The first round of the 2011 NFL Draft is in the books, and like always, there was plenty of talent from the SEC going early. The fellas over at SB Nation have graded out each pick in the first round. Here is how the teams that took SEC players did.
The very first pick in the draft was Auburn quarterback Cam newton by the Carolina Panthers. SB Nation gave the pick an underwhelming C+.
QB Cam Newton is now the face of the Panthers franchise, but I fear that early pressure to play Newton before he's ready could really put a serious damper on his development. Very risky situation for player and team.
The next SEC player came off the board just two picks later with Alabama DT Marcell Dareus heading to the Buffalo Bills. By all accounts, this was a safe and solid pick. SB Nation gave it a B+.
It has been a while since the Bills made a sensible pick in the first round; DE Marcell Dareus addresses the league's worst run defense. That's big buck to pay a five-technique end, however.
Dareus started a run of four straight SEC players. The next was Georgia wide receiver A.J. Green, who was considered one of the best players in the draft. SB Nation gave the Bengals pick an A-.
I firmly believe that the Bengals selected the best player in this year's draft in WR A.J. Green. The positional value is the only thing keeping this pick from being a full-blown A.
The Arizona Cardinals picked up LSU cornerback Patrick Peterson with the fifth overall pick. SB Nation gave them a B+.
The Cardinals made CB Patrick Peterson - arguably the best prospect available this year - the No. 5 overall pick. They'll team him with Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie to form one of the league's elite young cornerback tandems.
The Atlanta Falcons, as we all know, traded way up in the first round to take Alabama wide receiver Julio Jones with the sixth overall pick in the draft. SB Nation thinks that they might have paid a little bit too much for him; they gave the pick a B-.
Atlanta traded up 21 spots, all the way to No. 6 overall, to select WR Julio Jones. It was a bold move that will make the Falcons' offense very difficult to defend. The price paid to move up (three picks this year, two next year, including a first-rounder) knocks this grade down just a touch.
The next SEC player was Newton's Auburn teammate Nick Fairley, who went to the Detroit Lions at No. 13. There, he'll form one of the best young DT duos in recent memory with last year's No. 2 overall pick Ndamukong Suh. SB Nation gave them a legit A.
The Lions are one of two teams to get my top grade. Detroit is turning their franchise around because they're not filling holes, they're drafting football players. Nick Fairley and Ndamukong Suh could become a truly legendary DT combination.
Mike Pouncey went to the Dolphins two picks later at No. 15. SB Nation thinks this might have been a little bit too high for him; they gave the pick a C+.
Rather than reach on a risky quarterback, the Dolphins stood pat and took a plug-and-play interior lineman. I'm not big on OG Mike Pouncey - I think he's pretty average - but he was a smart investment for Miami.
The next SEC selection was also possibly the biggest reach of the first round; the Seahawks taking Alabama tackle James Carpenter. SB Nation was not a huge fan of that pick, they gave it a C.
OT James Carpenter had been mentioned as a sleeper first-round candidate for weeks, and the Seahawks had a big need along the offensive line. Beyond that, it's just tough to get excited about this pick.
The penultimate SEC selection was former Heisman trophy winner Mark Ingram, who went to the New Orleans Saints after they trade back into the first round at No. 28. SB Nation was a big fan of that pick, and the other selection the Saints made in Cameron Jordan. They got an A.
Holy value, Batman. I had DE Cameron Jordan graded as a Top 10 pick; he's a perfect fit for Gregg Williams. Then they trade back up to get the guy they'd have taken had Jordan not fallen into their laps in RB Mark Ingram. Sure, they traded away a second-round pick and next year's first-rounder, but they've set themselves up to be Super Bowl favorites right alongside Green Bay this year.
The final SEC pick in the first round was the last one. The Green bay Packers took Derek Sherrod with the 32nd pick in the first round. SB Nation gave the pick a B-.
OT Derek Sherrod certainly wasn't an exciting finish to Round 1, but he's an excellent and experienced prospect that fits Green Bay's offensive system very well.
The SEC boasted nearly a third of all the first round picks, which is just about par for the course. And they also had some of the most successful picks in the Draft.