Not a lot of surprises in the first round of the NFL draft, as Jadeveon Clowney became the number one pick for the Houston Texans, opting for the best player instead of the biggest need. Blake Bortles was the first quarterback taken, going to the Jacksonville Jaguars at number 3, while Johnny Manziel fell to the 22nd spot and the Cleveland Browns, although not as bad as Teddy Bridgewater and the 32nd pick, going to the Minnesota Vikings.
Sammy Watkins was the first wide receiver taken in a talented receivers class, going to the Buffalo Bills. The Dallas Cowboys with the 16th overall pick once again surprised everyone by taking an offensive lineman instead of a defensive player, while the race to have athletic, incredible defenses in the NFC West continues with the picks the Rams and the Cardinals made.
1. Jadeveon Clowney, Houston Texans – The pass rusher coming out of South Carolina was the favorite to be picked first. He would have been the number one pick had he come out last year as well. There are worries about his work ethic but in terms of talent, size and speed he’s a combination you can’t pass on, and just like in 2006, Houston went with the stand out pass rusher.
2. Greg Robinson, St. Louis Rams – The Rams keep trying to find ways to have Sam Bradford healthy and not getting sacked. Robinson was the top tackle going into the draft, so there was no surprise seeing a pretty complete and NFL-ready player getting taken so quickly.
3. Blake Bortles, Jacksonville Jaguars – The Jags take another QB of the future, although Bortles, like the rest of the quarterbacks in this draft, isn’t the complete product yet. He’s great at moving in the pocket and throwing on the move, but his arm strength, awareness and pretty much everything you can think of needs some work to be done.
4. Sammy Watkins, Buffalo Bills – Receivers are something that’s quite plentiful in this draft and the star out of Clemson was the first one taken, and will definitely be an upgrade to one of the worst passing offenses in the NFL last season.
5. Khalil Mack, Oakland Raiders – The first linebacker taken in the draft by a team that needs help everywhere. Mack is good against the run and the pass, which makes it good for the Raiders who are a flexible 4-3 defense team that needed speed and youth inserted into their aging defense.
6. Jake Matthews, Atlanta Falcons – Matt Ryan was sacked 44 times in 2013, which means that improving their offensive line to get their pass-happy offense back on track was about getting a guy who can play both tackle positions right away.
7. Mike Evans, Tampa Bay Buccaneers – An excellent receiver, but the Bucs already had weapons to aid whoever starts at quarterback for them next season. I guess adding another weapon doesn’t hurt.
8. Justin Gilbert, Cleveland Browns – Giving Joe Haden some help in the secondary was one of the things the Browns felt strongly about, so taking this extremely quick corner out of Oklahoma State was a no-brainer for them.
9. Anthony Barr, Minnesota Vikings – The Vikings got almost nothing from their linebackers last season, so getting Barr was important to them, although at the moment he’s very far from a NFL-ready player, relying to much on his first step than football skills.
10. Eric Ebron, Detroit Lions – Getting Stafford more premier targets to toss balls at continues to be a thing for the Lions, and Ebron was the best pass-catching tight end this draft was offering.
11. Tyler Lewan, Tennessee Titans – Tackle out of Michigan. Quite a few were surprised with him getting taken this high.
12. Odell Beckham, New York Giants – Receiver out of LSU. Eli Manning was limited with his throwing options last season. This is a response.
13. Aaron Donald, St. Louis Rams – The Rams have a great defensive line, and it just got better and deeper with the former Pitt player, maybe even the best in the NFL.
14. Kyle Fuller, Chicago Bears – The corner out of Virginia Tech will help the Bears as they start moving away from the aging defensive unit that simply can get the stops it used to.
15. Ryan Shazier, Pittsburgh Steelers – Another aging defense adding a player who can play both inside and outside as a linebacker, doing very well during his time at Ohio State.
16. Zack Martin, Dallas Cowboys – Everyone expected Dallas to take a defensive player with the first pick. Instead they went for the tackle out of Notre Dame, helping the Cowboys out with a running game they want to improve.
17. C.J. Mosley, Baltimore Ravens – Coming out of Alabama, the Ravens are hoping this guy becomes the next Ray Lewis for them.
18. Calvin Pryor, New York Jets – Rex Ryan loves defensive backs and the Jets needed to improve their secondary, getting a very physical player coming out of Louisville.
19. Ja’Wuan James, Miami Dolphins – The Dolphins’ offensive line was a mess last season, and James coming out of Tennessee is their way of trying to fix that.
20. Brandin Cooks, New Orleans Saints – The Saints did look like a team that needs some upgrading in their passing game so Cooks is brought in from Oregon State to give Brees another passing option.
21. Ha-Ha Clinton-Dix, Green Bay Packers – One of the more predictable picks, as the Packers were hot for this Alabama product for quite some time.
22. Johnny Manziel, Cleveland Browns – The NFL isn’t Texas A&M, and teams were afraid to take him with a high pick. The Browns were willing to take that risk on a controversial quarterback.
23. Dee Ford, Kansas City Chiefs – A defensive end and outside linebacker in college, Dee Ford is here to add depth because the Chiefs have two of the best edge pass-rushers in the league.
24. Darqueze Dennard, Cincinnati Bengals – Coming out of that excellent Michigan State defense, Dennard will help out a good but aging secondary.
25. Jason Verrett, San Diego Chargers – The Chargers gave up too many big plays last season, and the TCU senior should help out in sealing that leak.
26. Marcus Smith, Philadelphia Eagles – A former quarterback turned defensive end, Smith seems like a reach as late first round pick.
27. Deone Bucannon, Arizona Cardinals – The Cardinals wanted to get even more physical down the middle and this Washington State product seems like a very good fit.
28. Kelvin Benjamin, Carolina Panthers – Wide Receiver was a must for the Panthers, but he’ll have to be a bit more consistent if he is to become the playmaker this team needs to take the next step.
29. Dominique Easley, New England Patriots – Both starting DTs, Vince Wilfork and Tommie Kelly, are coming off significant injuries and both are aging, so the Patriots needed to get younger at the position. Easley has had knee problems in the past as well.
30. Jimmie Ward, San Francisco 49ers – There aren’t too many holes in the 49ers defense, but secondary is one of them, and this safety out of Northern Illinois should help them cope with losing Donte Whitner to free agency.
31. Bradley Roby, Denver Broncos – The Broncos needed a corner to play opposite of Aqib Talib after all ther changes in their secondary this offseason.
32. Teddy Bridgewater, Minnesota Vikings – The Vikings’ next attempt at getting a franchise quarterback.