draft2011selfgradegreg


By Greg Cox.
Greg Cox was a senior writer at TheFootballExpert.com and appeared as a guest on the NFL Network’s Path to the Draft.
Send Greg an e-mail here: [email protected]
Follow Greg on Twitter @ActuallyGregCox for updates.

A lot of people make fun of mock drafters, citing how inaccurate they are as a reason for them being worthless. I have no problem with anyone poking fun at the sometimes fruitless endeavor of trying to project how the NFL Draft actually plays out given the limitless possibilities. Trying to figure out how 32 different front offices are going to approach drafting more than 300 draft-worthy prospects seems like an impossible task. It can be accurate in spots though. In 2010, I correctly paired up 15 players to the team drafting them out of 98 for my final three-round mock draft. This year, I had 17 players tied to their correct team in the first 120 picks and a few others as well later on, and still others I had from previous versions.

The goal of this analysis is not to pat myself on the back though. It is to look back on the draft with an eye on how well I approached each team’s draft and whether or not they picked players at the positions I expected them to. I also give somewhat of a stamp of approval (or not) for their draft. Walt has already provided a grade for each and every pick, and also for each team as a whole. This is more of a self-grading exercise. I have no problem outlining where I messed up and it is important for me to figure out how I performed when trying to emulate each team’s draft.

Atlanta Falcons

For a detailed analysis of every pick check out Walt’s 2011 NFL Draft Grades

Not counting ace reporters on the eve of the draft, no one really expected their front office to make such a bold trade up the board to draft Alabama wide receiver Julio Jones. Part of the impact was that instead of them having two picks near the end of the first and second rounds they had the sixth overall selection.

In my final handful of mock drafts I went from offensive tackle, which was for me a “should” rather than a “will”, twice then defensive end twice before settling on tight end Kyle Rudolph. This was a huge miss because they decided this weak draft class was not suited for seeking a successor to Tony Gonzalez and did not select one.

There was plenty of positive news though. I had them taking a linebacker, punter and guard within a round of where they actually did. They waited longer than I expected (No. 145) to take a running back (No. 91). They did get their defensive end, but it came in the final round after I had been looking for them to address the position in the first or second round.

Getting back to wide receiver, I had been mocking them a fast option for the slot in the second round until my final mock when I pushed it down the board. Overall the Falcons took six players and all six positions I had in my final mock draft. No tight end, backup quarterback or slot receiver but they sacrificed three picks.

Looking back on my team needs I was always looking for them to add more of a slot wide receiver so while clearly Jones adds speed it was a curveball. I believe they erred in not trying to select a successor for tight end Tony Gonzalez who almost certainly will retire after this season. His 153 receptions over the past two seasons have helped the offense move the chains – 93 times to be specific.

I expected them to be more aggressive in search of help at defensive end, but South Carolina’s Cliff Matthews could be a sleeper and they should be active in free agency for players looking for a potential title contender. It was puzzling to watch them spend just a seventh round pick on the offensive line as well. For a team built on possessing the football and running it they needed to keep the talent flowing in.

The secondary was also ignored and I would understand this more if the pass rush had been upgraded, but watching Aaron Rodgers take them apart in the playoffs this front office had to at least consider an upgrade at safety or cornerback right? Overall I think this draft could hurt the franchise’s long term outlook. Future picks are gone to Cleveland, needs were ignored and they did not acquire much talent.

Arizona Cardinals

For a detailed analysis of every pick check out Walt’s 2011 NFL Draft Grades

It was hit and miss for me when it came to the Cardinals, but I stayed away from quarterback so I had that going for me. I also got the direct hit with LSU cornerback Patrick Peterson at No. 5 overall. In my final mock I went with running back in the third round which I consider another win considering many did not consider this a need. They took Virginia Tech’s Ryan Williams in the second round. I pegged the pick they would grab a rush linebacker (No. 103) and was just 13 picks early on when they would take a defensive end.

I had them taking an inside linebacker and wide receiver although they did so later than I projected. I missed on them taking a tight end although I did have it happening when it actually did (No. 69) in version 6 so it wasn’t like the thought never crossed my mind. Fullback and defensive end were other positions addressed that I missd on, and while I expected two additions on the offensive line they added no one.

Overall they addressed 6 of the 8 positions I expected them to and mostly close to the pick it actually happened. It was a pretty good mock overall.

Analyzing my team needs I really thought the Cardinals were going to pick up a tackle. Levi Brown has not lived up to his draft status on the left side and there is no solid answer on the right side either. I knew quarterback was not in the (wait for the awful pun) cards given their multiple young options on board, but they could have stabilized the offensive line for the new signal caller.

Does Kevin Kolb really want to play behind this offensive line? The interior positions are also unsettled, and drafting Williams is not suddenly going to give them a ground attack. If free agency also provides them with new recruits along the line and Kolb is in fact secured this could be a surprising offense. I liked the addition of tight end Rob Housler who can’t block a lick, but gives them a receiving threat they lacked.

Defensively this draft filled the holes I saw on the front seven with four additions while adding possibly the draft’s best player in Peterson to bolster the secondary. It is too early to predict a bounce back season for the Cardinals, but other than upgrading the offensive line I liked how they handled this draft.

Baltimore Ravens

For a detailed analysis of every pick check out Walt’s 2011 NFL Draft Grades

If only I had stuck with my cornerback picks from version 7 (Jimmy Smith at No. 26) and version 6 (Chykie Brown at No. 123) I would have felt a lot better about my mock for the Ravens. Instead I wound up with a mixed bag. On the plus side the first three positions they addressed, and four of the first five were ones I put in my final mock.

On the other side of the spectrum, I was a couple rounds off when it came to when the Ravens would address the positions I hit on. They went cornerback two rounds earlier and two rounds later than I predicted, but I give myself credit for saying they would in fact double dip. Wide receiver and offensive tackle were also addressed later than the mock.

Of my position misses, I had mocked them a defensive end and running back in earlier versions. I never had them taking two wide receivers or a quarterback though. The net result was hitting on just 4 of 8 positions and without coming closer on the rounds this was a pretty unsuccessful mock draft. I thought they would take an inside linebacker, safety, center and yet another linebacker. A couple of those will be needs when the 2012 NFL Draft rolls around.

