Draft Do-Overs  

 

2011 NFL Draft Do-Over: Buffalo Bills scoop up Colin Kaepernick

It really takes three seasons to accurately grade a draft class, but at this point, the 2011 NFL Draft looks like one of the most talent-laden crops in NFL history. From top to bottom, the draft produced numerous game changers with the potential to rewrite the record books and revolutionize the way the game is played at key positions.


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Given some time to review the production, performance and potential of the top players in this draft, I thought it would be fun to reshuffle the deck with the benefit of hindsight. Here is my 2011 NFL Draft Do-Over:

1) Carolina Panthers
Pick: Cam Newton, QB
Do-over: Same
Critics focus on Newton's sideline demeanor and end-zone antics, but there's no denying his spectacular talent as a dual-threat playmaker. Newton shattered the rookie mark for passing yards (only to have Andrew Luck break it last year) and established a new mark for rushing touchdowns by a quarterback with 14 in 2011.

2) Denver Broncos
Pick: Von Miller, OLB
Do-over: Same
Comparisons to the late Derrick Thomas are legit, based on Miller's dominance over the past two seasons. He has racked up 30 sacks in 31 games, showcasing an explosive dip-and-rip move that is seemingly indefensible.

3) Buffalo Bills
Pick: Marcell Dareus, DT
Do-over: Colin Kaepernick, QB
If the Bills had the foresight to see the read-option taking the NFL by storm, Kaepernick would've been the easy choice as a franchise quarterback. He has shown remarkable playmaking skills as a runner and passer, while also displaying the moxie to perform under playoff pressure.

2011 NFL Draft -- Round 1
Pk
Team
Player
Pos.
College
1
QB
Auburn
2
LB
Texas A&M
3
DT
Alabama
4
WR
Georgia
5
DB
LSU
6
WR
Alabama
7
LB
Missouri
8
QB
Washington
9
OT
USC
10
QB
Missouri
11
DE
Wisconsin
12
QB
Florida State
13
DT
Auburn
14
DE
North Carolina
15
C
Florida
16
LB
Purdue
17
OT
Colorado
18
DE
Illinois
19
DB
Nebraska
20
DE
Iowa
21
Phil Taylor
DT
Baylor
22
OT
Boston College
23
G
Baylor
24
DE
California
25
OT
Alabama
26
Jonathan Baldwin
WR
Pittsburgh
27
DB
Colorado
28
RB
Alabama
29
OT
Wisconsin
30
DT
Temple
31
DE
Ohio State
32
OT
Mississippi State
» 2011 NFL Draft: All the picks

4) Cincinnati Bengals
Pick: A.J. Green, WR
Do-over: Same
The Bengals emergence as a legitimate title contender is directly tied to Green's dominance on the perimeter. He has topped the 1,000-yard mark in consecutive seasons and scored 18 touchdowns.

5) Arizona Cardinals
Pick: Patrick Peterson, CB
Do-over: Same
Peterson made an immediate impact on the Cardinals' fortunes with his electrifying return skills as a rookie. While he remains a threat to score any time he touches the ball in the return game, Peterson is starting earn respect from his peers as one of the premier cover corners in the league.

6) Atlanta Falcons
Pick: Julio Jones, WR
Do-over: Same
Cynics snickered when Falcons GM Thomas Dimitroff gave up a hefty sum to nab the big-bodied playmaker with the sixth pick, but no one is questioning the trade-up with Jones' emergence as an elite receiver.

7) San Francisco 49ers
Pick: Aldon Smith, OLB
Do-over: Same
Credit GM Trent Baalke and head coach Jim Harbaugh for anticipating Smith's quick transition to the pro game. The Missouri product has developed into one of the top pass rushers in the NFL, with 33.5 sacks in two seasons.

