NEW YORK -- Sitting on set next to Jadeveon Clowney on Thursday night, moments before we were to go on live for "NFL Draft Xtra," a pretty weird feeling came through my sweat-soaked suit: This dude's life is about to change. I mean, Clowney had just been picked first overall and now he was sitting on our guerrilla-style set ready to go.
He was chill. And clearly ready to work. Call it armchair analysis, but it was hard to imagine this guy not being great. He has that air of confidence. He was the right balance of being as big as the moment without appearing to have BMOC syndrome. The Houston Texans got themselves a player.
That said, what were the other diamond studs obtained in the great college marketplace? Which teams blew it and which teams worry us? Below is off-the-cuff Radio City walk-off analysis of the winners and the worrisome picks for the 2014 NFL Draft. Take a gander below, and remember they are just "worrisome" -- not "busts." We need three years for that slap of judgment. As always, share your take or argument at @HarrisonNFL.
Best Pick (First Round)
Jake Matthews, offensive tackle, drafted sixth overall by the Atlanta Falcons. People might not get all fired up about picking an offensive tackle here, but, truthfully, they sure as heck should. This guy is ready to plug 'n play now. Matthews comes from a football family: His father is Hall of Famer Bruce Matthews, his cousins are Packers All-Pro Clay Matthews and Eagles defender Casey Matthews. But Jake is a solid player in his own right. He was dominant at Texas A&M and could have been picked anywhere in the top five. So at sixth overall, getting a player of this ilk was a bargain for general manager Thomas Dimitroff and company. I spoke with Matthews for NFL Draft Xtra and can tell you he's ready to go.
Best Pick (Day 2)
Marqise Lee, wide receiver, drafted 39th overall by the Jacksonville Jaguars. Jacksonville has been trying to solve its dire ... DIRE ... need for a playmaker on the outside since Jimmy Smith wrapped up his career eight years ago. Sure, Justin Blackmon looked great last season ... for two games. But who knows about his availability. Cecil Shorts has been solid. Yet, Lee gives coach Gus Bradley a player who can do it all -- a first-round talent found well after Day 1 closed up shop.
Favorite Pick (Day 3)
Michael Sam, defensive end, drafted 249th by the St. Louis Rams. I had predicted on Day 2 that the Cowboys or Rams would take Sam (although I thought it'd be Dallas). I knew it would be a 4-3 team that selected the former Missouri defensive end. This is good for the league and good for Sam, and, quite frankly, he earned it with his play. Journalistic impartiality or no impartiality, I am rooting for Sam and I'm not afraid to say it.
Other Picks I liked
Odell Beckham, wide receiver, drafted 12th overall by the New York Giants. So you probably saw the "elite" Eli Manning toss close to 30 picks last season. While there is some talent outside in New York, I've heard Rueben Randle's work ethic leaves a bit to be desired. Victor Cruz can't do it by himself, and with Rashad Jennings set to be the lead back, the Giants will be throwing the ball a lot in 2014. Beckham was arguably the premier vertical threat in this draft.
Deone Bucannon, safety, drafted 27th overall by the Arizona Cardinals. The Cardinals needed two spots on the defense -- pass rusher and safety -- and grabbed the latter without giving into first-round quarterback temptation. Bucannon compiled a total of more than 200 tackles and 10 interceptions during his last two seasons at Washington State. He strengthens an already impressive defense.
Jace Amaro, tight end, drafted 49th overall by the New York Jets. I don't think Amaro is going to catch 50 balls, but I do feel he will catch more than 40. Around six of those will be for touchdowns, as Geno Smith will like having a 6-foot-5 pass-catcher with 4.7-second speed running up the seam.
Morgan Moses, offensive tackle, drafted 66th overall by the Washington Redskins. Washington needed a right tackle in this draft, and found itself a player in the third round who some felt could sneak in the tailpipe of the first round. His attitude is awesome, and he's a player both of our draft gurus at NFL Media, Bucky Brooks and Daniel Jeremiah, believe in.
Ka'Deem Carey, running back, drafted 117th overall by the Chicago Bears. This guy rushed for 3,814 yards and scored 44 touchdowns in his last two seasons at Arizona. Matt Forte is fantastic, no doubt. He's also entering his seventh year, and with two years left on his contract (2014 and 2015), taking a flier on a running back who could've gone one round earlier makes sense. Bucky loves Carey as a prospect.
AJ McCarron, drafted 164th overall by the Cincinnati Bengals. Hand it to the Bengals, who've had some nice drafts in recent years (see below). Some league observers might consider McCarron a "bus driver" or "game manager," but he finished his Alabama career with a 36-4 record and 77-15 touchdown-to-interception ratio. Is he any less talented than Andy Dalton just because the latter went in the second round? Remember, Dalton was the fifth quarterback taken in the 2011 draft, and most teams would rather have the guy taken a single spot below him that year ... Colin Kaepernick.
Johnny Manziel, quarterback, drafted 22nd overall by the Cleveland Browns. Yep, so we didn't go in order. That's because Manziel Mania felt like its own deal at this whole 2014 draft thing. The energy at Radio City Music Hall ballooned when the Cowboys were on the clock with the 16th overall pick. You could have popped it with one of those fix-a-dent things Billy Mays used to push.
