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Linemen dominate early picks in NFL Draft

April 26, 2013 at 12:23 AM   |   Comments

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NEW YORK, April 26 (UPI) -- Offensive tackle Eric Fisher was the No. 1 player chosen Thursday in the NFL Draft, heading a group of linemen who dominated the early selections.

With professional football having become a pass-oriented, big-play game in the 21st century, the first seven players picked Thursday will spend their pro careers either protecting the quarterback or trying to put him on the ground.

Only one quarterback was chosen in the opening round of the draft and that turned out to be a shocker when Buffalo -- which had traded down to the No. 16 spot from the eighth position, picked E.J. Manuel of Florida State.

West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith was not chosen in the opening round, nor was Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o.

Te'o was expected to be a high draft choice as his season played out with the Fighting Irish in 2012, but he became mired in a controversy involving an elaborate Internet hoax that apparently hurt his standing among NFL teams. One pro scout was quoted prior to the draft as saying Te'o was simply not worth the trouble.

Fisher emerged during the days leading up to the draft as the player likely to be selected first by the Kansas City Chiefs. The mammoth 6-foot-7, 306 pound offensive tackle from Central Michigan will be called on to keep quarterback Alex Smith healthy.

The Chiefs obtained Smith from San Francisco in the off-season.

Fisher was the fourth offensive lineman to be selected No. 1 overall, and the first since Miami chose Jake Long in 2008.

Fisher was followed in the drafting order by offensive tackle Luke Joeckel of Texas A&M (by Jacksonville), defensive end Dion Jordan of Oregon (by Miami), offensive tackle Lane Johnson of Oklahoma (by Philadelphia), defensive end Ezekiel Ansah of Brigham Young (by Detroit), defensive end Barkevious Mingo of LSU (by Cleveland) and offensive guard Jonathan Cooper of North Carolina (by Arizona).

Miami moved up from the 12th to the third position in a trade with Oakland to make the surprising pick of Jordan.

St. Louis pulled off a trade to obtain the eighth pick from Buffalo and used that selection to choose the first player other than an offensive or defensive lineman -- Tavon Austin, a mere 5-8, 175 pounds, who brings game-breaking speed to the receiving and kick returning positions. Austin spent his collegiate career with West Virginia.

Nine of the 14 offensive players chosen in the first round were linemen.

Twelve players from Southeastern Conference schools were selected in the opening round, including three in a row taken from the national champion Alabama Crimson Tide. Cornerback Dee Milliner went to the New York Jets, offensive guard Chance Warmack was taken by Tennessee and offensive tackle D.J. Fluker was picked by San Diego.

The second and third rounds of the draft will be held Friday with the final four rounds being conducted on Saturday.

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