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Bring on beef in draft, starting with OT Fisher

Friday - 4/26/2013, 3:13am  ET

Defensive end Barkevious Ming from Louisiana State holds up the team jersey after being selected sixth overall by the Cleveland Browns in the first round of the NFL football draft, Thursday, April 25, 2013 at Radio City Music Hall in New York. (AP Photo/Jason DeCrow)

BARRY WILNER
AP Pro Football Writer

NEW YORK (AP) -- Short on glam, slim on glitter and no sign of Manti Te'o, the NFL draft was still a solid B-plus.

As in Big, as in Brawn, as in Bulk, as in Beefy.

We're talking a scale-busting 600 pounds at the outset Thursday night with offensive tackles Eric Fisher of Central Michigan and Luke Joeckel of Texas A&M.

The first seven picks were all linemen: four on offense, three on defense.

"That's a lot of love for the big boys up front, which we usually don't get," Fisher said.

None of the teams making the first 32 selections went for Te'o, not even Minnesota, which had three first-round picks. The All-America linebacker's poor performance in Notre Dame's loss to Alabama in the national championship game surely was a factor. Still to be determined is how much the fake girlfriend hoax cost him.

Unlike the last few years when bumper crops of quarterbacks reigned, this was pure muscle, and lots of it.

Actually, not a single QB was selected until Florida State's EJ Manuel went to Buffalo at No. 16 -- the lowest since 2000, when Chad Pennington went 18th to the Jets.

No running backs were chosen, either, for the first time since 1963.

As for Te'o, he ran a 40-yard dash in 4.82 seconds at the NFL combine, slow for a linebacker. He improved at Notre Dame's pro day, but not nearly enough to go in the opening round. In January he acknowledged he was a victim of a hoax -- it turned out the dead "girlfriend" he talked about last season wasn't dead and never existed.

Fisher became the first Mid-American Conference player selected at the top when Kansas City's new regime led by coach Andy Reid chose the 6-foot-7, 306-pound offensive tackle.

"This is so surreal," Fisher said. "I'm ready to get to work right now. I'm ready to start playing some football. I can't process what's going on right now."

Fisher was followed by All-American Joeckel going to Jacksonville, defensive end Dion Jordan of Oregon to Miami, which traded up with Oakland, and Oklahoma tackle Lane Johnson to Philadelphia. Not a skill position player yet in sight -- a stark change from the last four drafts, when quarterbacks went first.

The procession of linemen continued with BYU defensive end Ziggy Ansah, born in Ghana, going to Detroit; LSU defensive end Barkevious Mingo to Cleveland; and North Carolina guard Jonathan Cooper to Arizona.

That made for a ton of beef after the first seven picks. In all, 18 linemen went in the first round, weighing an estimated 5,650 total pounds.

And they wore it well, with their designer suits that barely were ruffled when they each engulfed Roger Goodell in the now traditional bear hugs between draftee and commissioner.

"It's called a three-piece, right?" asked Joeckel, who sported blue checks with the vested suit, along with a striped tie.

Fisher was only the third offensive tackle picked No. 1, joining Orlando Pace (1997) and Jake Long (2008) since the 1970 merger of the NFL and AFL. It's also the first time since '70 that offensive tackles went 1-2.

Even without a high-profile passer, runner or tackler going at the outset, the fans in the home of the Rockettes were pumped. They chanted "U-S-A, U-S-A" when Goodell paid tribute to the first responders at the Boston Marathon bombings and to the victims of the West, Texas explosion. They roared when Hall of Fame quarterback Joe Namath began the countdown to the first outdoor Super Bowl in a cold-weather site by taking the podium and screaming: "New York; Super Bowl 48."

The crowd didn't seem to care that early on the picks were all heifers, not hoofers. No Andrew Lucks or RG3s at the top of this crop.

"What you're getting is a very athletic player, a great kid, smart kid, engineering major," Reid said of Fisher, who really began to draw attention with a strong Senior Bowl, showing he could handle the highest level of competition. "He can play any position along the line, and loves to play the game."

Joeckel didn't seem any less thrilled to go No. 2.

"I don't have words for all the emotions I feel," he said. "It's the best feeling of my entire life."

Miami, envisioning Jordan as the next Jason Taylor, sent its first-rounder (12th overall) and this year's second-rounder to Oakland. Then new Eagles coach Chip Kelly got a road-grader for his uptempo offense in Johnson.

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