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2011 NFL Draft

National Football League
Draft King Analysis

April 28, 2011
Lou Pickney, DraftKing.com

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Running Commentary on the 2011 NFL Draft

Lou (6:45 p.m. CT): My deepest sympathies and condolences go out to all of those impacted by the tornadoes that tore through the southern United States yesterday. University of Alabama long snapper Carson Tinker suffered injuries in the tornado that hit in Tuscaloosa; it claimed the life of Tinker's girlfriend, Ashley Harrison, 22. My sister Mary Beth is also 22 and in college in the state of Alabama (at Birmingham Southern), a similarity which didn't escape me as I read the tragic story of Harrison's death. Mary Beth luckily was in a safe place in a stairwell during the worst of it and fortunately the tornadoes didn't strike near Birmingham Southern's campus.

Lou (6:59 p.m. CT): Here we go... finally, at long last, the NFL Draft is set to begin. The audience at Radio City Music Hall is hostile toward Roger Goodell, who tried his best to diffuse the discontented fans. Loud chants of "We want football!" rang out, though we won't see that until August with or without a new CBA. Unless you count Arena Football, which I don't.

Lou (7:14 p.m. CT): Looks like I should have believed the leaks out of Denver that the team was primed to draft Texas A&M OLB/DE Von Miller. No one raised his stock more after the season than Miller, who dominated in Senior Bowl week, looked great in workouts, and overall made a great impression with the Broncos. That throws off my Dareus at #2 and Miller at #3 projection, but eventually I'll learn to be less stubborn about making changes based on late-leaking information.

Lou (7:19 p.m. CT): Marcell Dareus is talking on a phone, likely meaning he will go to Buffalo at pick #3. The spoilers take the fun out of the announcements for me as a TV viewer of the draft, but alas both ESPN and the NFL Network seem to enjoy tipping picks. I would watch either network's draft coverage exclusively if one wouldn't give away the picks before they are officially announced.

Lou (7:21 p.m. CT): Funny that the Bills gave Dareus their soon-to-be-outdated 2010 home jersey to hold up for the cameras. As the great sports video game writer Pasta Padre noted, a trailer from Madden 12 gave a sneak peak to the new (and almost for sure to be better-looking) Bills uniforms for 2011. I'm a bit of a uniform snob and I've never liked the most recent incarnation of the Bills jerseys.

Lou (7:24 p.m. CT): And it's A.J. Green going to the Bengals! So much for those talks of Cincinnati taking a QB at the #4 slot.

Lou (7:28 p.m. CT): My girlfriend Stacy just shouted from the kitchen: "Dinner's ready!" Back in a minute.

Lou (7:32 p.m. CT): Surprisingly to me, Arizona took Patrick Peterson at #5 overall. Heartbreak for every 49ers fan I know, who all had hoped Peterson would fall to them at #7. The Cardinals already have the solid CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie; might they consider moving the 220 pound Peterson to a safety position? Or will they copy the Jets and go with two top-notch corners, hoping that will make passing against the Cardinals more difficult?

Lou (7:33 p.m. CT): Adam Schefter of ESPN says that a deal by Atlanta to trade up to #4 to get A.J. Green fell apart at the last minute. Hmm, so those Falcons moving up rumors were true.

Lou (7:35 p.m. CT): And the Falcons instead made it happen with WR Julio Jones, trading up with Cleveland to acquire the pick. I projected Jones going at #6 thinking the WR-needy Browns would get him, but Atlanta broke the bank to bring Jones to the ATL.

Lou (7:40 p.m. CT): I'm staying away from Twitter to avoid seeing leaked pick info for the time being. Lousy spoilers.

Lou (7:42 p.m. CT): And the first surprise of the 2011 Draft: the 49ers took Missouri DE Aldon Smith at #7. He can sack the QB, though it's unclear if he'll play DE or OLB in the 3-4 defense that San Francisco runs.

