Looking back on it one year later, the 2020 NFL draft is still as strange and fascinating as ever.
It was the COVID-influenced draft that became virtual and gave us a glimpse into the homes of head coaches around the NFL and memorable snapshots, whether it was Brian Flores of the Miami Dolphins and his children, Bill Belichick's dog or Kliff Kingsbury's home straight out of a magazine.
But first and foremost the goal remained the same for every team, and that was to find out the best possible prospect with each pick.
The proceedings started exactly one year ago, April 23, and that's when the Dolphins made team history by drafting three players in the first round for the first time.
But with all due respect to Austin Jackson and Noah Igbinoghene, selected with the 18th and 30th overall picks (that one after the Dolphins moved down from 26th), that night was about Tua Tagovailoa.
When the Dolphins took him with the fifth overall pick after the first four selections of Joe Burrow, Chase Young, Jeff Okudah and Andrew Thomas, it cemented what had seemed for a long time to be an inevitable connection between team and player from the moment the notion of "Tank for Tua" was born.
That the Dolphins were able to land Tagovailoa at number 5 arguably was the result of the November 2019 hip injury, which cut short one of the most brilliant college careers ever by a quarterback.
One year later, it's fair to still wonder exactly what kind of quarterback Tagovailoa will become in the NFL, but this is about reminiscing on the one-year anniversary of the first round of the 2020 draft.
“It was a dream come true, man, to be able to have this opportunity," Tagovailoa would say that night in a Zoom media session from Hawaii, where he watched the draft with his parents. " I would honestly like to just thank Owner Stephen Ross. I’d like to thank GM Chris Grier. I’d also like to thank Coach (Brian) Flores for giving me this opportunity. This is special for not just me, but for my family as well.”
And this what Dolphins GM Chris Grier and Flores said about the selection:
Grier: “We’ve always talked about going through the process. Brian (Flores), myself, the coaching staff and scouts – watching him for a couple years and finally getting – meeting him at the Combine and getting to know him and find out what type of person he really is, which we all heard great things. You really get to sit down and talk to people and you don’t really truly know – I think for us, it was going through our process. There were a lot of talented players and we really liked Tua and we felt very comfortable at the end of the day that he would be a fit here and bringing him here.”
Flores: “I’m very similar to Chris. He fit a lot of the criteria we talk about at the quarterback position. Good player, good person, leadership qualities. We’re very happy with the pick.”