NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 28: Cam Newton, #1 overall pick by the Carolina Panthers holds up a jersey on stage after he was picked during the 2011 NFL Draft at Radio City Music Hall on April 28, 2011 in New York City. (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images)

2011 NFL Draft Recap: From Cam Newton To Mr. Irrelevant

The 2011 NFL Draft is over and it's time to take a look back. Check out our post-draft StoryStream for analysis, reaction and breakdowns of all the picks, from Cam Newton to Mr. Irrelevant.

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James Carpenter Was Seattle Seahawks Second-Highest Rated Tackle

We've been following the 2011 NFL draft for quite some time so then last Thursday night came there weren't any surprising names coming out in the first round. One, though, was much less known than the others -- OT James Carpenter.

The Seattle Seahawks selected him with the 25th overall pick and, if you followed the draft on Twitter, then you know it was only seconds later before people started saying he was a reach. A lot of mock drafters had him rated as a second round tackle so we didn't think he'd becoming off the board in round one.

But Seahawks GM John Schneider told Sports Radio 950 KJR that Carpenter was their second highest rated tackle behind OT Nate Solder, who went 17th to the New England Patriots. The three other linemen selected ahead of Carpenter: OT Tyron Smith (ninth to the Dallas Cowboys), OT Anthony Castonzo (22nd to the Indianapolis Colts) and OT/G Danny Watkins (23rd to the Philadelphia Eagles).

This is a good example of a team sticking to their draft board and not listening to what others have said. If Carpenter ends up churning out  a couple of Pro Bowls, folks will perk their ears next time the Seahawks go against the common thought. And if Carpenter busts, those same folks will be standing there saying, 'I told you so.'

Check out Field Gulls and SB Nation Seattle for more on the Seahawks draft.


NFL Draft Trade Rumors: Lions Tried To Move Up For Patrick Peterson

As we previously mentioned, one of the best parts of the draft comes in the days following its conclusion when stories come out about the various trade talks that went on. The latest one involves the Detroit Lions and Arizona Cardinals.

According to the Detroit Free-Press, the Lions offered the Cards the 13th overall pick, as well as their second and fourth round picks, to move up to the Cardinals fifth pick and select LSU CB Patrick Peterson.

This wouldn't be on the level of the Falcons-Browns trade but it would be a big one. The Cardinals ended up declining the trade and it's not like the Lions didn't come out OK. They were widely considered to have one of the best drafts picking up DT Nick Fairley and WR Titus Young with two of the three picks they would have given up.

While the move would have given the Lions the top cornerback in the draft -- and cornerback is one of those premium positions so it may have been worth it -- they ended up coming out fine in the draft. 

If I'm a Lions fan, I'm OK with not making that trade.

For more on the Lions and the draft, check out Pride of Detroit. 


Where Would Christian Ponder Have Gone If Minnesota Vikings Didn't Draft Him?

There's no point to it after the draft but I'm always curious about the stories you the days, weeks, months or even years after the draft about a particular team liking a certain player that they weren't able to draft and imagining how life would be different with them. (Like my Kansas City Chiefs passing on Dan Marino in 1983.)

So let's take Christian Ponder. The Minnesota Vikings used the 12th overall pick on him and a lot of people thought that was pretty early. 

If he didn't go 12th overall, where would he have gone? No other quarterback went in the first round so it's possible he would have been falling. But, according to former QB turned NFL analyst Jim Miller, he wouldn't have gotten out of the first round.

"I know the Buffalo Bills were definitely going to trade up into the first round to get Ponder," Miller said. "There were some other teams that liked him (because) he's probably the most pro-ready of this group."

We've heard the Bills talk before. In fact. several people in the BIlls organization have apparently connected the dots and thought Buffalo would make a run at Ponder, if he was available later in the first round. 

But Buffalo did not address quarterback which Chan Gailey apparently feels is not an immediate need (and I agree, for the record).

It'll be interesting to watch Ponder's career and see which way it goes. If it's up, then you'll have plenty of teams wishing he did fall.


Tyrod Taylor Drafted As QB For Baltimore Ravens

If you didn't catch it, ESPN had a series before the draft called the "Year of the Quarterback" and profiled some of the quarterback prospects as they prepared for the 2011 NFL draft. One of those signal-callers was Virginia Tech QB Tyrod Taylor. 

