Kiper leaves several big-name quarterbacks out of the first round—i.e., Derek Carr, Jordan Lynch and A.J. McCarron—and while the cases for the latter two are borderline as first-rounders, there are many around the game who consider Carr a solid first-round pick.
Heck, I even went so far as to predict him at No. 4 to the Cleveland Browns back in the first week of January.
Here's how Kiper's first round breaks down, followed by some review and criticism of a few of the more controversial selections.
|1||Houston Texans||Johnny Manziel||QB||Texas A&M|
|2||St. Louis Rams (from WAS)||Jake Matthews||T||Texas A&M|
|3||Jacksonville Jaguars||Jadeveon Clowney||DE||South Carolina|
|4||Cleveland Browns||Blake Bortles||QB||UCF|
|5||Oakland Raiders||Sammy Watkins||WR||Clemson|
|6||Atlanta Falcons||Anthony Barr||OLB||UCLA|
|7||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||Khalil Mack||OLB||Buffalo|
|8||Minnesota Vikings||Teddy Bridgewater||QB||Louisville|
|9||Buffalo Bills||Greg Robinson||T||Auburn|
|10||Detroit Lions||Justin Gilbert||CB||Oklahoma State|
|11||Tennessee Titans||Taylor Lewan||T||Michigan|
|12||New York Giants||C.J. Mosley||LB||Alabama|
|13||St. Louis Rams||Mike Evans||WR||Texas A&M|
|14||Chicago Bears||Timmy Jernigan||DT||Florida State|
|15||Pittsburgh Steelers||Louis Nix III||DT||Notre Dame|
|16||Baltimore Ravens||Eric Ebron||TE||North Carolina|
|17||Dallas Cowboys||Ha Ha Clinton-Dix||S||Alabama|
|18||New York Jets||Marqise Lee||WR||USC|
|19||Miami Dolphins||Cyrus Kouandjio||T||Alabama|
|20||Arizona Cardinals||Zack Martin||T||Notre Dame|
|21||Green Bay Packers||Calvin Pryor||S||Louisville|
|22||Philadelphia Eagles||Kelvin Benjamin||WR||Florida State|
|23||Kansas City Chiefs||Stephon Tuitt||DE||Notre Dame|
|24||Cincinnati Bengals||Darqueze Dennard||CB||Michigan State|
|25||San Diego Chargers||Bradley Roby||CB||Ohio State|
|26||Cleveland Browns (from IND)||Carlos Hyde||RB||Ohio State|
|27||New Orleans Saints||Antonio Richardson||T||Tennessee|
|28||Carolina Panthers||Brandin Cooks||WR||Oregon State|
|29||New England Patriots||Jace Amaro||TE||Texas Tech|
|30||San Francisco 49ers||Odell Beckham Jr.||WR||LSU|
|31||Denver Broncos||Scott Crichton||DE||Oregon State|
|32||Seattle Seahawks||Allen Robinson||WR||Penn State|
No. 1: Houston Texans, Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M
This pick is a head-scratcher for me.
Johnny Manziel was arguably the most dynamic player in college football each of the past two seasons, but banking on him to produce the same way in the NFL is a little risky. I don't love Manziel's size, and his decision-making is still questionable at times.
Plus, we saw this season how another mobile quarterback, Robert Griffin III, faired after defenses were given a season to adjust to his playing style.
It's not that I don't like Manziel. I think he has the chance to be a decent NFL quarterback. That being said, I think the Texans would be better suited to go after Teddy Bridgewater at No. 1. Bridgewater is more NFL-ready at this point and has the ability to step in and be "the guy" from Day 1.
Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com reports that the Cleveland Browns might be willing to trade up to select Manziel, and that would be the only situation where I could see him taken within the top three selections.
No. 3: Jacksonville Jaguars, Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina
Jadeveon Clowney will be a stud in the NFL. I have no doubts about that.
I question Kiper's belief that the Jacksonville Jaguars will select him at No. 3, though. Among several other things, the Jaguars are still in need of a legitimate quarterback. They can't rely on Chad Henne and Blaine Gabbert any longer.
This draft class gives them a legitimate opportunity to select a quarterback for their future with the No. 3 overall pick. That guy could be Blake Bortles, Derek Carr or Manziel, but Bortles makes the most sense for this offense.
He has an NFL-ready arm, and his big frame allows him to see over the top of defenses. He led UCF to its first BCS bowl game in team history this season, and staying in Florida to play with the Jaguars would be a good move for the young signal-caller.
For a team like the Jaguars, selecting Clowney wouldn't make the immediate impact that drafting Bortles would. Clowney is an ideal fit on a team with a strong (or potentially strong) defense. Bortles can impact the entire offense, and that's what Jacksonville needs.
No. 16: Baltimore Ravens, Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina
The Baltimore Ravens will watch Dennis Pitta and Ed Dickson hit free agency this offseason, but they would be wise to re-sign one of the two. Joe Flacco has had success in recent years passing to both of them, so bringing one back would be ideal.
While having Eric Ebron play behind one of the two wouldn't be a bad idea, the Ravens need to address another aspect of the offense instead. Torrey Smith, Jacoby Jones and Marlon Brown are decent wide receivers, but Flacco still doesn't have that go-to option when throwing the ball downfield.
The Ravens have a chance to fix that with the No. 16 pick.
Wideout Marqise Lee has speed to burn as well as the hands to make difficult catches in traffic. He's coming off a three-year career at USC that saw him haul in 29 touchdowns and over 3,500 yards. Most of that production came in the vertical passing game, and we all know how much Flacco loves to air it out over defenses.
Putting a speed guy like Lee in the post would help with Flacco's efficiency in this regard.
No. 21: Green Bay Packers, Calvin Pryor, S, Louisville
Jermichael Finley's status moving forward is in question given the spinal fusion surgery he underwent in November, and the Green Bay Packers wouldn't be put at fault for drafting his potential replacement with the No. 21 overall pick.
While safety Calvin Pryor projects to be a quality NFL talent, it would be hard to pass up the pass-catching skills of Jace Amaro. The Texas Tech product was stellar this season, totaling 1,352 yards and seven touchdowns. He was also a big contributor in his team's victory over Arizona State in the Holiday Bowl.
Amaro has the size and hands to be a playmaking tight end in the NFL. Kiper suggested that he would be drafted later on by the New England Patriots (No. 29), but they might not be so lucky. If the Packers are wise, they would select him at No. 21.
Of course, Kiper is correct in suggesting that the Patriots should take Amaro. Rob Gronkowski is repeatedly injured, and the Patriots are a breeding ground for talented tight ends. He would be a great fit there.
In terms of need, though, the Packers need Amaro more.