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1st Round Cupid - 2011 NFL Draft Analysis

by Jared Belson on Apr. 28, 2011

Now that the first round is over, proving once again that anything can happen in any given draft, it's time to analyze what the teams have provided for us. As always, there were some moves I loved, and some moves I didn't.

Loved:

Detroit drafting Nick Fairley

-Detroit officially becomes this next decade's Minnesota Vikings. With Pat Williams no longer under contract, the Detroit Lions now have the best defensive tackle duo in the league. By taking Nick Fairley and going against what some felt were their primary needs, they subsequently got the two most dominant defensive tackles in college football in the past two drafts. In pairing Fairley up with Ndamukong Suh, Detroit should now have one of the best pass rushing and run stopping defenses in the NFL. Whether they draft another defensive end, or leave it up to Cliff Avril, Kyle Vanden Bosch, and Corey Williams, whomever plays outside of that duo should have no problem getting double digit sacks next year.

Jacksonville trading up for Blaine Gabbert:

-As much as I do not think incredibly highly of Blaine Gabbert as an NFL quarterback, there is no denying his potential, and when he fell in the draft, Jacksonville realized they had the opportunity to bring in their quarterback of the future. Out of every team in the draft, Jacksonville might actually be the best fit for him, especially since they get to sit him a year and learn under David Garrard.

New Orleans drafting Cameron Jordan and trading for Mark Ingram:

-If you told New Orleans before the draft that you could guarantee them a starting a defensive end and potentially the best running back in the draft for all their picks, they would probably do it. They achieved that only trading away 2 picks. In having having a guy they loved slide to them, and trading their 1st round pick next year and their 2nd rounder this year, they were able to draft Cameron Jordan and Mark Ingram and immediately fill two huge needs. I never usually advocate trading away more picks than you are receiving, but the idea of a draft is to fill your holes with the best possible players, and they pretty much did that in just one round.

Honorable Mention:

St. Louis drafting of Robert Quinn: Huge ceiling, filled a big need, great value

Indianapolis drafting of Anthony Costanzo: Perfect fit to help Peyton extend his career

Baltimore drafting of Jimmy Smith: They took a chance on Ray Lewis and Ed Reed and it worked out well


Didn't Love:

Atlanta trading away the farm for Julio Jones:

-Did Atlanta not already have one of the best passing offenses in the league last year, with one of the best wide receivers in the NFL? Michael Jenkins and Harry Douglas may not be Reggie Wayne type #2s, but they aren't that bad either. Is trading away 5 picks for 1 wide receiver really going to make them a championship contender or would making sure they can resign and solidify their offensive and defensive lines have pushed them more towards that goal? It's tough to argue with a team that was one of the best in their conference last year. Clearly the thinking is that they could be just as good next year with the same team, so it shouldn't matter who they add, but this is the NFL. In the NFL, if you are not getting better at every position, you are getting worse, and that's what makes the draft so important each year.

Seattle drafting James Carpenter:

-I almost feel bad for Seattle because everyone is probably ripping on them right now. I happen to be a big fan of James Carpenter and always thought he was being underrated in this draft. Unfortunately, I can't think that way anymore. I understand the logic with the pick, and think it was a great move either to solidify the right side of the line or use him at guard next to Russell Okung. I just didn't think it was a good move in the first round. Did they really think they could not get him in the 2nd round? Even if they didn't, is he substantially better than some of the other players that might have been available such as Benjamin Ijalana, Jah Reid, Rodney Hudson? Unfortunately again, it's tough to argue with playoff teams, since they have a little more flexibility and less holes to fill. The draft isn't just about taking a player they like though, but how to operate on behalf of your team in the most efficient way possible.

Cleveland trading back up for Phil Taylor:

-Cleveland was on a roll with their first trade. As much as they needed Julio Jones, they put themselves in a position to truly build their team over the next 2 years with a surplus of picks. Then they got bored and decided to throw away a 3rd rounder in order to move up and draft a player in Taylor similar to one that they just kicked to the curb in Shaun Rogers. Phil Taylor will be a good player when he wants to be, but considering they didn't need a pure nose, I don't think waiting to see if he made it to them or having to draft Muhammed Wilkerson or even Marvin Austin would have been the worst idea.

Honorable Mention

Minnesota drafting Christian Ponder: Desperation move in a weak QB draft.

Washington drafting Ryan Kerrigan: Will be a great player, just might not be a great fit for this defense

Miami drafting Mike Pouncey: Still needs some work before he's their starting center