Lou (7:45 p.m. CT): NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! The Titans drafted Jake "Shit" Locker, as my brother Matt and I sometimes semi-jokingly refer to him, a reference to a crude sound clip from Hillary Scott on the Howard Stern radio show. As a Titans fan I hope I'm wrong about him, but this is not what I had in mind at all. If Vince Young is being shown the door for poor completion percentage, just wait until Shit Locker is throwing wildly all over LP Field. I hope I'm wrong on this. I really do. But this makes me ill as a Titans fan.

Lou (7:55 p.m. CT): My phone was blowing up with texts about Locker. Ugh. But then Dallas made me look good by taking USC OT Tyron Smith. Jerry Jones can't keep his trap shut, which allows info like this to leak out as it did weeks ago. Attempts to smokescreen late with talk of J.J. Watt I never bought. I'm still stunned about the Locker pick by Tennessee, but at least I hit four of the first nine and nearly six-of-nine with the Miller/Dareus flip at two and three.

Lou (7:58 p.m. CT): If the Redskins want Blaine Gabbert, he's on the board for them to take. I'd think he would be given strong consideration by the brass in DC.

Lou (8:05 p.m. CT): Stop the presses: Washington traded *down* in the draft! And it's Jacksonville moving up to land Gabbert at #10. This is why (in part) it can be so difficult to project what will happen as you move further and further from the top of the draft.

Lou (8:08 p.m. CT): Houston drafting Wisconsin DE J.J. Watt at #11 is a great fit for their 3-4, but it also shows that the Texans liked him more than filling their CB need with Prince Amukamara or Jimmy Smith.

Lou (8:17 p.m. CT): Surprise from Minnesota, which was trying to trade back but didn't get the offer they wanted: they selected Florida State QB Christian Ponder at #12. Vikings fans had better hope Ponder is able to adjust quickly to the NFL game, as he may be pressured to play early in the 2011 season.

Lou (8:21 p.m. CT): At #13 Detroit adds Auburn DT Nick Fairley to go next to Ndamukong Suh. Wow. Charles Robinson of Yahoo! Sports wrote on Twitter that Fairley and Suh "would be the next Williams wall" referring to Kevin Williams and Pat Williams of the Vikings. Great fortune for the Lions to have Fairley fall to them at #13. Wow.

Lou (8:30 p.m. CT): I had to watch some of the Predators/Canucks NHL playoff game. Tough night to be a sports fan with so many games (and the NFL Draft) going on this evening. At #14 the Rams drafted North Carolina OLB/DE Robert Quinn, who wasn't able to play in 2010 thanks to his involvement in the John Blake/Gary Wichard scandal. Quinn adds a great pass rushing threat to a Rams team ready to sneak up on some people in 2011.

Lou (8:33 p.m. CT): Miami is on the clock, and ESPN keeps showing Alabama RB Mark Ingram. This was my longshot spot where I instead projected 230 pound RB Mikel LeShoure from Illinois. The late Jim Mandich, who was a radio color commentator for the Dolphins, said earlier this month (before losing his fight with cancer two days ago) that he hoped the Dolphins would draft Ingram at #15. Don't know if that will happen, but it would be a strong sentimental pick.

Lou (8:35 p.m. CT): And it's Florida G/C Mike Pouncey going to Miami at #15. Good pick for a guy who isn't necessarily the center that his twin brother Maurkice is for Pittsburgh, but he should be a good guard. As I typed that last sentence I heard Jon Gruden on ESPN disagree with me, saying he thinks Mike Pouncey will play center for Miami. Perhaps Gruden missed some of the snapping problems that the Florida Gators had in 2010.

Lou (8:42 p.m. CT): With one of the picks acquired in the trade from the #10 spot, Washington selected Purdue DE Ryan Kerrigan at #16. Looks like the Redskins may know what they're doing; I had thought they might take Robert Quinn as a 3-4 OLB at #10, but at #16 they actually make a stronger move need-wise by adding a defensive end. J.J. Watt might have been a better true 3-4 DE to take at #10, but with him off the board the Redskins opted to go elsewhere to boost their defensive front seven. Much better that than them panicking to take a QB after the run on that position early.

