While it’s impossible to know for sure without any of the incoming prospects playing a snap, the first round of the NFL Draft was a success for many teams and a misfire for a handful of others.
Cleveland Browns – With their tortured past, they needed a positive outcome with two picks in the first round and did well to maximise their value.
While the Browns didn’t select quarterback Johnny Manziel with the No4 overall pick as many expected, they were able to trade down while accumulating a valuable 2015 first rounder from the Buffalo Bills.
At No9, the Browns added top cornerback prospect Justin Gilbert, who’ll line up opposite of All-Pro Joe Haden. Cleveland then traded up from No26 to No22 to get Manziel, who was on a free fall.
The moves do more than just sell tickets, but work in building the team while still bringing in much-needed excitement.
St. Louis Rams – The Rams nailed both their selections by drafting offensive tackle Greg Robinson at No2 and defensive tackle Aaron Donald at No13.
Competing in a tough NFC West division, the Rams focused their attention on bolstering play in the trenches. Donald, while a luxury for the Rams’ already scary defensive line, makes their strength that much better.
New Orleans Saints – At No20, the Saints snagged Biletnikoff Award (the top receiver in college) winner Brandin Cooks, who’ll immediately make an impact in alleviating Darren Sproles’ departure, while serving as a future go-to option.
Quarterback Drew Brees gets another weapon to use now and possibly to replace main targets Jimmy Graham and Marques Colston down the road.
Buffalo Bills – Headlining the teams that botched their picks were the Bills, despite ending up with the best receiver in the draft in Sammy Watkins.
In the aforementioned trade with Cleveland, the Bills gave up next year’s first rounder, a move that makes no sense for a team that regularly picks in the top half of the draft year after year, just to move up five slots.
The offence will be much improved and quarterback E. J. Manuel gets a dynamic weapon to grow with, but the price tag was just too high.
Miami Dolphins – The Dolphins at No19 drafted with too much of an emphasis on position need, taking offensive tackle Ja’Wuan James. Although the offensive line needed to be addressed, at 19th overall pick James was very much overvalued
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