NEW YORK — A quarterback was selected in the top five picks of the first round of the NFL draft, but it was not Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel. The Jacksonville Jaguars made the surprise of the draft when they selected Central Florida quarterback Blake Bortles with the No. 3 overall pick.
Manziel, the biggest name in the draft and the 2012 Heisman Trophy winner, took a long tumble. He was even passed over by the Dallas Cowboys, a franchise usually attracted to the sizzle that Manziel creates.
The Jaguars instead went with Bortles, who has prototypical size at 6-foot-5 and 232 pounds, grew up two hours south of Jacksonville, and comes with a considerably lower profile than Manziel, who was eventually picked 22nd by the Cleveland Browns.
“I would have been surprised if I was the first or 10th (quarterback selected),” Bortles said. “I had no expectations coming into this thing. I was pumped to be here, be a part of this atmosphere, be in New York City. And when I heard my name called, of course I was surprised. I was ecstatic.”
Jadeveon Clowney was the No. 1 overall pick by Houston. It was the first pick made by former Penn State coach Bill O’Brien, who still needs a quarterback to run his offense. But Clowney’s talent was too enticing. At 6-foot-5 and 266 pounds and with a 4.53-second 40-yard dash, Clowney has rare ability — so much so that he stated his aspiration of reaching “the Hall of Fame one day.”
“I’m sticking my neck out for you, so you need to stick your neck out for me,” O’Brien told Clowney, according to Clowney.
“I’m ready,” Clowney told his new coach. “I’m not going to let you down.”
The Texans considered trading the top pick, although they reportedly required a significant haul. When Clowney heard the asking price, he had a good idea of where he would be living next year.
“Ain’t no way somebody was going to give up their whole draft two years in a row, three years, for the No. 1 pick,” Clowney said. “So I was like, ‘I’m going to be a Houston Texan, hopefully.’”
Clowney was the first of three pass rushers taken in the first nine picks. Linebacker Khalil Mack went to the Oakland Raiders at No. 5, and the Minnesota Vikings selected Anthony Barr at No. 9. Eagles general manager Howie Roseman predicted that pass rushers would go early, and he was correct.
There were also three offensive tackles who went off the board early: The St. Louis Rams took Auburn’s Greg Robinson at No. 2, the Atlanta Falcons tabbed Texas A&M’s Jake Matthews at No. 6, and the Tennessee Titans added Michigan Taylor Lewan at No. 11.
The Rams used the final pick remaining from the 2012 trade that netted Washington Robert Griffin III. The Cowboys added Notre Dame offensive lineman Zack Martin at No. 16. Martin was a tackle in college, but is believed to be able to play all five positions on the line.
After Bortles was selected No. 3, the Buffalo Bills sacrificed the No. 9 overall pick along with first- and fourth-round picks in 2015 to ascend five spots and select Sammy Watkins in the Cleveland Browns’ spot at No. 4. That was the major trade of the draft.
Roseman anticipated that 10 wide receivers would go in the first two rounds, and the run started early. Texas A&M’s Mike Evans went No. 8 to Tampa Bay, and the Giants picked LSU’s Odell Beckham Jr. at No. 12. Beckham was considered a target for the Eagles.
North Carolina tight end Eric Ebron went No. 10 to the Detroit Lions, who did not fill their need at cornerback. It might have been different if the Browns did not pick Oklahoma State cornerback Justin Gilbert at No. 8. Virginia Tech’s Kyle Fuller, another cornerback and potential Eagles target, went to the Chicago Bears at No. 14.
After Clowney and Bortles were selected, the biggest intrigue was when Manziel would be finally picked.
Distributed by MCT Information Services