And now, with part 3, we wrap up the 1st round. For parts 1 and 2, click here and here.
22. Johnny Manziel, QB, Cleveland Browns
At long last, Johnny Football's nightmare is over. Just when it looked like he might slide out of the 1st round entirely, the Browns save him from infamy. I like the choice here for the Browns, they can let Manziel learn for a season behind Brian Hoyer and if Hoyer is as good as he showed last season, they can flip him for another pick next year. Manziel was never worth a #1, or even a top 10 pick, but in the late first round, he's a good value choice. However, rumors are swirling that Manziel's selection was a mandate from ownership. If this is true, obviously that casts a shadow of doubt on bringing Johnny Football to Cleveland.
23. Dee Ford, DE, Kansas City Chiefs
A baffling call here for Kansas City. With Marquise Lee staring them in the face, the Chiefs take a player who's a backup even in a best case scenario. With Tamba Hali and Justin Houston already in place, this choice makes little to no sense. Kansas City sorely needed help at WR and to draft to a position of strength is dubious. The Chiefs have no second round pick to rectify this error and are apparently gambling that Andy Reid can make chicken soup out of chicken poop at the position again.
24. Darqueze Dennard, CB, Cincinatti Bengals
The Bengals reap the benefits of others' errors and may have the steal of the draft. The Bengals already have a stout defense in place and needed an extra cornerback. They have the good fortune to have the best one in the draft fall into their laps. Dennard was seldom beaten deep. On passes of 15 yards or longer, opponents went 3 for 34, with 3 INTs and no touchdowns. Cincinnati needed an infusion of youth in their secondary and Dennard is just what the doctor ordered. Fuller and Gilbert going so much earlier than 'Queze may go down as a huge blunder for the Bears and Browns.
25. Jason Verrett, CB, San Diego Chargers
While San Diego had to be let down that Dennard went to Cincinnati, they grab the next best CB on the board, filling a huge hole. Verrett's lack of size is the only real knock on him, if he were a taller player, he'd be a top 10 selection. He has elite speed and can stop on a dime to change directions, which will come in handy playing Denver's up tempo attack twice a season. He's around the ball at all times, leading FBS with 38 passes defended since the beginning of the 2012 season. In all likelihood, an immediate starter for the Chargers.
26. Marcus Smith, DE, Philadelphia Eagles
I thought the Eagles were sure to go with Marquise Lee here, as he is becoming the newest player to stun observers by sliding out of the 1st round. The Eagles were eyeing Smith, attending his pro day and using one of their official 30 visits to spend time with him. It's hard to see him as a Day 1 starter, with Barwin and Cole already entrenched. He came to Louisville as a QB and flew under the radar as an elite prospect. Definitely somewhat surprising he went on the first day, especially to the Eagles.
27. Deone Bucannon, S, Arizona Cardinals
In my mind, they'd have been better served taking Teddy Bridgewater here to serve as the next QB when the Carson Palmer era comes to an end. They could do worse than Bucannon, though. The Cardinals can now give the Seahawks a run for their money as the NFL's best secondary. Bucannon will provide a nice complement to the Honey Badger, he's the hard hitting, big, physical safety teams covet in today's NFL. With Antonio Cromartie and Patrick Peterson as the starting corners, Arizona will be incredibly difficult to throw on next season.
28. Kelvin Benjamin, WR, Carolina Panthers
The Panthers couldn't afford to leave the draft without upgrading the receiver position. At the beginning of the day, their top receivers were Jason Avant and Jerrico Cotchery. I think Lee would have been the better choice, but for a QB like Cam Newton, you can't go wrong with a massive target like Benjamin. The one knock that can be made is that Benjamin is going to have no choice but to become the #1 receiver right away, there will be no chance for him to season, he will be expected to step in and produce. He has a high upside, and will definitely win his share of jump balls.
29. Dominique Easley, DT, New England Patriots
Easley is a high upside player, and one with few flaws. His tape is immaculate, making scouts salivate. The catch is that Easley can't stay healthy. You would think the Patriots learned their lesson from dealing with Rob Gronkowski's annual injuries, but Belichick rolls the dice again. He tore his ACL last September, and this comes on the heels of tearing his other ACL in 2011. If he can stay healthy, he possesses elite speed and seems to have a cheat code for living in the opposition's backfield. He looked like a world beater in the 4 games he played prior to the tear and the Patriots are betting they can keep him upright.
30. Jimmie Ward, S, San Francisco 49ers
One of the 49ers' only weaknesses is their secondary, and while I believed they'd take a corner, there just wasn't one worth reaching for here. Ward is built like a cornerback and chances are good the 49ers are planning on using him in the slot. It's becoming more and more trendy in the league to play a Big Nickel format, where 3 safeties share the field simultaneously. It's possible he, Erich Reid, and Antoine Bethea will do just that. I could also see Jim Harbaugh converting him to CB full time.
31. Bradley Roby, CB, Denver Broncos
This pick fills a huge need for Denver. The back end of their defense is their most glaring weakness, and they could have also gone with a linebacker here. With no linebackers left on the board with a first round grade, they've elected to ignore some of Roby's off the field issues. He finished second to Verrett, defending 35 passes the past 2 seasons. With the collapse of their pass defense the past 2 postseasons, getting shredded by Joe Flacco and Russell Wilson, that had to weigh heavily on their mind in the war room.
32. Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Minnesota Vikings (acquired pick from Seattle)
A very shrewd maneuver for the Vikings. All they gave up to move back into the 1st round was a 4th round pick, which may be a steal if Bridgewater can show he's the real deal. I thought he should have gone before Bortles and Manziel, as he showed the most pro ready game in college. He has great accuracy and touch on his deep balls, performs very well under pressure and played in an offense that showcased his ability to make NFL throws. It will be interesting to see if Minnesota throws him into the fire immediately or allows Matt Cassel to hold the job until Bridgewater gets some seasoning under his belt. This may go down as the biggest heist of the 2014 draft.