We didn't learn anything definitive about the future of the draft in New York City, but the feel of change was in the air Thursday night. From the feel of it, the draft will be on the move. Commissioner Roger Goodell was going to use this year's draft as a test to see how the draft works in May instead of April. Scheduling conflicts with Radio City Music Hall this year and in the future put the NFL in position to find alternatives.
Those alternatives could take the draft to either Chicago or Los Angeles in 2015. Or it could take the draft to two cities in a year and increase the number of draft days to four. If the ratings are good, a mid-May draft could stay. Goodell even said the league is exploring the idea of moving the combine later than where it is now in late February.
As far as the moves contained within the draft Thursday, here are the five things we learned in the first round.
1. Cleveland Browns general manager Ray Farmer tried to appease as many people as he could: Farmer, in his first year as a general manager, knew head coach Mike Pettine wanted cornerback Justin Gilbert. He knew owner Jim Haslam would love to have the excitement of Johnny Manziel. He also had to find a way to satisfy himself with personnel moves.
The Browns were the movers and shakers by making three trades and getting Gilbert and Manziel. The sacrifice was giving up one of the five or six elite players in the draft. Farmer would have loved to have added Sammy Watkins to an offense that has Josh Gordon, Jordan Cameron and Greg Little.
Instead, he moved down five picks and got first-round and fourth-round picks in 2015, and he satisfied the personnel office. Farmer traded a 2014 fifth-round pick to move up one spot to get Gilbert. Then he traded a 2014 third-rounder to move up four spots to acquire Manziel. Giving up a third-rounder in this draft could be costing them a starter, but all of a sudden, the Browns are interesting. That's a step forward.
2. The Buffalo Bills' front office made a bold audition for a future owner: To give away a first-round pick and fourth-round pick in 2015 is a huge gamble.
But the Bills have been 6-10 forever, and to get out of the rut, the Bills jumped to the No. 4 overall pick to grab Watkins. This is an audition for any potential new ownership. Giving Watkins and Mike Williams to the current Bills offense could get EJ Manuel over the top at quarterback. The Bills play a favorable schedule that could allow them to improve.
With the death of owner Ralph Wilson and no heir, the Bills apparently have enough quality bidders to get something done. Stories have been published that the Bills could be moving toward sales bids in about 90 days.
If this move works, the current administration could have job security. Like the move to sign Mario Williams a few years ago, the Bills went for it Thursday night.