So I know this article is pretty late (1 day in draft time is the equivalent of 6 weeks during the normal parts of the year), but I thought I would comment on the happenings of the first round of the 2011 NFL Draft.
Best Pick- New York Jets- Muhammad Wilkerson, DT, Temple
The Jets definitely got the greatest value for their pick in the first round. Wilkerson is a strong, penetrating DT who is going to wreak havoc on defenses from either the NT or 3-4 DE position (and yes, he’s athletic enough to play both). They got the best (or 2nd best) player at the position they wanted by being patient and letting the board work or them.
Worst Pick- Minnesota Vikings- Christian Ponder, QB, Florida State
This likely would have been Oakland if they had a first round pick, but alas they made it more difficult for me. This is not a horrible pick. Minnesota needed a QB to at least begin to learn the system, if not compete for the position this year. The problem is that this was a definite reach. Considering Andy Dalton and Colin Kaepernick made it to the front half of the 2nd round, I think the Vikings would have been better off trading down and picking up some more draft picks or picking someone else in the 1st and trading up a few spots in the second. With QBs it feels more justified, but in the end we will see if this gamble pays off for the Vikings.
Most Puzzling Move- Atlanta Falcons trade with Cleveland Browns
In order to get the #6 overall pick, the Falcons gave the Browns their 1st, 2nd, and 4th round picks this year and their 2012 1st and 4th round picks. They gave all this so that they could acquire WR Julio Jones. Unless Julio Jones turns out to be a pro-bowler, this pick is then guaranteed to be a bust. They gave away a ton of good picks to draft Jones, who is fast, smart, and strong, but also tends to drop the ball and is injury-prone. I thought Jones was good enough to be a top-10 pick, but Atlanta must really love this kid if they’re willing to give that much away. Falcons GM Thomas Dimitroff better hope that this trade works out.
2nd Most Puzzling Move- Jacksonville Jaguars trade up, take Blaine Gabbert
This must have upset the Vikings draft room, who were so close to getting a guy who many had ranked as the top QB in the draft. Instead they got beaten to the punch by…the Jaguars? I know David Garrard is not great, but he’s been alright, especially considering the lack of decent WRs around him (other than the oft-injured Sims-Walker, can you really name the rest of the Jaguars receiving corps?). The Jaguars also had a defense that was 28th in YPG last season. Trading up to get Blaine Gabber lost them draft picks AND causes an instant QB controversy. I guess the Jaguars saw Gabbert as an elite QB, but Gabbert still has his issues. I just can’t see the reason to trade up and take a QB in the first round that is not rock-solid when you have other, much more-pressing needs.
The ‘WTF’ Moment of the 1st Round
Well Chicago Bears, thank you for embarrassing Ozzie Newsome. The Ravens had a deal with the Bears for them to move up in exchange for their 1st and 4th round picks, but the Bears never called it in, even while Ozzie was on the phone with the league, and the Ravens time ran out, letting the Chiefs run up with their card to pick before. The Bears have apologized, but the Ravens will not get the 4th round pick in compensation. Luckily both teams still got who they wanted, but this could have been a disastrous moment for one of these teams if the Chiefs had picked Jimmy Smith or Gabe Carimi.