It's over. Sort of. Now we can begin the process of digesting just what went down in the first round of the 2015 NFL Draft. There were a few surprises, twists and turns, but the event got started as almost everyone had predicted: with the two top quarterbacks going off the board one-two.
Before we get to the players, let's start with three themes from the draft's first night.
1. Chip Kelly does not get his man
Based on reports, it sounded like Eagles head coach Chip Kelly tried just about everything imaginable to entice the Titans to give up the second overall pick. One report listed the Philly offer as two first-rounders, a third-rounder, defensive tackle Fletcher Cox, cornerback Brandon Boykin, linebacker Mychal Kendricks and more. That's a king's ransom, but in the end, Tennessee had no intention of moving out of the No. 2 spot. Instead, the Eagles stood by and watched as their apparent target went to another team, and they chose USC WR Nelson Agholor at 20.
Kelly downplayed the reports of the absurd trade offers they made to try to move up to grab Mariota, but you have to wonder what some of the players in Philly are thinking about their fearless (literally) leader right about now.
2. Two boring first-round trades
Many expected up to five or six trades in the first day of action, only two materialized. The Chargers leapfrogged the Texans so they could move up to get Wisconsin RB Melvin Gordon, and the Broncos gave the Lions Manny Ramirez and a fifth rounder so they could go up and grab Missouri passrusher Shane Ray. Turns out the craziest first-round trade this year was the one that Seattle and New Orleans put together a few months back, sending Jimmy Graham to Seattle for their first-round pick and Max Unger. The Saints grabbed Clemson linebacker Stephone Anthony with that pick.
3. Lack of top talent in the first round?
Part of the reason for a lack of movement on day one may have been because teams didn't view some of the players at the top of the draft worthy of the great cost it'd take to move up and get them. John Schneider mentioned that the Seahawks only had 16 or 17 players with first-round grades this year, and that's a sentiment that's been echoed by several teams. The back-end of the first round bore this out as well, as guys like Nelson Agholor, Phillip Dorsett, Shaq Thompson, Laken Tomlinson, Damarious Randall and Stephone Anthony all snuck into the first frame, somewhat surprisingly. As it stands, there are still some players that many had mocked in the first round still out there for the start of day two.
We're just getting started.
The 10 most interesting picks
Marcus Mariota is a Titan
Jameis Winston going to Tampa Bay was almost a forgone conclusion before Roger Goodell put the Buccaneers on the clock, so no one was surprised he was the first name called in Chicago. Marcus Mariota's name went off the board second, again, to no one's surprise, but ...
The fact that the Titans stood on their pick and chose Mariota was a slight upset. It had been widely speculated that Tennessee's apparent fondness for Mariota was a smokescreen, and that they would look to move out of that spot. But, like many things during the run-up to the draft, that turned out to be a little bit of savvy misinformation, and the Titans got their guy.
Mariota's selection has obvious and immediate implications for Tennessee. Zach Mettenberg's camp is already asking for a trade, and Mariota should be expected to start from day one. The Oregon playmaker could be the talent at quarterback that Tennessee has been missing.
The thing to watch here is how the Titans will fit Mariota into the Ken Whisenhunt offense. It had been imagined that the two wouldn't mesh, but as Whis pointed out, "He exhibits a lot of the qualities that successful quarterbacks have. He doesn't turn the ball over a lot, is accurate when he throws it, can extend the play. ... He has a lot of those things that those quarterbacks who have been successful in the league have."
In a division that was among the NFL's weakest in 2014, the addition of a potential franchise quarterback could pay huge dividends for Tennessee in short order.
Washington goes with Brandon Scherff over Leonard Williams
The next surprise of the night was seeing USC defensive tackle Leonard Williams fall. That left Washington's newly-appointed GM Scot McCloughan with a hell of a lot of good choices to go with. Maybe they believed it would be Williams at that spot, rated by some to be the best overall player in the draft, and McCloughan's first couple moves with the club -- signing Stephen Paea and Terrance Knighton -- pointed to a desire to get tougher on the defensive line.
However, McCloughan apparently believes in building from both trenches, taking the top rated offensive lineman on his board in Iowa's Brandon Scherff. The former personnel guru from San Francisco and Seattle knows the importance of getting nasty, road grading players to both clear lanes for running backs and protect the most important asset on the team. Washington plays in a tough division with three quality teams, and they have a long way to go. It can get immediately better with improved play out of Robert Griffin III, and adding Scherff to that line (probably at right tackle, book-ending with Trent Williams) doesn't hurt that goal.