8) Tennessee Titans
Pick: Jake Locker, QB
Do-over: Andy Dalton, QB
Dalton lacked the big arm to earn a first-round grade in 2011, but it is hard to dismiss his winning pedigree and immeasurable intangibles in a do-over. With the Titans needing a proven winner under center to manage the game, Dalton would be the likely choice this time around.

9) Dallas Cowboys
Pick: Tyron Smith, OT
Do-over: J.J. Watt, DE
"The King of Swat" would be a welcome addition to a Cowboys defense that needs another superstar to complement DeMarcus Ware. Watt earned Defensive Player of the Year honors in 2012 after leading the NFL in sacks (20.5) and batted balls (16).

10) Jacksonville Jaguars
Pick: Blaine Gabbert, QB
Do-over: Richard Sherman, CB
The loquacious Sherman has created quite a stir with his prickly personality, but the Jaguars would love to have a sticky cover man of his ilk in the lineup. He has quickly developed into one of the best corners in the game by blanketing receivers with his roughhouse tactics.

11) Houston Texans
Pick: J.J. Watt, DE
Do-over: Torrey Smith, WR
The Texans have been searching for a vertical threat to place opposite Andre Johnson for the past few years. Smith is one of the best in the business, with a combination of size, speed and explosiveness that overwhelms defenders on the perimeter. With Watt off the board, this is a fine fit.

12) Minnesota Vikings
Pick: Christian Ponder, QB
Do-over: Ryan Mallett, QB
Imagine how much damage Adrian Peterson could do to a defense if he played with a legitimate quarterback? Mallett was undoubtedly one of the most talented quarterbacks in the 2011 class, but character concerns scared teams away. With an unblemished record since entering the league, the Vikings would snap him up in a heartbeat with hindsight.

13) Detroit Lions
Pick: Nick Fairley, DT
Do-over: Marcell Dareus, DT
Jim Schwartz would love Dareus, a ferocious interior defender with size, strength and power to pair alongside Ndamukong Suh in the middle. While Fairley already fulfills this role to some extent, Dareus is a better option here.

14) St. Louis Rams
Pick: Robert Quinn, DE
Do-over: Nate Solder, OT
Protecting Sam Bradford is always the priority in St. Louis. Solder is an exceptional athlete with solid technical skills.

15) Miami Dolphins
Pick: Mike Pouncey, C
Do-over: Same
Fortifying the middle of the line is critical for consistent offensive production. Pouncey is an athletic pivot with the strength and power to blow defenders off the ball.

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16) Washington Redskins
Pick: Ryan Kerrigan, OLB
Do-over: Same
Kerrigan has quietly developed into a top-notch pass rusher in our nation's capital under Mike Shanahan and Jim Haslett. Can't imagine a better plug-and-play option at this pick.

17) New England Patriots
Pick: Nate Solder, OT
Do-over: Randall Cobb, WR
The thought of Cobb serving an apprenticeship under Wes Welker is downright scary. But not as scary as the thought of Cobb playing as the between-the-hashes threat alongside Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski.

18) San Diego Chargers
Pick: Corey Liuget, DE
Do-over: Jabaal Sheard, DE/OLB
The Chargers have been attempting to replace Shawne Merriman's production for years. Sheard was overlooked in 2011, but after tallying 15.5 sacks in two seasons, he would be a hot commodity for San Diego.

19) New York Giants
Pick: Prince Amukamara, CB
Do-over: Muhammad Wilkerson, DT
The G-Men are always willing to plug in a rock-solid interior defender with size and strength. Wilkerson certainly fits the bill with a 6-foot-4, 315-pound frame producing eight sacks and four forced fumbles in two seasons.

20) Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Pick: Adrian Clayborn, DE
Do-over: Justin Houston, DE
Houston was pegged as one of the potential stars of this class until a series of off-field incidents led to questions about his character, dropping him to Round 3. However, he has avoided trouble in the NFL and become a standout pass rusher off the edge. Given the Bucs' inability to get after the passer, Greg Schiano would jump at a playmaker like Houston.

