There have been 95 long, football-less days since the end of the Super Bowl and approximately 950,000 mock drafts littering all corners of the Internet, but fans were finally treated to the closest thing during the offseason to actual pigskin Thursday.
It was draft day, and it may as well have been Super Bowl Sunday in Cleveland, Ohio, after the score the Browns landed. They weren’t the only ones to brighten their immediate future in the first round, though.
With that in mind, take a look at the entirety of the Round 1 results, and then we will dig into some analysis on some of the biggest names in the draft:
|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|
Jadeveon Clowney, Houston Texans
There was plenty of suspense leading up to the draft, but one spot that nobody was holding their breath about was the No. 1 pick.
That is because Jadeveon Clowney was as close as there could be to a lock heading into draft day. He was the best player with the highest ceiling in the entire class, and the Houston Texans didn’t hesitate to pull the trigger on their man.
SportsCenter captured the moment:
Looking ahead, Clowney is going to be a nightmare to block from the very first game. Teams in the NFL will not be able to double-team him like his opponents in college, especially with J.J. Watt lining up alongside him.
What grade to you give the Houston Texans' first pick?
What’s more, Clowney will have a chance to show off his athleticism and potential versatility in a way we didn’t see much of at South Carolina. He could play some outside linebacker in the Texans' system and possibly rush off the edge from that spot.
At the end of the day, though, Houston knows it landed an elite pass-rusher on the defensive line. It will tailor its game plan accordingly.
Blake Bortles, Jacksonville Jaguars
In hindsight, the Jacksonville Jaguars’ decision to draft Blake Bortles with the No. 3 pick doesn’t make a lot of sense.
For one, the Cleveland Browns and Minnesota Vikings both landed potential superstars at quarterback much later in the first round than Jacksonville did, so the Jaguars could have very easily traded and still taken Bortles later if he was their man. Alas, a team that needs a number of different positions missed an opportunity to secure multiple assets for the No. 3 pick.
ESPN's Skip Bayless may cause readers to scratch their heads more often than not, but it’s hard to argue with him on this one:
Worst pick so far: Blake Bortles 3 to Jacksonville. That's why they're the Jags.— Skip Bayless (@RealSkipBayless) May 9, 2014
The fact that Sammy Watkins was available made the pick all the more confusing since wide receiver Justin Blackmon’s future is cloudy at best after his latest substance-abuse issues.
Johnny Manziel, Cleveland Browns
Now we come to the main attraction.
Johnny Manziel slid all the way to No. 22, but the Cleveland Browns were more than happy to scoop him up when he got there. With Josh Gordon, Ben Tate and Jordan Cameron already in tow, all that offense needed was a potentially elite quarterback to spread the ball around to all those weapons.
The Browns may have gotten just that in Manziel.
He seemed pleased to be joining the fold in the immediate aftermath, via Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com: "To be here feels right. Dawg Pound, here we come. I'm going to pour my heart out for this team. I truly believe Cleveland was supposed to be where I ended up."
Cleveland also got a cornerback to start alongside Joe Haden in Justin Gilbert. Perhaps the Browns were inspired by the recent movie Draft Day, because they dominated Thursday’s proceedings.
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