The first round of the 2014 NFL draft is in the books, and unsurprisingly, no one was close with their mock drafts.
Here's a look at how the first 32 picks played out during the enthralling evening:
|1||Houston Texans||Jadeveon Clowney|
|2||St. Louis Rams||Greg Robinson|
|3||Jacksonville Jaguars||Blake Bortles|
|4||Buffalo Bills||Sammy Watkins|
|5||Oakland Raiders||Khalil Mack|
|6||Atlanta Falcons||Jake Matthews|
|7||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||Mike Evans|
|8||Cleveland Browns||Justin Gilbert|
|9||Minnesota Vikings||Anthony Barr|
|10||Detroit Lions||Eric Ebron|
|11||Tennessee Titans||Taylor Lewan|
|12||New York Giants||Odell Beckham Jr.|
|13||St. Louis Rams||Aaron Donald|
|14||Chicago Bears||Kyle Fuller|
|15||Pittsburgh Steelers||Ryan Shazier|
|16||Dallas Cowboys||Zack Martin|
|17||Baltimore Ravens||C.J. Mosley|
|18||New York Jets||Calvin Pryor|
|19||Miami Dolphins||Ja'Wuan James|
|20||New Orleans Saints||Brandin Cooks|
|21||Green Bay Packers||Ha Ha Clinton-Dix|
|22||Cleveland Browns||Johnny Manziel|
|23||Kansas City Chiefs||Dee Ford|
|24||Cincinnati Bengals||Darqueze Dennard|
|25||San Diego Chargers||Jason Verrett|
|26||Philadelphia Eagles||Marcus Smith|
|27||Arizona Cardinals||Deone Bucannon|
|28||Carolina Panthers||Kelvin Benjamin|
|29||New England Patriots||Dominique Easley|
|30||San Francisco 49ers||Jimmie Ward|
|31||Denver Broncos||Bradley Roby|
|32||Minnesota Vikings||Teddy Bridgewater|
While there was some talk prior to the draft of trades at the top, the first two selections went mostly according to plan, with the Houston Texans taking Jadeveon Clowney at No. 1, and the St. Louis Rams following that up with Auburn offensive tackle Greg Robinson.
As ESPN Stats & Info noted, the Clowney selection was the first of its kind in nearly a decade—which also happened to work out pretty well for the Texans:
Jadeveon Clowney: 1st defensive player drafted No. 1 overall since Mario Williams in 2006, last time Texans had No. 1 pick #HOUpick— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) May 9, 2014
Some may worry about Clowney's effort, a criticism which has always seemed overstated, but he is one of the most physically gifted defensive ends we have seen in quite some time. An AFC West coach, via ESPN's Adam Schefter, and NFL Philosophy outlined what the former South Carolina standout brings to the table:
One AFC West coach called Texans No. 1 overall pick Jadeveon Clowney "an Andrew-Luck-type difference maker." Time to get after Luck.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) May 9, 2014
Clowney helps a team win before he steps on the field. He's a player that dominates so much that offenses must prepare for him specifically.— NFL Philosophy (@NFLosophy) May 9, 2014
Oh, and as a truly dangerous edge-rusher, he gives the Texans something they missed greatly next to the dominant J.J. Watt last season:
HOU's current edge rushers, Brooks Reed and Whitney Mercilus had PFF grades of -15.5 and -16.9 respectively in 2013. Need help on the edge— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) May 8, 2014
After Robinson, who gives the Rams a powerful run-blocker in a physical, ground-and-pound NFC West, all hell broke loose.
Jacksonville was strongly believed to be in the market for pass-rusher Khalil Mack but was also in need of a franchise quarterback. General manager David Caldwell, head coach Gus Bradley and the Jaguars shook things up by taking quarterback Blake Bortles at No. 3.
Many, such as Ryan Nanni, were very quick to make jokes:
Maybe the Jags think there are several smaller quarterbacks inside Blake Bortles.— Ryan Nanni (@celebrityhottub) May 9, 2014
Others, like Senior Bowl executive director Phil Savage, explained what the addition of Bortles, who has a tantalizing blend of size, strength and athleticism but is still a bit raw, might mean for Jacksonville's depth chart:
With the next three picks, teams were able to fill needs. The Buffalo Bills moved up in a trade with the Cleveland Browns to take explosive playmaker Sammy Watkins, the Oakland Raiders improved their pass rush with Khalil Mack, and the Atlanta Falcons found some much-needed protection for Matt Ryan with Texas A&M's Jake Matthews.
