The Latest on the NFL draft (all times EDT):
One day after opening the NFL draft by selecting Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Kyler Murray of Oklahoma, the Arizona Cardinals chose Washington cornerback Byron Murphy.
Considered by some scouts as the best cover defender in this draft, Murphy was projected to go in the opening round, but did not. Ohio State quarterback Dwayne Haskins, taken 15th by the Redskins on Thursday, said Murphy was the best defensive back he faced last season. He was the fifth Huskies DB taken since 2015.
Former Titans running back Eddie George and country music star Tim McGraw joined Commissioner Roger Goodell onstage for the selection. McGraw is to perform a concert on the same stage after the third round concludes.
While it isn’t unusual for fans who cheer for the same teams to bond at the NFL draft, several super fans in Nashville for Friday’s second and third rounds have enjoyed getting to know fans of teams they will be rooting against when the season kicks off.
And with some of the fans lining up Broadway, there was no doubt which team has their heart.
“This is more than commitment, this is my life,” Aaron Latimer from Saginaw, Michigan, said. He was wearing full lion makeup and dressed in a lion costume complete with a furry hood.
“This is what it’s about. People coming together having a good time, enjoying one sport. Different colors, different jerseys and just loving each other, enjoying each other. This is what should be about. That’s what the world should be about.”
Many fans who traveled to Nashville said they enjoy supporting their teams on the road as much as going to their team’s home games.
“Every opportunity I get to support the team, whether it’s coming to the draft, being a season ticket holder, or going to away games, I go,” Tampa native and Buccaneers fan Jamal Sanders said.
Sanders goes by the nickname “Jaybuc” and wore a “Phantom of the Opera”-style mask in Buccaneers colors covering half his face.
“I appreciate these moments because in addition to me bonding with other Buc fans, it’s an opportunity for us to get to bond with fans of other teams,” he said. “Even though we’re not fans of the same team, we’re one family, one community when it comes to the NFL.”
Decked out in a full Eagles uniform, including the pads but minus the helmet, Jamie Pagliei was ready for Round 2 to start hours before the announcement of Friday’s first selection. For the second consecutive day, Pagliei put on his gear and painted his face to go along with his green mohawk haircut.
“I’m in for a penny, I’m in for a pound,” he said. “All day, all day Eagles.”
Pagliei goes by the name “The Philly Sports Guy.” With hair, makeup and an outfit like that, it’s impossible to argue that nickname.
— Jim Diamond reported in Nashville.
Terrell Owens didn’t attend the NFL draft when the receiver was selected out of Chattanooga on his way to a Hall of Fame career.
He’s in Nashville to help announce a draft selection for the San Francisco 49ers, and he says the NFL provides the same type of atmosphere and that the crowds have been tremendous in Music City.
Owens joined former Giants receiver David Tyree, former Atlanta linebacker Jessie Tuggle, Tennessee defensive lineman Jurrell Casey, Patriots center David Andrews and Cincinnati defensive tackle Geno Atkins in handing out 8,000 backpacks filled Wednesday by volunteers and 21 NFL prospects to school children Friday before the draft.
After handing out the food, the players and former players also talked and played games with the students.
Owens says he hopes they inspired the students and that he can obviously relate to the children coming from a small school and small hometown in Alexander City, Alabama. Owens says it’s an awesome thing that the NFL is doing with its Huddle Against Hunger program.
Seven Pro Football Hall of Famers will announce selections for their former teams at the NFL draft.
In the second round, Jim Brown will handle the Browns’ pick, their first in this draft, barring a trade by Cleveland to move up from No. 49 overall. James Lofton will be onstage for the Packers’ pick, Carl Eller for Minnesota’s, and Darrell Green for Washington’s.
In the third round, Rayfield Wright will announce who Dallas is taking, while Jackie Slater will do the Rams’ choice and Terrell Owens the 49ers’ pick.
Dozens of other former players also will be announcing picks — and even current ones: Houston WR DeAndre Hopkins and New England LB Dont’a Hightower.
Tennessee Titans controlling owner Amy Adams Strunk has vouched for the character of first-round draft pick Jeffery Simmons, who was arrested three years ago on a simple assault charge against a woman.
A tearful Simmons responded to Strunk’s words by vowing that he won’t let her down.
“Our locker room is so important, and we only have good men in there,” Strunk said Friday at a news conference introducing Simmons. “And this young man is a good man.”
Strunk said she didn’t speak directly with Simmons before the Titans selected the Mississippi State defensive tackle with the 19th overall pick in the draft. But she did watch the video in which Simmons was shown hitting a woman, leading to his arrest.
Simmons was found guilty of malicious mischief and pleaded no contest to a simple assault charge.
During a conference call Thursday night, Simmons said the woman that he hit was arguing with his sister. Simmons said he initially tried to break up the fight until “I just let my emotions take over.”
“It did not take me long to see that this young man had an incident when he was in high school,” Strunk said. “We all can look back on our lives in high school and wish we’d done things differently, but you can talk, ‘I’m sorry,’ the best thing is that he’s lived the life of, ‘I’m truly sorry and I’m going to be a good man.’ That made it really easy for me to become comfortable with Jeffery. We’re getting a great football player. That goes without saying. But we’re getting a great man.”
As Strunk spoke on his behalf, Simmons bowed his head with tears running down his cheek.
“I made that mistake and I regret it,” Simmons said. “Just to hear her say all that, I’m grateful. The key word she said was trust. I tell her in front of you guys, she can trust me. I won’t let her down. I won’t let any one of these guys down.”
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