A night primed for melodrama didn’t start that way.
Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence, the most unimpeachable draft prospect since Andrew Luck, was picked first overall, as expected, by the Jaguars. Lawrence has been the presumptive top pick for more than a year, prompting fan bases to implore their teams to “Tank for Trevor.” The Jaguars did just that, winning in Week 1 and not again.
One year after conducting its draft virtually, the NFL held Thursday’s first round in Cleveland, at an outdoor stage on the shore of Lake Erie. Fans were allowed to attend both the draft and its surrounding fan festival, albeit socially distanced and with masks.
The hours leading up to the draft provided an offseason’s worth of fireworks. Early Thursday afternoon, ESPN reported that Aaron Rodgers, the reigning MVP, wanted out of Green Bay. The Packers reportedly rebuffed a trade offer from the 49ers, who hold the No. 3 overall pick, for their star quarterback.
Rodgers was angered by the Packers’ drafting of Utah State quarterback Jordan Love in last year’s draft; he had hoped they’d give him a wide receiver in the first round for the first time in his career.
If Rodgers isn’t dealt during the draft, he’ll join a list of some of the NFL’s biggest stars who have, at least through intermediaries, shared their displeasure with their own teams. The Bears made a trade offer for Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson, only for coach Pete Carroll to scuttle any movement.
Wilson’s agent told ESPN earlier this offseason that the Bears were one of four teams — the Raiders, Cowboys and Saints were the others — to which he’d accept a deal. Deshaun Watson has wanted out of Houston for most of the offseason, but the Texans quarterback’s future is complicated by accusations of sexual misconduct.