collie is PERFECT for them and Moala/Taylor IMMEDIATELY improves the middle of that defense. People want to say Donald Brown wasn't a need but he's just a quality football player. You need two RBs in the NFL and now they have two (and someone always gets injured). Oh and Powers was one of the most overlooked players. He'll be the nickel in no time.

I simply don't know enough about their long-term situation to comment on the two OTs thing. They did just sign Thomas, but maybe he could play some guard? In any case, the two OTs are good players so you really can't knock them. I love the Thomas and Dillard picks in rounds 4 and 5. Chances are one of them will challenge Northcutt for the slot WR job. Jennings looks like a steal but I wonder why he fell so much.

Don't know what to make of this draft. Britt there is going to be interesting and I wonder how Marks fits in that defense- maybe he'll move to DE. They got good value but filled weird positions (Kropog, Ringer). I love McRath but he'd be a little undersized to be a thumper Mike in that defense- especially without Haynesworth. He'll play outside probably.

I understand why people are knocking the Broncos and the Cutler thing was terrible but if you look at this draft and the players they got- it actually was a good haul. I love Moreno regardless of the need factor, Robert Ayers will be a great player, and Alphonso Smith is a quality football player. He fell because of height and speed concerns but how many times do we see productive college players overcome that? Again, Quinn, McBath, and Bruton didn't bolster a porous DL, but they were all good players. I love McKinley as a very good slot WR.

See above.

I've been driving the D.H.B. bust wagon forever but the main reason I hate the pick is because they passed on Crabtree for a different WR. Just terrible. About Mitchell though- I don't even hate it. Obviously the Bears were going to take him.

SD: C+
Ho-hum. They took G. Johnson pretty high I thought. I knew they were going to make a weird pick at #16. We didn't hear anything about that pick at all. I thought it was going to be Maclin (should've been).

I don't like McGee there. Too much stupid stuff going on around Romo. Still probably going to pick them to win this division though. Love Brewster and J. Williams.

Barden will bust. Still this was another fantastic draft. Nicks has it all, Sintim can start and Beckum and A. Brown were fantastic picks. You know Reese drafts like a draftnik when he takes a strong-armed well-known QB in every single draft.

And I hate Victor Harris. McNabb is going to have a field day. On paper, this offseason has put them over the top. Let's see what they can do on the field. And it's unfair that they got Brandon Gibson.

I like it. If Rak pans out he could be a stud on that DL. Barnes was a great pick. The rest might be throw-aways but the Skins may have gotten two starters.

Add Jay Cutler and it's an easy A. Iglesias, Knox, Kinder, Bennett from last year- someone's going to be good with Cutler. Plus he's got G-Reg who might score 10 touchdowns. Gilbert is weird with Harris at UT, but you can never have enough DL I guess. D.J. Moore is a good fit for that defense too.

Pettigrew and Delmas were excellent picks even though they were mild surprises to some. Obviously this all hinges on the QB. Just throw it up Calvin Johnson. D-Will makes sense: the team needs a spark anywhere- he should return kickoffs.

GB: B-
Another ho-hum. Raji should help the run defense. Don't really like Matthews too much as an impact player in the NFL but T.J. Lang was solid and Wynn could be a steal at DE. They didn't get much pass rush help IMO though.

They filled their needs and weren't afraid to make gutsy picks. Percy Harvin, football-wise, was worth a top-ten pick easily. Loadholt's also just a football player and Asher Allen was a great pick. I just don't know about that QB situation. You know- Tebow might be there at pick #23 next year. Just saying.

Plus they got Tony Gonzalez. Jerry is a beast but I'm not sure if their run defense will be much better.

I like pretty much all of the players but why take a RB in round four? I do like Goodson though, and RBs will get hurt.

You needed help in the secondary and you got some. Not brain surgery. I like it. This could be a subtle good draft that helps build a championship run.

TB: B-
I'm rooting for Stroughter. Rounds 3-5 were solid picks probably. It's all on the softspoken QB though. Who will ultimately have the last laugh? The draftniks or Raheem Morris?

Solid as usual. Two good RBs, a solid pass rusher in Brown, special teams help with the two DBs and perhaps some interior OL help. Teams are starting to play the percentages and draft multiple guys at the same position to help their chances of getting a starter. With the uncertainty of this process, it's smart.

The Rams drafts always look good to me but then they fizzle out. Scott and Foster may have been steals.

Only thing they didn't get was a pass rusher (and there weren't many around anyway). FML with Crabtree in the division and holding a grudge against Seattle. McKillop next to Willis is solid and Curtis Taylor could make the roster easily. And they got a 1st for next year. Bradford to Crabtree? FML.

Love Unger, love getting the Broncos 2010 first. Curry is a fantastic player but he's still a 4-3 OLB (not an impact position) and by getting rid of Hill the #4 selection was pretty much a lateral move. Moving up for Deon Butler (giving up a 2010 3rd) was pretty painful to see, especially with guys like Dillard, McKinley, and Gibson all falling. Hopefully Greene can be a starter but I'm not holding my breath (Boulware-ey). As for Curry, I like the kid but he's got to be a pro bowler from the getgo in order for me to buy them passing on a possible (probable) star WR and possible franchise QB for him. Hopefully I'll look back on it and be happy that I was wrong, but I think this conservative draft marks the beginning of the end for GM Tim Ruskell.

Mockery of Mock Drafts
The media has become so large, relentless and ridiculous that every year the pre-draft process gets more and more exposed. And I think this was the year the teams knew it. Despite millions of reports, every player visit counted, every pro day scrutinized (what teams, coaches, GMs were there), the bottom line on Thursday night was that we were ALL in the dark. They liked him, they would've taken him, bla bla bla. Peter King, who I assume has some decent sources, predicted the Eagles to move up and draft a DE. Sure enough - they did. But they took Brandon Graham, not Derrick Morgan. Rick Gosselin, one of the best mock drafters out there - got a faulty tip about the Redskins pick and mocked Okung to them. No one is even coming close to tipping their hand anymore. And this is just the beginning. The Redskins frantically tried to smokescreen (first about a QB, second about Berry) so that someone would move up to #4. Pioli's comments about taking a safety high were examined thoroughly. And when he had the chance to take the best LT in the draft - he took the safety that high. On day two, the Panthers wanted people to know they were targeting Colt McCoy. They took Jimmy Clausen. Gotta love it.

I hate the term reach. There's no such thing as a reach. I hope Alualu is a great player for the Jags and applaud Gene Smith for not caring about perception or media rankings. But here's what I don't understand: Unless there was a team in the top 20 considering selecting Alualu, the Jags have to trade down. Well they couldn't you say. But why? #11, #12, and #13 were ALL traded. Was being in the top ten really that scary for all the other teams (the money at #10 is not THAT much more than #11)? Or did the Jaguars not buzz up the pick the way the other teams did? You have to wonder... Here's what I think - and it's tough for me to really think a team could have been so ill-prepared on the biggest night of the year for a staff - but I think they wanted one of two players: Rolando McClain or C.J. Spiller. I think they were going to be ecstatic to land either of them at pick #10. I think they panicked. I think they were not prepared for the scenario that played out - and they did not have the presentation the teams at 11, 12 and 13 had for potential trading partners (driving up interest in the pick by saying other teams are interested, etc.). I think they looked at their board and saw a few players rated above Alualu, but took the guy at a position of great need. And to embellish on the above point - JPP was often linked to the Jags and he was clearly never seriously considered. It's sad because regardless of what happens to Alualu, if Tebow OR Clausen are successful, the Jags will remember this draft for the wrong reasons. I hope I'm wrong about what happened in that war room for the sake of the Jaguars franchise.

4-2-5 and 3-3-5
People often talk about getting starters in the first and second round. During the last few years it's been proven that you need at least three RBs and you can never have enough pass rushers. This year something else became clear - you need three "starting" quality cornerbacks. The Jets were as strong as anyone on defense and came into the draft with two extremely gifted cover guys on the outside (Resus Christ and Travis Henry 2.0). They needed OL depth, DL help, a pass rusher and perhaps another S. But even with their "starting" CBs in tact, they opted for another in Kyle Wilson. Why? The Colts. And the Saints. And everyone with three WRs. So everyone. The Colts base offense is one RB, one TE who eats LBs in coverage, and three very good WRs. The Jets are now more prepared to deal with that than they were last year. Same goes for the Browns (Haden), Saints (Robinson), Patriots (McCourty), and Vikings (Cook) - all teams who seemlingly had greater "needs" than CB. Think about the final four from last year: Wayne, Garcon, Gonzalez, Collie, Clark/Colston, Meachem, Henderson, Moore, Shockey/Rice, Berrian, Harvin, Shiancoe/Edwards, Cotchery, Holmes, Keller.

Best Moment of the Draft
The old dude walked up to the podium to announce Mr. Irrelevant. He was greeted by a chorus of boos coming from an audience comprised of probably no more than 60 fans. Of them, I would guess that 10% were fully committed to making this old man struggle as much as they possibly could. Finally, he got over the boos and announced Tim Toone to the Lions, which prompted the fans to (correctly) chant "O-VER-RATED". Clearly, these fans knew how overrated Toone was. The poor old man then hilariously struggled to explain... ...something over the chorus of screaming (I heard "NO ONE CARES!" at least once). Finally, he finished off saying "the #1 pick will not be invited", which undoubtedly hurt Sam Bradford immensely, as the most awkward pick (Toone) and pick "speech" in the history of the NFL concluded.

On to the grades...

Nothing crazy here. They filled a huge need with Williams early and got a possible replacement for Dansby with Washington. The RT and TE spots remain a bit weak but we all know the season depends on the left arm of Matty Ballroom.

