The most touching moment of the first round of the draft occurred when it came time for the Pittsburgh Steelers to announce their choice for the 28th pick.
Onto the stage, ever so haltingly and with great determination, walked Ryan Shazier, the Steelers’ linebacker who suffered a spinal injury in an early December game and had only begun walking again in February. Since then, he underwent spinal stabilization surgery and had appeared at Penguins games and around town, but the sight of him walking, with fiancee Michelle Rodriguez by his side, brought tears and a huge ovation inside AT&T Stadium.
“I’m truly blessed and humbled from all the prayers, love, and support that I have received,” Shazier wrote on Twitter. “This is what keeps me going.”
“Love you all thank you,” Shazier wrote later Thursday night. “God IS SO GREAT!!!”
The Steelers took Virginia Tech safety Terrell Edmunds with the pick, but before Steelers GM Kevin Colbert discussed that selection, he talked about Shazier.
“You saw Ryan Shazier take some very inspirational steps,” Colbert said, via the Tribune-Review. “That’s a huge lift for, not only him, but for us.
“To see where he has come from to where he is and knowing where he might be able to go, it’s just beyond inspirational. It’s just exciting, and it’s really exciting for him.”
Pittsburgh Coach Mike Tomlin also talked about Shazier Thursday night, saying Shazier and Rodriguez “have been an inspiration to us.”
Past and future collide
The Cleveland Browns made Baker Mayfield their quarterback of the future, delighting one of their many quarterbacks of the past.
The Browns took Mayfield, the Heisman Trophy winner out of Oklahoma, with the first pick, prompting Johnny Manziel, who won the Heisman in 2012 and was the Browns’ first pick at No. 22 overall in the 2014 draft, to head straight to Instagram. Never mind that he partied his way out of Cleveland after two dismal seasons, Manziel was pleased with the pick. He used a draft day image of himself making his old gesture and wrote, “Money pick.”
He also offered congrats to a fellow Heisman winner, Louisville quarerback Lamar Jackson, when the Ravens traded up with the Eagles and took Jackson with the final pick of the first round.
As for Mayfield, he seemed a little out ahead of the news.
In case you’d forgotten, reporters for the networks covering the draft are prevented from tweeting the picks ahead of Goodell’s announcement. (Boo.)
They’re actually saying, “boooo”
The NFL can change venues every year for the NFL draft, but one constant, the lusty, lengthy booing of Commissioner Roger Goodell, will remain.
Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones who, shall we say, had his differences with Goodell over the national anthem demonstrations and Ezekiel Elliott’s four-game suspension, is putting on this shindig in JerryWorld, and he seems to be trying to be a genial host. To ensure that Goodell wouldn’t be booed, he was accompanied by Cowboys legends Roger Staubach and Troy Aikman as well as Jason Witten.
“I’m sure he’s going to get a good response with us being out there,” Staubach told the Star-Telegram. “If they boo, all of us are in trouble.”
They were in trouble. Not even Goodell’s lame joke could save it.
“I can’t believe you guys are booing the Cowboys,” he cracked.
Rosen is chosen
Josh Rosen, the UCLA quarterback who was criticized for his cerebral approach and millennial mind set (whatever those things meant), took a tumble after being projected as a top six pick. He never got into Aaron Rodgers’s 2005 territory, though. Arizona took him with the 10th pick, moving up after a trade with Oakland.
Rosen made the kind of chip-on-my-shoulder comment that teams love to hear, saying, “there were nine mistakes ahead of me. I will make sure over the next decade or so they know they made a mistake.”
Von Miller really, really likes Bradley Chubb
The Broncos’ Von Miller was beyond exuberant — like a shaken bottle of champagne — when John Elway chose Bradley Chubb, the North Carolina State defensive end, with the No. 5 pick.
Fox is new to the draft this year, but shouldn’t it know better than to tell us the trophy goes to “the nation’s most outstanding player”?
Six providers — two over-the-airwaves channels (Fox and ABC) — and four cable networks (ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN Deportes and NFL Network) handled the broadcasting duties, with Fox and the NFL Network simulcasting the first three rounds with a joint broadcasting team.
Someone was multitasking
Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers kept busy toggling between the draft and the NBA playoff game between the Celtics and Bucks (he’s now a minority owner).
He shared his own personal choices for a walk-up song (possibly registering on a snark-o-meter).
He congratulated Rosen and then faced the fact he had to twiddle his thumbs when the Packers traded back from the 14th pick.
He noticed that the team ended up with Jaire Alexander and pronounced himself pleased by that and a Game 6 win.
Time to Cowboy up
The scene got a little rowdy when Drew Pearson appeared and the Cowboys were on the clock. (They picked Leighton Vander Esch, the Boise State linebacker, with the 19th pick.)
Care for a cigarette?
Sam Darnold may not be the sexiest pick, but he has a great background story. His grandfather, Dick Hammer, was the Marlboro Man.
One way or another, someone ends up with a chip on his shoulder
The Texans’ J.J. Watt showed that some things you never get over. Things like draft day comments.
The draft has a red carpet. Zoinks.
A red carpet has been a fixture over the last few years and, judging by the early glimpses, velour may be big this year.
Yes, the players have stylists. How else to explain the impeccable fit and design of Penn State running back Saquon Barkley’s togs? (And the lining is pretty special, too.) That’s a look that will play well in New York City. Or even East Rutherford, N.J., where he’ll be playing for the Giants.
Year after year, some player breaks out the Christian Louboutin spiky shoes (spiked Dandelion Venetian loafers, in one iteration) and, year after year, someone is mystified.
Lee Corso does a Lee Corso thing
ESPN’s Lee Corso donned a gigantic Mel Kiper head at the end of the “pregame” show.
Is this a trend? We’ll see.
The good folks at NBC think that, despite the brevity of this trend, the Cowboys will win the Super Bowl next February. All righty.
Dad is about to get paid, Jada
Barkley was the No. 2 pick, going to the Giants, that finishes a close second to what happened earlier in the week, when daughter Jada Clare arrived.
The Road to the NFL
The Washington Post examines the NFL’s top offseason event from five key vantage points.
Read more NFL draft coverage from The Post: