New York, NY (SportsNetwork.com) - As selections are made, we'll provide pick- by-pick analysis for the entire first round as it plays out Thursday night in New York.
1. Houston Texans - Jadeveon Clowney (DE, South Carolina)
Analysis: Shocking, right? Clowney is the best talent in the draft and immediately provides the Texans with a formidable pass rush. Having Clowney line up opposite J.J. Watt on the end of the defensive line is a terrifying thought for opponents, especially AFC South competition. The Texans have to keep pace with the Colts and Andrew Luck in the division, so adding Clowney to be a disrupter makes plenty of sense. We'll see if Houston decides to try and use him as a pass-rushing linebacker from time to time.
2. St. Louis Rams - Greg Robinson (OT, Auburn)
Analysis: The Rams desperately needed some help on the offensive line, and they immediately upgrade with Robinson, who will likely slide in at one of the tackle positions right away. Sam Bradford hasn't been able to stay consistent in his time with St. Louis, and part of that is because he gets knocked down and is rushed frequently.
3. Jacksonville Jaguars - Blake Bortles (QB, UCF)
Analysis: Here's the first surprise at No. 3. Teams had Bortles rated all over the draft board, but apparently Jacksonville thought highly of the former UCF signal caller to grab him over Sammy Watkins and Khalil Mack. The Jaguars look like they've found their franchise QB moving forward.
4. Buffalo Bills - Sammy Watkins (WR, Clemson)
Analysis: The Bills move up to get their guy. Watkins will be an incredible talent for the Bills, although there may be some questions with E.J. Manuel throwing him the football. Either way, Watkins will be an immediate weapon at the NFL level and can give the typically underwhelming Buffalo offense a shot of adrenaline.
5. Oakland Raiders - Khalil Mack (LB, Buffalo)
Analysis: This is a perfect example of drafting talent over need (granted the Raiders don't have much that is solid on their roster). Mack was by far the best available player, and Oakland could use a player that will be a game changer on the defensive side of the ball. The Raiders made a step in the right direction by not reaching for a quarterback or Texas A&M receiver Mike Evans, who they liked a lot coming into tonight. Mack is the best option, and Oakland should be thrilled he wound up at the fifth pick.
6. Atlanta Falcons - Jake Matthews (OT, Texas A&M)
Analysis: A very safe, very smart pick by the Falcons, who should be glad they didn't roll the dice on a wide receiver. Matt Ryan was knocked down and sacked too many times last season, so Matthews is a fantastic insurance pick. It helps he comes from a football family (he's the seventh player in the Matthews family to play in the NFL). Atlanta will be able to slide him right into the starting lineup on day one.
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Mike Evans (WR, Texas A&M)
Analysis: The Bucs could have gone a number of different directions with this pick, but ultimately they select Evans, who will line up across from Vincent Jackson on the outside of the offense in Tampa Bay. With Josh McCown under center this upcoming season, it was important for the Bucs to snag another top-notch wide receiver. They can always address the quarterback position later in the draft with a handful of potential long-term solutions hopefully still available.
8. Cleveland Browns - Justin Gilbert (CB, Oklahoma State)
Analysis: A surprise pick here, while many thought Cleveland jumped ahead of Minnesota to grab Johnny Manziel. Instead the Browns go with a cornerback to line up opposite Joe Haden. Gilbert is an extremely talented defensive player, but could've gone later in the first. It's a solid cornerback duo, but with so many better players available, the pick makes little sense at the eighth position.
9. Minnesota Vikings - Anthony Barr (LB, UCLA)
Analysis: The Vikings needed a front-seven defensive stud, and they get him with Barr. A bit shocking with Aaron Donald on the board still, but Barr has plenty of upside. He can provide a pass-rushing presence for the Vikings, which they lost when Jared Allen left this offseason.
10. Detroit Lions - Eric Ebron (TE, North Carolina)
Analysis: Detroit really wanted to move up to snag Sammy Watkins to match along with Calvin Johnson, but with both Watkins and Mike Evans off the board in the Top 10, the Lions decided to upgrade the tight end position by grabbing Ebron. The UNC product is a much more athletic pass catcher than Brandon Pettigrew, and can develop with a strong-armed quarterback like Matt Stafford. Ebron should have no trouble adjusting to playing in Detroit.
11. Tennessee Titans - Taylor Lewan (OT, Michigan)
Analysis: The Titans are an example of another team that needs to fill multiple holes on the roster, but with the selection of Lewan the offensive line in Tennessee immediately gets better. If Jake Locker is the guy under center this upcoming season or if it's someone else, he will be better protected with Lewan and Michael Oher, who the Titans brought in this offseason. Now Tennessee needs a running back to utilize the strong and proficient offensive tackles.
12. New York Giants - Odell Beckham Jr. (WR, LSU)
Analysis: The Giants not picking for defense with this selection is a bit surprising, since they were in love with Aaron Donald entering the draft. But the loss of Hakeem Nicks this offseason must have made New York a bit uneasy, even though they went and picked up Mario Manningham (again) and will likely slide Reuben Randle into the other receiver spot. Beckham can stretch the field with his speed, and Eli Manning gets a vertical weapon.
