1. Carolina Panthers – QB Cam Newton (Auburn)
The 2011 NFL Draft was one of the most talented in recent memory, but I don’t think there’s any question that the Panthers would make the same choice again if they had to do it all over again. Cam Newton won the 2015 NFL MVP and led the Panthers to the Super Bowl and has been one of the better quarterbacks in the league over the past few seasons. The Panthers need more help around him, but he’s definitely someone that can lead them to where they want to go and that’s all you can ask for out of the #1 pick.
2. Denver Broncos – OLB Von Miller (Texas A&M)
This is how quickly things change in the NFL: The Panthers and Broncos went from picking #1 and #2 in the 2011 NFL Draft to facing off against each other in Super Bowl 50 during the 2015 season. The Broncos’ turnaround was initially led by Peyton Manning, who the Broncos signed a year after drafting Von Miller #2 overall, but Manning struggled mightily throughout the 2015 season and the Broncos still were able to win the whole thing, beating Carolina in Super Bowl 50, thanks to their defense. Von Miller was the leader of that defense and was given Super Bowl 50 MVP. One of the best defensive players in the entire league, Miller was one vote shy of winning Defensive Player of the Year this past season.
3. Buffalo Bills – DE JJ Watt (Wisconsin)
This is how talented the 2011 NFL Draft was: JJ Watt is a 3-time Defensive Player of the Year and goes 3rd overall. Watt would have made sense for either the Panthers or the Broncos in this re-draft, but both teams are so satisfied with their original picks that I don’t think they’d change anything. Instead, Watt falls to the Bills at 3, who waste no time turning in their selection. Marcell Dareus, their original pick, has been a great player for them, but Watt is on another level. Despite missing most of the 2016 season with a back injury, Watt is still on a Hall of Fame track.
4. Cincinnati Bengals – WR AJ Green (Georgia)
The Bengals have plenty of good options here, including wide receiver Julio Jones, who I think is a little bit better than AJ Green. However, like the Panthers and Broncos, the Bengals are so satisfied with Green that I don’t think they’d change anything for continuity reasons. Green is one of the best wide receivers in the game.
5. Arizona Cardinals – CB Patrick Peterson (LSU)
Another team sticks with their original pick, as the Cardinals select Patrick Peterson again. You could make an argument that Richard Sherman is a better cornerback than him, but that argument would likely fall on deaf ears in the Cardinals’ front office, given how valuable Peterson has been for them in his career.
6. Atlanta Falcons – WR Julio Jones (Alabama)
I promise this will get more interesting, but I have a hard time seeing the Falcons pass on Julio Jones if they had to do it all over again. The Browns, who traded out of this pick for the picks to draft Phil Taylor, Brandon Weeden, Greg Little, and Owen Marecic, would probably like a do over, but that’s not how these re-drafts work.
7. San Francisco 49ers – OLB Justin Houston (Georgia)
Here is where teams start regretting their picks a little bit. Aldon Smith was one of the best young defensive players in the league to start his career, with 33.5 sacks in 2 seasons, but legal issues and substance abuse issues limited him to 10.5 sacks in 18 games in 2014 and 2015 combined. The 49ers cut ties with him the following off-season and he remains suspended indefinitely as a member of the Oakland Raiders as of this writing. Justin Houston’s career is the kind of career Smith could have had if he stayed out of trouble. Houston is one of the best edge rushers in the league, with 50.5 sacks from 2012-2015, before missing most of the 2016 season with a torn ACL.
8. Tennessee Titans – QB Andy Dalton (TCU)
Here is where teams REALLY start regretting their picks. In one of the most talented top-11s in an NFL draft ever (Cam Newton, Von Miller, Marcell Dareus, AJ Green, Patrick Peterson, Julio Jones, Tyron Smith, JJ Watt), the Titans reached on a quarterback and ended up with a dud, Jake Locker, who lasted 4 seasons in the NFL and went 9-14 in 23 starts with the Titans. There are more talented players available, but the quarterback position reigns supreme and Dalton would have given the Titans an instant stabilizer at quarterback. He’s gone 56-35-2 in 93 starts with the Bengals, who drafted him in the 2nd round originally.
