Thursday, May 5, 2011

2011 NFL Draft Overview: NFC

Here is my NFL Draft recap for the NFC teams:

NFC East

Dallas Cowboys
Best Draft Picks: Tyron Smith, OT (Round 1), Bruce Carter, LB (Round 2), Demarco Murray, RB (Round 3), Dwayne Harris, WR (Round 6)
Draft Grade: B+
Comments: This may be one of the Cowboys best drafts of the last decade. They drafted according to need and the best player available. Smith is an athletic, strong Tackle who can play on either side of the line. Carter can play any of the Linebacker positions; he is fast, strong, and dynamic. Murray is probably most underrated Running Back in this year's draft. People forget how good he played at Oklahoma so relying of NFL Combine stats doesn't tell the whole story.

New York Giants
Best Draft Picks: Prince Amukamara, CB (Round 1), Marvin Austin, DT (Round 2), Greg Jones, LB (Round 6), Tyler Sash, S (Round 6)
Draft Grade: B
Comments: The Giants used the draft to beef up their defense. Amukamara reminds me skills-wise of Pro Bowl Corner Nnamdi Asomugha. Austin is a first round talent who dropped to the 2nd round because of off the field issues. Jones and Sash have great football instincts and hit hard. The only negative about the Giants draft is that they didn't do much to address this offensive line depth.

Philadelphia Eagles
Best Draft Picks: Danny Watkins, OG (Round 1), Casey Matthews, LB (Round 4), Dion Lewis, RB (Round 5), Brian Rolle, LB (Round 6)
Draft Grade: B
Comments: The Eagles needed help on Defense and their Offensive line. Good news is they did address most of their needs. Watkins can start as a rookie and do well. Matthews and Rolle are underrated, talented Linebackers while Lewis was LeSean McCoy's backup at University of Pittsburg. Bad news is the Eagles did a poor job addressing their needs at defensive back by drafting raw, unproven players.

Washington Redskins
Best Draft Picks: Ryan Kerrigan, DE (Round 1), Leonard Hankerson, WR (Round 3), Roy Helu, RB (Round 4), Evan Royster, RB (Round 6)
Draft Grade: B
Comments: It looks like the Redskins used the draft to get the players to fit the system they tried to run last season. Kerrigan plays the position of Defensive End in the 3-4 defense that Albert Haynesworth refused to do. Hankerson is one of the best possesion receivers in the draft with great hands. Helu is a speed back who can shed tackles while Royster is a power back who runs hard down hill and tries to run through linebackers. Adding talent and depth to the Redskins is part of Shanahan's plan to rebuild this team into a contender.

NFC North

Chicago Bears
Best Draft Picks: Gabe Carimi, OT (Round 1), Stephen Paea, DT (Round 2)
Draft Grade: C+
Comments: The Bears had only five draft picks this year because they traded away picks to the Broncos to get QB jay Cutler. The grabed good players with their first couple picks but the rest of the picks were head scratchers. Carimi was one of (if not the best) Offensive Tackle in college football last year and he can immediately step in to help an offensive line that was the worst of all last season's NFL playoff teams. Paea is a raw talent who is still learning to play the defensive tackle position but he showed last season he can be an unstoppable force.

Detroit Lions
Best Draft Picks: Nick Fairley, DT (Round 1), Titus Young, WR (Round 2), Mikel Leshoure, RB (Round 2), Douglas Hogue, OLB (R5)
Draft Grade: A-
Comments: The Lions offered their first 3 draft picks to the Cardinals to move up to 5th overall to get Patrick Peterson. Since that didn't work out the Lions made the best of those three picks, literally. Fairley reminds me of Warren Sapp, so think about a young Sapp playing next to Ndamukung Suh. Young was the top offensive target in Boise State's high powered offense last season and he is the perfect compliment to Calvin Johnson. Leshoure is a power back that can split time with the speedy Javid Best. Hogue played lineback in college but because of his excellent coverage skills the Lions could turn him into a Strong Safety and develop him.

Green Bay Packers
Best Draft Picks: Derek Sherrod, OT (Round 1), Randall Cobb, WR (Round 2), Alexander Green, RB (Round 3), DJ Williams, TE/HB (Round 5)
Draft Grade: B+
Comments: The Packers had ten draft picks in the 2011 draft but they made the best of their first three. Sherrod is a solid Tackle to help protect Aaron Rodgers. Cobb was arguably the best player and biggest weapon at the University of Kentucky last season as a Kick and Punt Returner, Wide Receiver and he played in the Wildcat formation a couple times. Most people do not know about Green since he played for Hawaii; his skills appear to be a combination of Ryan Grant and Ahmad Green. Williams is one of those offensive talents who doesn't have a real position on the field but a smart offensive coordinator will get him on the field so he can make an impact.

Minnesota Vikings
Best Draft Picks: Christian Ponder, QB (Round 1), Kyle Rudolph, TE (Round 2), Christian Ballard, DL (Round 4), Mistral Raymond, S (Round 6), Ross Homan, LB (Round 6)
Draft Grade: B
Comments: Although I agree with most people that the Vikings serious reached picking Ponder at 12th overall, I think Ponder can be a good pro Quarterback. Ponder is very similar to Chad Pennington except Ponder is more athletic and has a stronger arm. Rudolph has the skills to be a Pro Bowl caliber Tight End. Ballard, Raymond, and Homan all have good football instincts along with being versitle players; they can be developed into solid starters on the defensive side of the ball.

