Editorial: NFL Draft 2011

This year’s 2011 draft was one of the most polarized drafts in recent history. Some teams drafted like it was the office fantasy league and others drafted like there was a Super Bowl to win.

The Winners

The Jacksonville Jaguars traded up to the No. 10 pick in the first round with a bulls-eye on Missouri product and obvious front-runner Blaine Gabbert. After being selected, Gabbert made it clear that his objective was to learn from the Jags’ current quarterback, veteran David Gerrard, rather than replace him. Most expect Gerrard to have three to five seasons left in him. With a veteran grooming the talent of Gabbert, plus drafting offensive lineman Will Rackley in the third round, the Jaguars are building an offense that could be very potent in the next couple of years.

The Detroit Lions turned in another successful weekend, going after Auburn defensive tackle Nick Fairley, to be yoked with Ndamukong Suh. With Suh and Fairley bulldozing through the middle of the line and Kyle Vanden Bosch on the outside, the Lions are slowly but surely making quality improvements to their squad. Defensive line coach Jim Schwartz was responsible for making Albert Haynesworth a Pro-Bowler in Tennessee. Schwartz will be licking his chops getting to sic Suh and Fairley on Minnesota’s Christian Ponder.

The Houston Texans knew they had a problem. They had one of the most laughable defenses in the entire league. Acquiring Wade Phillips as a defensive coordinator was their first stroke of brilliance. Wisconsin madman J.J. Watt and Arizona diesel Brooks Reed were their next two. Watt gives the Texans a legitimate threat to compliment Mario Williams in the new 3-4 Phillips defense. Watt led the Badgers in sacks and was second in tackles and passes defended. As a D-end. Reed gives added pressure off the edge as a pass-rusher. With Reed and Watt coming into the lineup with Brian Cushing and Demeco Ryans, the Texans addressed serious vulnerability.

The Losers

The Carolina Panthers wasted a pick. Again. It’s almost not even newsworthy. Cam Newton was the No. 1 overall pick in the draft and as such will be expected to grace Raleigh immediately and turn around a 2-14 program. With no support, no coaching staff to speak of, no offensive line and no defense, Newton will have to do everything himself. Where have we seen this before? Oh yeah, every Auburn game.

The Atlanta Falcons made a “bold” move in trading five picks to snag wide-receiver Julio Jones. The Atlanta Falcons made an incredibly imprudent move in trading five picks to snag wide-receiver Julio Jones. Why? Because in the game of football, a receiver to give Matt Ryan an “additional weapon” is never worth five players that would give the Falcons, the team, five additional weapons.

The New Orleans Saints drafted a runningback that would change the fortune of the Saints organization for good. Sound familiar? Probably not, considering that mantra that was touted when Reggie Bush first donned a fleur-de-lis lasted about as long as Week 1 of his career. Mark Ingram is the piece New Orleans needed, not Chris Ivory or Pierre Thomas. The “three-headed dragon” backfield of Ivory, Thomas and Bush now gets to scratch a fourth head as it looks at the depth chart.

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