While the NFL draft is still fresh in my mind, I have pieced together my review of the event. As with previous years, I thoroughly enjoyed all three days – watching each individual pick and observing how all of the teams’ draft classes took shape.
I was never completely happy with how I structured past draft reviews, so I decided to try writing this one a little differently this year. I did not want to go too deep in one go and so have included a summary of the entire first round and then highlighted my favourite things about each of the remaining rounds. There is also details on my Top 100 results (a new personal best score!).
Following on from my pre-draft position rankings post, which features my analysis on many of the players in more depth, this review is a good way of concluding the entire process from my point of view. To begin, here is what happened on the much-anticipated first day.
Pick Number 1. Joe Burrow, QB, Cincinnati Bengals – The Bengals kicked off the draft by making Joe Burrow their new signal-caller. Much like last year, when the Arizona Cardinals picked Kyler Murray with the first overall pick, I am not totally convinced this was the best way for the Bengals to go despite the decision not being a surprise. It certainly does feel like time for a quarterback change in Cincinnati and it will be interesting to see how the franchise uses the off-season to mould the offense to Burrow’s benefit. If he continues his growth seen during his wonderful final college season, the Bengals have a strong new leader capable of bringing success.
2. Chase Young, DE, Washington Redskins – The most talented player in the draft was not going to be passed on by the Redskins, who have been building their defensive front nicely for a couple of years. Young has everything teams look for in a defensive end prospect and appears set to cause problems for offenses right away. Will be an NFL Defensive Rookie Of The Year candidate.
3. Jeff Okudah, CB, Detroit Lions – Prior to the draft it was mentioned a few times that the Detroit Lions were planning on selecting Okudah. Trading away number one cornerback Darius Slay was also a huge hint. As the event approached, Detroit were rumoured to be looking at a variety of positions and seen as a likely trade partner for any quarterback-needy teams wanting to move up to pick number 3. What they did was stuck at 3, made no deals and took Okudah. Good work.
4. Andrew Thomas, OT, New York Giants – I thought that the Giants would prefer Thomas if they were going to choose an offensive tackle. They couldn’t really go wrong with any of the top three I ranked in the OT class. This is a sensible move that will create space for the run game and help protect young quarterback Daniel Jones.
5. Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Miami Dolphins – It’s happened! After what could be at least two years in the making, Miami’s “Tank for Tua” has resulted in the desired outcome. Even better was that they did not need to trade up to secure him. This is an exciting pick; I keep repeating how I cannot wait to see Tua Tagovailoa in the NFL. There were a few stories suggesting the Dolphins front office was considering other players – imagine the reaction from fans in Miami had the team gone in a different direction. Thankfully, those stories proved to be false and this feels like a great fit.
6. Justin Herbert, QB, Los Angeles Chargers – With Tagovailoa gone, Justin Herbert fell into the lap of the Los Angeles Chargers. It is a good all-round situation as the Chargers have a solid team in many areas and proven talent on offense should they want to start Herbert early. LA added further help with more offensive selections as the draft continued.
7. Derrick Brown, DT, Carolina Panthers – Brown was being unfairly downgraded by some as the draft approached. He is well worth a top 7 pick and also fills a need for the Panthers, with all the traits to be a great interior lineman.
8. Isaiah Simmons, LB, Arizona Cardinals – Simmons is an example of a really talented prospect sliding due to no other reason than how the picks go. The Cardinals did not resist, and I bet the defensive coaches cannot wait to get to work with the ultra-versatile linebacker.
9. C.J. Henderson, CB, Jacksonville Jaguars – My initial reaction to this pick was that it was the first reach of the night value-wise, but Henderson does fill a big position of need for the Jaguars. He was a riser throughout the draft process and talk of a top 10 selection came true as Jacksonville selected him to be their new shutdown cornerback.
10. Jedrick Wills, OT, Cleveland Browns – The Browns made a great pick here. Wills is hugely talented, and OT was most probably the teams biggest need. By lining him up at one end with free agency signing Jack Conklin at the other, suddenly Cleveland have really solidified that offensive line.