NFC South

Atlanta Falcons
Best Draft Picks: Julio Jones, WR (Round 1), Akeem Dent, ILB (Round 3), Jacquizz Rodgers, RB (Round 5), Cliff Matthews, DE (Round 7)
Draft Grade: C+
Comments: Although the Falcons drafted good players who can contribute as rookies in 2011, they gave up too much to move up to get Julio Jones. Is any player worth two 1st round picks and several other picks?!? Dont get me wrong, Jones is a big time talent with great potential but in college he wasn’t the most dependable player and defenses in the SEC were able to make him a non-factor at times and take him out of the game. Dent could become a solid NFL starter at Middle Lineback while Rodgers was very underrated talent who could be the next Warrick Dunn in the NFL.

Carolina Panthers
Best Draft Picks: Terrell McClain, DT (Round 3), Sione Fua, DT (Round 3), Kealoha Pilares, WR (Round 5)
Draft Grade: C-
Comments: I am not a fan of the Panthers taking Cam Newton number one overall in this year’s draft. Newton is a super talent, but he comes off as over confident and he only played one season in college. The fact that people have said he is a “better version of Tim Tebow” is an insult. Tebow played in college four years and had to deal with teams game planning against him. Newton was a one year suprise; when a team had a month to gameplan for him (University of Oregon in the national title game) Newton looked limited. McClain and Fua are upgrades for the Panthers on the defensive line so atleast Carolina did something right in the draft.

New Orleans Saints
Best Draft Picks: Cameron Jordan, DE (Round 1), Mark Ingram, RB (Round 1), Martez Wilson, OLB (R3), Nathan Bussey, LB (Round 7)
Draft Grade: B+
Comments: The Saints found a way to get two of the best players in the draft at their positions in the first round. Jordan has the potential to be a force on defense and Ingram is an NFL-ready Running back who could be an offensive rookie of the year candidate if he gets enough touches. Wilson is an underrated talent who could be developed into a solid NFL starter. Bussey could easily be the next Steve Tasker.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Best Draft Picks: Adrian Clayborn, DE (Round 1), Da’Quan Bowers, DE (Round 2), Luke Stocker, TE (Round 4), Ahmad Black, S (Round 5), Allen Bradford, RB (Round 6)
Draft Grade: B+
Comments: The Buccs draft can be characterized by one word: Steals. Getting a super talent like Bowers in the second round when they already drafted a solid defensive end in the first round gives the Buccs many more options on defense with schemes and blitz packages. Black may not have shown much at the NFL combine but he was the leader of the Gator defense at Florida and is one of the smartest, toughest, most instinctive Safeties to come out of college in years. Bradford and Stocker provide depth at positions that are thin for Tampa.

NFC West

Arizona Cardinals
Best Draft Picks: Patrick Peterson, CB (Round 1), Ryan Williams, RB (Round 2), Sam Acho, DE (Round 4)
Draft Grade: B-
Comments: For a team that was in the Super Bowl a couple years ago, they have many needs to fill on both sides of the ball. Peterson is the player who I consider the best player in the NFL draft this year. He has excellent coverage skills, solid tackler, and can be a star in the punt and kick return game. Williams is a power Running Back for a team that got little production from its RB’s last season. Acho has Reggie White type abilities. The problem with Arizona’s draft is that there are a few players they drafted with some questions about their ability to be successful at the NFL level and they didn’t select enough “can’t miss” talent.

St. Louis Rams
Best Draft Picks: Robert Quinn, DE (Round 1), Lance Kendricks, TE (Round 2), Austin Pettis, WR (Round 3), Greg Salas, WR (Round 4), Jermale Hines, S (Round 5)
Draft Grade: A-
Comments: The Rams are big time winners in this year’s draft. They got a super talented, athletic pass rusher (Quinn), a Pro Bowl caliber receiving Tight End (Kendricks), two Wide Receivers who are great route runners with good hands (Pettis and Salas), and an underrated Safety who reminds me of Brian Dawkins (Hines). I’m not sure who should be more happy with these draft selections: Quarterback Sam Bradford or Rams fans.

Seattle Seahawks
Best Draft Picks: John Moffitt, OG (Round 3)
Draft Grade: D-
Comments: The Seahawks draft was so confussing and questionable that my head spins just thinking about it. They overreached to draft James Carpenter in the first round. The rest of their picks (not named John Moffit) make little sense for their team. After beating the defending Super Bowl champions in the playoffs, they did almost nothing to get better. Being the team in a weak division with the worst draft class is a bad sign for the 2011 season.

San Fransisco 49ers
Best Draft Picks: Colin Kaepernick, QB (Round 2), Kendall Hunter, RB (Round 4), Ronald Johnson, WR (Round 6), Colin Jones, S (Round 6)
Draft Grade: B-
Comments: The first draft of the Harbaugh Coaching Era in San Fransisco was solid. I know many people like their first round selection of Aldon Smith but I think they could have gotten a similar type of talent later in the draft. Kaepernick has the potential to be a good NFL Quarterback and Hunter is reminds me of Brian Westbrook. Johnson and Jones strengthen the 49ers’ depth at their respective positions.

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