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With the first pick of the 2018 NFL Draft…

Live from AT&T, Arlington, Tx

Spoiler alert.

The 1st round of the 2018 NFL draft started and ended with a quarterback being picked. In between it was pure showbiz. Texan razzle dazzle.

Jezza promised a show and he gave us one, complete with red carpet.  I expect the 2018 Draft outshone Hollywood’s best efforts.

The atmosphere inside AT&T- a stadium made to look like a theatre which amazingly felt like a theatre, built quickly. It might have been the searing heat outside, it might have been that folks were desperate to see how AT&T had been dressed up to host the night. Regardless, the buzz inside was electric. 

The NFL had decided to set up team specific areas which allowed supporters to gather together in one area and it worked wonders. By the time Commish Goodell appeared on stage to declare the 2018 draft open,  the din was so loud I could not hear those famous words. I suspect much was because the Cowboys were by far the highest represented team, who were desperate to let Goodell know what they thought of his spat with Jezza.

Speaking of fans, it was a mad colourfest of curious, fun and scary characters. The draft brought out the best and worst of NFL fashion. A sight to behold.

My hometown is Glasgow where we are used to loud and raucous sporting events. But the sound inside the hall when Mayfield was announced as #1 pick will live with me for some time. 50/50 split between shock and delight, the reaction was sensational, was pure showbiz and set the tone for the night.

Next up the Giants picked Saquon Barkley at 2 which was equally raucously greeted and  the draft was underway.

What was happening in the Jets war room is anyone’s guess but I don’t think they thought Sam Darnold would still be available at 3. He was, it was an easy decision and Sam is now a Jets man.

I have to say that the Browns Mayfield pick set the tone for the rest of the draft. Chaos ensued as white boards all the way down through to 20 and beyond were being frantically rearranged. It made for fascinating watching.

You either have or will watch the draft so I won’t go over what happened next.

A few highlights for me.

  • Browns picking Denzel Ward at 4 must have made John Elway a happy man indeed.
  • Buffalo trading up to get Josh Allen at 7 was a gutsy move. Time will tell on this one.
  • Josh Rosen wasn’t happy at getting picked at 10. Josh’s ego (a new character with its own mini series to be aired on NFL Network) suggested that there had been 9 mistakes made prior to him being drafted by the Cardinals. Without bashing him there is nothing he has said since which suggests his character has been misrepresented.
  • Cowboys fans were whipped in to a frenzy by Drew Pearson and Michael Irvin, telling the masses that the Cowboys had to fill the void at WR made by Dez’s departure. Surely, surely, surely! the Dallas Cowboys would pick local boy Courtland Sutton or if not the excellent Calvin Ridley. Nope. The atmosphere could be cut with a knife when the Cowboys announced Line backer Leighton Vander Esch as their pick. While it might not be the sexy pick that Irvin, Pearson and the Cowboys nation wanted, this was a good pick for America’s team.

Two further stand out moments for me. Ryan Shazier walking on to the stage to announce the Steeler’s pick was a fantastic and tear jerking moment. Only 4 months after that terrible injury, what huge progress he has made in his rehabilitation. 

Perhaps the loudest cheer of the night was reserved for pick 32. The Ravens had traded back in to take Philadelphia’s last pick of the first round. I have no doubt every person left inside AT&T wanted the Raven’s to pick Lamar Jackson. And they did. To wild applause. Lamar’s smile said it all. A change of direction in Baltimore? I will watch with interest.

And that was it. Goodell appeared on stage to announce the end of round one and to invite us back for round two. Far less booing at the end. Tiredness and a mass exodus post Cowboys pick meant Roger could leave the stage in peace. 

It was a fantastic experience. I loved it. They say everything is bigger and better in Texas. It was. Well done NFL. Take a bow.

On to round two……

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