The NFL Draft Goes Virtual During the Coronavirus Pandemic

Leo Ellenberg, Sports Columnist.

Leo Ellenberg

Leo Ellenberg, Sports Columnist.

The ongoing coronavirus pandemic across the world has led to the disappearance of live sports for the foreseeable future. Fortunately one of the most popular sporting events, the NFL draft,  was still able to occur from April 23 to April 25, 2020. In the safety of their own homes, coaches and general managers were still selecting their future stars, who were celebrating their futures at home with their families, and sending them to Commissioner Roger Goodell, who announced them via public broadcast on NFL Network and ESPN. Despite the draft being conducted without the usual fanfare, the NFL draft still went on and had plenty of interesting trades and team selections.

The draft began with the Cincinnati Bengals and the Washington Redskins selecting their picks. Cincinnati selected their quarterback of the future, Joe Burrow. Burrow capped off his incredible college football season with winning the Heisman Trophy, which is awarded to the nation’s best college football player; he is also a recipient of the national championship with the LSU tigers. The analysts at ESPN and NFL Network even compared Burrow’s play to that of Tom Brady. Many analysts considered Chase Young to be the best player in the draft. Young was an elite pass rusher at Ohio State who had 16.5 sacks last year.

It was after the first two picks when the real fun of the draft began, where everything was unexpected and there were many surprises to be had, particularly when the draft’s other top quarterbacks were selected.. The second quarterback taken was Tua Tagolvailoa from the University of Alabama, selected by the Miami Dolphins as the fifth pick. Tagovailoa is a left-handed Hawaiian native who won the 2018 College Football National Championship, where the starting quarterback was benched. Tua shocked the world that night, as he led his team to victory in overtime. Since then, his draft stock took a slight hit, as he missed the last three and a half games due to a hip injury, for which which he eventually had surgery. The hip surgery, amongst many more injuries in his college career, made teams fearful about his health. Miami, however, took a chance on him, due to his remarkable accuracy and college career.

 The next quarterback taken was Justin Herbert from the University of Oregon, whose experience and poise impressed the Los Angeles Chargers, who were not able to sign Tom Brady, to select him sixth overall. 

Finally, the last and most surprising quarterback selection in the first round was Utah’s Jordan Love, who was taken twenty-sixth overall by the Green Bay Packers. This was particularly surprising because Green Bay already has an all-pro quarterback in Aaron Rodgers, who brought the Packers to the NFC championship last year. The team was also in desperate need of wide receivers for Rodgers. Love’s selection has been one of the most, if not the most, criticized picks in this year’s draft.

One of the most noteworthy aspects of the first round was the importance of certain players’ positions selected by the teams. The league’s reliance on passing the football, as well as strict rules on pass interference and hitting the quarterback, have made having a great quarterback, wide receiver, offensive line, and cornerback vital for victory in the NFL. This was clear to see in the first round, as four quarterbacks, six wide receivers, six offensive lineman, and five cornerbacks were taken with the thirty-two total picks. Two teams that followed this model were the hometown Jets and Giants, with each of them taking an offensive tackle to protect their young quarterbacks.

After the NFL Draft is completed, many Bronx Science students have speculated as to which team ‘won’ the draft and took the best players. “I think the chiefs had the best draft because of how much quality the players add to our team. Clyde Edwards-Helaire is a running back who fits perfectly into the offensive scheme of the league of zoom. He is the perfect running back for Eric Bienemy and Andy Reid. We also took an OT called Lucas Niang, who will help us out a lot considering that he hasn’t allowed a sack since 2017. Then, L’Jarius Sneed was a DB whom we picked up, who is talented. Most importantly, he is very fast, and he will be the perfect counter for Henry Ruggs and Jerry Jeudys’ speed during the four times a year that we play Denver and Las Vegas. Willie Gay is also a really solid LB whom we picked up, and I’m sure that we can make something out of our late round picks, as we have had good late round success with players such Tyreek Hill,” said Gabe Lipschutz ‘21.

 Though lacking the ambience of a typical NFL draft in person, and with everyone working from home due to the Coronavirus pandemic, the NFL Draft was nevertheless successfully planned and as interesting as previous ones .

The ongoing coronavirus pandemic across the world has led to the disappearance of live sports for the foreseeable future.