Let me just say this: Manziel gives the Browns hope. He'll ball out, give 100 percent all the time, and I can tell you, having met him on our Draft Xtra set, I didn't see his rampant immaturity oozing out.
Bortling Over? Blake Bortles going to Jacksonville lacked the buzz that one would anticipate from the third overall pick in the draft who also happened to be the first quarterback selected. The Jags' brass insists it plans to let the high draft pick sit and develop behind Chad Henne in 2014.
I interviewed Bortles on Thursday night, and he's both polished and well-spoken. He does leave something to be desired in his overall mobility. And while the Jags might intend not to start their young signal-caller just yet, it'll be interesting to see what happens if Henne struggles in the first half of next season.
Receiverless in Cleveland ... It might not be "Sleepless in Seattle," but the Browns' draft seems to be a hit in Cleveland. Sort of. The club did decide to pass on star receiver Sammy Watkins by trading the No. 4 overall pick to the Buffalo Bills, but it sure would have been nice to see the Browns grab a wideout with the 35th overall pick, instead of drafting offensive tackle Joel Bitonio. So who will be making plays if Josh Gordon receives a lengthy suspension ... Greg Little and Andrew Hawkins? Be good, Johnny.
Cincinnati Bengals: Once again, the Bengals knocked it out of the park. Darqueze Dennard (No. 24 overall) was expected by most analysts to go earlier, like to the Steelers at 15. With this pick, Cincinnati was able to combine need with perhaps the best player available. Second-round selection Jeremy Hill (No. 55) gives Marvin Lewis a thumper to team with running back Gio Bernard.
Will Clarke (No. 88) from West Virginia is a fit for the Bengals' 4-3 defense and could replace the departed Michael Johnson. Russell Bodine (No. 111) is a center, but he can play all three interior positions. And then the aforementioned McCarron ...
St. Louis Rams: If Aaron Donald (No. 13) pans out, which a lot of people think the "undersized" defensive tackle will, then you can officially anoint the Rams with the best front four in the NFL. Robert Quinn, Chris Long, Michael Brockers and Donald? Come on. And Donald wasn't even the club's first pick. Greg Robinson (No. 2) has the potential to be a dominant player.
Third-rounder Tre Mason (No. 75) out of Auburn showed people what he could do in the 2014 BCS National Championship Game, and, with Zac Stacy on board, he won't be expected to carry the load. The Rams also added two corners and two safeties, addressing the needs in their secondary. Nice draft.
And three more: The New Orleans Saints got faster by adding Brandin Cooks (No. 20), an explosive receiver who can play the slot and hit the home run on the outside for coach Sean Payton. Stanley Jean-Baptiste (No. 58) is a large cornerback who could match up with the big pass-catchers in Atlanta and Tampa Bay.
Meanwhile, the Buffalo Bills snagged Watkins -- the most dynamic receiver to enter the league since A.J. Green -- and addressed many of their other needs, especially if linebacker Preston Brown (No. 73) pans out alongside Kiko Alonso and Brandon Spikes.
Miami Dolphins: Can this end up being a wonderful draft for the Dolphins? Yea, sure. But the front office could've traded down in Round 1 and still might've had a very legit shot of picking Ja'Wuan James. Second-round pick Jarvis Landry (No. 63) can contribute right away, but running a 4.77-second 40-yard time (last among wideouts at the NFL Scouting Combine) and having the second-lowest vertical jump is a tad worrisome. He wasn't fully healthy at the combine, but his subpar performance in Indy and average speed (4.62-second 40-yard time at his pro day) qualify him as possession receiver. The thing is, Miami needs an explosive playmaker who can line up in the slot. Landry averaged just 13.2 yards per catch in his college career.
Third-round pick Billy Turner could move inside on the offensive line, but asking a small-school player to switch positions in the big leagues sounds more like a task for a fourth- or fifth-round guy on a club with this many holes -- not the 67th overall selection. At least he's done it before, which helps.
Kansas City Chiefs: Was Dee Ford (No. 23) insurance for not wanting to foot the bill for Tamba Hali's and Justin Houston's future price tags? Perhaps. Can he contribute in pass rush packages now? Sure. But the Chiefs have a major need at wide receiver (Marqise Lee anyone?) and could use a 3-4 defensive end (Ra'Shede Hagemen?). Picking 23rd overall might have been a tad pricey for tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins, but the position is another area the club could have addressed. Poor Alex Smith must have been watching the draft with a big bowl of cereal and a case of the maybe-next-years. I like Philip Gaines, but spending a third-round pick (No. 87) on a guy Mike Mayock deems "developmental" is interesting, especially considering the cornerback was Kansas City's second pick after Ford.
UndecidedThe Dallas Cowboys had a very interesting and somewhat conservative draft, selecting guys who can contribute right away like offensive lineman Zack Martin (No. 16) and defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence (No. 34). But only one safety, and in the seventh round? Really?
As far as the Browns are concerned, I like their decision to drop down (before moving up one) to pick Justin Gilbert (No. 8) and then taking Manziel where they wanted to take Manziel. But no receivers? Really?