defensive end

Defensive tackle Malcom Brown is the highlight of Texas’ NFL draft prospects. He might hear his name called in the first round Thursday night, and four other Longhorns could be taken.
Photo Credit: Jenna VonHofe | Daily Texan Staff

After seven rounds and 256 selections in the 2014 NFL draft, Texas had no names on the selection board.

But by the time Mr. Irrelevant — the name given to the last player drafted — was picked in the 2015 NFL draft, Texas had made its presence felt.

Five Longhorns, the most since 2010, were selected in this year’s draft, which was hosted in Chicago over the weekend. The Longhorns first got on the board Friday, when the New England Patriots drafted defensive end Malcom Brown No. 32 overall, and the team’s involvement ended when the Dallas Cowboys selecting tight end Geoff Swaim with the 29th pick of the seventh round.

“It was just a relief — the past four or five hours have been pretty intense,” said Swaim, who will be joining former Texas teammates Donald Hawkins and Chris Whaley, in a statement. “It’ll be cool to play with the guys that I’ve known and have a relationship with.”

Defensive backs Mykkele Thompson and Quandre Diggs were taken in the fifth and sixth rounds, respectively, of the NFL draft. The New York Giants selected Thompson with the eighth pick in the fifth round, while the Detroit Lions picked Diggs with the 24th pick of the sixth round.

“It’s great,” Diggs said of being drafted on the same day as Thompson, who is one of his closest friends. “Mykkele’s my brother; that’s my best friend. He’s one of the people who definitely pushed me.”

Another person who pushed Diggs was head coach Charlie Strong, whom Diggs developed a close relationship with in Strong’s inaugural season at Texas.

“He can cover and may not have top-end speed, but he makes up for it with his intelligence,” Strong said. “He plays within himself, studies receivers, studies splits [and] studies everything the offense does.”

The Philadelphia Eagles selected linebacker Jordan Hicks with the 20th pick in the third round.

“I’ve been talking to [Philadelphia] for a while, actually,” Hicks said in a statement. “I went on a pre-draft visit there and had a great time, felt really comfortable and enjoyed meeting with all the coaches and getting a feel for the place.”

Four other Longhorns found teams in the NFL after the draft ended. Once the draft is over, players have the chance to sign with teams as rookie free agents.

Wide receiver John Harris will be joining Hicks after signing a free agent deal with the Eagles, while long snapper Nate Boyer signed as a free agent with the Seattle Seahawks. The St. Louis Rams picked up running back Malcolm Brown, and defensive end Cedric Reed signed with the Buffalo Bills. 

“It was great,” Boyer said. “[Seahawks] coach [Pete] Carroll called me, actually. He called and said, ‘I want to invite you out to training camp,’ and he actually said, ‘I hope you accept my invitation.’ Obviously, ‘yes’ was the answer to that.”

Before playing at Texas, Boyer was a member of the Green Berets. He joined the team in 2012 with no prior football experience.

“The thing about Nate is he’s such a hard worker,” Strong said. “Any time someone represents your country, when you talk about courage, you talk about honor, that’s what it’s all about. I love him so much.”

By the end of the weekend, the Longhorns had nine players headed to the NFL — a distinct turnaround from last year.

Devon Still making an impact in the NFL

When Cincinnati Bengal’s defensive end Devon Still suffered injuries this past season, his chances of playing football were slim. And when Still heard the news about his daughter, he never anticipated playing football again.

In June 2014, Still’s daughter, Leah, was diagnosed with Neuroblastoma Stage 4 cancer. Neuroblastma, a pediatric cancer, is the most common childhood cancer with an average of 650 cases per year in the United States. Neuroblastma is a disease that develops from a neural crest in the sympathetic nervous system.

After cutting Still from the 53-man roster, the Bengals resigned him to the practice squad the next day and elected to donate sales of his jersey to the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center to fund research for pediatric cancer and to help families who are suffering from them.