Examining my team needs I was most surprised to see them not draft a pass rushing outside linebacker. Last year’s blunder of Texas’ Sergio Kindle should not have deterred them from trying again to get someone capable of helping out Terrell Suggs. I can understand them passing on center given the weak class and when the league opens for business there are reasonable options.

Other than that the only area I thought they could address and did not was inside linebacker because life after Ray Lewis is going to start very soon, but that is minor. My biggest gripe with their draft is that the particular players they chose were not ones I saw as perfect fits. It should go without saying that they are better equipped to know that, but double dipping at wide receiver without securing someone capable of filling their No. 1 role confused me. Virginia Tech’s Tyrod Taylor is a unique option at quarterback, but I expected someone a little safer. I mostly liked their draft though.

Buffalo Bills

For a detailed analysis of every pick check out Walt’s 2011 NFL Draft Grades

The Bills have been known to make some pretty crazy draft picks, but I pretty much had their number when it came to the early selections. The first five picks from my final mock were all addressed, and two of the players selected I had right (Alabama defensive lineman Marcell Dareus and LSU inside linebacker Kelvin Sheppard) although they took Sheppard a round earlier than my projection.

The offensive tackle need was addressed with the first pick in the fourth round, but that was a hit. They took a strong safety and cornerback, but did so several rounds earlier than I expected. Double dipping hurt my accuracy when they took another cornerback and inside linebacker late in the draft. My other positional misses were running back (how could I not know?!) and nose tackle where I assume Bethel’s Michael Jasper is going to play if they get anything out of him.

They did not select a quarterback, rush linebacker, wide receiver or tight end. By the way I am not giving myself credit for Mississippi State’s Chris White playing outside where he could end up. That hurts my bottom line where I projected just 5 of 9 positions they wound up addressing.

Perusing the team needs I had for them prior to the draft the first overlooked position was outside linebacker. They must be confident Aaron Maybin or Shawne Merriman can be effective, but they did strengthen the position with two options inside. The other holes in their defense I saw were given attention though, especially the secondary where additions came in the second, fourth and seventh rounds.

On offense I considered them adding a quarterback, but dating back to the early draft process I knew of their confidence in Ryan Fitzpatrick as a starter. Tight end is another position a lot of draft followers see as a bigger need than the actual Buffalo front office. This rookie class has the potential to fill some areas of need and while it is not perfect (another running back, really?) it should bolster the defense where most of the picks were spent.

Carolina Panthers

For a detailed analysis of every pick check out Walt’s 2011 NFL Draft Grades

Eventually I came around to mocking Auburn quarterback Cam Newton to them for the obvious direct hit. They addressed defensive tackle, cornerback and offensive tackle in the spots I expected them to, and went wide receiver and guard a round later than my projections.

The misses came from them double dipping at defensive tackle, which given their dire need was foreseeable, and taking a linebacker. I had them going tight end and running back to help out their newest franchise quarterback, but their defensive minded head coach Ron Rivera should be happy with them attacking that side of the ball instead.

In total they addressed 6 of 8 positions I put in my final mock draft, and most of those were in the same spot I projected with the two exceptions just a single round off. I would therefore consider my mock very successful for the Panthers.

Heading into the draft I expected them to select a tight end to help out the inevitable choice of Newton, who of course filled a need. The third need was offensive line although in my notes I looked at is a minor need with injuries being the biggest factor. Two late round additions made a lot of sense to me.

On defense they went after all the positions I expected them to so I really have no complaints on either side of the ball. They added two defensive tackles in the top 100 which was their biggest need. To be clear they have other holes on the roster, but they tried to solve those problems with draft picks. Time will tell how effective these rookies can be. Not getting ravaged by injuries, mostly on offense, is going to help the Panthers quite a bit in 2011.

Chicago Bears

For a detailed analysis of every pick check out Walt’s 2011 NFL Draft Grades

In all of the mocks I am using to evaluate my performance (version 4 through my final mock) I had them taking an offensive lineman and a defensive tackle with their first two picks, which they did. At one point I even had Oregon State defensive tackle Stephen Paea to them, albeit in the first round. Given six chances (their original stack of picks) I connected on 3 of 5 positions they would address and was just one round off on each choice.

They chose a safety instead of the cornerback I expected, but in fairness California’s Chris Conte only moved to safety this past season from cornerback. I expected another linebacker and a wide receiver late, but instead they went with a quarterback. I did not see that coming.

For a small draft class I did an average job evaluating what they would do overall, but a good job assessing their early picks. There really isn’t much else to say.

Peeking at the team needs I had assigned for them it was difficult for them to hit all of those areas with just five choices. I thought a big, shutdown type cornerback would be sought. I saw power running back as a minor need as well although effectively they went with Idaho quarterback Nathan Enderle instead.

The biggest surprise was them not selecting a big wide receiver capable of chewing up receptions to complement their speedy options. Interior offensive line was another area I thought needed help. Finally, their punter Brad Maynard is awful but it’s not like they had to draft one in order to solve that problem.

They did get help in this draft, and considering their limited picks I thought it was a decent draft. One thing that could have hurt them was not working the board to acquire more picks, but adding Paea and Wisconsin offensive tackle Gabe Carimi will immediately help both sides of the line so I can’t fault them too much.



Cincinnati Bengals

For a detailed analysis of every pick check out Walt’s 2011 NFL Draft Grades

I have to give credit for being all over the Bengals to the years I spent at TheFootballExpert. Michael Abromowitz is a fan and we spent plenty of time in past drafts discussing how they operate. This year the only question I asked him was about them possibly taking Missouri quarterback Blaine Gabbert. His answer was no, and that set me up for two direct hits on their first two selections. I actually already had A.J. Green and Andy Dalton in those spots dating back to version 7, but that was my confirmation.

The early success was followed up by hitting on 7 of 8 positions they would address. I was off a round on where they would take a linebacker and cornerback, but had the safety pegged at No. 134 overall. I was two rounds late on guard and four rounds late on running back if those can be considered misses.

Double dipping on wide receiver was the only position I missed on as I had them taking an offensive tackle instead. Overall this is about as good as it gets for a full mock draft.