I have a hard time with the Weatherspoon pick for two reasons. 1 - OLB in a 4-3 is not an overly important position (at #19 especially). 2 - they passed on Dez Bryant, who was a PERFECT fit for them. I'm sure Spoon will be fine and the + is for Mike Johnson and Franks - two great values and potential impact contributors. I just don't know how they'll fare once Roddy is keyed on and Turner and Gonzo lose a step.

Everyone is loving this draft but I just don't see it. I always thought Kindle was one of the more overrated and one-dimensional prospects in this draft. Perhaps in that scheme his inconsistency will be masked by the good players around him. They didn't add any corners and both TEs could be contributors but neither seem like much of an upgrade over Heap. I do like Art Jones in the 6th a lot though.


People are knocking them because they didn't draft a QB. I don't care. Clearly they didn't like any QBs in this draft and they very well could be proven they were right to pass on them. Just because you need a QB doesn't mean you take a future bust to appease the fan base or the media. C.J. Spiller was the best player on their board and they took him without any hesitation because he was probably the best offensive playmaker in the draft. I am a huge Spiller fan, so obviously I love the pick and I see nothing wrong with it at all. Fred Jackson is an OK 1B RB and although they failed to trade Lynch, you just don't pass on Spiller there. Great pick. As for them ignoring the OL until Wang, I think there may be a Flozell in their future. Obviously they weren't too high on any of the mid-round OTs and took Charles Brown off their board due to injury. Troup and Carrington should help a DL transition to a 3-4. Remember, they had a pretty good pass defense last year already. I liked the players they got and wouldn't be surprised if Levi Brown gets some snaps this season OR they end up with Jake Locker next year. Either way they'll be in decent shape right?

Clearly teams were turned off of Clausen. I just don't see how a talent like that can fall that far. With their running backs, he may look more NFL ready than he actually is this year. I hate LaFell and think they'll be looking for a #2 WR again next year, but love Edwards (not the price, but the player), and Hardy/Norwood both have the tools to contribute.

Ho-hum draft. They obviously needed to help out the secondary. Don't see much in terms of improvement or long-term studs but the key to this draft is Cutler obviously.

For the second straight year I absolutely loved the Bengals draft. Gresham vs. Bryant is an argument, but for the short-term it definitely makes more sense to add the TE. Palmer will love him right away. Shipley could be the #2 of the future or an upgrade over Caldwell as the slot and Briscoe and Atkins were steals. Dunlap clearly has potential and Ghee may end up as a starting safety sometime in the future for the Bengals. Great value at every spot.

Awkward draft. Asante was a good pick and Ward, although a good football player no doubt, may be best suited as a special teamer. It hinges on McCoy, whose NFL potential may best be projected by how far he fell. Even the guy who believed in him passed on him three times. Ouch.

Dez Bryant was an absolute steal and should be a playmaker from day one in Dallas. He's not Randy Moss by any stretch but could still develop into a #1 WR in the mold of Eric Moulds. AOA could be the free safety as early as this year and Sean Lee was a bit underrated. They are the Niners of this draft even though Crabtree is better.

Only reason it's not an F is because of I love Decker Cox, and the OL guys. They lost Cutler and Brandon Marshall and now replace them with D. Thomas (who apparently reminds McD of... Marshall... wtf?) and Tebow. There is no reason to take Thomas over Dez and he won't be a #1 WR anytime soon because he's too green in the route-running department. I'm wary of WRs who simply don't catch the ball that much but I do recognize his immense potential. Tebow looked terrible in the Senior Bowl (as a pure QB AND athletically - wasn't fast or fluid) and is now changing his throwing motion. I don't see how you can take him over Clausen but Josh McD did it anyway.

They got Tim Toone.

GB: C+
Getting Bulaga that late was a good move and Starks looks like a steal. Burnett was also a guy I felt fell a little too far. I just don't know about adding 0 CBs with the age they have there and Mike Neal was probably not a good pick that high.

I love Kareem Jackson and think he'll be a starting CB for them on day one. Nothing else stands out and I'm not sure Ben Tate isn't the same type of player as someone you can find in the 5th.

Jerry Hughes was one of the beastliest (making up a word) players in the draft. Getting him at 31 was a huge steal and I believe a direct result of the Jets being unable to pass on Kyle Wilson. Angerer could be the heir apparent to Brackett and Kevin Thomas is another nice DB who could look great with that defense. They don't need to draft a million crazy players to make an impact and Hughes will be heard from early and often this season.

It's hard to argue with a guy who got four probable starters last year but I think Gene Smith struck out this year. Only time will tell but there could be a LOT of players Jaguars fans may be saying "we could have had" down the road.

I hate when teams make bad picks because of "needs". The Chiefs looked at the board and made great picks at each spot. Jamal Charles was great last year, but who knows if that can last and Thomas Jones is on his last legs. McCluster can play wildcat QB, slot WR, returner, or RB so he'll find the field and help out Matt Cassel. Arenas was a weird choice but I always thought a bit underrated as a pure CB. Small doesn't mean anything. Asamoah was a steal and how about this nugget: The Chiefs took 5 team captains in their first 5 picks. I thought Pioli did terrible last year but I'm loving this class.

