Joe Burrow said it was a “dream come true” to be picked first by the Cincinnati Bengals in the 2020 NFL draft.
The quarterback, 23, was expected to be top pick in the remotely held draft after an award-winning college season.
Defensive end Chase Young was drafted second by the Washington Redskins with the Detroit Lions taking cornerback Jeff Okudah as third pick.
“To jump up to number one overall is crazy to me,” said Burrow.
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At the start of last season, Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa was expected to win the Heisman Trophy for the best college player but Burrow claimed the award after leading Louisiana State University to the national championship.
Tagovailoa, 22, suffered a dislocated hip in November but was still taken by the Miami Dolphins with the fifth pick, after former Ohio State pair Young and Okudah, both 21.
It is the third straight year that the Heisman Trophy winner is the top pick – after Kyler Murray (2019) and Baker Mayfield (2018) – and Burrow joins Cam Newton (2011) as the only quarterbacks since 1967 to win the Heisman and the national championship in the season before being the first overall pick.
The draft is the second biggest event in the NFL calendar but, because of the coronavirus pandemic, this year’s event is being held virtually with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell announcing each pick from his home in New York state and the prospects, commentators and team officials taking part in the broadcast remotely.
The 32 NFL teams select 255 players from the best of last season’s college talent. The three-day event began with the first round on Thursday, with the Bengals having the first pick as they had last season’s worst NFL record.
War rooms swapped for living rooms
Around 500,000 fans attended the 2019 event in Nashville and this year’s bash was expected to be even bigger as it was due to take place in Las Vegas.
But plans to build a stage over water at the Bellagio hotel fountains had to be abandoned, along with the traditional ‘war rooms’, where team officials discuss their strategy throughout.
While the unique circumstances meant the draft lacked its usual razzmatazz, it more than made up for it by offering fans a rare glimpse into the homes and lives of some of the game’s biggest names.
Tom Brady’s new boss, Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Bruce Arians, conducted business from a rocking chair on his patio, while Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones appeared in a cavernous white room that would not have looked out of place on the Starship Enterprise.
Tennessee Titans coach Matt Vrabel was upstaged by someone in his house wearing a blue and white onesie while Andy Reid, whose Kansas City Chiefs had the last pick of the day having won Super Bowl 54, followed proceedings in a Hawaiian shirt.
Commissioner Goodell, who presented the whole event from his “man-cave”, also joined in the fun, at one point leading Minnesota fans in a ‘Viking clap’ via video link.
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Kingsbury’s cool crib
For the most part, the first round went just as the draft ‘gurus’ predicted.
One of the few surprises saw the New York Giants take offensive tackle Andrew Thomas at number four while the Buccaneers traded up to 13 for offensive tackle Tristian Wirfs to give some protection to their new quarterback Brady.
The six-time Super Bowl winner’s old team the New England Patriots opted against trying to remedy his departure with a first-round pick, trading away the 23rd pick.
Philip Rivers has left the Los Angeles Chargers so they took quarterback Justin Herbert at six, and late in the day Jordan Love was the fourth QB off the board, with the Green Bay Packers seemingly set to groom him to be Aaron Rodgers’ long-term successor.
But the day’s biggest winner could be the Arizona Cardinals coach Kliff Kingsbury after the team posted a picture of his stay-at-home set-up.
It proved the envy of Twitter, even the Super Bowl’s most valuable player Patrick Mahomes. “I’m trying to have a crib like Kliff!” tweeted the Chiefs quarterback.