When it comes to my team needs for them prior to the draft many of them were addressed with draft picks. I did think they would take a cornerback sooner, but if Jonathan Joseph signs obviously it will have worked out. I thought a defensive end to bookend with last year’s pick Carlos Dunlap would be sought, but of the eight positions I had them slated to need help it was the only one they passed on.

There really isn’t too much left to say. Adding a winning quarterback, star wide receiver and impact guard gives the offense reason for optimism. I might have taken a running back earlier and the second wide receiver clearly indicates they missed on several recent draft picks at the position. As a whole I would rate this as a competent draft, which for this franchise is an accomplishment.

Cleveland Browns

For a detailed analysis of every pick check out Walt’s 2011 NFL Draft Grades

The big trade down certainly impacted their draft and made it hard to be really accurate. I begrudgingly put Alabama wide receiver Julio Jones to them at No. 6 in my final mock knowing they were not going to take him after giving them a receiver in rounds 2-4 previously which fit their choice in the second round of North Carolina’s Greg Little.

Even with the trade they still wound up with the same number of picks in this draft and I was able to hit on 5 of 8 positions addressed. I had the round correct on cornerback and defensive end. I was a round off on wide receiver as I just pointed out and two rounds off on where they would take a safety and defensive tackle.

The position misses were guard, running back and a second defensive end. They went with offensive tackle, fullback and tight end. If you look at it those misses were not too bad because two of those spots are in the same area. Ironically I mocked them a tight end and got ridiculed in version 5, but I liked the idea. Apparently they did too. I would say I did a pretty good job evaluating them and had I known about the trade ahead of time would have done even better.

Glancing back at my teams needs for the Browns they tackled most of the issues I saw facing them. The only exception on offense was guard, and that is a minor criticism considering an undrafted free agent can be brought in once the labor dispute is settled. Defensively I anticipated an addition at linebacker, but considering all the talent they acquired thanks to their brilliant trade with the Falcons I can’t complain about that either.

This draft not only helped their defensive line set up for the transition back to a 4-3 alignment, it also boosted their offensive outlook with a potential No. 1 wide receiver, athletic tight end and possible starting right tackle. I really liked the way the Browns handled their draft.

Dallas Cowboys

For a detailed analysis of every pick check out Walt’s 2011 NFL Draft Grades

Ouch – this was not one of my better performances. Other than tabbing USC offensive tackle Tyron Smith to them I had a rough time mocking the Cowboys. I hit on just 3 of 8 positions they addressed overall, hitting on the spots they would take an offensive tackle and wide receiver while expecting them to take a running back two rounds later.

I did have some near misses, and in fairness would have gone guard had I finished playing out my final mock. I had consistently given them TCU guard Marcus Cannon and they wound up taking two interior linemen. I also went with a pair of safeties, and they went cornerback. Again, leading up to my final mock I had consistently given them a cornerback.

Finally, I went inside linebacker late and they went outside linebacker early. I did not see the Bruce Carter pick coming. I also did not expect a fullback and instead anticipated a defensive end. To put a positive spin on it I guess my earlier mocks were better and had I stuck with cornerback and guard I would have hit on 5 of 8, but this is a bottom line deal and I did poorly.

Checking the team needs I had for the Cowboys they did what I thought they needed to on offense with two guards, a tackle and late round wide receiver. Adding Oklahoma’s DeMarco Murray at running back was a bit of a luxury choice considering their multiple options at the position, but those players have not gotten the job done. Murray is also a talent so I like the move.

Defensively I thought multiple additions would be sought on the defensive line where they lack depth at end and have Jay Ratliff coming off a down year at nose tackle. I thought both safety positions could have been addressed and an earlier look at cornerback than the first round pickup of Buffalo’s Josh Thomas.

Maybe new defensive coordinator Rob Ryan can motivate the existing talent, but I thought the defense needed more help than just the aforementioned late corner and a potential stud in Carter who is not expected to be healthy enough for much of a rookie season. For me it was just an average draft at best although the heavy emphasis on the offensive line should keep quarterback Tony Romo healthy.

Denver Broncos

For a detailed analysis of every pick check out Walt’s 2011 NFL Draft Grades

Hit and miss is a good way to describe my mocking for the Broncos. In two earlier versions I gave them Rahim Moore and in my penultimate mock had Quinton Carter to them, but ultimately got just a position hit for safety. I ended up connecting on just 5 of 9 positions they addressed and it was a mess.

They did take a tight end, two in fact, but clearly John Fox had no voice in the selection of two athletic players. I had them taking more of a blocker which is his style. I got the Von Miller pick right at the end like everyone else, and also got offensive tackle and outside linebacker right. However, they also went inside linebacker twice which I did not see coming. They did not take a cornerback, defensive tackle or running back which was pretty surprising.

Overall it was a below average performance although in fairness it is difficult to be right when a team double dips at multiple positions as the Broncos did.

I find it hard to criticize the Broncos overlooking a few of my team needs heading into the drat because they obtained so much talent and did get help at most of those positions. One glaring omission was defensive tackle and PFT reports they might look to bring back a previously cut player or two. It still does not make sense to me.

The other two positions I though needed help were cornerback and running back, but neither was a huge problem. They are apparently confident in Knowshon Moreno’s ability to stay healthy and the potential question marks at corner could be resolved. I was concerned about Andre Goodman’s age and Perrish Cox potentially losing his freedom. He stands trial in October.

Overall I thought this draft was terrific and set them up very well for the future at several positions. A lot of value was added and most of these rookies should make the team. This could be the draft that puts the franchise in contention again assuming a quarterback is acquired in the 2012 NFL Draft because I do not consider Tim Tebow a viable option at this point and Kyle Orton is limited.

Detroit Lions

For a detailed analysis of every pick check out Walt’s 2011 NFL Draft Grades

One of the last decisions I made in my final mock draft was leaving Auburn defensive tackle Nick Fairley at No. 8 to the Titans. Had I pulled him from there for Washington quarterback Jake Locker I would have wound up with two more direct hits because it would have pushed Fairley down to the Lions. All along I suspected they would go defensive line and twice (versions 5 and 6) put California’s Cameron Jordan to them. Unfortunately I wound up with a position miss after all that.

