No. 1 – Kansas City Chiefs select: Eric Fisher, OT Central Michigan (Grade: A-)
This pick marks the beginning of the Andy Reid era in Kansas City. Reid loves his offensive linemen. We all knew it would be either Fisher or Joeckel. Ultimately, I believe the Chiefs decided that Fisher possessed more tenacity, and he was both physically and mentally more prepared to make an immediate impact in the NFL.
No. 2 – Jacksonville Jaguars select: Luke Joeckel, OT Texas A&M (Grade: A)
Regardless of who was taken No. 1, the Jaguars were going to luck into one of the top offensive linemen. Most draft experts had Joeckel as the top player in the draft. He’ll easily fit into Jacksonville’s line and will likely be a mainstay there for many years. Time will tell if he has the mental makeup it takes to be a pro bowler, but he has all the physical tools to dominate.
No. 3 – Miami Dolphins (f/ OAK) select: Dion Jordan, DE/LB Oregon (Grade: A)
Oakland wanted to trade down. They did so, but in the process gave Miami quite the enticing deal to move up. Dion Jordan was atop most rankings as the top defensive player in the draft. It’s hard to argue with the Dolphins’ thinking here, moving up at a good price and nabbing Jordan. His ability to disrupt quarterbacks will quickly make Miami more intimidating defensively.
No. 4 – Philadelphia Eagles select: Lane Johnson, OT Oklahoma (Grade: B+)
Philly is undergoing a lot of changes. New coach, new defense… but the quarterback remains the same. Michael Vick was the most hit QB in the NFL last season. Chip Kelly makes a bold decision with the No. 4 pick, taking a guy that Andy Reid probably would’ve taken. Lane Johnson’s stock improved greatly after the college season. His value increased much due to others decreasing.
No. 5 – Detroit Lions select: Ezekial Ansah, DE BYU (Grade: B+)
This was a smart pick for the Lions. It’s tough to project Ansah as an NFL defensive end – there wasn’t much college experience to base projections on. That said, he’s a physical freak, a workout warrior, and his stock increased ten-fold at the combine. Detroit lost nearly all of their DEs at the end of the season, taking Ansah is risky…but a move they needed to make.
No. 6 – Cleveland Browns select: Barkevious Mingo, DE/LB LSU (Grade: B)
Cleveland was the first team in the draft that really could’ve gone any direction with their pick. Having needs all around the board, they needed to take whoever the best player available was. They believe that player was Barkevious Mingo. He has all the tools to be an impact player in the NFL. His ability to attack offenses will help the Browns establish a new identity on defense. And it’s always a plus to add a guy named Barkevious to the Dog Pound.
No. 7 – Arizona Cardinals select: Jonathan Cooper, OG UNC (Grade: B+)
More offensive linemen! Arizona is another team undergoing a ton of changes this offseason. Protecting Carson Palmer, and enabling him to hook-up with his star receiver Larry Fitzgerald is obviously important to the Cardinals. Drafting a guy like Cooper, who is a great pass blocker and can plug up attackers up the middle, will make a world of difference. Smart pick, a little high for a guard… but as long as he plays effectively, no one will argue against it.
No. 8 – St. Louis Rams (f/ BUF) select: Tavon Austin, WR West Virginia (Grade: B+)
The Rams really needed to address their receiver issues this offseason. Building the franchise around Sam Bradford was a good choice. It was a little late, but they even brought in one of the top tackles in all of football in Jake Long to protect him. However, what good is protection when he has no one to throw it to? Austin is a dynamic skill player, maybe the most dangerous guy on the field in the entire draft. A combination of speed and agility, whenever he touches the ball, that play instantly has highlight potential. He’s the kind of difference maker St. Louis has needed. They gave up a lot to move up… but considering the Jets would’ve likely taken him #9, it was a move they had to make.
No. 9 – New York Jets select: Dee Milliner, CB Alabama (Grade: A)
At this point, this was the steal of the draft. Dee Milliner was heavily considered the top cornerback in the draft. A few concerns about his health deflated his stock a bit, but if he went in the top three, you wouldn’t have seen many draft experts question it. After trading away Darrelle Revis, New York needed to address the cornerback position. And by taking Milliner, they may have filled the hole for the next decade.
No. 10 – Tennessee Titans select: Chance Warmack, OG Alabama (Grade: A-)
Tennessee really needed a “hit” here. They’ve had enough drafts recently where they gambled and either busted, or the results still remain to be seen. Chance Warmack was the top guard on most team’s boards and will be likely fit into their line as a starter as soon as training camp begins. Getting a sure-fire starter at No. 10 is a safe pick, but also a very smart one.
No. 11 – San Diego Chargers select: D.J. Fluker, OT Alabama (Grade: B)
MORE OFFENSIVE LINEMEN! (Feel like I’ve said that already…) San Diego, much like many other teams in this year’s draft, needed to shore up their offensive line. D.J. Fluker has a ton of talent, but he isn’t quite an NFL starter yet. He’ll likely have to start early in his career for the Chargers, but the question remains if he’ll be ready by day one.
No. 12 – Oakland Raiders (f/ MIA) select: D.J. Hayden, CB Houston (Grade: B+)
This is what you call clever maneuvering. The Raiders wanted Hayden, thinking that they could move down, acquire some more picks and still get their man. Hayden has the speed, and cover skills to be a big-time corner in the NFL. After all he endured from his freak injury to getting back into playing shape, nobody should question his drive. Half a year ago, he nearly died, and now he’s the 12th overall pick in the draft. This is truly a testament to Hayden’s spirit and character, definitely a guy I’d want on my team.
No. 13 – New York Jets (f/ TB) select: Sheldon Richardson, DT Missouri (Grade: C)
After a brilliant first pick, the second Jets pick was a bit of a head-scratcher. Sheldon Richardson was ranked third on most charts. It’s hard to fault a team for taking a player they obviously target… but with Sharrif Floyd and Star Lotulelei still on the board. This pick will be under fire for quite some time.
No. 14 – Carolina Panthers select: Star Lotulelei, DT Utah (Grade: A-)
Big-time steal for the Panthers here at the 14th pick. It was only a month ago that Star Lotulelei was being talked about as the unanimous No. 1 pick in the draft. A monster in the middle, Lotulelei demands double-teams and has the motor to attack all game. Drafting a player like that in the middle of the 1st round is incredible value.
No. 15 – New Orleans Saints select: Kenny Vaccaro, S Texas (Grade: B-)
The Saints definitely needed to address their secondary at some point during the draft. Former Longhorn Kenny Vaccaro is an interesting prospect. He was the top safety on the board this year, but he also isn’t quite a finished product yet. He has good speed and solid tackling ability, but his coverage skills will need some refining before he should be relied on heavily in the NFL.
No. 16 – Buffalo Bills (f/ STL) select: E.J. Manuel, QB Florida St. (Grade: D)
This was the biggest reach in the first round. Many expected the Bills to take a QB. Geno Smith was a possibility, Ryan Nassib was a rumor, and some experts even believed the Bills would move back to grab Matt Barkley. No one saw them taking E.J. Manuel with the 16th pick. Not a shot at E.J., but his value was at best, the end of the 1st round. Most would’ve put him toward the top of the second. He has a very solid skill-set, and his intelligence is regarded as elite, but he’s definitely a project QB, and you can’t draft a project QB in the middle of the first round.