2011 NFL Draft: Five First Round Surprises

If you’re a fellow draft nerd like myself, you figured that there would be plenty of surprises in the first round on Thursday night. Here are five that caught me off guard.

1. The Falcons trade two drafts worth of picks for Julio Jones.
The fact that the Falcons traded into the top 10 wasn’t surprising. There were pre-draft reports that suggested they would do just that. The fact that they traded 72 picks in order to climb up in order to take him…wow. Make no mistake: Julio Jones is a stud and he’s going to look real good in an offense that already consists of Matt Ryan, Roddy White, Michael Turner and Tony Gonzalez. But a first, second and a fourth this year, plus a first and a fourth next year is a TON to give up for one player. But hey, GM Thomas Dimitroff knows he has a Super Bowl-caliber roster and he just added an impact player. The loss to the Packers in the playoffs last year proved just how badly the Falcons needed a deep threat that could stretch the defense. Jones fills that need instantly; he just better pan out.

2. Titans take Jake Locker at No. 8.
With Vince Young heading out of town, everyone knew a quarterback was an option for Tennessee at No. 8. But the fact that they passed on Blaine Gabbert, who was arguably the better QB prospect, for Jake Locker was a surprise that not many people saw coming. That said, had Locker came out last year he would have probably be the No. 1 overall pick. But since he struggled as a senior at Washington, draft observers thought he would go in the late first round, or possibly even slip into the second. The Titans obviously were incredibly high on him and he’s going to bring a lot of excitement to Tennessee – at least initially. But consider this: if Locker doesn’t pan out and Gabbert does, not only will it set the Titans back, but Gabbert (whom Tennessee’s AFC South rivals the Jaguars traded up to take at No. 10) could wind up haunting them for years.

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