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Redrafting the 2011 first round

Throughout my NFL management career, I preached to my owners, our scouting and coaching staff, media and fans that you have to wait three years to truly evaluate a team's draft class. I always said that you have to give young guys time to develop and see if they can reach and maintain excellence.

It's tougher than ever to jump to an early conclusion on draftees in this current season of post-lockout/ no offseason program for rookies.

But based on what we know now of NFL teams and the rookies performance through mid-season, let's redraft the 2011 first round (and let the second guessing begin anew).

Redrafting the 2011 First Round
1Carolina Panthers
Carolina Panthers (Actual Pick: Cam Newton, QB)
Today's Pick: Cam Newton, QB. Remember all the Cam doubters who predicted the Heisman Trophy winner would be a bust as the top overall pick? After Newton's outstanding first eight games -- in which he is on pace for over 4,500 yards passing and has made the Panthers competitive in virtually every contest -- the doubters have disappeared. Newton has become a surprisingly good pocket passer and is still a great runner (319 yards and seven TDs on the ground).
 
2Denver Broncos
Denver Broncos (Actual Pick: Von Miller, LB)
Today's Pick: Andy Dalton, QB. Miller has played well with six sacks, but quarterback is always priority No. 1 and the Broncos' 29th-ranked passing offense needs better QB play than Kyle Orton and Tim Tebow have provided. John Elway and John Fox won't get a shot at Andrew Luck next April so, after last Sunday's Tebow debacle against Detroit, they grab the second-best rookie QB in Dalton (9 TD passes, 82.7 rating, two come-from-behind wins for the surprising Bengals).
 
3Buffalo Bills
Buffalo Bills (Actual Pick: Marcell Dareus, DT)
Today's Pick: Marcell Dareus, DT. A narrow choice over Miller. Dareus is a 340-pounder who can play inside or outside on the defensive line and has 3.5 sacks for the 5-2, AFC East co-leaders.
 
4Cincinnati Bengals
Cincinnati Bengals (Actual Pick: A.J. Green, WR)
Today's Pick: A.J. Green, WR. Miller is tempting, but the Bengals defense is playing well, so they stick with the NFL's top rookie receiver (33 receptions for 516 yards, 5 TDs).
 
5Arizona Cardinals
Arizona Cardinals (Actual Pick: Patrick Peterson, CB)
Today's Pick: Von Miller, LB. Peterson's biggest impact has been as a punt returner (2 TDs), but pass rushers are always in greater demand and the 1-6 Cardinals, with their 27th-ranked pass defense, need Miller's ability to get to the quarterback.
 
6Cleveland Browns
Cleveland Browns (Actual Pick: Traded to Falcons)
Today's Pick: Julio Jones, WR. The Browns are averaging just 15 points per game and need a scoring threat, so they stay at No. 6 instead of trading down and pick the big and fast Jones (25 catches for 358 yards for Falcons) to help QB Colt McCoy.
 
7San Francisco 49ers
San Francisco 49ers (Actual Pick: Aldon Smith, DE)
Today's Pick: Aldon Smith, DE. With 6.5 sacks, he's the NFL's rookie leader in that category. He's made an impact on the league's No. 1 defense in points allowed. Smith was called a reach by many back in April, but not anymore.
 
8Tennessee Titans
Tennessee Titans (Actual Pick: Jake Locker, QB)
Today's Pick: Mark Ingram, RB. Matt Hasselbeck is having a fine season for the Titans, so they can draft a QB out of next year's good class. The Titans' run game, though, ranks last in the NFL. Chris Johnson -- with his $53.5 million extension -- is having a horrendous season (2.8 yards per carry), so why not draft the highest-rated RB going into the draft (the Saints' leading rusher with 329 yards and 3 TDs), then figure out the salary cap hit on Johnson later? DeMarco Murray is also tempting here.
 
9Dallas Cowboys
Dallas Cowboys (Actual Pick: Tyron Smith, OT)
Today's Pick: Patrick Peterson, CB. Smith is starting at right tackle for the Cowboys, but Peterson would be a higher impact player for the Cowboys at corner, where they have injury problems, and as a dangerous returner. They strongly consider DeMarco Murray here, 62 picks before they took him in April, but can't pass up Peterson.
 
