The 2019 NFL Draft shared an opening night with Marvel’s Avengers: End Game, a film that is projected on its opening weekend to eclipse $300 million domestically, and $1 billion globally. Though the two are entirely different entities, they do share a few commonalities.
Both have been highly anticipated in the days building to opening night by their respective fan bases. Both feature people with unworldly talent and abilities ultimately try to come out as winners in their respective battles. Both provide unexpected twists and turns, going against the grain of the viewer’s thought.
Yet mostly, the ultimate goal is to provide entertainment… and the NFL Draft just may have out-done Iron Man and friends on Thursday night.
All jokes aside, the first round of the 2019 NFL Draft opened with questions right out of the gates. Would Kyler Murray really go number one overall? Would Ed Oliver fall out of the top ten? What was the Oakland Raiders “surprise pick” with the fourth overall selection?
As the night progressed, football fans across the globe watched team after team play the hand they were dealt and take a gamble on a player that in hope, would alter their franchise for the better. In every transaction, there is a winner and loser. It’s simply how life is (outside of soccer and tic-tac-toe), and the NFL Draft takes no exception. Thus, this article was created to identify those who walked away victorious from the first night of the draft, and those who failed to impress.
Winners (and losers) from the first night of the NFL Draft:
Pittsburgh Steelers– Don’t act like you didn’t see this coming, you are on a Steelers site after all. Taking the black and gold lenses off for just a minute, Pittsburgh was able to solidify a top need and jumped ten spots to grab one of the top inside linebackers in the draft, Michigan’s Devin Bush. The price? Aside from swapping picks with the Denver Broncos (Denver moved back to #20) the Steelers gave their second round pick (#54 overall) and a 2020 third round pick. Once thought it was too heavy a cost to move into the top ten, Pittsburgh’s deal looks like a sure-fire bargain to add to what could be the core of Pittsburgh’s defense for years to come.
Washington Redskins– There was a lot of speculation surrounding Ohio State QB Dwayne Haskins and where he would be selected. The Washington Redskins coveted Haskins as their guy, and even contemplated trading up for him (per Ian Rapoport). After the New York Giants grabbed Duke QB Daniel Jones with the sixth overall pick, the Redskins ultimately had Haskins fall right in their laps, not having to give any draft picks to acquire the player they coveted most… But the Redskins didn’t settle there. Washington jumped back into the first round and traded for the Indianapolis Colts’ 26th overall pick to acquire Mississippi State EDGE player Montez Sweat. The Redskins swapped picks with Indy, ultimately moving up twenty spots in the trade which also included a 2020 second round pick as well. A small price to pay to jump twenty spots and secure one of the best defensive ends in the class.
Clelin Ferrell- Let’s forget for a second that the Oakland Raiders completely bamboozled the entire world and took Clelin Ferrell ahead of big names such as Josh Allen and Ed Oliver. Ferrell was a name that was widely considered to end up in the first round, and despite the immense talent he possesses, Ferrell was not projected to go top five in any mock draft known to mankind. But rather than rag on Ferrell, I’m declaring him a winner for going number four overall and securing what should be a hefty payday for the next four or five years. It will be up to Ferrell to live up to the position he was picked in, and only time will tell if he was worth the high selection. However, Ferrell was drafted much higher than even he anticipated himself, and that’s always a win for a player on draft night.
Dabo Swinney and Clemson Football– If Ferrell hit the jackpot going fourth overall, Clemson football coach Dabo Swinney and the rest of the program earned themselves a lottery ticket on Thursday night by having three(!) defensive linemen taken in the first seventeen picks of the 2019 NFL Draft. With Clelin Ferrell (#4), Christian Wilkins (#13) and Dexter Lawrence (#17) dominating the early parts of the draft, Dabo and his staff can now use this impressive feat to his recruiting advantage, as if winning national championships wasn’t already a convincing argument.
Honorable mentions: Jacksonville for having Josh Allen fall to their lap at #7, Buffalo for having Ed Oliver fall to #9, Iowa football for having multiple tight ends selected in the top twenty.
