The new concept of the NFL draft being broken down into three days has opened up the opportunity to watch the first round one night and then have an extra night to analyze rounds 2 and 3. I believe, by setting up the draft in this format you see many teams panicking as the end of the first round comes near because of the break between rounds. This year, Baltimore missed their draft pick because they were in talks with the Chicago Bears to move out of that pick, but the trade did not get done and time ran out. In that case, Baltimore was forced to draft after Kansas City, who was supposed to draft right after them, and selected Jimmy Smith, CB, out of Colorado. The story of the first round for me was again what the New England Patriots were able to accomplish. Trading out of the 28th pick to acquire another 2nd round pick this year and a first round pick next year is just another great move by a team that keeps re-loading. That now gives New England three 2nd round picks tomorrow night and two first round picks already for next season for basically the rights to former Alabama RB Mark Ingram, who the Saints needed desperately for their packed but questionable backfield.
The Green Bay Packers ended the first round going very safe with an offensive lineman, pretty comparable to taking Bryan Bulaga, which they did in around the same position in the past. When you look ahead to the start of the second round tomorrow, there are some very intriguing story lines and players that inexplicably fell out of the Thursday night first round: Andy Dalton, Da'Quan Bowers, Brooks Reed and even Kyle Rudolph. Here is the order that will start the second round tomorrow night: New England, Buffalo, Cincinnati, Denver, Cleveland and Arizona. It is hard for me to see the Bills pick come and go and still see Andy Dalton still on the board. I just do not see Buffalo going with Ryan Fitzpatrick as their starting quarterback for another full season, especially if they do not draft a quarterback to at least put some pressure on him and get some experience if their season does not pan out. Many people thought that Da'Quan Bowers would end up going at the end of the first round, especially when the New York Jets were on the clock, but they instead went with DT out of Temple, Muhammad Wilkerson, whom is going to be a very dangerous weapon for Rex Ryan's defense in the many seasons to come. Bowers was originally being discussed around a month ago as possibly being a top 10 selection in this draft, but in the latest mock drafts from Mel Kiper Jr and Todd McShay, Bowers was completely left of the top half of the first round. When the draft started to get into the mid to late first round many people expected Bowers to already be gone, but with 12 defensive lineman going in the first round and Bowers still available for day two of the NFL draft, anything can happen.
The teams who became a lot more dangerous after just one round of drafting are the New Orleans Saints, Atlanta Falcons, New England Patriots [potentially] and the Cleveland Browns. Saints became more dangerous because of their acquisitions of Cameron Jordan DE and Mark Ingram RB; they did end up having to trade their second round pick and their first rounder for next year to acquire Ingram, but they are going to need help with their beat up backfield. The Falcons basically traded away four very formidable future picks for the right to draft Julio Jones, who will now line up next to hall of famer Tony Gonzalez and WR stud Roddy White. The questions about how much Atlanta had to give up to get Jones are without a doubt big ones, especially with the injuries Jones has had in the past. I think the Browns became more dangerous in the first round of the NFL draft by taking run stuffer Phil Taylor and receiving all of Atlanta's draft picks in the Julio Jones deal... in my opinion, Mike Holmgren knows what he is doing, just like you have to assume New England and Belichick do as well.
Here is a list of some of the names I expect to see come off the board pretty early starting in the second and third rounds tomorrow.
Da'Quan Bowers, DE, Clemson
Brooks Reed, DE, Arizona
Kyle Rudolph, TE, Notre Dame
Akeem Ayers, LB, UCLA
Marvin Austin, DT, North Carolina
Aaron Williams, CB, Texas
Ryan Williams, RB, Virginia Tech
Andy Dalton, QB, TCU
Ras-I Dowling, CB, Virginia
Randall Cobb, WR, Kentucky
Ryan Mallett, QB, Arkansas