Originally published May 8th, 2014
Analysis of the First Round of the NFL Draft, pick by pick, as the action happened tonight:
1. Houston Texans – Jadeveon Clowney (DE, South Carolina)
Considered to be the most explosive and talented defensive lineman coming out of college in 20 years. He spent his college career as a defensive end, now he will be playing a blitzing outside linebacker in the Texans 3-4 Defense. Houston’s Defensive Coordinator Romeo Crennell has experience utilizing players with unique talents and putting them in position to be successful. Clowney will be as great as he wants to be, he has all the skills to be a great Blitzer in the NFL.
2. St. Louis Rams – Greg Robinson (OT, Auburn)
Perfect selection by the Rams; Robinson was a physical and athletic presence in college. Robinson is a great athlete and he was part of the Auburn Tigers team that had the best rushing offense in college football last year. The Rams have made a major upgrade to their offensive line.
3. Jacksonville Jaguars – Blake Bortles (QB, Central Florida)
Bortles has the highest ceiling of any Quarterback available in this year’s draft class. He has all the intangibles to be a Pro Bowl level talent in the NFL. Bortles also is a quick learner and will adapt to the NFL game quickly. In the NFL you must have a good starting QB in order to be successful and Bortles is exactly what they needed.
4. Buffalo Bills (traded by the Cleveland Browns) – Sammy Watkins (WR, Clemson)
Watkins is the most dynamic offensive player in this years draft. The Bills were in desperate need of explosive offensive receiver and Watkins is projected to be immediately a starter next season. Watkins is a multi-dimensional player who can run all the routes as a receiver and also can return kicks and punts. The Bills offense just got a major upgrade with Watkins.
5. Oakland Raiders – Khalil Mack (LB, Buffalo)
Although he only began playing football his senior year of high school, Mack is a very talented and instinctive defensive player who plays with great intensity. The Raiders lost Lamar Houston to free agency but Mack has the potential to be a better player than Houston! He is a playmaker on defense and can make an immediate impact in 2014.
6. Atlanta Falcons – Jake Matthews (OT, Texas A&M)
Matthews may not be a flashy talent like Greg Robinson but he has excellent blocking technique and footwork as an offensive tackle. He fills an important need for the Falcons as they look to protect their franchise Quarterback Matt Ryan. Matthews is the son of NFL Hall of Fame Offensive Lineman Bruce Matthews, pretty good bloodline.
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Mike Evans (WR, Texas A&M)
Evans was the number one target of Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel when they played together in college. Evans is a big play receiver with great hands and will be a great compliment to the Buccaneers star receiver Vincent Jackson.
8. Cleveland Browns (traded by Minnesota Vikings) – Justin Gilbert (CB, Oklahoma State)
“The rich get richer” in Cleveland as the two-time All-American Gilbert will join Pro Bowl Corner Joe Hayden creating one of the top cornerback duos in the AFC. Gilbert has great ball skills, in college there were many times Gilbert ran the route of the receiver better than his opponent. Gilbert is also a very good kick and punt return so he has value there also. The Browns defense got an upgrade with this selection.
9. Minnesota Vikings (traded by Cleveland Browns) – Anthony Barr (LB, UCLA)
Barr is an explosive football player who has great potential but he is still raw in the instincts department. He is athletic enough to play either outside linebacker or pass rushing defensive end in the NFL. New Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer has a great defensive mind and he will find ways to get the best out of Barr so he can make an impact on defense.
10. Detroit Lions – Eric Ebron (TE, North Carolina)
Ebron has excellent hands and athleticism. He is an average pass blocker so don’t expect the Lions to use him often on running plays. Expect the Lions to use him paired with Christian Fauria in many two-tight end formations. Ebron also is a good route runner and can stretch the field or be a safety valve for Matthew Stafford in Detroit.
11. Tennessee Titans – Taylor Lewan (OT, Michigan)
Lewan is a very physical Offensive Tackle and fits well with what the Titans want to do offensively. His athleticism is underrated and he is the type of aggressive lineman Titans new Head Coach Ken Wisenhunt has been successful with as both an offensive coordinator and head coach in the NFL.