11. Mekhi Becton, OT, New York Jets – For a while I have envisaged Tristan Wirfs in Jets green. Ah well – right position, wrong player! Becton is a monster of a man who will add loads of power to the Jets line. With some refining to his technique, there is so much potential to be realised.
12. Henry Ruggs III, WR, Las Vegas Raiders – This wide receiver class has been much-hyped for its depth. I thought that if it fell to the Raiders to take the first of the group, that they would pick Ruggs – they did not disappoint! The very speedy wideout becomes the first selection in history by a franchise from Las Vegas, while also mirroring the athletic profile of Raiders WR picks of old.
13. Tristan Wirfs, OT, Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Tampa Bay’s off-season keeps getting better and better! They made the first trade of the night here to seal the deal too. Wirfs is an excellent pick to add to an evolving offense. He is a great all-round blocker and the Buccaneers can try him at both the tackle or guard position.
14. Javon Kinlaw, DT, San Francisco 49ers – Some good business from San Francisco to trade back just one place and acquire an extra mid-round pick from the Buccaneers. This was an interesting one. Having just got rid of Deforest Buckner they immediately replaced him on the D line with Kinlaw. The 49ers offer just the sort of defense where Kinlaw can produce in his rookie season.
15. Jerry Jeudy, WR, Denver Broncos – I predicted the Broncos would trade up for a receiver. As it happened, they did not need to move to get one of the best in the draft. Selecting Jeudy is up among the best picks of the first round. Great value and was the start of Denver using the draft to get second-year quarterback Drew Lock all the offense he needs.
16. A.J. Terrell, CB, Atlanta Falcons – It felt as though cornerbacks were a little over-drafted on day one. With it being a position of need for so many teams I suppose it was inevitable. Not that Terrell isn’t a worthy first-rounder as there is a lot to like in his game. He played well in many big games at Clemson, so the Falcons should feel comfortable about starting him early.
17. CeeDee Lamb, WR, Dallas Cowboys – Another excellent pick! The Cowboys went best player available as Lamb slid to them at number 17. This was the beginning of a strong draft for Dallas, who found talent at good value throughout the three days. Lamb was WR1 in my rankings and has the skill and playing style to be a hit for the Cowboys.
18. Austin Jackson, OT, Miami Dolphins – The Dolphins used their second pick of the round to start putting things in place to assist Tua in his work. This looks a bit early for Jackson, but with the early rush on OTs, the team must have thought they would not be able to wait longer and get more protection for their new quarterback.
19. Damon Arnette, CB, Las Vegas Raiders – See the first sentence of pick 16! Arnette’s stock had been rising for some time, but the Raiders selecting him here was one of the surprises of round one. I have enjoyed watching him for a couple of years, so was happy to see Arnette made a first-rounder. Still feels a reach, nevertheless.
20. K’Lavon Chaisson, OLB, Jacksonville Jaguars – I’m not sure Chaisson fits the Jacksonville’s current scheme, unless they are thinking of changing to a 3-4 defense. The next day, in the third round, the Jaguars selected nose tackle DaVon Hamilton, a move that confirmed to me they are considering the scheme change. In which case, Chaisson will do some good work in that formation at outside linebacker.
21. Jalen Reagor, WR, Philadelphia Eagles – Reagor feels like such an Eagles receiver selection; they have often ignored having the one big target on the outside in favour of fast guys who can make plays after the catch. I was never as high on Reagor as others, but he is a good fit for Philadelphia’s offense.
22. Justin Jefferson, WR, Minnesota Vikings – The Vikings had a really good draft and it all started here when they selected Jefferson, who should contribute right away. The coaches will love his versatility as a receiver – he is reliable wherever you line him up.
