2011 NFL Draft Live Tracker (Day 1)
The big day has finally arrived, as we’ve got you completely covered here at NFLSoup.com! From the actual draft picks with analysis to our LIVE Chat here on the site, three of the best days of the off-season will be well documented and covered right here.
Be sure to click the team links for breakdowns of each team’s needs as the draft carries on, and also feel free to check out how we scouted the players prior to the draft by clicking on their name, as well.
Check out the live picks as they come below, along with our expert analysis on how each pick fits the team. Also, feel free to compare the real thing to what our writers predicted in their final 2011 NFL Mock Drafts below:
Day Two Tracker | Day Three Tracker
Despite leaking information about having interest in several players as late as this afternoon, the Panthers go with Newton with the No. 1 choice. There are plenty of naysayers with regards to how Newton will translate to the NFL, but Newton has too much upside for Carolina to pass on. He has the highest ceiling of any player in this draft.
Denver has been waffling on this pick for a while, but they wind up taking the potentially explosive outside linebacker from Texas A&M, Von Miller. This draft has been described as a “one linebacker draft”, and Miller is that one linebacker. He was a sack machine in college, and the combination of he and Elvis Dumervil on the outside could give Denver one of the most fearsome pass rushes in the league.
The Bills would’ve loved to have been able to add Miller to their weak pass rush, but with him off the board, they opt for the former Alabama D-lineman, Marcell Dareus. Many consider him to be one of the most NFL-ready players in this class, and Buffalo immediately gets much better with the addition of Dareus. He was a beast as a college player, and he’ll be a beast as a pro.
Green is regarded by most as the premier receiver in this draft, so it’s no surprise that a team like the Bengals takes him here. It appears as though both Chad Ochocinco and Terrell Owens will be suiting up elsewhere in 2011, so Green will likely step in right away as the new No. 1 receiving option. Quarterback is certainly a need with the Carson Palmer drama going on, but Cincy will now pray that one falls to them early in the second round.
There was talk about Arizona potentially trading this pick to move down, but they wind up selecting the guy many believe to be the best player in the entire draft class. Peterson was a shutdown corner at LSU and also showed tremendous playmaking ability in the return game. The combination of Peterson and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie has the chance to become one of the league’s most dynamic pass-defending units.
The Falcons would’ve loved to have gotten their hands on Green, but will have to “settle” on Julio Jones. He’s likely the best “big play” receiver in this class, and is one of the most decorated players overall. Cleveland needs to give the young Colt McCoy some weaponry, and Jones is more than a perfect fit. Roddy White emerged as one of the league’s premier receivers last year, and will only benefit from Jones’ presence. Huge trade here.
This one came out of nowhere. The 49ers seemed to be in the market for either a defensive back or quarterback, but they opt for the raw talent, Smith. He has plenty of room for growth, but many believe he can become the most dominant defensive player from this class. Smith was originally rumored to be heading to Houston, but San Francisco steals him at No. 7. He’ll be a great fit at outside linebacker.
The Titans were rumored to be after Nick Fairley all along, but ultimately opt to take the potential-laden Locker at No. 8. There are still plenty of concerns about his accuracy and overall polish, but his athleticism and leadership make him a desirable prospect, especially immediately following the forgettable Vince Young era. This is a project, so I’d be surprised to see him start right away. However, he can develop into a real stud someday.
Tyron Smith has been on Dallas’ radar for quite some time, and here he goes, as expected, ninth overall. The Cowboys got solid production out of Doug Free at left tackle last season, but the rest of the line is old and falling apart. I’d expect Smith to supplant Marc Colombo at right tackle next season. He’s just 20 years old, so it will take him some time to develop, but all indications are that Smith may well become the best offensive lineman in this draft.
The Jags have been rumored to be interested in drafting a QB in the first round all along, and here they trade up for Blaine Gabbert. Gabbert could’ve been gone as high as No. 3 to Buffalo, but his fall to No. 10 got Jacksonville onto the phone. David Garrard is a serviceable quarterback, so don’t expect to see Gabbert on the field any time soon. He’s the man of the future for the Jaguars.
