The 2020 NFL draft featured a lot of firsts. First time in history that a single conference (SEC) had 6 representatives featured in the top-10 picks. First time in history a single conference (also the SEC) totaled 15 first round draft picks. First time a team, Carolina Panthers, used all of their picks on defensive players. But most importantly you far, the first virtual draft in NFL history.
We all can agree that we are facing unprecedented times within our country and throughout the world. With COVID-19 all but shutting down the entire country, the NFL along with most businesses were forced to close doors to maintain the social distancing protocol. Many, myself included, believed that the draft should have been pushed back to a later date, but after the last three days during this draft process, I have come to realize one crucial aspect about the sports community. Resiliency!
As a sports community, we are very resilient! I guess that’s what sports are all about. When something knocks you down, you always find a way to get back up even stronger. I know that may sound clichè but it is the most relevant quote that comes to mind. The NFL, oftentimes known as the No Fun League, showed that we are not going to let a worldwide pandemic stop us from enjoying life. Now, don’t get me wrong, I agree with all of the social distancing implications that have bestowed us over the last month, but as a sports fanatic, it hit hard. Seeing the draft still go on virtually was a tremendous stress reliever for many around the country stuck in quarantine with little to nothing to pass the time.
The NFL has also learned a little from this pandemic and ways we can make the draft better going forward. I believe some of the intimacy from having the at home cameras will find a way to stick with the draft process going forward. I found it fascinating to see the everyday lives and family of the GM’s, coaches and players but it also gave a sense of home throughout America as we finally got to see that the owners are no different from any of us and live the same lives with their families. We just have to overlook Kliff Kingsbury multi-million dollar bachelor pad or Jerry Jones’ yacht. Overall, I was satisfied with the first ever virtual draft and overall experience given the circumstances.
Before we get into the winners and losers of the 2020 NFL Draft, I would first like to show huge appreciation for all of our front line workers including all involved in the aid and coronavirus relief. Also, a huge thank you to all media personnel and all involved in the broadcast of the first ever NFL virtual draft. Now, to get to my winners and losers of this year’s NFL draft.
The draft featured a lot of surprise picks, sleeper picks, reaches, and questionable selections. I want to take you through my list of winners, losers, top 5 draft classes, biggest reaches, best value picks, and best fit for the draftee.
- CeeDee Lamb, WR (Oklahoma) – Dallas Cowboys
CeeDee Lamb falling to the Dallas Cowboys at the 17th overall pick was a steal in the first round of the draft. Arguably the best receiver in arguably the deepest receiver class in history, landed in the Cowboys lap at 17, with WR Henry Riggs being the first selected receiver by the Las Vegas Raiders. The 6’2 stud out of Oklahoma has the size, speed and overall route running ability to make an immediate impact for America’s team. Maybe it was fit, scheme, or just mid judgement, but how CeeDee fell to #17 is beyond me.
- Patrick Queen, ILB (LSU) – Baltimore Ravens
Queen was ESPN analyst Mel Kiper Jr.’s 21st overall ranked prospect and somehow fell to the Baltimore Ravens with the 28th overall pick. He fills a need at the linebacker position for Baltimore and will have an immediate impact on the field. Patrick is a 6’0 230 pound speedster that can play in the trenches and also out in coverage. Exactly the culture that Baltimore is looking for in their linebackers. The last two linebackers that the Ravens have drafted in the first round, C.J Mosley and Ray Lewis. Pretty good company if you ask me.
- Clyde Edwards-Elaire, RB (LSU) – Kansas City Chiefs
This pick is more of a scheme fit and not a draft steal pick. Clyde brings versatility and speed to an already loaded Chiefs offense. The reigning champions got a player with the last pick in the first round that fits perfectly in there offensive scheme under Andy Reid, and also filled a need at the running back position. Edwards-Elaire is a smaller back at only 5’7 but he weighs in at 207 pounds and is very crafty with the football forcing an FBS leading 92 missed tackles last season. He also has great hands out of the backfield in which coach Reid loves from his backs. He should produce right away and possibly even be a starter, every down back.
- Adam Trautman, TE (Dayton) – New Orleans Saints
Adam could have and probably should have been the first tight end off the board. His size, athleticism and great hands make him a tight end that will probably produce day one for the aging Brees. To grab a tight end of his caliber, which some believe he could have been an early 2nd round pick, is a steal for the Saints.
