ESPN’s Dreadfully Dull NFL Draft Night

AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin

The 2021 NFL Draft’s first night is in the books, featuring the usual heartwarming tales of perseverance, overcoming adversity, and succeeding against all odds and obstacles to make it through. But enough about those of us who actually watched the entire show.

ESPN’s coverage was so lifeless Joe Biden sent them a thank you note for making his State of the Union speech look riveting by comparison. You can do precious little save endlessly rehash stats and rerun highlight clips before even the most diehard fan loses interest. The greatest missed opportunity came in how aside from thumbnail sketches, there was no insight into the people donning this year’s draft cap. Personalities sell, and ESPN whiffed badly at the multiple times during the broadcast when it could have easily skipped yet another lengthy session of staff analysts saying the same thing for the thirtieth time in favor of doing something vaguely resembling an actual in-depth interview with a player.

Focusing on the draft itself, there were a few mild surprises along the way. After the first two picks went as expected, with the Jacksonville Jaguars selecting Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence and the New York Jets picking BYU quarterback Zack Wilson, the San Francisco 49ers threw almost everyone for a loop by opting for North Dakota State quarterback Trey Lance as the heir apparent to Joe Montana and Steve Young’s legacy. Making things all the more interesting is that the 49ers already have a perfectly capable albeit alarmingly brittle quarterback in Jimmy Garoppolo, thus bringing on the question as to not if but when we will see a 21st-century replay of the Montana-Young controversy that occupied the minds of 49ers fans back in the day. The Garoppolo-Lance conundrum might actually supersede the raging argument about why San Francisco’s stadium is in the city of Santa Clara, some forty miles south of San Francisco. Here’s a hint: when the team decided it needed a new stadium to replace the wretched Candlestick Park, guess who the mayor of San Francisco was when the team and the city government could never get on the same page? Yup, Gavin “Please Don’t Recall Me” Newsom. Some things never change.

Other draft moments of note included the Chicago Bears trading up to select Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields, causing great concern at ESPN as it forces the staff writers to find something else to scream racism about. Alabama quarterback Mac Jones quickly became the loneliest man in the green room as he fell to the fifteenth pick, the New England Patriots tabbing him to be Tom Brady’s replacement. But hey, no pressure. The Las Vegas Raiders (and no, it will never feel right writing that) puzzled most everyone by drafting Alabama offensive tackle Alex Leatherwood seventeenth when the overwhelming consensus is he’s a good player, but not first-round caliber. On the bright side, he’ll be hard-pressed to make anyone forget the legend that was JaMarcus Russell.

Rounds two and three coming up.

(Editor’s Note: Please welcome Jerry to the RedState team! He’ll be covering the sports beat, particularly how sports intersects with politics and popular culture. In hockey he’s a San Jose Sharks fan, but the fact that he’s also a Los Angeles Rams fan redeems him in my eyes.)