The first round is in the books and teams are now trying to regroup for tomorrows action. However, some teams will have to do a little more regrouping than others. Round one although filled with drama left some fan bases scratching their heads, some jumping for joy, and some logging on to google to see who their team just reached for. As the always dramatic first night of the draft showed, there were definite winners and losers in the action.
The winners were:
The Minnesota Vikings: The Vikings were a team with picks to play with, and play with those picks they surely did. Minnesota by the end of the night came away with three first round picks who many experts believe are instant contributors. The first of which was Sharrif Floyd who the team selected with the 23rd overall pick. Floyd was on many boards as the top defensive tackle prospect and a top ten overall pick and ended up falling to the Vikings at twenty-three, who were more than pleased to pick him up. Next came Xavier Rhodes who is a big, physical cornerback who will step right in and replace Antoine Winfield in the defensive backfield. Rhodes is out of Florida State and has the frame of a small outside linebacker but the athletic ability of a wide receiver. He as well as Floyd were two of the top defensive prospects coming out of this draft and will both be sporting purple and yellow next season. Finally, when the New England Patriots decided to trade away their 29th overall selection, Minnesota jumped into the first round again to grab Cordarrelle Patterson, the playmaking wide receiver from the University of Tennessee. Patterson will also jump right into a starting role and will have the task of replacing speedy playmaker, Percy Harvin on the outside of the Minnesota offense.
The St. Louis Rams: The Rams were full of drama on Thursday. They came into the draft holding the 16th and 22nd overall selection and winded up making selections at pick number eight and thirty. At number eight, the Rams who are looking to finally give Sam Bradford some targets to throw to, selected the most electrifying player in the draft, Tavon Austin. Austin caught 114 passes last year at West Virginia and was the centerpiece of probably the most dynamic offense in college football. The Rams acquired this pick from the Buffalo Bills who moved back to number 16 overall. After trading up earlier in the round, the Rams traded down and traded their 22nd pick to the Atlanta Falcons. At number 30, the Rams got their hands on a great athletic SEC linebacker in Alec Ogletree. Ogletree has 112 tackles for the University of Georgia last season and would immediately start on almost any defense he would’ve been selected too on Thursday evening.
EJ Manuel: Although Manuel’s stock had been rising in the upcoming weeks to the draft, I don’t believe anybody expected to hear his name called before Geno Smith. The Bills selected Manuel with the 16th overall pick, making him the first quarterback selected in the draft this year, and the only quarterback to be selected in the 1st round. Manuel is a physical specimen with great upside. His arm strength and playmaking ability are the quarterback position are unmatched in this draft class however scouts speculate on his touch passes and his overall quarterback smarts. I believe Manuel will blossom in Coach Doug Marrone’s offensive system in Buffalo. Marrone simplifies the offense and allows his quarterback to make quick and easy reads. That style of play is very similar to the system that EJ ran with great success at Florida State University.
However, not everyone could win on Thursday night. The losers were:
The Dallas Cowboys: Many Cowboys fans had high expectations coming into this draft. Many believed they would continue to build on the young secondary they have began to develop and draft Matt Elam in front on the Ravens. However, the Cowboys delivered the head scratcher of the first round when they selected projected third or fourth round pick Travis Frederick from Wisconsin. In the Cowboys defense, Frederick was a part of a solid offensive line who ran the ball on whoever they wanted to, but the Cowboys left their already disgruntled fan base asking even more questions about why Jerry Jones is still running this team as general manager. A Cowboy fan did provide the sign of the night at Radio City Music Hall holding up a sign that said “Can we trade some picks to get a new GM”. Sadly, that fan as well as other Cowboys fans will have to get used to it because I don’t see Jerry firing himself anytime soon.
Ryan Nassib: Ryan Nassib had been the name shooting up all over the place within the last couple of weeks. I truly believe that Nassib didn’t see himself getting past his old coaching staff in Buffalo. Well, if he did believe that, he is probably feeling very betrayed right about now. Although Nassib’s stock was rising, the only team that really seemed to be willing to grab him in the first couple of rounds was the Buffalo Bills. Now with the Bills happy drafting EJ Manuel and Geno Smith and Matt Barkley still on the board, Nassib could be on the way to being the plummet of the draft and possibly fall all the way into the third day.
Running Backs: This year marked the first time that a running back hasn’t been drafted in the first round of the NFL draft in 50 years. Many people have stated that because of the weak running back class this would be the case but I simply don’t think that’s the only reason. I think this shows the changing culture of the NFL. This league is becoming a passing league and in the current game quarterbacks are coming up that can run and pass, which further eliminated the need for a top notch running back. Undoubtedly, Eddie Lacy and Montee Ball are NFL running backs but with the changing culture of the league and an overall lack of need around the league, both will have to wait until at least Friday evening to hear their name called.
Even though winner and losers emerged on day one, it cannot be ignored that we still have six rounds to go in the NFL draft and undoubtedly much more winning and losing will be done by teams, players, and fan bases. Truly nothing beats the “Kid on Christmas” feeling that late April brings every NFL fan, however, nothing is worse than that lonely feeling of being confused as to what direction your team is going in the future. No matter what, we will all bring that hope, whether false or real to September and opening weekend with us.