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Disorganized impressions from the first round of the NFL Draft

04.26.13 at 12:38 am ET
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The first round of the draft is in the books and the Patriots have … picks.

Justin Hunter is still available. (AP)

Justin Hunter is still available. (AP)

Nevertheless, there was plenty of excitement in the first round Thursday night, and the trade with the Vikings sets up a pretty interesting Friday for the Patriots. Here are some quick, disorganized thoughts from the first round:

- The Pats moving out of pick No. 29 suggests that they didn’t like any one of the available wide receivers so much that they couldn’t wait. They have the 20th pick in the second round and maybe one of Justin Hunter, Keenan Allen and Robert Woods is available there, but maybe not. They also passed on Cordarrelle Patterson by trading the pick, as he went to the Vikings with the traded selection.

If the Patriots prefer a receiver in the next tier below those guys (in my opinion, Hunter is head and shoulders better than Allen and Woods, though the three have widely been ranked closely enough), New England does have their own second-rounder (No. 59) as well as Minnesota’s third (No. 83), where they could select someone like West Virginia’s Stedman Bailey or Tennessee Tech’s Da’Rick Rogers. You also have to consider that they were willing to lose a third-round pick for Emmanuel Sanders when they signed him to an offer sheet, so faxing that in with Thursday’s trade leads one to believe that the Pats just might not be thrilled with this draft’s receivers.

- The Dolphins are right for seeing an opportunity to be the second-best team in the AFC East and seizing it. The Jets are a mess and the Bills are starting over with a rookie quarterback, so Miami has done work this offseason.

After getting Ryan Tannehill some weapons with Mike Wallace and Brandon Gibson to add to the re-signed Brian Hartline and adding Philip Wheeler and Dannell Ellerbe to the defense, Miami made its latest splash Thursday night by trading up for the draft’s top pass-rusher in Dion Jordan. Tannehill still has some developing to do, but this roster looks pretty damn good right now. The Dolphins probably won’t challenge the Patriots this year, but they’ll definitely be their biggest in-division competition.

- No running backs were taken in the first round for the first time since 1963, but it should be that way more often. An NFL running back’s prime is such a short period and similar production can easily be gotten with later picks that it’s a wonder running backs go in the top 10-15 picks so regularly. The lack of first-round backs probably wasn’t a product of that line of thinking from NFL decision-makers, but more a lack of healthy star power at the position. Alabama’s Eddie Lacy was the only running back that appeared to be a serious candidate for selection in the first round.

- Watch out for the Bengals. Adding Tyler Eifert to a passing attack that already has A.J. Green, Jermaine Gresham and the underrated Mohamad Sanu? When you consider how good Cincinnati’s defense is and the fact that they’ll be getting 2012 first-round cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick back from injury, the Bengals are a scary team and should be a serious contender in the AFC next season.

Another thought on the Bengals: They’ve drafted so well in recent years. The obvious slam-dunk that comes to mind is Geno Atkins in the fourth round in 2010, but they’ve hit early on guys like Green, Andy Dalton and Kevin Zeitler. This year, they had a need at running back and rather than getting so-so value with someone like Lacy, they used the 21st pick to improve their offense in a bigger way with a better player. There are six rounds to go, but so far the Bengals get an A+.

- I won’t make the obvious “turns out the Bears’ and Vikings’ interest in Manti Te’o was fake” joke, but yeah. The Vikings and Te’o this year were like the Patriots with Dez Bryant in 2010: they had multiple opportunities to take him and passed each and every time (the Pats did it twice with Bryant, while the Vikings did it three times with Te’o). Speaking of Te’o, this year is the exception to the rule that high-upside inside linebackers never fall. Usually elite inside backers don’t make it out of the top 10 or 15 picks (seriously, look it up — it’s crazy), but perhaps the character issues came into play this year.

The Vikings, Giants and Bears all need help at inside linebacker, but all three teams passed on both Te’o and Alec Ogletree, with the former not being selected in the first round and the latter being taken 30th overall by the Rams.

- I really don’t like the Ziggy Ansah pick for the Lions. That line will be good no matter what with Ndamukong Suh and perhaps a healthy Nick Fairley, but Ansah is either an eventual star or an eventual mess. You can’t even compare him to Jason Pierre-Paul because JPP had played more than three years of football and he was the 15th overall pick, not the fifth overall pick.

Ansah’s athletic and has a very high ceiling, but that’s a gamble a good team can take in the middle of the first round, not one a bad team can take with a top-five pick. Even in a draft as bad as this year’s, you have to know you’re getting an impact player with the fifth overall pick. The Lions could have done that with Barkevious Mingo or plenty of others.

- I can’t knock the Bills for the EJ Manuel pick. I don’t really like any of the quarterbacks in this draft class as NFL starters (Geno Smith is my favorite of the bunch, however) and accuracy is a major issue with Manuel, but when you like a quarterback, you go out and get him. The Bills disregarded value and went for the guy they think can help them win. It will be a while before the pick is proven right or wrong.

- Forget the NFL-record five offensive linemen going in the top 10. Depending on what you call Justin Pugh, either four or five interior linemen were drafted in the first round (Jonathan Cooper, Chance Warmack, Pugh, Kyle Long, Travis Frederick). That, as they say, is cookoo bars.

Read More: 2013 NFL draft, Dion Jordan, Justin Hunter, Manti Te'o
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