What a first day at the NFL Draft. It started out with a bit of tension in the room.A big round of booing for the NFL Commissioner, Roger Goodell and a “We want football” chant. Which lets face it, we do.
Once the anger subsided, we got down to business. The number 1 overall pick was the Carolina Panthers choice of Heisman winner, Cam Newton of Auburn. Naturally.
Here’s a look at who went where for the boys of the Big 12.
Von Miller-Texas A&M-Denver Broncos
Miller was the 2nd overall pick. He was one of the favorites of the night. Very emotional. He was the only CFB player who had signed the lawsuit against the NFL and went out there with class and gave Goodell a huge hug and showed huge respect.
Miller was the Butkus Award winner as the nation’s top linebacker, and it seems like his game will translate very well to the next level. He is a great athlete that has prototypical size and very good instincts for the linebacker position. He is at his best as a pass rusher in a 3-4 defense, as he is explosive and strong with an arsenal of pass rushing moves. He may lack the size to consistently anchor against the run, but he flashes the ability to disengage from blockers and is an underrated run stopper.
Aldon Smith-Missouri-San Fransisco 49ers
Smith was the 7th overall pick to the 49ers, which was actually a huge surprise for me. I thought the 49ers might try to pick up a quarterback first.
Smith has a chance to turn into a disruptive starting NFL 4-3 end if he can improve his strength and tenacity and become more stout against the run. He’s got so much potential. He’s a fluid, natural pass rusher who overcomes lack of excellent get-off with terrific hand usage, elite lateral-mobility, very good closing speed, and a strong desire to get to the quarterback. Provides some value maintaining outside contain, pursuing from the backside, and making plays outside of the box, but could struggle a bit against the downhill running game.
Blaine Gabbert-Missouri-Jacksonville Jaguars
Gabbert was picked 10th overall. This wasn’t a surprising pick. I have never been a Gabbert fan, but maybe he can impress now at the next level.
Gabbert has it all physically, but has a long way to go before he’s ready to lead an NFL offense. He played in a spread offense and will have to learn to take snaps under center and make progressions in the pocket. However, he is a smart football player that seems to understand coverages and he has the arm strength to fit the ball into tight windows. He is also very mobile and elusive in the pocket and shows the ability to make plays with his feet.
Nate Solder-Colorado-New England Patriots
Solder was the 17th pick overall. Though, I am a Solder fan,I thought this an odd choice for the Pats, but Bill Belichik knows what he is doing.
Solder has the strength and athleticism needed to succeed on Sundays. Very sound in pass protection, not as susceptible to theÂ rush as you might think given his leaner build, just needs to continue to develop his game against complete pass rushers with a vast array of skills and moves. Very complete in the running game as well, firing off the ball, gaining leverage and moving his feet inline and in space. Understands assignments, locates his man at the second level or on the edge and recognizes and reacts to blitz packages.
Prince Amukamara-Nebraska-New York Giants
Prince was a great pick up for the Giants. The only reason I didn’t like the pick was because I wanted him in Dallas.
Amukamara has the size, speed and awareness to start from day one and turn into one of the league’s finer players at the cornerback position. Takes advantage of his instincts and smarts in zone coverage but also has the ability to hold up when asked to cover on an island. Possesses good overall ball skills and hands. Will help out and support the run. Durable, aggressive, competitive and hard-working. No major weaknesses in his game, but isn’t a true burner in terms of straight-line speed.
Phil Taylor-Baylor-Cleveland Browns
Taylor was the 21st overall pick to the Browns. Anytime a Baylor Bear gets drafted in the first round, is a good day in my book.
Taylor possesses the rare size and natural brute strength NFL front offices are looking for in a potential 3-4 nose tackle or two-gaper. Can anchor against the run, fight through double teams, uses his hands well, and doesn’t necessarily need to come off the field on third down with his adequate pass rushing ability and good feet.
Danny Watkins-Baylor-Philadelphia Eagles
This was my favorite pick of the night. Outstanding player, even better story. He will fit in great with Andy Reid and the Eagles.
Watkins is new to the game of football, but has the strength and athleticism to play at the next level. He does not have the arm length and first step explosion to play left tackle, however he projects to be a quality starting guard. He plays with terrific balance and has the foot quickness to hold in pass protection. Despite his limited football experience, he engages very well with his hands and maintains a strong position.
Jimmy Smith-Colorado-Baltimore Ravens
Smith was the 27th overall pick to Baltimore.
Corners with Smith’s size, speed and confidence in press coverage don’t grow on trees. He’ll likely serve as reserve/nickel early in his career but has the skill set to eventually become a starter. Very effective playing man coverage close to the line of scrimmage where he can use his size and length to disrupt timing patterns. Can recover after initial bump and compete for the football. Isn’t as comfortable in off-man or zone but could improve over time. Has the mentality and physical tools to be very productive in run support.