NFL Draft > Cam Newton Goes #1 To Carolina, Movers & Shakers

 

~ The first round of the 2011 NFL Draft was more exciting than many had thought it would be. The uncertainty around the draft due to the NFL Lockout left many thinking (myself included) that this draft would not have a lot of pop to it this year. There was quite a few surprises and a lot of that was also due to the Lockout. It may have also been due to the fact that there wasn’t a clear cut pick to bank on in this year’s draft. What the fans did see mostly (except for Atlanta and Minnesota) was their teams making the logical picks and trying not to gamble due to where the labor situation currently stands with the league.

Cam Newton Goes #1 To Carolina

The Carolina Panthers did what they had to do with this pick. Cam Newton is bringing star power behind his name. He’s bringing talent. Quite possibly cut in the Michael Vick mold as far as potential. Newton could also be a work in progress and eyes will be on him to see how he handles the big spotlight that comes with being the franchise player. However, for a team that has struggled on and off the field the fan base of the Panthers needed a shot in the arm. Newton had two things working for him here. He’s a quarterback and he was the biggest name in the draft. Carolina had to find a way to get fans in the building and the buzz Newton will bring is a big step forward.

Patrick Peterson Goes To Arizona at Number 5

I thought this was a good pick by the Cardnials because it shows they are focused on getting back to the level they were at that made them a Super Bowl team a couple of years ago. Everyone knows they need a quarterback and had Peterson beat the odds and went number 1, it would’ve been interesting to see what Arizona would’ve done to get a shot at Cam Newton. This team is looking to win now though and they play in the NFC West which is there to be taken. Patrick Peterson was the best cornerback on the board and was rated number 1 on many draft boards.  He give the Cardnials a potential “shutdown” corner and allows for them to look for a quarterback on the free agent market. It wouldn’t be surprising either to see Arizona look towards the future and perhaps look for a quarterback in the 2nd round of the draft.

Atlanta Falcons Trade The Ranch For WR Julio Jones

The Falcons were one of two teams in the draft that made a bold enough move to make you just stare at the television with the “Ricky Ricardo Confused Face”. The first trade of the draft was a doozy. Atlanta traded up from number 27 to the Cleveland Browns number 6 slot to grab Wide Receiver Julio Jones of Alabama. It was what the Falcons gave up to the Browns that had everyone scratching their heads. The Falcons sent their first-round, second-round, and fourth-round picks in 2011, along with a first-round and fourth-round pick in 2012 to the Browns. Great move if you’re a Browns fan. They get more opportunities to improve their team.

As for the Falcons, they clearly went after the best Wide Receiver left on the board after the Bengals took AJ Green at number 4. It gives QB Matt Ryan a dangerous passing attack with Jones, Roddy White, and Tony Gonzalez. The flip side of that is they basically gave up their draft this year to get Jones. The pressure will be on him early to step up and be a high impact player for a team  that went all out to to take the next step.

The Minnesota Vikings Take … Christian Ponder … Who??

This will be a name we remember for only one of two reasons. He’ll either turn out to be very good and be the shocker of the draft or he’ll be very bad and cost a few people in the Vikings upper management their jobs for taking him with the 12th pick in the 1st round. Christian Ponder out of Florida State has the chance to be the quarterback who replaces Brett Favre in Minnesota. Ponder was viewed by many to be a 2nd round pick at best. How did he end up going in top 15 of the 1st round then?

If you were to look at the draft board and how things played out, it put the Vikings in a very difficult spot. The 49ers were expected to take a quarterback at number 7 … they didn’t. That left Jake Locker and Blaine Gabbert still on the board as the two next best quarterbacks available after Newton was picked earlier by Carolina.

The Titans then took Locker at number 8 which closed the door on the Vince Young era. This left Gabbert for the Vikings to hope that he falls to them at 12 … he didn’t make it past 10. The Jaguars surprisingly stepped in and took Gabbert at 10 and this is where the Vikings were going to have to roll the dice.

The top 3 quarterbacks are off the board, there is a wild card still available though. Ryan Mallet was projected by many to have 1st round potential. He’s also had some off the field issues that made teams back off him. The Vikings decide to go with Ponder and no team was more thankful probably than the Detroit Lions who took the best defensive lineman still available, Nick Fairley of Auburn.

Clearly the Vikings loved Ponder during the scouting process to take him so high. They could have addressed another need on the team and picked Ponder up later in the draft. It’s also alarming to Ryan Mallet’s camp that he’d get passed on in a obvious landing spot for him. This was the gamble of the draft because if Ponder ends up being a 1st round bust, it may set the Vikings back for seasons to come.

Notable Winners

The New Orleans Saints wowed everyone in the 1st round of the draft as they came away with 2 great picks. Cameron Jordan on defense at number 24 and Mark Ingram on offense at number 28. The Ingram pick was an aggresive one by the Saints, as they had to trade back into the 1st round with New England to grab the running back. Ingram was my sleeper pick in the draft and it was unfortunate that he fell so far in the 1st round. I thought he would have been a great fit with the Giants, Patriots or even the defending champion Packers. New Orleans will get a motivated former Heisman Award winner. It also creates a sub plot for the Saints, what will now happen to running back and former top pick Reggie Bush?

 

My hometown teams madeout pretty well in the first round as well. The Giants and Jets both addressed needs on defense. The Giants took cornerback Prince Amukamara and from everything mentioned about him, he has “shutdown” potential. The Jets made what I thought was the most logical pick of the draft so far. They grabbed Muhammad Wilkerson at number 30. Wilkerson gives the Jets much needed help on the defensive line.

What To Look For In Round 2?

Where does Ryan Mallet Go? The quarterback many project to have 1st round talent is still on the board. I’m looking for the Bengals to make a move for either Mallet or Andy Dalton. They already took the best receiver on the board in AJ Green. They still don’t know what will happen with Carson Palmer and they are in need of a quarterback.

Stanford’s Andrew Luck Decides To Stay In School

 

   

~ Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck has decided to stay in college to get his degree instead of heading to the NFL where he most likely would have been the No 1 pick in the Draft. Luck has two years of eligibility remaining at Stanford, however he is eligible for graduation in spring of 2012 according to Yahoo Sports.com.

“I am committed to earning my degree in architectural design from Stanford University and am on track to accomplish this at the completion of the spring quarter of 2012.” … Andrew Luck’s statement issued through the school.

 Luck finished up this season as runner-up to Cam Newton of Auburn for the Heisman Trophy, he’ll now be one of the favorites for next year’s award. I have not followed Luck until this season as I heard his name begin to come up often in NFL draft talks. The Carolina Panthers have the No.1 pick in April and reports were they were expressing interest in drafting Luck. It’ll be interesting to see now what Carolina does with that pick, they still don’t even have a head coach in place as of yet.

As for Luck, he clearly showed this season why he has all of the hype right now highlighted by his four touchdown passes he threw in Stanford’s Orange Bowl victory over Virginia Tech. He reportedly consulted with NFL quarterbacks Peyton Manning and last year’s No. 1 pick Sam Bradford on his choice, however the final decision was apparently all his to make. Bradford and Manning both were faced with a similar choice to make when they were in school and both made choices to stay and get there degrees. If Luck is as talented as the hype has him right now, he’s going to be just fine in the NFL … in 2012.

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