The first round of the 2014 NFL Draft is now completed & there were some great moments & some very unexpected moments. We realized that the mock drafts of the NFL insiders mean absolutely nothing & so much movement takes place on the night of that it just creates for amazing television & heartfelt moments, at times.
We saw Johnny Manziel wait until the 22nd pick to get picked up by the Cleveland Browns, who were initially telling everyone that they weren’t sure about the pick anyway & the insiders were wondering if the owner Jimmy Haslam was making the pick or was he going to let the football people make the big choice.
All that really happened was that the Browns were smarter than all of us anyway & took care of the defense by getting emerging cornerback Joe Hayden some help on the opposite side of the field by drafting cornerback Justin Gilbert from Oklahoma State.
But that wouldn’t have taken place if it wasn’t for the Dallas Cowboys surprising football fans by not taking Manziel when he dropped to the 16th spot……….what was even more surprising was that Cowboys Owner/General Manager Jerry Jones actually did the smart football based move & took the guard out of Notre Dame, Zach Martin, which in theory, made tons of sense because of Tony Romo’s injuries, being 34 years old & knowing that the end of the rope is coming & having a contract extension. He has to be protected & has to have a running game to take some of the pressure off.
Backing up to the top of the draft, the Houston Texans, who had been trying to deal out of the #1 position since seemingly the end of the 2013 NFL season, went with conventional wisdom & took the best player of the 2014 NFL Draft class in Jadeveon Clowney. Clowney has all of the God-given gifts to be one of the greatest defensive ends/linebackers in the history of the NFL if he is anything close to what he was in the SEC & creates the fear & mismatches for NFL teams each week.
The question that the Houston Texans have to find out immediately is whether Clowney has the heart & work ethic to be one of the greatest of all time, the way that he has been billed to be by people in high school, college, ESPN, NFL Network, Fox Sports 1 & others. The risk, however, is too great to pass on, especially with the upside that Clowney can potentially bring to the Texans organization. The Texans, as we mentioned earlier in our top 10 NFL Draft coverage, noted that the team is already a ready made playoff team, which is rare for many teams that are picking at the #1 slot.
Another team that is ready for a playoff run next year is the St. Louis Rams. The Rams, who have played well with the best in the NFL, including the San Francisco 49ers & Superbowl Champion Seattle Seahawks, took strides to protect their offensive franchise player in quarterback Sam Bradford by drafting Auburn OT Greg Robinson.
Robinson may be a bit of a project & if the Rams were going to take a tackle, they have been better off taking Jake Matthews from Texas A&M or Taylor Lewan from Michigan, but Robinson showed promise in taking on the best that the SEC has to offer, week in & week out & holding his own. He has to get past some injury issues & work on overall technique, but technique can be taken care of through coaching. If the injury issue can be taken care of, he will be a great force on the offensive line & someone to build around for years to come.
But the Rams didn’t just build up the offensive line, but the defensive line as well, getting big time defensive tackle Aaron Donald from Pittsburgh, to pair up with Chris Long on that line to help put some pressure from the line position & open up holes for Laurinaitis to roam free into the opposing backfield & shut down the run & be able to really let the safeties roam in defending the pass & read the quarterback better. The Rams made moves that made sense from a business standpoint because you have to be able to battle in the trenches in the NFC west to hang in with the 49ers & Seahawks.
Two other teams made strides towards going back to their basic identities – the Pittsburgh Steelers & the Baltimore Ravens. The Ravens locked up their inside linebacker position that was vacated by Ray Lewis when he retired after the SuperBowl win in 2013 by signing linebacker C.J. Mosley from Alabama. Mosley is a playmaker & along with Vinny Sunceri was the heart of the Alabama defense for the last 3 seasons. There will never be another Ray Lewis, but if Mosley is half of what Lewis was, the Ravens will be on their way to having an elite defense again.
The Steelers, right on cue, drafted a linebacker of their own to replace Lamarr Woodley & to keep their defense at the top of the NFL with bring in Ryan Shazier from Ohio State. Shazier isn’t as quick and athletic as Mosley but he is a playmaker in every sense of the word. He will help to bring credibility to the Steelers, who had more of the worst defensive games last season than at anytime in the history of the franchise.
Tommorow will be another interesting day as many big college football names are still on the board, waiting to get their named called by Roger Goddell. Only time will show whether the waiting game will be over for many NFL hopefuls, or does the ride last until Saturday afternoon.
NFL Draft Picks – First Round
|1.||Texans||Jadeveon Clowney||DE/OLB||South Carolina|
|2.||Rams (from WSH)||Greg Robinson||OT||Auburn|
|6.||Falcons||Jake Matthews||OT||Texas A&M|
|7.||Buccaneers||Mike Evans||WR||Texas A&M|
|8.||Browns*||Justin Gilbert||CB||Oklahoma State|
|10.||Lions||Eric Ebron||TE||North Carolina|
|12.||Giants||Odell Beckham Jr.||WR||LSU|
|14.||Bears||Kyle Fuller||CB||Virginia Tech|
|15.||Steelers||Ryan Shazier||OLB||Ohio State|
|16.||Cowboys||Zack Martin||OG/OT||Notre Dame|
|20.||Saints*||Brandin Cooks||WR||Oregon State|
|22.||Browns*||Johnny Manziel||QB||Texas A&M|
|24.||Bengals||Darqueze Dennard||CB||Michigan State|
|26.||Eagles* (from IND)||Marcus Smith||DE/OLB||Louisville|
|27.||Cardinals*||Deone Bucannon||SS||Washington State|
|28.||Panthers||Kelvin Benjamin||WR||Florida State|
|30.||49ers||Jimmie Ward||SS||Northern Illinois|
|31.||Broncos||Bradley Roby||CB||Ohio State|
Note: An asterisk (*) indicates that the pick came via a trade either in this draft or a past draft for tonight.
Picks Acquired by Trade
Bills acquire No. 4 pick from Browns
Browns acquire No. 9 pick from Bills
Browns acquire No. 8 pick from Vikings
Vikings acquire No. 9 pick from Browns
Saints acquire No. 20 pick from Cardinals
Cardinals acquire No. 27 pick from Saints
Browns acquire No. 22 pick from Eagles
Eagles acquire No. 26 pick from Browns
Vikings acquire No. 32 pick from Seahawks