I did still wind up with 3 of 5 position hits out of my six shots at it. I had Illinois running back Mikel Leshoure mocked to them in version 7, but pushed running back down in my final mock. I had the wide receiver need in the right spot and also had outside linebacker albeit earlier than they wound up doing it.

Another thing I did was pull offensive tackle from my penultimate mock which cost me a position hit. Everyone was surprised by them not taking a cornerback and I expected defensive end to be addressed. I would say I did a decent job mocking them when looking at the big picture and considering how small the draft class was.

My team needs heading into the draft were not all met because of the lack of picks. More importantly a couple key spots were ignored. Almost everyone expected them to add a cornerback and I thought an edge rusher would have been a good move, possibly North Carolina defensive end Robert Quinn over Fairley in the first round when both were available at No. 13.

While I liked the addition of Leshoure to pair with last year’s pick Jahvid Best, the interior line was not bolstered. Meanwhile a lot of pressure is now on Jason Fox to be the heir apparent at left tackle since they passed on picking one early. I also thought a safety to team up with Louis Delmas was a good idea, but again they only made five picks.

The Lions were given high marks for securing three high profile players and while all of them (Fairley, Leshoure and Titus Young) should see significant roles as rookies this was only an adequate draft. It remains to be seen if it was enough for them to live up to the hype as a trendy playoff pick.

Green Bay Packers

For a detailed analysis of every pick check out Walt’s 2011 NFL Draft Grades

When I chatted with fans of the team on PackersChatters I could not shut up about the fit of Mississippi State offensive tackle Derek Sherrod, but did not expect him to make it to the final pick of the first round so I had to settle for a position hit. I did get a direct hit for them much later with North Carolina tight end Ryan Taylor although they pulled the trigger one pick later at No. 218 after my projection of No. 197.

I hit on a solid 8 of 10 positions they addressed. One miss was another tight end and they could not overlook the value in Arkansas’ D.J. Williams. They also double dipped at outside linebacker for my only other miss. I had them really beefing up the offensive line with another pick late.

Everything else I pretty much had. Ironically they went with Arizona’s Ricky Elmore late and I had them taking his bookend rusher Brooks Reed early. I even had Arizona State defensive tackle Lawrence Guy mocked to them in version 5. The other positions were all addressed within a round or two of when I said they would be making this an overall solid mock.

The only need I had for the Packers before the draft that was not addressed was kicker, but that was predicated on Mason Crosby being a free agent. It is very hard not to love this draft for a team that was already littered with talent coming off a championship. They got the guard and tackle they needed to help protect Aaron Rodgers, and made him even happier by adding multiple tight ends and an exciting wide receiver although it is not even fair to limit Randall Cobb by identifying him that way. A pass protecting running back is icing on the cake.

The defense got help at every level. There are going to be some brutal roster decisions to be made with all the players returning healthy. This draft made a title defense a lot more likely.

Houston Texans

For a detailed analysis of every pick check out Walt’s 2011 NFL Draft Grades

It wasn’t rocket science predicting what the Texans would do. They were going defense and focusing on the secondary. They took two cornerbacks and a safety as I expected and also a rush linebacker to help me get 5 of the 8 positions they addressed correct. One of my misses was their first pick, defensive end J.J. Watt who I did put to them in version 5.

Other than quarterback, which they chose two rounds later than I expected all of the positions I hit on came within a round or closer to where I said it would happen. The other two position misses were their final two picks, an offensive tackle and another defensive end. I went with a wide receiver and backup inside linebacker.

For me this was just a solid performance. I hit on most of the meat of their draft.

My needs before the draft were of course all on defense where the Texans wound up spending six of their eight picks. I acknowledged they felt nose tackle was not a need, but I am still skeptical after they passed. I also thought a smart, physical free safety with ball skills might be sought although they picked up three additions in the secondary.

On paper this is the kind of draft that could finally put the Texans into the playoffs, but it is predicated on a smooth transition to the 3-4 defense with contributions from rookies J.J. Watt and Brooks Reed plus at least something from the new defensive backs drafted. There is also the matter of Mario Williams in his new role at linebacker. I thought it was a pretty good draft with the potential to be great.

Indianapolis Colts

For a detailed analysis of every pick check out Walt’s 2011 NFL Draft Grades

I always preach that the Colts are going to surround Peyton Manning with talent and that is exactly what they did in this draft. Unfortunately I only hit on 3 of 5 positions because I pulled offensive tackle after mocking them one in the first round consistently. I am projecting Ben Ijalana to guard so that was a position hit although I had them taking one a few rounds later.

Running back was another hit and another miss by several rounds on where they would take one. I did get the defensive tackle spot correct at No. 87. My other position miss was cornerback. I had wide receiver, quarterback and center. All of those are going to be needs in the 2012 NFL Draft though so I am not losing sleep over it.

My mock certainly could have gone better, but I got enough things right for a passing grade.

Surprisingly, even with just five picks the Colts addressed most of the needs I had down for them. The exceptions were wide receiver and strong safety. At receiver I felt the imminent departure of Reggie Wayne and health status of Austin Collie and Anthony Gonzalez were concerns. They are more interested in developing a power running game, which is fine. I do expect them to draft a receiver early in the 2012 NFL Draft .

The strong safety need was probably overblown on my part because it’s not like departed Bob Sanders has played much lately. Melvin Bullitt could be retained in free agency and Jamie Silva might be healthy enough to back him up. In just a handful of picks I thought they did well. The offensive line needed help and it was definitely time to add an impact defensive tackle.



Jacksonville Jaguars

For a detailed analysis of every pick check out Walt’s 2011 NFL Draft Grades

The combination of them not being locked in on Purdue defensive end Ryan Kerrigan as many mock drafters anticipated and the trade up for Missouri quarterback Blaine Gabbert threw a wrench in the works, but that does not excuse a really poor mock drafting performance from me.

Even with seven cracks at it I hit on just 2 of 5 positions they addressed. They took a wide receiver two rounds later than I expected and a safety in between the two I projected for them. The other misses were cornerback and guard. In fairness I had started mocking them a late quarterback, but was resistant to give them one in the first round due to the uncertain future of head coach Jack Del Rio.

