Monday, May 21, 2018
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

NFL draft notes: Top 5 picks, biggest slides, absences from Round 1

1. Kansas City: Eric Fisher, T, Central Mich.

The speculation was the Chiefs loved Texas A&M tackle Luke Joeckel. Turns out it was a passing fancy. Fisher, at 6 feet 7, 306 pounds, is considered more of a physical run-blocker than Joeckel. But most analysts had them rated as the top two players available. Fisher becomes the first player from the Mid-American Conference selected No. 1 overall.

Quotable: "This is so surreal. I can't process what's going on right now."

2. Jacksonville: Luke Joeckel, T, Texas A&M

The big issue is on which side Joeckel (6-6, 305) plays. The Jaguars have a left tackle in Eugene Monroe, the No. 8 overall pick in 2009. Joeckel hasn't played on the right since his junior year in high school. As a junior at A&M, he was an All-American, won the Outland (best interior lineman) and protected Heisman winner Johnny Manziel.

Quotable: "I understand playing right tackle. Eugene Monroe is a great player. I'm just trying to get on the field and help my team."

3. Miami (from Oakland): Dion Jordan, DE/LB, Oregon

The Dolphins, obviously, loved Jordan, moving up nine spots and giving up their second-round pick to get him. He is a bit of a hybrid and likely to play outside linebacker. He is considered a pass rush specialist. (He had 14½ sacks in 45 games with Oregon, but only five as a senior.) And questions remain about his versatility.

Quotable: "The trade, I wasn't expecting that. I'm surprised and very blessed."

4. Philadelphia: Lane Johnson, T, Oklahoma

Johnson was an offensive lineman for only two seasons after playing QB, tight end and defensive end for the Sooners. He's not considered as strong as Fisher and Joeckel but is very athletic and a great lead blocker. His selection is just the second time three offensive linemen were among the first four players drafted (1968: Ron Yary, Bob Johnson and Russ Washington).

Quotable: "Going to tackle was a weird experience because I had been a skill-position player my whole life."

5. Detroit: Ezekiel Ansah, DE, BYU

The native of Ghana is a relative newcomer to football, playing only since 2010. A big Senior Bowl (3½ tackles for loss, 11/2 sacks and a forced fumble) and impressive numbers at the scouting combine (including a 4.63 40-yard dash) elevated his stock. He recorded 62 tackles and 4½ sacks last season and is expected to join Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley on a star-studded Lions defensive front.

Quotable: "I know how dominant (Suh) is. I'll be very excited to be next to him."

NFC South

Panthers: With the No. 14 pick the Panthers selected Star Lotuleilei, a defensive tackle from Utah. At 6 feet 3 and 311 pounds, Lotuleilei doesn't bring a lot of heat on the quarterback, but he can occupy offensive linemen and free up linebackers to make plays. Running up the middle just got a little tougher for Doug Martin.

New Orleans: With the No. 15 pick the Saints selected safety Kenny Vaccaro (6-0, 214) from Texas. With a potent offense, it was no secret the Saints wanted to improve their defense in the draft, making little noise on that side of the ball in free agency. And pass defense was a priority in a division that serves up quarterbacks Cam Newton, Matt Ryan and Josh Freeman.

Falcons: They traded with the Rams and jumped up to the No. 22 pick and selected Washington cornerback Desmond Trufant (6-0, 190). Cornerback was considered Atlanta's biggest need position and Trufant should fill it nicely. Another important slot considering the passing talents in the NFC South.

Trading post

Thursday's deals:

No. 3 pick: Oakland traded its No. 3 pick for Miami's first- (No. 12) and second-round (No. 42) picks. Miami selected Oregon defensive end/linebacker Dion Jordan.

No. 8 pick: Buffalo traded first- (No. 8) and third-round (No. 71) picks for St. Louis' picks in first (No. 16), second (No. 46), third (No. 78) and seventh (No. 222) rounds. The Rams used the pick to select West Virginia receiver Tavon Austin.

No. 18 pick: Dallas traded its first-round pick (No. 18) for San Francisco's first- (No. 31) and third-round (No. 74) picks. The 49ers used the pick to select LSU safety Eric Reid.

No. 22 pick: St. Louis traded a first-round pick (No. 22) and a seventh-round pick in 2015 for Atlanta's first- (No. 30), third- (No. 92) and seventh-round (No. 198) picks. The Falcons used the pick to select Desmond Trufant, a corner from Washington.

No. 29 pick: New England traded its first pick (No. 29) for Minnesota's second- (No. 52), third- (No. 83), fourth- (No. 102) and seventh-round (No. 229) picks. The Vikings used the pick to take Tennessee receiver Cordarrelle Patterson.

Quick hits

• It was the first time four offensive linemen were taken among the first seven picks.

• T Justin Pugh (No. 19, Giants) was the first Syracuse offensive player taken in the first round since Donovan McNabb in 1999.

• It's the first time that D.J.'s (Fluker, No. 11, Chargers; Hayden, No. 12, Raiders) have been taken with consecutive picks.

Left out of the party

Among the notable names not called on Thursday night: West Virginia's Geno Smith (above), considered by many analysts the top quarterback in the draft; USC quarterback Matt Barkley; Alabama running back Eddie Lacy and Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o, who many believed would be taken by Chicago or Minnesota.

Moving up

Nobody made a bigger late charge up the charts than West Virginia receiver Tavon Austin. The Rams gave up three picks to jump into the top 10 — and just ahead of the Jets, who had the next pick and were believed to be very interested in Austin as well. At 5 feet 9, 174 pounds, Austin is small but very fast and hard to tackle. He is considered the top playmaker in this year's draft.

Biggest slides

Sharrif Floyd, DT, Florida: Nearly every mock draft had Floyd as the No. 3 pick to Oakland. But the Raiders traded the pick to Miami (which went with a linebacker), and Floyd tumbled to the Vikings at No. 23.

Matt Barkley, QB, USC: It wasn't so much that Barkley slid in this year's draft. It's that he was projected as the No. 2 quarterback in last year's draft (behind Robert Griffin III) but opted to return for his senior season and fell out of the first round.

Finally, a QB

When Buffalo took Florida State's EJ Manuel at No. 16, it was the latest the first quarterback was taken since Chad Pennington went No. 18 to the Jets (2000).

Gridiron of Dreams?

This week's draft at Radio City Music Hall is being used as the backdrop for a new Kevin Costner movie called Draft Day. Costner plays the general manager of the Browns. "It's a film about the day of the draft," actor Josh Pence told nfl.com. "It's about all the chaos that surrounds the GM on the day of the draft and a struggling team trying to piece together what he's going to do, who he's going to take No. 1." The film is scheduled to be released next year.

Other draft tidbits

• The 12 SEC players taken in the first round matched the first-round record of 12 by the ACC in 2006.

• No running back was taken in the first round for the first time since the 1963 draft.

• Center Travis Frederick of Wisconsin went to the Cowboys at No. 31, the latest the Big Ten has seen a player taken in the first round.

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