Welcome back, boos and “bro hugs.”
Two NFL draft traditions — commissioner Roger Goodell getting booed by fans and embraced by a prospect who has just heard his name called — return at 8 tonight after a one-year hiatus due to COVID-19 safety measures. Cleveland, the host city, is expecting 50,000 fans on hand for the mostly outdoor three-day draft events.
Goodell is fully vaccinated, the league announced, and physical contact with the players will be allowed, but kept unscripted and brief.
Thirteen prospects are scheduled to attend the draft in person, which could make for some old-fashioned uncomfortable drama if defensive end Greg Rousseau or defensive tackle Christian Barmore slips into the second-round. Another 45 prospects, including presumptive No. 1 pick Trevor Lawrence, are expected to participate virtually in the broadcast.
One year ago, Goodell announced picks from his New York home and team personnel were scattered around the country and connected online, as Las Vegas missed out on an opportunity to host. Who can forget Bill Belichick’s dog sitting alone at his laptop?
This year, team personnel can reassemble and viewers are guaranteed to be tired of seeing images of the Rams’ rented Malibu draft house by Saturday.
The Draft-a-Thon fundraiser aimed at helping communities hardest hit during pandemic recovery returns for a second straight year. It will support non-profit organizations tied to education, food insecurity, health and safety, and mental health.
The Seahawks have the fewest selections (No. 56, No. 129, No. 250) since the Jets had three in 2009. Coincidentally, the Jets have the Seahawks’ first- and third-rounders after trading Pro Bowl safety Jamal Adams to Seattle.
“Our No. 1 pick is Jamal Adams,” Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said Wednesday. “That’s a heck of a pick. We’re thrilled about the future with him.”
The Rams, Texans and Chiefs are the other teams without a first-round pick. The Jets, Jaguars, Dolphins and Ravens hold two each.
Alabama has produced the most first-round picks (either on its own or tied with another NCAA program) six times since 2011. It is expected to happen again, and the feeder-system could go a step further.
Miami set the record with six first-rounders in 2004. Could Alabama have seven? QB Mac Jones, RB Najee Harris, WRs Jaylen Waddle and DeVonta Smith, OL Landon Dickerson, CB Patrick Surtain and Barmore sure hope so.
The latest the first defensive player ever has come off the board was pick No. 7 in 1999. That mark figures to be tied or broken as the Lions could fill a wide-receiver need or trade back to a quarterback-minded team at No. 7.
In various scenarios, it is possible the first defensive player won’t go until No. 10 to the Cowboys.
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