23. Kenneth Murray, LB, Los Angeles Chargers – At this point the New England Patriots chose to trade out of round one. They did so to the benefit of the Chargers, who took the opportunity to jump back into the first to claim Kenneth Murray. It was a worthwhile trade as Murray is a top linebacker prospect who will slot nicely into the Chargers defense.
24. Cesar Ruiz, C, New Orleans Saints – I felt as though the Chargers had traded quickly to get in front of the Saints. Whether New Orleans were in for Murray or not, Ruiz is still a strong pick. Just the type of lineman who can block for a veteran quarterback, Ruiz can be moved along the line if needed.
25. Brandon Aiyuk, WR, San Francisco 49ers – This is the definition of a team trading to “get their guy”. The 49ers dealt with the Vikings to move up and select Aiyuk, which feels like a bit of a reach. However, there are some creative offensive minds in San Francisco who reportedly love the sort of player Aiyuk is, so why not make it happen.
26. Jordan Love, QB, Green Bay Packers – Each year there is a pick that becomes the most controversial of round one. And it tends to revolve around the quarterback position. Think Daniel Jones to the Giants last year. For 2020 this was it – the Packers trading up a few spots to select Jordan Love. As I wrote in my position rankings, my own gripe with this is that I do not see Love as a first round player anyway. The problem most have is that Green Bay were the team to pick him; with Aaron Rodgers calling for the front office to draft more offensive weapons, they instead drafted the guy they think can replace Rodgers. Surely, upsetting your all-pro starting quarterback is not the correct thing to be doing?!
27. Jordyn Brooks, LB, Seattle Seahawks – Another surprise. Not that the Seahawks stuck and made a first round pick, but that they probably could have traded back and still got Jordyn Brooks on day two. It had been mooted that Seattle were one of the teams raising Brooks’ stock. I love how this franchise sees a draft class so differently to everyone else year after year.
28. Patrick Queen, LB, Baltimore Ravens – No matter who the general manager is, the Ravens have often made drafting look annoyingly easy for a long time. Sitting and waiting for Queen to come to them and fill a need with good value was a great start. I think Queen has a way to go to hit his ceiling, but Baltimore is the perfect place to help him do so.
29. Isaiah Wilson, OT, Tennessee Titans – Wilson was another late riser. I’m not sold on the value here even though he fills a need for the Titans’ run-first offense. He is a prospect that certainly looks pro-ready. This selection meant that six offensive tackles went in round one – very nice.
30. Noah Igbinoghene, CB, Miami Dolphins – Having traded back from number 26, Miami still had a third round one selection to make. They chose to add to their secondary with the athletic Igbinoghene, who has risen throughout the draft process. I thought he had earned an early day two selection, so I rather liked seeing him sneak into the first.
31. Jeff Gladney, CB, Minnesota Vikings – The Vikings’ top draft continued as they wrapped up their first day here. Trade down from 25, fill a need with good value and a scheme-diverse cornerback. They must have been very happy with how this worked out.
32. Clyde Edwards-Helaire, RB, Kansas City Chiefs – Edwards-Helaire to the Chiefs was a great way to end the first round. I like everything about this pick! He is the best receiving running back in the class, so place him into that high-powered Kansas City offense and it feels as though he will flourish.
ROUND TWO HIGHLIGHTS
With plenty of good picks made here, I found narrowing this down to just a few favourites a bit difficult!
Pick Number 36. Xavier McKinney, S, New York Giants – The Giants began this draft by filling their two biggest needs, first with Anthony Thomas and then here with Xavier McKinney. Great work.
38 and 64. Yetur Gross-Matos, DE and Jeremy Chinn, S, Carolina Panthers – I placed these two together as I really like what the Panthers did in this round. Gross-Matos and Chinn are strong picks that will improve the defense. In fact, Carolina chose defensive players with every pick of their draft.
42. Laviska Shenault Jr, WR, Jacksonville Jaguars – Shenault Jr. is good enough to make plays in any offense. Injury concerns meant he slid into round two where the Jaguars took advantage.
