4 final thoughts at end of first day of NFL draft
|05.09.14 at 2:39 am ET|
FOXBORO — As Day 1 winds down, here are four league-wide thoughts on how things transpired.
1. The selection of Pitt’s Aaron Donald to the Rams defensive front gives St. Louis an impressive grouping, one that includes Donald, Robert Quinn, Michael Brockers and Chris Long. On the other side of the ball, the Rams made a nice investment in Greg Robinson with the No. 2 overall pick, a guy who should slip nicely into a starter’s role given his run-blocking skills. St. Louis has a challenge trying to keep up with the rest of the high-octane NFC West, but it gives them a good looking group that should be able to make things difficult for teams like the Niners, Seahawks and Cardinals.
2. The Browns picked up an elite cornerback in Justin Gilbert eighth overall, high-profile quarterback Johnny Manziel at 22nd overall and added Buffalo’s first-round pick in the 2015 along the way. Despite the fact that Cleveland likely didn’t have to trade up from 26 to 22 to land Manziel (the Browns bypassed three teams that really had no reason to even think about selecting a quarterback), it was a good haul for Cleveland, which now has wide receiver Josh Gordon, tight end Jordan Cameron and running back Ben Tate as its key skill position players. However, it would have been interesting to see if they could have stuck at four and 26 and come away with Sammy Watkins and Manziel to get a receiver who could have been a truly intimidating pair when twinned with Gordon. One guy who can’t seem to catch a break is former Patriots quarterback Brian Hoyer, who was playing pretty well for Cleveland last year before going down with a season-ending knee injury. Now, he’ll face a battle for playing time with Manziel.
3. The Vikings were able to wait until the end of the first round to get their quarterback when they were able to swing a deal with the Seahawks and land Teddy Bridgewater. Speaking of former Brady backups who now have a battle for playing time on their hands, Matt Cassel figures to duel with Bridgewater for the starting job in Minnesota.
4. In terms of AFC East moves, the Jets surprised some people with the addition of free safety Calvin Pryor at No. 18, spurning a possible wide receiver pickup to help provide a spark for the offense. The Bills pushed a large chunk of their chips to the middle of the table to go after the best receiver on the market in Watkins, trading up to get him with the fourth overall pick in the draft. (Does this mark the beginning of the end for life in Buffalo for wide receiver and noted birthday cake aficionado Stevie Johnson?) And the Dolphins, who were thought to be in the market for a tackle to try and help rebuild their smoking crater of an offensive line, did as expected and went after Ja’Wuan James from Tennessee, who should step in and provide some help at tackle relatively quickly.