He's very athletic so there were some rumblings that he could be drafted at a position other than quarterback but the Baltimore Ravens, who drafted him in the sixth round, say he'll be a quarterback (via Carroll County Times).

"We drafted him as a quarterback, and he was evaluated as a quarterback," general manager Ozzie Newsome said. "As far as him coming into our system, we feel like he has the skill sets to play the position and he also brings the added dimension of being a terrific athlete that can get out of the pocket and hurt people. He has the ability to do that also."

The drafting of Taylor could be a domino throughout the league. Consider this: QB Marc Bulger is currently the Ravens backup quarterback. If they allow him to leave, he'll enter free agency and will likely be pursued by teams looking for a quarterback, which could include the Arizona Cardinals and Seattle Seahawks. You could throw the Tennessee Titans in there. The Cardinals and Seahawks, who seemingly have needs at quarterback, didn't pick one up last weekend. The Titans selected QB Jake Locker with the eighth pick but he may not be ready to start immediately.

So while Taylor may seem like another sixth round pick fighting for a roster spot, where he stands with the Ravens could be rather important to the rest of the league. 

Check out what Ravens fans are saying about Tyrod Taylor the quarterback at Baltimore Beatdown. 


NFL Trade Rumors: Did Broncos Have Opportunity With Falcons To Trade Down?

Atlanta Falcons GM Thomas Dimitroff said on PFT Live this week that he had discussions with a number of teams about moving up in the 2011 NFL draft. The Falcons ultimately traded with the Cleveland Browns at the sixth spot but also had talks with the Cincinnati Bengals, who held the fourth pick, and the Denver Broncos, who held the second pick.

The Broncos, though, want to make one thing clear: no real offer was made to them. Mike Klis of the Denver Post, citing an unnamed source, has the story:

According to an NFL source, Dimitroff did call the Broncos about their No. 2 pick, but it was "weeks before" the draft. Many teams put out preliminary feelers well in advance of the draft. According to the source, Dimitroff said he would never offer draft-chart value in return for moving up from No. 27 to No. 2. The Broncos let him know they weren't interested in trading the pick unless they got proper value for moving back.

OK. If I have the second pick in this draft, and someone offers me close to the right value, I'm pulling the trigger. The Broncos aren't one player away -- they're multiple players away. I think many fans would agree with that. So you have to take that into account when looking at why the Broncos are leaking this. They don't want the fans upset that they didn't trade down so they're saying that there never really was an opportunity to trade down (and it's also possible that they're telling the truth and, in reality, there wasn't a real offer made).

One of the best parts of the draft is the days, weeks, months and years following it when little tidbits like this get out. Hop on over to Mile High Report to see what Broncos fans are saying about it. 


NFL Draft Grades: Are These The Same Old Bengals?

There are a few things you can count on in the NFL draft. Bill Belichick will manipulate it to the best of his advantage gaining multiple picks. The Raiders will draft the fastest guy on the board.

And the Bengals will pick a few bad seeds.

It seems to happen every year. The Bengals have seemingly been ignoring character and basing their personnel decisions solely on talent and that hasn't produced a lot of victories over the years.

So adding the players they did -- high-quality players and citizens -- I wonder who was making the decisions in Cincy over the weekend. WR A.J. Green is a no-brainer while QB Andy Dalton was taken at the perfect spot. LB Dontay Moch blew it up at the Combine (and blogs at SB Nation) and then there G Clint Boling in the third round (who I wanted my Chiefs to take in the second round).

Nolan Nawrocki of Pro Football Weekly has his set of grades posted and noticed the same thing I did with the Bengals picks.

Brown and Lewis deserve credit for drafting much more soundly than they have in recent years. They did not make any trades, but they plucked off sound football players with each pick and could easily come away with three starters, including an elite, impact playmaker who can define their draft.     

Ultimately, PFW gives them a B+ which I think is fair. If Dalton works out, this turns into an A, easily.

Check out Cincy Jungle more on the Bengals draft. 


2011 NFL Draft: After No Defensive Tackle, Broncos Look To Free Agency

John Bena from SB Nation's Mile High Report has posted a lengthy interview with Denver Broncos GM Brian Xanders filled with all sorts of good nuggets.

One thing that stood out to me regarding the Broncos draft was the lack of a defensive tackle and Xanders hinted to Bena that there's still work to be done saying there's still a full free agency board of defensive linemen. Xanders also addressed the run on defensive linemen and how it may have affected Denver.

