It started with a bang, there was drama throughout and the first round ended on a high note, as the first 32 picks are in with the NFL Draft.
It was no big surprise that defensive end Jadeveon Clowney was taken No. 1 overall. The big question was would be a Texan or would Houston trade out of the spot? In the end, they held the pick and now the freakishly gifted Clowney will be paired with one of the game's top defensive linemen in J.J. Watt.
As much as Clowney and Houston were discussed leading up to the draft, no single player was talked about more than quarterback Johnny Manziel. This dynamic signal caller from Texas A&M fell to the Cleveland Browns and their second selection of the first round. The Browns have had horrible quarterback luck of late, starting 20 different signal callers since their re-birth in Cleveland [in 1999]. They perhaps have found their franchise guy and the city of Cleveland can rally around Johnny Football. This has a chance to be a marriage made in heaven.
The Jacksonville Jaguars were expected to take a quarterback in the second round. But once again there was mis-direction. Sure there was speculation the Jaguars would select Manziel, but most projected Gus Bradley and Jacksonville to select Clowney, Sammy Watkins, or Khalil Mack. What did they do in the end? The Jags picked quarterback Blake Bortles.
Minnesota traded back into the first round. They made a move with the Super Bowl champs, getting the 32nd pick. There, the Vikings selected quarterback Teddy Bridgewater. We should have seen this coming. This is the third consecutive draft that Minnesota has traded back into the first round. It's been a roller coaster for Bridgewater. Initially he was projected to be the first quarterback off the board. Then he had a poor pro day and saw his stock plummet. Many expected him to drop out of the first round. But that didn't happen and Minnesota made the move the grabbed with the last pick of the first round, just ahead of the Texans, who are first up tomorrow when round two begins.
There were a handful of surprises during this very intriguing first round. It started with Bortles to Jacksonville, as most thought the Jags would go with Manziel if they went quarterback.
Cleveland made a surprise move with their No. 8 pick, taking cornerback Justin Gilbert. They will now pair him with Joe Haden, one of the game's stars at the other corner spot. Many questioned the pick, but it looks to be very well conceived, as Gilbert can do the things the Browns are looking for in a lock down corner.
It's long been talked about that they Vikings were looking for a pass rusher on the outside but most speculated Minnesota would go quarterback or maybe corner with their first pick. Instead, they grabbed outside linebacker Anthony Barr.
Meanwhile, the Titans made a big surprise pick by taking offensive tackle just ahead of the Giants. New York selected wide receiver Odell Beckham, Jr.
How about that Rams defensive front now? They just added the top defensive tackle in this draft in Aaron Donald, putting him on the same front as Robert Quinn, Michael Brockers and Chris Long. Scary… Then there are the Pittsburgh Steelers, who once again go out and get a great football player with tremendous speed and athleticism in Ryan Shazier. Many thought they would go cornerback or even wide receiver.
Manziel was sitting there on the board for Dallas but everyone know the Cowboys need defensive help at every level. So who does Jerry Jones select? Offensive lineman Zack Martin. Martin is a tremendous player who can man all five positions on the front. He will help protect Tony Romo but how did they not go defense?
Two reaches in the first round were taken by Miami and Philadelphia in offensive tackle Ja'Waun James and outside linebacker Marcus Smith respectively. The Dolphins are desperate for linemen while the Eagles need help on the edge with their pass rush. But they certainly grabbed these players very early.
There were five trades in the first round and four that included Cleveland and Minnesota. The Browns and Bills started things off, swapping positions in inside the top ten. With their new selection, Buffalo drafted the most explosive player in this class in wide receiver Sammy Watkins.
Cleveland then traded that selection with the Vikings. They actually switched positions as No. 8 and 9 respectively. With that pick the Browns got their cornerback in Gilbert while the Vikings took Barr.
Cleveland wasn't finished. They traded their No. 26 pick to Philadelphia (No. 22) for the polarizing Manziel.
The Saints moved up seven spots and changed picks with Arizona. New Orleans drafted arguably the fastest player in this class in wide receiver Brandin Cooks. Meanwhile, the Cardinals selected safety Deone Bucannon.
The wide receiver position was supposed to dominate the first round. While five were taken as many as seven to eight were expected to be gone among the first 32.
There were nine defensive backs taken, five cornerbacks and four safeties. There were five linebackers and five offensive tackles taken in the first round. There were two defensive ends, two defensive tackles and one tight end drafted.
Breakdown of conference selections
The SEC led the way with 11 selections in the first round. The ACC had five while the Big 10 and AAC had four apiece. The Pac 12 had three selections while the Big 12 and MAC has two apiece and Notre Dame had one.
Houston, you are back on the clock
The Texans are up first in round two. With Clowney on board could they now turn their attention to quarterback? How ironic would it be if they drafted Derek Carr? The Texans made his brother David their first ever selection ever back in 2002.
Big names still on board
There are quite a few big names still on the board with many first round grades. Check out the list below of the 20 best available.
(QB) Derek Carr (Fresno State)
(QB) Jimmy Garoppolo (Eastern Illinois)
(RB) Tre Mason (Auburn)
(RB) Jeremy Hill (LSU)
(WR) Jordan Matthews (Vanderbilt)
(WR) Allen Robinson (Penn State)
(TE) Jace Amaro (Texas Tech)
(OT) Cyrus Kouandijo (Alabama)
(OG) Xavier Su'a-Filo (UCLA)
(OG) David Yankey (Stanford)
(DE) Kony Ealy (Missouri)
(DE) Stephon Tuitt (Notre Dame)
(DE) Kareem Martin (Texas A&M)
(DT) Ra'Shede Hageman (Minnesota)
(DT) Louis Nix (Notre Dame)
(DT) Anthony Johnson (LSU)
(OLB) Kyle Van Noy (BYU)
(OLB) Jeremiah Attaochu (Georgia Tech)
(CB) Lamarcus Joyner (FSU)
(CB) Marcus Roberson (Florida)