Friday, April 29, 2011

2011 NFL Draft: Round 1 Thoughts

When the NFL changed its draft format to the current one, they ruined a pretty good thing.  Fans used to get together for a draft party with friends and family on the 1st day of the draft.  Good food on the grill, chips and dips and plenty of refreshing adult beverages.  In addition to losing the draft day event, the NFL is losing an entire generation of fans when it comes to the draft.  Most kids are in bed by 8 or 9 and they never get to see the 1st round of the draft, this will have a negative impact in a few years and ratings will drop.  They should return to the old format and recreate the all day event of the past.  That being said, last nights first round was somewhat exciting with a few trades and a few surprise picks; below are some thoughts.

Of the first 6 picks, 5 were players from the SEC; Cam Newton, Marcel Dareus, AJ Green, Patrick Peterson and Julio Jones.  Out of all 32 picks, 10 were from the SEC, 8 Big 12, 6 Big 10, 3 PAC 10, 3 ACC, 1 Big East and 1 Mid America. 

The year of the quarterback turned into the year of the defensive lineman.  8 defensive ends and 4 defensive tackles were selected, totaling 12 defensive linemen in round 1.  The other positions breakdown as: 8 offensive linemen, 4 quarterbacks, 3 corner backs, 3 wide receivers, 1 line backer and 1 running back.   

The Browns took Phil Taylor with the 21st pick.  He was a former Nittany Lion at Penn State before transferring to Baylor after his sophomore season.  Taylor was involved in a fight at Penn State where he was charged with simple assault, disorderly conduct and harassment.  In February of 2008 he was suspend from the team and he transferred to Baylor where he was given a second chance.  I would say he made the most of it.

The fact that Jake Locker went number 8 to Tennessee and Christian Ponder soon followed at number 12 to Minnesota just shows how badly they Eagles have been affected by the NFL lockout.  They easily could have traded Kolb last night with extremely high value; his value was never as high and will never be as high as it would have been if it were business as usual.  They still may make a deal, but unless they get lucky and the team they trade him to is the worst in the NFL next year; existing circumstances will have made them miss out on a golden opportunity to cash in on Kolb.   

The Eagles focused on a need and selected Danny Watkins, OL from Baylor.  He was the best guard in the draft and he should come in and start right away.  I had the Eagles selecting Watkins in the second round, where I thought he would fall due to his age; he is 26 and will turn 27 during his rookie year.  The average NFL rookie is 22, which is the age Watkins starting playing football.  He is a little older, but he isn’t a project so the Eagles should get quality production out of him right away.  Another upside is he is a former fire fighter, so if Andy Reid accidently starts a fire trying to heat up a Tasty Cake, Watkins will be able to put it out. 

In my opinion the other winners last night besides the Eagles are:  The Bengals; with one pick they replaced a star wide receiver with another.  The Falcons; Matt Ryan now has two great targets with Julio Jones joining Roddy White.  The Lions; Nick Fairly fell in their lap and they may now have the best defensive line in the NFL.  The Bears; they had cut a deal with the Ravens to move up to select OT Gabe Carimi, instead the Ravens didn’t get the deal done in time and they lost the pick and the deal.  The Bears had to stay put at 29, where Carimi fell to them anyway.  They got their guy and can now pay him a little less money.  The Saints; with the selection of Mark Ingram at #28, the Saints now have two Heisman Trophy winning running backs (one that so far got to keep his) and a great 1-2 punch in their offensive backfield. 

The Loser’s:  By selecting Christian Ponder at number 12, the Vikings may have erased Jon Harris as the worst first round pick…ever.  Ponder was a projected mid second to third round pick.  The Vikings needed a quarterback, but at #12 they could have addressed another need and selected a QB in the 2nd round. 

Final thoughts:  Where will Da’Quan Bowers be drafted?  He was once the projected 1st overall selection and has now fallen out of the 1st round all together.  A late season knee injury is the obvious concern, but I don’t expect him to stay on the board very long in round two.  Did passing on a 1st round quarterback benefit quarterback needy teams that pick early in round two?  Buffalo, Cincinnati, Arizona and Washington all pick in the top 10 of round two.  Look for Andy Dalton, Ryan Mallett, Colin Kaepernick and Ricky Stanzi to all be off the board by the end of the round. 

With the Eagles selecting the guy I thought they would take in Round two, I have now changed my 2nd round pick to the defensive side of the ball.  I think the Eagles will address the need in the defensive backfield and select Aaron Williams, CB, Texas.  But then again, it is the Eagles and they could just continue to go along the lines, we’ll find out tonight.

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