The NFL Came Through, Right When We Needed It

By Don August
Apr. 24, 2020

Kudos to the National Football League.

At a time when a deafening silence has been cast over the sporting world with the unprecedented Covid-19 pandemic, the NFL managed to bring us back, if even for just a few hours, to when times were good and sports were a part of our lives.

It was a brave, and calculated move that worked.

Knowing they could not have their usual, and popular, 1st Round of the NFL draft like it had been in the past, they did the next best thing. Instead of bringing the world to Las Vegas for the draft, they brought a virtual draft to the world.

Literally and figuratively.

I can’t even imagine the coordination it took to send team hats, jerseys, and cameras to the homes of the over 60 potential draft picks. Add to that, the cameras and crews that also went out to the home offices of each team’s representatives. All so we wouldn’t miss a moment of the reactions that changed young men's lives and teams immediate futures.

Ok, yes some parts were a little bit on the corny side, like commissioner Roger Goodell coordinating some “boos” from the virtual fans that were piped into his basement office, or each coach and general manager surrounded by their kids for some television exposure. But the good far out-weighed the corny.

I, as well as many others I’m sure, was expecting some glitches along the way. After all, they were counting on bandwidths and internet connections to stay connected flawlessly from all over the country. But if there were any, we didn’t notice. Even though a little slow at times, the broadcast went off without a hitch.

Well done NFL and thank you.

Now on to the draft itself. The questions that are always asked after any draft; is who were the winners and losers.

Here they are, as I saw it.

Winner – San Francisco 49ers

An already top-notch defense got even tougher when John Lynch drafted South Carolina DT Javon Kinlaw with the 14th pick and then addressed an offensive hole by trading up from 31 to 25 to grab Arizona State wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk.

Both players got high grades by most scouting reports and most importantly, both fill a need. Kinlaw will replace DeForest Buckner, who they traded to Indianapolis, and Aiyuk will replace Emmanuel Sanders, who left SF for New Orleans.

Loser – Green Bay Packers

Of course years from now, this might change to be a winning move, but what the Packers needed the most was an offensive weapon to help Aaron Rodgers, not draft his replacement. The Packers pick at number 26 was Utah State QB Jordan Love

Green Bay proved last year, they were thin at the skilled positions after injuries ravaged their chances at making the Super Bowl. Their second and third stringers were just average. So besides not getting help for Rodgers, they may have just put him in a bad mood.

Winner- Denver Broncos

The emergence of quarterback Drew Locke late last season showed hope for Denver and now he gets a top-notch receiver in Jerry Jeudy from Alabama. Jeudy, known as a solid route runner will now be paired with Courtland Sutton to make a formidable receiving tandem. Already with a solid run game, if Locke continues to step up, Denver might be looking at a playoff chance.

Loser – Las Vegas Raiders

With Jeudy and Cee Dee lamb both on the board (and ranked 1-2 in receivers), the Raiders took Jeudys teammate Henry Ruggs III with the 12th pick. He’s a nice player but will have to live up to the numbers the other two put up. Their second pick of Damon Arnette, CB out of Ohio State, seemed to be a reach at that time.

Who fell into the best spots?

I think QB Justin Herbert (San Diego), WR Cee Dee Lab (Dallas), and OL Tristan Wirfs (Tampa Bay) are put into automatic the-spot-is-yours if you are good enough situations, while QB Jordan Love will get to learn the tricks of the trade from the future Hall of Famer Rodgers.

Who didn’t?

Joe Burrow will have to through a learning curve on a bad Cincinnati Bengal team, OT Jeff Okudah will have a lot of pressure on him to clear the way for Saquon Barkley and keep QB Daniel Jones on his feet and LB Isaiah Simmons will have a lot of holes to fill in Arizona’s bad defensive backfield.