I mentioned before that I’m not one to try to guess on what will happen before it happens. That is why my mock draft was not as specific as most. However, I will analyze things after they happen. In case you’ve been hiding under a rock, the first round of the NFL draft was tonight. I am writing this blog as it happens, so hopefully WNST will be the first source you go to for the analysis.
The Houston Texans opened the night by taking Jadeveon Clowney with the first overall pick. There was trade speculation down to the last second. Ultimately, I don’t think the Texans even knew what they wanted to do until the clock ran down to about ten seconds left. They had decided on who their selection would be, but entertained offers as long as they could. Clowney has been on everybody’s mind for this draft since two years ago when his highlight from the Outback Bowl against Michigan became an ESPN mainstay where he broke through the offensive line and knocked the running back’s helmet off. While Clowney has an amazing upside, skeptics worry about his consistency, work ethic and drive. His addition makes the Texans’ defensive line a force to be reckoned with. If only they could say the same about any other aspect of their game.
With the second pick, the Rams took a safe choice with Greg Robinson. He provides them with protection for their budding offense. He will be a quietly good edition, similar to in 1997 when Seattle took Walter Jones. I’m not saying he will be that good, but he shows a lot of promise, especially if he continues to improve. Plus, he will team up with Jake Long, who can make this offensive line stellar if he can remain healthy.
The first big surprise of the night came at pick number three when the Jaguars took a quarterback. However, it was not the quarterback everyone expected would go first – Johnny Manziel. The Jaguars took Blake Bortles. They got an average player going to a below average team with a horrible supporting cast. Jacksonville fans should be furious at their team wasting such a high pick on a guy who would have been around at 23 instead of 3. Well, that is if there are any Jacksonville fans out there. Cue the sound effect of crickets chirping.
The fourth pick was dealt from Cleveland to Buffalo in a lopsided trade (reminiscent of the deal that gave Washington RG3 and St. Louis about a million picks including the one that just turned in to Greg Robinson). Buffalo gave up number 9 tonight as well as their 1st and 4th round pick next year to move up 5 spots to get Sammy Watkins. The trade may not be a complete bust, as Watkins is poised to excel in this league. He is by far the top receiver in this draft and not only will succeed despite the lack of talent around him (a big concern with guys drafted early in a round), but will make a marginal quarterback, EJ Manuel, look much better. This also gives Buffalo depth at receiver meaning that teams can’t double cover both Watkins and Stevie Johnson.
The fifth pick belonged to Oakland and they selected OLB Khalil Mack. The concern with him was that he was coming from a team in Buffalo that was not facing a high level of competition. Now he will see Peyton Manning and Philip Rivers each twice a season. The benefit that Mack has is that he will learn from Raiders’ newcomers Justin Tuck and Lamar Woodley. Suddenly the Raiders linebackers look like they did in the Howie Long days. Too bad for Raiders fans the rest of the team still looks like the Raiders of the Jamarcus Russell days.
With the sixth pick, Atlanta took Jake Matthews. I really like him as a sturdy offensive lineman. He reminds me a lot of his father, Bruce, who had a 19 year hall of fame career for the Oilers/Titans organization. He will protect the high profile Matt Ryan the same way he protected the high profile Johnny Manziel in college. Too bad for the Falcons he can’t play all 5 offensive line positions at the same time.
The seventh pick was used by Tampa Bay on Mike Evans. This was one of the most predicted picks in all the mock drafts. Evans has potential to be a great receiver in this league with his great vertical abilities. He will make an excellent two pronged attack with Vincent Jackson for a marginal quarterback in Josh McCown. Sound familiar Buffalo?
The eighth pick in the draft was traded from Minnesota to Cleveland for the number 9 pick (the one they just got from Buffalo) as well as the 145th pick this year (5th round). Cleveland moved up one spot to select Justin Gilbert, who apparently they thought was in danger of going to Minnesota. Gilbert is the best corner in this draft. He has good size to keep up with the tall lanky receivers in the league and has pretty good hands.
Minnesota finally got to pick 9th (which went from Buffalo to Cleveland and then finally went to the Vikings). They have lately had a problem of not getting a lot of success from their first round picks since Adrian Peterson. This year, they add Anthony Barr. Unfortunately Barr (and more so his supporting cast on Minnesota’s defense) may add to this trend. He has a lot to learn as far as the position and the strategy, but he has the athleticism that Minnesota likes to take him at 9.
Barry Sanders announced the Lions pick at 10. The Lions took Eric Ebron to be their new tight end. He will fit in well with their great passing attack with Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson. Some Ravens fans had hoped that Ebron would fall to Baltimore at 17. The Lions elected to add another tight end to their roster instead of addressing their defensive needs.
At 11, Tennessee took Taylor Lewan to enhance their offensive line. They had already added Michael Oher to their roster over the offseason, and we remember how he produced. Lewan should be a definite upgrade.
The Giants had the 12th pick and stole Odell Beckham Jr. away from their New York rival Jets. He gives Eli Manning another target along with Victor Cruz and is an excellent route runner. Beckham is pretty fast (he also returns kicks and punts) and he will need to be as Eli doesn’t have much time provided to him by his protection to get off his passes.
The Rams picked again at 13 and took Aaron Donald who shot up the draft board since the end of the season. He shows the athleticism of Haloti Ngata, and that is what the Rams are relying on. If he continues this improvement, the Rams won’t be disappointed. The Rams now have an excellent front seven, which they will need playing in the NFC West.
With the 14th pick, Chicago took a local kid, Kyle Fuller. He went to Virginia Tech, but was born and raised here in Baltimore. He is a product of Mount St. Joesph and will be a good nickel back for Chicago after Charles Tillman and Tim Jennings. He improves the Bears defense, which of course the Bears are known for.
Pittsburgh at 15 gives us a new player to hate by selecting linebacker Ryan Shazier. A couple of weeks ago only Mel Kiper Jr. and Todd McShay knew who this kid was, but he has gained favor lately. It was surprising to not see them go with the more notable CJ Mosely, but he should fit in to the Steelers aging defense and having to live up to their stellar linebackers of the past.
Dallas picked at 16 and everyone thought they would finally take Johnny Manziel off the board. Dallas shocked the pundits and took Zack Martin instead. I guess they have not lost faith in Tony Romo. Martin plugs right into the offensive line with his versatility to play both guard and tackle. I was hoping the he would fall to the Ravens at 17, but plenty of quality players have.
The Ravens are on the clock.