James Pugh

The 2020 NFL Draft was a breath of fresh air for those needing some sports in the wake of COVID-19. Overall, the NFL and Roger Goodell pulled off a flawless performance considering the circumstances.

My dispute with the NFL has nothing to do with the franchise itself, but rather the teams.

Why wasn’t Omar Bayless, who shattered records at Arkansas State as a wide receiver and led several ‘big named’ receivers during the 2019 season, drafted?

I know he was signed post-draft by the Carolina Panthers as a free agent, and maybe that’s a good thing in some ways, Bayless, at the very least, was a solid fourth-round pick in my best estimation.

Shame on all the teams that passed on the Laurel native.

Bayless wasn't the only Sports601 native to go undrafted, later signing as a UDFA in the minutes and hours that followed the draft. A pair of Ole Miss seniors, Benito Jones from Wayne County and Scottie Phillips from Ellisville, were picked up by NFL teams. Jones signed with the Miami Dolphins and Phillips with the Houston Texans.

Former Laurel standout Thakarius Keyes, who played his college career at Tulane, was selected by the Kansas City Chiefs as the 237th pick of the draft in the seventh round.

So what does all this mean?

Well, here’s the simple answer - for those in the surrounding area who have dreams to play in the NFL, never let someone tell you it’s a dream too lofty for a little ole’ place like Jones County, or Wayne County, and so on. In one season, three, I repeat, three, natives of the Sports601 coverage area will see their dream of making it, or at the very least, get a realistic shot of fulfilling it.

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