Most of the time when writing for Zone Coverage, I like to act like a professional writer. Once I’m off the keyboard, I’ll admit that I’m just as much of a purple-bleeding fan as anyone who takes the time to read my articles. Because of that, there are some situations where I just have to leave the shirt and tie in the closet and throw on some purple and scream at the television.
The NFL Draft is one of those times.
For years, I have gathered with friends and sat in front of the TV to enjoy one of the greatest spectacles of reality television. To accompany this dismay, I permanently borrowed an idea from one of my friends to do a timeline of the events that happen in the NFL Draft. The idea was originally known as the “Drunken NFL Draft Chronicles” but recently, we shortened it to the “NFL Draft Chronicles.”
However, this year’s chronicles are a bit different than the last time I did them in 2015. For starters, the COVID-19 pandemic has forced the NFL into a virtual draft, that has sent scouting departments and GMs scrambling across the country to find out how they’re going to do this thing.
Second, my usual crew of Libby and Uncle Jerry has been scattered across the midwest. Libby is burrowed in a hole in North Dakota where he plans on starting an underground casino and Uncle Jerry is also in his sports bunker ready for this draft to start.
In addition, the tradition of “drinking a 40 like they run the 40” has also been put on the back burner as our local liquor store has asked we phone in orders before picking them up. To skip the awkward step of asking for six 40 oz. Bud Lights, we just stuck to basics this year.
However, this draft has sheer excitement with the Vikings selecting twice in the first round and having a mountain of holes to fill. As I sat down for what could be the biggest sporting event in months, I wasn’t quite sure what would happen but that is the magic of the NFL Draft Chronicles.
7:00 p.m. (CT) – NFL commissioner Roger Goodell kicks things off from his man cave, which looks like it has plenty of leather-bound books. As Harry Connick Jr. sings the national anthem, Libby announces he’s started his poker game and the first hand is an ace and a six. Time to get this draft started.
7:16 p.m. – After the national anthem, five dramatic openings, and some virtual boos, the Cincinnati Bengals are finally on the clock. Unless the internet freezes or the Zoom call is hacked from Russia, we’re pretty sure we know where they’re going to go here.
7:25 p.m. – After whittling down the clock to one minute, the Bengals select Joe Burrow to the surprise of no one. Meanwhile, Libby has won his first hand of poker, but he’s already down 10 bucks. “Tough night for the house,” he mutters.
7:33 p.m. – Washington is on the clock and it selects Chase Young, making me two-for-two in my mock draft that I wanted to share, but was afraid it would get torn apart online. In a similar vein, Libby has bought in twice to his poker game. Meanwhile, we assume Jerry is somewhere trying to beg his wife to join the chat.
7:49 p.m. – After the Lions take Jeffrey Okudah, the Giants go against the grain for the second straight year. Instead of taking Daniel Jones, thinking Duke was a football school, they take Andrew Thomas who went to a football school in Georgia. As this happens, Libby’s poker game has continued to go south as he claims to be down $100.
7:53 p.m. – The Miami Dolphins are on the clock at this point and ESPN won’t stop talking about how they passed on Drew Brees to trade for Daunte Culpepper. Boy, I’d hate to have that GM on my team. Libby informs me that GM was Rick Spielman.
7:55 p.m. – The Dolphins select Tua Tagovailoa, who looks less than thrilled to be headed to Miami. Libby screams “RICK SPIELMAN IS THE GOAT!” as he loses another hand.
8:03 p.m. – The Los Angles Chargers select Justin Herbert who looks way too much like Bo Callahan. Just like the fictitious Wisconsin superstar, he goes sixth in this draft. Libby is happy that Herbert stays on the west coast so he doesn’t have to watch him.
8:24 p.m. – After a couple of picks go off the board, there aren’t many surprises. But here comes former Vikings offensive coordinator Kevin Stefanski and the Cleveland Browns. Libby asks how the Browns will screw this one up? I ask where is Uncle Jerry?
8:26 p.m. – The Browns select Jedrick Wills Jr., which is actually a good pick. Libby goes all in for the third time during this draft and loses to a pair of pocket aces. I ask how much money he’s lost. He says “a lot.”
8:37 p.m. – The run on offensive tackles begins as the New York Jets select Mekhi Becton. At this point, three of the “Big Four” offensive tackles have been selected making me think we’re going to see Kirk Cousins continue to meltdown in the pocket.
