Jadeveon Clowney was selected by the Houston Texans with the No. 1 pick in the National Football League draft, while Johnny Manziel waited 2 1/2 hours before going 22nd overall to the Cleveland Browns.
Manziel, who won the 2012 Heisman Trophy at Texas A&M University, was the second of the Browns’ two first-round draft choices last night at New York’s Radio City Music Hall.
“I went into this saying I thought whatever team drafted me, whatever team fell in love with me would be the right situation,” Manziel, 21, said in a televised interview.
The first quarterback drafted was Central Florida’s Blake Bortles, who went third to the Jacksonville Jaguars, while the Minnesota Vikings capped the first round by taking University of Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater. The second and third rounds will be held tonight, followed by the draft’s final four rounds the next day.
Manziel was the third player from Texas A&M taken in the first round, after offensive tackle Jake Matthews and receiver Mike Evans went to the Atlanta Falcons and Tampa Bay Buccaneers with picks six and seven.
The New York Giants took Louisiana State receiver Odell Beckham with the 12th pick and the New York Jets made a defensive player their top selection for the sixth straight year, drafting Louisville safety Calvin Pryor at No. 18.
Pryor was among a record nine defensive backs taken in the opening round, the most of any position, after a season in which quarterbacks threw 804 touchdowns, the most in NFL history. Beckham was the third of five receivers drafted, while there were also five linebackers and five offensive linemen taken on the draft’s opening day.
“He brings a lot to the table for us,” Giants General Manager Jerry Reese said of Beckham, who had eight touchdown catches in 13 games for LSU last season. “He’s a dynamic receiver, dynamic punt returner and a dynamic kickoff returner. You are getting a guy that can score touchdowns in three different ways for you. There’s no way we would pass him up.”
Clowney became the eighth defensive end taken with the first overall pick, joining players such as Bruce Smith, Ed “Too Tall” Jones and Bubba Smith. Clowney, 21, totaled 24 sacks and nine forced fumbles in 36 games at the University of South Carolina.
The 6-foot-6, 266-pound Clowney entered college in 2011 as the No. 1-rated high school football player in the nation. He now joins the NFL as the first defensive end drafted No. 1 overall since the Texans took Mario Williams in 2006.
“He’s a rare talent,” Hall of Fame defensive lineman Warren Sapp, who’s now an NFL Network analyst, said of Clowney. “You don’t find a young man that big, that fast, that strong every day. He’s a once-every-15-years talent.”
Clowney shed tears and hugged family members before taking the stage and embracing NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell before receiving a Texans jersey with his name on the back. Clowney gives the Texans a potentially devastating pass-rushing duo, as two-time All Pro defensive end J.J. Watt has recorded 36 1/2 sacks over his first three NFL seasons.
A quarterback had been the first pick in the NFL draft in 10 of the previous 13 years.
Bortles, who threw 56 touchdowns and ran for 15 scores over three seasons at Central Florida, joined a Jaguars team that went 4-12 last season and finished with the fewest points in the NFL. He became the second player in school history to be drafted in the opening round, joining fellow quarterback Daunte Culpepper, who went 11th overall in 1999.
Auburn University tackle Greg Robinson was the second pick of the St. Louis Rams, one of five offensive linemen among the first 19 selections. Along with Evans at No. 6, the Tennessee Titans took Michigan’s Taylor Lewan with the 11th pick, the Dallas Cowboys opted for Notre Dame’s Zack Martin at No. 16 and the Miami Dolphins picked Ja’Wuan Jones 19th.
Sammy Watkins of Clemson was the first receiver drafted, going fourth to the Buffalo Bills, while the top linebacker was the University of Buffalo’s Khalil Mack to the Oakland Raiders one pick later. The other top 10 picks included Oklahoma State defensive back Justin Gilbert to the Browns, University of California-Los Angeles linebacker Anthony Barr to the Minnesota Vikings and North Carolina tight end Eric Ebron to the Detroit Lions.
The Browns, after passing on Manziel at No. 8 to take the draft’s first defensive back, made a trade with the Philadelphia Eagles to move up to the 22nd spot and select a quarterback who passed for 63 touchdowns and ran for another 30 in two seasons at Texas A&M.
Manziel, who was the first freshman Heisman Trophy winner and gained national exposure during his two college seasons for his on- and off-field performances, received a loud ovation as he walked onto the stage.
“I felt a lot of excitement in the building,” said the 5-foot-11 and 3/4-inch Manziel, who the NFL Network said is the first quarterback under 6-feet tall to be drafted in the first round since 1953. “I’m going to bring a lot of excitement wherever I go and I want to win, that’s the main thing. For me, it’s just go in, work really hard, try to establish myself and get better as a football player.”
Louisville matched Texas A&M for the most players selected in the opening round when the Vikings landed Bridgewater following a trade with the Super Bowl-champion Seahawks. Bridgewater threw 31 touchdowns last season against only four interceptions. It’s the third time in the past four years that at least three quarterbacks were drafted in the first round.
“I joked around with a bunch of guys that it’s amazing that two weeks can feel like two years,” Bridgewater said of the buildup to the draft. “This entire process has just been a great ride, and I’m glad that it’s finally over.”