2011 NFL Draft | Top 5 First Round Steals
After much drama, the first round of the 2011 NFL Draft has come to a close.
While many of the picks went as expected (Newton, Miller and Dareus were the first three choices), we also had our fair share of surprises, including the Falcons selling the farm in order to trade up to No. 6 to draft Alabama’s Julio Jones.
With that in mind, who were the five biggest steals of the first round?
1. New Orleans Saints select Cameron Jordan (No. 24 overall)
Many had Jordan pegged as a possible top-10 prospect, but the 2009 Super Bowl champion Saints were able to land the versatile Cal defender with the 24th pick of the first round.
The signing of veteran DT Shaun Rogers solidifies New Orleans’ defensive front, but Jordan has the talent to ultimately become the best defensive player in this draft.
His stock rose dramatically during the week of the Senior Bowl, and the Saints wind up being the big winners.
2. Detroit Lions select Nick Fairley (No. 13 overall)
This wasn’t a conventional choice at No. 13, but the Detroit Lions may have just turned what was a major weakness into one of the league’s most fearsome defensive lines in just two years.
Fairley was rumored to be a potential No. 1 overall pick immediately following his dominating performance for Auburn in the National Championship Game in January, and will be lining up alongside the NFL’s 2010 Defensive Rookie of the Year, Ndamukong Suh, next season.
Detroit could still stand to upgrade their offensive line and secondary, but Fairley could prove to be a major steal.
3. New York Jets select Muhammad Wilkerson (No. 30 overall)
I had seen Wilkerson as a possibility to go as high as No. 17 to the Patriots, so when he fell to the Jets at 30, I knew they had done something right.
The injury history and subsequent released of DT Kris Jenkins opened up a massive hole in the middle of the Jets’ defensive line, and Wilkerson should be able to fill in seamlessly. He’s also versatile enough to play on the end of the line.
The Jets have very few holes on defense, and adding Wilkerson was a no-brainer.
4. New York Giants select Prince Amukamara (No. 19 overall)
I had Amukamara slotted to the Lions at No. 13, but with all the moving and shaking, the former Corn Husker wound up falling to the G-Men at No. 19.
O-line seemed like the biggest need for New York, but they could certainly have stood to upgrade in the secondary. When Amukamara fell all the way down into their laps, they had to make the pick.
The combination of Amukamara and Corey Webster could be dangerous for the rest of the NFC East.
5. New Orleans Saints select Mark Ingram (No. 28 overall)
The Saints already landed a major steal in Cameron Jordan, but hit another home run by trading back into the first round to take the former Heisman Trophy winner, Mark Ingram.
Reggie Bush’s days as a Saint appeared numbered, and it now seems like a certainty that he’ll be on his way out of the Big Easy.
Ingram was regarded as the best back in this draft, and most suspected he’d be the only runner taken in the first round.
Suddenly, the Saints’ offense doesn’t seem so one-dimensional.