Other positions I had them going after were a pair of linebackers and a center, so at least I was close on an interior lineman but it surprised me to see them ignore linebacker. Any way I cut this up I was not on point when it came to mocking the Jaguars.

There were a few positions the Jaguars failed to address from the team needs I had them down for. I definitely anticipated them acquiring another defensive end even with past draft failures and not drafting a linebacker was even more surprising. Apparently they have a lot of confidence in their defensive front seven, adding just two defensive backs on day 3 to their defense.

I thought the help on the offensive line would come in the form of a backup tackle and center as opposed to the potential starting guard they picked up in Lehigh’s Will Rackley. Their entire draft hinges on the success of Gabbert who other teams in need of a quarterback passed on. If he lives up to expectations the rest is an afterthought, but I see this as a below average draft.

Kansas City Chiefs

For a detailed analysis of every pick check out Walt’s 2011 NFL Draft Grades

I got some things right when it came to the Chiefs, but struggled with the order they would address needs. I hit on 6 out of 9 positions and was within a round on wide receiver and quarterback. I was multiple rounds off on rush linebacker center and running back. My direct hit of Mississippi nose tackle Jerrell Powe came 113 picks after I projected it, but I’ll take a player match when I can get it.

They added a defensive end, cornerback and another outside linebacker which I did not see coming. Instead I mocked them an inside linebacker and offensive tackle. I take the good with the bad and still feel like I did an above average job mocking them in the final analysis. I just wish I had done a better job on the position order.

The Chiefs added talent at almost every position I had them down for on my team needs notes. The only exception out of the seven positions I had down was a run stuffing inside linebacker. Since four players were added to the front seven this is not a big issue.

Since they addressed the positions I expected them to and also added plenty of value I really liked their draft. If Iowa quarterback Ricky Stanzi develops into a starter and Powe is a legitimate nose tackle this draft could be looked back upon as very special.

Miami Dolphins

For a detailed analysis of every pick check out Walt’s 2011 NFL Draft Grades

Early on everyone was stuck on Alabama running back Mark Ingram, and for good reason. I converted to Florida guard/center Mike Pouncey starting with version 7 and stuck with it for a direct it. They addressed running back and tight end in basically the opposite order I expected them to, sandwiched around wide receiver which I was one round off on.

All told I hit on 4 of 6 positions they wound up addressing although it took me eight shots to do it. They went with a defensive tackle and cornerback which I did not project. Instead I had them going safety and outside linebacker. It was hard to mock them without a second round pick heading into the draft and trading up changed the equation even more. Overall it was an average mock of the Dolphins for me.

I had the Dolphins down for a few positions they ignored, but they were limited coming in without a pick in the second round and then traded up from the third round instead of down in the first round as many anticipated they might. The main position they stood pat on was quarterback. It was an interesting move to ignore Arkansas’ Ryan Mallett in favor of Kansas State running back Daniel Thomas. If he develops on the bench of the rival Patriots it will be a tough pill to swallow.

I also thought they needed some depth at linebacker and with more picks might have gotten help there. The only other position they passed on from my team needs was a free safety. I felt they could do better than Chris Clemons. Many teams are going to be graded on the quarterback they did take in the 2011 draft and the Dolphins will be scrutinized for passing. They needed Thomas for the backfield with Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams both potentially gone, and Florida guard Mike Pouncey is the impact player missing on the interior of the offensive line. Still, this was an uninspiring draft.

Minnesota Vikings

For a detailed analysis of every pick check out Walt’s 2011 NFL Draft Grades

I am pleased with how I mocked the Vikings having hit on 8 of the 10 positions they wound up addressing. I have to start with a frustrating miss though because I had tight end Kyle Rudolph to them in three straight versions (4 to 6) so I settled for a position hit. I had the spots they took quarterback, cornerback and linebacker right.

Only one position I hit on came more than 2 rounds off (defensive end) of where I said it would be taken. My positions misses were not bad either. I had a second linebacker and a center. They took a safety and a guard. I can live with that considering how much I was right about.

I had a ton of needs down for the Vikings before the draft and they made ten picks to address almost all of them. The one glaring omission was offensive tackle, and they obviously felt it was more important to nail down a quarterback which is why they reached for Florida State’s Christian Ponder at No. 12 overall. They did get two interior offensive linemen as I expected, but will definitely look for tackle help in the 2012 NFL Draft .

Other than that the only surprise was waiting so long to add a defensive end. If they are unable to sign Ray Edwards that will be something the team regrets. For a team so recently within a heartbeat of appearing in the Super Bowl the Vikings have fallen off dramatically, but this draft class has the potential to put them back on track.

New England Patriots

For a detailed analysis of every pick check out Walt’s 2011 NFL Draft Grades

Can we just move on? Everyone knew it was going to be hard mocking the Patriots with as much as they trade and I was only able to hit on 5 of 9 positions addressed. It was ugly. Assessing the carnage I was able to hit on offensive tackle, cornerback, running back and defensive end, all of them close to the spot they addressed the need other than guard which they took three rounds later.

However, the misses were plentiful. They double dipped at running back, took a backup quarterback, hit the secondary again and selected a blocking tight end. These were mostly positions I could have seen coming, but instead I stubbornly stuck with wide receiver and like everyone else mocked a rush linebacker for them. I guess I did as well as can be expected given how unpredictable the Patriots are.

Just for fun I wrote up team needs for the Patriots prior to the draft just like the other 31 teams knowing all too well the team would do their own thing as usual. Guess what? They did. I actually only jotted down four general needs – outside linebacker, running back, offensive line and wide receiver.

A lot of people were surprised when they failed to upgrade their pass rush, but that is their way of doing business even with a huge stack of draft picks at their disposal. They added two linemen and two running backs so I got that right, but were reluctant to upgrade the wide receiver position. I definitely see the logic in that with Taylor Price and Brandon Tate waiting in the wings, but Deion Branch is on fumes and I am not convinced Julian Edelman can fill Wes Welker’s shoes. He just turned 30.

Unpredictability aside, the two parts I saw coming should vastly improve their running game and extend Tom Brady’s career. Of course, they also took a backup plan in Arkansas quarterback Ryan Mallett. It is so hard to criticize anything this franchise does in the draft because they always add future picks and of course always win, so I have to call this a pretty good haul.

