After a long wait the 2014 NFL draft is in the books, a draft that was as intriguing as ever and had the usual twists, turns and trades.
By David Squires – @davefalcon90
The main talk before the draft was would the Houston Texans, who held the number one overall pick, trade down or take Clowney with that first selection.
It appears that the Texans wanted to trade down but were chancing their arm a little by asking for three first round draft picks in exchange, they even took the full ten minute allocation of time to make their pick in hope that the phone would ring and a trade could be made – it didn’t. No team was going to make that trade in a draft so loaded with talent and so the Texans took used the pick.
The St. Louis Rams, who were also open to the possibility of an exceptional trade, also waited for the phone call that never came and selected offensive tackle Greg Robinson in the first round. The Rams, who held two first round picks thanks to a previous trade with the Redskins, then added defensive tackle Aaron Donald to what now has to be the best defensive line in the NFL. The Rams then created history by drafting the first openly gay player in the seventh round Michael Sam.
With the third pick the Jacksonville Jaguars made somewhat of a surprising pick by selecting quarterback Blake Bortles. The Jags later added one of the best receivers in the draft Marqise Lee and in the fifth round selected Chris Smith, a defensive end from Arkansas, who had 8.5 sacks on a terrible team last year.
We only had to wait until the fourth pick for our first trade although it wasn’t perhaps the trade that had been touted earlier. The Atlanta Falcons had been rumoured to have agreed a trade with the Cleveland Browns if linebacker Khalil Mack was still on the board, and he was, but when the news of the trade came in it was the Buffalo Bills who had traded up five spots, giving up their first round pick in 2015 and a fourth rounder this year, to select wide receiver Sammy Watkins. The Oakland Raiders took Mack with the next pick leaving the Falcons to select offensive tackle Jake Matthews, who turns out to be the player they wanted all along.
The drama would stay with the Cleveland Browns though, who were expected to take quarterback Manziel especially when they traded back up two spots to number seven. They stunned most at Radio City Music Hall by taking cornerback Justin Gilbert, but they still had another first round pick at number 22. Would Manziel still be available at 22 as some experts had predicted and would the Dallas Cowboys take him with their first pick at number 16? Cut to the Cowboys draft room where most of the people in the room looked like they didn’t really want to be there and executive Stephen Jones slamming the phone down as the clock ran down under two minutes. After all the drama the Cowboys made the sensible but un-exciting pick and selected offensive tackle Zack Martin.
Cut to the green room in New York and Manziel looking more and more uncomfortable at still being there, cue footage of Aaron Rodgers and Brady Quinn, who in previous years also had to unexpectedly wait it out whilst having a camera fixated on them waiting for their name to be called by the commissioner. Pick number 22 and the Cleveland Browns select Johnny Manziel then the place goes crazy as does the Cleveland Browns ticket office who apparently sell 1,200 season tickets between midnight and 8am the following day.
Other notable picks in the first round were cornerback Kyle Fuller to the Bears, safeties Calvin Pryor to the Jets and Ha Ha Clinton-Dix to the Packers, defensive end Dee Ford to the Chiefs and quarterback Teddy Bridgewater to the Vikings, who traded back into the first round to get him.
As to which team had the best draft, it has to be between the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Rams. The Jags got the quarterback that they needed and only time will tell how good Bortles will be but they upgraded their offensive by drafting receivers Lee and Allen Robinson.
The Rams improved that great D-line by drafting Donald, who in any other year would have been a top five pick, to go with the upgrade they made and needed to make on the offensive line with Greg Robinson. Add corner LaMarcus Joyner and running back Tre Mason to the Rams draft and they probably have to come out on top.
Despite only having five picks the Kansas City Chiefs also had an interesting draft taking pass rusher Dee Ford who had 19 sacks at Auburn last year, they added a potential home run hitter at running back in De’Anthony Thomas and also added who could turn out to be the best quarterback in this draft, Aaron Murray to back up Alex Smith.
You never knew that watching players get picked in, for the most part, a pre-determined order could be so intriguing and entertaining. It was never like that in the school yard.