There were just some good players that all got picked early.  There were 12 defensive lineman, I think, picked in the first round, then in the 2nd round there are a couple left.  It's something that happens - it happens every year with the offensive tackle board too - the good ones go early.

So this tells you that defensive tackle is on the Broncos' radar -- you just can't fill every need in every draft.

This brings up a really interesting question regarding defensive linemen. For example, I'm a Kansas City Chiefs fan and KC got Ole Miss DT Jerrell Powe in the sixth round when he was rated by a lot of mock drafters to be a third or fourth round talent. Maybe he simply just fell but one theory could be that, as Xanders says, so many teams got their fill on defensive tackles early that they the other guys started to fall.

Hop on over to Mile High Report and check out the full interview. Lots of good Broncos tidbits including an admission that LB Von Miller is a day-one starter. 


St. Louis Rams Tried To Trade Up For A Running Back

One of the needs heading into the 2011 NFL draft for the St. Louis Rams was running back. They use RB Steven Jackson quite a bit and it made sense to find someone to pair him with in order to prolong Jackson's career.

But three days of the NFL draft last weekend didn't yield a future running back. Rams GM Billy Devaney told ESPN 101in St. Louis that the lack of a running back wasn't from a lack of effort. In fact, Devaney says they did try to trade up for a running back because snagging one was something they wanted to do in this draft.

He didn't identify which running back he tried to get but we would assume RB Mark Ingram with the 14th pick wasn't what he was talking about. Maybe he meant Ingram late in the first round or RB Mikel Leshoure in the second round. 

We can speculate all we want on who it is but at the end of the day the Rams walk away without another running back. Devaney said that the Rams are likely to add someone before the 2011 season starts (assuming the 2011 season starts).

Check out Turf Show Times for more on the Rams 2011 draft class. 


2011 NFL Mock Draft Picks That Got It Right

The 2011 NFL draft is now over which means we can go back and look at what we thought was conventional wisdom entering the draft. Here are some of the most popular mock draft picks that ended up being right. 

The top six picks: For all the uncertainty surrounding the draft, lots of people had the first six picks right -- Cam Newton to the Panthers, Von Miller to the Broncos, Marcell Dareus to the Bills, A.J. Green to the Bengals, Patrick Peterson to the Cardinals and Julio Jones to the Falcons (yes, plenty of people thought this trade would happen). There was a time where some thought the Cardinals would go with QB Blaine Gabbert but by draft week most had settled on Peterson.

Tyron Smith to the Cowboys: This was picked early on by several writers, including Rick Gosselin of the Dallas Morning News. It's sort of like last year where a lot of people thought the Cowboys would get WR Dez Bryant if he fell to them.

Mike Pouncey to the Dolphins: They used the 15th overall pick and most had their choice down to Pouncey, RB Mark Ingram or possibly one of the quarterbacks. In the end, Miami decided to go with the safe pick.

Ryan Kerrigan as the 16th pick: This one was a little strange. Arguably the most popular pick for the Jaguars and the 16th pick was Kerrigan. The Jaguars didn't draft him -- the Redskins did -- but he still went 16th.

Phil Taylor as the 21st pick: Again, a lot of people predicted this, but with the wrong team. The Chiefs were drafting 21st and Taylor was often mocked to them. The Chiefs instead traded out of that pick with the Browns, who then selected Taylor.

Jimmy Smith to the Ravens: I wasn't sure he'd fall this far but mock drafts repeatedly had Colorado CB Jimmy Smith landing in Baltimore with the 26th pick. He wasn't actually the 26th pick as the Ravens had passed but he did go to Baltimore with the 27th pick.

Those are the mock draft picks that I saw popping up pretty often that ended up being right. The best of the experts was Mel Kiper and Mike Mayock, who hit on nine first round picks.


NFL Draft 2011: Cameron Jordan Or Jordan Cameron?

While writing some 2011 NFL draft stuff last week I noticed at one point in the draft that there was a unique set of names: Cameron Jordan and Jordan Cameron.

Cameron Jordan is the California defensive end that ended up being the New Orleans Saints first round pick. He's pretty well known. Jordan Cameron is a tight end out of USC and was a late round pick by the Cleveland Browns. He's considerably less known.

The Browns drafted Jordan Cameron -- not Cameron Jordan -- but had some trouble getting in touch with him because...they called the wrong person.

