The Denver Broncos defeated the Carolina Panthers in the Super Bowl last week and two of the most notable players in the game were selected right after each other in the 2011 NFL draft.
Cam Newton was the first overall pick in 2011 to the Panthers after winning the Heisman trophy at Auburn, while Von Miller was picked second by the Broncos. The two teams faced off in Super Bowl 50 last week and both Newton and Miller were front and center for their teams in the game. Newton did not have a great performance for the Panthers in the loss, while Miller was a beast, winning the MVP of the game after hounding Newton throughout the matchup.
With the Super Bowl now behind and the offseason coming, for Throwback Thursday let's a look back at the 2011 NFL draft, which saw Newton and Miller go 1-2 to the Panthers and Broncos. The 2011 draft saw a number of talented players get selected and many of those players have gone on to have stellar careers in the NFL, including AJ Green, Patrick Peterson, Julio Jones, JJ Watt, Mike Pouncey, Andy Dalton and Muhammad Wilkerson.
Below we'll look at some of the top picks in the first round, but there were some other players who were taken later on that have had success in the league as well. Randall Cobb was a second round pick; DeMarco Murray and Justin Houston went in the third round; Jordan Cameron and Julius Thomas were fourth round picks, while Richard Sherman went in the fifth round.
Here is a quick look at the top players in the first 11 picks:
Cam Newton, Panthers, Number 1
Super Bowl aside, Newton had a season for the ages in 2015, as he led his team to a 14-0 record before losing a game and won the MVP of the league. The Panthers came into the draft with Newton, Blaine Gabbert and Jake Locker as potential options at number one and it's safe to say the team made the right choice.
Von Miller, Broncos, Number 2
The Broncos hoped Miller would be available at number two in the draft and they did not hesitate to draft him once the Panthers took Newton. Things have worked out pretty well, as Miller has established himself as one of the best linebackers in the league. Miller dominated in the playoffs and now he likely will be hit with the franchise tag this offseason as the Broncos try and sign him to a new contract. Miller should cash in big after winning Super Bowl MVP.
AJ Green, Bengals, Number 4
Green has been one of the most productive receivers in the NFL since being drafted and he has built a great rapport with Andy Dalton in Cincinnati. Green has not disappointed since being picked at number four and he has put up monster numbers over the past four years, combining to score 38 touchdowns in that stretch of time.
Patrick Peterson, Cardinals, Number 5
Peterson has established himself as one of the best cornerbacks in the league and he has also been an explosive return man. Peterson has not missed a game in his career and as a rookie he had four punt returns for touchdowns.
Julio Jones, Falcons, Number 6
The Falcons traded up to number six to get Jones and over the past five years he has shown why he was worth the move. Jones is one of the most dominant receivers in the league and over the past two seasons he has put up at least 1500 yards and 100 catches. Last season Jones had a career best 136 receptions for 1871 yards and in 2014 he had 104 catches for 1593 yards.
JJ Watt, Texans, Number 11
Watt is basically on a Hall of Fame track in his career, as he has won the defensive player of the year award three times in the past four seasons. Watt has had over 20 sacks in two of the past four seasons and he has had double digit sacks every season for the Texans apart from his rookie year. Watt has caught touchdowns as a tight end on offense and has been one of the most dominant pass rushers in the league since he was drafted.