NFL holds virtual draft

Posted 4/28/20

The first ever virtual National Football League draft kicked off in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic Thursday and covered seven rounds through Saturday afternoon, going off without any noticeable mistakes from a technical standpoint as the league’s newest members and team personnel watched and worked from their homes.

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NFL holds virtual draft

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The first ever virtual National Football League draft kicked off in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic Thursday and covered seven rounds through Saturday afternoon, going off without any noticeable mistakes from a technical standpoint as the league’s newest members and team personnel watched and worked from their homes.

Unsurprisingly, LSU quarterback and Heisman Trophy winner Joe Burrow was selected first overall by the Cincinnati Bengals after a historic season at the position for the Tigers in which he won the national championship in January.

Burrow is the third straight Heisman winner to be selected first overall in the NFL Draft and third straight quarterback (Kyler Murray, Baker Mayfield). It is the fifth time in the last six years a quarterback has been taken number one overall, with the only exception being Texas A&M product Myles Garrett to the Cleveland Browns in 2017.

While Burrow was the biggest piece to LSU’s rise in 2019, he was not the only reason the Tigers went 15-0 and dominated the college football season. Burrow was the first of 14 LSU players selected in the 2020 NFL Draft, tying a record with the 2004 Ohio State Buckeyes for most players taken from one school in a single year.

This topped Alabama’s SEC record of 12 players taken in the draft two years ago.

Burrow was the first of five Tigers taken in round one, including linebacker K’Lavon Chaisson (20 overall, Jacksonville Jaguars), wide receiver Justin Jefferson (22 overall, Minnesota Vikings), linebacker Patrick Queen (28 overall, Baltimore Ravens) and running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire (32 overall, Kansas City Chiefs).

Ohio State and Michigan tied for the second most selections in the 2020 NFL Draft behind LSU with 10 each and were followed by Alabama with nine and Georgia, Florida, Clemson and Utah with seven apiece.

There is no clear reason to think Burrow will not succeed in the NFL and be worth the selection for the Bengals. Statistically, his 2019 season at LSU was the best in college football history with 60 touchdown passes and 5,671 yards in just 15 games and a 76.3 completion rating.

However, with all the obvious talent LSU had all around, it is clear that Burrow’s abilities may have looked inflated throughout the season. There are a number of variables that go into each individual’s NFL career and, regardless of talent, they can fall well short of expectations if they are not in a favorable situation in terms of the team and coaches.

It may take some time for Burrow to realize his true potential as a professional quarterback, and the rebuilding Bengals have just that. He will have a veteran and potential Hall-of-Fame wideout A.J. Green to work with on the outside along with fellow rookie Tee Higgins, the team’s early second round pick out of Clemson.

Speaking of rebuilding, the Miami Dolphins selected 11 new players in the NFL Draft and three in the opening round (Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, USC offensive tackle Austin Jackson and Auburn cornerback Noah Igbinoghene).

Tagovailoa was projected to be the first overall pick earlier in the college season, before suffering a dislocated right hip fracture along with the rise of Burrow at LSU. All told, he suffered five notable injuries during his career at Alabama. Before the dislocated hip, he suffered a broken left index finger (he is left-handed), a sprained right knee, left high ankle sprain and a right high ankle sprain.

Tua’s talent unquestionably gives him the potential to be a superstar in this league for Miami. But the Hawaiian-born signal caller had many professional scouts raising questions in the face of his many injuries.

As a result of November’s hip injury, it is still unclear whether or not Tua will be ready for opening day of the 2020 season (whenever that may end up being). Regardless, it is likely the Dolphins start veteran quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, who led the team to five wins down the stretch of the season last year after an 0-7 start.

After Miami’s pathetic start to the 2019 season, which included a 59-10 loss to the Ravens and a 43-0 loss to the New England Patriots at home in their first two games, many speculated the team was simply “tanking”, or losing on purpose, in order to get the first round pick who, at the time, everyone believed would be Tagovailoa. The famous “Tank for Tua” mantra adopted by the Dolphins fans in September did not exactly work out, as Fitzpatrick stepped in and played well. However, it appears the Dolphins have their man regardless.

It will take quite a bit of time for Miami, and Tua, to rise back to prominence and compete in the AFC East. But considering their performance in the draft over the weekend, they are on the right track. Still, in a quarterback-driven league, it will all ultimately fall on Tua and his professional abilities.

Elsewhere in the first round, Ohio State defensive end Chase Young, touted by many as the best overall player in the draft, was selected second to Washington. The Detroit Lions took Ohio State cornerback Jeffrey Okudah third overall while the New York Giants selected Georgia offensive tackle Andrew Thomas at four.

The Houston Texans sat out round one Thursday after trading their first round pick to the Dolphins in order to acquire lineman Laremy Tunsil. At 40 overall, Houston took TCU defensive lineman Ross Blacklock.

At 17 overall, the Dallas Cowboys bolstered their offensive firepower by selecting wide receiver CeeDee Lamb from Oklahoma. He joins fellow wideouts Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup along with running back Ezekiel Elliot and on the NFL’s top offensive lines. The defense may have lost a step or two, but Dak Prescott will have no excuse for not leading one of the NFC’s strongest offensive attacks in 2020 as he fights for an elite contract.

In sad news, Prescott’s older brother Jace passed away while the first round of the draft was taking place Thursday. Jace Prescott was 31-years-old and gained notoriety to football fans across the nation by appearing in a Campbell’s Chunky Soup commercial with Dak and Tad Prescott in 2019.

No cause of death was given. Prescott lost his mother, Peggy Prescott, to colon cancer in 2013 while he was a member of the Mississippi State Bulldogs.

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