"Hi,'' said the voice on the other end. "Jordan? This is the Cleveland Browns ... '' The call was for some biographical information.

"Uh, yeah, this is Cameron Jordan,'' he said. "But the Saints already picked me.''

Yes, the Browns eventually found the right Jordan Cameron.


Bengals Draft Pick Andy Dalton Could Be Rookie Starter If Carson Palmer Leaves

Who will be the Cincinnati Bengals starting quarterback next year?

There are a few options. First, we have to figure out whether QB Carson Palmer will be in Cincinnati next year. He says he'd retire before he returned to the Bengals. Second, there QB Jordan Palmerwho has been in the organization. Third, there's the Bengals second round draft pick QB Andy Dalton.

Could Dalton start right away? Bengals coach Marvin Lewis certainly didn't rule it out.

"It will be something we'll talk about - probably early next week," Lewis said. "We'll make plans one way or another. I don't think there's an exact need. As I said, I feel really good about the guy we were able to draft (Dalton), and if he ends up being the starter as a rookie, I think he can do that."

It's also possible the Bengals could be looking for a veteran quarterback if/when free agency hits. ESPN's Trent Dilfer predicted Dalton would be among the best quarterbacks in this class but even the best ones have trouble adjusting in year one so I could see a situation where the Bengals bring in another veteran to bridge the gap.

Check out Cincy Jungle for the full run down on the Bengals 2010 draft class. 


NFL Draft 2011: When Did Jake Locker Know Tennessee Titans Wanted Him?

One of the 2011 NFL draft surprises was seeing QB Jake Locker go off the board before QB Blaine Gabbert. The Tennessee Titans used the eighth overall pick on Locker which was somewhat surprising. We figured the Titans had a shot at selecting a quarterback with the eighth pick but I figured if Gabbert was still on the board, he'd be their guy.

Locker says he visited with the Titans but didn't realize there was enough interest to select him with a top 10 pick.

"When I got the call. No. I had gone through a lot of the portion of this process with them from the Senior Bowl to the Combine, to a personal workout and then a visit out here. I knew there was some interest. I just didn't know there was enough to take me with that number eight pick."

Locker wasn't the only one surprised as we spent the last few months saying Gabbert and QB Cam Newton were the two best quarterbacks on the board and likely the first two drafted. Gabbert lasted only two more picks before the Jacksonville Jaguars traded up to select him.

For more on the Titans 2011 NFL draft, check out Music City Miracles. 


2011 NFL Draft Grades: Lots Of B's For San Francisco 49ers

The San Francisco 49ers opted to pass on a quarterback in the first round selecting pass rusher Aldon Smith with the seventh overall pick. In the second round, though, they didn't hesitate and snagged QB Colin Kaepernick.

49ers fans seem generally OK with San Francisco's draft. Very few are saying it's a great class and very few are saying it's a terrible class. 

SB Nation's Niners Nation posted a poll asking their readers to grade the class. With well over 2,000 votes, just six percent of fans give the draft an A or an A-.  61 percent of the fans give this draft a B+, B or a B- so that's where the majority resides. Another 21 percent said it was a C+ or a C-.

Fans are usually overly dramatic on draft day. A decent player can be made out to seem like the best player in the draft and a questionable pick can mean a nightmare for your organization. It seems that the 49ers fans are right on noting that, while there's some potential here, there are also some question marks.

Check out Niners Nation for th full reaction to the 49ers draft. Lots of interesting opinions there. 


2011 NFL Draft Grade Round-Up: Lions At Top Of Class; Seahawks At Bottom

We've already addressed the Detroit Lions 2011 NFL draft class calling it one of the year's best by adding DT Nick Fairley, WR Titus Young and RB Mikel Leshoure, among others. I'm not the only who likes their draft -- most of the NFL draft analysts did as well.

Real Clear Sports has a round-up of the draft grades of many of the top media outlets and, averaging them out, the Lions landed at the top with a 3.68 grade point average. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Green Bay Packers, Houston Texans and Cleveland Browns round out the top five.

It's easy to like the Lions class with three players that can potentially make an immediate impact. On the other side of things is the Seattle Seahawks. ESPN's Trent Dilfer took it to Seattle pretty hard saying this was a poor class and most of the NFL draft analysts agree.