Apparently Randy Starks is moving to NT which makes the Odrick pick make more sense. Still, they are incredibly weak at free safety and I'm not sure Reshad Jones would be the best guy to play centerfield. I do like Jerry and this draft is easily an A when you consider they added a top-5 talent at WR for two 2nds.

I'm not a huge Gerhart guy and I don't know how that helps them in the third-down short passing game replacing Chester Taylor. Cook also seemed like an overrated guy based on his rise after a good senior bowl despite not doing much in real games. I like Griffen's potential to be a huge steal but I don't think Webb is anywhere near the prospect Edwards is for Carolina. They could still be a very good team again but I wasn't feeling this group of guys.

NE: B-
Well they have two firsts and two seconds for next year so that was a great job. I knew they were going to target Gronkowski and if he stays healthy he will be a top five TE in the NFL by his second year. McCourty gives them special teams help, where games can be won and lost but I just don't see this as a draft for a team that needed to rebuild a bit. This looks like a draft for one of the old Patriot teams needing only depth. I love Spikes, Hernandez, and would never mess with the Zoltan, but I just don't think their pass rush or DL is good enough to warrant spending all these picks on TEs and special teamers.

The Champs strictly went with the highest player on their board at every spot. Can't fault them for that. Sure they could use some athleticism at LB and DE, but this team is already stacked. Looks like Jenkins will move to FS.

I didn't hate it. From what I'm hearing, JPP has work ethic and motor, and when you combine that with some time to learn on the bench and great coaching/mentors + his insane physical prowess, I predict big things for everyone's favorite bust. Again, Reese stayed true to his board and didn't reach for a Spoon who may have been a liability against the run at Mike - the last thing the Giants needed. The pick I don't get is Chad Jones. They got Deon Grant and Antrel Rolle and Kenny Phillips comes back from injury. Perhaps he was just too good an athlete to pass up.

Solid B for them. Wilson was a great pick, Ducasse could start right away and the two RB/FB are impact/starter-quality players. After last year's coup and what they did via trades, this draft was just icing on the cake.

We make fun of Al Davis but he's probably swung and missed as much as any other GM (Russell, Huff, DHB come to mind). The fact is, this guy did draft guys like Nnamdi and Zach Miller. And this year I think we saw good Al. McClain will be a pro bowler in no time, Lamarr Houston fell too much, one of the OTs will be good, McFadden has potential to contribute, and Ford is a sneaky good pick because he was underrated as a receiver and immediately brings insane speed to the return game.

I don't really understand how they physically made 13 picks (no way 13 players are making that roster) but I like most of the guys. They didn't get an elite talent for the secondary but I was always a huge proponent of Nate Allen and think he'll start right away. And you can't argue with Brandon Graham. Also, Lindley will be a 3rd or 4th CB soon and one of those LBs will crack the starting lineup at some point next year.

"She said no! She said no!" I like the move for McFadden even though I don't see the secondary improving much this season. Clearly the line got better. I guess Sylvester will move inside because I don't understand the need for three OLBs. Dwyer fell very, very far but I wonder why and I think it's possible Antonio Brown ends up better than Emmanuel Sanders.

SD: C+
They got literally no offensive lineman which was a head-scratcher but effectively replaced LT and filled three other spots at ILB, S, and NT with good prospects. Still, Rivers could use another weapon in the passing game and you have to wonder if Matthews will excel considering how bad the interior line was last year at run blocking. RB is also the easiest position to find, but I guess with such a good team you can afford to lose a second.

SF: B-
Clearly they helped the offensive line but you've got to wonder if this was the year they could have found the QB of the future. Regardless, with Gore, Crab, an VD, Smith has everything he needs (including an easy division) to get this team to the playoffs. Mays probably won't ever be a great safety but I like Bowman a lot and Dixon should be an upgrade over Coffee.

They didn't add much in terms of LBs or DL (maybe Davis is a gem) but they got good value with Saffold, Murphy, and Gilyard. Bradford will be a star. Size and accuracy are two things you can't teach and the latter is the #1 trait a pro QB needs (see Aaron Rodgers). It's an A because of the addition of a franchise QB (most important position in the game) but the "-" because their defense wasn't helped that much, they don't have any Gresham-like weapons with size for SB, and they still don't have a decent backup/future heir for S-Jax.

TB: B+
Every year the Bucs select Florida State LBs. The Price pick was a head-scratcher at first but he'll play NT so the best case scenario is that he'll start next to McCoy. They are bound to hit with at least one of the WRs and Lewis is a good DB with size and potential who fits the scheme.

Every pick was good value and Morgan should have never fallen that far. He'll be a starter right away and I wouldn't be surprised to see Curran, Verner, and Johnson make an impact this season either. Britt-Williams could be the WR duo for VY for years to come as well.

