Round 1 of the 2020 NFL Draft is officially in the books, and at a time of heavy hearts and uncertainty, the evening gave football fans a much-needed distraction… and some hope, too.
Considering all the technology and communication and variables and moving parts that go into such a massive production, the Round 1 virtual draft appeared to viewers to be a huge success – as was the on-going Draft-A-Thon, the NFL’s fundraising initiative to help support the fight against COVID-19.
Looking at the draft board, the night looked like a big success for teams, too. Though we didn’t see the kind of trade drama we may have expected, most football fans appeared to go home (er, stay home), happy with their clubs’ haul.
Here’s a look at the biggest winners from Thursday night.
The Bengals did what we all knew they’d do: select quarterback Joe Burrow with the first-overall pick. It was the biggest no-brainer of the draft, the easiest decision they’ll make all year, and the start of a new chapter for the Bengals. A win all around.
The Ohio State
The Buckeyes are well-represented at the draft every year, but Thursday night’s draft board took the football powerhouse’s clout among the scouts to a whole new level.
This year marked the first time in NFL draft history that the top three picks were all college teammates at one time, as Joe Burrow (No. 1, Cincinnati), Chase Young (No. 2, Washington) and Jeff Okudah (No. 3, Detroit) were all with the Buckeyes football program in 2017.
Young and Okudah were freshmen that year, and would go on to wreak havoc on opposing offences over the three years that followed with Ohio State, while Burrow transferred to LSU for a better opportunity to be a starter in 2018.
At No. 3, Okudah is now the highest-picked cornerback in more than two decades, and adds his name to a growing list of other strong corners out of Ohio State including Marshon Lattimore, Denzel Ward and fellow 2020 first-rounder Damon Arnette (No. 20, Raiders).
The Vikings went into Thursday night with two-first round picks and two big roster needs: a wide receiver to replace Stefon Diggs after dealing him to Buffalo last month, and a cornerback after veteran Xavier Rhodes was released. By evening’s end, they’d filled both spots and brought in a bit of extra draft capital in the process.
After selecting LSU receiver Justin Jefferson at No. 22 (the pick they received from Buffalo in the Diggs deal), GM Rick Spielman traded back with San Francisco – pick No. 25 in exchange for No. 31, a fourth-rounder and a fifth-rounder.
With pick No. 31, the Vikings took cornerback Jeff Gladney – a perfect fit for their secondary and the consensus best player available.
Sounds like Round 2 should be fun, too.
The motto in Miami for much of 2019 was “Tank For Tua.” The tank didn’t exactly go as planned – they finished the season 5-11 — but their draft ultimately did.
Despite questions about whether the Dolphins might try to trade down to secure their next franchise quarterback in Tua Tagovailoa out of Alabama, they didn’t need to. They held on to their No. 5 pick and got their guy.
In doing so, they also put an end to the speculation around how much Tagovailoa’s injury history might affect his draft stock.
This was a critical draft for the Dolphins. All season, Miami fans watched a rotation of quarterbacks start games, and talented young players exit as GM Chris Grier has overhauled the roster and hoarded draft picks in their place.
After selecting Tagovailoa, the Dolphins addressed two other needs: offensive tackle Austin Jackson, to help protect their new QB, and cornerback Noah Igbinoghene.
AFC West offences
The Kansas City Chiefs brought fast, fun, offence-first football to the AFC West and won it all. Now their division peers, unable to contain them, look like they’re going to try to go stride-for-stride with them instead.
The Los Angeles Chargers did well to get their quarterback of the future in Justin Herbert, but it’s the Raiders and Broncos who won the night in the AFC West with a pair of Alabama receivers.
With the 12th overall selection – and the first-ever pick made by the Las Vegas Raiders – GM Mike Mayock channelled Al Davis energy and took the fastest receiver in the class in Henry Ruggs III, the first wide receiver off the board.
Three picks later, Denver landed the man many regarded as the most complete receiver in this draft class, Jerry Jeudy, who will run perfect routes opposite breakout speedster Courtland Sutton.
Bring on the highlights.
Going into the draft, Cowboys fans were right to be a little worried about how the night would go.
But then, with Dallas on the clock at pick No. 17, a gift: wide receiver CeeDee Lamb.
