Virtual NFL Draft 2020 a success?

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Commissioner Roger Goodell stayed at his home for the draft this year and read all the picks

Patrick Babbitt, Sports Editor

Every year the NFL Draft is supposed to be held at a famous location, such as Radio City Music Hall, AT&T Stadium in Dallas, or Nashville, Tennessee. This year the draft was supposed to be held in Paradise, Nevada, which is the new home of the Las Vegas Raiders, after the team’s move from Oakland. Yet due to the outbreak of the coronavirus, the locale was quickly changed, as large gatherings are not allowed in the United States. Other sporting events have pushed back their seasons, such as the NBA and MLB, but the NFL innovated and instead held the first ever virtual draft. 

The virtual draft was held on April 23-25th, as commissioner Roger Godell announced all his picks in his basement throughout the three day span. Since Godell would only announce the picks in a few seconds, it would flash to other analysts and commentators talking about the player, and how they felt about the pick. Overall, this was pretty successful, as about 47.5 million people tuned in over the three day span, which was way past the previous record set in 2018. Although players couldn’t go on the stage and shake the commissioner’s hand, their moment was still enjoyed, and celebrated with their loved ones, as sports fans around the world finally had something they could enjoy.

Throughout the draft there were a variety of notable picks. With the first pick, The Cincinnati Bengals selected quarterback Joe Burrow from LSU. Burrow had a sensational season, as he won multiple awards and broke the record for most passing touchdowns in NCAA history. He won the Heisman Trophy, which is awarded to the best player in college football. He also led his team to a national championship, their first since 2007. Burrow was the clear number one choice here, and Cincinnati fans now have a potential quarterback for the future. 

For the second pick, The Washington Redskins selected defensive end Chase Young from Ohio State. In most people’s eyes, Young was the best player in the draft, and if the Bengals had a quarterback, they would’ve drafted Young. Yet the Redskins have a fabulous season, as he had 16.5 sacks, which is the most in Ohio State history, and most for this season by a player. He is an All American, and a great defensive player.  

The Detroit Lions selected cornerback Jeff Okudah from Ohio State for the third pick. Okudah is a great coverage cornerback, as he led the team in interceptions and passbreaks. Okudah didn’t even start a game for Ohio State in 2018, and really had a breakout season for the team in 2019 and he was also an All American.  The Lions needed a cornerback really badly, and with Okudah, they got one.

With the fourth pick, The New York Giants selected offensive tackle Andrew Thomas from Georgia. Being a Giants fan, I was first devastated with the pick, as Thomas wasn’t even the best tackle in the draft. Yet after thinking about it, blocking is the one thing the Giants need, and Thomas can fill that role. He’s started for Georgia the last three years, and is a remarkable player. He is very large, which will give more time in the pocket for Daniel Jones, and open up holes for Saquon Barkley. 

In pick number five the Miami Dolphins selected Tua Tagovalioa from Alabama. In 2019, Tua had an awful incident where he hurt his right hip in a game against Mississippi State. Tua was supposedly the number one quarterback in the draft if he hadn’t had the injury, as he played a huge role coming late into the game in 2017 to help Alabama win a national championship. He also led them to a national championship in 2018, only losing to Clemson. Still, Tua has been very successful at Alabama, and is arguably one of their greatest quarterbacks ever to play. 

The Los Angeles Chargers selected quarterback Justin Herbert from Oregon with the sixth pick. Herbert has the ability of being a great quarterback, as he led his team to a PAC-12 championship, and also helped defeat Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl. Herbert is a very smart kid, succeeding well in academics, and since Philip Rivers signed with the Colts this offseason, the Chargers needed a quarterback, and with Herbert, they got one. 

Other notable picks included the Cardinals eighth pick which was Isiah Simmons, who was one of the best defensive players in the nation, as he led Clemson to a national championship this year, although they lost to LSU. There was also a variety of great wide receivers selected, such as the Raiders selecting Henry Ruggs from Alabama at 12th, the Broncos getting Jerry Jeudy from Alabama at 15th, the Cowboys getting CeeLamb from Oklahoma at 17th, and the Eagles getting Jalen Reager from TCU at 21st. 

There was only one first round running back, and that was Clyde Edwards Hyde from LSU at 32nd, whom the Chiefs drafted. Other than that, the Lions got De’Andre Swift in the second round from Georgia, the Colts got Jonathan Taylor from Wisconsin, and the Ravens got J.K. Dobbins from Ohio State. 

There were two weird scenarios which highlighted the draft. The first was when the Packers took Jordan Love at pick number 26. Love attended Utah State, and was a very good player there. The Packers finished the year 13-3, and arguably, if quarterback Aaron Rodgers had a better wide receiver, they could win the Super Bowl. Yet instead of picking a wide receiver in the first round, they chose Jordan Love, as Rogers is still doing well. This is very similar to when the Packers drafted Rodgers when Brett Favre was still capable of playing. This pick was shocking, and if I were Rodgers, I would be very angry. 

In the second round, the Eagles selected quarterback Jalen Hurts from Oklahoma. Hurts played for Alabama for three years, and after Tua took his spot, he transferred to Oklahoma. He did well with Oklahoma, although they got destroyed by LSU in the college football playoff. Even though Hurts is a terrific football player, the Eagles still have  Carson Wentz who, two years ago, could have won MVP.  I am not sure why they drafted Hurts while they still have a 27-year-old quarterback in Wentz, but perhaps the Eagles will use Hurts as a backup, as Wentz does get hurt a lot. 

Obviously I can’t explain all 255 draft picks, as I would be writing until the summer. Yet the draft this year was very good, and lots of teams were able to get talented players. With the coronavirus going around still, there are no rookie camps, and players cannot prove themselves. Hopefully the NFL can start in the fall and in the meantime, the draft gave sports fans a good amount of  entertainment.