NFL Draft Series 2014: Grading the Packers' 2011 draft
Part two of this year's 14-part series leading up to the 2014 NFL Draft is a look back at the Green Bay Packers' 2011 class with grades for each pick.
2011 second-round pick Randall Cobb still finds himself as one of that year's most impactful players through three NFL seasons.
Jeff Hanisch / USA TODAY Sports
By Paul Imig
FOX Sports Wisconsin's Paul Imig provides complete coverage of the Packers and the 2014 NFL Draft in his 14-part preview. You can find the entire series here.
The only downside to a team winning the Super Bowl is getting the last pick in each round of that year's draft. Considering the prize that was won, though, it's obviously well worth a few spots on the board during draft weekend.
That's where the Green Bay Packers found themselves in early 2011, having just brought the Lombardi Trophy back to Lambeau Field two months before figuring out which players to add to their championship roster.
Now that three seasons have passed since general manager Ted Thompson made those picks for the Packers, it's allowed time to accurately assess where things went right and where they went wrong.
Part two of this year's 14-part series leading up to the 2014 NFL Draft is a look back at the 2011 class with grades for each pick.
Round 1, No. 32 overall: Derek Sherrod -- Most players can easily be assessed after three NFL seasons. Sherrod is an exception. He's downgraded for his inability to contribute as a rookie despite being given a chance to compete in training camp. A year earlier, for comparison purposes, 2010 first-round pick offensive tackle Bryan Bulaga started 12 regular-season games and four playoff games (including the Super Bowl victory) as a rookie. Sherrod wasn't ready for that. But after finally getting a chance to play in Week 15 of his rookie year, Sherrod suffered a devastating broken leg injury that has set him off-course ever since. He's played only six snaps since that injury. He's just turning 25 years old, so Sherrod has time to turn it around, but after three years, this was certainly not a good first-round pick for the Packers. A few players who came off the board shortly after this pick: quarterback Colin Kaepernick, tight end Kyle Rudolph and wide receiver Torrey Smith. Grade 3 years later: D
Round 2, No. 64 overall: Randall Cobb -- Thompson might have missed on his first-round pick, but he definitely connected on his second-round choice by drafting Cobb. In what was a loaded draft class (J.J. Watt, Cam Newton, Patrick Peterson, Julio Jones, A.J. Green, Robert Quinn, to name a few), Cobb still finds himself as one of that year's most impactful players through three NFL seasons. Cobb's only major contributions as a rookie were on special teams, but he had a breakout 2012 season as a receiver and was on a path to surpass that production in 2013 before a serious knee injury. Not even turning 24 years old until August 2014, Cobb could be on his way to NFL superstardom. Grade 3 years later: A-plus
Round 3, No. 96 overall: Alex Green -- Similar to Sherrod, it's fair to wonder where Green's career would be after three seasons had he not suffered a bad injury as a rookie. For Green, it was a torn ACL that happened just as coach Mike McCarthy was planning to use him more in the backfield. Green had a chance to play a lot in his second year, but he was clearly not yet his pre-injury self and failed to make a positive impact (zero touchdowns all season, despite multiple 20-plus carry games). Green was released by the Packers before the 2013 season after just two years in Green Bay. Grade 3 years later: D
Round 4, No. 131 overall: Davon House -- House has a blend of many positive traits that an NFL cornerback ideally has: height, weight, speed and cover skills. After three seasons, he's yet to put them all together. House played fairly well in his 318 snaps in 2012 despite a nagging shoulder injury, and, finally healthy, seemed poised to be a possible breakout player in 2013. However, that didn't happen, with his play declining a bit in Year 3. House will turn 25 years old right before the start of the 2014 training camp and still has the tools to be a difference-maker on Green Bay's defense. But after three seasons, the Packers are still waiting for that. Grade 3 years later: C
Round 5, No. 141 overall: D.J. Williams -- As the John Mackey Award winner at Arkansas, Williams was a very good college tight end. Green Bay gambled that Williams' lack of size could be overcome at the NFL level by his skills as a pass-catcher. That didn't happen. After two seasons and just nine receptions for 70 yards, the Packers released Williams. He since spent two months with the Jacksonville Jaguars before being released and is on his second stint with the New England Patriots. Grade 3 years later: D
Round 6, No. 179 overall: Caleb Schlauderaff -- The offensive lineman out of Utah failed to impress in training camp as a rookie and was going to be released before the Packers were able to swing a trade with the New York Jets for a conditional draft choice. Schlauderaff has played a total of 16 offensive snaps in three seasons with the Jets. Grade 3 years later: F
Round 6, No. 186 overall: D.J. Smith -- Very short for the inside linebacker position, Smith showed signs early on that his height may not hold him back from being a valuable contributor on Green Bay's defense for many years. Smith started three games as a rookie and played well in his 267 snaps that year. He was a starter in his second season, playing nearly 95 percent of the snaps through five games. Then, in Week 6 at Houston, Smith suffered a knee injury and was out for the season. He failed his physical in 2013 and was released. He didn't make it with the San Diego Chargers and didn't get on the field at all in 2013 as a member of the Houston Texans. Smith is now trying to catch on with the Carolina Panthers. For a short period, this seemed like a very good draft pick for Thompson. But one serious injury ended that quickly. Grade 3 years later: C
Round 6, No. 197 overall: Ricky Elmore -- The defensive end out of Arizona never made it with the Packers. Elmore has tried his hand with the Chargers, Cardinals, Browns and Redskins, but no stop has worked out yet for him. Grade 3 years later: F
Round 7, No. 218 overall: Ryan Taylor -- He's worked hard to remain with Green Bay for three years -- and will likely make it four this upcoming season. Taylor played a career-high 174 snaps on offense in 2013, which obviously isn't a lot. But it's the little things that he does and his contributions on special teams that makes Taylor valuable as one of the 53 players on the Packers' active roster each year. Grade 3 years later: B
Round 7, No. 233 overall: Lawrence Guy -- The defensive end from Arizona State spent his rookie season on injured reserve with a concussion. Guy didn't make the roster in his second season but was signed to Green Bay's practice squad. However, the Indianapolis Colts signed him to their active roster in October 2012, ending Guy's tenure with the Packers. He's since had two stints with the Colts and is now with the Chargers. Grade 3 years later: D-minus
Overall 2011 draft grade: C-plus Cobb is a star. Whenever a team can land a player of Cobb's caliber, it's a great move. With Cobb falling all the way to the end of the second round, it was incredible value for Green Bay. However, aside from Cobb, it's mostly negatives for Thompson and his staff in this draft. Only four of the 10 picks are still with the team, and it's not as if the combination of Sherrod, House and Taylor is the difference between the Packers winning the division or not. By the time this draft is graded after Year 5, perhaps Sherrod and House will have emerged. But if not, this will be the year that Green Bay found a dynamic, game-changing receiver, but that's it.