This year’s NFL Draft gave sports fans exactly what they desperately needed
On Thursday the NFL draft gave a much-needed injection of football to sports fans deprived of sports for weeks.
The NFL draft has taken place every year since it began in 1936. Every year, 32 teams have the chance to add new talent to their rosters by drafting players that they feel will fit their needs as an organization.
Due to COVID-19 and social distancing, this year’s draft was done via video conference with players in their homes separate from the public. A total of 55 million viewers watched this year’s draft over its three-day span.
“I couldn’t be more proud of the efforts and collaboration of our clubs, league personnel and our partners to conduct an efficient Draft and share an unforgettable experience with millions of fans during these uncertain times,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement on NFL.com.
While some of the first-round picks seemed to be spoken into existence weeks if not months before the draft even began, some picks and trades by teams leave fans shaking their heads in confusion.
One example was the choice by the Green Bay Packers to trade with the Miami Dolphins for the 26th pick in the first round, selecting Utah State quarterback Jordan Love. Love was a highly-ranked quarterback before the draft, but Packers already have one of the top quarterbacks in the league with Aaron Rodgers.
“Terrible move by the Green Bay Packers,” senior sports writer for CBS Pete Prisco said. “They needed defensive help. Sitting behind Rodgers will do Love well, but not going to do the Packers well. You’re on the cusp of getting to a Super Bowl, get Rodgers some help.”
Another surprise in the first round came at No. 17 when the Dallas Cowboys selected wide receiver CeeDee Lamb from Oklahoma. Mock drafts and analysis had Lamb going much earlier in the draft due to his breakout season in 2019.
Lamb has 1,327 receiving yards and 14 touchdowns in 2019 alone. He ranked sixth in yards and fifth in touchdowns among receivers.
With the NFL evolving into a “passing league” more and more, teams are shying away from taking running backs early in the draft, but Georgia running back D’Andre Swift was still predicted to go in the first round.
The first running back selected snuck into the first round — but it was not Swift. It was Clyde Edwards-Helaire from LSU, with the 32nd overall pick by the Kansas City Chiefs. Edwards-Helaire was still a top-ranked running back but was not ranked as high as Swift.
“I’m not a big fan of taking running backs in the first round, but when you have Patrick Mahomes it’s OK to take a running back like this in the first round,” Prisco said.
Another big surprise from the draft was the Chicago Bears selecting Notre Dame tight end Cole Kmit in the second round. Kmit is now the 10th tight end on the Bears roster, making this pick a head scratcher for many.
This pick may turn out to be the thing the Bears need as they have had little production out of their tight ends as of late due to injury. No tight end had over 100 yards for the Bears in 2019, and Kmit was the top tight end in the draft.
In the coming days only more standout picks were to come as Jalen Hurts, the Oklahoma quarterback, would be drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles, and Liberty starting wide receiver Antonio Gandy-Golden would get drafted in the fourth round by the Washington Redskins.
“This Draft is the latest chapter in the NFL’s storied history of lifting the spirit of America and unifying people,” Goodell said. “In addition to celebrating the accomplishments of so many talented young men, we were pleased that this unique Draft helped shine a light on today’s true heroes — the healthcare workers, first responders, and countless others on the front lines in the battle against COVID-19.”
Jared Dean is a Sports reporter