No one expected Lamb, who topped some wide receiver rankings going into the draft, to be there at No. 17 — especially not the Cowboys. But after the Raiders took Henry Ruggs III and the Denver Broncos claimed Jerry Jeudy, the Cowboys seized the opportunity to take one of the most exciting players in the draft.
Lamb looks like the perfect final piece of this offence.
He should probably stay off Packers Twitter for a little while — fans in Green Bay weren’t exactly thrilled by the pick, especially considering the team’s need for more offensive weapons or help at secondary. But quarterback Jordan Love was essentially just given one of the most prestigious internships in the game, an opportunity to learn behind the best in Aaron Rodgers.
There’s an obvious comparison ripe for the picking here: the legendary Brett Favre was 35 years old when the Packers took Aaron Rodgers with the 24th-overall pick back in 2005. Rodgers is now 36, with four more years on his deal, and he just watched his team trade up to take his potential successor at No. 26.
Will Love play any time soon? Definitely not. Will Rodgers be thrilled to answer questions all year about the dynamic in the QB room? We’re gonna say no. But Love came into this draft as a prospect in need of more time and development, and that’s what he’ll get in Green Bay.
“That’s one of the GOATs right there in the game,” Love told ESPN’s Suzy Kolber after being drafted, when asked about Rodgers. “I’m excited to learn as much as I can.”
Baker Mayfield & Sam Darnold
The greatest gift you can give your quarterback? A bodyguard. That’s what the Cleveland Browns and New York Jets gave their young gunslingers Thursday night.
The Browns got a steal of a pick with Jedrick Wills Jr. at pick No. 10, widely regarded as the top offensive tackle in the draft. Wills, who will likely suit up at left tackle opposite free agency acquisition Jack Conklin on the right, already got a warm welcome from some of his Browns teammates:
Just lemme know how much time you need to finish your route 13https://t.co/LUOsKtbIgR
— Jedrick Wills Jr.®(@JWills73) April 24, 2020
He also got a ringing endorsement from the man who played his position for years:
One pick later, the Jets scooped up another offensive tackle in Mekhi Becton – all six-foot-seven, 364 pounds of him.
Sure, Kingsbury’s Cardinals drafted an elite, versatile defender in Isaiah Simmons, but… did you see the man’s living room?
The virtual draft gave viewers a rare glimpse into the war rooms (and dining rooms, basements, and… yachts?) of NFL brass, from Bill Belichick’s bare-bones setup to Mike Zimmerman’s Minnesota mansion, and… whatever was going on at Mike Vrabel’s place:
But if we’re talkin’ interiors, Kingsbury wins the night.
Ewing Jr: Father home after hospitalization – TSN
Georgetown basketball coach and former NBA great Patrick Ewing has been released from the hospital and is recovering from COVID-19 at home, his son said Monday.
The 57-year-old Hall of Famer, who played for the Hoyas in college and the New York Knicks in the NBA, announced Friday that he had tested positive for the coronavirus and was being treated at a hospital.
Patrick Ewing Jr. said three days later on Twitter that his father was getting better after receiving treatment and thanked the doctors and nurses who looked after him during his hospital stay. He also thanked fans for their thoughts and prayers after his father’s announcement.
“My father is now home and getting better,” Ewing Jr. wrote. “We’ll continue to watch his symptoms and follow the CDC guidelines. I hope everyone continues to stay safe and protect yourselves and your loved ones.”
As a player, the 7-foot Patrick Ewing helped Georgetown win the 1984 NCAA men’s basketball championship and reach two other title games. During his four years playing, Georgetown went 121-23, a winning percentage of .840.
He was taken with the No. 1 overall pick in the 1985 draft after the Knicks won the NBA’s first lottery. Ewing wound up leading New York to the 1994 NBA Finals, where they lost to Hakeem Olajuwon and the Houston Rockets.
Ewing played 17 seasons in the NBA, 15 with the Knicks.
After retiring as a player, he spent 15 years as an assistant or associate coach with four teams in the pros. In April 2017, he returned to Georgetown for his first job as a head coach at any level.
In his first three seasons at his alma mater, Ewing’s teams went a combined 49-46, with zero trips to the NCAA Tournament.