The Seahawks were at the bottom of the list with an average GPA of 2.05. They were just below the Carolina Panthers, Jacksonville Jaguars, Dallas Cowboys and Tennessee Titans. Seattle's first round pick, OT James Carpenter, was viewed as a reach by many. It's interesting to note that the Seahawks had what many considered to be one of the better 2010 drafts yet this year they're getting hit pretty hard. 


Falcons-Browns Trade For Julio Jones Isn't For Everyone

The Atlanta Falcons made the trade of the 2011 NFL draft weekend when they moved up 21 spots to the sixth overall pick to select Alabama WR Julio Jones. The Cleveland Browns were the trading partner picking up an extra 2012 first round pick in the process. 

The move has been lauded and criticized by all the NFL draft analysts. Some, like Peter King of, argue that the Falcons would never have the opportunity to draft a potentially elite receiver like Jones. Others, like Bill Belichick, probably wouldn't make the same deal.

Falcons GM Thomas Dimitroff told Dan Pompei of National Football Post that he talked with Belichick about the trade before it went down and indicated that he probably wouldn't make the same deal. 

"You know Bill," Dimitroff told me. "He would never have done this move. It's just not his makeup. He talked about the value we would be giving up."

I'm not sure anyone's surprised that Belichick wouldn't do this deal. He's the one that had the ammo to move up into the top 10 but opted against it and actually swapped one of those picks for a 2012 first round pick.

Whether it works or not, this will be the most highly discussed trade in the 2011 NFL draft. 

For more on the Falcons 2011 draft class, check out The Falcoholic


2011 NFL Draft Grades: What To Think Of Oakland Raiders Picks

The Oakland Raiders 2011 NFL draft class went the way some expected with Al Davis selecting a couple of the fastest guys in the draft in Demarcus Van Dyke and Chimdi Chekwa. They also picked up RB Taiwan Jones, who reminds me of Kansas City Chiefs RB Jamaal Charles

The Raiders traded away their second round pick in 2012 to pick up the New England Patriots third and fourth round picks so they gambled on their future a little.

SB Nation's Silver and Black Pride has taken a look at Mel Kiper's NFL draft grades for the Raiders and, surprisingly, likes what he had to say.

Overall, he graded the Raiders with a C+. That seems a touch low until you consider that he explained his factoring for draft grades was based solely on teams addressing needs and the value of their picks. A big portion of the Raiders draft rests in potential. Plus the Raiders draft grades are going to be limited by the simple fact they did not have a first-round pick.

As Kiper noted in his write-up, the Raiders don't care so much about value. They identify the guys they like, and pick them where they feel they need to. Value isn't as important for them as other teams. 

Check out Silver and Black Pride for the full reaction to Kiper's grades, and also check out SB Nation Bay Area for a round up of Raiders draft grades


New England Patriots 2011 NFL Draft Class Brings Mixed Reactions

The New England Patriots have done it again. Entering the 2011 NFL draft, the Patriots had the 17th, 28th and 33rd draft picks and they walked away with a couple of potential year-one impact players but it's what they did for 2012 that has me most impressed.

The Patriots entered this draft with just five selections in 2012 so we knew they were going to do something to improve their position next year. They traded away the 28th pick in the draft for the Saints 2011 second rounder and their 2012 first rounder. They also traded with the Oakland Raiders giving up their third and fourth round pick this year for the Raiders 2012 second round pick. 

In all, the Patriots added a first and second round pick meaning they once again are sitting pretty for next year's draft. Reactions to the draft from Patriots fans vary. 

In a poll at Pats Pulpit, 29 percent of readers say they're happy with the draft, 34 percent are 50-50 on their reaction, 27 percent are kind of disappointed and nine percent say the draft was terrible.

I'm a little surprised that the reactions are so mixed. I really liked the Patriots draft, especially OT Nate Solder in round one. That said, I see some disappointment in fans because of the lack of a pass-rusher early in the draft. 

For more on the Pats draft class, check out Pats Pulpit


2011 NFL Draft Grades: Lions Fans Loving Nick Fairley, Mikel Leshoure Picks

Detroit Lions fans are smiling on this Monday morning because their 2011 NFL draft class is getting some good reviews. Lots of people (including myself) like what they did with their selections in the draft.

It's the first three picks that are getting a lot of attention: DT Nick Fairley in round one, and WR Titus Young and RB Mikel Leshoure in round two. 

