NFL’s wild opening round could yield more surprises on Day 2
PHILADELPHIA — Defense was supposed to dominate in the first round of the NFL draft.
It did, eventually. It just took a while.
After the Browns took Texas A&M defensive end Myles Garrett with the No. 1 overall pick Thursday night, eight of the next 11 picks were offensive players in a surprising opening day. Overall, 19 of the 32 players were from the defense, which was closer to projections.
The first stunning move was the Bears trading with the 49ers to select North Carolina quarterback Mitchell Trubisky at No. 2.
“It was just pretty much silence,” Trubisky said. “That’s why I’m surprised to hear my name called because we didn’t have a lot of contact. I just think they … were impressed with me at the combine and my workout. But yeah, I haven’t had a whole lot of contact with them, so that makes it so much more exciting.”
Considering the wild nature of the opening round, Friday’s second and third rounds could feature more of the same.
Among the players still available are Florida State running back Dalvin Cook, Notre Dame quarterback DeShone Kizer, Alabama offensive lineman Cam Robinson, Oklahoma running back Joe Mixon, and UConn defensive back Obi Melifonwu. Cook was an All-American last season.
After taking Garrett, the Browns added Michigan’s Jabrill Peppers and tight end David Njoku as they look to improve off a horrendous 1-15 season. The Browns were the first team since Minnesota in 2013 to have three first-round picks.
The Chiefs and the Texans also got in on the bartering to get quarterbacks. Kansas City moved from 27 to 10 for Patrick Mahomes of Texas Tech. And Houston made a trade with the Browns and selected Deshaun Watson, who led Clemson to the national title last season.
“You’re trying to anticipate what’s going to happen,” Texans GM Rick Smith said. “The foundation for this move was laid earlier with Sashi (Brown, Cleveland’s VP of football operations).
“You’ve got all kinds of scenarios that you have to run to be prepared, because as much as you think you’re prepared when the draft starts, it’s such a fluid process that you’ve got to be able to react, and the only way to do that is to be in some respects prepared.”
The first run of defensive players started with Arizona taking Temple’s Haason Reddick at No. 13, which drew a big cheer from the huge crowd at Philadelphia’s Museum of Art — city officials estimated 100,000 attended the Draft Experience.
The Eagles went next and picked defensive end Derek Barnett. But it was what was going on around him that surprised Philadelphia’s Howie Roseman.
“We had a lot of scenarios, but we did not have any scenarios like what’s happened here,” the Eagles’ executive vice president of football operations said.
After not having any players selected in the top 15, Alabama ended up having the most taken in the first round: Baltimore took cornerback Marlon Humphrey at 16, Washington got defensive end Jonathan Allen at 17, Tampa Bay selected tight end O.J. Howard at 19, and San Francisco took linebacker Reuben Foster at 31.
One controversial pick was Ohio State cornerback Gareon Conley, who was drafted by Oakland at No. 24. Days before the draft, allegations emerged that Conley raped a woman in Cleveland. He called the accusations “completely false” and no charges have been filed. Conley was named in a police report that details the allegations but no information has been forwarded to prosecutors.
Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie sounded confident the situation will be resolved.
“The research was done,” McKenzie said. “It wasn’t just a gut (feeling). It was based on research. We are very confident in the information that we gathered.”
Earlier in the draft, the 49ers took Stanford defensive end Solomon Thomas at No. 3, and LSU running back Leonard Fournette went to Jacksonville at No. 4. The Titans rounded out the top five with Western Michigan wide receiver Corey Davis.
The New York Jets took LSU safety Jamal Adams at No. 6 for the third defensive pick in the top 10. He was followed by wide receiver Mike Williams as the first pick of the Los Angeles Chargers, then running back-kick returner Christian McCaffrey went to Carolina. Cincinnati surprised some by taking speedy wide receiver John Ross from Washington.
Kansas City, which was 12-4 and won the AFC West last season and has Alex Smith at quarterback, may have found his replacement in Mahomes.
It was only the third time in the common-draft era Kansas City selected a quarterback in the first round, and the first since Todd Blackledge failed to live up to expectations from the 1983 draft.
“Right now, Patrick isn’t absolutely ready to play. He’s got some work to do,” Chiefs coach Andy Reid said.
“But he’s coming into a great room, he has an opportunity to learn from Alex, which will be a great for him. We have to have some patience with him, but he has tremendous upside.”
Upside is what it’s all about on Day 1 of the draft.
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