9. Dallas Cowboys – OT Tyron Smith (USC)
I mentioned Tyron Smith under the last write up. Considering he’s developed into one of the best left tackles in the entire league, I’d say the Cowboys are pretty happy with him. They locked him up on a 8-year, 97.6 million dollar extension in 2014, after just three years in the league, and he’s been worth every penny so far.
10. Jacksonville Jaguars – CB Richard Sherman (Stanford)
Like the Titans, the Jaguars reached on a quarterback and wound up missing out on some incredible players. Blaine Gabbert, the Jaguars’ original pick here, went just 5-22 in 3 seasons with the Jaguars before being sent to the 49ers for a 6th round pick. The Jaguars miss out on Andy Dalton, but they still have plenty of good options to choose from to build around the quarterback position. Richard Sherman is arguably the best available player. The 2011 5th round pick is one of the biggest steals in recent memory. A converted wide receiver who played cornerback for just one season at Stanford, Sherman has developed into one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL. He’s arguably better than Patrick Peterson, the 5th pick in this draft.
11. Houston Texans – CB Chris Harris (Kansas)
Here is another cornerback that’s arguably better than Peterson as well. Harris, Peterson, and Sherman, three of the best cornerbacks in the league, being in the same draft just highlights the depth of this draft. The Texans miss out on JJ Watt, but they get a dominant cornerback to help soften the blow. Originally undrafted, Harris developed from a slot cornerback to a dominant #1 cornerback in just a few short years in Denver.
12. Minnesota Vikings – DT Jurrell Casey (USC)
The Vikings needed an upgrade at defensive tackle next to Kevin Williams, an aging veteran who left the Vikings after the 2013 season. They actually drafted Sharrif Floyd in the first round in 2013, but this fills the need a year earlier and with a better player. Jurrell Casey isn’t the biggest name, but the former 4th round pick has developed into one of the best defensive linemen in the league in relatively obscurity in Tennessee.
13. Detroit Lions – DT Marcell Dareus (Alabama)
The Lions originally drafted a defensive tackle here, taking Nick Fairley, but his career in Detroit was a mixed bag and he was often criticized for his effort, leading to the Lions letting him go after just 4 seasons with the team. Marcell Dareus is an upgrade for a team that needed one next to Ndamukong Suh, the team’s first round pick in 2010. Dareus and Suh would have been arguably the best defensive tackle duo in the NFL, which is likely what they had in mind when they drafted Fairley.
14. St. Louis Rams – DE Robert Quinn (North Carolina)
Here is another team satisfied with their original pick. Quinn hasn’t been quite the same player in the past 2 seasons thanks to injury, but he had 40 sacks in 3 year stretch from 2012-2014 and is still just 27 so he should still be in the prime of his career if he can get healthy. The Rams locked him up on a 4-year, 66.575 million dollar extension after 3 seasons in the league and he is under contract through 2019.
15. Miami Dolphins – DE Cameron Jordan (California)
The Dolphins selected center Mike Pouncey here originally. He hasn’t been a bad player for them, but hip injuries have limited him in recent years. Cameron Jordan fills a much more important need for them, as they needed another pass rusher outside of Cameron Wake. Jason Taylor was their 2nd leading sacker in 2011, in his age 37 season, his final in the league. In 2012, no one had more than 4.5 sacks outside of Wake. Jordan can rush the passer from the inside and the outside and has 45.5 sacks in the past 5 seasons for the Saints.
16. Washington Redskins – OLB Ryan Kerrigan (Purdue)
The Redskins originally drafted Ryan Kerrigan here in 2011 and he hasn’t disappointed, totalling 58.5 sacks in 6 seasons. He’s had at least 7.5 sacks in all 6 seasons in the league and hasn’t missed a game. The Redskins wisely locked him up on a 5-year, 57.5 million dollar extension two off-seasons ago.