- Clyde Edwards-Elaire, RB (LSU) – Kansas City Chiefs, Round 1 Pick 32
As I mentioned before, Clyde Edwards-Elaire is a perfect fit for Andy Reid and the Chiefs. He provides great pass catching ability out of the backfield and can make would-be tacklers miss in the open field. He was the best dual threat running back in this class. Speed is what Reid preaches and speed is what he got with this pick.
- Yetur Gross-Matos, DE (Penn State) – Carolina Panthers, Round 2 Pick 38
Gross-Matos is a fast, physical defensive end picked in the second round out of Penn State. Carolina is a perfect fit for Gross-Matos and vice versa. First year head coach Matt Rhule made it a point to get better defensively as he took defensive players with all 7 of his picks in this year’s draft (another first time in draft history). Some had Yetur with a first round grade and the second ranked DE prospect in this year’s draft, so the Panthers really secured some value with this pick as they were the second worst defense in terms of points allowed (29.4) and losing all but one player from there 53 sack output a season ago (second in NFL).
- Jacob Eason, QB (Washington) – Indianapolis Colts, Round 4 Pick 122
The 6’6, 231 pound prototypical NFL quarterback out of Washington was a great snag by the Colts in the 4th round. After a subpar season from Jacoby Brissett, the Colts have decided to move on from the Patriots product and sign the 38 year old veteran Philip Rivers. Philip will not be around forever so this is a very safe pick later in the draft to grab a quarterback that under different circumstances could have been picked in the late first or second round. Eason showed tremendous upside at Georgia before an injury derailed his time in Athens and transferred to Washington. He has a strong arm and great size for an NFL quarterback. He will learn a lot under Frank Reich.
- Isaiah Simmons, Defender (Clemson) – Arizona Cardinals, Round 1 Pick 8
We could not have a “best fit” list without the mention of Isaiah Simmons right? The guy is a Swiss Army knife that you could plug in anywhere defensively, that’s why I listed him as a defender. The selection by the Cardinals wasn’t really the most popular selection as they could have addressed a need on the O-Line to protect their franchise quarterback Kyler Murray. But any time you get the chance to pick a stud defender in Isaiah Simmons that can play linebacker, DB, safety, and/or defensive line at 6’4, 240 pound and sub 4.4 speed, you can’t go wrong with that pick. Simmons will immediately make an impact on a Cardinal defense that could use good linebacker play.
My Top 5 Draft Classes (Winners)
- Baltimore Ravens, 10 total picks
1/28 – Patrick Queen (ILB, LSU)
2/55 – J.K Dobbins (RB, Ohio State)
3/71 – Justin Madubuike (DT, Texas A&M)
3/92 – Devin Duvernay (WR, Texas)
3/98 – Malik Harrison (ILB, Ohio State)
3/106 – Tyre Phillips (OT, Mississippi State)
4/143 – Ben Bredeson (G, Michigan)
5/170 – Broderick Washington Jr (DT, Texas Tech)
6/201 – James Proche (WR, SMU)
7/219 – Geno Stone (S, Iowa)
The Baltimore Ravens used their 10 picks wisely in the 2020 NFL Draft. They took much needed positions with linebackers Patrick Queen and Malik Harrison, wide receivers Devin Duvernay and James Proche, offensive line talent Tyre Phillips, and defensive line talent in Justin Madubuike, all of which may have immediate impacts on the field. Madubuike is one of Mel Kiper Jr.’s favorite prospects in this class and should have a chance to start right away for John Harbough and the Ravens.
- Dallas Cowboys, 7 total picks
1/17 – CeeDee Lamb (WR, Oklahoma)
2/51 – Trevon Diggs (CB, Alabama)
3/82 – Neville Gallimore (DT, Oklahoma)
4/123 – Reggie Robinson II (CB, Tulsa)
4/146 – Tyler Biadasz (C, Wisconsin)
5/179 – Bradlee Anae (DE, Utah)
7/231 – Ben DiNucci (QB, James Madison)
The Dallas Cowboys did not necessarily get the best talent in this list but they got the best value picks for where they selected. CeeDee Lamb can be a day one starter in the slot alongside Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup. Trevon Diggs brings you speed and versatility on the defensive end at DB (a much needed position for Dallas). The Cowboys hit every need in this draft and drafted very good talent.
