Time to go to work.
After four months of everyone telling you how good you are, the transition of now proving how good you are begins. Yes, the contract still has to be signed and a residence found, but in a matter of 30 days for those drafted in the first round of this year's NFL Draft, expectations will be high, as now you have to prove your worth.
As always, it was an interesting process at Radio City Music Hall with limited drama and more logic than risk. The logic began early with with Jadeveon Clowney and Greg Robinson going #1 and #2 to the Houston Texans and St. Louis Rams, respectively. Blake Bortles at #3 was a surprise, but then again the Jacksonville Jaguars have serious quarterback developmental problems, so this was a need pick more than a move for the best available player.
Where the draft became interesting was when the Buffalo Bills moved up to take Sammy Watkins out of Clemson. As an organization, I doubt they will regret the move 365 days from now, as Watkins is about as sure as you can get (barring injury, of course). When you look at the Bills right now, and this is despite the trade earlier today of Stevie Johnson to the San Francisco 49ers, Watkins and Robert Woods make for a solid tandem at wide receiver. Add CJ Spiller at running back and EJ Manuel has a lot to work with. And all four are similar in age , that age being young . A #1 pick in 2015 is a lot to give up, but Watkins's ability to take a short pass and make it into a major gain is phenomenal. A good aggressive move by the Bills.
The next 3 picks (Khalil Mack to the Oakland Raiders , Jake Matthews to the Atlanta Falcons and Mike Evans to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers) were expected. But then how about the Cleveland Browns? Justin Gilbert at corner to work in tandem with Joe Haden, also a first-round pick, was a bit surprising, but getting Johnny Manziel buy trading up four spots with the Philadelphia Eagles was smart, Draft day football. So the Browns created a top cornerback and a new quarterback and will have two first-rounders in 2015 with the Bills' pick. Nice day of Draft strategy for Cleveland.
I think Manziel will do well in the NFL. Kyle Shanahan will be his offensive co-ordinator and personal coach and that is significant in that it was Shanahan who coached Robert Griffin III in Washington. Whatever developmental mistake he made, if any, in Washington, he will not make in Cleveland with Manziel.
The next seven picks had reason and thought about the until # 16 with the Dallas Cowboys. Now Zack Martin from Notre Dame will be a solid player, but Dallas allowed the third-most points in NFL history last year, so it did not make sense to draft a guard/tackle with their first. Yes, their center and last year's first-rounder, Travis Frederick, was outstanding last year, but there were glaring needs ignored. The Pittsburgh Steelers beat Dallas to the Ryan Shazier pick one spot before and he was a player who Dallas wanted, but Calvin Pryor and CJ Mosley went to the New York Jets and Baltimore Ravens with the next two picks! Both would be instant starters in Dallas. This one made no sense unless Zack Martin is a star very soon.
Another team that made a good move was the New Orleans Saints with Brandin Cooks. They traded up with the Carolina Panthers and took the player who most emulates Darren Sproles, who is now an Eagle. Sean Payton is a master designer of both physical football on offence and speed football the next series. Cooks is a speed element that, in the Mercedes Superdome, could be difficult to contain.
Pick #23 by the Kansas City Chiefs was pretty smart too. Dee Ford of Auburn fell off the evaluation radar completely as the Draft came closer to happening. He is a good speed rusher and now the Chiefs have three of them on their Roster. The Seattle Seahawks beat the Denver Bronco's because of the pass rush in this year's Super Bowl and the Chiefs took notice.
Maybe the biggest risk/reward draft pick was #29 by the New England Patriots. i don't know much about Dominique Easley, a defensive lineman out of Florida, other than that he has had two ACL surgeries. If you are unfortunate to have a third, it is tough to remain explosive as your main body part is wearing out. I am sure the Patriots investigated his health intensely, but it is a risk, especially when you consider Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez, that I am surprised they would take.
Finally, Mike Zimmer and his Minnesota Vikings had a good day. Anthony Barr at # 9 out of UCLA could be a star on the horizon and then trading up with Seattle to get Teddy Bridgewater was also smart. The fans at Radio City Music Hall gave Bridgewater a standing ovation for a quarterback who lives for his mother's heath and dropped hard after his pro day. It will be really interesting to see how he does and, if he does well, it will put into dispute the emphasis on physical skills versus football skills coming out of college. He is in a great situation as Mike Zimmer will improve the defence, Adrian Peterson will be Adrian Peterson and with Phil Loadholt at right tackle and Matt Kalil at left tackle, Teddy Bridgewater's in-pocket skills will be supported. Bridgewater's coach by position is Norv Turner, who is responsible for Troy Aikman's success and Alex Smith's best year in San Francisco. It's a nice place to be.
The first round is over in the NFL Draft and you know every team will say they got precisely what they wanted. We know that's not the truth, but with six more rounds to go, there still is optimism for all involved .