Outside of the six draft-day trades, Thursday night's first round brought with it many other surprises. There was only one quarterback selected, and not who many thought it would be. For the first time since 1963, the first round came and went without a running back getting selected. But we knew that the Raiders would reach for a player, and they did, we knew the Jets would somehow find a way to select two really good players while not addressing their most immediate needs and we knew another team would make a pick that made everybody go, "Huh?" That team this year was Dallas.
Below is listed the biggest surprises of the first round, the teams that did the best, the teams that did the worst and what to expect from tonight's second and third rounds. There will undoubtedly be more trades this evening.
Regarded by many as the top quarterback in the draft, the West Virginia passer was passed over by every NFL team. I thought he'd go eighth overall to Buffalo. When the Bills traded back to 16, the thought then was that Buffalo would select either Smith or Syracuse quarterback Ryan Nassib, who played for Bills coach Doug Marrone in college. The selection of Florida State's EJ Manuel threw everybody for a loop and there were no other teams from picks 17-32 who needed a quarterback. He should go soon tonight as teams like Philadelphia, Jacksonville, Oakland or Arizona could take him within the first 10 picks. Smith initially said he was not going to return to Radio City Music Hall tonight, but changed his mind. That's kind of an indication that he's been told something by at least one team.
The Packers pass on Lacy
The Green Bay Packers have not had a 100-yard rusher in 43 straight games. Their leading rusher last season, Alex Green, barely surpassed 400 yards for the season. Adrian Peterson nearly had that in his two games against the Packers. So with Alabama running back Eddie Lacy on the board when the Packers picked at 26, Lacy was a slam-dunk, right? Nope. Ted Thompson threw a change-up and went with UCLA defensive end Datone Jones, who is a very good player but did not address the team's most glaring need. There are still good running backs the Packers can get in the second round, like Lacy or Wisconsin's Montee Ball and Michigan State's Le'Veon Bell. If Green Bay gets one of those players with the pick at 55, then Thompson's gamble worked. If the Packers again pass on a running back there, let the head scratching continue.
No Arthur Brown or Manti Te'o in the first round
While it was no surprise that inside linebacker Alec Ogletree went in the first round, it was a tad surprising that the next two best inside backers did not. Brown might be the most underrated prospect at linebacker. He will be a productive NFL starter and should go early tonight. Te'o seemed to be a lock with either the Bears or Ravens in the first round to replace Brian Urlacher or Ray Lewis, respectively, but both teams went in different directions. The Ravens made a good pick of Florida safety Matt Elam with the 32nd pick, but the Bears really reached for Oregon lineman Kyle Long at 20.
Two guards go in the top 10
Since interior offensive linemen rarely go high in the draft, there have been only 12 guards selected in the first round of the draft since 2000 and none of them were selected higher than 15th. The last time a guard went in the top 10 was in 1997 when Colorado's Chris Naeole was selected with the 10th overall pick by New Orleans. Most draftniks expected either Jonathan Cooper of North Carolina or Alabama's Chance Warmack to go within the first 10 picks. Most did not predict they both would, but Cooper went seventh to Arizona while Warmack was the 10th pick by the Tennessee Titans and coach Mike Munchack, who played guard in the NFL for 12 years after being the eighth overall pick by the Houston Oilers in 1982.
Sharrif Floyd falls to 23
Most prognosticators had the Florida defensive tackle in the top 5. So the Minnesota Vikings got a steal when they saw Floyd sitting there when they picked at 23.
The Vikings entered the draft with two first-round picks, 23 and 25. They then wheeled and dealed to grab a third pick and wound up with great value with each selection. Getting Sharrif Floyd at 23 was extremely fortuitous and helped them address a need on the defensive line. Then they got a cornerback at 25 in Florida State's Xavier Rhodes, who could have been a top-15 pick, and then the Vikings traded back into the first round to grab wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson of Tennessee with the 29th pick. Patterson was thought to be a top-20 prospect.