With his mind on his daughter’s health, Still put his football career on the back burner. After Leah’s diagnosis, Still slept by her side in the hospital even after his recent back surgery, and, out of support for his daughter, shaved his head and will only grow back his hair when Leah grows hers back again.

“Football stopped crossing my mind,” Still said in an interview this season. “When I heard she had a 50 percent chance of survival, and then I heard the cancer went into her bones, I just wanted to spend all my time with her—in case her time ran out. You know, that is not time you could ever get back.”

Hearing the news about Still’s daughter, people around the country began buying his jersey to raise money and awareness for charity. This included ESPN sportscaster Scott Van Pelt who bought 50 jerseys and New Orleans Saint’s head coach Sean Payton who purchased 100.

The Bengals ended the fundraiser this past week after selling exactly 14, 945 jerseys and raising over $1.25 million. The money will be presented to the hospital on Nov. 6 at the end of the first quarter during the Bengal’s game against the Cleveland Browns.

Still has appeared in every game this season and has recorded nine total tackles. His playing time is expected to diminish since defensive end Brandon Thompson is close to returning to the team. Either way, Still’s impact for the Bengals and the city of Cincinnati has been nothing but sensational.

After recording 10 sacks last season, senior defensive end Cedric Reed has just 0.5 sacks in three games in 2014.

Photo Credit: Jonathan Garza | Daily Texan Staff

Before he’d even played a down in 2014, senior defensive end Cedric Reed was one of the hottest players in the country.

A consensus preseason All-American and one of the favorites to win the Ted Hendricks Award, given to the nation’s top defensive end, Reed was expected to break out of former teammate Jackson Jeffcoat’s shadow and lead a stout Longhorn defense this year.

Instead, just a month into the season, that narrative has taken a turn for the worse. Through three games, Reed has recorded just five solo tackles, 0.5 sacks and one tackle for loss — disappointing numbers from such a highly touted veteran.

The slow start has many questioning whether Reed, who had 10 sacks, 18.5 tackles for loss and five forced fumbles as a junior, deserved all the preseason hype.

Despite all the doubters on the outside, those within the Longhorn locker room are still confident in Reed’s ability to produce at an elite level.

“He has not been a disappointment,” head coach Charlie Strong said. “He’s playing well enough for us. I’m not getting caught up in the numbers.”

Senior corner back Quandre Diggs, who has been through three defensive coordinators with Reed at Texas, echoed Strong’s sentiment and stressed that the statistics don’t tell the whole story.

“The thing is, it’s not just sacks with him,” Diggs said. “He’s staying in his run gaps, taking care of responsibilities. I think a lot of people expect him to go out and have monster sacks, but he’s getting doubled and things like that.”

As the biggest threat along the defensive line, Reed has been getting extra attention from opposing offenses. Whether it’s a double team or an offensive lineman getting help from a tight end or running back, opponents are making it as tough as possible for Reed to get in the backfield.

“That’s how it is when you’re a big-time player at defensive end,” Diggs said. “They are going to double you, chip you and do anything they can do to get you away from the quarterback.”

Reed, a native of Cleveland, Texas, can take some comfort in that he didn’t get off to a flying start last year either.

Through the first seven games of 2013, Reed had just three sacks before bursting onto the scene and recording seven sacks and 11 tackles for loss over the final six games of his junior campaign.

“[Reed] still has nine games to play,” Strong said. “It’s still too early to evaluate what teams are doing to him. It’s all about everybody just picking up their play and playing better.”

Just a few games into his first season at the helm, it appears as though Strong is hoping to get a better read on his team in conference play.

He’s hoping to get a better Reed, too.

Wide receiver John Harris is one of several fifth-year seniors making an impact for the Longhorns this season. 

Photo Credit: Amy Zhang | Daily Texan Staff

In January 2010, the Longhorns received commitments from two of the nation’s top defensive prospects — now-senior linebacker Jordan Hicks and former Texas defensive end Jackson Jeffcoat — helping Texas secure a class that was supposed to bring championships.

