NFL Draft: Clowney Goes First, Manziel Slips

NFL Draft:  Clowney Goes First, Manziel Slips

The first round of the NFL Draft is in the books. As expected, the Houston Texans selected defensive end Jadeveon Clowney out of the University of South Carolina with the first overall pick. The big storyline of the evening, however, was the freefall of former Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel who ended up going to the Cleveland Browns with the #22 selection.

The only real question surrounding the first overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft was whether or not the Houston Texans would keep it. They have a number of personnel needs to address and some speculated that the best way to facilitate that was to trade down and pick up a couple of serviceable players. Texans management repeatedly equivocated when asked but eventually decided to keep the first overall selection. That made their decision a ‘no brainer’–selecting Jadeveon Clowney who most analysts considered the most talented player in the draft. Clowney is physically a monster, 6’6″ 266 lbs, a 38″ vertical leap and faster than anyone should be at the size. The only rap on Clowney were nebulous questions about his ‘desire’ and ‘work ethic’ after a disappointing 2013 campaign at South Carolina but in reality that’s not a surprise for a player who looked ready to play in the NFL from the first time he stepped on to the field in college football.

While the first overall pick was essentially a foregone conclusion that wasn’t the case with the fate of Johnny Manziel. Pre-draft projections on where Manziel would go were all over the map–some projected that he would go as high as the third overall pick while his contrarians said that it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him fall out of the first round entirely. As it turned out, he wasn’t even the first quarterback selected–that was Central Florida quarterback Blake Bortles who went #3 to the Jacksonville Jaguars. That selection was a real slap in the face to Manziel–the speculation was that if the Jags took a quarterback he’d be their choice. Instead, Jacksonville went with a more prototypical, less hyped in-state product.

And thus the freefall began and things didn’t start happening for Manziel until the Dallas Cowboys passed on him with the #16 pick. At that point teams started looking to trade up to take Manziel. Eventually, that would be Cleveland who moved up to #22 to select Manziel by giving up the #26 pick and a third round selection.