Round 1 reactions: Senior Bowl pays off big for Manuel, Ansah
Pat Kirwan says it's clear that impressive turns at the Senior Bowl sure helped prospects like EJ Manuel and Ziggy Ansah improve their draft stock.
Impressive turns in the spotlight
I interviewed 19 of the first-round picks live. It's always great to get the first reaction from the players drafted, and Thursday night was no exception. Naturally, Eric Fisher was all smiles hearing his name called first, but Luke Joeckel described himself as a competitor and a guy who vowed to show everyone that he is the best tackle in the draft.
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The two most impressive interviews came from Ziggy Ansah and Bjoern Werner. Both foreign-born athletes were so humble and awe-struck by what happened to them after coming to America, to just get a chance to learn the game and see where it would take them.
Werner had nine family members from Germany in New York for the draft, and none of them spoke English. Ansah said his friends back home in Ghana were watching the draft in amazement.
Both young men said there were plenty of very good young football candidates back home who would follow in their footsteps looking to come to the United State and learn to play football. You can bet the college coaches could be on their way to find those athletes.
SEC talent dominates first round
The SEC ruled the first round with 12 players selected -- four on offense and eight on defense. There should be at least nine more SEC players drafted in the second round and seven in the third round. That would bring the total to 28 in the first three rounds.
The SEC is truly the NFL minor league.
And, if not for a late surprise pick by the Cowboys when they took Wisconsin center Travis Fredrick at No. 31, the Big Ten would have been shut out of the first round.
Another first round full of trades
Eleven teams were not in their original spots in the first round, and at least six teams changed their spots in Round 2. The fans love all the trades and repositioning that goes on in recent drafts. Once the Dolphins were able to move from No. 12 to No. 3 in the first round by also trading their second round pick (No. 42) to the Raiders, the market was set for trading.
In the old days, a move that big in the first round would require surrendering next year's first-round pick. On the old trade chart, it was a 1,000-point jump. But pick No. 42 only equated to 480 points or basically half of what teams wanted just five years ago. When I saw that trade go down, I thought for sure we were going to see a lot more moves, especially involving the Raiders. Once they moved for what was half-price, I thought they could drop again from No. 12 to the 20s and still get a very good player and pick up at least an extra third-round pick.
The Senior Bowl hits a home run
I am a big fan of the Senior Bowl and the opportunity the game gives NFL coaches to see first-hand what players can do in pads. Some seniors avoid going to the Senior Bowl, usually because their agents tell them they don't need the exposure.
This year, three of the top five selections (Eric Fisher, Lane Johnson, and Ziggy Ansah) all participated in the Senior Bowl. EJ Manuel was the first and only quarterback taken in the first round; he was the MVP of the Senior Bowl game. Offensive linemen Justin Pugh and Kyle Long were two of the biggest picks of the first day, and both were at the Senior Bowl.
The Falcons moved up to select CB Des Trufant, another Senior Bowl guy, and Daytone Jones went to the Senior Bowl week and demonstrated he could play defensive tackle and end equally as well. The first round was a good reminder that showing coaches and general managers how much you love to play football and that you are not afraid to compete can really help get you drafted higher than some would think.
Second round is deep with talent
I said all spring that the second round in the 2013 draft would be a great place to be, and it is going to work out that way. Four teams have two picks each in this round (Buffalo, Cincinnati, New England, San Francisco). New England always seems to find their way to multiple picks in this round, and it is amazing to me that the 49ers moved up 13 spots in Round 2 to draft safety Eric Reid and didn't have to surrender one of those two picks in this round. The rich just keep getting richer!
The Jacksonville Jaguars start off the second round on Friday night, and I expect them to take a quarterback. Of course, they could trade back a few spots if someone is desperate to get to the top spot, but something tells me they stay and get the passer. Who it is remains to be seen, but don't be surprised if it's not Geno Smith.
The top names for the second round include Eddie Lacy, Geno Smith, Kevin Minter, Tank Carradine, Menilik Watson, Justin Hunter, Darius Slay, Johnthan Banks, Manti Te'o, Ryan Nassib, Matt Barkley, Kawann Short, Robert Woods, Johnathan Cyprien, Margus Hunt, Zach Ertz, D.J. Swearinger, Keenan Allen, Terron Armstead, Montee Ball and Arthur Brown among others. Most of the players above have been in plenty of mock drafts all spring as first-round selections.
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