In 2019-20, Georgetown finished the season with seven consecutive losses and a 15-17 record.
More AP college basketball: https://apnews.com/Collegebasketball and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25
BKFC to up $20 million offer to Mike Tyson, Wanderlei Silva pitched as potential foe – MMA Fighting
Bare Knuckle Fighting Championship will next week issue another offer to Mike Tyson in hopes of bringing the 53-year-old boxing legend out of retirement.
BKFC President David Feldman told MMA Fighting the contract will exceed the $20 million offered to Tyson earlier this month, adding additional sweeteners that include charitable donations. He said he wasn’t able to provide the exact value of the contract because it’s still being finalized.
“I think I know what we need to do to make this thing happen,” Feldman said.
The race to get Tyson back into the ring has heated up ever since the former champ signaled his desire to compete again, potentially in a charity match. Several promoters, including BKFC, have jumped into the mix with million-dollar offers, and fighters from across the combat spectrum have volunteered themselves as opponents.
UFC Hall of Famers Tito Ortiz and Ken Shamrock were among those who expressed interest in a potential fight, regardless of the medium. On Sunday, Ortiz claimed someone close to Tyson had inquired about a potential matchup; Ortiz did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Feldman said matching Tyson with “the right kind of guy” is central to BKFC’s offer, and an opponent like former PRIDE champ Wanderlei Silva, who immediately reached out to BKFC after the offer to Tyson, is right now a more desirable matchup than Ortiz.
“I didn’t offer that (to Ortiz),” Feldman said. “I don’t know that it really draws. I think a Wanderlei Silva, someone of that nature. No matter how old Silva gets, he’s dangerous, and I think that would be an intriguing matchup. Something like that, but I don’t actually have anything in mind right now.”
Ortiz most recently fought this past December, submitting Alberto Del Rio inside one round in Combate America’s inaugural pay-per-view event. The ex-UFC champ has talked up a rematch with Silva, whom he defeated in the octagon in 2000. Silva most recently fought in 2018, losing a second-round TKO to rival Quinton “Rampage” Jackson.
“First, I want to see if we can make the Mike thing happen, period, and then we’ll start talking opponents,” Feldman said. “We’re not successful yet in making that Mike thing happen. But I don’t think the door’s shut.
“He did say no immediately. But I think there’s room there.”
Tyson, who retired after quitting on his stool during a 2005 boxing match against McBride, recently talked up a charity rematch with boxing rival Evander Holyfield. Retired boxer Shannon Briggs also has claimed he’s already signed an offer to fight Tyson in an exhibition match.
“There are a lot of people out there that need help, and something like that could help a lot of people, that’s in need for help,” he told TMZ.
Feldman said BKFC will restart its event promotion schedule on June 26 with enhanced safety measures in place to address the threat of the COVID-19 virus. A location has not yet been finalized.
Cejudo retires, vacates bantamweight title – TSN
The UFC confirmed to ESPN’s Ariel Helwani on Monday that Henry Cejudo is considered to be retired and has vacated the UFC bantamweight title. His name was removed from the title page and official rankings on the UFC website Sunday.
Henry Cejudo is no longer the UFC bantamweight champion, per the promotion. They have confirmed this news to ESPN. Cejudo is officially “retired” and the title is now vacant. No word yet on when the vacant title fight will take place.
— Ariel Helwani (@arielhelwani) May 25, 2020
Cejudo successfully defended the bantamweight belt against Dominik Cruz at UFC 249 earlier this month and announced after the bout he was retiring.
“I really do want to walk away, but money talks,” Cejudo said at the time. “It gets stagnant. I want to leave on top.”
It is unknown if Cejudo has removed himself from the USADA drug-testing pool. If he removes himself, Cejudo would not be able to return to the UFC until he puts himself back in the pool for a period of six months.
With a 16-2 record, Cejudo had not lost since 2016 and is only the fourth person in UFC history to hold titles in two different weight classes at the same time (bantamweight and flyweight). He is currently on a six-fight winning streak, which includes victories over Cruz, Demetrious Johnson and TJ Dillashaw.
The UFC has yet to announce its plan regarding a future bantamweight title fight.
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