Lou (8:48 p.m. CT): The Patriots reached into the offensive tackle box and selected Colorado OT Nate Solder at #17. For what it's worth, Solder is 6'8" and weighs in excess of 315 pounds, and I had him slated at the second OT to go in the draft ahead of the tipped Smith-to-Dallas selection at #9. Good pick by the Patriots, who are as savvy as drafting as any team in the NFL. Imagine him in goal line situations as a tackle-eligible? Good luck chucking him on the line.

Lou (8:55 p.m. CT): San Diego strikes with Illinois DT Corey Liuget at #18, a 6'3" 300 pounder who should be able to rotate in at nose tackle on the Chargers defensive line. He's a better pash rusher than you might think of a guy with his size and could possibly play some defensive end as well for the Chargers depending on need.

Lou (9:03 p.m. CT): Nice value for the Giants here by taking Giants CB Prince Amukamara all the way down at #19. The Giants were one of a few teams without any glaring need spots coming into the 2011 off-season, and adding him only makes the Giants that much better in the secondary.

Lou (9:11 p.m. CT): With Amukamara gone, the Bucs decided to go defensive end and drafted Iowa DE Adrian Clayborn at #20. The free-fall for Da'Quan Bowers (as I predicted earlier today on the Batchelor Pad show) continues. Clayborn will bring the heat from the end on every play for Tampa Bay.

Lou (9:18 p.m. CT): Hmm, Cleveland trades up to #21 with Kansas City... and then drafts 6'3" 335 pound Baylor DT Phil Taylor. The Browns' management is still planning to go from a 3-4 defense to a 4-3, right? I didn't expect Taylor to end up on a 4-3 defensive team.

Anthony Castonzo
Anthony Castonzo was drafted by the Colts at #22. (Icon SMI)

Lou (9:26 p.m. CT): And it turns out that I projected another correct pick, with Indy selecting Boston College OT Anthony Castonzo at #22. 6'7" 310 pounds and 50+ starts at tackle in a row for BC... that should make Colts fans happy. It follows logic that the Colts would bring in an elite talent to protect Peyton Manning. Many people overlooked this, but Peyton Manning at times seemed to single-handedly carry the Colts in 2010, particularly when a rash of injuries hit the offense. There's no way that Indianapolis would have made the playoffs in 2010 without Manning. Not a chance.

Manning may seem invinsible since he has started every game for the Colts since his rookie debut in 1998, but he's 35 years old and I'm sure that Manning knows that time waits for no man. The Colts know this as well, and with Tony Ugoh not working out as a replacement for Tarik Glenn at left offensive tackle, bringing in Castonzo makes great sense.

Lou (9:31 p.m. CT): Even the stiff bastards in the audience at Radio City Music Hall are cheering the troops up on stage right now, and rightfully so. I never served in the military, but I have plenty of family and friends who did (and some who still do), and I am grateful for the sacrifices they made and still make today. I send out a heartfelt thank you to all U.S. troops out there across the world who are reading this.

Lou (9:34 p.m. CT): The Eagles, a team that typically looks first to offensive and defensive line, went for 26-year-old OL Danny Watkins from Baylor. As much as Von Miller boosted his stock on defense at the Senior Bowl, likewise Watkins made a major positive impression in offensive drills during the Senior Bowl.

Lou (9:41 p.m. CT): I had the position right but not the player for the Saints, who drafted Cal DE Cameron Jordan at #24. Jordan seemed to me to be more of a 3-4 DE prospect than a 4-3 guy, but it's possible the Saints could work him in at defensive tackle if he works out better there than at defensive end.

Lou (9:51 p.m. CT): Interesting move by Seattle at #25 to draft Alabama OL James Carpenter. A community college transfer, he played offensive tackle at Alabama but then moved to guard at the Senior Bowl, where he obviously made a good impression on the Seattle coaching staff. It will be interesting to see what the Seahawks do with him.

Lou (10:04 p.m. CT): There was a confusing mess in NYC as time ran out on Baltimore and Kansas City quickly got their pick in for lanky WR Jonathan Baldwin from Pitt, technically pick #26 even though the Chiefs were supposed to pick at #27. It will be interesting to see how Baldwin and Bowe work together for the Chiefs. If this is who Kansas City wanted at #21, then good for them for moving down, getting an extra pick, and still landing the wideout they wanted.