But instead, the next four seasons brought disappointing results leading to eventual changes in the program. Now, Texas’ few remaining 2010 signees, entering their fifth season with the Longhorns, hope to use 2014 to alter the perception of their class and their legacies.

“All of us fifth-year guys, we want to finish this right,” senior wide receiver John Harris said. “[When] we came in here, it was a year they went to the National Championship a year before. And to come in the next year and go 5-7 was a little bit tough. There might have been a little complacency.”

Harris is one of Texas’ fifth-year players taking advantage of the opportunity to play for a new coaching regime. Harris made several big plays for the Longhorns in the Mack Brown era, but, after missing the last 10 games of 2011 with injuries, he struggled with consistent reps. In the first game under new head coach Charlie Strong, Harris hauled in seven receptions, marking a career night after only catching nine passes in his first three seasons.

“He’s done what he’s needed to do to prove to the coaching staff and to the team that he’s a great player and that he deserves to be out there,” Hicks said. “He’s proving that to the world right now.”

Hicks is also looking to put together a healthy senior season after missing 19 games in the past two years because of various injuries. In addition, fellow senior linebacker Demarco Cobbs missed 15 games, including all of 2013 to a knee injury. Both Hicks and Cobbs recorded the first interceptions of their careers in their return this past Saturday.

“We are rooming together, so we’ve talked about this first game all offseason,” Hicks said. ”It’s been over a year since he’s played in a game, and I haven’t played since last year, so we’ve worked together. We’ve poured our hearts out into this game, coming back and making sure when we do come back that we were going to be in top shape.”

With injuries already affecting Texas this season, the three fifth-year seniors will try to lead the Longhorns past adversity. It’s the last chance to redeem a class currently remembered for missed opportunities and losses.

”We haven’t gone to a really big BCS bowl game since we’ve been here,” Harris said. “So I think just to finish this year right and try to help Texas get back to a 10-win record or 11-win record would be great for us to leave out of here. We just want to help get back Texas where it needs to be, and we want to start that with Coach Strong.”

Next season the Dallas Cowboys all-time sack leader DeMarcus Ware will no longer have a star on the side of his helmet. Instead, Ware will wear a Bronco logo as the outside linebacker - defensive end hybrid will join Denver after Dallas failed to restructure his contract.

During his nine year tenure with the Cowboys Ware played in 141 games. In those 141 games, he recorded 444 tackles, 117 sacks and 32 forced fumbles.

While Ware’s presence will be missed, it was time for both parties to split.

Although owner Jerry Jones placed the Cowboys in a salary cap nightmare, Ware could have remained on the team if he was willing to take a pay cut. But that simply wasn’t the case.

But who can blame Ware- the Cowboys organization has finished the last three seasons at 8-8 and Jerry Jones hasn’t made the best moves to help his team. Leaving for Denver gives Ware the best opportunity to win a super bowl.

Even though Ware decided to leave, he said that it was an honor to play for the Cowboys

"I was honored to wear the Star alongside my former teammates and will always hold a special place in my heart for the Cowboys Nation and the Dallas community,” Ware tweeted.

As for Dallas, giving into Ware’s demand was risky- restructuring Ware’s contract could have run the Cowboys over the salary cap and Ware is coming off multiple surgeries.

During the 2013 offseason, Ware had surgeries on his shoulder and right elbow. In 2014, Ware once again had surgery on his right elbow.

Due to his multiple injuries, Ware has seen his production dwindle. Ware’s sack total dropped from 19.5 sacks in 2011 to 11.5 in 2012.

In 2013, Dallas’ new defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin changed from a 3-4 scheme to the 4-3, moving Ware to defensive end. This move combined with injuries to his back and elbow resulted in 2013 being one of Ware’s worst seasons, with only six sacks and 28 total tackles.

