New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick speaks to the media following a game against the Bills last season in Foxborough, Massachusetts. AP photo

I needed that. I have a hunch a lot of us did. The annual NFL draft, which began Thursday night and continued Friday and Saturday, was a toehold in a normalcy. No matter how abnormal the draft was. The draft wasn’t sports, not exactly, but it was sports’ fun cousin, and was enthusiastically welcomed.

The NFL draft is a spring tradition, and with all the other spring traditions in the sports world cancelled or on hold due to the coronavirus pandemic — March Madness, baseball’s opening day, the Kentucky Derby, the Stanley Cup playoffs, the NBA playoffs, the College World Series, high school sports, auto racing, and so many other things I’m forgetting because to remember them would be overwhelming.

Those of us who took sports for granted, who used it to fill the gaps between the important stuff or even made it the important stuff, have searched for a sports outlet for weeks. If you told me of a frog jumping competition scheduled for tonight in Fort Kent, I’d gas up the car and buy front row seats.

In the vernacular of the NFL draft, the draft fills an immediate need. It’s as close to a can’t miss lock as ever there was.

There were no walks across the stage this year. No throngs of fans crowded together to boo NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, or boo their favorite teams when they select a player who is not the player they know for sure the team should have chosen. There were no 325-pound offensive linemen picking up Goodell and giving him a bear hug.

In that case, the real winner of the 2020 NFL draft is Goodell’s ribs. They get high marks on the post-draft report card.

Speaking of Goodell, has anyone ever looked more uncomfortable in his own home rec room than the commissioner? Goodell looked like a guest in his own home. From when he announced Joe Burrow’s name as the first choice to the Cincinnati Bengals, Goodell looked as if he just wanted this whole thing to be over. Give the NFL credit for pressing on and making the most of an unprecedented situation, but Goodell never looked at ease.

Slow to adapt to new, unfamiliar situations. Poor reaction time. May need more coaching to excel at the next level.

The New England Patriots messed with bedtimes across six states Thursday, as fans stayed up and waited for them to make the 23rd pick of the first round. When it came time, the Patriots traded the pick, and fans muttered “I knew it” and went to bed.

A good night’s sleep is always an underrated value pick.

The Patriots did make a selection early in the Friday’s second round, taking safety Kyle Dugger from Division II Lenoir-Rhyne. Dugger was the Cliff Harris Award winner as the best defensive player in Division II.

New England fans might have done a spit take when they heard Dugger’s name announced by Goodell, and if so, that was a waste of a solid beverage selection.

A strong sleeper pick at that moment was Google, which allowed fans to ask “Where is Lenoir-Rhyne?”

Now we wait to see if these freshly minted NFL rookies can join their teams this summer for workouts, then training camp, then a season that starts on time. Right now that’s an iffy proposition, but one with plenty of potential and upside.

 

Travis Lazarczyk —861-9242

[email protected]

Twitter: @TLazarczykMTM

Comments are not available on this story.