I think they could be good this year. However, they screwed this up. Okung is the better player - he just isn't as fast. Otherwise they added a reserve linebacker, a FB prospect and practice squad candidates. I think McNabb could lead them to the playoffs but I did not like this draft at all.

The Golden Tate Warriors AKA SEA: A
This is not me being a homer. I gave them a C+ last year and knocked most of their picks (only reason it was a + was because of the trade for a 2010 first). This year, however, they did everything right. No need to go too far in depth because everyone in the media is already gushing about the class but quickly they got the best tackle in the draft, a ballhawking free safety (I do acknowledge he has bust risk), and Steve Smith-lite in the first two rounds. My personal favorite move was the trade of basically nothing for Leon Washington, who Jets fans know is an extremely underrated football player. IF he comes back from the leg injury as the same player (big if) he will immediately improve the Seahawks offense and special teams. Dexter Davis was undervalued as a productive, athletic pass rusher, and of course they also added Konzie. Ayyyyyyyy.
2011 NFL Draft Wrap-Up

Have We Finally Caught Up?
I've been studying the draft in depth since 2003, and this was the first year where nothing was really shocking. Usually there are about ten times during the first few rounds where my jaw drops. This year, the Falcons moved up when after being rumored to for weeks and two teams took QBs higher than most thought in the top 12. A former top-10 consideration fell to the middle of the second, but we all knew that was going to happen. There was only one shocking pick in terms of perceived value in the first two rounds which was Jonas Mouton. In fact, my pre-draft take on the value of players was ridiculously accurate. Nothing surprised me. There were also no Ernest Shazors or Brandon Browners. No one fell way farther than I expected. It was odd that everything sort of fell into place. My mock drafts weren't great but I usually missed a guy's actual draft slot by five picks at most in the first two rounds. It kind of took some of the fun out of it I guess. A lot of the blame can be attributed to a progressively sharper, more informed, constant mass media.

This Draft Was Weak

Make no mistake. I'll get to the QBs later and I know stats aren't everything but just check the college stats of the QBs in this class and compare them to some of the other classes. This draft featured a center at 15th overall and an extreme lack of quality TEs, ILBs, and safeties. I checked the players left in the middle of the third round and I felt like I usually do when I'm looking at players available in the middle of the fifth - a couple of nice running-backs, some guys with one glaring flaw worth taking a risk on, and just overall longshots. It was bad.

The QBs
Here are my predictions in terms of NFL success:
1) Cam Newton - Monster.
2) Ryan Mallett - Tom Brady's successor or the next Matt Cassel. Yes, the latter would be good enough to be second on this list.
3) Colin Kaepernick - Explain to me how Locker is a superior prospect worthy of such a higher pick? Great situation for CK as well.
4) Blaine Gabbert - He might be decent. I hate fence-sitters too. This is a prediction of a quasi-bust after a semi-long career with some ups, downs, and golden (tate) locks.
5) Ricky Stanzi - He'll start 8+ games at least once during his first five years. For what reason, what team, and how effectively - I don't know.
6) Jake Locker - High character bust.
7) Christian Ponder - I hope I'm wrong because Harvin/AD need to be fed.
8) Andy Dalton - He's a homeless man's Alex Smith. There's a certain level of arm strength that's a prerequisite to playing QB in the NFL. Dalton proved at the Senior Bowl he doesn't have it and is in a bad situation. He's also never dealt with adversity which can be spun as a negative if you're predicting a bust.
Time will tell on all of these guys but I'd be shocked if their were more than three starters/two franchise guys from this class after three years.

Before the grades...

New term: "internet value" or "good internet pick"
The draftniks who don't watch much college football but follow the draft process closely have certain lists and rankings that don't differ much from each other. Every year, certain teams like the Cardinals take a bunch of "internet picks" (for example, guys who are ranked as Mel's Best Available). Generally speaking, the "internet" favors the skill positions, sexy players, players with a lot of accolades, workout warriors, and players the media chooses to focus on more for whatever reason.

My grades DO NOT take into account "internet value." What I mean by that is I won't give a team a better grade because they got a guy the "internet" deemed as a 2nd round pick in the 5th round. I'm grading based on what I've seen and what I predict.

As it pertains to QBs, my grades are based on projections - NOT "value". To me, there is no such thing as value with a QB. If Christian Ponder wasn't worth the 12th pick, he wasn't worth the 30th pick either. I would give them a D even if they executed the trade down a bunch of critics say would have magically made that pick better.

With that said...

I wouldn't be surprised if Patrick Peterson is moved to safety in the next few years but it's tough to argue with the pick - he was one of the best college athletes I've ever watched. Acho could work out and Sturdivant was great value. The story of this draft class is Ryan Williams. Which player will show up - the 2009 monster or the 2010 version? The way they selected him kind of reminded me of Tennessee's CJ2K pick a few years ago. Like TEN then, they already have two RBs but felt this guy was simply too good to pass up and will shine. I tend to agree. And Beanie Wells could be shipped to Philly in a deal for Kevin Kolb. Stay tuned.