Houston could have gone several ways here, but ultimately opt for the experienced defensive end out of Wisconsin. He’ll fit in very nicely with Wade Phillips’ new 3-4 scheme, and is versatile enough to play several different positions. He’s more athletic than you’d think, and can get into the backfield with great proficiency. Safe pick here for Houston.
Ponder’s stock has been on a steady rise since his MVP performance at the Senior Bowl, and the Vikings get their quarterback here. They’d been hot on the trail of Jake Locker, but with the Titans having taken him at No. 8, they had to scramble to find their guy. Many believed that several quarterbacks would be taken in the top-half of the first round, and Ponder is the fourth. He’s a very intelligent player with good athleticism that will rarely make mistakes.
Another shocker here. The Lions took the player that turned out to be the Defensive Rookie of the Year in Ndamukong Suh last year, and now take another defensive tackle with pick No. 13. Fairley was arguably the most dominant defensive player in college football last season, and many imagined he’d be the No. 1 overall pick immediately following Auburn’s win in the National Championship Game. He has the chance to be a real disruptive force in the backfield. Look out for the Lions’ defensive line, NFC North.
St. Louis could stand to add some pass rushing, and they do just that by nabbing North Carolina’s Robert Quinn. He had to sit out all of last season due to suspension, but many believe his upside is as good as anyone’s. Chris Long started to show signs of being a very good player on the line last season, and Quinn helps a suspect defensive unit in St. Louis.
Drafting Pouncey helps solidify a young and growing Miami offensive line. They took Jake Long with the No. 1 overall pick a few years ago, and many believe Pouncey may become the best lineman in this draft, as well. The Steelers (who drafted Mike’s twin brother, Maurkice, last year) would love to land him, but Mike will be taking his talents to South Beach.
Given the failure that has been the Albert Haynesworth era in Washington, the Redskins could use a bona fide pass-rusher here. Kerrigan does exactly that, and is athletic enough to line up at either defensive end or outside linebacker. He’s viewed as one of the safest picks in this draft, and the Redskins could certainly use a guy ready to contribute immediately.
A lot of people expected a stud defender or maybe running back Mark Ingram, but the Patriots instead chose to beef up their offensive line and protect Tom Brady. It’s not a sexy pick, but Solder is a beast tackle and the Patriots are likely concerned about age on their offensive line, while they could also lose some talent to free agency. Its a smart, safe pick, but likely not what New England fans were hoping for.
San Diego makes a really solid pick here, beefing up a defensive line that has sorely missed Igor Olshansky, and really needed another big body to throw into the mix for 2011. Liuget is a pretty versatile player who is perfect for San Diego’s system. He reportedly failed a drug test, but it clearly didn’t affect his stock, as the Chargers land the big guy to bolster their attack up front.
Wow, now that is what we call a fall. The star Nebraska corner was supposed to be a top-10 pick, but quarterback reaching led to a major slide. The Giants were expected to add some talent to their offensive line, but instead add an elite corner who can do anything asked of him. New York’s secondary was suspect at times in 2010, most notably in a fourth quarter collapse against the Philadelphia Eagles. The addition of an elite defender like Amukamara could help restore that gritty Giants defense that helped win them a Super Bowl in 2007.
Tampa Bay was probably crossing their fingers that Amukamara would fall one more spot, but instead of replacing the troubled Aqib Talib with a new stud corner, they’ll have to settle with addressing their defensive line. Clayborn is a very versatile and athletic defensive lineman and should be a great addition to a growing Tampa Bay line. Medical concerns likely hurt his draft stock initially, but scouts don’t seem to think he’ll have any major issues at the next level.
Cleveland traded back up to land a stud defensive tackle. The Browns made strides in 2010 on defense, but after losing inside man Shaun Rogers, they knew they had to beef up again on their line. Taylor is a meaty inside man who can get the job done right away.
