2014 NFL Draft: Browns top Round 1 winners and losers
The Cleveland Browns top the 2014 NFL Draft Winners and losers with an excellent day from Ray Farmer that netted Cleveland Justin Gilbert, Johnny Manziel and an extra first-round pick next year.
If you asked me to sum up the Cleveland Browns draft in one quick image, it would go something ... like ... this:
The Browns weren't perfect, certainly. Ray Farmer gave up the 145th overall pick in order to move up one spot. And there's a perfect Browns story about a homeless guy convincing Jimmy Haslam to draft Johnny Manziel.
But for the most part, Farmer was superb. He pulled off a deal to move down from No. 4 to No. 9 and would later move up to No. 8 to grab Justin Gilbert. I'd VASTLY prefer Sammy Watkins -- taken fourth -- to Gilbert, but Gilbert and the Buffalo Bills first-round pick next year is superior to Watkins alone.
And then Farmer pulled off the coup that could rejuvenate the Browns immediately by nabbing Manziel 22nd overall. There's some terrifying Brady Quinn numerology there but Manziel projects as an excellent fit to Kyle Shanahan's offense as a guy who can get on the edge, roll out and hit receivers deep.
Even if he doesn't pan out -- and there's no guarantee he will -- he's still going to excite this fanbase. Selling tickets and making fans happy are overrated -- winning will take care of all that -- but for a moribund franchise like the Browns, it's a big thing.
Plus, Farmer and the Browns essentially flipped Trent Richardson for Manziel thanks to the Colts trading a first-round pick for Richardson last year. That in and of itself warrants cause for celebration.
Ray Farmer, GM, Cleveland -- There was tons of pressure on Farmer to pull off a big day in his first draft, with him holding a pair of first-round picks after his predecessor sent Trent Richardson packing. He delivered in a big way, not only landing his franchise quarterback (Johnny Manziel), the consensus top cornerback in the draft (Justin Gilbert) but also nabbing an extra first-round pick in the process.
St. Louis Rams — And the haul for the Robert Griffin III trade is complete. Man is it good too. I mean, like, really good. Michael Brockers , Janoris Jenkins , Isaiah Pead , Rokevious Watson, Alec Ogletree , Stedman Bailey , Zac Stacy and Greg Robinson ended up being the players nabbed by Les Snead and Jeff Fisher, understanding they did lots of maneuvering in order to land those players. Robinson is a mammoth road grader who’s going to turn Zac Stacy into a fantasy favorite. And Aaron Donald almost feels like an excess pick, but that means Robert Quinn , Brockers, Donald and Chris Long are going to destroy people. Terrifying defensive line.
Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Minnesota Vikings — You don’t typically see someone who falls all the way to 32 getting a “winner” tag. And Teddy surely would’ve preferred going earlier. But this is a good situation for him. He won’t get the Geno Smith overnight treatment heading into Friday, he’s going to work under Norv Turner and he ended up being a first-round pick.
Defensive backs -- Remember how deep this wide receiver class was/is? Everyone seemed to understand the depth and went after defensive backs. Nine were taken in the first round from No. 8 (Justin Gilbert to the Browns) to No. 31 (Bradley Roby to the Denver Broncos ). Darqueze Dennard took a bit of a tumble to 24, but the Cincinnati Bengals snatched him up. The three talented safeties in in this class — Ha Ha Clinton Dix, Jimmie Ward and Calvin Pryor — all came off the board and were joined by Deone Bucannon who went to the Arizona Cardinals .
Eli Manning , QB, New York Giants — The Giants desperately needed to improve their defensive tackle position but opted to grab Odell Beckham, Jr., out of LSU instead. Beckham’s a stud wide receiver and you could argue the Giants could’ve gone with Aaron Donald instead. I might’ve preferred that pick. But by snagging Beckham they set up Manning nicely for a bounce back season.
Marqise Lee, WR, USC — Lee wasn’t a lock for a first-round pick but circumstances certainly looked good for him to end up going in the first round. The Philadelphia Eagles (Lee lit up Chip Kelly’s Oregon defense while at USC) passed on him, the Kansas City Chiefs (a needy wide receiver team) skipped him and the Carolina Panthers drafted Kelvin Benjamin from Florida State over Lee.
Twitter — Or, if you prefer, “all of us.” Somehow Manziel fell and fell and fell and fell and then he was there when Jerry Jones and the Dallas Cowboys were on the clock. There was no way Jones could take Johnny Football; Tony Romo ’s contract is too cumbersome. But there was a long, awesome moment where it looked like Jones might get REAL weird and take Manziel. And then the air came out of the draft.
Louis Nix III, DT, Notre Dame — A big tumble for the big man out of South Bend. He sure looked like a nice fit for the New England Patriots at 29 until New England took Dominique Easley from Florida. Easley has a pair of torn ACLs in his past but he’s a top-10 player when healthy. You can’t blame the Pats for pulling the trigger, but it means Nix could continue tumbling.
Bills — I love Sammy Watkins. I think he’s the second-best player in this draft. I don’t fault Doug Marrone and Doug Whaley for being bold and trading up to grab the Clemson product. Their offense in 2014 is going to be fun. But giving up the first-round pick next year when you haven’t been over .500 since 2004? That’s handing someone a top-16 pick when you could’ve moved up five spots for cheaper.
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