New York City—The 2011 NFL Draft Started Thursday night in primetime on ESPN.  Radio City Music Hall was filled to capacity with fans of all 32 NFL teams.  Many thought this years draft would be somewhat different given the recent lockout situation.  Only a day after Judge Susan Nelson ordered the owners to lift the lockout, Commissioner Roger Goodell was waiting at the podium to shake the hands of all the first round picks in attendance.

There was no surprise at the first name called in the draft.  Cam Newton out of Auburn, is coming off a Heisman trophy and National Championship.  There had been many questions about his personality and work ethic. In desperate need of a quarterback the Panthers didn’t pass him up.

After being the worst defense statistically in the NFL in 2010, the Denver Broncos were looking to make upgrades on defense.  They selected Von Miller, a 6’2’’ 246 pound outside linebacker from Texas A&M.

Marcell Dareus, the 319 pound defensive tackle was selected at number three by the Buffalo Bills.  He will be expected to start immediately for a defense ranked 24th overall last season.

With the number four pick in the draft the Cincinnati Bengals took a chance on the wide receiver out of Georgia, AJ Green.  He finished his junior season with 57 receptions, 848 yards, and 9 reception touchdowns.

Patrick Peterson, the extremely popular cornerback from LSU was picked by the Cardinals at five, after being expected to go in the top three.  Peterson was the recipient of the Jim Thorpe award in 2010 for being college footballs top defensive player.  Peterson skipped his senior season to enter this years NFL draft.


Draft Surprises

The Vikings appeared to close the book on Brett Favre returning again by taking one of the biggest surprises of the first round.  With the eleventh pick in the draft, the Vikings selected Florida State quarterback Christian Ponder.  Ponder was not expected to go until the second round.  He impressed a lot of scouts with his 4.63 40-yard dash time at the NFL scouting combine.  He will compete with Joe Webb for the starting job.

Perhaps the biggest surprise of the first round was running back Mark Ingram, of Alabama, falling to the New Orleans Saints at pick 28.  Ingram was the 2009 Heisman trophy winner.  After missing the first two games of the 2010 season due to injury, Ingram rushed for 875 yards and 13 touchdowns.  He finished his three-year career at Alabama with 3,261 rushing yards and 42 rushing touchdowns.

2011 NFL DRAFT ORDER (Round 1)

Cam Newton QB Panthers
Von Miller OLB Broncos
Marcell Dareus DT Bills
A.J. Green WR Bengals
Patrick Peterson DB Cardinals
Julio Jones WR Falcons
Aldon Smith DE 49ers
Jake Locker QB Titans
Tyron Smith OT Cowboys
10 Blaine Gabbert QB Jaguars
11 J.J. Watt DE Texans
12 Christian Ponder QB Vikings
13 Nick Fairley DT Lions
14 Robert Quinn DE Rams
15 Mike Pouncey C Dolphins
16 Ryan Kerrigan DE Redskins
17 Nate Solder OT Patriots
18 Corey Liuget DT Chargers
19 Prince Amukamara DB Giants
20 Adrian Clayborn DE Buccaneers
21 Phil Taylor DT Browns
22 Anthony Castonzo OT Colts
23 Danny Watkins OG Eagles
24 Cameron Jordan DE Saints
25 James Carpenter OG Seahawks
26 Jonathan Baldwin WR Chiefs
27 Jimmy Smith DB Ravens
28 Mark Ingram RB Saints
29 Gabe Carimi OT Bears
30 Muhammad Wilkerson DE Jets
31 Cameron Heyward DE Steelers
32 Derek Sherrod OT Packers