- Carolina Panthers, 7 total picks
1/7 – Derrick Brown (DT, Auburn)
2/38 – Yetur Gross-Matos (DE, Penn State)
2/64 – Jeremy Chinn (S, Southern Illinois)
4/113 – Troy Pride Jr. (CB, Notre Dame)
5/152 – Kenny Robinson (S, West Virginia)
6/184 – Bravvion Roy (DT, Baylor)
7/221 – Stantley Thomas-Oliver III (CB, FIU)
New head coach and former Baylor Bears head coach Matt Rhule set out to achieve one goal in this draft, get better defensively! And that, they did. In 2019, the Panthers gave up a franchise-worst 29.4 points per game so they decided to use all seven of their picks on defensive talent which is an NFL record. Yetur Gross-Matos and Derrick Brown will be impact players on the field day one.
- Indianapolis Colts, 9 total picks
2/34 – Michael Pittman Jr. (WR, USC)
2/41 – Jonathon Taylor (RB, Wisconsin)
3/85 – Julian Blackmon (S, Utah)
4/122 – Jacob Eason (QB, Washington)
5/149 – Danny Pinter (G, Ball State)
6/193 – Robert Windsor (DT, Penn State)
6/211 – Isaiah Rodgers (CB, UMass)
6/212 – Dezmon Patmon (WR, Washington State)
6/213 – Jordan Glasgow (OLB, Michigan)
The Colts picked up a great value pick in Michael Pittman Jr., a great ball catcher out of USC. Most underrated receiver in this class, Pittman had 101 receptions for 1,275 yards and 11 touchdowns in his senior season. His 6’4, 220 pound frame makes it easy for him to win the 50-50 ball and the Colts are desperate for receivers right now. They had a league low 1,791 yards from the WR group in 2019 with T.Y Hilton plagued with injury all season. They now have a receiver in MPJ that can make an impact right away. Also two more value picks in Jonathon Taylor, the work horse back, and Jacob Eason, the successor to Phillip Rivers. This team should be contenders in the AFC south.
- Cincinnati Bengals, 7 total picks
1/1 – Joe Burrow (QB, LSU)
2/33 – Tee Higgins (WR, Clemson)
3/65 – Logan Wilson (ILB, Wyoming)
4/107 – Akeem Davis-Gaither (OLB, Appalachian State)
5/147 – Khalid Kareem (DE, Notre Dame)
6/180 – Hakeem Adeniji (OT, Kansas)
7/215 – Markus Bailey (ILB, Purdue)
The Bengals found their franchise quarterback with the number one overall pick, Joe Burrow. They also found a gem in the second round, drafting Tee Higgins, another underrated receiver in this class.
Top Reaches (Losers)
- Las Vegas Raiders
The Las Vegas Raiders nearly salvaged their draft with good picks in the later rounds, grabbing Lynn Bowden Jr. (WR, Kentucky) and Tanner Muse (S, Clemson), but although Bowden is a great talent and can be an impact, the pick didn’t make much sense after already reaching for Henry Ruggs III in the first. They reached for Ruggs with the 12th overall pick and another reach at 19 in which they selected Damon Arnette (CB, Ohio State). Arnette had a second round grade and nobody saw the Raiders selecting him at 19 overall. Ruggs is a tremendous and speedy WR out of Alabama, but was the 4th ranked receiver and would have been available at 19. Two over reaches in the first is what solidified the Raiders at number one on my list of losers.
- Green Bay Packers
I didn’t mind the Packers’ Jordan Love selection at 26 overall to be the successor to AR, but what I do mind is that they did not manage to take any positions that were needed. Not one WR was selected in a loaded class to help Aaron Rodgers on the back end of his career? Did not draft an offensive lineman until round 6? Draft a running back in the second round with Aaron Jones on the roster? A lot of question marks surrounding this draft by the Packers.
- Atlanta Falcons
Similar to the Raiders, the Atlanta Falcons reached for talent. I understand the need for defensive backs in today’s league, but to take the 7th ranked cornerback in A.J Terrell at no. 16 overall is a great reach with the likes of CeeDee Lamb, Patrick Queen, K’Lavon Chaisson, still on the board. The Falcons have bigger needs at defensive end and running backs and did not address either one.