2011 was stellar draft … except for QB

2011 was stellar draft … except for QB

Three teams that selected quarterbacks in the top 16 picks of 2011 were disappointed. That, of course, includes the Vikings. Other than that, 12 of the top 16 picks produced Pro Bowl players in their first three years.

As the story goes, you typically can't tell the value of a draft class until three years after the fact. We're three years past the 2011 draft and, from the benefit of hindsight, we have a better perspective.

In its totality, the 2011 draft, especially for those who were involved in the first half of the first round, it was as resounding a success as there may have been in any draft viewed three years after the fact.

Of the top 16 picks, 12 of them have made the Pro Bowl at least once: in order of selection, Cam Newton, Von Miller, Marcel Dareus, A.J. Green, Patrick Peterson, Julio Jones, Aldon Smith, Tyron Smith, J.J. Watt, Robert Quinn, Mike Pouncey and Ryan Kerrigan.

The draft also included second-round quarterbacks Andy Dalton and Colin Kaepernick, which San Francisco acquired through trade with Denver. The second round also included Pro Bowl MVP Kyle Rudolph. The third round included DeMarco Murray. The draft included Pro Bowlers Cameron Jordan and Jordan Cameron. The fourth round included Denver tight end Julius Thomas, who, until last year, was a trivia answer. The fifth round included a braggart Stanford cornerback named Richard Sherman.

The Class of 2011 also includes Randall Cobb, Stevan Ridley and Shane Vereen, Cecil Shorts and, with 172nd pick, Vikings starting right guard Brandon Fusco.

A lot of organizations, no less than Mike Zimmer's Cincinnati team, look back fondly on 2011. For the teams in the top half of that draft, only four drafted a player that hasn't made a Pro Bowl yet. Detroit can make a case that Nick Fairley has been treated unfairly as the unlucky 13th pick, because they're not complaining in Motown about his job performance.

The other three? All were quarterbacks – Jake Locker at No. 8, Blaine Gabbert at No. 10 and Christian Ponder at No. 12. A total of 21 picks were made after that before another QB went. It was a Dalton-Kaepernick double-shot.

Ponder entered 2013 in a make-or-break year. He broke. Locker is in a make-or-break year. Gabbert stunk it out from Day 1 and has already broken. He got traded to San Francisco for a pick that will be made when both NFL Network and ESPN are running commercials.

History is going to look back on the 2011 draft and marvel at the hit-rate of the teams in the top half of the draft. The four that won't be "slappied" are the Lions, Vikings, Titans and Jaguars. This year, the Jags are picking third. The Vikes are eighth. Detroit is 10th. Tennessee is 11th.

Coincidence?

Nah.

We've had three years of a professional body of work to determine the teams that whiffed in 2011 are the teams with the same opportunity again. They all picked in the top 13 of the 2011 draft. They're all in the top 11 this year.

That can't be dismissed as mere coincidence.

TUESDAY NOTES

  • Kevin Williams was in Baltimore yesterday to receive the Ed Block Courage Award. The award is given annually for the legendary Baltimore Colts trainer and honors a player from each team that exemplifies commitment to the principles of sportsmanship and courage. Williams was truly humbled last December when he learned his teammates had voted him as the 2013 recipient of the award.

  • Jasper Brinkley was back in his hometown of Thomson, Ga., Monday at Norris Elementary School, giving out books to students as part of a local essay contest to challenge kids to read more. Brinkley will be providing the prizes to the essay winner. Local TV station WRDW was on hand and Brinkley said that coming back to the Vikings seemed like a natural for him, saying, "I always said Minnesota was home because that was the first NFL team that took a chance on me. I always had it my heart that they made the right choice by picking me."

  • After the Vikings spent time with Teddy Bridgewater on Sunday, Mike Zimmer was among those in attendance at the Florida Pro Day in Gainesville Monday.

  • Portions of Bridgewater's Pro Day were televised live on ESPN and NFL Network Monday. Typically, Pro Days are opportunities for players to showcase their skill set in comfortable confines and, when it comes to quarterbacks, it's a chance to elevate their stock. Guys like Sam Bradford and RG3 got teams to make expensive investments based largely off of a dominant performance. The general consensus Monday was that, given the locale and the circumstances, Bridgewater didn't do himself any favors, prompting many to refer to his workout as "inconsistent" and "shaky." Not good when you're looking to be the No. 1 pick in the draft.

  • Word out of Pittsburgh is that the Vikings have made contact with Steelers' safety Ryan Clark. The Redskins and Panthers were the first teams to be connected with interest in Clark. At age 34, he would seem to be contrary to the Vikings' free agent policy.


    John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.
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