It’s been ten years since the 2011 NFL Draft class came into the league. The class has had some great players and others that didn’t leave up to the hype. Nine of the first 11 picks went to the Pro-Bowl, and at least four of them could be in the Hall of Fame. So what were the best and worst moments from the 2011 NFL Draft?
- Best QB: Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers; This one is a no-brainer. While Andy Dalton and Colin Kaepernick had success with the Bengals and 49ers, respectively, Newton was the best quarterback. The Panthers took Newton first overall in the 2011 Draft, and he proved his worth right away. In the first two games of his career, Newton passed for over 400 yards in each of them. He broke the record for the most rushing touchdowns by a quarterback with 14 in 2011. In 2015, he led the Panthers to a 15-1 record, got them to the Super Bowl, and was named MVP. While Newton suffered from injuries soon after that, what he did in Carolina showed why he was the first overall pick.
- Worst QB: Blaine Gabbert, Jacksonville Jaguars; The Jaguars thought that they had gotten their quarterback of the future after trading up for Gabbert. There were debates on who would be better between him and Newton. However, Gabbert was put in a starting position when he wasn’t ready. He started week three in 2011 and finished with 12 touchdowns and 11 interceptions in 14 starts. After a 2013 season where he completed less than 50% of his passes and had one touchdown to seven interceptions in three games, Gabbert was traded. He has since caught on as a backup to the 49ers, Cardinals, Titans, and Bucs. He even won a Super Bowl ring with the Bucs in 2020. Jake Locker and Christian Ponder were two other first-round picks that didn’t pan out. However, the expectations that were placed on Gabbert made him the worst quarterback.
- Best Move: The Falcons trading up for Julio Jones; There was some concern when the Falcons traded five picksto the Browns for the right to select Julio Jones. However, Jones proved to be worth the risk. Right away, Jones made an impact for the Falcons, catching 133 for 2,157 yards in his first two seasons. He’s caught over 100 catches and had 1,500 yards in a season three times in his NFL career. He also might have been remembered as the hero of Super Bowl 51 had the Falcons held on against the Patriots. Jones is most likely going to the Hall of Fame for what he has done for his career. And as for the Browns well…
- Worst Move: The Browns did nothing with the picks they got from the Falcons; How the Browns messed this trade up is beyond anyone’s guess. This trade should have helped the Browns build a competitive team. Instead, the Browns wasted the picks that they got from the trade. The Browns got two firsts, a second, and two fourths from the Falcons. They traded back up in the first round of 2011 and got Defensive Tackle, Phil Taylor. Taylor never became the dominant Defensive Lineman they were hoping for. He only lasted four seasons with the Browns and wasn’t able to catch on with another team after leaving the team. They took Greg Little with the second-round pick, and he lasted three seasons with the team before being cut. He spent some time with the Raiders, Bengals, Bills, and Cardinals after that. He last caught a pass in 2014. The 2011 fourth-round pick was used on fullback Owen Marecic, who was cut after two seasons with the team. The 2012 fourth-rounder was tradedto the Vikings so the Browns could take Trent Richardson. Richardson was traded after a season and a game with the Browns. The 2012 first-rounder turned into quarterback Brandon Weeden, who only lasted two seasons with the Browns. Browns would have been better off just staying at six and taking Julio Jones.
- Biggest Steal: Richard Sherman, Seattle Seahawks; In the fifth round, the Seahawks took a chance on a receiver turned cornerback from Stanford named Richard Sherman. What followed was something that no one could have saw coming. Sherman joined 2010 picks Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor to form the Legion of Boom. In his second season, he intercepted eight passes and helped the Seahawks get to the playoffs. In 2013, Sherman again intercepted eight passes, and the Seahawks won the Super Bowl. Following that Sherman was the highest-paid cornerin the league and was on the cover of Madden. In his career, Sherman has been a pro-bowler and an All-Pro five times. He may be another player that’s headed for the Hall of Fame when he is done playing. And the Seahawks got him in the fifth round.
- Biggest Non-QB Bust: Jonathan Baldwin, Kansas City Chiefs; I could have selected Derek Sherrod, Gabe Carimi, or Danny Watkins here. However, Baldwin was the biggest non-QB bust of the 2011 NFL Draft. In his only two seasons with the Chiefs, he caught a combined 41 catches, 579 yards, and two touchdowns. He was traded to the 49ers before the 2013 season for AJ Jenkins. In his only season there, he caught three catches for 28 yards. Baldwin never played another down in the NFL after 2013.
- Weirdest Moment: The Ravens missing their pick; This moment was strange as no one knew what to make of it at the time. The Ravens had had the 26thoverall pick and thought that they had completed a trade with the Chicago Bears. However, the Bears never confirmed it, leaving the Ravens and audience trying to make sense of everything. The Chiefs got their pick of Jonathan Baldwin in before the Ravens made their pick. The Ravens picked cornerback Jimmy Smith right after that. In the end, the Chiefs picked 26th and the Ravens 27th.