Castonzo is a perfect fit for the Colts’ offensive line, and fills a position of need. Peyton Manning has never been the most mobile quarterback, so with age, that lacking skill will only regress. Surrounding him with stud offensive linemen as Indianapolis moves forward is key to extending his career. Castonzo is one of the better tackles in this draft and could have gone a bit higher, but falls to Indy and couldn’t have landed in a better situation.
Jimmy Smith was a hot name for the Eagles, but anyone who knows Philly knows they needed some help on the offensive line. As mobile and elusive as Michael Vick is, he got hit and sacked a ton in 2010. With his style of play and lack of durability, it’s extremely important to have as good of pass protection as possible. Watkins can help improve the pass protection, while also offering good run-blocking. At 27, he’s older than your normal rookie, but this is still a very quality pick.
New Orleans has the luxury of having a very talented, balanced team. They’re getting older on the defensive line, and they could really use a boost in their pass rush at defensive end. Jordan is a top-10 talent that has simply slid due to necessity. The Saints were smart to not over-look him. Jordan is a fantastic steal at this point in the draft.
25. Seattle Seahawks (7-9) – James Carpenter, OT, Alabama
Seattle dished out one of the biggest reaches of the first round, and one that quite arguably could go down as the biggest reach of the entire 2011 NFL Draft. While a solid offensive tackle prospect, Carpenter doesn’t offer much “wow” ability, and is a questionable selection in the first round with stud tackles like Game Carimi and Derek Sherrod still around. Only in Seattle…
KC could have used a boost in their pass rush or run defense, but giving Matt Cassel a huge, physical target at receiver will suffice. The Chiefs really haven’t had anyone outside of Dwaye Bower that has been worth mentioning on offense since Tony Gonzalez left, so this was a necessary pick. Baldwin’s tremendous size and play-making ability could push Kansas City’s offense to a new level in 2011.
Baltimore made a mess of the 26th selection, botching a trade attempt with the Chicago Bears and ultimately passing on their original pick. One Kansas City selection later, and the Ravens got one of the most talented and physical corners in the draft. If it weren’t for major character concerns, Smith would have been a top-15 pick. If anyone can get the most out of a defensive player, its the Ravens.
New Orleans had an opportunity to land Ingram earlier, but opted for a defensive stud. Yet, here they are, landing a feature back, while Ingram is the first running back to be drafted in this year’s class. With major questions hovering over their current crop of running backs, its high time the Saints went back to the drawing board and got themselves a feature running back. Ingram isn’t a burner, but he’s a very gifted back that should fit in nicely with the Saints’ system.
A Badger playing for the Bears. Perfect. Carimi is just an absolute beast that could have easily gone 10-15 picks higher under the right situation, but fell to a team that badly needs his size and versatility. Jay Cutler got passed around like green beans on Thanksgiving last year, and especially in the first half of Chicago’s loss to Green Bay in the NFC title game. If Cutler and the Bears are to take the next big step, Carimi has to help stop defenses in their tracks.
So long, Kris Jenkins, hello Muhammad Wilkerson. Just an absolute match on all accounts. The Jets badly needed an answer for the loss of the oft-injured Jenkins, and Wilkerson’s size and athleticism for his position give the Jets another dominating presence on defense. Yet another great talent to add to an already stacked crew for Rex Ryan.
Heyward has taken arguably the biggest fall of this draft, but finally finds a great home in Pittsburgh. He fits the Steelers’ 3-4 scheme perfectly, and could take over for aging talent on either side immediately. He’s a top-15 talent that simply slipped due to other needs by teams, and is in contention for being the steal of the opening round.
Green Bay got a stud tackle in Bryan Bulaga last year, and now they’ve set themselves up for the future with another big, talented tackle in Sherrod. Green Bay needed a defensive end or outside linebacker for their growing 3-4 scheme, but with aging offensive linemen, Sherrod is still a solid pick.