With the first round of its 2018 draft being held Thursday night in Dallas, the NFL kicked things off by trotting out Cowboys Hall of Famers Troy Aikman and Roger Staubach to help muffle the dark cloud of boos that follow Commissioner Roger Goodell throughout his kingdom.
Once Goodell put the Browns on the clock, Aikman, Staubach and Cowboys tight end Jason Witten fired footballs into the crowd from the stage inside AT&T Stadium.
Staubach, who was 0-2 with four interceptions in two Super Bowls against Pittsburgh, was picked off again by a fan wearing a Steelers jersey. And that wouldn’t be the only strange thing to happen to a quarterback over the next 3½ hours.
Proving the worthlessness of months upon months of NFL mock drafts, the Browns stunned everyone by selecting Baker Mayfield. The Oklahoma quarterback wasn’t at the top of anyone’s mock draft until hours before the draft started.
“I had him as the fourth quarterback on my board,” NFL media draft analyst Mike Mayock said of the undersized Heisman Trophy winner.
“I’m surprised, quite honestly,” Aikman added.
Five quarterbacks were selected in the first round for the first time since 1999. Four went in the top 10. And three of the seven trades made Thursday involved picks for quarterbacks.
At No. 3, the Jets got Southern Cal’s Sam Darnold, who many, including himself, thought would go to Cleveland.
“I was on my toes ready to get that call [from Cleveland],” Darnold said. “But it is what it is.”
The first trade came when Buffalo went from No. 12 to No. 7 to take Josh Allen, the best pure passer in the draft. Some believed the Wyoming quarterback might slide when it was revealed shortly before the draft that he tweeted racially insensitive tweets while in high school.
“People who know me, know me,” Allen said. “They know who I am.”
UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen went 10th to the Cardinals, who traded up from No. 15. And the last quarterback taken was Louisville’s Lamar Jackson, who went No. 32 when the Ravens made their third trade of the day to move up for the heir apparent to Joe Flacco.
Defensive backs and offensive linemen led the way with six picks apiece.
Here are some knee-jerk reaction winners …
• The Packers traded from No. 14 to 27, picking up a fifth-round pick and a first-rounder next year. Then they traded up from 27 to 18 to get the cornerback they need in Jaire Alexander. It cost them a third- and a sixth-rounder to move up.
• The Ravens traded down twice and up once. They went from 16 to 22, picking up a second-rounder. Then they went from 22 to 25, picking up a fourth-rounder. They filled a need at tight end with Hayden Hurst before giving the Eagles a fourth-rounder to move back up to 32 and take Jackson.
• Wanting to maximize Eli Manning’s window opportunity, the Giants took running back Saquon Barkley, arguably the best player in the draft at No. 2.
• Notre Dame’s offensive line had two players — guard Quentin Nelson and tackle Mike McGlinchey — taken in the top nine picks. That’s a good sign for the Bears, who just hired Notre Dame line coach Harry Hiestand.
• Because the Bills stayed patient, they were able to trade up for a QB while holding on to one of their two first-rounders. Then they traded up from 22 to 16 to get Tremaine Edmunds, the linebacker they desperately needed.
Now for some knee-jerk reaction losers …
• The Browns could prove us all wrong, but for now it sure seems like they reached on Mayfield and then passed on the best defensive player in the draft — N.C. State pass rusher Bradley Chubb — to take Ohio State cornerback Denzel Ward fourth overall.
• The Saints had better hope small-school phenom Marcus Davenport of Texas-San Antonio isn’t fool’s gold. New Orleans gave the Packers a fifth-rounder and a first-rounder next year to move up 13 spots.
Mark Craig is an NFL and Vikings Insider. Twitter: @markcraignfl E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org