12. New York Giants – Odell Beckham (WR, LSU)
Beckham is a speed receiver who is a great route runner, a rare combination. Excellent pick by the Giants to give their QB Eli Manning a proven commodity to join this offensive. Beckham can line up in the slot or on the outside; his versatility will allow him to make an immediate impact for the Giants in 2014.
13. St. Louis Rams – Aaron Donald (DT, Pittsburgh)
Another case of “the rich get richer”; Donald showed in college he has the ability to both rush the passer and stop the run. His strength and quickness make him a major problem for opposing offenses. Donald joins a defensive line with two super talented defensive ends (Long and Quinn) which makes the Rams defense even better. Donald might not put up gaudy stats in the NFL his first season but his impact will be felt.
14. Chicago Bears – Kyle Fuller (CB, Virginia Tech)
Great fundamental cornerback who can play any corner position the defense needs him to. Fuller has good instincts and will fit in well with the system Chicago run while he will be mentored by two Pro Bowl corners: Tim Jennings and Charles Tillman.
15. Pittsburgh Steelers – Ryan Shazier (LB, Ohio State)
Shazier is a versatile linebacker who is instinctive and explosive at the point of attack. His closing burst on the ball carrier is second to none in this year’s draft class. The Steelers run a 3-4 defense so it is possible Shazier potentially could play all four linebacker positions for the Steelers. Great selection by Pittsburgh.
16. Dallas Cowboys – Zack Martin (OL, Notre Dame)
Martin has excellent fundamentals and has the footwork to be able to play any of the five offensive line positions. With the amount of money invested in starting QB Tony Romo the Cowboys know they need to protect their investment and Martin is a smart pick to allow them to do exactly that. Martin played Offensive Tackle in college but the Cowboys will probably have him play the Guard position, allowing Martin to maximize his great footwork and leverage.
17. Baltimore Ravens – C.J Mosely (ILB, Alabama)
Mosley is the top Inside Linebacker prospect in this year’s draft. He has excellent instincts in pass coverage and stopping the run. He is a natural leader who has great potential to be a Pro Bowl caliber player in the NFL. Mosley is also an excellent tackler and has shown great pursuit to the ball carrier.
18. New York Jets – Calvin Pryor (S, Louisville)
Pryor is a physical, hard-hitting Safety with great range and underrated pass defender. In college it seemed like he was not utilized correctly at certain times during his time at Louisville; that will not be an issue with the defensive savant, Jets Head Coach Rex Ryan. Pryor has the opportunity to make an immediate impact in 2014 for the Jets with the defensive scheme that Ryan runs.
19. Miami Dolphins – Ja’Wuan James (OT, Tennessee)
James was a very consistent Tackle in college and displayed excellent fundamentals during his collegiate career. The Dolphins biggest need on offense was to protect their starting QB Ryan Tannehill and James will help do that for Miami. James also has great footwork and does not get enough credit for his ability to seal the edge on running plays.
20. New Orleans Saints (traded by the Arizona Cardinals) – Brandin Cooks (WR, Oregon State)
Cooks fills a major need for the Saints; they need a guy who can go deep or make a play on the bubble screen play. Cooks has great instincts in space and has excellent quickness for a guy with his size. Cooks didn’t play in a “prolific offense” in college so his best football is still ahead of him and with superstar Quarterback like Drew Brees the sky is the limit for Cooks.
21. Green Bay Packers – Ha Ha Clinton-Dix (S, Alabama)
Dix has great ball skills in pass coverage and is an underrated tackler. Dix has great instincts and he has the skills to be an impact player in the NFL. The Packers needed to upgrade their secondary to keep up with the high-powered offenses of their rivals in the NFC North division. Dix fills the need for the Packers and this is a great fit for both player and team.