8:47 p.m. – Nearly two hours into the draft, we finally have our first trade. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers trade up to snatch Tristan Wirfs. With CeeDee Lamb and Jerry Jeudy still on the board, I’m screaming at my TV to trade up for either of them.
9:04 p.m. – The Broncos wind up taking Jeudy and all I can think of is Rick trading up for Lamb. You dealt up for Cordarrelle Patterson once, do it again for Lamb!
9:18 p.m. – A couple of picks later and Rick doesn’t pull the trigger. Haunted by the memory of passing on Randy Moss in the 1998 draft, Jerry Jones blows off his scouting department and takes Lamb. It’s apparent the Vikings will not take a wide receiver tonight, but since they want to run the ball, maybe they’ll take a running back.
9:27 p.m. – The Raiders are back on the clock and things are escalating quickly. Goodell is looking chipper as he announces Las Vegas will host the 2020 NFL Draft….which they were supposed to do before we landed in a pandemic. The Raiders prove they’ve been hitting the bottle harder, selecting Damon Arnette a full round earlier than he was supposed to be selected.
9:34 p.m. – My mom sends me a text asking if Coronavirus has replaced Aaron Rodgers as the most used term in football broadcasts. She then asks which one is worse. Surprisingly, I say that Rodgers has never forced us to stay in our homes.
9:47 p.m. – After nearly three hours of waiting, the Vikings are on the clock. Thankfully, Uncle Jerry has finally joined us. His wife doesn’t look too amused and his login name is actually his wife’s. He claims to know nothing about it. With the 22nd pick in the NFL Draft, the Vikings select…Justin Jefferson!
This pick is a mixed bag for me. The Vikings need a receiver, but Jefferson is the exact type of receiver as Adam Thielen. He played most of his snaps in the slot and is a menace downfield. I think it could work, but both Blake and Jerry are against it.
10:14 p.m. – The Vikings are on the clock again, but there’s been a trade! The Vikings have traded down to 31st overall. With a lot of Mich Golden Light under my belt, I assume the fourth- and fifth-round picks they acquired will be used on a kicker despite having Dan Bailey. The 49ers select Brandon Aiyuk and we wait some more.
10:22 p.m. – Libby has suddenly disappeared from his video chat. Jerry and I wonder if he’s alright, but start taking bets on if he’s cashed in for the night. With $300 on the table, Libby shows up just in time to find out the Green Bay Packers have traded up in the draft. After winning the deal, I offer to pay Libby back for what he lost on poker. He says, “It’s nowhere near enough.”
The Packers select Jordan Love with the pick they traded up for and this has me worried. Vikings fans have suffered through nearly 30 years of Hall of Fame quarterback play and if Love pans out, things could get really ugly. But there are positives to this.
The landscape of the NFL has teams looking for younger and cheaper alternatives to their stars. Rodgers is 37, but he probably has a couple of years of good football in him. This means Love will sit two and possibly three years before Rodgers hangs them up or has a desire to play for the Vikings. Burning two years on a rookie QB contract isn’t ideal, but “It’s what Rodgers did!” So fans of the John Deere Cult are probably jacked. Rodgers on the other hand….
Well, quarterback is a skill position…
10:56 p.m. – We sit through multiple picks as we await the final Vikings pick of the night. Libby is fading. Jerry looks bored even though he’s only been here for an hour. Finally, Goodell encourages the webcams of season ticket holders to cheer louder like they can hear him. Jack Daniels does this to me too. Goodell announces that the Vikings have selected Jeff Gladney with the 31st overall pick in the NFL Draft.
I have a mixed bag about this. Gladney is good and many labeled him as a “Zimmer corner.” But his size is a bit of an issue. At six feet and 191 pounds, he’s smaller than what the Vikings like at the cornerback position, but he’s tough. That’s something I would expect Zimmer to covet in a corner. At age 23, he’s older than the other prospects, but maybe the Vikings feel he’ll be able to contribute right away.
11:04 p.m. – The Kansas City Chiefs end the first round by selecting running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire, cementing my top pick in my dynasty league later this summer. Libby and Jerry log off faster than Ruggs’ 40-time.
Overall, the first round of the draft was a bit of a letdown. I love trades and unpredictability and with just two, the suspense of the draft was lacking. However, there were a couple of names we didn’t expect to see in the first round and the Packers trading up for their quarterback of the future is terrifying, but potentially good enough to see around it.
I’m not sure if the Vikings did a good job, but I think they made some strides to fill the roster tonight. Now if you’ll excuse me, I really need to catch some sleep.