MORGANTOWN - On Thursday, millions of football fans were glued to their television, computer, phone and tablet screens watching the first live sporting event to occur in some time.

By Chapin Jewell
Tribune Correspondent
MORGANTOWN - On Thursday, millions of football fans were glued to their television, computer, phone and tablet screens watching the first live sporting event to occur in some time.  
It wasn’t actually a game everyone was tuning in to see, but rather the first round of the NFL draft. Like a game, there were twists and turns, live action, and uncertainty as to the outcome.  In essence, it was LIVE sports, something we’ve all been craving.
While it’s certain that there will be West Virginia Mountaineers taken at some point during the draft, not a single Mountaineer was drafted in the first round, but that’s pretty typical. In fact, the NFL has been holding drafts since 1936, and in the 84 or so years since, only 12 times have the Mountaineers had someone drafted in the first round.
Interestingly enough, the first time a WVU football was selected in the first round was in that very first year of 1936.  The most recent time a Mountaineer was selected in the first round was four years ago in 2016. It took 54 years for the first six Mountaineers to be selected in the first round (1936-1990).  It’s taken only 20 years though for the next six Mountaineers to be selected.
In assessing the NFL careers of the 12 Mountaineers selected in the first round of the NFL draft, there have been great successes and a few failures, with a few mediocre careers thrown in. Of the 12 first-rounders, one was selected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame and another has been listed as the best NFL player to not be in the Hall of Fame.  
Joe Stydahar was the first Mountainer taken in the first round in that first draft year of 1936. An offensive lineman, Stydehar played for the Chicago Bears from 193-1942 and again in 1945 and 1946. Stydahar was selected first team All-Pro for five consecutive seasons and widely regarded as one of the league’s best tackles.
Following his professional playing career, Stydahar coached for the Rams, Packers, Cardinals and Bears. As the head coach of the Rams in 1951, Stydahar won the NFL championship. In 1967, he was selected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame and in 1972 was selected into the College Hall of Fame.
It took 20 years for another Mountaineer to be drafted in the first round and that came in 1956 when Joe Marconi, a fullback, was selected by the Los Angeles Rams. Marconi played for the Rams from 1956 to 1961, and for the Bears from 1962-1966.  In 1964, Marconi had his best year with the Bears and was selected to the Pro Bowl.
A mere two years later, WVU linebacker Chuck Howley was drafted in the first round by the Chicago Bears. Howley spent two years with the Bears (1958-1959) before finishing out his long tenured career playing for the Dallas Cowboys from 1961-1973.  
Howley’s biggest claim to fame is that he was named the MVP of the Super Bowl V, despite being a defensive player and on the losing team, not to mention being the first non-quarterback to win the award. In that game, Howley had two interceptions and forced a fumble. He is the player listed by notinthehallofgame.com as the best player to not be in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Eight years later, WVU fullback Dick Leftridge was selected in the first round of the draft by the Pittsburgh Steelers.  Unfortunately for Leftridge, he only appeared in four games in the lone season he played (1966) and his first round selection is widely regarded as the worst all-time for the Steelers.  Leftridge’s biggest claim to fame is that along with Roger Alford who entered WVU at the same time, he was the first African-American to play football at WVU.
It took another 20 years, but in 1986, offensive lineman Brian Jozwiak was selected by the Kansas City Chiefs where he spent from 1986-1988 in the league. At WVU, Jozwiak was selected the sixth Mountaineer to be named a consensus All-Ameriacn.  He played three years in the NFL with the Chiefs before a hip injury ended his career.
Linebacker Renaldo Turnbull in 1990 was the next Mountaineer to be selected in the first round, and in his case, his selection was to the New Orleans Saints. Turnbull stayed with the Saints from 1990-1996, then finished out the Panthers in 1997.  The highlight of Turbull’s career was being selected to the Pro Bowl in 1993 as a Saint.
Ten years later in 2000, WVU Tight End Anthony Becht was selected in the first round by the New York Jets. Becht enjoyed a journeyman’s career in the NFL, ultimately playing for five teams before retiring in 2009. Becht played for the Jets, Buccaneers, Rams, Cardinals and Chiefs.
In 2005, talented WVU defensive back and kick returner Adam “Pac Man” Jones was selected in the first round by the Tennessee Titans. Jones enjoyed a lengthy but controversial NFL career, playing with the Titans, Cowboys, Bengals and Broncos. Jones missed the bulk of the 2007 and 2008 seasons while being suspended for several off-field issues. The bulk of his career was spent with the Bengals from 2010 to 2017.
Seven years later, in 2012, WVU defensive end turned NFL linebacker Bruce Irvin was selected in the first round by the Seattle Seahawks. Irvin’s dubious claim to fame is that he became the first and only player to be ejected from a Super Bowl, when in 2014 he punched the Patriots’ Rob Gronkowski with the game already well in hand. Thus far, Irvin has played for the Seahawks, Raiders, Falcons and Panthers. His career continues.
The next year in 2013, WVU wide receiver and kick returner Tavon Austin, after an electric career as a Mountaineer, was selected in the first round of the draft by the St. Louis Rams. In 2013, Austin was named the NFC’s Special Teams Player of the Month, and spent from 2013 to 2017 as a Ram. Austin has played the last two seasons (2018 and 2019) with the Dallas Cowboys. His career continues.
In 2015, WVU wide receiver Kevin White was selected in the first round by the Chicago Bears, but his short NFL career was marred by injuries before he could even get off the ground.  White suffered a career-ending injury to his shin during training camp in his first season, causing him to ultimately miss his entire first season. In his second year with the Bears, he played in four games before again suffering a season ending injury.  In his third season he fractured his shoulder blade, putting an end to season number three. His future at this point is uncertain.
The most recent Mountaineer taken in the first round of the NFL draft was Karl Joseph being selected to the Raiders in 2016. Joseph played for the Raiders from 2016 through 2018 before becoming a Cleveland Brown where he completed the 2019 season.
So all in all, 12 WVU Mountaineers have been drafted in the first round of the NFL draft dating back to 1936. There have been successes, there have been mediocre careers, and a few busts. No Mountaineers were selected in the first round in the much-watched 2020 NFL draft but surely just like other years, some will be taken in the later rounds.