Without further ado, some knee jerk reactions to the top 10 picks in the NFL draft, hot off the press....
- Jadeveon Clowney, DE, Houston Texans
I believe this is the right choice for the Texans and am on record as saying so. Clowney will serve to bolster an already strong defense and make it close to impossible for teams to double team JJ Watt. The perfect team for Clowney as he will not be expected to be a savior. If he lives up to even 75% of expectations, the Texans will be thrilled. There was no QB in this class who was worth a #1 overall pick and they will have an opportunity to address that position in the 2nd round.
- Greg Robinson, OL, St. Louis Rams
The most predictable draft choice. The Rams are sorely lacking on the offensive line, committed to giving Sam Bradford another season at the helm, and showed little interest in the other elite prospects. Robinson was easily the most gifted offensive line prospect and will be an immediate plug and play option for Jeff Fisher. He should be a Pro Bowler for years to come and I'm sure Zac Stacy is happy with the selection.
- Blake Bortles, QB, Jacksonville Jaguars
We officially have our first surprise selection. I thought the Jaguars would have their fingers crossed that the Texans would pass on Clowney, and take Khalil Mack in the event that Clowney was off the board. Or considering Justin Blackmon's off the field issues, they would select Sammy Watkins. With Chad Henne as his main obstacle, it's eminently possible Bortles will be a Day 1 starter, which would be a mistake. For the Jaguars' sake, here's hoping Gus Bradley has the patience to bring Bortles along slowly. He has all the tools to be an NFL starter, but struggles dealing with pressure, has a very awkward throwing motion and will need a great deal of coaching to reach his ceiling. This is a boom or bust choice for Jacksonville.
- Sammy Watkins, WR, Buffalo Bills (acquired pick from Cleveland)
Now the shockers are coming fast and furious. Full disclosure, your author is a Bills fan and doesn't quite know what to make of this pick. While acquiring an elite WR is never a bad thing, I can't help but wonder if the Bills weren't better off staying put and taking an offensive lineman. This choice also calls Stevie Johnson's future into question, as the Bills suddenly have a crowded WR corps. Buffalo paid a heavy price to move up, sacrificing next year's 1st & 4th round choices. If EJ Manuel does not pan out, this leaves the Bills with little recourse to tab a new QB in next year's draft. The Bills have swung for the fences here and much like Jacksonville, jobs and legacies have been put on the line. This is the type of choice made by a team that feels they are one player away, and I'm not sure the Bills fit that category.
- Khalil Mack, LB, Oakland Raiders
The Raiders had to be the happiest team that Bortles went #3 to Jacksonville, as their choice would leave them with either Watkins or Mack. Mack was a no brainer choice for a Raiders team that is desperately seeking young, explosive talent. With old heads LaMarr Woodley and Justin Tuck on board, Mack can learn at their feet and may become the quarterback of the defense by season's end. He's been compared favorably with Von Miller and has far less character concerns than Miller does. Mack's the early front runner for Defensive Rookie Of The Year.
- Jake Matthews, OL, Atlanta Falcons
Atlanta was in the most advantageous position of the top 10, save for Houston. Their poor record last season stemmed from injuries, not lack of talent. They were a mortal lock to address either of their lines, as they could not protect Matt Ryan, nor pressure the opposing QB. This is a great choice, as Matthews has all the tools to step and immediately shore up a porous Falcons offensive line. A low risk, high reward player who will have a steady diet of pineapple (annual trips to Hawaii) for years to come.
- Mike Evans, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
A bit of a surprise, as I thought new coach Lovie Smith would opt for Aaron Donald to plug Tampa Bay's sieve of a defensive line. This suggests that Smith feels comfortable with either Glennon or McCown manning the QB position and felt the need to get them some weapons. With the Mike Williams trade, it's hard to argue that the Bucs didn't have a need at the position. Evans and Vincent Jackson can very well combine one of the best 1-2 punches at WR in the league, as teams will not be able to double team either one of them. Evans can use his size and strength to routinely beat single coverage and instantly provides a jolt to the Tampa Bay offense.
- Justin Gilbert, CB, Cleveland Browns
A bit of a reach by the Browns, as they were empowered by acquiring an extra pick from Buffalo. While a cornerback to play opposite Joe Haden was a need, I believe they were most interested in Mike Evans and may have panicked when he was taken the pick before theirs. Aaron Donald may make them regret this selection. Gilbert has admitted to coasting by on talent and has risen up draft boards due to the elongated process this year. Certainly a first round talent, but may have risen due to combine performance, which is always a risky aspect to put stock into.
- Anthony Barr, LB, Minnesota Vikings
A top notch selection for the Vikings, who need all the bodies they can get on the defensive side of the ball. Simply put, they could not stop anyone last season. Barr was the consensus #1 LB on draft boards all season until Mack charged up the list following the combines. He will be an immediate starter in Minnesota, and while he doesn't carry the hype of a Mack or Clowney, could end up being the best defensive player selected. A steady contributor who can play all 3 downs, the Vikings made the right call in tabbing Barr.
- Eric Ebron, TE, Detroit Lions
This choice will either make the Lions look like geniuses or idiots. Ebron's consensus fell all over the map, as some saw him as the next elite TE in the NFL and others saw a washout waiting to happen. I personally wouldn't have touched Ebron, as quality TEs are becoming easier and easier to find. Much like RB, they are not worth a high investment, and if you draft one this early, you'd better be sure he's the real deal. His work ethic has been challenged and he was not a consistent TD producer even on the college level. He should have ample opportunities with Calvin Johnson, Golden Tate and Reggie Bush to draw attention from defenses, so perhaps the Lions will not rue this decision.
Stay tuned for Part 2, coming soon, where we look at selections 11-21.