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Falcons trade up to select Julio Jones

04.28.11 at 8:41 pm ET
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The Falcons made the first major splash of the draft Thursday, trading up from No. 27 to grab Cleveland’s pick and select Alabama receiver Julio Jones sixth overall.
The Falcons gave up secondhand fourth-round picks this year, as well as firsthand fourth-round picks in next year’s draft in order to get to No. 6.

This is a beyond-gutsy pick for the Falcons to make, but Matt Ryan has got to love it. Jones is an incredible athlete, and having him and Roddy White as receivers to go with an already-solid running could make this offense very scary. The Falcons still need help on the offensive line, and it will be a while before they can address it after this trade.

Cardinals take Patrick Peterson

04.28.11 at 8:33 pm ET
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The Cardinals selected LSU cornerback and Bednarik Award winner Patrick Peterson fifth overall, making him the third defensive player selected in the first five picks.

The Cardinals may have a potential need at quarterback, but they made the wise choice in selecting the best player in the draft (not the best player available, but the best player). Peterson is a physical specimen, and at 219 pounds, can handle anything that comes his way.

Read More: 2011 NFL Draft,

A.J. Green goes fourth overall to Bengals

04.28.11 at 8:29 pm ET
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The Bengals may have had a couple of big-name receivers on their roster a year ago, but they added some more youth to their group of receivers by selecting Georgia receiver A.J. Green with the fourth overall pick.

There’s always some risk associated with drafting a wide receiver this high, but Green is the best offensive player in a draft that has already seen an offensive player go first overall. Terrell Owens led the Bengals with 983 receiving yards last season, with Chad Ochocinco finishing with 831. Green and Jordan Shipley, as well as tight end Jermaine Gresham, should give whoever is throwing them the ball some nice options in the future.

Marcell Dareus headed to Buffalo

04.28.11 at 8:24 pm ET
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Alabama defensive lineman Marcell Dareus is headed to Buffalo, as the Bills have chosen him third overall.

The Bills may have missed on a top 10 pick last year when they chose C.J. Spiller eighth overall, so getting the best defensive lineman in the entire draft is certainly a safer route that should pay bigger dividends. Dareus has tremendous versatility, as he can play at any spot in a three-man front. It should be noted that the Bills paln to incorporate both a 3-4 and 4-3.

Von Miller selected second overall

04.28.11 at 8:21 pm ET
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John Fox has what he hopes will be a star defensive player, as the Broncos selected Texas A&M outside linebacker Von Miller with the second overall pick i the draft.

This is a solid pick for the Broncos. Miller isn’t the biggest guy in the world, but he can get after the quarterback like only few can. He ran in the low 4.4 range in the 40-yard dash, and the Butkus Award winner will hope the talent that gave him 28 sacks the last two years translates to the next level.

Panthers select Cam Newton with first overall pick in NFL Draft

04.28.11 at 8:10 pm ET
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The Panthers kicked off the 2011 NFL draft by selecting Auburn quarterback Cam Newton first overall. Newton, who won the Heisman Trophy as a junior this past season, has good size and tremendous athletic ability. His upside may be greater than that of any other player in the entire draft.

If you’re seeking one man’s opinion, this is a terribly risky pick for the Panthers. Newton is very raw and is a ways away from being an NFL quarterback. If he can reach his potential, he could be one of the more dynamic players in the league. If he can’t, the Panthers, who already have a young quarterback in Jimmy Clausen, could pay for it. First overall picks should be franchise players, and given the risk factor with Newton, it’s hard to tell whether he will definitely be that franchise player.

Read More: 2011 NFL Draft, Cam Newton,

NFL set to resume football operations

04.28.11 at 2:38 pm ET
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Football has returned, at least for now. The NFL issued a memo on Thursday that said teams can open their doors to their players for voluntary workouts, meetings with coaches and the distribution of playbooks as early as Friday morning. For now, all player moves are on hold, but the league promised that it would issue detailed procedures for free agency, trades and other roster moves soon.

James Quinn, the class counsel for the players in their antitrust suit against the NFL, argued that waiting for an appeal is not grounds for keeping league operations shut down.

“Unless and until such a (stay) request is granted, however, we believe the 2011 league Year now has to begin,” Quinn said in a memo to players and agents. “The clubs must open their facilities to allow players to work out, meet with coaches and otherwise perform their jobs; and the NFL and the clubs cannot collectively continue to refuse to deal with players.”

The memo brings some clarity to an uncertain situation ‘€” despite the fact that the lockout was lifted earlier in the week, the clubs were unsure whether or not they could allow players into the facilities for workouts, as owners were in the process of appealing the decision. The league still plans to appeal the decision ‘€” the request for a temporary stay is still pending ‘€” but for now, there appears to be a sense that a return to normalcy will come sooner rather than later.

Read More: James Quinn, lockout,
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