Linemen were the order of the day during the first round of the 2011 NFL Draft as teams scooped up players for the trenches on both the offensive and defensive side of the ball. By the time Thursday's first round was over, a record 12 defensive linemen were taken, thanks to the impressive depth of the position in the 2011 NFL Draft class. As the end of the first round drew near, a sudden run of offensive linemen pushed the total to eight, the second most-drafted position on Thursday.
Even the quarterbacks got in on the action, though Ryan Mallett and Andy Dalton were left on the outside looking in after the mad dash for quarterbacks suddenly ended as the Minnesota Vikings took Christian Ponder at No. 12. All four signal-callers were drafted in the first 12 picks, but the action suddenly stopped as teams quickly shifted focus. It was a round of runs, for the most part, and led to some wild selections as teams were left scrambling.
Here is a breakdown of the picks by position.
Defensive linemen: 12, a new NFL Draft record for the first round. Surprisingly, none of the 12 taken were named Da'Quan Bowers. Concerns about Bowers' surgically-repaired knee had him in a free-fall as team-after-team passed while defensive linemen came flying off the board. As expected, Marcell Dareus was the first defensive lineman taken as he went to the Buffalo Bills at No. 3.
Quarterbacks: Four, but the order they were taken was surprising. Cam Newton was the No. 1 overall pick, as expected, but that was the only predictable results. The Tennessee Titans made Jake Locker the second quarterback taken, choosing him at No. 8 and bypassing Blaine Gabbert. After a flurry of trades, the Jacksonville Jaguars scooped up Gabbert at No. 10. The last quarterback taken in the first round was Christian Ponder, who leap-frogged Andy Dalton and Ryan Mallett.
Offensive linemen: Eight. USC offensive lineman Tyrod Smith was the first lineman taken and, after a run on quarterbacks, the offensive line became the position to snatch up in the late first round. Five of the final 10 picks of the round were offensive guards or tackles, capped by Derek Sherrod at No. 32.
Cornerbacks: Three, led by Patrick Peterson. This was one position that went according to plan as Peterson was off the board first, followed by Prince Amukamara and Jimmy Smith.
Running backs: One. Mark Ingram, in fact. Ingram was taken with the 28th pick after the New Orleans Saints gave up quite the haul to the New England Patriots.
Linebackers: One, but this comes with a caveat. Von Miller was the only listed linebacker taken in the first round, but there were plenty of tweeners chosen. With 3-4 defenses becoming more prevalent, undersized defensive ends, including Aldon Smith, Ryan Kerrigan and others, were taken. They'll play as converted linebackers, in all likelihood, after working with their hand in the ground at the college level.
Wide Receivers: Three. A.J. Green and Julio Jones were both expected to be top-10 picks and were, with the Atlanta Falcons trading into the the No. 6 spot to grab Jones. Jonathan Baldwin was the third, taken by the Kansas City Chiefs at No,. 26.
Kickers/Punters: None. Al Davis and the Oakland Raiders didn't have a first round pick this year.
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