Round 1 of the 2014 NFL Draft is in the books, with the second and third rounds set for Friday night. Before the focus shifts to Friday night, here are 10 takeaways from Thursday’s first round…
1. Vikings Grab Multiple 1st-Rounders for 3rd Consecutive Year
The main takeaway for Vikings fans is of course the fact that Rick Spielman yet again found a way to grab multiple first-round picks, selecting linebacker
2. Vikings Work With Familiar Faces to Consummate Draft-Day Trades
To maneuver their way into and around the first round, the Vikings worked with some familiar faces – Cleveland and Seattle. Sitting at No. 8, the Vikings moved back one spot with the Cleveland Browns in similar fashion to how they moved back one spot with the Browns in 2012 to select Kalil. Then at the end of the first round, the Vikings re-opened the infamous Minnesota-Seattle pipeline to move up to No. 32 in a trade with the reigning Super Bowl champions.
3. Passing Game’s a Premium in Today’s NFL
The NFL is a passing League. And the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft saw the Vikings get better in the passing game – both defensively and offensively. The selection of Barr gives the Vikings an athletic pass rusher who registered 41.5 tackles for loss (TFLs) and 23.5 sacks in just 27 games playing outside linebacker for UCLA. The selection of Bridgewater gives the Vikings a potential high-ceiling passer who in three seasons at Louisville threw for 9,817 yards with a 68.4% completion rate in three seasons, including a 31-4 touchdown-interception ratio last year and a 27-8 record in 35 games as a starter.
4. A Look Around the Division
The Vikings came away with two first-round picks on Thursday night, but they weren’t the only busy NFC North team. The other three division teams added good players, too. Sitting at No. 10, the Detroit Lions selected the draft’s top tight end – North Carolina’s Eric Ebron. Four spots later, the Bears bolstered their secondary with cornerback Kyle Fuller. Then at No. 21, the Packers upgraded their secondary, as well, with the selection of Alabama safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix.
5. Jacksonville Authors the Draft’s First Surprise
The first “Whoa!” moment came at the hands of the Jacksonville Jaguars, who had been tied for weeks to both linebacker Khalil Mack and receiver Sammy Watkins. But neither player had their named called when Jacksonville was on the clock. Instead, it was UCF’s Blake Bortles who became the first quarterback off the board, and the draft’s first big surprise.
6. Buffalo’s Bold Move
Vikings fans had to respect the move Buffalo made at No. 4. After Watkins fell past the top three picks, the Bills made an aggressive move to go up and get their man, coming up from No. 9 in a trade with Cleveland. The Vikings made a similarly aggressive move last year at the end of the first round when they traded up to get Patterson. Both Patterson and Watkins project to be All-Pro receivers someday, but while they develop into that role they will be game-changing receivers.
7. Johnny Manziel Goes to the AFC
As the draft progressed, Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel kept falling. Finally, the Cleveland Browns made a trade with the Philadelphia Eagles, jumping from No. 26 to No. 22 to grab perhaps this draft’s most enigmatic player. Whether you wanted the Vikings to select Bridgewater or not, you can be pleased he’s playing in the AFC and will only be on the Vikings schedule once every four seasons.
8. Offensive Tackles Fly Off the Board
With the NFL being a passing league, protecting the passer is of extreme importance. Two players intricately involved in protecting the quarterback are both the left tackle and right tackle. The Vikings are set at both spots with Kalil manning the left side and
9. Saints Make a Sneaky-Good Selection
Looking around the League at some of the best selections aside from Barr and Bridgewater, I have to give the New Orleans Saints credit for their selection of receiver Brandin Cooks at No. 20. He may not have been in every team’s Top 20 and he may be undersized, but he’s a great fit in Sean Payton’s offense and he could be a dangerous weapon for Drew Brees.
10. Many Talented Players Remain
The Vikings do not have a second-round pick on Friday, but they do have two third-rounders. The good news is there are plenty of talented players still on the board, and the Vikings should be able to grab at least two of them on Friday.