After Ware’s rough 2013 campaign, the Cowboys had every right to let go of him. Ware isn’t the same player he was in his prime.

Ware might make a comeback with the Broncos but it doesn't seem likely. He is in the twilight of his career and even if he doesn't want to admit it, joining the Broncos is his best opportunity to go out on top.

One day Ware will see his name in the Cowboys’ ring of honor, but for now he’ll chase a championship with the Denver Broncos.  

Junior forward Nneka Enemkpali has been the Longhorns' go-to player this season, averaginga team-high 13.1 points and 9.2 rebounds per game. 

Photo Credit: Shweta Gulati | Daily Texan Staff

Entering the round-robin series against Baylor last year, head coach Karen Aston knew hopes were lost. At 9-12, 2-8 Big 12, Aston’s squad held no chance against then-No. 1 Baylor (21-1, 11-0 Big 12) and Aston knew Baylor was “dominating on the defensive end.” The Bears soon swept Texas 75-48 and 67-47.

But Aston and Texas left their growing pains in the 2012-2013 season, entering this year with a plan to “own it,” play with heart and pursue their biggest conference threat: No. 9 Baylor.

“Nobody has beaten Baylor yet, so I think we’re still chasing them until someone beats them,” Aston said in an Oct. 16 season preview. “The league went through some hard times last year, and, obviously, Baylor was head and shoulders above everyone.”   

Much has changed since last season: Brittney Griner graduated, the Bears remember what a loss feels like, and Texas has remembered in recent games what it takes to win. The No. 7 Bears (13-3, 7-1 Big 12) still top the conference, but Texas no longer cushions the bottom.

Here are three keys for Texas to pull off an upset against Baylor:

 

1) Pass to Chassidy Fussell and Brady Sanders behind the arc.

Against Kansas on Tuesday night, the duo combined for seven 3-pointers on 80 and 75 percent shooting from behind the arc, respectively. Maximizing this hot streak with Nneka Enemkpali’s penetration will make the Longhorns much more difficult to defend.  

 

2) Send Nneka Enemkpali to crash the boards.

Enemkpali, a junior forward, is averaging 13.1 points and 9.2 rebounds. The Kansas game brought her sixth double-double of the season, and last week’s 15 points and 21 rebounds against No. 18 West Virginia earned her Big 12 Player of the Week this week. 

 

3) Control senior guard Odyssey Sims.

Without Griner, Sims controls the Bears’ offense. Sims is averaging 29.5 points and 4.6 rebounds through Big 12 play this season. When Sims is on, she pulls off overtime miracles such as the three-point play in the last four seconds of overtime against No. 8 Oklahoma State. But when she’s off — like she was in the 76-60 loss to Kansas — Baylor struggles as a whole. Restricting Sims to four of 19 in the second half after allowing her 20 points before halftime, Kansas pulled away. Coming off their first conference road game in the very gym that dealt the Bears their first conference loss should motivate the Longhorns.  

“[Sims] is the best point guard in the country,” Aston said after last year’s game. “It’s her ability to take over on both ends — she dominates on the defensive end.”

Texas has shown it’s capable of contending with conference foes and ranked opponents, such as Baylor. Now is the Longhorns’ chance to prove they’ve eliminated senseless errors and overcome their road struggles.

Photo Credit: Elisabeth Dillon | Daily Texan Staff

Four years ago, defensive end Jackson Jeffcoat came to Texas with a goal. That goal was to win a BCS game.

However, now his class is the only class in a decade at Texas to not be part of a BCS team. But this year Jeffcoat is playing better than he ever has, setting Texas and his defensive line up for that goal.

“I feel like maybe my senior year in high school I was playing this well, I was getting a little bit like that,” Jeffcoat said. “But nothing like this before.”

This season alone, the senior from Plano has 36 tackles, six sacks, an interception and a fumble recovery. He was named the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Week after his contribution against TCU and was also named one of 16 semifinalists for the Bednarik Award, honoring the nation’s best defensive player.