13. St. Louis Rams - Aaron Donald (DT, Pittsburgh)
Analysis: St. Louis clearly wants to make a dent in the NFC West, and the Rams just made their defense much better by getting a defensive tackle that can break through the line and get to the quarterback with ease. Donald, paired with Robert Quinn, Chris Long and Michael Brockers, makes for a scary defensive line combo. Having to compete with the Seattle Seahawks and San Francisco 49ers (two of the better defenses in the NFL) was obviously on everyone's mind in the Rams' war room. Donald is dangerous, and now the Rams have a dangerous defense.
14. Chicago Bears - Kyle Fuller (CB, Virginia Tech)
Analysis: With the aging defensive backfield in Chicago, the Bears go ahead and get what many describe as the best cornerback prospect in the draft in Fuller. The Bears will be able to use Fuller right away, and he'll be able to learn from some of the best.
15. Pittsburgh Steelers - Ryan Shazier (LB, Ohio State)
Analysis: Pittsburgh goes and gets a freak athlete to play linebacker in Shazier, who helped his stock greatly at the NFL Combine. The Steelers could've used some more offensive line help, and with Zack Martin still available the selection is somewhat of a head-scratcher. But Shazier will be able to help a defense that's getting older, and will inject some speed, tenacity and skill into the lineup.
16. Dallas Cowboys - Zack Martin (OT, Notre Dame)
Analysis: What an atypical Jerry Jones pick. Instead of going with Johnny Manziel here, the Cowboys instead opt for the smarter move and get the best available player. Martin is an extremely promising player who can line up at any one of the offensive line positions. He'll be able to slide right in wherever he's needed to give an aging Tony Romo some protection, and be able to provide a solid wall for DeMarco Murray to run behind. It must have taken some serious restraint for Jones to make the less flashy yet smarter move.
17. Baltimore Ravens - C.J. Mosley (LB, Alabama)
Analysis: It looks like Baltimore has finally found it's Ray Lewis 2.0. Mosley got a lot of attention this offseason with his strong showing at the Combine and at individual pro days. He also was off the charts in the interviews he provided. Mosley is an extremely cerebral player that has a nose for the football. He was a vocal leader at Alabama, which the Ravens love. Mosley should be able to plug right in to the Ravens' system where he'll flourish.
18. New York Jets - Calvin Pryor (S, Louisville)
Analysis: The Jets select Pryor to sure up the defensive backfield in New York. They have to deal with the Patriots twice a season, and now with Sammy Watkins in the division and Mike Wallace down in Miami, the Jets clearly went for the pick that would help in terms of downfield coverage. Pryor, a free safety, possesses speed and an eye for the football. After nabbing Dee Milliner in the first round last year, New York will have a youthful and promising defensive backfield.
19. Miami Dolphins - Ja'Wuan James (OT, Tennessee)
Analysis: Makes perfect sense, right? After the whole Jonathan Martin/Richie Incognito debacle, the Dolphins need to revamp their offensive line. Ja'Wuan James is ideal for Miami, which will need some more protection for Lamar Miller, Daniel Thomas and Ryan Tannehill. Things will slowly come together for the Dolphins on the offensive front, and the tenacious James is a step in the right direction after all that has transpired there.
20. New Orleans Saints - Brandin Cooks (WR, Oregon State)
Analysis: An interesting move for the Saints that will surely pay off. New Orleans could've used a defensive presence, but with few serious options left, the Saints decided to add another deep threat. New Orleans lost Lance Moore this offseason, and Marques Colston isn't what he used to be. Tossing Cooks into the mix with Jimmy Graham and burner Kenny Stills should make Drew Brees one very happy quarterback next season. Between Stills and Cooks, Brees will simply have to lob the ball up and let either one go get it.
21. Green Bay Packers - Ha Ha Clinton-Dix (S, Alabama)
Analysis: Green Bay really wanted either C.J Mosley or Ryan Shazier to add some linebacker depth, but both are already off the board. So the Packers go ahead and sure up the defensive backfield with Clinton-Dix, who slipped a bit after being projected into the mid-teens. Clinton-Dix can play right away for Green Bay and will provide much-needed help deep in the defense. The Packers went with the best available player, and it will certainly pay off in the coming seasons.
22. Cleveland Browns - Johnny Manziel (QB, Texas A&M)
Analysis: And there goes Johnny Football. Man, Cleveland is cleaning up tonight. A top-notch cornerback to pair with Joe Haden, a starting quarterback who was projected for the Top 10, and the Buffalo Bills' first- and fourth- round picks next year. Well done Ray Farmer. Manziel will fit very well in Cleveland, making that offense dynamic with a serious running threat. In a division where the Browns need to keep pace with a tough Baltimore team, a talented Steelers defense and an upbeat Bengals offense, Manziel immediately pumps some life into a team desperate for a solid player under center. Manziel to Josh Gordon could be a combination we hear a lot of next season.
