While most of the attention was focused on the admittedly "awkward" (and frustratingly unresolved) competition between Kaitlyn Bristowe and Britt Nilsson on Monday’s season 11 premiere of The Bachelorette, let’s not forget that there were 25 handsome men at the mansion, too.
As usual, some guys pulled out the stops, including a cupcake-mobile (more on that in a minute), a “car pool” and hand-drawing; others floundered in introducing themselves to both Bachelorette hopefuls – we’re looking at you, canned-statement-peddling “healer” Tony and sloppy, feel-copping Ryan M. (assuming the “M” stands for McDrunkedy-Drunk).
But this isn’t a talent competition, it’s a journey to love. With that in mind, the most important question moving forward is, Who genuinely seems like they could establish a real connection with this season’s Bachelorette (whoever she may be)? In no particular order, we think the front-runners are …
Chris may have driven up in a ridiculous cupcake car, but he has a super cute smile, works as a dentist and clearly has no problem making himself look absurd for your attention. Chris doesn’t feature too heavily in the premiere, but, spoiler: He’s very charming in the second episode. Trust me on this one. He’s a cutie. –Amanda Michelle Steiner, Writer/Reporter
Not only is the former Princeton track star incredibly smart, athletic and handsome, he’s determined. The man was hit by a car and left for dead only to emerge from a coma and learn how to run again! Nearly 30 seasons of Bachelor franchises have made clear that the people who don’t find lasting love are those who throw in the towel. That is not one of Ian’s problems. There’s no doubt his dedication will make him a real contender and, potentially, an excellent husband. –Lanford Beard, Staff Editor
I normally don’t go for one-liners, but good on former hockey player JJ for managing to say “I want to puck you” to Kaitlyn in a way that elicited grins and not groans. He’s tall, he’s cute and it was adorable to watch him tell Britt that she’s the “prettiest girl I’ve ever spoken to.” Oh, and he’s a single dad to a 3-year-old girl. So, apart from getting some major awww moments when he talks about his daughter, we could witness Bachelor history if JJ manages to put a ring on it – no dad ever has. –Aili Nahas, Senior Writer
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Shawn B.’s Bachelorette cast bio outs him as a Directioner. I will not rest until I learn his favorite member of boy band One Direction. I want a ranking. I want to hear his thoughts about Zayn Malik. Does he realize that he looks just like Calvin Harris, Taylor Swift‘s first boyfriend after Harry Styles?! Other than his excellent taste in pop culture, the personal trainer from Windsor Locks, Connecticut, is so handsome and seems pretty sincere from what we can tell so far. Both Britt and Kaitlyn were instantly enamored, and he’s a family man to boot. –Amanda Michelle Steiner, Writer/Reporter
I mean, come on! The architectural engineer presented Kaitlyn with a picture of Chris Harrison riding a triceratops!!! (And she loved it.) Because of the show’s condensed timeline and the conflicting personalities, interactions between the men and the Bachelorette inevitably get increasingly dramatic, so at least one lovable goofball usually goes a long way because someone has to break the tension. I nominate Clint! (Side note: If producers don’t put his impressive drawing skills to use and re-enact Titanic at some point during the season, I will personally write a strongly worded letter to Harrison, creator Mike Fleiss and the rest of The Bachelorette‘s producing team.) –Lanford Beard, Staff Editor
RELATED VIDEO: Will There Be 2 Bachelors Next Season?
Find out which lady these guys will be courting during the second part of The Bachelorette premiere, airing Tuesday at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.