The third and final day of an NFL draft as memorable for the scene, the music and the passion of the folks in Nashville began Saturday with Arizona selecting Iowa State wide receiver Hakeem Butler.
Butler is 6-foot-6 and could be a presence in the red zone for new Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray, the top overall choice on Thursday night. The Cardinals also selected Massachusetts WR Andy Isabella in the second round.
Butler is the cousin of twins Aaron and Andrew Harrison, who starred in basketball at Kentucky.
“I’m super excited to play with Kliff Kingsbury,” Butler said of the new Cardinals coach. “I told him when I met him at the combine I wanted to go to Texas Tech and they didn’t offer me in. He just called me and told me he wasn’t going to make the same mistake twice.”
North Carolina State quarterback Ryan Finley then went to Cincinnati, where he could learn from Andy Dalton.
And late in the round, New England took Auburn QB Jarrett Stidham — who could learn from Tom Brady, though Brady might play another decade the way he’s going.
The fourth round rarely has much intrigue, but it still drew thousands of folks to downtown Nashville Saturday afternoon.
Approximately 200,000 people attended the draft on each of the first two nights, packing Broadway to hear the picks, listen to the tunes in the honky tonks — and by Tim McGraw in a rousing concert Friday night — and make this “selection meeting” unlike anything the NFL has seen.
Nashville’s performance likely puts it firmly in the NFL’s mind for a repeat; Las Vegas is on tap next year for the draft.
Two well-regarded college running backs went back to back: Washington grabbed Stanford’s Bryce Love, considered a first-round talent last year but plagued by injuries and mediocrity in 2018; and Baltimore took Oklahoma State’s Justice Hill, who is dynamic in the open field but had some injury issues.
Another top back, Kentucky workhorse Benny Snell Jr., should help fill out the rotation in Pittsburgh.
Georgia receiver Riley Ridley, whose older brother Calvin was a first-rounder last year from Alabama, was taken by Chicago at No. 126.
The first special teamer went to San Francisco, which drafted Utah punter Mitch Wishnowsky at No. 110. Oddly, the next such player taken was his teammate, placekicker Matt Gay by Tampa Bay 35 spots later.
Wishnowsky actually can punt with both legs.
“I mean, I can kick with my left foot decent,” he said. “It’s nothing pretty. I definitely prefer to put it on the right, but if necessary, I can throw it on the left and maybe get something out of it.”