Readers at SB Nation's Pride Of Detroit have their NFL draft grades in and the Lions pass the test. 64 percent of readers give them an A and 29 percent say it's a B. With nearly 2,000 votes, only nine people voted it an F. 

The Lions got great value across the board. The Fairley pick came into their laps and, even with DT Ndamukong Suh, they had to make that pick. Head coach Jim Schwartz is a former defensive line coach so he's going to have some fun with both those guys.

WR Titus Young and RB Mikel Leshoure are also solid picks. Young could be a nice complement to WR Calvin Johnson and Leshoure may end up being the best back in this draft.

The rest of the NFL should be paying attention. These aren't the same old Lions anymore. They were improving last year and, with the 2011 class, they got a few immediate impact guys.

For more on the Lions draft class, check out Pride of Detroit. 


Vikings NFL Draft Grade Should Be Higher With Christian Ponder Pick

Judging by some of the reactions at SB Nation's Daily Norseman, it's been common for 2011 NFL draft analysts to pooh-pooh the Minnesota Vikings draft class, especially QB Christian Ponder with the 12th pick. The Vikings were reportedly trying to trade down but ultimately stuck with Ponder as their future.

I'm actually one of the people that didn't mind the pick. Think about it -- which of the other quarterback-needy teams have a better line-up for a rookie? SB Nation's Daily Norseman makes the same point.

He's got Bill Musgrave to help develop him, as well as Craig Johnson. The O-line just got a shot in the arm, and will have a new, better play strategy designed for their skills. Our offense will provide him some great weapons- Visanthe Shianco, Percy Harvin, (hopefully) Sydney Rice, and now Kyle Rudolph. Oh, and some guy named Adrian Peterson to help ease the burden.    

So Ponder has a couple of things going for him. First, he's likely to win the job in a competition with Joe Webb and Rhett Bomar. Second, he's got a ton of weapons offensively. Ponder has some question marks but I'm not sure that any other potential rookie quarterback would find themselves in a better situation.

Check out Daily Norseman for more on the Vikings 2011 draft class. 


2011 NFL Draft Grades, Winners And Losers According To Prisco, Rang And More

Here are four more sets of 2011 NFL Draft grades for your collection, which sounds like the saddest thing in the world to collect. Condolences to you, collector of NFL Draft grade sets. First up, FOX Sports' Adam Caplan.

Caplan loves the draft class assembled by the Houston Texans, with the Atlanta Falcons, Detroit Lions and Green Bay Packers close behind, giving the New England Patriots his lowest grade. On Houston's haul, highlighted by front-seven enhancements J.J. Watt and Brooks Reed, Caplan noted:

Texans general manager Rick Smith finally started to address the Texans' woeful defense and he did so with the first five selections. The first two draftees should see plenty of time as rookies and the next two could start down the line.'s Pete Prisco also loves Houston here, along with the New York Giants and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. His lowest grades went to the Seattle Seahawks and Kansas City Chiefs, though he wasn't anywhere near as harsh on Pete Carroll as others have been:

They needed to improve the offensive line and their first two picks were both used there. Both of them could push for starting jobs as rookies. The rest of the draft was just OK.    

The Sporting News' Clifton Brown (awful autoplay video alert!) loves the Lions and sharply disagrees with Caplan, giving the Pats his highest grade. He slots the New York Jets, Jacksonville Jaguars and Oakland Raiders way down there with the Seahawks.

And's Rob Rang likes what the Cleveland Browns, Indianapolis Colts, Tennessee Titans and Washington Redskins did, tying them with the Packers for his highest mark. At the bottom? The Chiefs again:

The Chiefs were deservedly recognized as having a spectacular draft last year. This one, however, leaves me scratching my head.    

We'll be compiling all the post-draft notes in our 2011 NFL Draft recap StoryStream, including positional breakdowns, picks by conference, picks by school and more. Keep an eye on our post-draft StoryStream for interesting tidbits, facts, figures and all sorts of reaction. To find your favorite team, be sure to explore our 305 sports blogs for a local angle.


Mel Kiper's Draft Grades: Detroit Lions Winners, Seattle Seahawks Losers

Mel Kiper made quick work of his 2011 NFL Draft grades, revisiting all 254 picks and handing out evaluations on Saturday night. Kiper's grades fell in line with most of the other national pundits and the big winners and losers are about what anyone who saw the draft would expect. The Detroit Lions came away the biggest winner while the Seattle Seahawks received the sad trombone award in the 2011 NFL Draft.

