By Cory Woodroof
Poor Brian Burns could barely hear himself speak.
The Florida State pass rusher was up at the microphone to talk about his selection by the Carolina Panthers in the 2019 NFL Draft’s first round, but Nissan Stadium had other plans.
A grand firework show that lasted nearly five minutes filled the air during Burns’ press conference, and once it was over, media members rushed from listening to how he might replace future Hall of Famer Julius Peppers to watching the almost-comical extravagance erupting just past the Cumberland River. It almost served as a metaphor for the soggy weather that night. When is this stuff going to end?
For the longest time Thursday night, pick by pick rolled in as rain continued to pour on Downtown Nashville and the many spectators filling Broadway well past Pick 32.
The hometown Tennessee Titans caught a break from the downpour long enough to reveal their first-rounder at Pick 19, Mississippi State defensive tackle Jeffrey Simmons.
The former Bulldog will likely miss most of 2019 with an ACL tear, but wanted Titans fans to know about the passion he plays with right up front.
“When I step on the field, it’s going to show,” Simmons said. “When you have that energy, everyone’s going to come up with you. … They can trust me. They can depend on me. I won’t let them down.”
The pick itself was a fun moment for some local high school football captains, as representatives from schools like Cane Ridge, Hillsboro, Davidson Academy, Pearl-Cohn, Father Ryan, Maplewood, CPA and more filled the stage to help announce the Titans’ pick.
“They also exemplify commitment to team and community,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said of the 13 student-athletes in addition to representing Davidson County.
Goodell mentioned that 200,000 or so had flocked to Downtown Nashville Thursday night to witness the opening night of draft picks. One of whom was Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota, who offered a quick hello to the crowd at the top of the draft.
Another was Clemson defensive tackle Christian Wilkins, who gave everyone in attendance a good laugh and perhaps a gaps as he gave Goodell a surprise, mid-air chest bump. The commissioner was all smiles, though it nearly knocked him off his feet. Wilkins was celebrating his drafting to the Miami Dolphins.
Big quarterback picks on the night included Oklahoma’s Kyler Murray heading first overall to Arizona, Duke’s Daniel Jones one day replacing Eli Manning in New York with the Giants and Ohio State’s Dwayne Haskins booked his trip east to join Washington.
Friday will kick off night two. The Titans will see former running back great Eddie George and defensive tackle Jurrell Casey announce the Tennessee selections in the second and third rounds, respectively.
The weather? Sunny right to sunset, low 70s/high 60s. Perfect drafting conditions.
Photo by Getty Images.