Unlike the previous two drafts, the 2011 draft had some legitimate starting quarterback talent. Unfortunately some of those prospects (Blaine Gabbert and Christian Ponder, to name a few) didn’t work out, but several others did.
Here’s my re-mock of the 2011 NFL draft. See my page to see the 2007-10 re-mocks.
1. Cam Newton, QB, Auburn
Actual pick: same
Newton has been everything the Panthers have wanted. He really took a step up last year. Of course, a good defense helps, but Newton did everything he was asked. No reason to go any other direction with this pick.
2. Denver Broncos
Richard Sherman, CB, Stanford
Actual pick: Von Miller, LB, Texas A&M
Von Miller has been a great player when actually on the field for Denver. But defensive backs, unlike just a few years ago, come at a premium, and Sherman is the best cover cornerback in the league. Miller has had his issues while Sherman has started every game. The addition of Sherman would take the Broncos’ defense to the next level. Along with the guys they have now in the secondary – T.J. Ward and Aqib Talib – Sherman would make Denver have the Legion of Boom instead of Seattle.
3. Buffalo Bills
Colin Kaepernick, QB, Nevada
Actual pick: Marcell Dareus, DE, Alabama
There’s absolutely no way Kaepernick is the third-best player in this draft, but I will not allow the Bills to suffer through mediocre quarterback play. Kaepernick is better than four of the guys drafted ahead of him (Jake Locker, Blaine Gabbert, Christian Ponder, and Andy Dalton) and is right behind Newton as the best quarterback of this draft.
4. Cincinnati Bengals
A.J. Green, WR, Georgia
Actual pick: same
Cincinnati got its franchise wide receiver and (supposed) franchise quarterback in the same draft. It’s safe to say one of those picks has worked out better than the other. Green has established himself as a top five receiver in my mind, and he’s had Calvin Johnson-like numbers since coming into the league.
5. Arizona Cardinals
Patrick Peterson, CB, Louisiana State
Actual pick: same
I hate to rain on everyone’s parade with three of the first five picks the same as the actual draft, but when re-mocking the players, I really wouldn’t go in any other direction. Hats off to the Panthers, Bengals, and Cardinals for some damn good drafting. Peterson isn’t talked about much in the media, but he’s made the Pro Bowl every year since he was drafted. He has the speed to keep up with any receiver.
6. Atlanta Falcons
J.J. Watt, DE, Wisconsin
Actual pick: Julio Jones, WR, Alabama
I’m keeping the order in which the teams actually drafted, so the Falcons are still trading up to sixth overall. But a healthy Roddy White is a true number one receiver and Harry Douglas is a solid number two, and the Falcons have other areas of need, so Julio Jones isn’t the pick here. Pass rush has been lacking for Atlanta over the years and Watt is perhaps the best in the league at it. Due to team need, he slipped to 6th. Watt is maybe the best player in the draft. I’m sure Richard Sherman would have something to say to that, though.
7. San Francisco 49ers
Julio Jones, WR, Alabama
Actual pick: Aldon Smith, LB, Missouri
Aldon Smith’s issues are well-documented and the Falcons just passed on Julio Jones. The ‘Niners do have somewhat of a need at receiver – Crabtree is barely a year removed from a torn Achilles and I expect Anquan Boldin to retire soon. Jones would give the 49ers a true deep threat outside of the tight end position (Vernon Davis).
8. Tennessee Titans
Tyron Smith, OT, Southern California
Actual pick: Jake Locker, QB, Washington
I still haven’t completely lost my faith in Jake Locker. I think he can be good when healthy. But these re-mocks are based only on how these players have performed since entering the NFL – and Locker hasn’t been able to stay on the field. I think it’s better to go in a direction that would help whoever the guy under center would be. Drafting Smith would essentially protect the team from signing Michael Oher in 2014, who greatly underperformed in Baltimore.