While the Lions' picks were solid, Kiper, and many others, wondered if they addressed the glaring needs on the roster. To be clear, Detroit came away with plenty of steals and took the best available talent, but it's unclear whether the roster can succeed because of it. Still, the value picked up by the Lions in the draft was in a league of its own.

Detroit hit home runs all over in terms of value, but the question is whether the Lions did enough to help the talent level in a way that can further conceal weaknesses

To find the Seahawks, one most scroll all the way to the bottom of Kiper's grades, where it sits on its own as the lowest ranked draft class. Seattle received a D+ overall, the only team to accomplish such a feat. For some reason, the national pundits are still upset Seattle didn't take Andy Dalton, which is still perplexing to me. However, Kiper thinks he may know why.

By passing on Andy Dalton, the clear impression is that Seattle has other plans (or hopes to) at quarterback. Could it be Carson Palmer or Kevin Kolb? I hope the Seahawks have better plans for quarterback than they appeared to in terms of adding value here. Carpenter fits a need, but was a reach with better tackle available.

With the NFL lockout in place, we have no idea what Pete Carroll's plan may be, but the speculation will run rampant until the offseason truly begins. For now, perhaps the thought of Kolb or Palmer will help Seattle fans sleep a little bit easier, reducing the amount of Charlie Whitehurst related nightmares for Seahawks fans.

We'll be compiling all the post-draft notes in our 2011 NFL Draft recap StoryStream, including positional breakdowns, picks by conference, picks by school and more. Keep an eye on our post-draft StoryStream for interesting tidbits, facts, figures and all sorts of reaction. To find you favorite team, be sure to explore our 305 sports blogs for a local angle.


2011 NFL Draft Grades: Denver Broncos Win AFC West, According To Fans

ESPN's SportsNation decided to crowd-source in an effort to grade the draft and hand out letter grades to individual teams. It's a novel idea and is a nice change of pace when compared to the typical talking head grades that serve more as fodder and less as gospel. Besides, what's better than the wisdom of the masses.

There was one set of grades that immediately stood out to me: The Denver Broncos. As I cycled though through the teams and votes, I realized either Denver fans were stuffing the ballot or were truly excited about their team's draft. And with a draft that included Von Miller, Rahim Moore and a host of solid players, why wouldn't they be?

Here is the results of the SportsNation poll, showing a unanimous decision (via Chiefs Planet).


The people have spoken and the Broncos aced their exam. In fact, new team president John Elway knocked the draft out of the park if these slightly unscientific poll is to be believed.

To celebrate with Denver fans and toast to the draft, head on over to SB Nation Denver and Mile High Report, our Broncos blog.


We'll be compiling all the post-draft notes in our 2011 NFL Draft recap StoryStream, including positional breakdowns, picks by conference, picks by school and more. Keep an eye on our post-draft StoryStream for interesting tidbits, facts, figures and all sorts of reaction. To find you favorite team, be sure to explore our 305 sports blogs for a local angle.


2011 NFL Draft Results: SEC Tops Picks By Conference List

The 2011 NFL Draft provided a chance for conferences to secure bragging rights and, once again, the SEC won. College football's power conference led the way with 38 draft picks, but the rest of the list had plenty of surprises. Coming in second was the ACC, just three players behind the SEC. Non-FBS teams also fared quite well, with 25 taken in the seven rounds of the draft.

Here is the breakdown of 2011 NFL Draft picks by conference. Matt Baxendell tracked these all and tweeted them shortly after the draft ended.

SEC: 38. Not surprisingly, the SEC led the way and secured bragging rights for yet another year. With the BCS Championship, Heisman, No. 1 overall pick and most draft picks, the SEC made it a clean sweep.

ACC: 35. Color me perplexed with this one. Overall, the ACC isn't spectacular, yet produced the second-most picks in the 2011 NFL Draft. Sum of all parts is less than the individual pieces?

Pac-10: 31. The Pac-10 still has USC and a seventh round push that saw three Trojans taken in a row bumped the Pac-10 up here.

Big 12: 30. Colorado did surprisingly well in addition to the typical powers.

Big Ten: 29. The Big Ten just missed catching the Big 12. Then again, if we count Nebraska as a Big Ten school, they'd have this one.

Big East: 21. Bad football, good draft picks.