St. Louis Rams
General manager Les Snead and coach Jeff Fisher continue to maneuver the draft to their benefit. The Rams traded up to grab wide receiver Tavon Austin. But they did so without trading away both of their first-round picks. Then they traded back from 22 to grab defensive playmaker Alec Ogletree at 30, who was thought to be a top-20 prospect and the top inside linebacker in the draft. The Rams addressed two needs, expect Ogletree to play on the outside next to James Laurinaitis in the Rams' 4-3 system, and even acquired more picks. That RGIII trade last year will now yield eight players.
New England Patriots
The Patriots dealt away their only first-round pick, 29th overall, to the Vikings. But the Vikings paid a steep price to move back into the first round. The Patriots got four picks this year, including one each in the second, third and fourth rounds. Every team wants to get value out of the draft, whether it's by selecting the right player or acquiring picks, the Patriots got a lot of value and then some with this trade.
Al Davis may be dead, but his risky ways live on in Oakland. The Raiders draft based on potential more than any other franchise in the draft and it often backfires. How's that Darrius Heyward-Bey selection working out? Houston cornerback DJ Hayden has the potential to be a very good player. But he's also a huge risk. He nearly died following an on-field collision last year that resulted in a heart injury. A vein was torn from his heart and he was fortunate to survive. He was cleared medically and shot up draft boards because of his raw talent and ability. If it pans out, this could be a solid pick by the Raiders, but 13th is way to high to take a player who could be just one crack-back block away from becoming an on-field fatality.
The Bills traded back from the No. 8 spot, where selecting a quarterback might not have provided the best value. So at 16, they could get their guy. West Virginia's Geno Smith was rated by most as the best quarterback of this draft class. But Syracuse's Ryan Nassib played for new coach Doug Marrone in college. Either one could be a great choice for Buffalo. So they picked neither. Instead Buffalo surprised almost everybody by taking Florida State quarterback EJ Manuel, who could be a year or two away from developing into an NFL starter. The Bills will probably force Manuel into starting as a rookie, which could slow his development and result in another first-round bust. The last time the Bills took a quarterback in the first round was Tulane's JP Lossman and that didn't exactly work out either.
One of Dallas' biggest needs was at safety. When Dallas traded with San Francisco to move back from 18 to 31, the 49ers grabbed LSU safety Eric Reid. No big deal, Dallas could still get either Florida's Matt Elam or FIU's Jonathan Cyprien. Instead the Cowboys, who do need interior line help as well, selected Wisconsin center Travis Frederick. Most people had Frederick graded as a mid-second round pick, at best. He was largely regarded as a third-round prospect, but still one of the top two centers in the draft. Had Dallas waited until the second round to grab a center, the Cowboys could have still gotten Frederick or Alabama's Barrett Jones. Elam was selected with the next pick by Baltimore and it's doubtful that Cyprien will be there when Dallas picks at 47.
NFL draft invitees
Again, to create drama, there were the NFL invited players to New York City who were not selected in the first round. While EJ Manuel, who was not necessarily regarded as a first-round pick, did get selected, there were three players who had to sit and wait, and wait, and wait, and suffer public embarrassment on a national stage just so the NFL could fabricate a storyline and get that photo opportunity in Friday's primetime telecast of rounds two and three.
The player hurt most was West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith, who was thought to be the best quarterback in the draft. I'm not going to fault the NFL for inviting Smith to New York City. He was expected to be drafted within the top 15 picks, but why were Florida State offensive tackle Menelik Watson and Alabama running back Eddie Lacy there? Lacy was projected as a late-first-round pick, but there was a distinct possibility that he could slip into the second round. Watson was not considered a first-round prospect by most draft experts. All three players had the carrot of hope dangled in front of them only to sit and wait for more than four hours and never receive any satisfaction by hearing the commissioner call out their name. Guess it could be worse, they could have scheduled a first-round party in their own honor like the delusional Tyrann Mathieu did.