At this time last year, the first four picks in the draft were set. For the 2013 NFL Draft, things are not so certain. In what could be the most calamitous draft in quite some time, there is mystery, intrigue and a whole lot of offensive linemen. Also, Tavon Austin will reportedly be drafted by 12 different teams.
These are the storylines I'm looking to follow closely throughout the draft process. Stay here for the first round and keep refreshing to get my thoughts throughout tonight.
11:38: It's true, Jeff Fisher doesn't hesitate to add players with character flaws. He proved as much with Janoris Jenkins last year. He proved it again by taking Georgia linebacker Alex Ogletree in the first round. Ogletree is a run and tackle linebacker. He can't get off blocks, but he can cover. How he'll fit with James Laurinaitis is a little hard to figure out.
11:32: The Vikings giving up four picks to trade back into the first round would have been dumb to get Manti Te'o. To get Cordarrelle Patterson is nice, but a gamble. If he busts, the Vikings really screwed themselves in the draft this year.
10:57: If the Vikings want to use their cornerbacks like the Seattle Seahawks do, Xavier Rhodes is a perfect fit. He excels in press coverage and has optimal size and athletic ability. If he can learn better off-man technique, he could quickly develop into a very good cornerback.
10:52: The Colts pick of Bjoern Werner is strange. Where does he play in a 3-4? He's not athletic enough to be a linebacker full-time and not quite big enough to be an end.
10:45: For the Vikings to get Sharrif Floyd 23rd overall has to be considered one of the bigger steals of the first round. Many considered Floyd to go in the top five to the Oakland Raiders. Then he dropped and dropped only for the Vikings to get the defensive tackle their aging defense needs.
10:30: And there you have it. If you consider Kyle Long of Oregon an offensive tackle, that's a new modern draft record. Long has the most potential of any player in the draft his year. Bar none. While I never thought he'd be a first-round pick, he had the potential to be one.
10:28: Following the pick of Justin Pugh by the New York Giants, If one more offensive tackle gets picked in the first round (Menelik Watson?), it will be a modern draft record.
10:08: And we have our first quarterback. And it's E.J. Manuel? To the Bills? That was actually the pick made by Brian Galliford of Buffalo Rumblings in the SB Nation writers mock draft. But he made it in the second round. Whoops! While it would have been better in the second round, it's a decent pick for the Bills. Manuel needs time to grow. He'll get to in Buffalo behind Kevin Kolb. There are a ton of if's with Manuel, but the tools are there.
10:01: Kenny Vaccaro for the Saints is somewhat unexpected. It really screws the Bengals. It also puts current Saints safety Roman Harper on the clock. Also, if the Bills don't take Geno Smith, get him out of the green room.
9:51: With Muhammad Wilkeron and Quinton Coples, the pick of Sheldon Richardson by the New York Jets is the most puzzling choice thus far in the first round. Where does he play? Further, the Jets had a chance to bolster one of the NFL's worst offense and decided not to. Strange choice.
9:31: My mock draft had Jonathan Cooper to the Chargers and D.J. Fluker to the Cardinals. That has to count for something, right?
9:18: I know the Jets are in salary cap trouble because of Mark Sanchez. But do you essentially trade Darrelle Revis and his contract for Dee Milliner? I don't. We're also officially on Geno Smith watch 2013.
9:09: As expected, the Rams moved up in the first round to draft Tavon Austin. I'm not as high on Austin as everyone else. He's small. I don't say that negatively because of injury. But his catch radius is so small, the Rams will have to creatively use him. St. Louis has also added Jake Long at left tackle. Now that he's in his fourth year, it's officially make or break time for Sam Bradford. For Buffalo, it's a smart move. Buddy Nix said he wanted to get more picks. Time to use them right.
9:03: The Cardinals selection of guard Jonathan Cooper isn't totally unexpected. I thought D.J. Fluker was a better pick because he can play right tackle. But Cardinals general manager Steve Keim likes his offensive tackles for some reason. Cooper is a stellar athlete and should start straight away for the Cardinals.
8:57: Browns take Barkevious Mingo. Fitting for a team with the Dawg Pound fans in the end zone. Lets hear your best Browns/Barkevious jokes. And by best, I mean worst.
8:50: With the top three left tackles off the board, taking Ziggy Ansah was an easy choice for the Lions. They coached him at the Senior Bowl and he excelled when lined up in the wide 9. With Ndamukong Suh, Nick Fairley and now Ansah, the Lions have one of the most disruptive front lines in the NFL. The question about Ansah is just how fast he can develop and be a factor in the NFL.
8:44: The Eagles go with Lane Johnson, as I anticipated in my mock draft. Johnson is a good fit if Chip Kelly wants to go with a fast-paced offense. But do you take the third-best player at his position with the fourth overall pick in the draft?
8:38: Oakland gets the 12th and 42nd pick from the Dolphins. That's average value. The Raiders desperately wanted to get back into the second round. The idea of Dion Jordan and Cameron Wake on the field together is intriguing. Will Jordan be able to stay healthy?
8:35: Nobody cares about the first two picks. The Dolphins trade up for the third pick. The expectation was Lane Johnson. Nope! Dion Jordan is the first surprise pick of the 2013 NFL Draft.
8:16: The Chiefs take Eric Fisher as expected first overall. Fisher's ascent to the top of the NFL Draft really began at the Senior Bowl. There he turned heads as an athletic left tackle with good functional strength. What I like about Fisher is his attitude. He excels at finishing off blocks and dominating at the point.
8:04: What channel is everyone on? Let me know in the comments. I'm on ESPN. Deion Sanders, Warren Sapp and Jamie Dukes are just too much for me on NFL Network.
8:02: The draft is here! The draft is here! And here's something sort of strange:
#Browns aren't expected to take West Virginia QB Geno Smith.— Mary Kay Cabot (@MaryKayCabot) April 25, 2013
7:53: This is something that's come up a few times over the past couple days about Tank Carradine, the Florida State pass rusher:
If Tank Carradine's name is not called tonight, many won't be surprised. There is concern about his knee, more so than has been reported.— Mike Garafolo (@MikeGarafolo) April 25, 2013
7:37: Adam Schefter reports that cornerback Dee Milliner isn't the only Alabama player to have some injury issues.
Not just Milliner. Teams have investigated Chance Warmack's rt shoulder, DJ Fluker's left shoulder, Eddie Lacy's toe, Jesse Williams' knee.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) April 25, 2013
Really, it's a pretty damning thing. The notion is that coach Nick Saban works his players so hard they get injured. Alabama will have a load of players in next year's draft – led by outside linebacker Adrian Hubbard and left tackle Cyrus Kouandjo – and it's something NFL teams will dig further on.
7:20: There is a considerable amount of buzz about the Oakland Raiders and cornerback D.J. Hayden. Obviously the Raiders would prefer to trade down and pick him, but he's in strong consideration for the third overall pick. The Browns have also been connected with quarterback Geno Smith more and more as the day has dragged along.
7:13 p.m.: Tennessee wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson wins the red carpet. You can't go wrong with a white tuxedo on the biggest night of your life. Also, he's wearing a belt and suspenders!