It was a night of history and heartache.
The Arizona Cardinals ran an agonizing quarterback keeper Thursday, making Oklahoma’s Kyler Murray the first pick in the NFL draft, yet hanging on to former UCLA standout Josh Rosen, the passer they selected 10th overall a year earlier.
After the opening round of the first draft in Music City, could anyone blame Rosen if he were to belt out the words to a country classic?
Please release me, let me go …
But the Cardinals held on for the moment, with new coach Kliff Kingsbury selecting a quarterback he had tracked and recruited since Murray went 42-0 as a starter at Allen (Texas) High School.
“Cannot wait,” said Murray, the first player chosen in the opening rounds of both the NFL and Major League Baseball drafts. “Me and [Kingsbury] have had a relationship since I was like 15 years old … this is something we’ve talked about for a long time. It’s been a long time coming, but God works in mysterious ways.
“For me to be playing for him now, it’s a surreal feeling.”
Murray was the first of three quarterbacks to go in the opening round. The New York Giants took Duke’s Daniel Jones sixth, and the Washington Redskins used the 15th pick on Ohio State’s Dwayne Haskins.
Jones, who presumably will learn behind starter Eli Manning, was a counselor at the Manning Passing Academy and played for David Cutcliffe at Duke, the same coach who mentored Eli and Peyton Manning.
Remaining on the board is Missouri’s Drew Lock, who figures to go quickly Friday, when the second and third rounds are held. Among the teams still at least window shopping for quarterbacks are the New England Patriots, Miami Dolphins, Cincinnati Bengals, and Chargers.
By the league’s estimate, at least 200,000 people formed a sea of fans lining Broadway and leading to a massive stage for the event. They were hardy too, cheering (and booing) through a steady downpour.
Not all of them got to see their favorite teams make picks. Every division in the NFC had a team that either didn’t have a first-round pick to start with, or traded theirs away. The Rams, Chicago Bears, Dallas Cowboys, and New Orleans Saints were mere spectators. In the AFC, the Cleveland Browns, Kansas City Chiefs and Indianapolis Colts didn’t pick, either.
That means there were lots of repeat customers. The Giants and Oakland Raiders had three picks each, and the Atlanta Falcons, Green Bay Packers, and Redskins each selected twice.
San Francisco made Ohio State defensive end Nick Bosa the second pick, and securing his family a spot in NFL history in the process. His brother, Joey, is a pass rusher for the Chargers, and their father, John, was a first-round pick of Miami in 1987. A father and two sons, all taken in the opening round? Before Thursday, that distinction belonged solely to Archie Manning and his boys.
Bosa is the fifth first-round pick along San Francisco’s defensive line. The team previously drafted Arik Armstead, DeForest Buckner, and Solomon Thomas, and acquired Dee Ford in a trade with Kansas City.
“I mean, it’s going to be a high expectation for the group,” Bosa said. “But I’m just excited to get to work with them and learn from them and show them what I know and just get after it as a team. I’m glad to be on a team finally.”
The Pittsburgh Steelers made a trade with Denver to move up to the No. 10 spot and take Michigan linebacker Devin Bush. That club has gone nearly two decades without a top-10 pick, the last being receiver Plaxico Burress, selected eighth in 2000.
Follow Sam Farmer on Twitter @LATimesfarmer