NEW YORK - A quarterback was selected in the top five picks of the first round of the NFL draft, but it was not Texas A&M's Johnny Manziel. The Jacksonville Jaguars made the surprise pick of the draft when they selected Central Florida quarterback Blake Bortles at No. 3 overall.
Manziel, the biggest name in the draft and the 2012 Heisman Trophy winner, took a long tumble. He was selected by the Browns after Cleveland made a trade with the Eagles for the 22d pick. Earlier, Manziel was passed over by the Dallas Cowboys, a franchise usually attracted to the kind of sizzle that Manziel creates.
The Jaguars instead went with Bortles, who has prototypical size at 6-foot-5 and 232 pounds, grew up two hours south of Jacksonville, and comes with a considerably lower profile than Manziel.
"I would have been surprised if I was the first or 10th [quarterback selected]," Bortles said. "I had no expectations coming into this thing. I was pumped to be here, be a part of this atmosphere, be in New York City. And when I heard my name called, of course I was surprised. I was ecstatic."
Jadeveon Clowney was the No. 1 overall pick by Houston. It was the first pick made by former Penn State coach Bill O'Brien, who still needs a quarterback to run his offense. But Clowney's talent was too enticing. At 6-5 and 266 pounds and with a 4.53-second time in the 40-yard dash, Clowney has rare ability - so much so that he stated his aspiration of reaching "the Hall of Fame one day."
"I'm sticking my neck out for you, so you need to stick your neck out for me," O'Brien told Clowney, according to Clowney.
"I'm ready," Clowney told his new coach. "I'm not going to let you down."
The Texans considered trading the top pick, although they reportedly required a significant haul. When Clowney heard the asking price, he had a good idea of where he would be living next year.
"Ain't no way somebody was going to give up their whole draft two years in a row, three years, for the No. 1 pick," Clowney said. "So I was like, 'I'm going to be a Houston Texan, hopefully.' "
Clowney was the first of three pass rushers taken in the first nine picks. Linebacker Khalil Mack went to the Oakland Raiders at No. 5, and the Minnesota Vikings selected Anthony Barr at No. 9. Eagles general manager Howie Roseman predicted that pass rushers would go early, and he was correct.
Three offensive tackles also went off the board early: The St. Louis Rams took Auburn's Greg Robinson at No. 2, the Atlanta Falcons tabbed Texas A&M's Jake Matthews at No. 6, and the Tennessee Titans added Michigan's Taylor Lewan at No. 11.
The Rams used the final pick remaining from the 2012 trade that netted Washington Robert Griffin III. The Cowboys added Notre Dame offensive lineman Zack Martin at No. 16. Martin was a tackle in college, but is believed to be able to play all five positions on the line.
After Bortles was selected at No. 3, the Buffalo Bills sacrificed the No. 9 overall pick along with first- and fourth-round picks in 2015 to ascend five spots and select Sammy Watkins in the Browns' spot at No. 4.
Roseman anticipated that 10 wide receivers would go in the first two rounds, and the run started early. Texas A&M's Mike Evans went at No. 7 to Tampa Bay, and the Giants picked Louisiana State's Odell Beckham Jr. at No. 12. Beckham was considered a target for the Eagles.
North Carolina tight end Eric Ebron went at No. 10 to the Detroit Lions, who did not fill their need at cornerback.
After Clowney and Bortles were selected, the biggest intrigue was when Manziel would be picked. The Browns, who needed a quarterback, passed twice while on the clock, trading out of the No. 4 spot, before finally grabbing him at No. 22.
Manziel said he thought being picked by the Eagles "could have been a possibility" because he knows coach Chip Kelly well. "Obviously, they had a very good quarterback last year in Nick Foles and he played very well. . . . At the same time, Coach Kelly and that organization ended up helping me and I ended up where I am at the end of the day because of them."