For the first time in what feels like an eternity, there was a major sporting event. The NFL Draft has come and gone, affording us all a much-needed influx of sports entertainment. With all 255 picks locked in, let’s take a look at some of the winners and losers of draft weekend.
Winner: Dallas Cowboys
I had my concerns about the Cowboys’ draft outcome when it was reported that Jerry Jones would be making the picks by himself, with no input from his scouting staff throughout the weekend. The technology alone could be an issue, right? Evidently not, as Jones proved not only his
technological abilities but also his football savvy, landing the steal of the first round — wide receiver CeeDee Lamb — at pick No. 17. By draft’s end, Dallas emerged with a class that includes stud defensive back Trevon Diggs, athletic marvel Neville Gallimore, and late-round steals Tyler Biadasz and Bradlee Anae.
Maybe ole Jerry was onto something after all.
Loser: Philadelphia Eagles
Philadelphia and Dallas are franchises that tend to operate on a seesaw principle — that is to say, when one team goes up, the other tends to fall down. Such was the case with the 2020 draft. While the Cowboys have put together a very strong rookie class, the Eagles emerge from the first virtual draft with arguably the most lackluster group in the entire NFL. Sure, there are some high upside gems such as offensive tackle Prince Tega Wanogho and Shaun Bradley, but for the most part it seemed like Howie Roseman was more focused on putting together a track team, not a football roster. And of course, the Jalen Hurts pick helps absolutely no one, especially not their 130 million dollar man Carson Wentz.
Winner: Sam Darnold
It was evident last season that Jets quarterback Sam Darnold was essentially thrown to the wolves, armed with a poor offensive line, an injury-depleted receiving corps and a frustrated running back in Le’Veon Bell. General manager Joe Douglas clearly made it a priority this offseason to avoid repeating the same issue, signing wide receiver Breshad Perriman and offensive linemen Greg Van Roten and Connor McGovern. He continued building around his young signal-caller in the draft, selecting premiere offensive tackle Mekhi Becton and severely underrated wideout Denzel Mims in the first two rounds.
Hey, Philadelphia? Take notes. This is how you build around your franchise quarterback.
Loser: Aaron Rodgers
Speaking of franchise quarterbacks, it seems that the Green Bay Packers believe the clock may be ticking on theirs. Rodgers undoubtedly has one of the most talented arms to ever grace a football field, but last season was one of his most mediocre in recent memory. Many attributed this to the lack of receiving talent (outside of DeVante Parker) around the 36-year-old, expecting this pressing need to be addressed in the draft. However, the cheeseheads had other plans, trading up in the first round to select former Utah State quarterback Jordan Love. The last time the Packers selected a quarterback in the first round? Mr. Rodgers himself, the eventual replacement for Brett Favre.
Funny how things come full circle, isn’t it? The clock is officially ticking on Aaron Rodgers’ tenure in Green Bay.
Winner: Draft Coverage
Many fans and analysts, myself included, were concerned with how well the coverage of a completely virtual draft could be executed heading into the weekend. However, aside from a couple of awkward pauses throughout the course of the broadcast, the product was arguably even better than the live draft, leading some to question whether virtual should be the standard format moving forward.
From Bill Belichick’s chair-sitting dog to Kliff Kingsbury’s insanely luxurious home, there was no shortage of Twitter buzz around the event. Fans didn’t just follow the draft via social media, however. With a record-shattering 55 million viewers over the course of the three days, the NFL was able to raise $6.6 million for COVID-19 relief efforts.
And of course, I would be remiss if I didn’t show some love to Annenberg Media’s coverage of the draft, amassing over ten hours of livestream coverage over the course of Rounds 1 through 3. A difficult undertaking, but ultimately a very strong production.