By Barry Wilner
The Associated Press
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 certainly 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.
Actually, 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.
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.
That made for a ton of beef after the first seven picks. In all, 18 linemen went in the first round, weighing an estimated 5,650 total pounds.
And they wore it well, with their designer suits that barely were ruffled when they each engulfed Roger Goodell in the now traditional bear hugs between draftee and commissioner.
“It’s called a three-piece, right?” asked Joeckel, who sported blue checks with the vested suit, along with a striped tie.
Fisher was only the third offensive tackle picked No. 1, joining Orlando Pace (1997) and Jake Long (2008) since the 1970 merger of the NFL and AFL. It’s also the first time since ‘70 that offensive tackles went 1-2.
Miami, envisioning Jordan as the next Jason Taylor, sent its first-rounder (12th overall) and this year’s second-rounder to Oakland. Then new Eagles coach Chip Kelly got a road-grader for his uptempo offense in Johnson.
“Tackle is not a very sexy position,” Johnson said. “But it’s a position of dire need.”
The next big trade saw the Rams move up eight spots — and send four picks to Buffalo to do so. St. Louis ended the pursuit of heft by grabbing West Virginia wide receiver Tavon Austin, who at 5-8, 174 pounds, could probably fit in the hip pocket of any of the guys picked ahead of him.
The New York Jets may have found a replacement for star cornerback Darrelle Revis — traded to Tampa Bay — when they picked Alabama All-American Dee Milliner. That was the first of three straight selections from two-time national champion Alabama: Tennessee took guard Chance Warmack and San Diego got offensive tackle D.J. Fluker.
Roll Tide, indeed.
Oakland used the pick it got from the Dolphins for Houston cornerback D.J. Hayden, who nearly died last November after a collision in practice tore a blood vessel off the back of his heart. He was taken to a hospital and underwent surgery.
Unlike with their choice of Milliner, which was met raucous cheers, the Jets next selection, defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson of Missouri, drew scattered boos and even a few “Who?” comments.
“I’m here to bring a championship back to New York,” Richardson said.
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