Let me start by saying that I’m not Mel Kiper or Todd McShay, not by a long shot. That said, I did watch the first round of the 2011 NFL draft last night, and saw a few obvious winners. A couple of initial reactions before I dive into my winners…
Roger Goodell is the man. When he first walked out to announce the beginning of the draft, he was understandably booed in the wake of this whole NFL lockout ordeal. Note to any NFL fans that missed it, but Goodell has been paying himself a salary of $1 per quarter while this mess has been going on — but that’s beside the point. Goodell took the boos in stride, kept his speech brief, and turned the fans’ boos to cheers by saying “Let’s get back to some football!” Well played Roger.
I was also taken aback by the enormous amount of criticism everyone had for Cam Newton, the #1 pick, and the complete lack of criticism for #2 pick Von Miller, who took 5 minutes to stop crying and walk on stage. I do think Newton will be a flop — he was already talking about the “ups and downs” in his “career” last night. If he’s doing that at 21 years old, imagine how much of a diva this guy will be after he’s been in the league a few years, hasn’t had epic success, and has been criticized on a national level? This guy, in my eyes, thinks he’s special.
On to my winners for the night: I think the New Orleans Saints had far and away the best first round draft, picking up California DE Cameron Jordan and Alabama running back Mark Ingram. The Saints now have depth at running back to go along with quarterback Drew Brees — they are going to be hellish to try to stop on the offensive end. My secondary winner for the night was the New York Jets, who picked up DE Muhammad Wilkerson from Temple. Nearly everyone says this guy can play in the NFL right away, and to get him at the 30th pick was a steal.
As for the Patriots, their primary need is defensive players, specifically defensive ends. It was strange to me to see them take Colorado OT Nate Solder. I’m never one to doubt Bill Belichick’s drafting (see Aaron Hernandez and Gronk last year), and I’m certainly all for an OT who will play on the corners and help give Tom Brady more time in the pocket. This guy is also huge, at 6’8 and 319 pounds. Overall, I’m OK with this pick. What I’m not OK with is the Patriots trading down, giving up their 28th pick where they could have easily claimed Mark Ingram. While BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Danny Woodhead had big years last year, Ingram is a better runner than them both and would have given the Patriots a nearly unstoppable offensive attack. He’s also versatile and would have fit perfectly into the Patriots system. I mean this guy is a Heisman winner, come on. I think they will come to really regret that decision — I would have been totally cool with the Patriots using their remaining 5 picks for defensive players. They are just addicted to stockpiling draft picks. At least they have the first pick in the second round, with some good talent still on the board.
Who were your winners?