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Five Things to Know about Round 1 of 2014 Draft

Posted May 9, 2014

Take a look back at five memorable moments from the opening night of the 2014 NFL Draft.


Before we can preview the next two rounds of the 2014 NFL Draft, let’s take a look back at five memorable moments from the opening night of the marquee offseason event.

1. San Francisco Addressed Major Need

When the 49ers selected Northern Illinois defensive back Jimmie Ward with the 30th pick, NFL Network’s Mike Mayock reacted by saying “Wow.” Meanwhile, ESPN analyst Jon Gruden immediately praised the pick, noting that Ward had the ability to play slot cornerback. To be fair to Mayock, the draft analyst said Ward was one of his favorite players in the draft, he just didn’t expect to see Ward taken in the first-round. After the initial surprise wore off, the 49ers brass explained why Ward was the pick. Ward can fill an immediate need at nickel cornerback and he can be groomed at safety. General manager Trent Baalke explained that the team’s third cornerback had played around 60 percent of the time over the past two seasons. With Carlos Rogers no longer with the 49ers, San Francisco wisely added a player to compete with veterans Eric Wright and Perrish Cox to play a significant role on defense.

2. Five trades, None for the Niners

Draft-day trade speculation was prevalent for the 49ers leading up to Thursday night. Baalke even told 49ers.com that the team had identified potential trade partners should a player be available in the middle of the first round. Those plans never materialized. Baalke said the team was intrigued by LSU wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr., but the price of doing business was far too great to move up to pick No. 12 where the young wideout was selected by the New York Giants. In total, five trades took place in the first round and none of them included San Francisco. Baalke said the 49ers considered moving out of the 30 slot, but ultimately felt Ward’s value was too great to pass up at that point of the draft.

3. NFC West Additions

The St. Louis Rams entered the draft as major players thanks to a 2012 trade with the Washington Redskins who gave up a hefty load of draft picks to take franchise quarterback Robert Griffin III. The Rams used their second first-round pick from the RGIII deal to take Auburn tackle Greg Robinson at No. 2. St. Louis followed the selection 11 spots later by drafting Pittsburgh defensive tackle Aaron Donald, who now joins three other first-round picks on the team’s defensive line. Elsewhere in the division, Arizona moved back seven spots in the first round and picked up a third-round pick from New Orleans to eventually select strong safety Deone Buchannon out of Washington State. The Seattle Seahawks elected to trade out of the first round so the Minnesota Vikings could draft Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater. Seattle, deprived of draft picks entering the night, picked up Minnesota’s second-round selection (40) and fourth-round pick (108) in the trade.

4. Still Extremely Crucial (SEC)

South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney was the Houston Texans’ No. 1 overall pick last night and was followed by 10 other members of the Southeastern Conference. The SEC’s 11 first-round draft picks were the most of any conference in round one and it wasn’t a surprise by any means. Since 2000, the SEC leads all conferences with 607 total draft choices. Clowney’s selection wasn’t a sure thing, but it didn’t earn the most entertaining storyline of the night. That went to Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel, the 22nd pick of the Cleveland Browns. When the Jacksonville Jaguars took UCF quarterback Blake Bortles at pick No. 3, Manziel’s draft slide was officially underway. Cameras in the green room were fixated on the 2012 Heisman Trophy winner. The on-air time ramped up especially when the Dallas Cowboys passed Manziel at pick 16 for Notre Dame tackle Zack Martin. Cleveland ultimately moved up from the 26th pick to draft Manziel and put the most entertaining storyline to bed. The SEC still figures to dominate the remaining six rounds of the draft.

5. Who’s Still Available?

Thirty-two draft picks are in the book and there are still 224 selections left to be made. The 49ers have 10 of those remaining picks, including five on day 2. So who’s left for San Francisco to immediately consider with picks No. 56 and 61 in the second round? According to Mayock’s top 100 pre-draft rankings, five players from the top 30 are still undrafted. The top prospects available according to Mayock’s top 100 are Fresno State quarterback Derek Carr (20), Alabama offensive tackle Cyrus Kouandjio (24), Washington running back Bishop Sankey (27), USC wide receiver Marqise Lee (28) and Nebraska cornerback Stanley Jean-Baptiste (30). Oh, and if you’re interested in who was ranked at spots 56 and 61, San Francisco’s next selections, Mayock listed a pair of outside linebackers: Kyle Van Noy of BYU and Stanford’s Trent Murphy.

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