New Orleans Saints

For a detailed analysis of every pick check out Walt’s 2011 NFL Draft Grades

I had the early picks right so I will start with that. I only hit on 3 of 6 positions they addressed, but they were the first ones and I had the selection order of defensive tackle (where Cam Jordan will line up on occasion) running back and outside linebacker right. I gave myself a miss on defensive end although had I played out my final mock draft (stopped at pick No. 83) it is reasonable to expect I would have given them one considering I had in my previous three versions. So the Jordan hit washes with that.

My other misses were another outside linebacker (again, they will use Illinois’ Martez Wilson outside) and cornerback. I had a late offensive tackle and second defensive tackle with an earlier safety. Throwing it all together I was good early and bad late which makes for a below average mock.

The team needs I broke down for them before the draft coincided well with their actual picks. As I said I think they could use Jordan a little at defensive tackle, but I looked for them to add more of a run stuffer there so that was on area I think they overlooked. Another was safety although maybe I overreacted to Roman Harper’s playoff performance.

Other than that they picked up talent at positions of need I anticipated before the draft. I think Jordan is going to be a player many teams regret passing on and Alabama running back Mark Ingram is exactly what their backfield needs. Before the draft I anticipated a team reaching for Wilson, but instead they got him in the third round. The defense, as expected, was the focus with five of the six selections. If Jordan and Wilson make their impact felt the Saints will have done well, and I expect that to be the case.

New York Giants

For a detailed analysis of every pick check out Walt’s 2011 NFL Draft Grades

To the surprise of no one the Giants drafted the best player available. This was the driving force behind me giving them a cornerback in all my mocks leading up to my final, and a defensive tackle in two late mocks. Unfortunately I pulled both of those lesser needs which left me with just 4 of 8 position hits.

I did connect on wide receiver, inside linebacker, offensive tackle and strong safety. Three of those were addressed within a round of my projection. Another miss, running back, I had included in three consecutive mock drafts. The final miss was outside linebacker. The positions I thought they might go after were center, tight end, free safety and another offensive lineman.

Considering I mocked running back, defensive tackle and cornerback several times when I was only going four rounds I think this was a decent performance. Obviously I wish I had stuck with those choices to the end.

Even if the order was unpredictable, the Giants secured help at almost all the positions I thought they would prior to the draft. The lone exception was on the interior of the offensive line, primarily a center to succeed Shaun O’Hara. As noted several times, however, this center class was weak and options are still available when rookie free agency commences.

As a whole this was a tremendous draft class. Pretty much all of their picks could have gone much earlier. Value and need is a great combination for a team coming off a 10-6 season with plenty of returning talent. I think this draft makes them serious players in the NFC. The defense was strengthened straight up the middle starting with North Carolina defensive tackle Marvin Austin and ending with cornerback Prince Amukamara who joins a quality group of players at the position. I loved this draft.

New York Jets

For a detailed analysis of every pick check out Walt’s 2011 NFL Draft Grades

It was hard for me to get the Jets right when they double dipped on the defensive line and at wide receiver despite making just six picks. I actually had Temple’s Muhammad Wilkerson to them in version 4, but went with just the nose tackle in my final mock. As a result I hit on just 2 of 6 positions addressed, which obviously was poor.

The other hit was backup quarterback which (fake applause) they took at the pick I suggested they would. They also took a running back. I was looking at a cornerback, offensive lineman, outside linebacker and free safety. I don’t think those were unreasonable choices. I regret not mocking them a wide receiver, especially after putting it in two of my last versions. It was not good overall.

Because they had so few impact picks it was not totally surprising to see the Jets fail to address a few of the positions I had as needs for them before the draft. One was outside linebacker, and the other two were cornerback and safety although those I saw as simply needing depth.

They were able to upgrade their defensive line which could lessen the need for blitzing to apply pressure to the quarterback, and Alabama quarterback Greg McElroy is going to be like having a veteran behind Mark Sanchez eventually. The franchise also got his old pal Scotty McKnight at wide receiver along with TCU’s Jeremy Kerley to help offset the probable loss of Braylon Edwards assuming they can only sign Santonio Holmes. I question them spending a fourth-round pick on running back instead of helping the secondary or trying to get a linebacker though and this was a mediocre draft.

Oakland Raiders

For a detailed analysis of every pick check out Walt’s 2011 NFL Draft Grades

Obviously I have a pretty good handle on the Raiders. In my final few mock drafts I had Chimdi Chekwa before pulling him out for DeMarcus Van Dyke and they wound up taking both cornerbacks. I stuck with Stefen Wisniewski starting with version 5. I connected on 4 of 8 positions addressed, but they took offensive tackle and tight end a couple rounds later than I expected.

The Raiders double dipped at wide receiver, a position I did not have them taking, and grabbed a running back. I thought they would go with a guard, outside linebacker and quarterback. In summary I was either really on point or totally off point. Half the mock I scored an A+ and the other half more like an F.

I had only a handful of needs down for the Raiders prior to the draft, and they actually failed to address two of them. They also double dipped at two others – offensive line and cornerback. I did expect them to look for help at outside linebacker and possibly add a quarterback, but when Nevada’s Colin Kaepernick was scooped up by the 49ers the latter was not going to happen.

Getting more help on the offensive line, at least trying to offset the inevitable free agency loss of superstar cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha and getting more weapons on offense made this a pretty successful draft.



Philadelphia Eagles

For a detailed analysis of every pick check out Walt’s 2011 NFL Draft Grades

It is hard not to be pleased about tabbing 3 of the players they actually selected, especially since all of those were after the first round. I also worked it when it came to positions addressed hitting on 8 of 11. Giving them safety Jaiquawn Jarrett, kicker Alex Henery and center Jason Kelce really made my mock draft.

I also had them taking a guard, cornerback, inside linebacker, running back and outside linebacker all within 2 rounds of where they actually did. The misses were them taking a fullback and double dipping at both inside linebacker and guard. Instead I went with backup quarterback and tight end. All in all this was definitely one of my best team mock drafts.

