NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 28: NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell poses for a photo with Carolina Panthers #1 overall pick Cam Newton from Auburn during the 2011 NFL Draft at Radio City Music Hall on April 28, 2011 in New York City. (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images)
S-E-C! S-E-C! S-E-C!
The SEC was the story of the draft from top to bottom. The conference produced 10 of the 32 picks, the best of any conference. Five of the first six pick came from SEC schools, and the round finished (No. 32, Derek Sherrod to Green Bay) the same way it started (No 1, Cam Newton to Carolina).
Let the big dogs eat.
It was a night for the big guys, as 19 of the 32 picks were offensive or defensive linemen. Marcell Dareus started off that trend, going No. 3 to Buffalo, and it continued all the way through to Sherrod. Among picks 13 through 25, only Nebraska CB Prince Amukamara broke up the chain of lineman picks.
Newton going first overall is understandable. After that, it got weird. The second signal caller to be selected was Washington's Jake Locker at No. 8, as the Tennessee Titans were apparently using Mel Kiper's 2009 big board last night. Next came Missouri's Blaine Gabbert to Jacksonville, who traded up to No. 10 to get him. Finally, Minnesota went with FSU's Christian Ponder, who was not projected to be a top 15 pick by anyone at any point. Those moves provided plenty of jokes for the rest of the night, though no other quarterbacks were taken in the first round.
1. Auburn QB Cam Newton, Carolina
Just as expected, the Heisman winner went first overall to the Carolina Panthers. The team had a decent running game but was last in the league in most other offensive categories, so the pick makes sense. His mother was interviewed with him after the pick; his father was nowhere to be found.
3. Alabama DT Marcell Dareus, Buffalo
The Bills were horrendous against the run last year, so this pick was basically etched in stone once Newton went first.
4. Georgia WR A.J. Green, Cincinnati
As Chad Ochocinco tipped off on Twitter a while ago, the Bengals picked Green to add to its passing arsenal. The team is likely to get rid of Terrell Owens and perhaps Ochocinco too, so it needed someone who can make plays out wide.
5. LSU CB Patrick Peterson, Arizona
Secondary wasn't necessarily an area of need, but Peterson was too good to pass up for the Cards. I can't say I blame them, really.
6. Alabama WR Julio Jones, Atlanta
The Falcons gave up four picks, including next year's first rounder, to move up to get Jones. Considering that the team's needs were mostly on defense, that tells you just how highly the front office thought of him.
13. Auburn DT Nick Fairley, Detroit
Character concerns caused this guy to fall out of the top five, but Detroit didn't care. The Lions now get to pair him with Ndamukong Suh. That's going to be a terror of a defensive line until the salary cap splits them up down the line.
15. Florida C/G Mike Pouncey, Miami
The Gators get a first round pick for the fifth straight year (longest streak in the nation), and Pouncey gets to stay in his home state. He also accomplished his goal for coming back to school, which is that he got picked earlier than his brother did. That's more a reflection of the players available in each draft class than anything though, and Mike got a lift from Maurkice's great year.
25. Alabama OT/G James Carpenter, Seattle
It was a bit of a surprise (even to Nick Saban, who was at the draft) that Carpenter went here, but Seattle needs offensive line help. He was a tackle in college, but the Seahawks could move him inside to guard.
28. Alabama RB Mark Ingram, New Orleans
The Saints traded up to get the Heisman Trophy winner from Bama, likely ending Reggie Bush's term in NOLA. This pick provided one of the great moments of the draft, when Suzy Kolber read him an email from his proud father who is in jail right now.
32. Mississippi State OT Derek Sherrod, Green Bay
There certainly are worse places for a guy to end up than the reigning champs, and their tackles were merely adequate last year. Sherrod finally gives MSU a first round draft pick, as it was the only SEC school without one over the last ten years.
Ryan Mallett was the highest profile SEC guy not to go in the first round, but all those rumors about his character must have really scared teams off. He somehow feels like a mortal lock to not fall past Oakland, who has the 16th selection in the second round.
Another guy who fell out of the round is Clemson's Da'Quan Bowers, whose knee is apparently a bigger mess than anyone thought. He was originally projected to be a top five pick, but the possibility of microfracture surgery down the line scared everyone off. Selecting first in the second round is New England, a team that most figured would scoop up Bowers in the first round.