10Jacksonville Jaguars
Jacksonville Jaguars (Actual Pick: Traded up for Blaine Gabbert, QB)
Today's Pick: Jake Locker, QB. Gabbert has struggled (45.7 percent completions, NFL's lowest-rated starting QB at 62.0), and Locker looked good in the preseason, so the Jags still trade up to No. 10 with Washington, but try a different rookie signal-caller.
 
11Houston Texans
Houston Texans (Actual Pick: J.J. Watt, DE)
Today's Pick: Ryan Kerrigan, OLB. It's a close call here between two Big Ten defenders who both fit a 3-4: Watt at DE and Kerrigan at OLB. Kerrigan has been slightly more productive (29 tackles, 2 sacks, 2 forced fumbles, 1 interception) than Watt (26 tackles, 2 sacks).
 
12Minnesota Vikings
Minnesota Vikings (Actual Pick: Christian Ponder, QB)
Today's Pick: Christian Ponder, QB. The Vikings like what Ponder has shown them in his last two games (a close loss to Green Bay and a win over Carolina). Gabbert may have more prototypical QB size, but Ponder is playing better.
 
13Detroit Lions
Detroit Lions (Actual Pick: Nick Fairley, DT)
Today's Pick: Tyron Smith, OT. Fairley has been hurt early, hasn't played much and the Lions are doing fine without him. So Detroit looks to the future and picks the top OT prospect in Smith with the hope that he can eventually replace 34-year-old Jeff Backus and become Matthew Stafford's long-term protector.
 
14St. Louis Rams
St. Louis Rams (Actual Pick: Robert Quinn, DE)
Today's Pick: Adrian Clayborn, DE. Clayborn is starting for a better team in Tampa Bay, while Quinn is coming off the Rams' bench. St. Louis is last in the League in run defense, so they go with Clayborn, who has been a 4-3 guy with a strong game against the rush, is 15 pounds heavier and more productive (13 tackles and 3 sacks).
 
15Miami Dolphins
Miami Dolphins (Actual Pick: Mike Pouncey, C)
Today's Pick: J.J. Watt, DE. The winless Dolphins are tempted to take Gabbert, but they decide to wait on the Luck sweepstakes. They could use secondary help, but the highly rated Watt is a good 3-4 DE fit and an immediate upgrade over Kendall Langford or Randy Starks.
 
16Washington Redskins
Washington Redskins (Actual Pick: Ryan Kerrigan, DE)
Today's Pick: Blaine Gabbert, QB. After getting shut out last Sunday by Buffalo, Mike Shanahan has seen enough of Rex Grossman and John Beck. He picks Gabbert and hopes he can groom him to be the Redskins' QB of the future -- and present.
 
17New England Patriots
New England Patriots (Actual Pick: Nate Solder, OT)
Today's Pick: Robert Quinn, DE. Solder started earlier in the season due to injuries on the Patriots' offensive line, but is now a backup. The Patriots need help for a defense that ranks last in the league. Quinn (two sacks in limited play, coming off a suspension that made him miss his final year in college) can be a draft steal and help up front, as Shaun Ellis has no sacks this year.
 
18San Diego Chargers
San Diego Chargers (Actual Pick: Corey Liuget, DL)
Today's Pick: Nick Fairley, DT. Liuget has an unimpressive eight tackles and no sacks as a starter. Fairley, when he is 100 percent, will be a greater-impact player, even if he has been a 4-3 player. The Chargers can't pass him up in this spot.
 
19New York Giants
New York Giants (Actual Pick: Prince Amukamara, CB)
Today's Pick: Nate Solder, OT. Amukamara is a talented corner, but he's been hurt, so the Giants look to their offensive line and draft the big, athletic tackle in Solder to help protect Eli Manning.
 
20Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Actual Pick: Adrian Clayborn, DE)
Today's Pick: Jabaal Sheard, DE. The Buccaneers still focus on defensive end spot and, with Clayborn gone, they pick the productive Sheard (24 tackles, 2.5 sacks, two forced fumbles as Browns high second rounder).
 
21Atlanta Falcons
Atlanta Falcons (Actual Pick: Traded up for Julio Jones)
Today's Pick: Anthony Castonzo, OT. The Falcons' offensive line and Matt Ryan need some help, so the team picks up Ryan's fellow Boston College alum, who has been starting in Indy.
 