54. A.J. Epenesa, DE, Buffalo Bills – The Bills joined the draft by selecting A.J. Epenesa. A few months ago, he was a possible top 10 pick. This is a great fit; one of the picks of the round. The Bills defensive front is going to be scary.
59. Denzel Mims, WR, New York Jets – Mims has been an interesting study throughout this draft process. At the end of the college season, I thought at best he could go at the bottom of the second round. After an impressive combine, his stock went up to I expected the top 50, maybe even an outside chance of round one. He was selected towards the end of round two after all! Very nice pick by the Jets.
61. Kristian Fulton, CB, Tennessee Titans – Fulton is a first round talent and this was some fall. I guess teams were really put off by his red flags from a couple of years ago, or there are some injury concerns we did not hear about. The Titans got a good one for excellent value.
At the conclusion of round two, I was 64/64 in the Top 100 for the first time since I began doing it. Things were looking up in terms of a good score!
ROUND THREE HIGHLIGHTS
Pick Number 65. Logan Wilson, LB, Cincinnati Bengals – I loved seeing Logan Wilson go at the top of the third. One of my favourite linebackers in the class, he will be a good addition to a Bengals defense in need of some help in the middle.
69. Damien Lewis, OG, Seattle Seahawks – The Seahawks needed to add a big, mean offensive lineman. Lewis is about as mean a guard in the draft and will help their run-first philosophy.
74. Zack Baun, LB, New Orleans Saints – The talented and versatile linebacker fell into round three where the Saints got a steal by making him theirs. One of those picks where value and need come together.
88. Jordan Elliott, DT, Cleveland Browns – Cleveland had kept selecting some of my favourite players at certain positions at this point. Wills in round one is a great fit, they took safety Grant Delpit in the second, which I really like, and followed up here by picking Elliott to add to their D line. He has huge upside.
105. Adam Trautman, TE, New Orleans Saints – The Saints traded up right at the end of round three to select small-schooler Adam Trautman, who becomes the first player from Dayton drafted in 43 years and he will now be catching passes from Drew Brees.
ROUND FOUR HIGHLIGHTS
Pick Number 107. Akeem Davis-Gaither, LB, Cincinnati Bengals – At the risk of being repetitive, I am going to highlight another Bengals linebacker selection. After picking Wilson in round three, Cincinnati added the up-tempo Davis-Gaither here and also later picked Markus Bailey at the beginning of the seventh. That’s a whole new set of high ceiling LBs to play with.
122. Jacob Eason, QB, Indianapolis Colts – With new signing Philip Rivers possibly only having two more years left in him at the Colts, Eason will be in the classic “sit and learn” role. Behind the veteran Rivers and the good offensive coaches at Indianapolis, this is a good situation for Eason to be in regarding his development.
132. Troy Dye, LB, Minnesota Vikings – More excellent value at a position of need for the Vikings. Dye should fit their defensive scheme nicely – he looks like an NFC North linebacker.
146. Tyler Biadasz, C, Dallas Cowboys – I never understand why a team will do a deal to let a fierce rival trade up! The Philadelphia Eagles dealt the final pick of the fourth to the Cowboys, which allowed their divisional challengers to continue their strong draft, as Dallas selected Biadasz. If his potential hits, this will be one of the steals of the entire draft.
ROUND FIVE HIGHLIGHTS
Pick Number 148. Alton Robinson, DE, Seattle Seahawks – Robinson is one of my draft sleepers and he landed in a great place as the Seahawks took him near the start of round five. He will fit right into Seattle’s pass rush rotation.
158. Bryce Hall, CB, New York Jets – Another one of my favourite players this year. Bryce Hall’s slide ended here at the Jets. The health concerns must have been bad, but I still expected him to go on day two. Headed by their aforementioned first couple of picks, the Jets had a fine draft and value-wise this is the best of the bunch.
164. Curtis Weaver, DE, Miami Dolphins – I did not rate Weaver as much as some did pre-draft. Getting selected at number 164 still feels very low. The Dolphins got a fifth round steal.
