As always, day one of the NFL draft provided some excitement, some opportunities for second guessing and plenty of action.

What did I like?

  • Blaine Grisak from Ramblin’ Fan had the Rams going with two defensive studs in our Team Blogger Mock Draft. I had them taking one offensive and one defensive player. I was right on the split, but neither of us hit the players. In the end, though, I think the Rams nailed it. Tackle Greg Robinson is mentioned as an elite talent. Defensive tackle Aaron Donald received similar accolades as his stock rose throughout the offseason. This team is a couple notches closer to challenging Seattle and San Francisco in the NFC West.
  • It’s intriguing what Cleveland is putting together. They had two first round picks today, adding Johnny Manziel and CB Justin Gilbert. They also added a first round pick next year from Buffalo in moving back to grab Gilbert. It was the old regime that traded Trent Richardson to Indy to get the extra first this year — this team has been bad for a long time, but the Browns are stockpiling talent AND draft picks. This team finally is heading in the right direction.
  • Kelvin Benjamin to Carolina and Darqueze Dennard to Cincinnati both felt like fantastic value picks. The Panthers’ WR corps was decimated this offseason. Ken Dye from Carolina Cat Chronicles told us in a Q and A that the OL was a bigger need than wideout. He may be right on that, but getting the 6’5 receiver to help out Cam Newton isn’t going to hurt. Cincy had few desperate needs, so grabbed a good, solid physical corner. Hard to argue with that. Both players should fit well and both were selected at good value points.

What surprised me?

  • San Francisco had 11 draft picks heading into tonight along with some needs, particularly in the defensive backfield. I don’t hate the Jimmie Ward selection, but I was a little surprised the team didn’t package some of those picks to move up and grab one of the elite corners. Truth be told I’m not sure 11 draft picks make this team better in 2014, but a handful of well placed elite ones would.
  • Dallas held itself in check and resisted the urge to bring the Johnny Manziel circus to town. Tony Romo hasn’t been great in the postseason – that’s no secret. But adding Manziel with all the holes this team had on defense truly made little sense. Now, the pick — OL Zack Martin — certainly makes an improving offensive line better, but it doesn’t address its needs all over the defense.
  • The Jets again passed up an opportunity to address the need for a bit more explosiveness on offense. Certainly with Eric Decker in town they’ve upgraded a bad receiver corps, but that side of the ball still needs some work. That said, the decision to go with best player available paid off last year with Sheldon Richardson and Dee Milliner, so it’s a bit harder to question the logic in going with Calvin Pryor. At the end of the day, the Jets may have to win ugly, but they’re building the defense to do just that. With guys like Davonte Adams, Aaron Robinson and Marqise Lee still available, along with several potential second-round tight ends, they may still get the guy they need.
  • There were few picks that really made me scratch my head. Minnesota grabbing Anthony Barr at nine was a bit earlier than he was expected to go, but he’s athletic and the team has a need there. I would have liked to see another trade back there, but sometimes that doesn’t work out. Miami’s selection of T Ja’Juan James and Philadelphia grabbing LB Marcus Smith at 27 after a trade back both raised eyebrows. But usually the first round provides at least one or two real WTF picks. I didn’t have that reaction this year.

Other observations:

  • Teams obviously felt the QBs were flawed. Outside of Jacksonville taking Blake Bortles with the third pick, the big four prospects had to wait quite awhile with Johnny Manziel going at 22 after a Cleveland trade and Teddy Bridgewater going 32 after a Minnesota trade. Derek Carr’s wait probably ends early tomorrow.
  • I predicted in my mock that if none of the QBs went in the top five Atlanta was screwed. I think I was right on that. The Blake Bortles selection by Jacksonville shook things up just enough for Jake Matthews, the second rated tackle, to fall to the Falcons. Had the Jaguars gone Kahlil Mack or Sammy Watkins, I think it probably pushes Matthews to Oakland and leaves the Falcons out of the running for the best tackles or pass rushers. Mike Smith caught a break there.
  • There is a ton of talent still out there. In addition to the WRs mentioned above, Timmy Jernigan, Ra’shede Hageman, Kony Ealy, Louis Nix and Stephon Tuitt anchor a strong day two list of DLs. Several guards are out there, including the top guy, Xavier Su’a-Filo. And a plethora of QBs are expected to be day two selections as well. Those with multiple picks in the second and third round are going to be happy when tomorrow ends.