Because the Eagles had so many picks I forced myself to add a lot of team needs before the draft. The only one they failed to address was defensive end and that is understandable since presumably 2009 first round pick Brandon Graham will be a factor eventually. Still, the pass rush faded badly down the stretch and nothing they did in this draft helped that problem.

On the plus side they added several linebackers and offensive linemen which ironically is the typical draft strategy of the other Pennsylvania team. Complements for LeSean McCoy in the backfield and two defensive backs to help them deal with a potential playoff rematch with the Packers were other noteworthy moves. It is somewhat hard to justify adding eleven draft picks to a talented roster knowing a lot of these guys will be cut though and this draft lacks a “wow” factor for me.

Pittsburgh Steelers

For a detailed analysis of every pick check out Walt’s 2011 NFL Draft Grades

It must be the state of Pennsylvania because I did a good job on the Steelers as well. I pegged their first two picks of Cameron Heyward and Marcus Gilbert which is no easy task. I also had them taking a cornerback with their third selection and a guard with their pick at No. 196. In total I hit on 5 of 7 positions addressed including linebacker which I was off a round on.

The only misses were them double dipping at cornerback and their final choice of running back. Instead I went with a tight end and a punter. I really don’t know how I could have done much better so that’s all there is to say.

My team needs for the Steelers were mostly met. The notable exceptions were nose tackle and inside linebacker, which I think will both be addressed in the 2012 NFL Draft . Nose tackles are a unique breed and while the Steelers would have been well served to seek youth at the position they are going to be fine there for the moment. Inside linebackers are easy to find and age is also the issue for them there.

The only other spot they left alone was punter and it’s not like a bunch of those get drafted. The key needs for them were at cornerback and along the offensive line. They added two players to help each problem area. Overall it was the type of boring draft they needed to maintain their status among the league’s elite.

San Diego Chargers

For a detailed analysis of every pick check out Walt’s 2011 NFL Draft Grades

I did pretty well mocking the Chargers ultimately, but wish I had kept San Diego State wide receiver Vincent Brown to them in the third round from my version 7 mock. I did hit on 6 of 8 positions addressed though. They took multiple linebackers as I expected, along with a cornerback, running back and defensive end. The lineman was a guard though, not the tackle I looked for them to take.

They also passed on a second inside linebacker. Some of the order was off, but I can live with that since I got so many positions right. They also took a free safety early and I did not expect that. I would grade my mock as above average for them all things considered.

Considering how much talent was on the roster I had a lot of needs down for the Chargers before the draft. I was most surprised to see them effectively ignore rush linebacker because even though they technically took two outside linebackers, Michigan’s Jonas Mouton is likely to be used inside and seventh-rounder Andrew Gachkar out of Missouri will be a special teamer.

I am not surprised the team did not take a right tackle. When the Bengals finally took a tight end last year draftniks everywhere rejoiced. It was too much to ask the Lord of No Rings to address an obvious hole in the roster. At safety I thought they would get more of a thumper as opposed to spending their second pick on Clemson’s Marcus Gilchrist who essentially backs up Eric Weddle and gets in on nickel or dime situations. I guess they believe Bob Sanders can get on the field more than he did for the Colts in recent years.

The only other need I saw was backup quarterback which was predicated on Billy Volek being old and a possible candidate to ship off to the Panthers who need a veteran presence. It was not a big deal for them to pass though because Philip Rivers has been very durable. Overall I have to knock them for ignoring rush linebacker and right tackle in favor of lesser needs and obviously reaching for Mouton. They did seek help at five other positions I saw as needs which made this a passable draft.

Seattle Seahawks

For a detailed analysis of every pick check out Walt’s 2011 NFL Draft Grades

It was not a great mock of the Seahawks for me. I hit on just 5 of 9 positions they addressed. On the positive side I connected on guard, wide receiver, cornerback, defensive end and outside linebacker. Four of those five were within about 50 picks of where they actually addressed the need.

The negative side was missing on them double dipping at outside linebacker, hitting the secondary twice (cornerback, free safety) and of course using their first pick on offensive tackle. Maybe I can pretend I mocked Ahmad Black to them as a free safety? Other areas I thought they would address were defensive tackle and fullback. I certainly could have done better.

Team needs were plentiful for the Seahawks and I had them down for a bunch, mostly on defense. One area I was unsure about was defensive tackle where injuries hurt them last year. I had defensive end as the lesser need, but in retrospect what they did in choosing LSU defensive end Pep Levingston to support Red Bryant was just fine. I thought they had bigger problems at linebacker, but only spent a late seventh round pick on one of Pete Carroll’s former Trojans Malcolm Smith.

I thought they would take a fullback, might select a quarterback and even possibly a kicker with Olindo Mare a free agent. Obviously out of those three quarterback is the only one that really matters. The Seahawks seem determined to prove they were right in trading for Charlie Whitehurst or maybe feel Matt Hasselbeck is going to sign on. Even addressing the offensive line and secondary multiple times as I thought they needed to will not save this draft if it turns out that they could have drafted an impact quarterback, so for now this is just an average class.

San Francisco 49ers

For a detailed analysis of every pick check out Walt’s 2011 NFL Draft Grades

I had three mocks with Nevada’s Colin Kaepernick to them in round 2, but thought they could bite on Missouri’s Blaine Gabbert if given a shot at him. They didn’t, instead taking his teammate Aldon Smith. I also had put Oklahoma State running back Kendall Hunter to them in version 5 for what that is worth (not much).

In terms of position hits I had just 6 of 10 even though I had a dozen chances (their original picks). I connected on their two secondary additions, rush linebacker, quarterback, running back and wide receiver. I missed on two offensive line additions, strong safety and their double dip at outside linebacker. Instead I was looking for a defensive end, fullback, kicker, offensive tackle and inside linebacker. It was an average mock at best.

I probably could have put down more than six positions of need for the 49ers before the draft, but generally speaking I tried to stick to the most pertinent areas. It goes without saying then that when the team did not select any help on the defensive line I was surprised. I thought a nose tackle and defensive end were both in order. Everything starts up front and Justin Smith needed more to work with. The Bills recognized this when they drafted Alabama’s Marcell Dareus for example to support Kyle Williams.

