The first round of the 2014 NFL draft is in the books and it did not disappoint. Let's take a look at the winners and losers as the smoke clears from Thursday night's show.
Rd 1, Pick 8: Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma St. 6'0" 202lbs, 4.37 40 yard dash
Rd 1, Pick 22: Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M. 5'11 3/4", 207lbs, 4.68 40 yard dash
Future picks: Buffalo Bills' 2015 1st rounder
Pick lost: 2014 3rd, 2014 5th,
Gilbert is an incredibly fluid cornerback for being so big. Athletically, he's got everything you could want to become a man to man cornerback in Mike Pettine's defense. You wish he was more consistently physical, but he has veterans Joe Haden and Donte Whitner to learn from in that regard. And the strength (20 reps of 225 on the bench press) and lower body power (35.5" vertical, 10'6" broad jump) to get the job done.
Manziel needs no introduction. He's electric, and Emily522 may have said it best when she quipped that Manziel should terrify us but he should also terrify the rest of the AFC North. He's "too small", he "can't get away with" the things he does, but he makes plays anyway. He might not have any valid pro comparisons because there's no one like him. In the end, I believe that Manziel allows Kyle Shannahan to open up the read option part of his playbook that he used successfully in Washington with Robert Griffin III...until he got hurt. Personally, I hope that we run read option stuff in the red zone and on 3rd down...and that's it.
Buffalo's pick in 2015 will probably be in the 20s at worst, and gaining control of it has to be considered a win, especially considering we've got a QB of the future and an elite defensive talent out of one night's worth of the draft. I believe no team did more to help themselves Thursday night than the Cleveland Browns.
St Louis Rams:
Rd 1, Pick 2: Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn. 6'5" 332lbs, 4.92 40 yard dash
Rd1, Pick 13: Aaron Donald, DT, Pittsburgh. 6'0" 285lbs, 4.68 40 yard dash
Robinson is enormous, he's long, he's physical, he's athletic, and he wants to kick your @%^ every play. He's everything you want on the line, and he might give Sam Bradford a chance to succeed.
Donald is small, but he's strong (35 reps of 225 on the bench press) and he's an incredible athlete. He's lightning quick off the line, and he ran almost as fast of a 40 yard dash as top OLB prospects Khalil Mack and Anthony Barr (4.68 vs 4.65 or 4.66). He should be incredibly disruptive between the tackles for St. Louis.
Rd 1, Pick 9: Anthony Barr, OLB, UCLA. 6'5" 255lbs, 4.66 40 yard dash
Rd1, Pick 32: Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville. 6'2" 214lbs
I know, I know, it's cheap to pick three teams who made more than one pick. But they also (potentially) got their quarterbacks or a pair of the top prospects in the draft. Barr brings a nice blend of speed, burst, and flexibility to the edge rusher position. He's a little raw right now, but he could become a nightmare in the NFC North.
Bridgewater is a competitor who I believe is driven to succeed, and in contrast to Manziel he is more of a calm, calculated, task-oriented player. I think it was clear to most people that Christian Ponder wasn't going to work out, and now the Vikings can put their faith in a new quarterback.
Rd 1, Pick 4: Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson. 6'1" 211lbs, 4.43 40 yard dash
Notable traded picks: lost 2015 first rounder
I believe Watkins will be a good NFL player, and the Bills need receivers to help QB EJ Manuel. I think the Bills won in that sense, but I do not believe that Sammy Watkins is worth two first round picks. Simply put, Buffalo gave up too much to get their guy.
Rd 1, Pick 11: Taylor Lewan, OT, michigan. 6'7" 309lbs, 4.87 40 yard dash
I am totally biased here, but I don't think Lewan is all that great. He was more athletic than I anticipated at the NFL Combine, but he's a little "light in the pants" and I think he's a character concern. But regardless of your evaluation, the Titans had one of the best lines in football last year and they need a lot of help elsewhere. I think most would agree that Lewan isn't the kind of player you "can't pass up."
Rd 1, Pick 17: CJ Mosley, MLB, Alabama. 6'2" 234lbs, 4.65-4.73 40 yard dash
Even if you don't believe in the "Saban rule" for drafting defenders 20 spots below their projection, I have to question whether Mosley belongs in the first round. Sure, he's instinctive and shows great anticipation on the field, but this is a 234lb Mike linebacker who probably runs in the high 4.6s and may have bum shoulder. I don't see the next Ray Lewis when I watch him surrounded by NFL talent at Alabama; I see a good team and great coaching.