The Biggest Surprises Of 2011 NFL Draft Round 1


There are virtual certainties when it comes to the NFL Draft. 1. The first QB taken will be heavily scrutinized. 2. There will be multiple trades in the first round. 3. There will be picks that make everyone go “WHAT? WOW!!”. The first round of the 2011 NFL Draft was no exception. Cam Newton will be scrutinized for the rest of his career, several big trades occurred with Atlanta going all the way up to #6 and New England getting another future 1st round draft pick. Most importantly, there were several picks that left people shocked and wide-eyed. Some were reaches, some were drops, but all left us thinking, “Wow”. Let’s get down to those picks.

1. Atlanta Trading Away 5 Picks For Julio Jones
This trade had been talked about for a majority of the day yesterday so it wasn’t really a shock, but the trade itself was. Atlanta gave up a ton for Julio Jones. Granted, Jones has an extremely high ceiling, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that he is worth 5 draft picks. Atlanta gave up their 1st, 2nd and 4th this year along with their 1st and 4th next year. This is a very bold move. Jones now has a ton of pressure on him to perform. Atlanta is hoping the offensive make up of Roddy White, Julio Jones, Tony Gonzales, and Michael Turner is too much for opposing defenses to handle. Jones has a lot to live up to.

2. Jake Locker To Tennessee at #8
Tennessee was on the clock. Fairley was on the board. It seemed like a natural fit. “With the 8th pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, the Tennessee Titans select: Jake Locker, QB, Washington” WHAT?!?! Everyone knew that the Titans needed a QB, but for them to pick Locker at #8 was surprising to say the least. However, as Mike Mayock said, I give Tennessee a ton of credit. They were the only team at Locker’s pro day, they obviously did their homework, and now they got their guy. They “pounded the table for him” and now they can start moving forward from the Vince Young era. Was it a reach? Maybe a little. I have a much higher opinion of Jake Locker then most. I think with development, he could be a top 10 QB in this league easy. Apparently, Tennessee thinks that too. Good luck to Jake and thank you for giving us our first real shocker of the draft.

3. Jaguars trade up to #10 to draft Blaine Gabbert
I don’t think anyone saw the Jaguars as one of the teams who wanted to land Gabbert, but they did. They traded away a 1st and 2nd round pick to trade up and get their future franchise QB. As many analysts have said, I like this move for the franchise in the long term. They now have a guy they can groom and let him go when he beats out Garrard. However, this really puts a dent in the program coach Del Rio is trying to run. Jacksonville needs players at many positions. They basically said “We want to build for the future instead of right now”.

4. Christian Ponder drafted at #12 by Minnesota Vikings
This is the winner of the biggest shock of 2011. Nobody saw this coming. Not us at NFLMocks, not Mike Mayock, not Adam Schefter, and I would bet that Christian Ponder probably didn’t expect it either. This was a major reach. I like Ponder a lot. I think he is a good kid who can be a starter, but the value was terrible. If they wanted Ponder, they needed to trade up or down to get him. Instead, they took him at 12. New regimes love to get “their guys”, but this was totally unexpected. Definitely the biggest shocker of the day.

5. Cameron Jordan Slide
Cameron Jordan had a fantastic draft season. He dominated at the Senior Bowl, performed well at the Combine, and had a good pro day. So why did he slide? Well, we may never know, but the Saints got a heck of a player at a great value. The biggest shocker of this to me was the Chargers passing over him for Liuget. Cam Jordan is a natural 3-4 DE and could start for them day 1 and make a big impact. Instead, they took Liuget who was widely regarded as a 4-3 DT hoping to make him a 3-4 DE. Very surprising indeed.

James Carpenter To Seattle At #26
Gabe Carimi and Derek Sherrod were on the board at the time. Seattle was on the clock. Natural fit right? Nope. Instead, the Seattle Seahawks took James Carpenter who many considered a 2nd round tackle at best. This was a big time shocker. Seattle definitely needs help on the offensive line, but I don’t understand picking Carpenter over a mauler like Carimi.

Other Notable Surprises:

Lions Taking Fairley
They have the pro bowl rookie in Suh and now they add Fairley to the mix? I’m glad I don’t play that team twice every year. Jay Cutler is in trouble. Get ready for a lot more grade 2 ACL sprains.

Prince Amukamara falls to the Giants
Prince Amukamara was rumored to be falling after some questioned his speed. He proved everyone wrong at the Combine when he ran a fast 40. However, he still fell on draft day which was a bit of a surprise. Many thought San Francisco would take him at #7. He fell all the way to the CB needy Giants. It’s a good fit, but the fall of the Prince makes me wonder what the reason was for so many teams passing on him.

Aldon Smith at #7
Aldon Smith was generally thought of as a top 15 prospect so it’s only a slight reach. Nevertheless, it’s surprising that they passed over Prince Amukamra and Blaine Gabbert to draft Aldon Smith. Not a huge draft day surprise, but a little one.

Saints trade up to nab Mark Ingram
Mark Ingram is insanely talented. He could be a franchise back and end up being one of the best in the game. However, the league has changed to a pass first league and running backs have been devalued. Miami passed on him at 15 and the Giants passed at 19. Ingram seemed to be falling right into the arms of the Green Bay Packers. However, New England once again traded out of the 1st round, got a 1st round pick, and the Saints ended up with Mark Ingram. Ingram is going to make the Saints running game a lot better. The Saints vs Falcons rivalry just got kicked up a notch.

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