23. Kansas City Chiefs - Dee Ford (DE, Auburn)
Analysis: This is an interesting pick for the Chiefs, who sported the league's top defense a year ago. Dee Ford wasn't unanimously seen as a first-round selection, but he will give the Chiefs a serious pass rushing option from the outside. Ford is a burner, and he really proved that in the Senior Bowl with a pair of sacks. He's capable of getting around the edge with ease, and uses his hands well against blockers. He'll be able to help Kansas City's pass rush, but may need some time to build up his strength.
24. Cincinnati Bengals - Darqueze Dennard (CB, Michigan State)
Analysis: Dennard was the best player available, and Cincinnati was smart to scoop him up. The Bengals could use some help in the defensive backfield, especially with the addition of Johnny Manziel to the AFC North. A slew of deep-threat quarterbacks litter the division, and Dennard will provide speed and strong coverage skills to the Bengals, who already have a potent offense (when Andy Dalton is on his game).
25. San Diego Chargers - Jason Verrett (CB, TCU)
Analysis: It's no secret there are some dangerous offenses in the AFC West, and San Diego has to be able to provide coverage when the Denver Broncos come to town. Verrett is a speedy coverage corner that could have gone in the late first/early second round, but the Chargers decided to get their guy now. The Chargers needed to bulk up their defense, and adding Verrett moves them in the right direction. Many thought Anthony Barr might slip to San Diego, which would have given them a serious pass rush, but Verrett works here too.
26. Philadelphia Eagles - Marcus Smith (DE/LB, Louisville)
Analysis: The Eagles needed some defensive playmaking ability, and they certainly get it with Smith. The former Cardinals linebacker recorded 1.12 sacks per game with Louisville a year ago en route to the AAC Defensive Player of the Year award. The Eagles really needed a pass rusher or a defensive back, or even a wide receiver, and they address one of their dire needs by strategically moving back in the round to grab Smith.
27. Arizona Cardinals - Deone Bucannon (S, Washington State)
Analysis: Bucannon is a hard hitter. Pair him with Tyrann Mathieu at the strong safety position, and the Cardinals could have a formidable backfield for years to come. Bucannon wasn't slated to come off the board for a little while (mid to late second round), so they theoretically could have waited to make the pick, and they still need a quarterback. But perhaps they feel good about landing their man under center later on.
28. Carolina Panthers - Kelvin Benjamin (WR, Florida State)
Analysis: It was no secret the Panthers desperately needed wide receiver help, and Benjamin was one of the better pass catchers left on the board. He's a big-framed receiver (6-foot-5) who has very reliable hands, but really needs help developing his route running ability. With strong-armed Cam Newton, throwing him the ball, Benjamin will develop into a top-notch receiver, but it may take a bit of time. Still, Carolina needed help at the position desperately, and he'll slide in right away.
29. New England Patriots - Dominique Easley (DE/DT, Florida)
Analysis: The Patriots get their guy up front. The fact that Bill Belichick didn't trade down means the Pats really fell in love with Easley's ability. He's listed as a defensive end, but he played inside on the line plenty for the Gators. Easley had his senior season cut short due to an ACL tear, but that clearly doesn't worry New England too much. With the aging Vince Wilfork returning, even after tearing his Achilles last season, the Patriots will want to sure up the long-term solution in the middle, which they did.
30. San Francisco 49ers - Jimmie Ward (S, Northern Illinois)
Analysis: Jimmie Ward will fit well in San Francisco, which could use some help at the safety position. San Fran has a solid defense, but now gets Ward, who is a speedy yet undersized back. Playing in the Mid-American Conference can dilute a player's ability, but Ward is a special talent and will get to develop with strong players surrounding him.
31. Denver Broncos - Bradley Roby (CB, Ohio State)
Analysis: Clearly character issues don't matter much to the Broncos' coaching staff. Roby was in trouble with the law twice in the past year, and was suspended by coach Urban Meyer for the first game of the 2013 season following a bar fight involving the corner. Still, his ability in unquestioned, and he'll help fill a void left by Champ Bailey this offseason at the cornerback position. If Roby can stay out of trouble, he'll be a special player. But that could be a big "if," given his history.
32. Minnesota Vikings - Teddy Bridgewater (QB, Louisville)
Analysis: And at the last minute, Minnesota gets its quarterback. Clearly the Vikings didn't feel safe about letting Houston select with the first pick in the second round, so they made sure they got their franchise signal caller, even though it cost them their second- and fourth-round picks. Bridgewater can be a star, but he'll have to develop his skills at the next level a bit before he should take over full-time. But having him with Adrian Peterson can make for a dynamic duo once they get rolling. Now the Texans might be breathing a little heavy when it comes to selecting a quarterback, with Derek Carr, Jimmy Garoppolo and Tom Savage left on the board.