WAC: 16. Well, this was probably the WAC's last stand now the conference is blown to pieces.

MWC: 10. Nevada led the way here as Colin Kaepernick was the poster boy.

Conference USA: Five. Not a bad showing for Conference

MAC:  Three. Hustle Belt should be happy.

Non-FBS: 25. FCS, Division II and Division III schools made out well as undiscovered and untapped talent was swept up in the later rounds. Not a bad showing at all.

Also interesting was Baxendell's picks per team ratio. Once again, the SEC took home the title, with the Pac-10 close behind.

Ratio of picks/teams: 3.25 3.0 2.92 2.64 2.63 2.50 1.78

We'll be compiling all the post-draft notes in our 2011 NFL Draft recap StoryStream, including positional breakdowns, picks by conference, picks by school and more. Keep an eye on our post-draft StoryStream for interesting tidbits, facts, figures and all sorts of reaction. To find you favorite team, be sure to explore our 305 sports blogs for a local angle.


2011 NFL Draft: Breakdown Of All 254 Picks By Position

We can learn a lot about the 2011 NFL Draft by looking at the breakdown of picks by position. It was clear on Thursday just how deep and talented the defensive line spot was in the draft as a record 12 linemen were taken in the first round. The pace wasn't sustainable, but it was clear where the focus was in this draft as linemen on both sides of the ball came flying off the board.

As the draft wore on, cornerbacks became the position of the day, with 48 taken over the seven rounds. The versatility of college corners makes them appealing, with teams able to plug the players in on special teams for immediate playing time. The quarterback spot, however, wasn't as deep and only 12 were taken in the draft.

Here are the picks by position.

Quarterback: 12. The draft class was low of quality and quantity, but the No. 1 overall pick as a quarterback again this year. Cam Newton, Jake Locker, Blaine Gabbert and Christian Ponder were all taken in the first round.

Running back: 29, but only one was taken in the first round. Former Heisman winner Mark Ingram led the running backs out of the gates.

Wide receiver: 28, most of which came in the later rounds.

Tight end: 13, led by Notre Dame's Kyle Rudolph.

Offensive line: 40. Teams were looking for line help and offensive linemen came off the board in bunches.

Defensive line: 45, 12 of which came in the first round. Those 12 picks were a new record as the depth of the defensive line position in the 2011 NFL Draft class showed.

Linebacker: 32, many of which were of the outside linebacker variety.

Cornerback: 48. Cornerbacks also came off the board in bunches as teams looked to bolster their secondary. Some will move to safety and many will make contributions on special teams.

Safety: 5. The safety position was a weakness in this draft class.

Kicker: 2, taken by the Philadelphia Eagles and Atlanta Falcons, oddly enough.

We'll be compiling all the post-draft notes in our 2011 NFL Draft recap StoryStream, including positional breakdowns, picks by conference, picks by school and more. Keep an eye on our post-draft StoryStream for interesting tidbits, facts, figures and all sorts of reaction. To find you favorite team, be sure to explore our 305 sports blogs for a local angle.


2011 NFL Draft Recap: From Cam Newton To Mr. Irrelevant

The 2011 NFL Draft is over and it's time to begin evaluating where each team stands. With 254 picks, there's a lot of information to parse, but we're here to help. How did your team grade out? Which teams were winners and losers this year? And who, exactly, did you favorite team pick? We have answers to all that and more, with information about every pick: From Cam Newton to Mr. Irrelevant.

We have a breakdown of every single pick from every single round in our 2011 NFL Draft StoryStreams. You can find them at the following locations:

2011 NFL Draft Round 1 Picks
2011 NFL Draft Round 2 Picks
2011 NFL Draft Round 3 Picks
2011 NFL Draft Round 4 Picks
2011 NFL Draft Round 5 Picks
2011 NFL Draft Round 6 Picks
2011 NFL Draft Round 7 Picks

We'll also be grading the draft over the next few days and have already handed out early grades. Out 2011 NFL Draft first round grades, second day grades update, second round reaction and post-draft grades can all be found on our NFL Draft hub.

We'll be compiling all the post-draft notes in this StoryStream, including positional breakdowns, picks by conference, picks by school and more. Keep an eye on our post-draft StoryStream for interesting tidbits, facts, figures and all sorts of reaction. To find your favorite team, be sure to explore our 305 sports blogs for a local angle.

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