NFL draft review

NFL commissioner announces draft picks from his home.

NFL commissioner announces draft picks from his home.

Reece Marley, Staff Writer

This year’s NFL draft was the first ever draft held virtually online. The NFL draft was slated to be in Las Vegas, Nevada but due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic it was held at coaches’ and players’ homes across the country virtually. The NFL draft in Las Vegas has been rescheduled for 2022 while next year’s NFL draft will be in Cleveland, Ohio. There were many other firsts in this year’s draft. This was the first time first round picks did not get to walk up to the stage and receive their jersey handed to them by the commissioner. This draft also consisted of the first ever picks by the new Las Vegas Raiders, formally the Oakland Raiders.

The draft started as expected with Heisman winner and national champion Joe Burrow being selected as the first overall pick by the 2-14 Cincinnati Bengals. The Bengals were in desperate need of a quarterback, and they could not pass up on the most accurate passer college football has ever seen. Heisman finalist and sack monster Chase Young went second to the Washington Redskins. It was also the first time that three teammates were drafted as the first three picks in the NFL draft. Burrow was at Ohio State for two years before he transferred to LSU. Young and Jeff Okudah, the third overall pick, also played at Ohio State. As the round continued there were not many surprising or unexpected picks. The Jacksonville Jaguars selected CJ Henderson from Florida a little earlier than he was expected to go. The Dallas Cowboys got a steal in the latter half of the 1st round in CeeDee Lamb, a wide receiver from Oklahoma. He was said to be one of the best, if not the best, wide receiver in the draft. The hometown Buccaneers drafted Tristan Wirfs, an offensive lineman from Iowa to protect newly signed quarterback Tom Brady.

The second and third rounds were held the following day with several surprising and unexpected picks. Jalen Hurts, a quarterback from Oklahoma, a presumptive day three pick was selected by the Philadelphia Eagles in the second round ahead of other QB prospects. In the second round the Ravens added to their already dominant rushing offense by taking running back JK Dobbins from Ohio State. Many scouts believe the Buccaneers were targeting running back Jonathon Taylor, but he was drafted before the Bucs were on the clock. The Bucs settled on Antoine Winfield, a defensive back from Minnesota who will be able to come in and immediately help a struggling secondary.

The rest of the draft was completed on Saturday April 25th. I came across a unique quote while watching the draft and scrolling through social media “Rounds 1-3 are the easy picks to make. Rounds 4-7 are the picks that make Super Bowl champions.” Tom Brady was drafted in the 6th round and became a 6-time Super Bowl champion with the New England Patriots. A lot of players from smaller schools were taken in the 4th through 7th rounds, many of them who could develop into superstars. The Bucs did not have a 4th round pick since they traded it away to the Patriots to acquire all pro tight end and WWE champion Rob Gronkowski. Bryce Hall was said to be one of the best picks of the entire draft when he was drafted in the 5th round by the New York Jets. Hall was said to have first round talent and projected to be a top pick before a season ending ankle injury caused him to miss most of his senior year at Virginia. East Lake alum Justin Strnad who recently completed his college career at Wake Forest was selected by the Denver Broncos in the 5th round. The linebacker had a very good showing at the NFL combine in February and ESPN analyst Mel Kiper Jr. ranked him as the best pick of the 5th round. The draft ended with the infamous “Mr. Irrelevant” pick a title given to the last player selected in the draft. This year’s recipient was Tae Crowder a linebacker from Georgia.

Despite the unorthodox setting, the players, coaches, and team personnel embraced the virtual draft which garnered the highest viewership ever for an NFL draft with over 55 million viewers across the three-day span. Millions of people were able to watch the draft from home and see 255 young men begin their careers in the National Football League. The virtual draft allowed viewers to see players and family reactions as almost everybody projected to be drafted high had set up webcams for themselves. Coaches also set up webcams showing schemes and how they were preparing for the draft. The NFL draft was a welcome distraction for all across the United States as an uncertain football season looms.