NEW YORK — NFL teams bought in bulk early in Thursday night’s draft.
Unlike the last few glam-and-glitter years when bumper crops of quarterbacks reigned, this was pure brawn: more than 600 pounds at the outset with offensive tackles Eric Fisher of Central Michigan and Luke Joeckel of Texas A&M.
The first six picks were all linemen.
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 or 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.
Fisher and Joeckel each engulfed Roger Goodell in the now traditional bear hugs between draftee and commissioner. 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.
Even without a high-profile passer, runner or tackler going at the outset, the fans in the home of the Rockettes were pumped. They chanted “U-S-A, U-S-A” when Goodell paid tribute to the first responders at the Boston Marathon bombings and to the victims of the West, Texas explosion. They roared when Hall of Fame quarterback Joe Namath began the countdown to the first outdoor Super Bowl in a cold-weather site by taking the podium and screaming: “New York; Super Bowl 48.”
The crowd didn’t seem to care that early on, the picks were all heffers, not hoofers. No Andrew Lucks or RG3s at the top of this crop.
“What you’re getting is a very athletic player, a great kid, smart kid, engineering major,” Reid said of Fisher, who really began to draw attention with a strong Senior Bowl, showing he could handle the highest level of competition. “He can play any position along the line, and loves to play the game.”
Joeckel didn’t seem any less thrilled to go No. 2.
“I don’t have words for all the emotions I feel,” he said. “It’s the best feeling of my entire life.”
The Dolphins, envisioning Jordan as the next Jason Taylor, sent their first-rounder (12th overall) and this year’s second-rounder to Oakland.
The Philadelphia Eagles picked fourth, and went for Oklahoma tackle Lane Johnson. The procession of linemen continued with BYU defensive end Ziggy Ansah going to the Detroit Lions, LSU defensive end Barkevious Mingo going to the Cleveland Browns and North Carolina guard Jonathan Copper going to the Arizona Cardinals.
That made for more than a ton of beef after the first seven picks.