Lou (10:07 p.m. CT): Apparently the Bears were on the horn with the Ravens talking trade and there was some sort of miscommunication. But all's well that ends well, and Baltimore has filled a huge need with a player in CB Jimmy Smith who had top ten talent but the dreaded "character flags". Something tells me that he'll receive proper guidance in the Ravens locker room.

Lou (10:09 p.m. CT): The Patriots traded out from #28, and it's the Saints moving in and drafting the first RB to go in this draft, Alabama RB Mark Ingram. I wonder if Ingram will let Reggie Bush see his Heisman Trophy? I projected Ingram to go at #28, albeit to a different team, but that still counts.

Bragging time: I hit on #1, #4, #6, #9, #22, and now #28. That's six of the top 28, and it would have been eight-of-28 had I switched Miller and Dareus today at #2/#3 like I considered doing. Oh well. For being such a crazy draft, I feel pretty good about how my projections turned out, and there are still four picks to go in tonight's first round.

Lou (10:21 p.m. CT): Wow I'm on a roll, two in a row late in round one with the Bears drafting Wisconsin OT Gabe Carimi. I like the pick and I like Chicago doing what they can to give Jay Cutler extra protection in the pocket. He has taken a beating during his tenure with the Bears.

Note: this next pick was a mistake on the site through earlier today, with me inadvertently leaving Georgia OLB/DE Justin Houston in at #30 for the Jets. Word leaked earlier in the week that Houston failed a piss test at the combine, likely dropping him to round 2 or 3. I replaced him with a bit of a long shot in North Carolina OLB Bruce Carter, though Carter could end up being a better player for the Jets as a 3-4 OLB than Houston would have been. But, with Shaun Ellis getting up there in age, a 3-4 DE makes sense here as well.

Lou (10:25 p.m. CT): Look at those crafty Jets, standing pat at #30 and then getting a total steal in Temple DL Muhammad Wilkerson. Temple plays in the MAC and didn't make a bowl game (despite an 8-4 record in 2010 -- Death to the BCS!), meaning many are unfamiliar with Wilkerson's college performances. But he's a solid prospect who has potential to fit very well into the Jets' 3-4 defense.

Lou (10:27 p.m. CT): Pittsburgh didn't waste any time by drafting Ohio State DE Cameron Heyward soon after the countdown clock started for their pick. After the Vernon Gholston bust for the Jets it doesn't surprise me that they went for Wilkerson over Heyward, and it will be interesting to see how Heyward works into the Steelers front three with his good size and instincts. The son of the late Craig "Ironhead" Heyward is heading to the Steelers!

Lou (10:29 p.m. CT): Four QBs went off the board in the top twelve spots, but we haven't see any rush on quarterbacks in the bottom half of the first round. To the contrary, it was four QBs in the top 12 and then no more taken after that. I'm still a bit stunned about Christian Ponder going #12 overall to Minnesota and sickened about the Titans taking Jake Locker at #8. I really, really hope I'm wrong about Locker's NFL chances.

Lou (10:34 p.m. CT): What happens if time runs out on the Packers? Can they wait indefinitely to make a pick? Why not field every offer possible here?

Lou (10:38 p.m. CT): Nice pick by Green Bay in taking Mississippi State OT Derek Sherrod. He was a bit under the radar as far as offensive linemen went, but he did some impressive things for the Bulldogs against some stout SEC competition in 2010.

Lou (10:40 p.m. CT): And, with that, the first round is over. I have to admit that the Titans picking Locker took the wind out of my sails. I try my best not to be a homer with this site, but something like that has the feel of a stomach punch. Ugh.

Overall there were a few strange picks, but the draft didn't deviate too terribly far from how it appeared it would play out. Da'Quan Bowers' slide continues into Friday, which has to be frustrating for a player who once looked like a potential #1 overall pick, but such is life. At some point tomorrow the run on the next wave of quarterbacks will begin, with guys like Colin Kaepernick, Ryan Mallett, and Andy Dalton in the mix.

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