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2014 NFL Draft: Five biggest surprises from first round


The first round of the 2014 NFL Draft is in the books, and it was yet again an exciting night in New York City for nearly every team. While we didn't exactly see the slew of trades we were bracing for -- just five were made -- it was still another exciting few hours at Radio City Music Hall.

Not everything went as predicted on Thursday so here are the top surprises from the first round.

Bortles first QB off board

Why it was a surprise: Blake Bortles appeared in the first round of every mock draft. Average position? 17th. The highest? Just the fifth overall pick to Oakland. The few folks who thought the Jaguars would opt to draft a quarterback all pointed at Johnny Manziel, and even fewer had Bortles as the first one taken. Instead, the local kid Bortles was the selection for the Jaguars, and he'll head to the franchise with a ton of pressure early on. His offensive line will be solid, but he won't have a ton of weapons to work with. That puts a lot on Bortles' plate despite the fact most think he isn't quite ready to start early as a rookie.

Bills go big for Watkins

Why it was a surprise: That somebody was trading up to get Watkins isn't all that shocking, but that it was the Bills turned a few heads. Things got more interesting when we learned what they gave up. To move up five spots the team gave up its first-rounder this year and next year plus a fourth-round pick in 2015. That's a huge price to pay, even if it is for a playmaker who some thought was the second- or third-best player in the draft. E.J. Manuel will be happy but the next front office staff (if the team ends up being sold) probably won't be too happy about this unless the team makes the playoffs.

Manziel slides to Cleveland

Why it was a surprise: There was no more interesting storyline heading into the draft than Johnny Manziel, and he certainly was front and center at Radio City Music Hall. We saw Jacksonville, Cleveland (at first), Oakland, Tampa Bay, Minnesota and Tennessee all pick other players, and excitement began to build that the Cowboys would be in position to grab him. Jerry Jones passed on the chance, and folks started to wonder if Manziel would even fall out of the first round. Then the Browns traded up to nab Manziel to set off a frenzy across the country.

Teams pass on Lee

Why it was a surprise: As a sophomore, Marqise Lee was the best wide receiver in college football and had teams wondering when he would eventually declare for the 2014 NFL Draft. As it turned out, those teams were not all that in love with him after he failed to land in the first round. Lee appeared on every mock draft heading into the day, but several wide receiver-needy clubs opted to go elsewhere. Some lucky team could get a second-round steal Friday.

Four sneak into first round

Why it was a surprise: There always seem to be a few prospects that wind up moving into the first round despite being considered second-day picks, and a quarterback (Teddy Bridgewater), two safeties (Jimmie Ward and Deone Bucannon) and an injured defensive tackle (Dominique Easley) took home those honors this year. Bridgewater had first-round talent, but there was a lot of doubt he'd go in Round 1. Everybody was thinking Houston would luck out with him at the top of the second round until Minnesota wisely made the move to get ahead of them and make Bridgewater's dream a reality. Bucannon was the likeliest of the four to go earlier than expected and lived up to the billing NFL Media analyst Curtis Conway gave him, as the Cardinals moved down the board to fill a big need in their secondary. The Patriots grabbed another Gator in the draft and might end up with a steal if Easley is healthy since he's got top 15 talent. Ward was perhaps the biggest surprise of the first round; most expected the team to either trade up or opt to pick a wide receiver.

Follow Bryan Fischer on Twitter @BryanDFischer.



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