Linemen stand out in first day of NFL draft
NEW YORK – Short on glam, slim on glitter and no sign of Manti Te’o, the NFL draft was still a solid B-plus.
As in Big, as in Brawn, as in Bulk, as in Beefy.
We’re talking a scale-busting 600 pounds at the outset Thursday night with offensive tackles Eric Fisher of Central Michigan and Luke Joeckel of Texas A&M.
The first seven picks were all linemen: four on offense, three on defense.
“That’s a lot of love for the big boys up front, which we usually don’t get,” Fisher said.
None of the teams making the first 32 selections went for Te’o, not even Minnesota, which had three first-round picks. The All-America linebacker’s poor performance in Notre Dame’s loss to Alabama in the national championship game surely was a factor. Still to be determined is how much the fake girlfriend hoax cost him.
Unlike the last few years when bumper crops of quarterbacks reigned, this was pure muscle, and lots of it.
Not a single QB was selected until Florida State’s EJ Manuel went to Buffalo at No. 16 – the lowest since 2000, when Chad Pennington went 18th to the Jets.
No running backs were chosen, either. The last time that happened in the first round was 1963.
As for Te’o, he ran a 40-yard dash in 4.82 seconds at the NFL combine, slow for a linebacker. He improved at Notre Dame’s pro day, but not enough to go in the opening round. In January he acknowledged he was a victim of a hoax – it turned out the dead “girlfriend” he talked about last season wasn’t dead and never existed.
Fisher became the first Mid-American Conference player selected at the top when Kansas City’s new regime led by coach Andy Reid chose the 6-foot-7, 306-pound offensive tackle.
“This is so surreal,” Fisher said. “I’m ready to get to work right now. I’m ready to start playing some football. I can’t process what’s going on right now.”
Fisher was followed by All-American Joeckel going to Jacksonville, defensive end Dion Jordan of Oregon to Miami, which traded up with Oakland, and Oklahoma tackle Lane Johnson to Philadelphia. Not a skill position player yet in sight – a stark change from the last four drafts, when quarterbacks went first.
The procession of linemen continued with BYU defensive end Ziggy Ansah, born in Ghana, going to Detroit; LSU defensive end Barkevious Mingo to Cleveland; and North Carolina guard Jonathan Cooper to Arizona.
Atlanta’s choice of Washington cornerback Desmond Trufant gave the family three brothers in the league. His older siblings Marcus and Isaiah preceded him.
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