Guest Blog by Ashmere Prasad, Recruiting Coordinator + Sports Blogger, Gilead Sciences + nutsandboltssports.com
The first-ever virtual draft took place last weekend, starting Thursday, April 23. The draft was originally scheduled to take place for the first time at Viva Las Vegas, which would’ve been a wild ride and an expensive trip for the media, because who doesn’t love to throw the dice once in a while.
All in all, this virtual draft was a success, and quicker than the draft would’ve been live. Although there was plenty of dead time between each pick, the final five rounds flew by compared to day one. Also, it was fun and interesting to be inside the homes of the team's front office.
As predicted, quarterback Joe Burrow, the first overall pick, was signed to the Cincinnati Bengals and I am sure the sports world could not be more thrilled (including Bengals’ fans), for his future. Burrow is a caring, athletically versatile athlete who has shown over the years to never stop trying. Before joining the team at LSU, the majority of schools wrote him off because they believed he was ‘not good enough.’ Man, did he prove them wrong.
This draft class was one of the best in NFL history, stacked with a historically deep range of wide receivers, cornerbacks, and linemen.
The 49ers, the only remaining team in the Bay Area, were in deep need of a cornerback, wide receiver and offensive linemen. The 49ers did well beyond that. They traded a 2020 fifth-round pick and a third-round pick in 2021 for someone to cover Jimmy Garrapolo’s blindside - Trent Williams. The veteran left tackle and seven-time pro-bowler will be a great addition to the 49ers offense now that Joe Staley has retired. Williams moves well and will create open space for running and screenplays.
Although the Raiders are no longer in the Bay Area it would be rude not to discuss their needs since the wound is still fresh for a few fans (ahem.) The Raiders had similar needs as the 49ers. They needed some weapons for Derek Carr, or possibly Marcus Mariota to throw to, and a fast agile cornerback to help on the defensive side.
When it came to the Raiders 12th pick, they selected Henry Ruggs III, whom no one had expected. Ruggs’ main selling point is his speed. The internet made jokes that Al Davis somehow spoke to the front office and led them to select Ruggs. Davis was known to love fast players.
All three top receivers were still available, Ceedee Lamb, Jerry Jeudy, and Justin Jefferson, and Raider nation was sure one of the three would’ve been selected. Originally, I am sure, fans were disappointed. But after you watch Rugg’s highlights back and learn about his speed, it is apparent that he will be a strong addition to the Raider offense.
As the 19th pick rolled around for the Raiders they selected yet another questionable player, cornerback, Damon Arnette. Arnette was projected to be selected later in the draft, so it felt like the pick was reaching in a sense. John Gruden later selected two more receivers and a tight end to help Carr explode offensively. The question is will he?
There were some surprising moments in this draft. One major pick was the Packers drafting a quarterback in the first round rather than a wide receiver to help Aaron Rodgers when this was historically one of the best receiving classes in a long time. Not only did they draft a quarterback in the first round, but they also failed to draft a receiver at all...very strange.
It’s a toss-up between the Ravens and the 49ers as to who won the draft. The Ravens drafted smart for the second year in a row and selected linebacker Patrick Queen in their first round, who will be a strong addition to the Ravens’ defense. The 49ers obtained a strong receiver with Brandon Aiyuk after losing Emmanual Sanders this year. It will be exciting to see how these rookie additions influence their respective teams.
Overall, the virtual draft was a success, with minor technical difficulties. The one major moment missed throughout the draft was watching the rookies obtain their gear and shake hands with Roger Goodell (even though he is boo’d every year.)