ROUND SIX HIGHLIGHTS
Pick Number 181. Netane Muti, OG, Denver Broncos – More help for young QB Drew Lock! Denver gave him new targets throughout the draft, with the round one pick of Jeudy added to in the second with another receiver, K.J. Hamler, and they picked tight end Albert Okwuegbunam in round four. The pick of Muti is designed to keep the quarterback upright. Muti slipped due to injuries, but his fierce power makes him a worthwhile selection here. How can Lock fail?!
201. James Proche, WR, Baltimore Ravens – Proche is a talented receiver and I was looking forward to seeing who selected him. Getting picked to go and play on the Baltimore offense is an excellent spot for him to realise his potential.
ROUND SEVEN HIGHLIGHTS
Pick Number 217. Jauan Jennings, WR, San Francisco 49ers – Everybody knew this wide receiver class would make for good selections though each of the rounds. Jennings is a watchable player – not the most athletic, but reliable as a pass catcher and tough to bring down. I was happy to see him drafted.
224. Cole McDonald, QB, Tennessee Titans – Cole McDonald to the Titans, E-I-E-I-O! Ok, so being selected by the Titans means the syllables do not quite fit the song, but you get the idea! I have not included McDonald just to make that joke as his physical traits warrant a late pick and the Titans are a good match.
242. Jonathan Garvin, DE, Green Bay Packers – The Packers’ final selection is probably the selection they made which I like the most. Garvin is a strong and athletic defender with high ceiling. The seventh feels like good value.
MY TOP 100
As round three ended, I was able to check my Top 100 list to get my final score. I had felt as though it was going well and sure enough… 84! A new personal best!
I like to target 80, which I achieved in 2016. Beating last year’s 82 was a pleasant surprise and a great result.
The 32 players selected in round one, that I listed at the top, were all in my Top 100. Below are the remaining players on my list who heard their names called by pick number 100 and got me the score of 84:
Pick Number 33. Tee Higgins, WR, Cincinnati Bengals; 34. Michael Pittman Jr, WR, Indianapolis Colts; 35. D’Andre Swift, RB, Detroit Lions; 36. Xavier McKinney, S, New York Giants; 37. Kyle Dugger, S, New England Patriots; 38. Yetur Gross-Matos, DE, Carolina Panthers; 39. Robert Hunt, OG, Miami Dolphins; 40. Ross Blacklock, DT, Houston Texans; 41. Jonathan Taylor, RB, Indianapolis Colts; 42. Laviska Shenault Jr, WR, Jacksonville Jaguars; 43. Cole Kmet, TE, Chicago Bears; 44. Grant Delpit, S, Cleveland Browns; 45. Antoine Winfield Jr, S, Tampa Bay Buccaneers; 46. K.J. Hamler, WR, Denver Broncos; 47. Marlon Davidson, DT, Atlanta Falcons; 48. Darrell Taylor, DE, Seattle Seahawks; 49. Chase Claypool, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers; 50. Jaylon Johnson, CB, Chicago Bears; 51. Trevon Diggs, CB, Dallas Cowboys; 52. Cam Akers, RB, Los Angeles Rams; 53. Jalen Hurts, QB, Philadelphia Eagles; 54. A.J. Epenesa, DE, Buffalo Bills; 55. J.K. Dobbins, RB, Baltimore Ravens; 56. Raekwon Davis, DT, Miami Dolphins; 57. Van Jefferson, WR, Los Angeles Rams; 58. Ezra Cleveland, OT, Minnesota Vikings; 59. Denzel Mims, WR, New York Jets; 60. Josh Uche, OLB, New England Patriots; 61. Kristian Fulton, CB, Tennessee Titans; 62. A.J. Dillon, RB, Green Bay Packers; 63. Willie Gay Jr, LB, Kansas City Chiefs; 64. Jeremy Chinn, S, Carolina Panthers; 65. Logan Wilson, LB, Cincinnati Bengals; 66. Antonio Gibson, RB, Washington Redskins; 67. Julian Okwara, OLB, Detroit Lions; 68. Ashtyn Davis, S, New York Jets; 69. Damien Lewis, OG, Seattle Seahawks; 71. Justin Madubuike, DT, Baltimore Ravens; 72. Josh Jones, OT, Arizona Cardinals; 74. Zack Baun, LB, New Orleans Saints; 75. Jonah Jackson, OG, Detroit Lions; 77. Michael Ojemudia, CB, Denver Broncos; 78. Matt Hennessy, C, Atlanta Falcons; 81. Bryan Edwards, WR, Las Vegas Raiders; 82. Neville Gallimore, DT, Dallas Cowboys; 83. Lloyd Cushenberry III, C, Denver Broncos; 86. Zack Moss, RB, Buffalo Bills; 88. Jordan Elliott, DT, Cleveland Browns; 90. Jonathan Greenard, DE, Houston Texans; 96. Lucas Niang, OT, Kansas City Chiefs; 98. Malik Harrison, LB, Baltimore Ravens; 99. Matt Peart, OT, New York Giants.