New York Giants– Giants GM Dave Gettleman not only took the cake for one of the worst first round performances in recent memory, but perhaps baked it as well. A year after passing on Sam Darnold and months removed from when Odell Beckham Jr. was traded, Gettleman needed a strong start to the draft to convince nearly everyone the ship was not in-fact sinking. The results? The Giants start by reaching for Duke QB Daniel Jones with the sixth overall pick, and finishes by trading back into the first round to reach for Georgia CB Deandre Baker, with Greedy Williams and Byron Murphy twiddling their thumbs as they wait to be selected. There’s making moves to get “your guys”, then there’s what New York managed to do last night, which was disappoint yet oddly entertain the football world on a national stage.
Green Bay Packers– I was a bit hesitant to put the Packers on this side of the list, but if the shoe fits, you might as well flaunt it. This was in no way on the catastrophic level New York managed to reach, yet Packers fans may walk away feeling disappointed with their initial haul. Rashan Gary looks like Tarzan but produces like Jane, and is one of the biggest bust candidates in the draft. I am a fan of Darnell Savage, however trading up nine spots in the first for a player that had a high probability of being there at pick #30 (let alone a handful of safeties that are similar in play-style) doesn’t exactly make logistical. As good as these two players could potentially be, the Packers find themselves on this list due to the particular path chosen.
D.K. Metcalf– There were rumors of D.K. Metcalf potentially going in the top ten of the draft just a few months ago. Despite testing well at the NFL Combine (bench rep and 40 time, at least), Metcalf was a majority favorite to at least be the first receiver off the board come draft day. What was the knock on Metcalf? A limited route tree, and potential of furthering a neck injury despite being cleared before the combine. There were questions on how much his limitations would hold him back, and we found out on Thursday GM’s around the league weren’t as high on D.K. as most draft analysts were. Metcalf went from a potential top ten pick to watching two receivers (Marquise Brown/N’Keal Harry) go before him, ultimately having to wait for the second day of the draft to hear his name called.
Honorable mentions: Drew Lock/Greedy Williams/Jawaan Taylor for falling out of the first round, Arizona Cardinals for failing to find a trade partner for Josh Rosen and losing trade value by not getting deal done by day one, Montez Sweat for falling to #26.
Ravens Will Defer 2020 Season Tickets To 2021
The Baltimore Ravens announced Wednesday they will defer 2020 season tickets until 2021.
Single-game ticket sales for the 2020 season will also be discontinued, with refunds being issued to fans that have already bought them, the team said in a press release.
2020 Ravens season tickets will be deferred to 2021.— Baltimore Ravens (@Ravens) July 8, 2020
If permitted under state and local government regulations to have fans attend games in 2020, a reduced seating capacity at M&T Bank Stadium will be in place of fewer than 14,000 seats per game.
📰: https://t.co/Y83BkJUYDV pic.twitter.com/FN9jWTyTea
Still, the Ravens are holding out hope that fans will be allowed in stadiums this season, albeit in a limited capacity, with an expectation of less than 14,000 seat available. Baltimore added that attendance by fans and overall volume will be determined by “social distancing guidelines and fan safety protocols developed by health experts, governmental officials and the NFL.”
“To offer a proper level of safety for fans who want to attend games, a reduction in capacity is necessary,” stated Ravens president Dick Cass. “We are disappointed that this will be a disruption for many ticket buyers, but we have an obligation to our fans and our community to keep M&T Bank Stadium as safe as possible.”
While the Ravens appear to be lacking optimism regarding fan attendance in 2020, the also said they would resume selling tickets if the NFL releases a seating manifest that allows for fans come the fall.
“With over 62,000 season tickets already sold, there is no equitable way to accommodate in a limited stadium capacity all PSL Owners who are interested in maintaining season tickets for 2020,” stated senior vice president of ticket sales and operations Baker Koppelman. “Under these unusual circumstances, it’s best to simplify the ticket sales process and allow fans to decide which games they want to attend, while giving our PSL Owners priority in accessing tickets.”