One of the biggest changes for Jeffcoat, which propelled him to the level he is at, is his concentration and focus.

“The plays are slowing down,” Jeffcoat said. “Everything slows down. That’s how when you play the game for a while, you start seeing things a lot faster, but the plays go a lot slower.”

Jeffcoat, who came to Texas for the family atmosphere, has helped the defensive line turn into the powerhouse it is. He helped foster the change that was needed after back-to-back losses against BYU and Ole Miss.

“I think our guys are comfortable now,” defensive end Cedric Reed said. “Everybody knows what they have to do. Everybody knows their assignments.  The defense is just clicking. It’s amazing actually. If we don’t get there, we know there’s going to be a pass breakup or something like that.  It’s a great feeling.  It’s great to watch.”

While Jeffcoat and the defense has turned the corner since they were outscored 84-44 in those two losses, Mack Brown thinks there is still room to improve if they want to detain a BCS title.

“Jackson Jeffcoat [and the others] are rushing the passer as good as anybody in the country,” Mack Brown said. “To hold a team like TCU to 40 yards rushing is a great compliment.  We can still get better.  We had some mess-ups Saturday night.  We got beat on the trick play.  We have some things we can continue to improve.”

The goal for Texas is to win out and capture the Big 12 title. To do that, its first goal is Kansas.

“It’s funny how things have changed [since the losses],” Jeffcoat said. “We’re still just as hungry.  This is a big game anyways because it’s a conference game. These are must-win games. We have to win it. We have to approach this game, be prepared, ready to go.  In this conference, you really don’t have bad teams.”

Former Longhorns wide receiver Marquise Goodwin runs after the catch during the Alamo Bowl against Oregon State. Goodwin was drafted to the Buffalo Bills over the weekend with the 78th pick. 

Photo Credit: Elisabeth Dillon | Daily Texan Staff

Three former Longhorns will boast new jerseys, new teams and new cities after being selected during the 2013 NFL Draft this past week.

Safety Kenny Vaccaro was selected in the first round of the draft as the 15th overall pick by the New Orleans Saints. Wide receiver Marquise Goodwin was picked 78th overall by the Buffalo Bills in the third round while defensive end Alex Okafor was chosen as the 103rd overall pick by the Arizona Cardinals.

First off the board for the Longhorns was Vaccaro, who had made it his goal to be the first safety chosen. Without waiting too long on Thursday at Radio City Music Hall, his wish was granted.

“This is just the beginning,” Vaccaro said. “Now I have to keep working hard to get to New Orleans and make an impact.”

Vaccaro was a strong prospect heading into the draft after leading the Longhorns in tackles in 2012. 

“I have been grinding my whole life, literally since I was four years old, for this opportunity,” Vaccaro said. “The Saints were my last visit, and I had a good feeling about it.”

Goodwin, well aware of the other talented players still up for grabs, didn’t pay much attention to the draft Friday night, during which he got the call from the Buffalo Bills.

“I was just sitting out there throwing the football with my brothers and sitting on the back of the truck talking,” Goodwin said. “I was like, ‘Dude, I don’t even think I’m going to go today. There are still receivers ranked ahead of me on the board.’ I got the call while I was on the back of the truck.”

Being chosen as a new member of an NFL team came after a whirlwind eight months for Goodwin, during which he competed at the Olympics in London and finished out his senior year of football, forgoing his last season of track to prepare for the draft. 

“[My time at Texas] really taught me patience and how to persevere through thick and thin,” Goodwin said. “I went off the board before guys that had a lot more catches and yards than I did. But I’ve got a wonderful opportunity in front of me, and I’m just going to make the most of it.”

For Goodwin, Buffalo comes with some familiar ties. Former Longhorn and current Buffalo Bills safety Aaron Williams is a close friend while men’s head track coach Bubba Thornton also played as a wide receiver for the Bills. 

Okafor said he couldn’t stop smiling after the call he received from the Arizona Cardinals.

