There were some definite surprises during Thursday's action at the NFL draft, but for the most part, Round 1 went about as close to script as it was reasonable to expect.
That doesn't mean it wasn't exciting or without drama.
As most expected, defensive end Jadeveon Clowney went No. 1 to the Houston Texans. The Minnesota Vikings then traded back up into the first round to grab pick No. 32 and end Thursday by selecting quarterback Teddy Bridgewater.
In between, there were some surprises. For instance, Blake Bortles went 19 selections before Johnny Manziel.
In case you missed any of the action or you're looking for a little analysis, here are my grades for each pick. Below that, I will discuss some of the more noteworthy selections.
|1.||Texans||Jadeveon Clowney||DE/OLB||South Carolina||A-|
|2.||Rams (from WSH)||Greg Robinson||OT||Auburn||A|
|6.||Falcons||Jake Matthews||OT||Texas A&M||A|
|7.||Buccaneers||Mike Evans||WR||Texas A&M||A|
|8.||Browns*||Justin Gilbert||CB||Oklahoma State||D|
|10.||Lions||Eric Ebron||TE||North Carolina||C-|
|12.||Giants||Odell Beckham Jr.||WR||LSU||B|
|14.||Bears||Kyle Fuller||CB||Virginia Tech||B|
|15.||Steelers||Ryan Shazier||OLB||Ohio State||C+|
|16.||Cowboys||Zack Martin||OG/OT||Notre Dame||B+|
|20.||Saints*||Brandin Cooks||WR||Oregon State||B+|
|21.||Packers||Ha Ha Clinton-Dix||FS||Alabama||A|
|22.||Browns*||Johnny Manziel||QB||Texas A&M||A+|
|24.||Bengals||Darqueze Dennard||CB||Michigan State||A|
|26.||Eagles* (from IND)||Marcus Smith||DE/OLB||Louisville||C|
|27.||Cardinals*||Deone Bucannon||SS||Washington State||B|
|28.||Panthers||Kelvin Benjamin||WR||Florida State||A-|
|30.||49ers||Jimmie Ward||SS||Northern Illinois||C-|
|31.||Broncos||Bradley Roby||CB||Ohio State||B|
|*traded on draft day|
No. 5: Oakland Raiders select Khalil Mack
Once the Jaguars selected quarterback Blake Bortles at No. 3, it meant the Raiders would have the opportunity to draft either Khalil Mack or Sammy Watkins. They couldn't lose at that point.
Watkins was taken by the Bills at No. 4, and the Raiders had an easy call. Khalil Mack is a great athlete who some felt was a worthy selection at No. 1.
As the tweet from the San Francisco Chronicle's Vic Tafur highlights, the Raiders were ecstatic Mack was available:
Mack will give the Raiders the boost in pass rush they need. He will also give them the kind of dominant presence in the front seven that will command extra attention from the offense. This is exactly what their defense needed.
No. 8: Browns select Justin Gilbert
On the whole, the Browns were masterful in the first round. Just by judging this pick, they were terrible.
The Browns gave up pick No. 145 to the Minnesota Vikings to jump up one spot from pick No. 9 to No. 8.
They then drafted cornerback Justin Gilbert. Gilbert is an athletic corner with big potential. He is not the most complete player, however. He doesn't like to tackle and won't add much to the run game.
Still, my biggest problem is not the value on Gilbert, but the trade to get there. The Browns had plenty of draft resources available, but that doesn't mean they should throw them away. Perhaps the Vikings would have beat the Browns to Gilbert, but that possibility was not enough for the Browns to deal away an extra pick in a draft that is deep on corner talent.
No. 10: Detroit Lions select Eric Ebron
This is an exciting selection. The thought of the athletic Eric Ebron splitting the seam with the great Calvin Johnson on the outside spurs visions of long bombs.
Exciting is far different than smart, however. Passing offense was already a strength of the Lions. This is a team that should have looked to the offensive line, defensive secondary or even linebacker before tight end. Ebron is even a terrible blocker, so he will add little to the run game.
Detroit would have been far better off drafting an offensive lineman or corner here.
No. 11: Titans select Taylor Lewan
I want to talk about this pick because I have a different opinion than most. This is not a widely popular pick.
The argument is not with Taylor Lewan. He has been viewed as an excellent tackle prospect, and the 11th spot was a good value. The argument from those critical of this selection comes in the need department. The Titans have Michael Roos at left tackle and signed Michael Oher to fill a gaping need at right tackle.
So what? Was that supposed to stop the Titans from taking the best player on the board?
Roos is 31, and his contract is up at the end of the season, and Oher is not very good. Last season, Oher was part of a disappointing Ravens line, and he led the team in sacks allowed at eight.
The Titans offensive line is going to be improved while not having to count on Oher, and they got their future franchise left tackle. What's not to like about that?
No. 22: Cleveland Browns select Johnny Manziel
The Browns draft really came together once Johnny Manziel slipped and they traded up for No. 22. It cost them their third-round pick in this draft to move up four spots, but that is a far more justifiable price when moving up four spots to take the best quarterback on the board than their silly one-spot leap earlier.
Manziel undoubtedly went lower than he hoped, but he sounds happy with his situation in this tweet from Fox 8 News:
The Browns have had terrible luck drafting a quarterback. More specifically, they've had terrible luck drafting one at No. 22. Both Brandon Weeden and Brady Quinn were taken with the 22nd pick.
Whatever. No freshman had ever won the Heisman until Johnny Manziel, either.
Maybe Manziel will never develop into a good pro quarterback, but this is still a good pick. His talent makes him worth the gamble at No. 22, and the Browns needed the kind of exciting talent and charismatic personality that Manziel brings to help energize a trodden franchise.
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