Here's what I said after the first round: "If the Falcons draft Quizz, their games will be classified as pornography and will not be televised on cable." Well they actually took Quizz and their offense right now is scary. I LOVE the move up to get Jones and don't care about what they gave up. The fact is, #27 would have given them a chance at risky defensive lineman. Instead the chance Jones is a beast is at about 80%. Next year's first will likely be from 20ish-32 and if you're complaining about 4th round picks (which fail well over 50% of the time), then you simply value ALL draft picks too much. Keeping those picks may have only incrementally helped the defense and there's a chance they wouldn't have at all. With Jones, the team KNOWS it has the potential to put up 40 points a game. Plus they were the #1 seed last year and ran into a legendary Aaron Rodgers in a scenario where they would have still been shredded if they had Kerrigan, Quinn, Fairley, Dareus, and the 2012 4th-round special teamer everyone is so proud of the Browns for acquiring. And Quizz is going to jizz on the league as a change of pace back. He's Darren Sproles at worst with a ceiling of a middle-class man's Ray Rice.

When Aqib Talib 2.0 gets arrested, I'll look like a jackass but I echo the media's perception of this pick: perfect fit with Ray Ray and Reed keeping him in line in that locker room. I don't like Torrey Smith (dislike receivers who have talent/athleticism/combine #s but streaky/shaky production) and predict Tandon Doss will be the better pro. Their defensive line and pass rush is still questionable but McPhee was good value. Tyrod Taylor could be Seneca Wallace which I guess is a good thing.

Usually teams don't go four straight picks on one side of the ball but the Bills needed to improve the defense and did. Dareus will beast from the get-go. Nothing else really stands out but they got some good special teams like White and focused on defense to go with an offense capable of putting up some points. Like it.

Considering that Armanti Edwards was essentially selected at #33, this grade is pretty generous. Nevertheless, I'm sold on Newton. We all know why and I predict he booms. He's not emotionally a 2-year-old like Vince Young and he has a better arm. And Young was pretty good in the league. And Newton's smarter. He looked so much better speaking at his press conference than he did during all the pre-draft stuff. Stress may have been causing him to speak like an idiot so much before the draft. Now he looks like "time to ball" which is just scary.

And another thing about the Panthers QB situation: Clausen apparently was the first player in the building this morning and also texted Newton to congratulate him. I know it's easy to write him off due to his terrible performance as a rookie and the shiny new toy but Clausen improving into a good player is NOT out of the question. He was a fine QB at ND and rookie QBs struggle all the time - even guys who turn out to be great. I wouldn't write him off just yet and I was impressed when I heard of his last two acts. We were spoiled by the recent success of Sanchez, Ben, Flacco, Ryan, etc. I would not be surprised if Clausen turned this into a San Diego 2005 situation which would obviously be a good thing.

They also got stronger at DT with two fine prospects. One of them will help out a defense that was constantly fatigued with so many three-and-outs. If Clausen does bomb out and he plays next year, Newton's going to be a huge favorite of his defensive teammates as soon as he runs for a first on 3rd and 8 and gives them a break for once.

Everything broke right for the Bears. They tried to trade up, couldn't, and still got their guy. And apparently if Carimi was gone they were going with Paea in the first. I like both players and they both fit positions of need. If he can stay healthy, he could be a great player down the road in that defense. The "-" is for missing out on some tall WR projects that could help Cutler in the red zone for Conte - another mediocre Bears DB who will look score two TDs one week and give up three the next.

Green was a fine collegiate and he'll probably prove me wrong here but I'm going to predict Julio Jones has a much better career. Something scares me about the slight frame. As for Dalton, I just don't think he has the arm to be successful in the NFL. I like most of their other picks, especially Boling and Lindsey, and feel Moch is a great option at starting SLB, if not next year then two years from now.

The ATL trade was good for both teams given their extremely different situations. As much as I don't like passing on Julio Jones, a case can be made that they got almost as good a player with Greg Little, while adding much-needed DL help. Building through the draft is usually the right way to go, and they may have hit on both Taylor and Sheard (who is so gangsta that he beat someone up in a ******* art gallery). Pinkston was a good pick as well. I like what they did, and next year they'll either know Colt McCoy is their franchise or have an extra first as ammunition to move up for a future QB. Holmgren's excellent when he's either JUST coaching or JUST focusing in personnel.

I'm not big on Murray but if he busts no one will notice. I love the Bruce Carter pick and wouldn't be surprised if he makes a bunch of splash plays as a rookie. Dwayne Harris could be a better version of Patrick Crayton.

Von Miller is good, but I am against drafting 4-3 OLBs in the top ten. Their DL still sucks and they should've taken Fairley (or Dareus, Fairley's ranked just a tiny bit higher). I understand what they are thinking and it theoretically makes sense (Miller playing OLB on first and second and then DE on third) but that type of responsibility to make a huge impact by himself learning two different positions is usually a recipe for not meeting expectations (see: Aaron Curry). I like Moore and Irving and one of those TEs will be a contributor so they get a +. A few DL acquisitions in FA are in order though.

