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 2011 NFL Draft (Top 11 picks)

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2011 NFL Draft (Top 11 picks) Empty
PostSubject: 2011 NFL Draft (Top 11 picks)   2011 NFL Draft (Top 11 picks) EmptyTue Feb 10, 2015 5:56 pm

It's rare that a draft gets so much quality from the top as the 2011 draft apparently has. Of course it is way too early to write book on any of these careers yet; many of these guys are at or near the end of their rookie contracts, so we can at least evaluate how well they have done for the team that drafted them. One note: When I mention a player's five-year draft span, I am referring to his draft class, the two before it, and the two after it. When I refer to draft value, I mean amount of production compared to the spot where he was drafted.

1. Cam Newton, QB - Carolina: 4 years as a starter, 2 Pro Bowls, 49 AV. Cam has posted the highest AV of any player in this draft, just ahead of Patrick Peterson and J.J. Watt. The first overall picks within two years ahead of him and two years after him have an average career AV of 27, so Newton has outperformed his peers in that regard. When you weigh in the importance of doing well at this position against the devastation of doing poorly with a QB with this pick, I feel safe in saying this was a very good pick. Grade: A

2. Von Miller, LB - Denver: 4 years as a starter, 3 Pro Bowls, 1 1st-string All-Pro, 33 AV. Von has posted two pretty good years (including rookie defensive player of the year), one very good year, and one season cut short by injury. His AV sits at number seven for his draft class, respectable considering his shortened season and considering how well his team has performed since his addition. Other than Ndamukong Suh, no 2nd overall pick his been as consistently good within that five-year range. Grade A-

3. Marcell Dareus, DT - Buffalo: 4 years as a starter, 2 Pro Bowls, 1 1st-string All-Pro, 21 AV. There may not be a more important player in a 3-4 defense than the NT, even if his numbers don't show it. Dareus might not be a household name, but he may be the best young player on one of the best defenses in the game. His production doesn't quite match Suh's, but he's a year younger, and he's a lot more level-headed. Still his production is not that much better than two interior linemen drafted two rounds later, Jurrell Casey and Jabaal Sheard, both of whom are more versatile than Dareus. Grade: B-

4. A.J. Green, WR - Cincinnati: 4 years as a starter, 4 Pro Bowls, 34 AV. If you removed 5th-rounder Richard Sherman and teammate Andy Dalton from this list, Green has perfectly matched his draft value. Over his five-year span, he has easily been the best number 4 overall pick. Personally, if my team was ever in a position to draft this high, I would hope they were going to address more important positions than WR, but this Summerville native certainly hasn't been a mistake. Grade: B+

5. Patrick Peterson, DB - Arizona: 4 years as a starter, 4 Pro Bowls, 2 1st-string All-Pros, 45 AV. It's rare to be drafted this high and still outperform your draft position, but Peterson has done so. His AV is nearly as high as Newton's, and higher than everyone else in this draft. The only thing that takes away any of his shine is that a team could have waited four more rounds and drafted Richard Sherman. Grade: A.

6. Julio Jones, WR - Atlanta: 3 years as a starter, 2 Pro Bowls, 26 AV. Considering he has played 11 fewer games than Green, his production numbers aren't that far off. Still, one has to factor in that Jones has never played an entire season when weighing his value. Even then, Jones has produced at a level pretty even with his draft value. Only Russel Okung offers him any challenge as the best 6th overall pack within his five-year span. It's still earlier than I would want to draft a wideout, and one also has to take into consideration what the Falcons gave up to move into this spot (two 1sts, a 2nd, and 2 4ths). Grade: B-

7. Aldon Smith, DE - San Francisco: 1 year as a starter, 1 Pro Bowls, 1 1st-string All-Pro, 22 AV. He had one season as the best backup rookie DE in NFL history, followed by a stellar sophomore campaign. Since then he has been plagued by injuries and suspensions, starting only 14 games in the last two seasons. He's a game-changer when he's on the field, but he has to be able to get there first. With his troubles though, he's only the 3rd best defensive end in this round (after J.J. Watt and Robert Quinn, with Cameron Jordan inching up behind him). Grade: B-

8. Jake Locker, QB - Tennessee: 1 year as a starter. If Locker was drafted one round later with the intention that he was to be a backup, he might not look like a terrible pick. Grade: D-

9. Tyron Smith, OL - Dallas: 4 years as a starter, 2 Pro Bowls, 1 1st-string All-Pro, 29 AV. Smith has produced slightly higher than his draft value. The 9-hole has been pretty productive over his five-year draft span. It could be argued that as good as Smith has been, he probably hasn't been as promising as Luke Kuechly, and guys like B.J. Raji and C.J. Spiller aren't far behind. Grade: A.

10. Blaine Gabbert, QB - Jacksonville: 2 years as a starter. Let's put it this way, he has started more games than Locker but has actually been less productive, if you can imagine that. He quickly went from two-year starter to some other team's backup. Grade: F

11. J.J. Watt, DE - Houston: 4 years as a starter, 3 Pro Bowls, 3 1st-string All-Pros, 42 AV. I have to think that if this draft was run again, even the Panthers would pick Watt as the 1st overall selection. He is not only the best player at his position, he's probably the best defensive player in the game. Personally, I think he was flat-out robbed for MVP this year. How badly is Jacksonville kicking themselves for blowing the pick right before this one?!? Grade: A+

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