Then, another curveball.
Speculation was running rampant that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were in the market for a quarterback, especially if Johnny Manziel was still available, but they opted for a different Aggie, pairing Vincent Jackson with another big wide receiver in Mike Evans.
Despite some outcry, Pro Football Focus noted the pick made plenty of sense, and new Bucs head coach Lovie Smith, via the Tampa Bay Times' Greg Auman, gave his stamp of approval for the once-rumored-to-be-traded Mike Glennon:
Buccaneers needed a WR. The WR with the 2nd most receptions from last year still on the roster: Chris Owusu at 13— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) May 9, 2014
Lovie Smith on not drafting Johnny Manziel: "Mike Glennon is our quarterback of the future here."— Greg Auman (@gregauman) May 9, 2014
Thus fueled the Manziel tumble.
As teams continued to pass on Johnny Football, Twitter continued to buzz. The Boston Globe's Pete Abraham noted the story had reached his plane, and even the league's official Twitter feed joined in on the fun:
Pilot just announced Johnny Football still available. People cheered. This is hilarious. Plane still stuck.— Pete Abraham (@PeteAbe) May 9, 2014
#SadManziel???— NFL (@nfl) May 9, 2014
Manziel even moved past the Dallas Cowboys, which he himself later said was probably best for all anyways, via The Associated Press' Ralph D. Russo:
Manziel on Cowboys passing on him: "I don't know if the world could have handled that honestly."— Ralph D. Russo (@ralphDrussoAP) May 9, 2014
Finally, though, the Browns, who selected cornerback Justin Gilbert at No. 8, moved up to No. 22 in a trade with the Philadelphia Eagles to stop the fall for Manziel.
The Plain Dealer's Mary Kay Cabot noted some eerie history that Browns fans probably don't want to hear (or read):
Manziel is third QB picked in new era at No. 22 by "Browns: Brady Quinn and Brandon Weeden too.— Mary Kay Cabot (@MaryKayCabot) May 9, 2014
ESPN and Sports Illustrated's Andrew Brandt, meanwhile, explained the immense monetary bargain for the Browns, who were long assumed to be going after Manziel at No. 4:
Manziel will make about $8.25M over four years of rookie contract. If he went #4 to Browns, would have made about $20M.— Andrew Brandt (@adbrandt) May 9, 2014
Although many were surprised by Manziel's long stay in the green room, Sports Illustrated's Stewart Mandel was more shocked by another signal-caller seeing his stock slip:
While I'm a Manziel believer, I understand why he fell. Bridgewater, on the other hand, is absolutely baffling.— Stewart Mandel (@slmandel) May 9, 2014
Much like Manziel, Teddy Bridgewater watched two of his former teammates go off the board before him, as safety Calvin Pryor went to the New York Jets at No. 18, and linebacker Marcus Smith was surprisingly selected by the Philadelphia Eagles at No. 26.
Touchdown Teddy ultimately snuck into the first round, though, as the Minnesota Vikings struck a deal with the Seattle Seahawks to take him to close out the round.
Smart Football's Chris Brown liked the fit:
I think Bortles and Manziel would have been poor fits with Norv but he and Bridgewater should be a great match. Vikes have some weapons too— Chris B. Brown (@smartfootball) May 9, 2014
It was a wild first round as expected, but as ESPN's Field Yates and college football writer Dan Greenspan both noted, there is plenty of talent left available:
Day 1 is over, but plenty of talent remains to be picked. 9 of 30 players invited to the draft are still available. Houston's on the clock…— Field Yates (@FieldYates) May 9, 2014
Marqise Lee is officially this year's Keenan Allen. Plenty of teams will regret passing on him.— Dan Greenspan (@DanGreenspan) May 9, 2014
While a lot of teams improved immensely Thursday, the weekend will prove just as crucial for rebuilding teams and Super Bowl contenders alike.