The Latest on the first round of the NFL draft.
The Southeastern Conference broke the NFL record for first-round draft picks by a conference.
Fifteen players from the powerhouse league were selected in the opening round Thursday night. That topped the previous mark of 12 set by the Atlantic Coast Conference in 2006 and matched twice by the SEC (2013, 2017).
The selections were flush with players from Alabama and LSU, notably Heisman Trophy winner Joe Burrow of the Tigers. The league fell short of having as many players drafted in the first round as the rest of college football combined.
LSU cornerback Kristian Fulton, Alabama safety Xavier McKinney, Georgia running back D’Andre Swift and Alabama cornerback Trevon Diggs did not come off the board as some expected.
The Green Bay Packers’ decision to trade up four spots to take Utah State quarterback Jordan Love at No. 26 marks the first time they have used a first-round pick on an offensive player since taking Mississippi State tackle Derek Sherrod at No. 32 in 2011.
It also marks the third straight year the Packers have traded out of their initial first-round draft position.
Green Bay started the 2018 draft with the No. 14 pick, traded down to No. 27 and then moved back up to the No. 18 spot and took Louisville cornerback Jaire Alexander.
The Packers had the No. 12 and No. 30 overall selections last year. But after they took Michigan outside linebacker Rashan Gary at No. 12, the Packers moved up nine spots to select Maryland safety Darnell Savage at No. 21 with their second first-round pick
Twenty-five spots after Georgia left tackle Andrew Thomas went to the Giants, Tennessee grabbed the Bulldogs right tackle, Isaiah Wilson, as the first round neared its conclusion. A former wrestler, he’s a bit raw in pass protection, but excels in the run game.
Miami owned the 30th selection following an earlier trade with Green Bay. The Dolphins already chose Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa and Southern California tackle Austin Jackson. They completed their first-round hat trick with Auburn cornerback Noah Igbinoghene, whose parents completed in the Summer Olympics.
Minnesota’s second choice – the Vikings got LSU wideout Justin Jefferson at No. 22 before trading down from 25th to 31st – aided its defense with TCU cornerback Jeff Gladney. He has been plagued by knee issues.
Super Bowl champion Kansas City finished it off with yet another player from the national champion LSU Tigers. Multi-dimensional running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire was the choice and should quickly fit into Andy Reid’s offense .
Green Bay has a likely Hall of Fame quarterback, Aaron Rodgers. The Packers now have perhaps his successor, Utah State’s Jordan Love.
After trading up with Miami to go from 30th to 26th, the Packers pulled off probably the most stunning move of the first round.
Love is a developmental project compared to the other three quarterbacks taken earlier – LSU’s Joe Burrow, Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa and Oregon’s Justin Herbert. And remember that Rodgers, now 36, sat behind Brett Favre early in his career.
San Francisco also made a deal and moved up six positions by trading with Minnesota, and at No. 25 added a receiver to a group that lost veteran Emmanuel Sanders in free agency. Arizona State’s Brandon Aiyuk was the pick, while the Vikings moved down to 31st overall.
Seattle boosted its linebacking group with Texas Tech’s Jordyn Brooks, followed by Baltimore – which had the NFL’s best record in the regular season – taking LSU linebacker Patrick Queen with the 28th pick.
Philadelphia started a little run on wide receivers.
The Eagles filled their need for a receiver by taking Jalen Reagor from TCU with the 21st overall pick. Reagor, whose father Montae was a defensive lineman in the NFL who won a Super Bowl with the Colts, is a speedster and skilled punt returner.
He had a 1,000-yard season as a sophomore in 2018, but his production fell off in 2019 because of injuries and inconsistent quarterback play.
The Minnesota Vikings filled the hole left by the trade of Stefon Diggs to Buffalo for this pick by selecting LSU’s Justin Jefferson, who had 111 catches last season for the national champions.
The Chargers then traded up, taking the 23rd pick from New England and selecting Oklahoma linebacker Kenneth Murray, who had 17 tackles for loss, including four sacks last season.
The New Orleans Saints then fortified the interior of their offensive line, taking Michigan center Cesar Ruiz.
Dallas bolstered an already strong receiving unit that includes Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup by taking Oklahoma playmaker CeeDee Lamb, another All-American. Lamb was a Biletnikoff Award finalist last season.
Miami added some protection up front for Tagovailoa with Southern California tackle Austin Jackson. At 6-foot-4, 322, he has long arms and is light on his feet. He’s also only 20 years old, one of the youngest players available in the draft.
The Raiders, moments after being told by Commissioner Roger Goodell that the 2022 draft will be staged in Las Vegas, might have gone gambling at No. 19. They took Damon Arnette, the No. 2 cornerback at Ohio State behind third overall selection Jeff Okudah.
Jacksonville’s second pick was K’lavon Chaisson, a dynamic linebacker from national champion LSU. He led the Tigers in tackles for loss (13 1-2) last season, but has an injury history.
