The year of the offensive lineman helped make a couple of beleaguered men big winners during the first round of the NFL draft. However, the assistance still may not be able to keep them employed in their current spots beyond this season.
Here's a look at some winners and losers from Thursday:
Philadelphia Eagles QB Michael Vick – Lane Johnson, who was part of the historic run on offensive tackles, won big by going No. 4 overall to Philadelphia. But his arrival combined with an apparently healthy Jason Peters, may give Vick the bookends to provide time to throw and stay healthy – unlike last season – making him the biggest winner.
New York Jets coach Rex Ryan – The maligned Jets coach is probably still a dead man walking this season, but at least he got two players for the defense, which is his baby. Dee Milliner was the top-rated cornerback in the draft and will now fill the spot vacated by the loss of Darrelle Revis. With defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson, Ryan got another young lineman to help a group that was in transition. If Ryan is going to save his job, his best shot is to do it with defense. Sure, the Jets would have liked to get wide receiver Tavon Austin, but this was a pretty good haul.
Offensive linemen – Eric Fisher and Luke Joeckel became the first pair of offensive tackles to go first and second overall. The addition of Johnson at No. 4 was the first time three had gone in the first four picks. Jonathan Cooper, Chance Warmack and D.J. Fluker made it six offensive linemen out of 11 to open the draft, and the New York Giants and Chicago Bears made it eight of the first 20 with Justin Pugh of Syracuse and Kyle Long of Oregon.
Teams trading up – Anybody who follows the old draft trade chart can probably throw that out after what happened. Miami started it off by jumping from No. 12 to No. 3 to get defensive end Dion Jordan, but only had to give up a second-round pick (No. 42) in the process. St. Louis went from No. 16 to No. 8 by essentially giving up only a second-round pick (No. 46); San Francisco gave up only a third-rounder (No. 74) to go from No. 31 to No. 18 to snag safety Eric Reid; and the Falcons gave up a third-rounder (No. 92) and sixth-rounder (No. 198) while receiving a 2015 seventh-rounder to move from No. 30 to No. 22. Cheap, cheap and cheap, but that's what happens in a market that's filled with a lot of decent-but-not great players.
E.J. Manuel – It wasn't stunning that Buffalo traded back from No. 8 to No. 16 and then took a quarterback, but it was shocking that Manuel was the guy the Bills selected. Buffalo did a great job of hiding its intentions as executives from different teams had them taking Geno Smith, Matt Barkley or Ryan Nassib right through the early part of Thursday. Manuel is extremely athletic and capable of running some of the option stuff that has become so popular the past two years, but he's also a relatively gifted passer.
Pittsburgh Steelers and Jarvis Jones – Unlike Dion Jordan, Ziggy Ansah and Barkevious Mingo, Jones doesn't necessarily look the part of a great athlete. He had a very bad private workout. But if you're talking about a guy who can play football, Jones is your man. He was dominant in the SEC, getting 28 sacks in the past two seasons. Jones almost singlehandedly beat Florida last season. Jones' acquisition should more than adequately fill the loss of James Harrison.
Minnesota Vikings – They picked up a third pick in the first round when they traded up with New England for the No. 29 overall pick. In the process, the Vikings did the best job of picking up what personnel people like to refer as "falling value" when they snagged defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd of Florida, cornerback Xavier Rhodes of Florida State and wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson of Tennessee. Floyd was considered a top-four pick by some, Floyd was projected as a mid-first-rounder and Patterson has big-time big-play ability with his rare combination of size and speed. All of them have a downside (Floyd has short arms for a lineman, Rhodes is considered inconsistent and Patterson's grasp of the playbook is a concern), but the potential is significant.
Eddie Lacy and fellow running backs – The NFL has been headed this way for years now, but it's still a shock that no running back was taken in the first round for the first time since 1973. Lacy of Alabama was considered the top prospect, but his poor 40-yard dash time and history of injuries dropped his stock. More than that, however, the NFL just doesn't highlight running backs anymore with the extensive use of spread offenses in the passing game.
Sharrif Floyd – As mentioned, Floyd fell all the way to No. 23, going well behind the likes of Richardson, Mingo, Jordan and Ansah. This is further proof that the draft is much more of a beauty contest than a measure of production. Floyd had a very good year with Florida, but many believe that his upside will be limited by his inability to get away from offensive linemen at the NFL level because he won't have leverage on them.
Any quarterback not named E.J. Manuel – The debate over Geno Smith, Matt Barkley, Ryan Nassib, Tyler Bray and Mike Glennon was answered resoundingly, as none of them went in the first round. Teams with quarterback needs didn't even think about trading back into the latter part of the first round to get one. If that doesn't tell you how little the league thought of these guys, nothing else will. All of them have interesting ability, but none are considered complete.
Manti Te'o – Despite the shouting of Mel Kiper Jr. and Mike Mayock, there was no place in the first round for Te'o, who was badly exposed in the BCS title game against Alabama and didn't work out well at the NFL scouting combine before a mediocre pro day. The bottom line is that Te'o was badly overrated during the season. Yeah, the whole fake girlfriend thing wasn't good, but this was more of a statement about talent … or lack of it.
[Related: Manti Te'o among best available for Day 2']
New England Patriots – Some people will say that they did a great job of picking up four picks for the No. 29 overall. The problem is that the Patriots really needed an impact wide receiver or an impact safety and passed on guys like Patterson and Matt Elam. Sure, value is important. But when Tom Brady is closing in on the end of his career, getting a couple of impact players who could have immediate impact would have been nice.
Teams trading down – Obviously, if it was cheap to trade up, there wasn't nearly enough profit in trading down. Aside from Patriots getting the aforementioned quartet of picks, the rest of the teams that traded in the first round (Buffalo, St. Louis, Oakland and Dallas) got very little return for what they had.
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