We are just hours away from the 2011 NFL Draft. This event has now become a prime time made for TV special. Looking into my little crystal (foot) ball, I have thoughts about some unconventional things, or what many of you may consider surprises, that may happen this evening. This doesn’t mean that these will all come to pass, but they are all scenarios I wouldn’t at all be surprised to see.
- Blaine Gabbert won’t be one of the first 2 quarterbacks drafted – We’ve made it apparent since January that we don’t feel that Gabbert is that great of a NFL prospect. I feel that NFL scouts have seen this and that 2 or possibly 3 quarterbacks will be drafted before him.
- Colin Kaepernick will be drafted in the top 25 picks – We’ve also made it obvious that we feel that Kaepernick will be the best quarterback in this class. Kaepernick going in the first round has become the hot trend as of late. We feel that teams have recognized what we’ve seen since January.
- Von Miller will not go second over all but Nick Fairley will – The popular vote has been Von Miller going to Denver 2nd overall as of late. That pick takes Miller’s value away from what he does best. Miller is the ideal pass rusher in this class. Why would a team draft him and possibly pay him $45 million guaranteed (depending what rules this draft falls under) to play his secondary position. He’ll be draft 3rd by Buffalo. Dareus had been the trendy pick going to Denver before the latest Miller love fest. Fairley is clearly the more dominant 4-3 defensive tackle and the Broncos should recognize this.
- Bengals should take AJ Green but don’t rule out Patrick Peterson - The Bengals aren’t guaranteed that Jonathan Joseph will be back in 2011. He’s a top 5 free agent cornerback, so don’t be surprised if they take preventive actions to draft his replacement.
- New England Patriots will trade up – The Patriots will look to find an immediate impact player / starter. The Patriots will move some picks and either go after defensive end Cam Jordan or wide receiver Julio Jones.
- A running back will go in the 1st round but it might not be Mark Ingram – There’s been a lot of speculation that Mark Ingram won’t be selected tonight. I agree he might not. I’ll take it a little further. Taiwan Jones, Ryan Williams or Mikel Leshoure may sneak into the first round and Ingram could be left for day two. I believe that one of those names mayl be drafted tonight and not Ingram. Teams are looking at Jones as if he is this year’s Chris Johnson. Williams is the ideal zone blocking scheme back. Teams have routinely had Leshoure ranked higher than Ingram.
- Mike Shanahan probably has his 2011 Jay Cutler in mind – Back in 2006 Mike Shanahan surprised many by selecting Jay Cutler at 11th overall. At 1 pick earlier, Shanahan could do the same in the 2011 draft. He loves mobile quarterbacks like John Elway, Jake Plummer, Jay Cutler, and Donovan McNabb. Washington will probably draft Jake Locker or Colin Kaepernick tonight.
- Prince Amukamara will be drafted as a Free Safety exclusively – We’ve been stating for months that Amukamara isn’t a top cornerback. He will be a premier free safety in the NFL and the Dallas Cowboys will be the team to make him that after announcing that they’ll be moving former free safety Alan Ball to cornerback.
- The Houston Texans won’t draft at 11th overall – Houston will trade up for Peterson or Miller or they’ll trade back to get extra picks and better value. They’ll be able to draft Akeem Ayers several picks later who will be a better fit for them at outside linebacker than Aldon Smith at 11th. If they truly believe that Da’Quan Bowers will slide late, he could be their target moving back as well.
- Indianapolis Colts will draft a quarterback – If Colin Kaepernick isn’t drafted before 22nd, I believe that the Colts will draft Peyton Manning’s replacement with that pick.
- Phil Taylor will be drafted in the top 21 picks – There is only one pure nose tackle in this draft with immediate starter potential and that’s Phil Taylor. One of the 3-4 teams will make sure that they take him early and if the Chargers pass at 18, then the Chiefs should snatch him up at 21.
- Two players not be mentioned anywhere around the 1st round could sneak in – If a team looks to take the 3rd receiver off the board in the 1st round, it should be Leonard Hankerson. If Atlanta isn’t able to trade up for Julio Jones, they will probably draft Leonard Hankerson. If there is a huge run on defensive line as expected, Jarvis Jenkins could crack the first round. He can play the 4-3 defensive tackle, 3-4 defensive end, and even some 3-4 nose tackle. His flexibility and the run on talent could have a team reach on him.
- Don’t be surprised if CB, Jimmy Smith isn’t drafted in tonight – Everyone knows about Smith’s character concerns and believe that he’s more excited about being famous than being a football player. They also know about the 3 failed drug tests and that he failed for codeine at least once. If the wake of Jamarcus Russell and Johnny Jolly’s trouble with Codeine, teams have a heightened awareness to this particular drug abuse. Because of these fears, Smith will slide out of the first and should see Aaron Williams and Brandon Harris taken before him.
That’s my predictions to the first night of the 2011 NFL draft. I don’t expect them all to come to fruition but these could be some of the few surprises that crawl across your screen tonight. One thing that is for certain, they’ll definitely be some jaw dropping decisions tonight. Enjoy the draft and hopefully your team gets one of their missing pieces, to the puzzle that makes up a Super Bowl champ.
See you all in the LIVE CHAT tonight.
Jayson Braddock is an NFL Scout / NFL Writer & On-Air Personality. Jayson is also a football insider for the Dylan Gwinn show on 790 AM in Houston, TX - Listeners NOT in the Houston metropolitan area can hear Jayson on iheart radio or sports790.com. You may email Jayson directly @ firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @JaysonBraddock