“It’s just a blessing,” Okafor said. “No matter what team you go to, when you get that call on draft day you’re already in love with the team. Really, that is all you can ask for.”

Two other former Longhorns, defensive end Sam Acho and center Lyle Sendlein, are already on the Cardinals roster. 

For Okafor, who many analysts predicted would be chosen in the second round, the phone call that came upon his selection was a welcomed end to the waiting game.

“I expected to be called yesterday,” Okafor said on Saturday. “It was a long wait yesterday. But God has a plan for me. Today I couldn’t be any happier.”  

Alex Okafor chosen by Cardinals as 103rd overall pick

Alex Okafor is trading burnt orange for bright red. 

Okafor, a defensive end, was chosen by the Arizona Cardinals as the 103rd overall pick in the fourth round of the NFL Draft Saturday morning.

“Alex was so unselfish,” head coach Mack Brown said.  “He played anywhere we asked him to.  When we were short on the defensive line two years ago, at 260 pounds he played all year and never griped one bit. He became a great team leader.”

He follows a line of Longhorns picked by the Cardinals, including center Lyle Sendlein, defensive end Lance Wilson, offensive guard Leonard Davis and fellow defensive end Sam Acho, who was also the 103rd pick, in 2011. Acho and Sendlein are currently both on the Cardinals roster.

Okafor played four years for the Longhorns without redshirting, leading the team in sacks, quarterback pressures, forced fumbles and tackles for loss in his senior season. By the end of his collegiate career, Okafor had played in 52 games with 33 starts.  He was a two-time first team All-Big 12 choice and the 2012 Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year by CBSSports.com. 

A shining moment for Okafor came during the 2012 Alamo Bowl, during which he managed eight tackles and 4.5 sacks, effectively helping Texas set the Valero Alamo Bowl record for sacks. 

“I think his [best football] is ahead of him because he is going to get bigger and stronger,” Brown said.  “He has a lot of upside.”

NFL Draft Round One Live Blog

50 Cent and English rock band The Heavy welcomed viewers to ESPN's coverage of the first round of the NFL Draft with a take on The Heavy's "How You Like Me Now?," while some of the draft's top prospects interacted with props and screamed into microphones that may or may not have been plugged in. It was no Hank Williams Jr. introducing a Monday Night Football game, but it created a sense of excitement nonetheless. At least it did for me, I've missed 50 Cent since his random energy supplement drink commercials. Street King? Good to have you back, Curtis.

Moving on and down the draft order, it is also apparent that the type of person who attends the NFL Draft as a fan is the type of person who will boo at anything. As Roger Goodell began the countdown for Kansas City's No. 1 overall pick, fans were booing before a selection had even been made. That can only mean there will be at least a few times during the first 32 picks that Goodell, or whomever is at the podium at the time, is going to get booed aggressively when announcing a team's draft selection. So goes the atmoshpere inside Radio City Music Hall where the new NFL season unofficially starts for a number of passionate fans.

The Chiefs selected tackle Eric Fisher from Central Michigan with the No. 1 overall pick and it is expected Fisher will compete for immediate playing time on the Chiefs' line. Kansas City needs a lot of help and this is a great place to start. Even with little help last season Jamaal Charles ran for over 1,500 yards, and if Fisher can protect Alex Smith in the pocket the Chiefs will have an easier time moving the ball.

Jacksonville picked up Texas A&M's tackle Luke Joeckel with the No. 2 pick, bolstering their offensive line as well. One commonality of nearly every unsuccesful NFL team is an inept offensive line. If an offense isn't getting consistent protection and running lanes from its line, there are going to be issues scoring points and keeping opposing offenses off the field. Joeckel could have easily gone a pick higher at No. 1, but he gives the Jaguars a capable run blocker that can move his feet to keep the backfield clear. The Jaguars also have a long year ahead of them, but Joeckel will get a lot of snaps and continue to grow as a player as the team rebuilds.