22Indianapolis Colts
Indianapolis Colts (Actual Pick: Anthony Castonzo, OT)
Today's Pick: Corey Liuget, DL. With Castonzo gone and obvious defensive issues, the Colts decide to wait on the offensive line and pick Liuget to try to help immediately and in the future for a line that has age issues. As for quarterback, the Colts will sort everything out in 2012.
 
23Philadelphia Eagles
Philadelphia Eagles (Actual Pick: Danny Watkins, G)
Today's Pick: Phil Taylor, DL. The Eagles' top-ranked offense can survive without Watkins, who is starting at RG. They get greater impact from the massive Phil Taylor. Taylor may be better suited for a 3-4 team, but the Eagles coach him up, as he can help the NFL's 19th-ranked run defense and rush the passer (3 sacks).
 
24New Orleans Saints
New Orleans Saints (Actual Pick: Cameron Jordan, DE)
Today's Pick: Cameron Jordan, DE. The Saints debate between Jordan (21 tackles, no sacks) and the bigger-bodied Muhammad Wilkerson, who starts for the Jets in their 3-4 and can help the Saints' run defense. In the end, they stick with Jordan's upside.
 
25Seattle Seahawks
Seattle Seahawks (Actual Pick: James Carpenter, OT)
Today's Pick: Mike Pouncey, C. The Seahawks need help at QB and RB, but will have to wait until 2012 with the top players gone (think Matt Barkley with Pete Carroll's USC ties). Instead, they select their highest rated remaining player in Pouncey (who can play center or guard) to help on the interior of the offensive line.
 
26Kansas City Chiefs
Kansas City Chiefs (Actual Pick: Jonathan Baldwin, WR)
Today's Pick: Torrey Smith, WR. Baldwin had his first good pro game against the Chargers Monday night, but Smith has been more productive for Baltimore (15 receptions for 326 yards, 21.7 yard average, 3 TDs vs. 6 receptions for 96 yards for Baldwin). Smith is a burner who can open things up for Dwayne Bowe.
 
27Baltimore Ravens
Baltimore Ravens (Actual Pick: Jimmy Smith, CB)
Today's Pick: Gabe Carimi, OT. Smith hasn't contributed to Baltimore's No. 1-ranked defense and Carimi was starting for the Bears until he hurt his knee. He's a solid pick for the future, especially if Bryant McKinnie has issues.
 
28New Orleans Saints
New Orleans Saints (Actual Pick: Traded up for Mark Ingram)
Today's Pick: DeMarco Murray, RB. The Saints traded back into the first round with the Patriots to make this pick, and they still need a power runner. With Ingram gone, Murray is the pick (400 yards rushing, 6.9-yard average leads the league, Cowboys-record 253 yards vs. the Rams).
 
29Chicago Bears
Chicago Bears (Actual Pick: Gabe Carimi, OT)
Today's Pick: Derek Sherrod, OT. With Carimi gone, the Bears steal the versatile Sherrod from the Packers, who like him (and took him with their first-rounder in April).
 
30New York Jets
New York Jets (Actual Pick: Muhammad Wilkerson, DE)
Today's Pick: Muhammad Wilkerson, DE. There are no top running backs to help their ground game, and the Jets think about adding Baldwin at WR, but Rex Ryan is a defensive coach first and the Jets need help at DE. So the pick is still Wilkerson, who has been a good fit in their 3-4 (started every game, 17 tackles, 1 sack).
 
31Pittsburgh Steelers
Pittsburgh Steelers (Actual Pick: Cam Heyward, DE)
Today's Pick: Danny Watkins, G. Because the Steelers defense is solid, Heyward was a pick for the future. But their offensive line needs more depth now, so they tap current Eagles starting guard Watkins.
 
32Green Bay Packers
Green Bay Packers (Actual Pick: Derek Sherrod, OT)
Today's Pick: Brooks Reed, OLB. Sherrod's gone, so the Packers look to help their No. 31-ranked pass defense (ranked there partially because teams are always having to come from behind) by adding a good outside rusher in Reed (a Houston starter with 20 tackles and 2 sacks).
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