This draft surpassed last year's version in terms of excitement in the first 30 minutes. And thank god. In case you missed it -- or just want to relive the drama -- here are 10 takeaways from Thursday's festivities.
1. The Texans took an extra two weeks -- and their full 10 minutes on the clock -- to select defensive end Jadeveon Clowney, and the Rams solidified their offensive line with tackle Greg Robinson a pick later.
While Robinson going to St. Louis wasn't a surprise, it's a testament to just how well general manager Les Snead and coach Jeff Fisher have worked the draft in recent years. Yes, much of the credit should go to former Redskins coach Mike Shanahan but, hey, to the victor go the spoils, right?
Sweet baby Jesus.
Look, we were on board with the Redskins trading up for Robert Griffin III two years ago, but clearly that strategy cost some people their jobs. And, honestly, RG3 would've had to play like equal parts Brady, Manning and Brees to make the deal even close to comparable.
Even when the Redskins didn't have a first-round pick, they managed to make draft-related news.
2. After Clowney and Robinson went off the board, the Jaguars pulled the first big "Wait, what?!" moment when they selected UCF quarterback Blake Bortles.
Most of the pre-draft chatter had Jacksonville eyeballing Johnny Manziel, who spent the first two and a half hours of Thursday night in the Aaron Rodgers Memorial Green Room. (Hey, things worked out okay for A-Rodge.) Of course, in 2007, two years after Rodgers waited for hours for the Packers to put him out of his misery, Brady Quinn found himself holed up in the green room. And, yeah, and that didn't work out nearly as well. Which reminds us:
(But we're sure this time will be different.)
Now the question becomes whether Bortles will be a legit NFL quarterback, or the next Blaine Gabbert.
Either way, Jags coach Gus Bradley was predictably excited about landing Bortles, though we refuse to believe that he was this excited.
Like, out loud to people? RT @vitostellino: Gus Bradley said Jaguars would have taken Bortles over Clowney if Clowney had fallen.— Chris Burke (@ChrisBurke_SI) May 9, 2014
3. The Browns were all over the draft board Thursday, first trading down from No. 4 to No. 9, then moving up to No. 8 to grab Justin Gilbert, and then moving up from No. 26 to No. 22 to draft Johnny Manziel.
In theory, Manziel is a huge get for Cleveland, even if the pre-draft scuttlebutt was that new general manager Ray Farmer really liked Teddy Bridgewater. Except ... these are the Browns we're talking about (see the Quinn and Weeden tweet above).
Upside: If the bar were any lower it would be buried underground.
It'd only be right to post this on this great American holiday!! Happy 4th of July to everyone!! pic.twitter.com/aYsorQB2Iq— Brandon Weeden (@bweeden3) July 4, 2013
4. We think it's fair to wonder if the Bills gave up too much to draft wide receiver Sammy Watkins fourth overall, but second-year quarterback EJ Manuel seemed pleasantly surprised by the development.
!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!— EJ Manuel (@EJManuel3) May 9, 2014
In one of the deepest wide receiver drafts in decades, it's fair to wonder if the Bills should have stayed put and addressed other needs. But it did result in this:
SAMMY WATKINS - ROGER GOODELL SELFIE! pic.twitter.com/OpiQkViIx8— FOX Sports NFL (@NFLonFOX) May 9, 2014
5. Well, this is awkward:
Noooooo. RT @kentbabb: Reporter: "What did you study at Clemson?" Clowney: "At CLEMSON?? Excuse you."— Jonathan Jones (@jjones9) May 9, 2014
6. So after Bucs coach Lovie Smith spent the last few months talking up Josh McCown as the team's starting quarterback, moments after the team drafted wideout Mike Evans, Smith offered up this:
Make of this what you will.
7. When the Giants took wide receiver Odell Beckham 12th overall, and the Bears took cornerback Kyle Fuller two picks later, the Steelers went outside the box with their selection at No. 15: Ohio State linebacker Ryan Shazier, who is 6-1, 237 pounds and -- on paper, anyway -- decidedly undersized for the position. But the Steelers will move him to inside linebacker next to Lawrence Timmons, where they had hoped Sean Spence, the team's 2012 third-round pick would play (he suffered a debilitating knee injury in the final preseason game of his rookie year).
Some people will remain skeptical of the pick but keep this in mind: Defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau is an Ohio State alum, and he could have plans to use Shazier in much the same way the team used Troy Polamalu last season. It makes for intriguing possibilities for a unit that had to get younger.
8. When did Jerry get so boring?
Jerry Jones confirms the Cowboys were targeting four players: Barr, Donald, Shazier and Martin.— Matt Mosley (@mattmosley) May 9, 2014
Those players all fill obvious needs and none go by Johnny Football.
9. Well, Teddy Bridgewater did get drafted in the first round after all. The Vikings had to trade up to 32 to do it, a recurring theme with them in recent years.
And we'll find out quickly if Bridgewater can be the face of the franchise.
(Seriously, we can't believe this was ever an issue; he completed a staggering 71 percent of his passes last season at Louisville, then didn't wear gloves at his pro day, and suddenly he's a right-handed Tim Tebow. Yes, please, let's move the draft back further into May.)
The Vikings 3 QBs had a combined PFF overall rating of -26.8. Teddy Bridgewater should get an opportunity early.— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) May 9, 2014
10. Remember all the talk about how there could be a huge run on wideouts in Round 1? Turns out, that run was on defensive backs.
So Louisville had more players taken in the first round than Alabama, Florida State, Auburn, Notre Dame, USC, Ohio State, Texas ...— rickbozich (@rickbozich) May 9, 2014