With all of the speculation that Texas A&M’s Luke Joeckel would be drafted first by Kansas City in the 2013 NFL Draft, the Chiefs pulled the first round’s initial surprise, shifted their thought process and went with the more athletic Eric Fisher, a 6-foot-7 offensive tackle out of Central Michigan.
It was a big night for Fisher and his fellow linemen as 17 of the 32 picks were either offensive or defensive linemen and, for the first time since 1963, a running back was not chosen in the first round. Fisher became the first non-quarterback to be taken with the first overall pick since Miami selected Jake Long in 2008. Ironically, Long, also an offensive tackle, played his high school football in Lapeer, Michigan, not far from Fisher, who is from Rochester.
Those same Dolphins, who watched Long sign with the St. Louis Rams this off-season, moved up to pick Oregon’s Dion Jordan, a speedy hybrid defensive end/outside linebacker who will improve Miami’s pass rush. The Dolphins owned five of the first 82 picks in this year’s draft and could afford to move up to get Jordan.
St. Louis also moved up to No. 8 to take West Virginia’s Tavon Austin. Most draft experts had the Rams taking Austin, who will become a go-to target for QB Sam Bradford. Austin, just 175 pounds, brings speed and athleticism to the slot receiver position as a replacement for Danny Amendola.
The biggest surprise of the first round came at pick No. 16. Buffalo had swapped first round picks with St. Louis, which allowed the Rams to guarantee getting Austin. The Bills then shocked everyone at Radio City Music Hall and NFL fans around the country by taking Florida State quarterback E.J. Manuel. Most pundits believed that if a QB was even selected in the first round it would have been Geno Smith of West Virginia or Matt Barkley of USC. Manuel has the tools, arm strength, mobility, and intelligence, but was not considered a first-rounder by any of the leading experts. Manuel’s selection marked the first time that Buffalo used their first draft pick on a QB.
Florida defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd was also a bit of a surprise falling to pick No. 23. Floyd, now a Minnesota Viking, was thought to be a top five pick. Another minor surprise at the very end of Round One saw the Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens take Matt Elam, also of Florida, to replace veteran Ed Reed, now with Houston. Some believed that the Ravens might opt to replace veteran All-Pro LB Ray Lewis with Notre Dame’s Manti Te’O, however, Te’O’s off-field issues led to him having to wait until day two.
The draft continues with rounds two and three today beginning at 6:30 p.m. Several big names including Te’O, the “Honey Badger” LSU’s Tyrann Mathieu, and Alabama offensive lineman Barrett Jones still remain on the board.