The first round of the NFL draft took place last night, and there were plenty of surprises mixed in with predictable picks.
At one and two there were no surprises as elite quarterbacks Andrew Luck was picked by the Indianapolis Colts and Robert Griffin III by the Washington Redskins.
Below that it got interesting. Here are the big stories and the big winners from the first rounds
Despite the hundreds of mock-drafts, no pundits saw the Cowboys trade from 14 to 6 coming. The Cowboys were due to pick at number 14 in the draft, but decided to go big and trade up to take a shot at an elite pick. They stuck a deal with the St Louis Rams at 6, who had already traded down from 2 before the draft, not fancying any of the 2-13 picks to suit their needs or salary structure. The Cowboys picked Morris Claiborne, a cornerback to help their defence, to add to Brandon Carr who they earlier signed from the Kansas City Chiefs. It will give greater balance to their side, removing an element of pressure from quarterback Tony Romo. Nobody saw this move coming, with Claiborne tipped to go to the Bucs before the draft.
The Dolphins got the man they wanted, the third most sought after quarterback Ryan Tannehill. It was not without a moment's panic though, the Dolphins picking at 8. When they learned the Rams were trading their number 6 pick downwards, there was big concern that a rival may be making a play to pip them to Tannehill. It turned out not to be, with the Cowboys taking number 6, and already happy with Romo. Tannehill will compete with QB Matt Moore, ending a long chase for a new quarterback which included a failed play for Peyton Manning.
The Cleveland Browns were inexplicably one of the quietest teams during Free Agency, despite the desperate need to boost their roster. They picked highly rated Running Back Trent Richardson with their third pick, and also secured the Bronco's 22nd pick to select quarterback Brandon Weeden. The Browns needed big moves to compete in such a tough AFC North division, featuring the Steelers, Ravens and Bengals- who picked up two cornerbacks, and they will hope this can lead to improvements next year.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Bucs had been expected to pick Morris Claiborne, so when he suddenly got snapped up by the Cowboys they had 10 minutes to re-adjust their plans, picking at 7. They did well out of it still, selecting safety Mark Barron, before taking the 31st pick of the draft to select running back Doug Martin, the second RB to be selected after Trent Richardson. The Bucs had a horrific season last time out, so these two first round picks will give them an early lift.
New England Patriots
The Patriots look to be going all out for another assault on the Superbowl. Last year's runners-up suffered through a poor defence, and have already set about improving. They traded up, picking quality over quantity, sacrificing lower round picks- a change from their usual draft tactic, to choose at 21 and 25. They picked defensive end Chandler Jones and inside line-backer Dont'a Hightower. He was also wanted by AFC rivals the Ravens, lower down at 27, who then decided to sacrifice their first round pick altogether, trading with divisional rivals the Bengals. In making the play, the Patriots have boosted two weak points in their defence, giving greater protection to star quarterback Tom Brady, and they will be the team to beat once again next year.
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