To say that Round 1 of the 2014 NFL draft was unpredictable may be the understatement of the year.
With a plethora of early trades, teams began jockeying for position in order to get their coveted prospects. The strategy worked nicely for some teams. However, we were left scratching our heads regarding other selections.
Here's a look at how the entire first round of the draft shook out along with a grade for each pick:
|1||Houston Texans||Jadeveon Clowney||A+|
|2||St. Louis Rams||Greg Robinson||A+|
|3||Jacksonville Jaguars||Blake Bortles||B-|
|4||Buffalo Bills||Sammy Watkins||A+|
|5||Oakland Raiders||Khalil Mack||A+|
|6||Atlanta Falcons||Jake Matthews||A+|
|7||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||Mike Evans||A+|
|8||Cleveland Browns||Justin Gilbert||A|
|9||Minnesota Vikings||Anthony Barr||A|
|10||Detroit Lions||Eric Ebron||A-|
|11||Tennessee Titans||Taylor Lewan||A|
|12||New York Giants||Odell Beckham Jr.||A+|
|13||St. Louis Rams||Aaron Donald||A+|
|14||Chicago Bears||Kyle Fuller||A|
|15||Pittsburgh Steelers||Ryan Shazier||B+|
|16||Dallas Cowboys||Zack Martin||B+|
|17||Baltimore Ravens||C.J. Mosley||A|
|18||New York Jets||Calvin Pryor||A-|
|19||Miami Dolphins||Ja'Wuan James||C+|
|20||New Orleans Saints||Brandin Cooks||A+|
|21||Green Bay Packers||Ha Ha Clinton-Dix||A+|
|22||Cleveland Browns||Johnny Manziel||A+|
|23||Kansas City Chiefs||Dee Ford||B-|
|24||Cincinnati Bengals||Darqueze Dennard||A+|
|25||San Diego Chargers||Jason Verrett||A+|
|26||Philadelphia Eagles||Marcus Smith||B-|
|27||Arizona Cardinals||Deone Bucannon||B|
|28||Carolina Panthers||Kelvin Benjamin||A-|
|29||New England Patriots||Dominique Easley||A-|
|30||San Francisco 49ers||Jimmie Ward||A-|
|31||Denver Broncos||Bradley Roby||A|
|32||Minnesota Vikings||Teddy Bridgewater||A+|
Selections via NFL.com/Sean O'Donnell's grades
The Houston Texans kicked things off by selecting Jadeveon Clowney. Pairing him with J.J. Watt will make their defense very scary in the upcoming season.
SportsNation really made that notion clear with this tweet:
Jadeveon Clowney is joining a defense with JJ Watt… That's bad news for EVERYONE else. pic.twitter.com/AJ8NTYU5l4— SportsNation (@SportsNation) May 9, 2014
With the No. 3 pick, the Jacksonville Jaguars grabbed Blake Bortles. This pick is a bit risky given that Bortles may need time to develop before he can truly become a viable NFL starter. We'll have to see if Jacksonville plans on playing him immediately.
According to this tweet, one sports personality wasn't pleased with the selection:
Worst pick so far: Blake Bortles 3 to Jacksonville. That's why they're the Jags.— Skip Bayless (@RealSkipBayless) May 9, 2014
The Bills made a huge splash by trading up for Sammy Watkins. A tweet from quarterback EJ Manuel really summed up how he felt about the selection:
!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!— EJ Manuel (@EJManuel3) May 9, 2014
Watch out for the St. Louis Rams defense this year. With Chris Long and Robert Quinn already in the fold, adding defensive tackle Aaron Donald could push this defensive line into the realm of the elite.
One of the more puzzling picks of the first round was the Miami Dolphins' selection of Ja'Wuan James at No. 19 overall. The Dolphins were certainly in need of an offensive tackle. However, the selection of James at 19 appeared to be a bit of a reach—this notion was solidified when no other offensive tackles were taken in the first round after his selection.
Shane P. Hallam of draftTV.com tweeted that the pick was a bit of a reach:
Biggest Reach: #Dolphins JaWuan James. Even with a 1st round grade on him, you COULD have moved down (NO traded up 1 pick later)— Shane P. Hallam (@ShanePHallam) May 9, 2014
Common knowledge suggests that the Dolphins should have traded back, acquired more picks and then taken their guy later in the round. One thing is for certain, though: now that James is a first-rounder, he has plenty of expectations to live up to.
The highlight of the first round may have been the Browns' move up to the No. 22 pick in order to acquire Johnny Manziel. Cleveland finally got its quarterback, and Manziel will enter the league with a bit of a chip on his shoulder after falling so far in Round 1.
In fact, Manziel made his intentions known, via a tweet from USA Today:
"I've been a winner everywhere I've been. I'm going to put myself in the position to continue that trend" - Manziel http://t.co/rqfZ68t8GE— USA TODAY Sports (@USATODAYsports) May 9, 2014
We were given some more excitement right at the end of the first round with another move for a signal-caller, as the Minnesota Vikings traded back into the first round in order to select former Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater at No. 32 overall.
Head coach Mike Zimmer had some lofty praise for his new quarterback, according to a tweet from NFL Network's Albert Breer:
Vikings coach Mike Zimmer on Teddy Bridgewater: "You know the thing I like most about him? He wins. He wins. Everywhere he goes, he wins."— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) May 9, 2014
When all was said and done, each team improved in a big way, although the extent of improvements won't be visible until these players finally take the field this fall.
While 32 prospects now have new homes in the NFL, plenty more prospects await their fate over the next two days. With Day 2 of draft action taking place on Friday, there certainly won't be any shortage of continued anxiety and anticipation.