The 2014 NFL Draft, which took place in May, was chock full of surprises, from unexpected trades to daring picks. While there were some unsurprising occurrences such as the Houston Texans selecting University of South Carolina linebacker Jadeveon Clowney with the first overall pick, plenty of the other selections did not go as many anticipated.

The Jacksonville Jaguars had the third overall pick, and many expected the quarterback-needy team to select the enigmatic Texas A&M play caller Johnny Manziel at the spot.  Instead of drafting the player that some analysts expected to go first overall, the Jaguars selected University of Central Florida quarterback Blake Bortles, turning many heads in the process. The pick shocked many; why would the Jaguars use such a high pick on a player that may have been around later in the draft?  Could they have not traded down from their spot, getting the player that they wanted in addition to more picks?

The Jaguars actually were open to trading the pick, but couldn’t work out a deal that they felt was fair. Instead, they took the player that management had fallen in love with, and was considered by many to be the most NFL-ready quarterback in the draft. That isn’t to say that Bortles will be starting for the Jaguars this year, as they seem content to start veteran Chad Henne in his place while Bortles develops his skills. This is a prudent path; they don’t want to rush him into the NFL and ruin his potential.

The Buffalo Bills made a huge splash at the draft when they traded a boatload of picks to the Cleveland Browns for the rights to draft no. 4 overall. Once the deal was made, many again felt that Manziel was destined to be selected. These people were once again disappointed, as Manziel was passed over again in favor of the highly skilled Sammy Watkins, a wide receiver out of Clemson University. While many agree that Watkins was the best receiver in this year’s draft class, the Bills better hope that the pick works out, as they ended up giving away the no. 9 overall pick this year, as well as their first and fourth round picks at next year’s draft for one player with large potential. The high price combined with the Bills cutting ties with Johnson to give Watkins the starting spot means that this pick could end up making or breaking the current management of the Bills a few years down the line. If Watkins is as good as advertised, then nobody will dare say that Buffalo overpaid for him. If he ends up being a bust or an injury risk, well, the Bills have endured worse over the years, though that will come as little comfort to their fans.

When DeSean Jackson was cut from the Philadelphia Eagles, many expected them to take one of the big-name receivers in the draft to replace his production. Though it seems like they tried, the Eagles were unable to make a trade for a high draft pick and settled for taking a defensive player, outside linebacker Marcus Smith, in the first round. In the second round, the Eagles finally found the receiver that they wanted in Vanderbilt University’s Jordan Matthews, and made a trade with the Tennessee Titans for the ability to select him. Matthews, the SEC’s all-time leader in career receptions and receiving yards, is already turning heads at Eagles training camp and seems destined to become the best receiver on the team, if you believe some analysts. This could end up being just what the Eagles required, as they needed a good receiver to replace Jackson, and didn’t use a high pick up on Matthews. If he turns out to be as good as advertised, he could end up being the steal of the draft.

A myriad of skilled players were selected in the 2014 NFL Draft and fans will soon see whether they blossom into superstars or fade into the shadows like some highly touted draftees.

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