The NFL draft is over and before you know it—after the Memorial Day cookouts and lake trips and fireworks-shooting and golf outings—we’ll be ready for the 2018 season kickoff between the Falcons and Eagles.
But first, let’s wrap up the 2018 draft, which was high on entertainment and emotions in its first time in Dallas. From top to bottom, here are the five best moments from the weekend:
1. Ryan Shazier announcing the Steelers first-round pick. I still remember how I felt when I noticed the Pittsburgh linebacker wasn’t moving his legs after that hit on Dec. 4. And then came the dread with each statement from the hospital that didn’t make mention of lower-body movement. But we’ve seen Shazier make progress in the weeks since, and his walk to the podium on Thursday night, with assistance from his fiancée, was one of the most uplifting moments of the draft. Yes, it was a reminder of what this sport can do to you, and who knows if Shazier will ever be able to play football again, but man, what a moment to see him working back toward the life that he once knew.
2. Only Shazier could top Shaquem Griffin. The UCF linebacker with one hand was drafted by the Seahawks in the fifth round on Saturday, joining his twin brother in Seattle. Griffin’s story is a great one by itself, but don’t forget that he’s a great football player who has a real chance at making an impact on a defense that desperately needs help.
3. Former Heisman winner Lamar Jackson landing in Baltimore is one of my favorite fits. Jackson (and his mother/agent) wanted to be drafted by a team where he’d have a realistic chance to start after a year or so. The Ravens traded up to choose the QB with the last pick in the first round, and now Joe Flacco is on the clock.
4. Former Eagles kicker David Akers lost his mind on stage one year after Drew Pearson trolled Eagles fans at the draft. “Hey Dallas, the last time you were in a Super Bowl, these draft picks weren’t even born,” is the best one-liner of the weekend.
5. Bill Belichick eschewing conventional draft wisdom to trade almost any time he could became a running joke by Saturday. The eight draft trades are the most in franchise history, beating out seven trades in both 2009 and ’10. The Pats are set up nicely in 2019…for now.
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NOW ON THE MMQB: Andy Benoit grades the draft for all 32 teams. Did your team pass or fail? … Conor Orr spells out the winners and losers of the draft … Albert Breer notes that the next heir to Tom Brady’s throne will likely have to come from the next draft … Breer also picks out his five most intriguing teams at the conclusion of the draft … The Cardinals and Bills are happy as clams with their Joshes at quarterback, writes Peter King … and more.
WHAT YOU MAY HAVE MISSED: Every single pick is here in our NFL draft tracker … Gary Gramling wants to do away with the rookie wage scale in the convincing opening to his post-draft column … Jason Witten’s seemingly imminent departure from the Cowboys puts Dallas in a tough spot moving forward … John Dorsey has a Browns hype video? … and more.
1. For some reason, Colts owner Jim Irsay wanted everyone to know that another team once offered up a fortune for Andrew Luck and he turned the team down. Because, of course.
2. Who was 2018’s Mr. Irrelevant? SMU WR Trey Quinn, drafted by Washington.
3. Cardinals second-round pick Christian Kirk is going to be awfully familiar in Arizona with two teammates from his high school and college, respectively.
4. Josh Allen had some racist tweets pop up the night before the draft, but people around him want you to know that that’s not who he really is.
5. Eagles scribe Les Bowen traveled to Dallas to watch Eagles’ fans rub their success in the Cowboys’ face.
6. Speaking of the Eagles, the defending champs spent their seventh-round pick on a 6′ 8″ rugby player with no football experience whatsoever.
7. The Panthers took Indiana tight end Ian Thomas with the first pick of the fourth round Saturday. He has a hell of a backstory.
8. Calvin Ridley may soon be the No. 2 receiver for the Falcons opposite fellow Crimson Tide star Julio Jones. It’s been a long road to get here for him.
9. Did the Steelers just find their quarterback of the future in the third round in Mason Rudolph? GM Kevin Colbert said Pittsburgh had him in the same group as the top quarterbacks.
10. Giants running back Saquon Barkley broke the record for most jersey sales for a drafted rookie this weekend when his New York jersey went flying off the (online) shelves.
Have a story you think we should include in tomorrow’s Press Coverage? Let us know here.
Gary Gramling wished good luck to Hue Jackson in his post-draft column linked above. The Browns have Antonio Callaway, Josh Gordon and Desmond Harrison all in the same locker room. But how about the Raiders, weeks after surprisingly releasing punter Marquette King, trading for Martavis Bryant and drafting Arden Key? Good luck, Jon Gruden.
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