21) Cleveland Browns
Pick: Phil Taylor, DT
Do-over: Same
Taylor has been as good as advertised as the immovable force in the middle of the Browns' line. Placed in new defensive coordinator Ray Horton's aggressive three-man front, Taylor could go from good to great in a hurry.

22) Indianapolis Colts
Pick: Anthony Castonzo, OT
Do-over: Tyron Smith, OT
Andrew Luck would enjoy throwing from the grassy knoll with Smith snuffing out elite rushers on his blind side.

23) Philadelphia Eagles
Pick: Danny Watkins, OG
Do-over: Jimmy Smith, CB
The Eagles could avoid the failed "Dream Team" experiment by a selecting a Nnamdi Asomugha-like corner in this do-over. Smith is the long, rangy press corner needed to take on the likes of Dez Bryant, Pierre Garcon and Victor Cruz in the NFC East.

24) New Orleans
Pick: Cameron Jordan, DE
Do-over: Same
Jordan has shown impressive flashes as a pass rusher, notching eight sacks in 2012. Rob Ryan certainly would foster those skills by using him as a versatile weapon along the front line.

Daniel Jeremiah and Bucky Brooks debate the tough draft-related issues.

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25) Seattle Seahawks
Pick: James Carpenter, OT
Do-over: Kyle Rudolph, TE
The only ingredient missing from the Seahawks' explosive offensive lineup is a dominant tight end between the hashes. Rudolph earned Pro Bowl honors in 2012 and possesses skills that would help Russell Wilson take another step in his development.

26) Kansas City Chiefs
Pick: Jonathan Baldwin, WR
Do-over: T.J. Yates, QB
Yates' inclusion in the first round might surprise some, but he displayed exceptional poise, savvy and leadership skills during a seven-game stint as a starter in 2011. Given the Chiefs' struggles with Matt Cassel, the decision to grab Yates could've saved Scott Pioli's job.

27) Baltimore Ravens
Pick: Jimmy Smith, CB
Do-over: Corey Liuget, DE
Ozzie Newsome consistently lands impact players at the bottom of the first round. Liuget would team with Haloti Ngata to give the Ravens a destructive tandem on the defensive line.

28) New Orleans Saints
Pick: Mark Ingram, RB
Do-over: DeMarco Murray, RB
Sean Payton wanted to juice up his running game by adding an explosive back to the rotation. At the time, Ingram was pegged as the guy to do it, but Murray has proven to be more productive with the ball in his hands.

29) Chicago Bears
Pick: Gabe Carimi, OT
Do-over: Nick Fairley, DT
The Bears' defense is built from the inside out, with tremendous emphasis placed on the defensive tackle positions. Henry Melton has developed into a Pro Bowl three-technique, but Fairley could be a game changer in a scheme that encourages defenders to shoot the gaps.

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No. 1 overall draft picks

Take a look back at the No. 1 picks in the NFL draft.

30) New York Jets
Pick: Muhammad Wilkerson, DT
Do-over: Robert Quinn, DE/OLB
Quinn's career got off to a slow start, as he struggled to shake off the rust following a season-long suspension during his final year at North Carolina. But he came on like gangbusters in 2012, which would pique the interest of the Jets, given their struggles getting to the passer.

31) Pittsburgh Steelers
Pick: Cameron Heyward, DE
Do-over: Stevan Ridley, RB
Steelers football is all about toughness and physicality. That element has been lacking in the run game over the past few years, but Ridley's insertion into the lineup would certainly alter that perception.

32) Green Bay Packers
Pick: Derek Sherrod, OT
Do-over: Brooks Reed, OLB
The Packers have been searching for a rusher to play opposite Clay Matthews since the Pro Bowler took the league by storm as a rookie in 2009. Reed is the kind of energetic rusher who would thrive against one-on-one matchups on the backside of the defense.

Follow Bucky Brooks on Twitter @BuckyBrooks.

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