Everyone's favorite internet draft. I LOVED the Fairley pick because it builds a strength and could potentially revolutionize the way teams go about rushing the passer. Him falling to 13 was ridiculous. Titus Young is a pick everyone loved but I'm not feeling it. The DJax comparisons were way, way off, and I wouldn't be surprised if he busts. LeShoure was a good internet value but he's not the toughest runner and won't see as much open space. He could McFadden us (toughen up out of no where in his third year), but I think Best is better this season. I'm still high on this team going forward but I'm not as wild over their 2nd and 3rd round selections as everyone else. OL and DE could have been addressed there instead.

Packers: A
Unfair. The scary thing about this team is that besides this great draft, they'll be getting back a bunch of quality reinforcements because apparently they had iNjUrEEz. Cobb should have never fallen that much - he's a poor man's Harvin - and every single other pick was great value. Random prediction: House takes one to the house as a rookie.

Texans: B+
This draft will help them finally make the playoffs. I'm not huge on Reed but Watt will be awesome from day one. Carmichael will at the very least be a quality contributor on specials.

Colts: B+
Pretty obvious draft for the C-Men. I love the idea of going OL-heavy given the weak overall class. Chris Rucker will start for them one day. Nevis, however, won't because everyone knows Indy is the place where good college DTs go to die.

Jaguars: C
I'm not high on Gabbert but I hope he proves everyone wrong. The last time the internet draftniks were so against a QB it was Josh Freeman. This team didn't address its anemic pass rush and overall ****** defense but it was worth it (to them) because they think they got their QB. My love for Cecil Shorts has been well-documented but even I was surprised he went in the fourth round. Man, this draft class sucks.

Chiefs: B
They were able to fill all their needs which is usually a recipe for disaster but I can't knock any of the specific players. I'm usually wary of WRs who's best trait is being tall but what Baldwin lacks in ideal quickness and suddenness he more than makes up for in hands, vertical, and straight-line speed. He'll start week one and score a bunch of TDs as a rookie. Hudson and Houston both have bust risk - Houston specifically had "Arizona Cardinals draft day bargain that sucks" - Elton Brownish - written all over him. I like Ricky Stanzi - he'll be the backup over Croyle and could end up starting some games within the next few years for whatever reason. Powe in the sixth is absolutely worth it. He should have gone higher.

I'm not a big Pouncey guy (his brother is actually a bit overrated and Mike is inferior to Maurkice - tells you all you need to know about this class that Mike went higher), and they are relying an awful lot on Edmund Gates. Ronnie Brown was pitiful last year so Daniel Thomas might be a fantasy player as a rookie, but the only reason I think their offense will improve is because it has pretty much no where to go but up. Henne may be a decent post-hype sleeper if for no other reason than the ebb and flow of sports.

First, the good: Rudolph, Ballard, and Burton all have the potential to start and make a positive impact at some point, even as early as next year. The bad: Demarcus Love. Maybe if he's moved inside he can be OK but I wouldn't recommend lining him up against Fairley or Suh - he's too stiff and slow to pass protect which would mean trouble for The Ugly: Ponder. Not Ponder at 12 (I don't care WHERE they took him. They liked him as their QBotF so taking him ANYWHERE is the right pick - in their minds). Ponder anywhere (anyone who bashes the pick because they took him at 12 but would have supported the pick at, say, 30, is just plain wrong). It's fascinating to me that a guy could have such an inconsistent and borderline poor college career and go so high in the draft. If you've ever seen him play an actual game (not throw with shorts on), you know what I'm talking about. He *could* parlay his smarts, intangibles, and adequate skillset into a nice career but when your CEILING is Pop-gun Pennington, that's not a promising outlook. It's sad because AD and Harvin are two of the best football players in the world. Mallett would have been a much better pick. If they get McNabb, however, no one's going to care about passing on Fairley because they'll go to the NFCCG again.

NE: B+
They could have tried to address the pass rush just because they had enough picks to do so but I'm a huge proponent of staying true to your board and drafting the best football players available and I think they did that. Dowling will be a pro bowler down the road. Both of the RBs will make a huge impact next season. I don't necessarily love them, but that offensive situation will make it easy for those two youngsters to succeed. Ridley might score 12 touchdowns as a rookie. Cannon in the fifth is worth it and Mallett was my second rated QB. They'll either flip him for AT LEAST a 3rd (in a better draft class), watch him bust slowly (least likely, and it cost just a third), or he'll provide value as a back-up and MAYBE stick around past Brady. Regardless, they stayed true to their board and now have a guy who can sling it with anyone in a winning culture.

NO: B-
Johnny Patrick was a steal (one of the top corner men in the draft but teams definitely didn't like his size), and you can never have enough DBs. Cam Jordan was easy and with Wilson they finally got more athletic at LB. As for the Ingram trade, I like the kid as a player but I just can't support the move. Clearly, they don't trust Chris Ivory to stay healthy, which is a shame. Ingram could potentially go to many pro bowls with that offense but RB is just not important enough to use a high pick on. CJ2K and AD can run like monsters all year but in the end it's 3rd and 7s that make or break your season. And Ingram's not on the level of those guys either.