The other obvious needs were all addressed, and if Aldon Smith is as dynamic as expected perhaps the line will be more effective especially since he can line up in different spots. They also added a wide receiver in USC’s Ronald Johnson which was a need I saw and did not have in my notes, and supported the line with two interior options after aggressively upgrading the line last year by taking two players in round one. This has to be considered a successful draft from the standpoint of addressing needs.

St. Louis Rams

For a detailed analysis of every pick check out Walt’s 2011 NFL Draft Grades

The Rams used three picks in the secondary and two at wide receiver. I did not anticipate them attacking those spots so aggressively which contributed to my hitting on just 3 of 8 positions addressed. They also took a tight end, defensive end and outside linebacker. Instead I was expecting a running back, defensive tackle and pair of guards.

My performance was abysmal here really. I can see the logic though because quarterback Sam Bradford needs some targets and their secondary struggled even in a division without strong passers. I wish I could spin this more positively, but I blew it.

Heading into the draft my team needs were focused on the running game, targets for Sam Bradford and help for the defense at every level up the middle. There were not enough picks to address all of that, and double dipping at wide receiver (even with two good players) made it even harder.

I thought passing on a guard late was a mistake, but there will be options in rookie free agency. They could have taken a weakside linebacker option sooner than seventh rounder Jabara Williams out of Stephen F. Austin. I thought their decision in the first round came down to defensive tackle or defensive end. When the Lions took Auburn’s Nick Fairley and left North Carolina’s Robert Quinn on the board their choice was easy, but they never added a beefy option to pair with Fred Robbins.

All of that being said, they did aggressively pursue passing options. It came at the expense of drafting a backup for running back Steven Jackson though and any offensive line help. I thought this draft was an opportunity for them to really set up the running game for years to come by securing interior line help and another rusher. A lot of needs were met, including the needed help in the secondary which for me made this a slightly above average draft. I love the first four players they took so that lifts my opinion of the class.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

For a detailed analysis of every pick check out Walt’s 2011 NFL Draft Grades

Another mediocre mock draft for me. I connected on 5 of 8 positions addressed although double dipping on defensive end and tight end did not help my cause. I had them taking one of each in addition to the cornerback, running back, and inside linebacker they took. Only one of those was taken more than a round off where they actually took them.

On the down side I also missed on strong safety. Instead I thought a second cornerback, offensive tackle and wide receiver might be targeted. It was not an awful mock draft, but not a great one either.

When I wrote my team notes for their team needs the first thing I wrote down was “DL coach Todd Wash gone, need pass rusher perhaps two ends”. They did just that right out of the box. I was less enthusiastic about their need for more help on the offensive line. I looked at it was more of a luxury just to make sure franchise quarterback Josh Freeman is protected so not addressing that area was not really surprising. I thought a center could have been added, but this was a poor class and rookie free agent options are out there.

I definitely believed another linebacker could have been added. It remains to be seen how free agency turns out, and I anticipate Washington’s Mason Foster being used inside which spells the end of Barrett Ruud’s tenure. Maybe they can get by on the outside. The Buccaneers could have been more aggressive in pursuit of cornerback help, only adding Florida International’s Anthony Gaitor in the seventh round. They did help their situation at tight end and running back. Obviously the whole draft hinges on the health of their two defensive ends, which makes this an average class at best.

Tennessee Titans

For a detailed analysis of every pick check out Walt’s 2011 NFL Draft Grades

I made a pretty big mess of the Titans, hitting on just 5 of 9 positions addressed. Regrettably I did not make the move to Washington’s Jake Locker at quarterback, but at least I gave them one along with defensive end, defensive tackle, offensive tackle and strong safety. That is where the good news ends.

They took a pair of outside linebackers, which got pushed out of my final mock after I had been mocking one to them consistently. Double dipping on defensive tackle was unexpected and they also took a running back. I was looking for them to grab a free safety, wide receive, center and cornerback. At least I was close on where they addressed the positions I hit on, but overall this was a very mediocre mock draft.

Obviously the big team need coming in was quarterback and the Titans wasted no time addressing that. I thought free agency would force their hand at defensive end, but Derrick Morgan returning healthy weighed in their decision to pass I am sure. Not helping the interior of their offensive line was questionable. If they are going to draft another running back in the fourth round, Clemson’s Jamie Harper, who is going to blow open the holes for a big back?

Other than that they addressed all the needs I saw although I expected a strong safety to be taken earlier than almost irrelevant Tommie Campbell out of California. With the help at defensive tackle, a potential franchise quarterback, and two linebackers they needed this was not a bad draft. I would rate it as a decent class.

Washington Redskins

For a detailed analysis of every pick check out Walt’s 2011 NFL Draft Grades

My bottom line for the Redskins was hitting on just 5 of 12 positions addressed, but it was pretty tough considering they entered the draft with only 8 of those selections and double dipped so much. I connected on wide receiver, running back and defensive tackle, but they went to all three positions twice and actually three times on the defensive line. I also hit on rush linebacker and cornerback.

In addition to the areas they hit multiple times they also went strong safety and guard. In fairness given the extra picks I would have given them a guard since I mocked them one more than once. I missed on them taking an inside linebacker, center and quarterback. I was glad to see the Redskins trading down and acquiring picks, but it did not help my awful accuracy mocking their draft.

Writing up my team needs for the Redskins prior to the draft I figured most of them would be ignored because of their lack of picks. Then they shuffled down to acquire more selections and went to town. The glaring omission was obviously quarterback, but not everyone was in love with this crop of signal callers. I also wonder if they might have simply taken Washington’s Jake Locker had he not gone off the board at No. 8.

For all their added picks I thought linebacker would be addressed, but taking three wide receivers and two running backs was apparently more important. Those were both needs I saw, but five picks was a bit excessive. Other than that I really have no complaints. The defensive line was given help early and let which was much needed. I think they could get interior offensive line help with a rookie free agent and perhaps both a kicker and punter there as well. Because they finally moved down and acquired so many picks I think this was a successful draft.






NFL Power Rankings - Feb. 22


2024 NFL Mock Draft - Feb. 21


Fantasy Football Rankings - Feb. 19


NFL Picks - Feb. 12