Las Vegas, which was supposed to host this year’s draft before it was converted to a virtual format because of the coronavirus pandemic, will host the 2022 draft.
Commissioner Roger Goodell announced Vegas’ selection on Thursday night’s draft broadcast, saying, ”We think you deserve another shot.”
Next year’s draft will be held in Cleveland.
The 2022 draft will use the same locations that had been planned for this year, including a main stage next to the Caesars Forum Conference Center on the Strip. Caesars Entertainment is the NFL’s official casino sponsor.
The NFL had long been opposed to betting on its games but has softened its stance on gambling since a Supreme Court decision allowed all 50 states to legalize betting on sports.
The Raiders will play in Las Vegas starting this season after leaving their longtime home in Oakland.
It took until the 13th spot before a trade was made, Tampa Bay moving up one slot to get tackle Tristan Wirfs of Iowa to help protect new/old QB Tom Brady.
The Buccaneers got that pick from NFC champion San Francisco, which went next and selected Javon Kinlaw of South Carolina. That made five defensive linemen in the first round of the past six drafts for the 49ers, who last month traded DT DeForest Buckner to Indianapolis for the pick they dealt to the Bucs.
San Francisco got the 117th overall selection and sent a seventh-rounder (No. 245) to Tampa.
A second Crimson Tide receiver, Jerry Jeudy, was taken by Denver, at No. 15, perhaps hoping to emulate the fast-paced Super Bowl champion Chiefs who dominate the AFC West.
Atlanta, desperate to upgrade the defense, took matters to the halfway point by grabbing cornerback A.J. Terrell of Clemson.
Sam Darnold has a protector.
Louisville’s massive but quick Mekhi Becton, who at 6-foot-7, 365 pounds ran a 5.1-second 40 at the scouting combine, is headed to the Jets.
General manager Joe Douglas promised he would find a target and a blocker for his third-year quarterback. Becton, who went 11th overall, has a 7-foot wingspan.
The first pick in the history of the Las Vegas Raiders was next and made plenty of sense. Coach Jon Gruden loves speed, and in Henry Ruggs III of Alabama, he has a burner who finds the end zone.
Get this: Ruggs, who has run a 4.27 40, has 24 touchdown receptions in 98 career catches.
After signing right tackle Jack Conklin as a free agent, the Cleveland Browns added a bookend in the draft with Alabama’s Jedrick Wills.
Quarterback Baker Mayfield must be smiling at those moves.
How good a pass protector is Wills? He allowed one sack in 39 college games, playing exclusively at right tackle. Of course, the Crimson Tide had a left-handed QB, Tua Tagovailoa, so Wills was protecting the blind side.
Look for him to move to the left side and do the same for Mayfield.
C.J. Henderson doesn’t have to go very far for his pro football job.
The Florida cornerback was selected ninth overall by Jacksonville. The Jaguars are seeking a solid coverage guy after trading Jalen Ramsey to the Rams last year.
Henderson has good size at 6-foot-1, 204 pounds, and is very quick. He covered the top wideouts the Gators played and usually dominated when healthy – an ankle injury limited him to nine games last season, but he still had 11 passes broken up.
The Arizona Cardinals picked Clemson linebacker Isaiah Simmons with the eighth overall pick, grabbing maybe the most versatile defensive player available.
Simmons was the Butkus Award winner as the nation’s top linebacker last year, but he was used in numerous positions for the Tigers. He lined up at safety, slot corner and edge rusher at times. He has defensive back speed at 6-foot-4, 238 pounds.
The Carolina Panthers selected Auburn defensive tackle Derrick Brown with the seventh overall selection.
Brown returned for his senior year and was a finalist for the Chuck Bednarik Award (top defensive player) and Outland Trophy (best lineman) last season and considered the clear top interior defensive lineman available.
The selection is the first for a new regime with Carolina as coach Matt Rhule looks to rebuild. The 6-foot-5, 326-pound Brown could be the anchor of the defense going forward.
Oregon’s Justin Herbert became the third quarterback selected in this year’s NFL draft, going sixth overall to the Los Angeles Chargers.
Herbert had a strong postseason, including a terrific Senior Bowl week that raised his stock. At 6-foot-6, 236 pounds, he has the size the pros like, and he’s a good athlete. But he also is not as accurate passing as he’ll need to be.
Los Angeles had a burning hole at quarterback after letting go of long-time starter Philip Rivers. Plus, the Chargers plan to move into a new stadium and could use someone to help sell tickets.
A former sixth-stringer for the Ducks, he comes from a football-playing family going back to his grandfathers.
Tua Tagovailoa’s health issues didn’t turn off the Miami Dolphins.
The Alabama quarterback, whose resume is as strong as any player in this draft were it not for several injuries in his college career, went fifth overall to a team that was accused going into last season of ”Tanking for Tua.” Tagovailoa comes off major hip surgery, which made his landing spot one of the first round’s biggest uncertainties. A completely healthy Tagovailoa might have been the top overall pick.