This organization is so well-run that it makes everyone involved with the team forget that they are led by an awkward 13-year-old. Steal, steal, steal, steal, all the way down to Greg Jones. Get out of my head Jerry Reese!

From a purely physical standpoint, the two DL additions could be scary. Powell fits in as the future of ground-and-pound and Kirley is a potential replacement for Brad Smith. Good.

A bunch of underachievers and speed guys. I should copy and paste this reaction every other year. Tawain Jones was their best pick and they are already strong at KR and RB. TRADE BAIT! Pats are calling.

Jarrett and Watkins were both severely underrated and contrary to the internet - solid picks at their respective draft slots. Casey Matthews, on the other hand, is not an NFL player. But I also predicted Clay Matthews would bust.

I usually like what they do every year but I think Gilbert is a good sixth man at best, Heyward will bust (too much hype after ONE game - he wasn't THAT dominant all year), and was surprised with another Texas DB selection. The secondary will continue to be an issue. I don't get how Christopher Carter fell so far but with the Steelers OLB farm system, they'll likely redshirt him or feature him on specials for his first two seasons.

This team provided the ONLY shock in the first two rounds with Jonas Mouton. Their special teams will improve, if not because of some of these rookies and the new coach then because it's impossible that it gets any worse. Liuget is legit (I knew he was considered as a 5), and they got at least one quality DB with Gilchrist/Wright. It won't be because of this draft, but I expect a deep playoff run next season. **** it, they'll win the Super Bowl.

SF: B+
Kaepernick + Harbaugh scares me as a Seahawks fan. He's a superior prospect to Locker as far as I'm concerned and he's walking into a fantastic situation. And Aldon Smith could end up as one of those rare top ten steals - he'll be better than Von Miller. I fear they'll finally get the NFC Best crown next year after failing to live up to the hype the past few years. No one will pick them, but they'll win 9 or 10 games. With what QB, you ask? It's the NFC West... Ugh.

I love the Quinn pick and I know some people are bashing Kendricks in the second but he'll be an extremely useful player with star potential (Pettigrew-like in terms of the perception of the pick, and like him, it'll work out). I just don't like the two WRs they took - they already have a bunch of mediocre, smallish, quickish, nothing-really-stands-out-about-them or maybe-they-are-above-average-in-one-area-and-below-average-in-every-thing-else receivers and they could've taken Quizz or T. Jones.

One of my favorite drafts. Forget Bowers - it's not even worth watching his film because he may never be that player again. If he's half the pro he could have been, it'll be worth it. Clayborn is a pro DE with some Will Smith in him, Mason Foster's a baller, Gaitor makes plays, and Ahamd Black and Stocker will both contribute down the road. Awesome job but they'll regress next year simply because 26-5 isn't happening again for Freesus (they don't play the NFC West again. Think about it - that's why ATL and NO both had awesome records too).

Only reason it's not an F is because I think Ayers and Casey will be solid pros. Locker was not a first or second-round prospect. We'll see if he magically becomes accurate inside the pocket (in other words, playing QB) and proves me wrong. A three-year starter who failed to improve is a huge red flag for me. But he's got high character. Great - he'll hustle after DBs after he's picked off.

I liked the fact they didn't go crazy for a QB but I'm just not impressed with any of the players they got. Kerrigan's overrated, Hankerson is the type of player that will suck in Washington, and their best picks came at two relatively unimportant positions (NT, RB). I understand saying they needed to make up for the lack of picks in the past but that won't matter when only two of these guys are still on the roster in three years. And Evan Royster should not have been drafted - he's not athletically an NFL-caliber runner.

I can't fault a team for aiming to improve the OL. I think I prefer Jimmy Smith but I trust the decision to go with Carpenter over Carimi. They clearly wanted to deal down and were unable to, but Carpetner was obviously who they wanted to play RT all along. Whatever - a missed opportunity on a fourth isn't going to hurt me much, although it is concerning that the FO couldn't get it done. Moffit's OK, K.J. Wright plays the position I least wanted drafted (I think? our defense is kinda weird schematically and he MIGHT be a tweener) but is a good player, and I like taking a chance on guys with the athleticism to develop into quality DBs (or contribute on specials). Kris Durham goes against my philosophy - never take a WR with limited production in college. I recognize his upside but if you can't get on the field and make catches in college, why will you when the defenders get even better? And in the fourth? Weird, weird pick. Hopefully we got two OL starters for the future and I disagree with the consensus bashing of Carpenter's value, but overall it's tough to get excited about this group. Let's see what Clipboard Jesus has and if he's as bad as EVERYONE is predicting him to be (even though he's started TWO games in his career), we may actually be in LUCK for 2012.

********Thanks for reading just your team's blurb!**********
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