BY: COLE HUGHEY
The first round of the 2014 NFL Draft kicked off with a bang Thursday night, with South Carolina’s superstar defensive end Jadaveon Clowney going to the Houston Texans with the number one pick. While Clowney was expected to be a high pick, there was debate as to whether he or Texas A&M’s Quarterback Johnny Manziel would go with the top pick, but Clowney’s “once-in-a-lifetime” athletic ability won him the nod.
From there Manziel’s stock plummeted, eventually going to the Cleveland Browns with the 22nd pick after the Browns traded up with the Philadelphia Eagles to grab him.
The trade was one of three that the Browns made in the first round.
With their first one, the Browns gave the fourth pick of the draft to the Buffalo Bills—who then selected Clemson’s star wide receiver, Sammy Watkins—for the ninth pick.
With their second trade, the Browns swapped picks with the Minnesota Vikings and drafted Oklahoma State’s cornerback Justin Gilbert at number eight.
Despite Manziel’s speculation of going first overall, he wasn’t even the first quarterback taken. That honor went to Central Florida’s Blake Bortles, who went number three to the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Louisville’s Teddy Bridgewater was the third and final quarterback taken in the opening round, going to the Vikings with the round’s last pick after they climbed their way back into the first round with a last-minute trade with the Seahawks.
Overall, defense was the theme of the first round, with 18 of the 32 selections coming from the opposite side of the ball.
For the second year in a row, no running backs were taken in the first round; marking only the second time in nearly 50 years which that had happened.
The Oakland Raiders, who have been notorious for their poor draft decisions of late, appear to have redeemed themselves with the selection of Buffalo linebacker Kahlil Mack with the fifth pick. Mack is arguably one of the top talents in this year’s draft pool, with some even having him rated above the top pick Clowney. Mack is expected to make an immediate impact as a pass rusher for a team that finished 2013 with its worst defensive season in franchise history.
Other notable picks include Texas A&M wide receiver Mike Evans, who went to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with the seventh pick, and UCLA’s linebacker Anthony Barr, who went to the Vikings at number nine.
Among those not included in the first round were Fresno State’s record-setting quarterback Derek Carr, along with USC standout receiver Marquise Lee.
Both of which are expected to go early in the second round, which is set to begin Friday evening at 4 p.m. EST.