The Philadelphia Eagles wanted Marcus Mariota, and coach Chip Kelly did everything he could to reunite with the University of Oregon quarterback.
He tried to move to No. 2, and when he couldn’t cut a deal with the Tennessee Titans, he called the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The team with the No. 1 overall pick turned him down, too.
You can’t always get what you want.
The Bucs drafted Jameis Winston, and the Titans took Mariota. The Eagles ended up with USC receiver Nelson Agholor at No. 20, with Kelly downplaying his interest in Mariota by saying the price was “too steep.”
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Winston becomes the fifth quarterback drafted by the Bucs, the first No. 1 overall choice they have used on a quarterback since Vinny Testaverde in 1987.
“Any time you get an opportunity to get a franchise quarterback, that we believe and are very confident is a franchise quarterback, it excites you,” Buccaneers general manager Jason Licht said. “He’s a champion. He’s a leader. He’s a winner. He’s got tremendous football character and tremendous intelligence and work ethic.”
The Titans gave Zach Mettenberger a vote of confidence after he started six games as a rookie last season, but Mariota gives the franchise a player to market and excite the fan base. General manager Ruston Webster said Tennessee has no plans to trade Mariota or Mettenberger.
“There were several teams trying [to trade for Mariota],” Webster said. “We just felt strongly it was the direction we needed to go.”
A crowd of 50,000 showed up in Draft Town at Grant Park across the street from the Auditorium Theatre, where 2,800 cheered … or booed every pick. But the top picks were conspicuously absent, leaving NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell with no one to congratulate on stage until the Jacksonville Jaguars selected Florida defensive end Dante Fowler Jr. No 3. It marked the first time since 1994 when the Cincinnati Bengals took Ohio State defensive lineman Dan Wilkinson that the first overall pick didn’t attend the draft.
“A lot of great guys have walked across that stage, and a lot of guys have been invited to this draft,” Fowler said, “so for me to be part of this and … for me to be the first defensive player to walk up on that stage, that’s something I dreamed about as a kid.”
But offense dominated the first round, with 17 offensive players selected. Ten of the first 15 selections were on the offensive side, including a pair of running backs.
Georgia running back Todd Gurley went to the St. Louis Rams at No. 10, and the San Diego Chargers traded up two spots to take Wisconsin running back Melvin Gordon at No. 15. The past two drafts saw no running backs selected in the first round.
It caused several top-rated defensive players to slide down the board. USC defensive tackle Leonard Williams, who some scouts rated the top prospect, slid to No. 6 and the New York Jets. Kentucky linebacker Bud Dupree went 22nd to Pittsburgh, and Missouri defensive end Shane Ray 23rd to Denver.
At least Ray, who was cited for marijuana possession this week, found a new home. Nebraska defensive end Randy Gregory, who tested positive for marijuana at the combine, remains on the board heading into Day 2.
Texas defensive tackle Malcom Brown became the final player off the board, going to the New England Patriots. It started a new streak for the Longhorns, who didn’t have a player drafted last year for the first time since 1937.
Texas A&M continued its streak of first-rounders, with Cedric Ogbuehi becoming the Aggies’ third offensive tackle in three years to go in the first. Ogbuehi, an Allen product, went to the Cincinnati Bengals at No. 21. The Aggies have seen at least one player drafted in the first round for five consecutive years, with seven first-rounders overall in that span.
Today-Saturday, Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University, Chicago.
Rounds 2-3: 6 p.m. Today. Rounds 4-7, 11 a.m. Saturday. TV: NFL Network, ESPN/ESPN2