Sure, the trio of behemoth offensive tackles went early, but then events grew strange. We were treated Thursday night to a series of twists and turns that left draft analysts folding up their nonsensical mocks and heading for the door.
Among the surprises:
»*QB EJ Manuel to the Buffalo Bills at No. 16*: Not only did coach Doug Marrone bypass West Virginia's Geno Smith, he also left his former Syracuse signal-caller, Ryan Nassib, at the altar in favor of Florida State's Manuel. In a down draft for quarterbacks, Manuel steadily rose up in the eyes of Mike Mayock and other draft experts, but raise your hand if you had him penciled in as the first -- and only -- passer taken in the first round. Didn't think so.
»*DT Sharrif Floyd to the Minnesota Vikings at No. 23*: It's no shock Minnesota grabbed this athletic interior lineman, whom Mike Mayock called the draft's "most explosive defensive tackle." The head-scratcher is Floyd tumbling this far down the order. Despite ill whispers from one scout, who called the Florida lineman a hype job, a flood of draft experts assured the world that Floyd would be gone in the top five. No dice.
Darlington: Drama-filled Round 1
»*TE Tyler Eifert to the Cincinnati Bengals at No. 21*: Confession: As a lifelong Cleveland Browns fan, a wave of panic shot through me as this pick flashed across the screen. Eifert is a massive, playmaking tight end who represents a nightmare for defenses. This is exactly the type of player Rob Chudzinski would have melted for in Cleveland, and now the Browns must deal with this guy twice a season. Pair Eifert with Jermaine Gresham, and the Bengals -- at times a sleep-inducing attack last season -- have become much more dynamic.
»*OL Justin Pugh to the New York Giants at No. 19*: With Eifert and Floyd still on board, the Giants made the most Giant-ish pick ever, selecting workmanlike Pugh out of Syracuse. Go back and watch the Senior Bowl tapes and listen to Mayock croon over Pugh's performance. The Giants adore his versatility, and New York stayed hyper-loyal to its draft board. Big Blue preaches "best player available" and doesn't give a lick about leaving mock drafts in the dust.
»*FS Eric Reid to the San Francisco 49ers at No. 18*: Gregg Rosenthal summed it up: Because it was the 49ers that traded a pile of picks to move up and grab Reid, we'll roll with their thinking. Had their neighbors across the Bay in Oakland done the same, NFL media types would have melted. General manager Trent Baalke and coach Jim Harbaugh simply have earned our trust.
»*CB D.J. Hayden to the Oakland Raiders at No. 12*: Speaking of the Raiders, somebody in Oakland has been listening to Greg Cosell's podcasts. The NFL Films senior producer was an early voice from the wilderness in hailing the Houston product as the draft's top corner. Mayock ultimately ranked him No. 1, too, but Hayden wasn't even on the grid at the outset of the pre-draft season. On the heels of a savvy trade with the Dolphins (in its own right, a stunning move by Miami), it's a comfort to see the Raiders still thinking differently. They're a weird bunch come draft day, and we like it that way.
NFL '13 DRAFT XTRA
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»*Center Travis Frederick to the Dallas Cowboys at No. 31*: Oh, Jerry Jones. How you toy with us, from age to age. The Frederick selection baffled Cowboys fans, but the Wisconsin center does fill a need. Plus: Frederick comes equipped with a flowing mountain-man's beard, possibly a factor in the Dallas war room.