The Jets take Williams and their defensive line is absurd
There were few that expected Leonard Williams to get to the fifth pick overall, so when he got to six, the Jets had to pounce. Even with Mo Wilkerson, Sheldon Richardson, and Damon Harrison already comprising one of the best defensive fronts in the game, the addition of the athletic and powerful Williams makes them a potential defensive juggernaut.
In a tough AFC East, where defensive lines are stacked, the Jets get stronger at one of their strongest spots. The things new head coach Todd Bowles will be able to do with his personnel up front (combined with his shiny new secondary) is going to be one of the things I'm most looking forward to studying once the season gets underway.
The Patriots are defending champs, but their offensive line now faces the unenviable spectre of facing Wilkerson-Richardson-Williams-Harrison in New York twice, Cameron Wake-Ndamukong Suh-Olivier Vernon in Miami twice and Mario Williams-Kyle Williams-Marcel Dareus-Jerry Hughes in Buffalo twice.
The Bears add a weapon to their offense in Kevin White
Chicago wasted no time in replacing Brandon Marshall by selecting potentially the highest-ceiling receiver in the class in West Virginia's Kevin White. White gives Jay Cutler another big red zone target to pair with Alshon Jeffrey. GM Ryan Pace called it "an easy pick." Chicago's one-two punch of Jeffrey and White both exemplify the type of receiver that excels catching passes from Cutler, who is less of an anticipation touch passer and more of a thrower that will toss it up for his receivers and trust them to win at the catch point.
SB Nation presents: Why did Chicago pick Kevin White?
The Falcons get their pass rusher
Atlanta's biggest need, by far, in this draft was securing a player or two that can get after the quarterback. They took care of that in a big way by landing Clemson's Vic Beasley, considered by some to be the nation's most explosive pass rusher. New Falcons head coach Dan Quinn is probably still smiling ear to ear wherever he is right now, thinking about how Beasley can come in and contribute in his defense on day one -- "affecting the quarterback" is the language that Quinn emphasizes for his defense, and Beasley's a good get that will do just that for him.
The Rams grab Gurley, up the ante in the NFC West
The speculation that Georgia running back Todd Gurley wouldn't make it out of the top-10 began earlier this week and ended up being true. St. Louis used the the 10th pick to grab their guy. Gurley will have to finish the rehab on his torn ACL and may miss the first month or so of the season, but when he returns, the Rams should have one of the most powerful and explosive backs to come out of the college ranks in the last five years.
Paired with 2014 third-rounder Tre Mason, who showed a lot of promise his rookie campaign, the rush offense could be pretty potent this season with some added depth on their offensive line. With new coordinator Frank Cignetti calling the shots, the Rams become a pretty intriguing team to watch early on this season -- a new OC, a new QB in Nick Foles, and eventually, a stud bellcow running back in Todd Gurley.
The Browns add to the trenches
Cleveland actually had a good first round, in my estimation. Both of their picks -- Washington's Danny Shelton, an obvious fit, and Florida State's Cameron Erving, a versatile lineman -- were logical and provide good value. I don't want to jinx this so I'm just going to say, good job, Browns.
The Dolphins bolster their receiving corps
Miami apparently wants to give Ryan Tannehill some weapons. After shipping Mike Wallace off to Minnesota for a fifth round pick, they acquired Kenny Stills from New Orleans, then signed tight end Cameron Jordan and receiver Greg Jennings, and now have drafted a big-time pass-catcher in Louisville's Devante Parker. Add 2014 second rounder Jarvis Landry to the mix and Miami is quietly accumulating some serious weaponry on their offense -- Stills is the deep, downfield threat, Jennings a savvy veteran route runner, Landry catches everything, Jordan stretches the field and Parker can go up and get it in the red zone.
The Lions build out their offensive line
After trading back with the Broncos and acquiring guard Manny Ramirez, the Lions went with another stout offensive lineman in Duke's Laken Tomlinson with the 28th pick. These two first-round moves give Detroit a pretty interesting offensive line that already featured guard Larry Warford, center Travis Swanson and tackles Riley Reiff and LaAdrian Waddle. Perhaps they're going to be looking to run the ball more in 2015?
The Colts add even more speed at receiver
Indy already has T.Y. Hilton, Donte Moncrief, and the newly signed Andre Johnson at receiver, but decided to go with Phillip Dorsett with the 29th overall pick. It's adding to a position of strength, and Dorsett can really take the top off a defense. Opposing coordinators are going to have a fun time designing schemes to limit this group of pass-catchers with Andrew Luck throwing the football.