CHICAGO — The Tampa Bay Buccaneers selected Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston with the first overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft on Thursday night at Auditorium Theater.
“It was very special,” Winston said of hearing his name called while surrounded by family and close friends in Alabama. “Like I said, I’ve got to be thankful, thankful for the (Buccaneers) for giving me this opportunity.”
Thick drama surrounded the second pick, with bountiful offers reportedly made to Tennessee. The Titans eschewed packages of picks and players from multiple teams, including Chip Kelly’s Philadelphia Eagles, to select Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota.
Drafting in the top 10 for the 14th time in the team’s 21-year history, the Jacksonville Jaguars used the third overall pick on Florida defensive end Dante Fowler Jr., who had 8.5 sacks in 2014.
“Somebody got to pinch me real soon,” said Fowler, who is from St. Petersburg, Fla. “I know they need a LEO (right defensive end). I told them I was their guy.”
Alabama wide receiver Amari Cooper was drafted fourth by the Oakland Raiders, leaving Southern California defensive tackle Leonard Williams on the board for the Redskins. However, Washington passed on the player many rated as the best in the draft to select Iowa offensive tackle Brandon Scherff.
Under first-year general manager Mike Maccagnan, who was with the Houston Texans when defensive end J.J. Watt dropped to No. 11 in 2011, the New York Jets chose Williams sixth, adding a third first-round pick to their three-man defensive line.
The hometown Chicago Bears stirred the crowd by selecting West Virginia wide receiver Kevin White at No. 7. Louisville’s DeVante Parker was the third receiver drafted. Parker went 14th to the Miami Dolphins.
The Atlanta Falcons — who had only 22 sacks in 2014 — welcomed Vic Beasley from Clemson eighth overall. Beasley led all linebackers in the 40-yard dash (4.53 seconds) and bench press (35 reps with 225 pounds) at the 2015 combine.
At No. 9, the New York Giants drafted Miami (Fla.) offensive tackle Ereck Flowers.
Georgia’s Todd Gurley (10th, St. Louis Rams) became the first running back selected in the first round in three years, an impressive feat considering he is five months removed from reconstructive knee surgery.
Wisconsin running back Melvin Gordon went five spots later to the San Diego Chargers, who traded up with the San Francisco 49ers.
Michigan State cornerback Trae Waynes (11th, Minnesota Vikings), Gordon’s best friend and high school teammate, stayed in the Midwest.
Cornerbacks Kevin Johnson of Wake Forest (16th, Houston Texans) and Marcus Peters of Washington (18th, Kansas City Chiefs) came off the board with Oregon’s massive defensive tackle Arik Armstead (49ers, 17th) in between.
Another injured former All-American, Texas A&M tackle Cedric Ogbuehi, went at No. 21 to the Cincinnati Bengals. Ogbuehi tore knee ligaments in a bowl game practice in December.
Turned away in his Mariota bid, Kelly and the Eagles finally made a pick at No. 20, wide receiver Nelson Agholor from Southern California.
Following Kentucky edge rusher Bud Dupree being announced by the Pittsburgh Steelers at No. 22, the second trade of the first round put Denver on the clock. The Broncos dealt with the Detroit Lions to pick up Missouri defensive end Shane Ray, who was arrested on suspicion of marijuana possession earlier this week.
In one of the night’s lighter moments, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell was lifted a foot off the stage when he was greeted at the podium by 339-pound Washington nose tackle Danny Shelton (12th, Cleveland Browns). Shelton can try the same with new teammate Cameron Erving (Florida State), who can play any spot on the offensive line. Erving was the Browns’ pick at No. 19.
The past two Heisman Trophy winners, Winston and Mariota could face off in their first NFL game, Week 1 of the 2015 season at Tampa.
“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 of Winston. “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 selections for the first round are listed below.
(Pick number, team, player, position, college): 1 Tampa Bay Buccaneers — Jameis Winston, quarterback, Florida State 2 Tennessee Titans — Marcus Mariota, quarterback, Oregon 3 Jacksonville Jaguars — Dante Fowler, Jr., defensive end, Florida 4 Oakland Raiders — Amari Cooper, wide receiver, Alabama 5 Washington Redskins — Brandon Scherff, offensive tackle, Iowa 6 New York Jets — Leonard Williams, defensive tackle, USC 7 Chicago Bears — Kevin White, wide receiver, West Virginia 8 Atlanta Falcons — Vic Beasley, defensive end, Clemson 9 New York Giants — Ereck Flowers, offensive tackle, Miami 10 St. Louis Rams — Todd Gurley, running back, Georgia;
11 Minnesota Vikings — Trae Waynes, cornerback, Michigan State 12 Cleveland Browns — Danny Shelton, defensive tackle, Washington 13 New Orleans Saints — Andrus Peat, offensive tackle, Stanford 14 Miami Dolphins — DeVante Parker, wide receiver, Louisville 15 San Diego (from San Francisco) — Melvin Gordon, running back, Wisconsin 16 Houston Texans — Kevin Johnson, cornerback, Wake Forest 17 San Francisco (from San Diego) — Arik Armstead, defensive end, Oregon 18 Kansas City Chiefs — Marcus Peters, cornerback, Washington 19 Cleveland Browns (from Buffalo) — Cameron Erving, center, Florida State 20 Philadelphia Eagles — Nelson Agholor, wide receiver, USC;
21 Cincinnati Bengals — Cedric Ogbuehi, offensive tackle, Texas A&M 22 Pittsburgh Steelers — Bud Dupree, linebacker, Kentucky 23 Denver Broncos (from Detroit) — Shane Ray, defensive end, Missouri 24 Arizona Cardinals — D.J. Humphries, offensive tackle, Florida 25 Carolina Panthers — Shaq Thompson, linebacker, Washington 26 Baltimore Ravens — Breshad Perriman, wide receiver, Central Florida 27 Dallas Cowboys — Byron Jones, cornerback, Dallas 28 Detroit Lions (from Denver) — Laken Tomlinson, guard, Duke 29 Indianapolis Colts — Phillip Dorsett, wide receiver, Miami 30 Green Bay Packers — Damarious Randall, safety, Arizona State 31 New Orleans Saints (from Seattle) — Stephone Anthony, linebacker, Clemson 32 New England Patriots — Malcolm Brown, defensive tackle, Texas,