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Opinion: Newly-drafted rookies could make early impact in NFL

South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney (7) pressures the quarterback during a game against Arkansas Oct. 12 at Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium. South Carolina won, 52-7. Credit: Courtesy of MCT

South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney (7) pressures the quarterback during a game against Arkansas Oct. 12 at Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium. South Carolina won, 52-7.
Credit: Courtesy of MCT

After many months of waiting, and countless torn up mock drafts, the 2014 NFL draft has come and gone. While professional draft analysts and the guy at your job may have figured the whole thing out months in advance, there are always surprises to be had come draft day.

South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney was pegged to be the No. 1 pick in the draft since his junior year and though the Houston Texans waited until the last minute to make their decision, Clowney did indeed go first. Clowney will be a huge addition to the Texans’ tenacious front seven, which already has J.J. Watt on the defensive line and Brian Cushing at inside linebacker.

Many have speculated that the Texans took so long to make their selection because they were seeking a lucrative trade offer. While there was a blockbuster trade in the top five, it would not go to Houston at one, but rather to the Cleveland Browns who had the fourth pick.

Cleveland traded its No. 4 pick to the Buffalo Bills, for their ninth pick in this year’s draft, as well as next year’s first and fourth round picks. After the death of their owner, the Bills are in a win-now mentality, and trading up gave them the highly coveted Clemson receiver Sammy Watkins. Watkins is perhaps the most explosive offensive player in this draft, and though the Bills paid a steep price for him, he may end up being the playmaker that quarterback E.J. Manuel needs to thrive in his second year.

The Browns were one of the top teams named as a potential suitor for Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel. However, the Browns shocked many of their fans when they selected Oklahoma State cornerback Justin Gilbert with the eighth pick. Gilbert provides the Browns with depth at cornerback as he lines up across from their star corner Joe Haden.

Following in the footsteps of Aaron Rodgers and Brady Quinn, Manziel made a hefty drop in the first before finally being selected by the Browns, who traded up four spots to the 22nd pick in the first to take the 2012 Heisman Trophy winner. Manziel will compete against Brian Hoyer to be the Browns starting quarterback, and he is likely to be the favorite for the job given his celebrity status.

Two spots after the Browns picked “Johnny Football,” the Cincinnati Bengals selected Michigan State cornerback Darqueze Dennard at 26. Dennard, who is 22 years old, will add youth to the Bengals aging secondary which features Leon Hall – 29 years old – and 35-year-old Terrence Newman.

Six Buckeyes were taken in the NFL draft, with two going in the first round. The first to go was linebacker Ryan Shazier, who was taken by the Pittsburgh Steelers at 15. The Steelers believed that Shazier’s sub-4.36 40-yard dash (unofficial) speed would outweigh any concerns that many scouts and draft experts had about his size.

The second Buckeye to be taken was cornerback Bradley Roby, who was drafted at the end of the first round by the Denver Broncos with the 31st pick. Roby’s athleticism is without question. What he will have to answer to is his off-the-field demeanor, and his coverage abilities at the next level. Roby’s poor performance covering Wisconsin’s Jared Abbrederis served as a red flag for the corner’s coverage ability. However, Denver appears to be interested more in Roby’s athletic ability than his defensive skill set.

Two Buckeyes were selected in the second round, the first was running back Carlos Hyde who was taken by the San Francisco 49ers. Many thought Hyde would be the top running back selected, but come draft day Hyde was drafted behind Washington’s Bishop Sankey and LSU’s Jeremy Hill. Though Hyde was valued for his north-south running ability, his lack of explosiveness may have been a red flag to some teams. Hyde is likely to be slotted as the number two running back depth chart behind veteran 49er halfback Frank Gore.

The next two former Buckeyes selected were from the offensive Line in Jack Mewhort, who was selected by the Indianapolis Colts two picks after Hyde, and Corey Linsley – picked in the fifth round by the Green Bay Packers. Coming off a season ending injury, safety Christian Bryant was selected by the St. Louis Rams in the 7th round.

Though Mewhort lined up as a tackle in his college days, his flexibility on the offensive line may lead the Colts to make him a guard. Linsley is likely to compete for the starting center job for the Packers.

Bryant may have been a higher pick if not for his ankle injury against Wisconsin. If Bryant can fully recover, he may be one of the steals of the seventh round.

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