Smooth sailing in virtual draft as LSU talent steals the show

FILE PHOTO: Sep 17, 2017; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Washington Redskins offensive tackle Trent Williams (71) after throwing what turned out to be the game winning touchdown in the game against the Los Angeles Rams at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

NEW YORK (Reuters) – The final rounds of the NFL Draft capped a smooth and generally glitch-free affair on Saturday, as the league pivoted to a virtual format for the first time ever due to the coronavirus outbreak, with coaches and prospects staying out of the spotlight and behind closed doors.

The widely heralded first pick Joe Burrow, a quarterback, led a charge of 14 selections out of Louisiana State University, tying Ohio State’s 2004 record for the most players in a single draft class, as teams scrambled for a piece of the college championship-winning squad.

As franchises were filling out their rosters in the final rounds of the quarterback-rich draft, questions lingered over when the professional football calendar would return to normal, with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell maintaining that the upcoming season will move forward as scheduled.

Three quarterbacks, including Heisman Trophy-winning first pick Burrow who went to the Cincinnati Bengals, University of Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa and Oregon’s Justin Herbert, were among the first six selections for the first time since 1999.

The final day of the draft kicked off with a high-profile trade that saw the Washington Redskins seven-time Pro Bowl offensive tackle Trent Williams go to the San Francisco 49ers for a fifth-round pick this year and a third round selection in 2021.

One of the rare few live sports events left on the calendar in the COVID-19 era, the first night of the draft drew a record-breaking average of more than 15.6 million viewers tuning in on Thursday.

Reporting By Amy Tennery; Editing by Christian Radnedge and Diane Craft

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