22. Cleveland Browns (traded by Philadelphia Eagles) – Johnny Manziel (QB, Texas A&M)
The Browns were expected to draft a Quarterback in this year’s draft after the past failures of previous regimes. Manziel will bring something that the Browns have never had at Quarterback: a playmaker. Manziel does not always make the best decision on every play but he will do whatever it takes to win. Manziel has the desire to learn and improve his craft as a QB and the Browns need a guy who can make an impact immediately for them on offense.
23. Kansas City Chiefs – Dee Ford (DE, Auburn)
Ford is an excellent pass rusher who is explosive to the ball. Not sure how the Chiefs plan on utilizing Ford since they already have 2 Pro Bowl Pass Rushers (Tamba Hali and Justin Houston). Usually teams build depth in the later rounds, not the first round. I have Ford ranked as one of my top defensive prospects in this draft I just hope he does not get “lost in the shuffle” in KC.
24. Cincinnati Bengals – Darqueze Dennard (CB, Michigan State)
Dennard is more than a talented Cornerback, he is a great defensive football player. He is excellent at using angles to not allow receivers to make clean catches. He is a tough, hard-nosed player who can both play the run and the pass. He is a plug and play talent for the Bengals in 2014.
25. San Diego Chargers – Jason Verrett (CB, TCU)
Verrett is a tenacious defensive player who has good instincts and can play either the outside corner or nickle corner. He is versatile player who can play both man and zone defense easily. At TCU, Verrett played for a defensive minded coach who helped him maximize his skills. The Chargers got a solid player who will help their pass defense in 2014.
26. Philadelphia Eagles (traded by the Cleveland Browns) – Marcus Smith (LB, Louisville)
Smith is a great fit for the Eagles 3-4 Flex defensive scheme. Smith is a versatile linebacker who can be used as a three down player or situational. Smith is not a flashy star but he is solid, all around football player who good selection by the Eagles for what they need.
27. Arizona Cardinals (traded by New Orleans Saints) – Deone Bucannon (S, Washington State)
This selection is a great fit for the Cardinals. Arizona needs a Strong Safety who hits hard, tackles well, can play in pass coverage without being a liability. Bucannon has good ball skills and is great on closing on the ball carrier.
28. Carolina Panthers – Kelvin Benjamin (WR, FSU)
Benjamin is a raw talent who has a high ceiling. He has great hands, can change direction quickly for a man his size. He needs to work on his route running but he has all the skills and potential to be a number one receiver/target for his team. Benjamin has shown the willingness to put in the time and work to get better.
29. New England Patriots – Dominique Easley (DL, Florida)
Easley is an explosive defensive lineman who is coming off an injury so there was very little hype around him. If not for an injury he could have been a top ten pick. The Patriots get a player who has great strength and quickness, can throw offensive lineman around on his way to the opposing quarterback. Easley will not be expected to start immediately so he has time to get back into football shape and learn from the veterans. Teams in the AFC East should be nervous about the future with Easley and Chandler Jones coming after their quarterbacks.
30. San Francisco 49ers – Jimmy Ward (S, Northern Illinois)
Ward is a Free Safety who has great coverage skills and hands. He has instincts that cannot be taught; he has great ability with his speed and quickness to close distance quickly. Ward has the opportunity to not be forced to start immediately, allowing him to put on some more size to his slender frame and he can learn from great veteran defenders.
31. Denver Broncos – Bradley Roby (CB, Ohio State)
Excellent coverage skills and tackling ability. Roby has high level talent but needs to be more consistent. He uses his great speed and leaping ability to make up for his lapses in coverage. Roby has a high ceiling and has the chance to learn from a Pro Bowl CB Aqib Talib to become a more consistent defender.
32. Minnesota Vikings (traded by the Seattle Seahawks) – Teddy Bridgewater (QB, Louisville)
Bridgewater is a very talented Quarterback who has great pocket presence and very accurate thrower. He is one of the most NFL ready Quarterbacks in this year’s draft class. The Vikings needed a starting quarterback who can step into a high level NFL offense and not be overwhelmed. Bridgewater has the maturity, composure, and work ethic to be successful in the NFL.