By Arnie Leshin
It’s something different, something new, but at least it will have viewers who can catch the NFL College Draft on Television.
Yes, it runs Thursday, Friday and Saturday, three days of getting to know who’s going where via the tubes on ESPN, NFL Network, and ABC.
But you won’t see the college players walk onto the stage, hug the NFL commissioner, and hear the applauds. Nope, not this year of the worldwide POVID-16 (coronavirus) pandemic that has either cancelled or postponed major sports event.
This time you will see and hear on TV from players who are home with their families and friends, either before, during or after the pick was made. And there will be no fans or family cheering for their favorite team, for the seats will be empty.
And as we approach this, the quarterbacks hug the spotlight, whether or not the Cincinnati Bengals make Joe Burrow their number one choice. Some say it’s a sure thing, others differ and say it could be a surprise selection.
No matter, the 6-foot-3, 220-pound Burrow is designated as the No. 1 quarterback in the draft after leading Louisiana State University to the national championship with an impressive performance against Clemson. He’s had a remarkable season by showing poise, intelligence, leadership and 72 percent passing. He has said it doesn’t matter who chooses him, he only looks ahead to playing pro football in the NFL.
But he’s not the only quality quarterback out there, and some say that this could be the first time in seven years that four were picked in the first round. Will former Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa be on that list as he recovers from a surgical hip injury following a series of other injuries. Is he injury prone?
Now it doesn’t look like the 2nd and 3rd teams — the Detroit Lions and Washington Redskins — are seeking a quarterback and instead have their sights set on a corner back, linebacker or safety. That brings on the New York Giants and they appeared locked in to Clemson outside linebacker Isaiah Simmons after making Duke quarterback Daniel Jones their first pick last year.
Then it comes down to the Miami Dolphins and Los Angeles Chargers, and both need quarterbacks after the Fins lost starter Tannyhill to free agency last season and did not resign aging back-up Ryan
Chargers long-time signal-caller Philip Rivers also went the free agent way by signing with the Skins.
That’s what puts former Oregon quarterback Justin Herbert into the conversation. He is ranked as the No. 3 quarterback behind Burrow and Tagovailoa, stands 6-feet-6, weights in at 236, and was the Ducks’ starter all of his four seasons. It’s said the ball just jumps out of his hand, that he has plus mobility, and an accurate throwing arm.
Is he better than Tagovailoa? The consensus says no, but the Dolphins appear to be leading toward Herbert, who has avoided the injury list that Tagovailoa is prone to.
If that happens, the Chargers may or may not select Tagovailoa, may instead go with Utah State quarterback Jordan Love, or neither one. And that could drop both Love and Tagovailoa to the second round. At 6-4, Love has an advantage, for but Tagovailoa is only 6-feet, and that’s small for an NFL quarterback.
But it also depends on Tagovailoa’s hip. Is it hip, hip hurray or is it going to get in the way of what could be a promising career for the talented Tagovailoa? Here, teams must weight risk versus potential for top QB prospect who badly injured his hip while playing for the Crimson Tide. Before that, he suffered ankle and hand injuries, and is known to be brittle.
Does the risk far outweigh the reward? A potential franchise quarterback, but with a huge injury related question mark? To know the answers will come with the decision-makers of all 32 teams connected via phones and video screens while they adhere to work-from-home guidelines.
Dolphins to trade up for Joe Burrow or take an offensive tackle.
Giants to pick Justin Herbert.
Patriots could be trading up for Herbert or Love.
Broncos looking to trade up for wide receiver Jerry Jeudy.
Chargers have moved on from Phillip Rivers, but might not draft another quarterback.
Former Sooner QB Jalen Hurts could be the fifth quarterback selected.
Panthers in quarterback hunt, likes Georgia’s Jake Fromm or Hurts.
Cardinals seek defensive tackle Derrick Brown from Auburn.
Jaguars hope to pick linebacker Jeff Okwdah from Ohio State.
Browns after offensive tackle Jedrick Willis from Alabama.
Jets looking to haul in wide receiver Cee Dee Lamb from Oklahoma.
Raiders would like to get wide receiver Justin Jefferson from LSU.
49ers seeking inside linebacker Patrick Queen from LSU.
Buccaneers after offensive tackle Aiden Thomas from Georgia.
Broncos in quest of inside linebacker Kenneth Murray from Oklahoma.
Falcons attempt to reel in defensive end Yelor Gross from Penn State.
Dolphins like running back Dandre Swift from Georgia.
Cowboys after wide receiver Henry Ruggs III from Alabama.
Eagles out to get offensive tackle Hekhi Becton from LSU.
Saints like corner back Tristan Wirts from Iowa.
Seahawks might trade for defensive end A.J. Espinesa from Iowa.
Packers bid for wide receiver Brandon Alyuk from Arizona State.
Not a rumor that Miami has the most picks — 13