17. New England Patriots – OT Nate Solder (Colorado)
Yet another satisfied drafter. Nate Solder has replaced long-time Brady blindside protector Matt Light well. Solder spent his rookie year on the right side before taking over for Light and has made 79 starts in 6 seasons in the league, consistently playing at a high level. He’s graded out above average on Pro Football Focus 5 times in 6 seasons.
18. San Diego Chargers – DE Cameron Heyward (Ohio State)
The Chargers originally drafted Corey Liuget here, a solid player who wasn’t a bad pick. However, this draft is deep enough for them to get an upgrade here. Cameron Heyward has developed into an above average starting 5-technique defensive end for the Steelers and would be the Chargers’ best interior defensive lineman even today.
19. New York Giants – RB DeMarco Murray (Oklahoma)
The Giants averaged just 3.47 YPC in 2011 and ended up using a first round pick on running back David Wilson in 2012. Wilson never ended up becoming the feature back they drafted him to be because of a neck injury. DeMarco Murray could be that guy. Not only does picking him here save them from making a mistake with Wilson in the following draft, it keeps him away from division rival Dallas, who got him in the 3rd round. Murray has had some injury issues, but has rushed for 6515 yards and 43 touchdowns on 1420 career carries (4.59 YPC) in 6 seasons in the league.
20. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – WR Doug Baldwin (Stanford)
The Buccaneers leading receivers in 2011 were Mike Williams (771), Kellen Winslow (763), Preston Parker (554), and Arrelious Benn (441). Despite going undrafted and signing with a run first team quarterbacked by Tarvaris Jackson, Doug Baldwin had more receiving yards (788) than any of them. Baldwin has 368 catches for 4954 yards and 34 touchdowns in 6 seasons for the Seahawks, despite playing for one of the run heaviest teams in the league. He’s been especially good in the past 2 seasons, going for 78/1069/14 and 94/1128/7, while being one of the most efficient receivers in the league on a per route and a per target basis.
21. Cleveland Browns – QB Tyrod Taylor (Virginia Tech)
Tyrod Taylor didn’t make a start until his 5th year in the league, after the 6th round pick spent the first 4 years of his career on the bench behind Joe Flacco with the Ravens. However, the Browns have been so desperate for quarterbacks in recent years that they can afford to wait on him to take a couple years to develop. Taylor has been a surprisingly competent quarterback over the past 2 seasons with the Bills.
22. Indianapolis Colts – OT Anthony Castonzo (Boston College)
Like the Patriots, the Colts took a left tackle in the first round and are pretty satisfied with him. Solder has definitely outplayed Castonzo at times, but Castonzo is a more consistent player with 89 starts (all at left tackle) in 6 seasons in the league. The Colts gave him a 4-year, 42 million dollar extension 2 off-seasons ago and would definitely make this selection again if they had to do it all over again.
23. Philadelphia Eagles – OLB KJ Wright (Mississippi State)
The 2011 Eagles were the so called “dream team” Eagles and they were done in primarily by poor linebacker play. Jamar Chaney and Brian Rolle led the team in tackles from the linebacker spot, which shows you how bad things were. KJ Wright was just a 4th round pick of the Seahawks in the 2011 NFL Draft originally, but he has grown into one of the best and most consistent three down 4-3 outside linebackers in the NFL.
24. New Orleans Saints – DE Pernell McPhee (Mississippi State)
The Saints can’t draft Cameron Jordan, their original pick, because he’s gone at this point, so they draft Pernell McPhee instead. Like Jordan, McPhee can line up inside and outside and has experience in both a 3-4 and a 4-3 defense. McPhee has never put up big sack numbers, but that’s mostly because he was buried on the depth chart in Baltimore and has dealt with limiting injuries in Chicago, since signing a 5-year, 38.75 million dollar deal two off-seasons ago. Throughout his career, he’s been one of the most efficient pass rushers in the NFL on a pressures per pass rush snap basis.
