While Houston Texans fans were the first to find out who their team would select Thursday in the first round of the NFL Draft, the Cincinnati Bengals waited until the 24th pick before announcing the selection of Michigan State cornerback Darqueze Dennard.
Dennard stayed on an extra season with the Michigan State Spartans to not only collect a Big Ten Championship and a Rose Bowl win, but also his degree in communications. He was also honored with the Jim Thorpe Award which goes to the top defensive back in college football. He finished with 167 tackles, 10 interceptions, and one sack in his collegiate career.
His selection helps bring youth to an aging secondary and may help push former first round pick Dre Kirkpatrick to improve his game. The Bengals will look to bolster the lines on both sides of the ball as well as the secondary, and could possibly draft a quarterback in the later rounds if they like any of the options left. The quarterback position is solidified by Andy Dalton, but his failure to win in the playoffs has some looking for different options.
The Cleveland Browns were the only AFC North teams to add two players in the first round with Oklahoma State corner Justin Gilbert (8th overall) and Texas A&M problem child Johnny Manziel (22nd overall). The former Aggies QB was considered to be a possible number one, but the Texans opted to go with defensive end Jadeveon Clowney from South Carolina. The Jaguars also passed in the third spot going for local quarterback Blake Bortles from Central Florida.
The Pittsburgh Steelers used their first round pick on Ohio State linebacker Ryan Shazier for the 15th overall selection. The Ravens continued the defensive trend selecting C.J. Mosley, a linebacker from Alabama.
The Bengals will have some time before their next selection as they have pick number 55 or the 23rd selection in round two, which is set for 7:00 p.m. on Friday. Cincinnati and Pittsburgh each have eight more selections left while the Browns and Ravens each have seven.