National Football League

NFL Draft: Pick-by-Pick Analysis

By Brandon Lawrence

New York, NY ( - As selections are made, we'll provide pick- by-pick analysis for the entire first round as it plays out Thursday night in New York.

1. Houston Texans - Jadeveon Clowney (DE, South Carolina)

Analysis: Shocking, right? Clowney is the best talent in the draft and immediately provides the Texans with a formidable pass rush. Having Clowney line up opposite J.J. Watt on the end of the defensive line is a terrifying thought for opponents, especially AFC South competition. The Texans have to keep pace with the Colts and Andrew Luck in the division, so adding Clowney to be a disrupter makes plenty of sense. We'll see if Houston decides to try and use him as a pass-rushing linebacker from time to time.

2. St. Louis Rams - Greg Robinson (OT, Auburn)

Analysis: The Rams desperately needed some help on the offensive line, and they immediately upgrade with Robinson, who will likely slide in at one of the tackle positions right away. Sam Bradford hasn't been able to stay consistent in his time with St. Louis, and part of that is because he gets knocked down and is rushed frequently.

3. Jacksonville Jaguars - Blake Bortles (QB, UCF)

Analysis: Here's the first surprise at No. 3. Teams had Bortles rated all over the draft board, but apparently Jacksonville thought highly of the former UCF signal caller to grab him over Sammy Watkins and Khalil Mack. The Jaguars look like they've found their franchise QB moving forward.

4. Buffalo Bills - Sammy Watkins (WR, Clemson)

Analysis: The Bills move up to get their guy. Watkins will be an incredible talent for the Bills, although there may be some questions with E.J. Manuel throwing him the football. Either way, Watkins will be an immediate weapon at the NFL level and can give the typically underwhelming Buffalo offense a shot of adrenaline.

5. Oakland Raiders - Khalil Mack (LB, Buffalo)

Analysis: This is a perfect example of drafting talent over need (granted the Raiders don't have much that is solid on their roster). Mack was by far the best available player, and Oakland could use a player that will be a game changer on the defensive side of the ball. The Raiders made a step in the right direction by not reaching for a quarterback or Texas A&M receiver Mike Evans, who they liked a lot coming into tonight. Mack is the best option, and Oakland should be thrilled he wound up at the fifth pick.

6. Atlanta Falcons - Jake Matthews (OT, Texas A&M)

Analysis: A very safe, very smart pick by the Falcons, who should be glad they didn't roll the dice on a wide receiver. Matt Ryan was knocked down and sacked too many times last season, so Matthews is a fantastic insurance pick. It helps he comes from a football family (he's the seventh player in the Matthews family to play in the NFL). Atlanta will be able to slide him right into the starting lineup on day one.

7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Mike Evans (WR, Texas A&M)

Analysis: The Bucs could have gone a number of different directions with this pick, but ultimately they select Evans, who will line up across from Vincent Jackson on the outside of the offense in Tampa Bay. With Josh McCown under center this upcoming season, it was important for the Bucs to snag another top-notch wide receiver. They can always address the quarterback position later in the draft with a handful of potential long-term solutions hopefully still available.

8. Cleveland Browns - Justin Gilbert (CB, Oklahoma State)

Analysis: A surprise pick here, while many thought Cleveland jumped ahead of Minnesota to grab Johnny Manziel. Instead the Browns go with a cornerback to line up opposite Joe Haden. Gilbert is an extremely talented defensive player, but could've gone later in the first. It's a solid cornerback duo, but with so many better players available, the pick makes little sense at the eighth position.

9. Minnesota Vikings - Anthony Barr (LB, UCLA)

Analysis: The Vikings needed a front-seven defensive stud, and they get him with Barr. A bit shocking with Aaron Donald on the board still, but Barr has plenty of upside. He can provide a pass-rushing presence for the Vikings, which they lost when Jared Allen left this offseason.

