After four quarterbacks were taken in the top 12, a total of 12 defensive linemen came off the board in Round 1 and four trades went down, we asked our analysts to give us their biggest surprises from Day 1 of the 2011 NFL Draft.
Pat Kirwan: No one passing on QBs early
The four quarterbacks picked in the top 12 reminded us of how teams without signal-callers have to react and reach for a guy. The top three quarterbacks taken -- Cam Newton, Jake Locker and Blaine Gabbert -- aren't ready to start right away. However, they all probably will be on the field sooner rather than later. I talked with Rick Spielman in Minnesota after the selection of Christian Ponder, and he feels Ponder is the most ready to play. I also talked with Ponder, who admitted he was surprised he went that early in the draft. I think the initial rush for quarterbacks in the first round was the biggest overall surprise. Second to the field generals, the compensation the Saints gave to the Patriots to get back into Round 1 for Mark Ingram was also surprising.
Michael Lombardi: Big price to pay
I am not a big fan of the Falcons moving up to select Julio Jones, because I don't see them as a team that is just one playmaker away from winning it all. They need more talent on defense -- remember the 48 points and 400-plus yards allowed to Green Bay in the postseason? Furthermore, they played away from their strength, which is relying on their ability to draft young, talented players. It was a steep price to pay and one I would have avoided.
Vic Carucci: Panic sets in quickly
The biggest surprise for me was seeing both Jake Locker and Ponder being drafted not just in the first round, but in the top 12. Talk about reaching. I understand that the Titans and Vikings were badly in need of quarterback help. but I just don't think they needed to take those guys so early. In fact, I think they would have been there later on in the round. I see both of those selections as panic moves that were made because neither team had the chance to address its quarterback situation before the draft.
Bucky Brooks: Something to make you Ponder
The biggest surprise for me was the selection of Ponder at No. 12. While he had generated some buzz as a potential first-rounder, I don't know if anyone viewed him as a top-15 pick. His football intelligence, intangibles and work ethic rate off the charts, but there have to be some concerns about his inferior arm strength in a division that has two cities with brutal weather conditions (Chicago, Green Bay) in the season's final months. The Vikings have the running game and offensive line to ease Ponder into a prominent role, but you have to wonder if they view him as their immediate starter or if there is plan to get a veteran to bridge the gap. Regardless, the quarterback position holds the key to Minnesota's playoff hopes and the selection of Ponder provided more questions than answers.
Steve Wyche: Major gamble in Tennessee
As extreme as the Falcons' trade was to move up to draft Jones, the biggest surprise was Locker being taken eighth overall by Tennessee. I guess I shouldn't be too surprised because I heard there was some sentiment in the building for him. At the same time, I've heard for weeks that some teams had Locker rated as low as a third-rounder. Like a lot of people, I figured the Titans might try to get him in the second round or trade into the back end of the first round to land him. While Locker has drawn widespread opinions, none had him pegged to go in the top 10. Tennessee is going to do everything it can to provide him with what he needs to succeed. But if the Titans miss on two straight quarterbacks drafted in the top 10, a lot of heads could roll. As one general manager told me, if you're going to risk it all, risk it on a quarterback.