25. Seattle Seahawks – WR Randall Cobb (Kentucky)
The Seahawks leading receiver in 2011 was undrafted rookie Doug Baldwin, who has already been drafted at this point. The Seahawks take Randall Cobb here as a replacement for Doug Baldwin. Cobb has had some big years in Green Bay, though he has had issues with injuries, especially in recent years.
26. Kansas City Chiefs – C Rodney Hudson (Florida State)
The Chiefs originally drafted Rodney Hudson in the second round, but they have to use their first round pick to keep him in this re-draft. Considering they originally whiffed with Jonathan Baldwin here, the Chiefs probably won’t mind. A collegiate guard, Hudson became one of the best centers in the league with the Chiefs and has continued that high level of play with the Raiders over the past 2 seasons. Hudson’s 5-year, 44.5 million dollar deal was the most expensive in NFL history for a center at the time it was signed, but he has been worth it. The Chiefs probably regret not bringing him back.
27. Baltimore Ravens – CB Jimmy Smith (Colorado)
One final team sticks with their original pick. Jimmy Smith took a couple years to develop and also has dealt with some injuries, but, at his best, he’s a legitimate #1 cornerback. The Ravens gave him a 4-year, 41.1 million dollar extension two off-seasons ago and would probably like to keep him in a re-draft.
28. New Orleans Saints – DT Muhammad Wilkerson (Temple)
The future Saints will thank the 2011 Saints for using both first round picks on defensive players in this re-draft, given how bad their defense has been in recent years. Even though they were unable to keep Cameron Jordan in this re-mock, Pernell McPhee and Muhammad Wilkerson are a nice haul. Wilkerson probably would have gone 10-15 spots higher a year ago, as he struggled mightily in the first year of a 5-year, 86 million dollar deal last off-season. Part of that was that he was coming off of a broken leg and part of that was that he was playing out of position frequently, but there were also effort concerns with him, very concerning considering the Jets just guaranteed him 36.75 million. For the first 5 seasons of his career though, he was one of the better interior defensive linemen in the league.
29. Chicago Bears – G Clint Boling (Georgia)
The 2011 Bears needed help at pretty much every offensive line position and originally grabbed Gabe Carimi here, to upgrade one of the two tackle positions. However, Carimi was a massive bust who lasted just 2 seasons with Bears. Boling, on the other hand, was a 4th round pick who has become one of the better guards in the league. He didn’t play much as a rookie, but has made 74 starts in the past 5 seasons for the Bengals and has graded out above average on Pro Football Focus in all 5 seasons. Jay Cutler would have loved to have had him.
30. New York Jets – OLB Aldon Smith (Missouri)
The Jets have had such a need at the edge rusher position for years and, given where they’re drafting, I think they would be willing to draft Aldon Smith even knowing how much trouble he was going to get into. Smith burst into the league with 33.5 sacks in his first 2 seasons in the league, but has just 14 sacks in 27 games since thanks to suspensions and remains suspended indefinitely by the league, after missing all of last season. The Raiders still own his rights though and the fact that they haven’t given up on him, despite his issues, just shows how good he is when he’s right.
31. Pittsburgh Steelers – CB Prince Amukamara (Nebraska)
The Steelers were pretty much old at every position in the secondary in 2011 and Prince Amukamara is arguably the best available player left on the board. He would have been a future replacement for Ike Taylor in Pittsburgh. He’s been a solid cover cornerback whenever he’s been healthy, though he has missed 27 games in 6 seasons in the league thanks to injury.
32. Green Bay Packers – RB Mark Ingram (Alabama)
The 2010 Packers won the Super Bowl with James Starks as their starting running back down the stretch and the 2011 Packers averaged just 3.94 yards per carry with James Starks and Ryan Grant splitting carries. Given the players left on the board, Mark Ingram might be their best choice at this point. Ingram has rushed for 4238 yards and 32 touchdowns on 953 carries (4.45 YPC) in 6 seasons with the Saints and would have stabilized the running back position for the Packers.