The draft's first trade comes by way of Oakland and falls in the lap of the Dolphins. The 'Fins have a newly-minted logo and uniform and now they have a defensive end from Oregon in Dion Jordan. Jordan projects as an outside linebacker at the professional level, and although the Dolphins could have used an offensive lineman after Jake Long left through free agency for St. Louis, Jordan gives Miami a solid pass rusher. 

Lane Johnson, another big tackle out of Oklahoma, didn't fall past No. 4 as the Eagles scooped him up with their first pick. Johnson had his way with defensive lineman at Kilgore College before mauling defenders in Oklahoma's no-huddle offense. New Eagles head coach Chip Kelly made a living out of running his versatile offensive schemes behind guys like Johnson while coaching at Oregon, and Johnson projects to makes an immediate impact.

Biggest surprise so far? Barry Sanders! I know him! The newest man to grace the Madden videogame cover presented the No. 5 pick for the Detriot Lions. The Lions picked defensive end Ezekiel Ansah from BYU, another big and fast pass rusher with a lot of tools to help the Lions. Ansah has a lot to learn as he has only been playing football competitively for five years, but he will be among some of the league's nastiest defenders in Nick Fairley and Ndamukong Suh.

Another defensive end comes off the board as Cleveland takes LSU's Barkevious Mingo with the No. 6 pick. What a great name, I hope we are able to hear it every Sunday for years to come. Good luck in Cleveland, Bark. The winter up there is colder than Kanye West's latest diss.

North Carolina guard Jonathan Cooper goes No. 7 to Arizona. Again, it's tough to be competitive without a solid offensive line, so this is a good choice. It's generally pretty tough to bungle a Top-10 pick in the draft, but just see exhibit A-Z, the Oakland Raiders in years past.

Buffalo traded the No. 8 pick to St. Louis and the Rams chose the electrice Tavon Austin from West Virginia. Austin brings speed, speed and did I mention this guy is fast? Oh, and he once rushed for over 300 yards in a game at West Virginia. Yeah, I think Jeff Fisher can find somewhere to utilizee Austin's shiftiness on the field.

The No. 9 pick belonged to the New York Jets, who went with Alabama cornerback Dee Milliner. Milliner isn't the biggest or fastest corner, but he covers extremely well, something the Jets will miss about the newly departed Darrelle Revis.

The Titans rounded out the Top-10 by selecting Alabama guard Chance Warmack. Jake Locker was in need of some protection and Warmack fills that need. Lots of lineman off the board early as Warmack became the fifth lineman taken in this year's first 10 picks. 

Pass rush and pass protection have been two prominent themes so far in the first round. Teams have to get better immediately by shoring up their schemes down in the trenches. That's where games are won, and winning in the draft means realizing this and capitalizing on the the available talent.

Dallas swapped picks with San Francisco at No. 18 and the 49ers promptly selected safety Eric Reid out of LSU. Another solid piece added to the already potent Niners defense.

The Texans took wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins at No. 27, giving Andre Johnson a potential partner in crime at wideout in Houston. Hopkins draws comparisons to Anquan Boldin due to his sticky hands and ability to grab the ball at its highest point. If Hopkins is to be effective in the Houston offense, he will need to draw attention away from Johnson occasionally and make some big plays. Not every rookie can do that, but Hopkins certainly has a chance to be that guy in Houston. The Texans' next pick comes in the second round at No. 57.

At No. 29, Minnesota traded multiple picks in later rounds to New England in order to draft Tennessee wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson. The Vikings cleaned up in the first round after selecting Florida defensive tackle Shariff Floyd at No. 23 and Florida State cornerback Xavier Rhodes at No. 25.

Dallas took Wisconsin center Travis Frederick with its No. 31 pick. The Cowboys' next pick is No. 47 in the second round.

No running backs and only one quarterback, Florida State's E.J. Manuel at No. 16 to Buffalo were taken in the first round.