Among the many new experiments in this year’s NFL draft, the league had an artist speed-painting portraits of the players as they were selected.
Guy could have painted the Sistine Chapel in the time it took for the quarterbacks to come off the board.
A year after quarterbacks were selected 1-2-3, the second quarterback wasn’t taken until the third round when the Atlanta Falcons used the 74th pick on Cincinnati’s Desmond Ridder. Only two times has the second quarterback gone later, in 1996 (85th) and 1988 (149th). And back then, it was more of a running back’s league.
Ridder joins a team that traded quarterback Matt Ryan to Indianapolis and this season signed Marcus Mariota, the No. 2 overall pick in the 2015 draft.
“We’re excited that it fell this way,” Falcons general manager Terry Fontenot said. “We’re excited that Desmond’s here.”
The Rams made their only selection of the first two days, taking Wisconsin guard Logan Bruss with the 104th pick near the end of the third round.
The Chargers, who made Boston College guard Zion Johnson the 17th pick, had a selection in the third round and took Baylor safety JT Woods (79th).
In this city of glitter, flashing lights and round-the-clock pulsing music, the first three rounds of this draft were dominated not by the superstar passers, but the largely anonymous men toiling in the trenches, defensive backs, and enough receivers to run every route simultaneously.
The 13 receivers selected in the first two rounds — including USC’s Drake London — tied for the most in the history of the draft.
A second Drake from USC, linebacker Drake Jackson, went 61st to San Francisco near the end of the second round.
Jackson said he was especially excited to meet and play alongside defensive end Nick Bosa.
“Man, I hope he’s [as] excited to be my teammate as I am,” Jackson told reporters. “As soon as I get out there, I’m going to try to find him and get a handshake from him and then work out something. I’m trying to instantly get in there and start getting the knowledge and things that I need to grow and be a monster like him.
“He’s literally a gremlin on the side. He’s a monster. He puts fear into tackles’ eyes, and I just want to be able to be the same way.”
In the third, a pair of UCLA Bruins were picked: tight end Greg Dulcich (80th) to Denver and offensive lineman Sean Rhyan (92nd) to Green Bay.
An interesting connection: Like Dulcich, Broncos general manager George Paton played at UCLA. Dulcich played high school football at La Canada Flintridge St. Francis for the late Jim Bonds, among Paton’s best friends.
“The good thing about him is the type of person he is,” Broncos coach Nathaniel Hackett said of Dulcich. “He was a walk-on when he got there [to UCLA] and he fought his way in there and was very effective. I don’t think he’s afraid of any bit of hard work.”
Three quarterbacks attended the first round in person Thursday, with the University of Pittsburgh’s Kenny Pickett going 20th to the hometown Steelers. The other two, Mississippi’s Matt Corral and Liberty’s Malik Willis, didn’t stick around Friday to languish in the green room.
Finally, Willis went 86th to the Tennessee Titans, giving him a chance to learn behind Ryan Tannehill. Whereas some players look exasperated when they’ve waited that long, a beaming Willis was ecstatic when the cameras dropped in on his family party.
Corral went eight picks later to the Carolina Panthers, who have Sam Darnold but have struggled to find their answer at quarterback.
The only player to return to the green room to wait Friday was Washington cornerback Kyler Gordon, who went 39th to Chicago. Iowa State’s Breece Hall happened to be in Las Vegas when the Jets made him the first running back selected, so he stopped by the festivities for interviews.
Perhaps the player to take the biggest tumble was Georgia linebacker Nakobe Dean, who many saw as a first-round selection. He went to Philadelphia in the third round. Georgia set a draft record with six players selected off their defense in the first three rounds.
The draft itself was quite a scene, with a massive stage set up just off The Strip, and thousands of fans standing shoulder to shoulder for what seemed to be a mile. Practically everyone was wearing the jersey of their favorite team.
The Las Vegas flair was undeniable, from Criss Angel dangling upside-down above the stage in a straitjacket, kicking off Friday with a Houdini act, to pick announcers that included Wayne Newton, Donny Osmond and former NFL player and current magician Jon Dorenbos. There had to be a run on throat lozenges with all that bellowing from the lectern. Quiet for quarterbacks and no one else.
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.