I certainly got lucky with a few players that I personally liked going higher than I expected (Van Jefferson and Michael Ojemudia spring to mind), but the majority of who I was confident on after all the scouting did get picked appropriately.
Day 2 and 3 were the strangest I can remember for a few years in terms of the variation in where I thought guys would be picked. So many names went much higher or lower than expected, it was really interesting. Most probably a sign of the current social and professional times. I always like to look at the players who were in my Top 100 but did not have their names called there in the draft. Here are my misses:
Pick Number 102. Alex Highsmith, DE, Pittsburgh Steelers; 105. Adam Trautman, TE, New Orleans Saints; 110. Darnay Holmes, CB, New York Giants; 111. Solomon Kindley, OG, Miami Dolphins; 113. Troy Pride Jr, CB, Carolina Panthers; 115. Harrison Bryant, TE, Cleveland Browns; 122. Jacob Eason, QB, Indianapolis Colts; 127. K’Von Wallace, S, Philadelphia Eagles; 132. Troy Dye, LB, Minnesota Vikings; 146. Tyler Biadasz, Dallas Cowboys; 158. Bryce Hall, CB, New York Jets; 161. Tyler Johnson, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers; 164. Curtis Weaver, DE, Miami Dolphins; 181. Netane Muti, OG, Denver Broncos; 187. Donovan Peoples-Jones, WR, Cleveland Browns; 210. Prince Tega Wanogho, OT, Philadelphia Eagles.
I like to see which positions I can assess accurately. Cornerbacks were an issue for some years in terms of the Top 100, then for the last couple of years it seemed I had figured them out. For 2020, it was back to missing on a few of them again! I put it down to teams going after the deep WR class earlier than usual. The value on offensive lineman was another area I misjudged.
Each year I place guys that I do not rate so highly in my Top 100, but they go there due to receiving some media buzz leading up to the draft. Alex Highsmith (although he was very close at pick 102), Tyler Johnson and Netane Muti were those prospects this year. As was Donovan Peoples-Jones, who was the most frustrating one – I did not rate him at all. He was getting buzz as high as round two in some places, so I reluctantly included him. There is always a prospect I look at and think “should have stuck with my instincts!”, this year Peoples-Jones is definitely that. Curtis Weaver was by far the highest on my big board to be omitted. Solomon Kindley and K’Von Wallace were also surprises – I thought each would be made a third rounder. Prince Tega Wanogho fell a long way due to injury concerns.
A check of The Huddle Report’s annual Top 100 competition to compare showed 84 to be the joint third-highest score this year. I am very happy with that.
Right now, the NFL’s off-season is in an unprecedented state. Nobody knows exactly when the teams will get back to some kind of normality and the rookies can begin working for their place on the rosters. Whenever the season does get going, I look forward to seeing how everyone in this draft class can progress.
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