Blessed with a quick release, excellent mid-range accuracy and nimble feet, Tagovailoa threw 76 touchdown passes in 24 starts the past two seasons. He helped the Crimson Tide to the 2017 national title.
The first offensive tackle in a strong group went off the board fourth overall when the New York Giants selected Georgia’s Andrew Thomas.
A team leader with the Bulldogs, he can play left or right tackle. Thomas goes 6-foot-5, 315, has strong hands and experience. He was a three-year starter and an All-American last season.
The Giants sought a young tackle to protect last year’s first-rounder, quarterback Daniel Jones. They now have him.
The Detroit Lions grabbed the highest-rated cornerback in this year’s draft by taking All-American Jeff Okudah of Ohio State.
Okudah was the second Buckeye taken early, third overall and one spot behind edge rusher Chase Young to Washington. The top overall selection, LSU quarterback Joe Burrow, previously played at Ohio State.
A smooth and physical presence on the corner, Okudah can handle all sorts of coverages. He became the 11th Ohio State cornerback taken in the first round since 1999. He figures to start in a division featuring opposing receivers Davante Adams and Adam Thielen.
Ohio State edge rusher Chase Young is headed to the Washington Redskins.
Many scouts and NFL personnel people believed Young was the best overall talent in this draft. With the heavy focus on (obsession with?) finding quarterbacks, Young went second overall behind LSU QB Joe Burrow to Cincinnati.
At 6-foot-5, 264 pounds, Young led the nation in sacks with 16 1-2 and forced fumbles with six last season. The All-American won the prestigious Bednarik and Nagurski awards in 2019, leading the Buckeyes to the Big Ten title.
He joins a team that went 3-13 and allowed 435 points.
No surprise atop this NFL draft as the Cincinnati Bengals have selected Joe Burrow, quarterback of national champion LSU, as the centerpiece of yet another rebuilding job.
Burrow, the third straight Heisman Trophy winner taken with the first overall selection, joins a team that went 2-14 in 2019 under first-year head coach Zac Taylor. The Bengals scored 279 points last season, third worst in the league, and also ranked 30th in total offense.
The previous time Cincinnati grabbed a Heisman quarterback to open the draft, it was Southern California’s Carson Palmer in 2003. Palmer led the Bengals to the playoffs twice.
In his spectacular season, Burrow threw for 60 – yes, 60 – touchdowns with only six interceptions. The Tigers beat six top 10 teams on their way to the national title.
ESPN analyst Todd McShay said he won’t be part of the network’s broadcast of the NFL draft because he’s recovering from the coronavirus.
McShay said in a statement that he’d be back and thanked the tireless work of health care workers and first-responders, calling them ”truly our nation’s heroes.”
Because of the pandemic, this year’s draft will be held remotely and broadcast on ESPN, ABC and NFL Network.
The first round is Thursday night and McShay, who has been at ESPN since 2006, was slated to be part of ABC’s prime-time network coverage.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell will take a special, virtual hand-off before announcing Cleveland’s first draft pick.
Fletcher Rollinson, a 12-year-old Browns fan who has been battling a rare form of brain cancer, will make a video introduction before passing things over to Goodell, who has been forced to serve as master of ceremonies in his basement in a New York City suburb because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Fletcher and his family live in Rocky River, Ohio, near Cleveland and the youngster recently returned home following a lengthy stay at St. Jude Children’s Hospital in Memphis.
Last year, Fletcher had a tumor removed and the youngster has undergone a series of proton therapy and chemotherapy treatments during his recovery.
During a break from therapy, he visited the Browns’ facility last season and struck up a friendship with star wide receiver Jarvis Landry, who gave Fletcher a pair of gloves before a home game. Landry also wore one of Fletcher’s wristbands during every 2019 game.
St. Jude and the NFL have partnered for the past eight years to raise awareness and funds for pediatric care.
Six teams are scheduled to sit out the first round of the NFL draft, though that could be a mirage.
The Colts, Rams, Texans, Bills, Bears and Steelers don’t own opening-round picks after previous trades. They certainly could trade back into the round, which could, of course, cost them next year’s top selection.
Indianapolis gave up the highest spot when it traded for the 13th pick to San Francisco for defensive tackle DeForest Buckner, who then signed a new contract worth about $21 million per year.
The Dolphins, who have three first-round selections, got No. 18 overall from Pittsburgh for defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick, who was a star for the Steelers in 2019.
The 19th spot belongs to Las Vegas – that’s the Raiders, folks – as part of the 2018 deal that sent Khalil Mack to Chicago. No. 20 belongs to Jacksonville in exchange for cornerback Jalen Ramsey, a deal made during last season with the Rams.
Buffalo acquired wide receiver Stefon Diggs from Minnesota for the 22nd spot, and Miami has Houston’s slot, No. 26, from last year’s deal for tackle Laremy Tunsil.
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