10. Detroit Lions - Eric Ebron (TE, North Carolina)

Analysis: Detroit really wanted to move up to snag Sammy Watkins to match along with Calvin Johnson, but with both Watkins and Mike Evans off the board in the Top 10, the Lions decided to upgrade the tight end position by grabbing Ebron. The UNC product is a much more athletic pass catcher than Brandon Pettigrew, and can develop with a strong-armed quarterback like Matt Stafford. Ebron should have no trouble adjusting to playing in Detroit.

11. Tennessee Titans - Taylor Lewan (OT, Michigan)

Analysis: The Titans are an example of another team that needs to fill multiple holes on the roster, but with the selection of Lewan the offensive line in Tennessee immediately gets better. If Jake Locker is the guy under center this upcoming season or if it's someone else, he will be better protected with Lewan and Michael Oher, who the Titans brought in this offseason. Now Tennessee needs a running back to utilize the strong and proficient offensive tackles.

12. New York Giants - Odell Beckham Jr. (WR, LSU)

Analysis: The Giants not picking for defense with this selection is a bit surprising, since they were in love with Aaron Donald entering the draft. But the loss of Hakeem Nicks this offseason must have made New York a bit uneasy, even though they went and picked up Mario Manningham (again) and will likely slide Reuben Randle into the other receiver spot. Beckham can stretch the field with his speed, and Eli Manning gets a vertical weapon.

13. St. Louis Rams - Aaron Donald (DT, Pittsburgh)

Analysis: St. Louis clearly wants to make a dent in the NFC West, and the Rams just made their defense much better by getting a defensive tackle that can break through the line and get to the quarterback with ease. Donald, paired with Robert Quinn, Chris Long and Michael Brockers, makes for a scary defensive line combo. Having to compete with the Seattle Seahawks and San Francisco 49ers (two of the better defenses in the NFL) was obviously on everyone's mind in the Rams' war room. Donald is dangerous, and now the Rams have a dangerous defense.

14. Chicago Bears - Kyle Fuller (CB, Virginia Tech)

Analysis: With the aging defensive backfield in Chicago, the Bears go ahead and get what many describe as the best cornerback prospect in the draft in Fuller. The Bears will be able to use Fuller right away, and he'll be able to learn from some of the best.

15. Pittsburgh Steelers - Ryan Shazier (LB, Ohio State)

Analysis: Pittsburgh goes and gets a freak athlete to play linebacker in Shazier, who helped his stock greatly at the NFL Combine. The Steelers could've used some more offensive line help, and with Zack Martin still available the selection is somewhat of a head-scratcher. But Shazier will be able to help a defense that's getting older, and will inject some speed, tenacity and skill into the lineup.

16. Dallas Cowboys - Zack Martin (OT, Notre Dame)

Analysis: What an atypical Jerry Jones pick. Instead of going with Johnny Manziel here, the Cowboys instead opt for the smarter move and get the best available player. Martin is an extremely promising player who can line up at any one of the offensive line positions. He'll be able to slide right in wherever he's needed to give an aging Tony Romo some protection, and be able to provide a solid wall for DeMarco Murray to run behind. It must have taken some serious restraint for Jones to make the less flashy yet smarter move.

17. Baltimore Ravens - C.J. Mosley (LB, Alabama)

Analysis: It looks like Baltimore has finally found it's Ray Lewis 2.0. Mosley got a lot of attention this offseason with his strong showing at the Combine and at individual pro days. He also was off the charts in the interviews he provided. Mosley is an extremely cerebral player that has a nose for the football. He was a vocal leader at Alabama, which the Ravens love. Mosley should be able to plug right in to the Ravens' system where he'll flourish.

18. New York Jets - Calvin Pryor (S, Louisville)

Analysis: The Jets select Pryor to sure up the defensive backfield in New York. They have to deal with the Patriots twice a season, and now with Sammy Watkins in the division and Mike Wallace down in Miami, the Jets clearly went for the pick that would help in terms of downfield coverage. Pryor, a free safety, possesses speed and an eye for the football. After nabbing Dee Milliner in the first round last year, New York will have a youthful and promising defensive backfield.

05/08 22:14:07 ET