The NFL has not made any definitive decision regarding empty stadiums, but the Ravens seem to be the first organization to take a proactive approach fearing the worst.
Pittsburgh is still selling single game tickets, but in a limited capacity in anticipation of social distancing guidelines. The team also has a disclaimer on their website warning buyers of potential rescheduling or postponement of games, stating full refunds will be available for games that are not played.
James Conner Surprises Mom with New House
Pittsburgh Steelers running back James Conner warmed hearts last month when he surprised his father with a new truck.
Now, he is taking care of mom.
Conner recently surprised his mother with a brand new house, sharing her emotional reaction to Twitter on Saturday.
Welcome HOME Ma! You’ve sacrificed so much and we can’t thank you enough! You’re the reason I go to work day in and day out, to finally give you a place you can call Home. I Love you❤️🏡💪🏽💯🙏🏽 pic.twitter.com/c25KyOphAo— James Conner (@JamesConner_) July 4, 2020
Conner was able to pull off the surprise for his mother, Kelly Bibbs, with the help of his brothers. While Bibbs may have not realized what exactly was going on at first, seeing her son James and the golden balloons arranged to say “Welcome Home” quickly gave it away.
Steelers running backs coach Eddie Faulkner and Cleveland Browns wide receiver Jarvis Landry shared their thoughts on the big surprise, among other on social media.
Wow! The best thing I’ve seen in a long time! https://t.co/BO3x1RkvDL— Eddie Faulkner (@coachfaulk) July 4, 2020
❤️ Absolutely, man that’s a amazing feeling… Making sure your people Straight forever ✊🏾✊🏾✊🏾— Jarvis Juice Landry (@God_Son80) July 5, 2020
Conner’s gesture is a continuation of an offseason of giving that saw him gift his father a brand new truck back on June 6.
Bought my pops a truck! He was hype 😂🙏🏽💪🏽 pic.twitter.com/QSrH2bdiTS— James Conner (@JamesConner_) June 6, 2020
Entering his fourth season out of Pitt, Conner is looking for a bounce back season following an injury plagued 2019 campaign. He rushed for 464 yards and four touchdowns, but played in only ten games for the Steelers.
Last season was a far cry from 2018, when Conner was a breakout sensation replacing Le’Veon Bell. He ran for 973 yards and 12 touchdowns, earning Pro Bowl honors.
Entering the final year of his rookie contract, the 25-year-old has something to prove in 2020.
Report: NFL Teams Could Trim Training Camp Rosters More Than 13%
NFL teams are reportedly considering bringing fewer players than normal to training camp this year in an effort to combat COVID-19, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
Instead of bringing the regular 90 players, Schefter’s sources say teams could bring just 80, or even 75 players to camp this August.
In an effort to combat COVID-19, NFL teams are likely to bring fewer than the regular 90 players they ordinarily bring to training camp, per league sources. One source is predicting 80 per team, another 75, but no one is expecting 90. More coming up on https://t.co/rDZaVFhcDQ.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) July 2, 2020
While it appears teams have the right idea in mind by trying to minimize the risk of COVID-19, shrinking training camp rosters will limit opportunities for fringe players attempting to find a landing spot.
Still, smaller rosters will allow for proposed social distancing in training camp in compliance with the league’s protocols announced last month. There are also plans to expand practice squad rosters to handle the likely inactives that will arise from positive tests, which will return roster slots to those barred from camp.
In another move to combat the coronavirus, several reports indicate the league is slashing the 2020 preseason in half. Each team will play their Week 2 and 3 exhibition games, but Weeks and 4 will be canceled. The Hall of Fame game between the Steelers and Cowboys has already been called off.
These last two moves by the league are the first two instances of the NFL bending to the virus. The league had previously held the NFL Draft and free agency on time unimpeded, and is currently still planning on having fans in attendance this season, although that seems like a long-shot currently.