Clunky at times, poignant at others, and exceptionally entertaining in spots, the NFL draft entered its third and final day with Cincinnati selecting an Appalachian State linebacker on Saturday.
Commissioner Roger Goodell has insisted the sporting world needed the draft to be held on time. Sure, it’s been remote/virtual/digital; make your own choice. But the amount of eyeballs watching has been, well, an eye-opening number. And through Friday’s third round, the accompanying telethon had raised more than $5 million for six organizations battling the coronavirus pandemic.
“That work continues today,” Goodell said, “and the NFL will again match every dollar donated by fans.”
NFL general managers also put together donations, initiated by the Eagles’ Howie Roseman, with each giving at least $8,000 for every selection in this draft.
The league even awarded the 2022 draft to Las Vegas after all events on the Strip for this year were canceled due to the nationwide shutdown of large gatherings to curb the spread of the virus.
Concerns about all sorts of technological issues have been unfounded. Sure, there were awkward moments, but those come even when the draft is a mega-event drawing hundreds of thousands of fans to the “Rocky Steps” in Philadelphia or lower Broadway in Nashville.
Saturday’s fourth round seemed to go even more smoothly than the previous three. The dominance by the Southeastern Conference and national champion LSU continued, too.
The SEC had 40 players chosen through three rounds; 40 previously was the most through four rounds. In Round 4, another eight SEC guys were taken. Ten LSU Tigers went on Thursday and Friday. Add another two to that: tackle Saahdiq Charles and defensive tackle Rashard Lawrence.
It was hardly surprising that so many players came from LSU, including top overall pick Joe Burrow, who the Bengals hope will be their franchise quarterback.
Meanwhile, such iconic programs as Nebraska, Oklahoma State, Pitt and Arizona had been blanked.
App State had its second player chosen, linebacker Akeem Davis-Gaither, the Sun Belt’s defensive player of the year who was a standout at the Senior Bowl — a game the Bengals coaching staff worked.
The Redskins dealt their unhappy veteran tackle Trent Williams to San Francisco on Saturday morning, and then chose Charles, who has been plagued by off-field issues and served a six-game suspension.
The Niners, who later announced the retirement of long-time standout left tackle Joe Staley, sent a fifth-round pick in this year’s draft and a 2021 third-rounder to acquire Williams. The deal reunites him with 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan, who was the offensive coordinator in Washington when Williams was drafted fourth overall in 2010.
San Francisco made two other trades, first sending Matt Breida, who was the Niners’ starting running back for part of their NFC title season, to Miami. The Dolphins dealt a fifth-rounder to San Francisco.
Then the 49ers traded wideout Marquise Goodwin to Philadelphia for a swap of sixth-round spots.
The first quarterback chosen on Day 3 was Washington’s Jacob Eason, who went to Indianapolis. The Colts, of course, signed Philip Rivers as a free agent and still have incumbent Jacoby Brissett. Both have contracts only through 2020, though.
Eason, whose father Tony was a wide receiver at Notre Dame, lost out to Jake Fromm at Georgia, then transferred to Washington. Fromm finally went 167th overall to Buffalo, which has a young QB in Josh Allen. Fromm likely was hurt by a mediocre combine performance. He even was taken well after the Jets got Florida International QB James Morgan at 125.
AP Pro Football Writer Josh Dubow contributed to this report.
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