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Green Zone League Articles

#GZL @ 10 Years - The First Draft Class
By Wade Pearce
Special to gzl-football.com

#GZL @ 10 Years - The First Draft Class[/u]

We're ten seasons into the GZL and I thought we'd look at the Top 10 draft picks from the 2011 draft and what impact they've had one the league. Have they set the world alight? Did they break any records? Or did they simply fade into obscurity? Ten seasons is a career...and how have those careers gone? Now, because of either a data glitch or truely missed picks, these "first" 10 don't actually cover picks #1 - #10.

1.1 QB Andrew Luck - Andrew Luck was the very first pick of the GZL. In the nine seasons since being drafted, he has spent five seasons in Kansas City before being traded to the Buffalo Bills for another four seasons. This off-season, he was amnestied by the Bills and the Chicago Bears have acquired him. At the time the Chiefs traded him to the Bills, Luck was just beginning to show the makings of a superstar quarterback at Arrowhead Stadium. Despite the change, Luck managed to keep a solid record in tact, throwing for 14,364 yards, 84 touchdowns and 56 interceptions. His QB rating isn't knock your socks off his productivity in five of the last six seasons would have made most teams happy.

1.2 CB Patric Peterson - Peterson has had a solid career in Seattle before being traded to the New Orleans Saints this season. While he had all the skillsets of a superstar corner, his defensive presence hasn't quite lived up to the expectations of a 1.2 pick with his attributes. Part of that may be due to missing the entirety of the 2012 season, but his 30 interceptions rank him #18 lifetime and his 167 deflections rank him #33 lifetime. He is also ranked #22 lifetime for catches allowed.

1.3 MLB Von Miller - Has never left the St. Louis Rams and with the exception of an injury interrupted 2015 season has recorded at least 100 takles and double-digit tackles-for-loss every season in his career. Those stats have Von Miller ranked #5 lifetime in tackles and tackles-for-loss. Anytime a player cracks the top 5 lifetime for critical stats you know you picked a good one.

1.4 WR A.J. Green - The Falcons kept Green for five seasons after his draft but since then he has been on four different teams in four seasons despite the fact he has posted 1000+ yard receiving seasons in 7 of his 9 career seasons. It looks like A.J. Green may have found a franchise willing to hold onto him for one more season with the Chicago Bears. Despite the instability of the last four seasons, Green keeps posting the numbers and is currently ranked #5 for career receiving yardage, #2 for career receptions and #23 for career touchdowns. He has very much lived up to his high pick.

1.5 CB Chimdi Chekwa - Chekwa spent 8 seasons with the Carolina Panthers before he was traded to the Jacksonville Jaguars. Across his career, he has managed to reach #10 in career interceptions and #8 in career deflections. While his physical attributes wouldn't generally highlight him as such a high draft pick, his career hasn't been a mediocre one either.

1.6 DE Cameron Jordan - Another player who has spent his entire career with the same team (a nice fact to find), Jordan is currently ranked #6 in career sacks which is pretty impressive for a guy whose physical prowess leans more towards the engaging 3-4 defensive end. Obviously he has the chops for pass rushing as well and could easily move into the top 5 sack leaders this season.

1.7 DT Marcell Dareus - Ah, so nice to see early first round pick players spending their careers with the same team. He and fellow draftee J.J. Watt (next pick) have had amazingly similar careers. He ranks equal third in career sacks with J.J. Watt and can only be described as adding value to the team he was with. DT's are hard to judge as a first round pick because a lot of what they do isn't recorded in stats, so really, we can extrapolate what he has done in comparison to other DTs using the stats we have. So thumbs up!

1.8 DT J.J. Watt - Traded by the Panthers after five seasons to the Baltimore Ravens, J.J. Watt could be described as having a valuable career at DT, ranking third in career sacks across defensive tackles. Hi big frame and nimble feet have made him a mainstay as he prepares to enter his tenth season and fifth at Baltimore.

1.9 CB Jimmy Smith - There is a growing theme here. We're five picks into the 2011 draft and this marks the third first round pick from this draft to eventually end up at Chicago. After seven seasons in Detroit, Smith was traded to divisional rivals the Chicago Bears. And while Smith is ranked #23 for career interceptions, he makes up for that by ranking #3 overall in deflections, making him one the league's premiere shutdown corners. And no other active player is in front of him on the stats board.

1.10 QB Christian Ponder - Christian Ponder has spent the entirety of his career in Arizona. And while the franchise has struggled to achieve consistency across those seasons, Ponder has been consistent in posting the passing yards that rank him #6 in career yardard while also being a consistently solid passer with a career QB rating of 86.6 that places him #7 in that category. As someone who has faced the scenario of passing inconsistency, I would only dream of a passer that solid.

1.11 CB Alan Morris - Alan Morris stayed with the Washington Redskins for eight seasons until his body began to slow, where he wsa traded to Carolina for the 2019 season and has just been traded to the Dallas Cowboys, returning him to the NFC East. While Morris has been a consistent contributor over his nine seasons to date, he hasn't set the world on fire at corner, ranking outside the top 10 in both deflections and interceptions.

1.12 OT Nate Solder - Solder has played his entire career to date for the New Orleans Saints. While putting up solid pancakes numbers in that time, he is also one of the most likely to let players through for a sack, ranked #5 in career allowed sacks. As a team, the Saints would have been hoping for a little less leakiness from what they would have hoped was their premier tackle.

1.13 DE Justin Houston - Picked by the Rams, plays for the Rams, will likely retire for the Rams. An exceptional defensive end who is currently ranked #5 in career sacks and has every possibility of finishing his career ranked in the top 3. While his sacks dried up a bit last season, a player with his talents will always be dangerous until the day they hold up there cleats.

1.14 HB Mark Ingram - After a season at the Colts and then a season at the Saints, there was little the league realised what would be unleashed on them when he was traded to the Oakland Raiders and GM Garth Pearce. The 2143 yards rushing he posted in the 2013 season fell short of the league record by a single yard but in 2015 he rushed for 2180 yards, setting the season record in rushing. He's ranked equal 2nd in most rushing touchdowns in a season and is the career #1 rusher in touchdowns and the #2 rusher in yardage. If there was ever a superstar to come out of the 2011 draft, it appeared as a nuggety, 5'9" tank who promotly used the league's defenses as roadkill for seven seasons.
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