As always, it is hard to give out draft grades and pick winners and losers so quickly after a draft. Many people like to complain about them, but what else does anyone have to do right now anyways? Normally, I say something like it’s hard to pick only a few winners and pick any losers, but this year I think some drafts stood head and shoulders above the rest. And more importantly, some teams like the Packers threw up some absolute trash can drafts to make picking losers even easier for a change.
You can check out the 2020 NFL Draft Losers here.
My god, what an absolute clinic the Ravens put on. You get Patrick Queen to be the new center piece of your defense and then you move up and snag J.K. Dobbins? Mark Ingram has one year left on his contract so Dobbins may not have a huge impact this year, but the Ravens can let him walk after this year and have his bell cow ready made replacement. The duo of Dobbins and Lamar Jackson in the backfield does not sound awesome for AFC teams but sounds wonderful for your fantasy teams.
Then after the Ravens did this, the went out and had FOUR 3rd round picks and knocked them all out of the park. Madubuike is an explosive DT that can rush the passer, Duvernay gives you another young speed demon to go with Marquise Brown and Miles Boykin. Then you add Malik Harrison, who has starting potential and then Tyre Phillips for depth at offensive tackle. Even though Ben Bredeson does not have a high ceiling, his high floor makes him a potential starter from day one with the retirement of Marshal Yanda. Then you add in James Proche and Geno Stone late? Both provide quality depth and Stone will be a special teamer right away. This draft top to bottom was the best and they have a chance to have six future starters emerge from here.
Man, it’s not often that you can compliment Jerry Jones and his drafting ability, but he just sat on his nice ass yacht and collected the talent that fell in his lap. Some people thought they would target Trevon Diggs in the first round if they did not have someone on their board that they liked more when they got on the clock. But lo and behold, they just sit there and end up with CeeDee Lamb. Lamb is my favorite receiver in the draft and to be able to put him in the slot with Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup outside is going to be an absolute nightmare.
Adding Diggs and Reggie Robinson helps improve the secondary after losing Byron Jones and Tyler Biadasz could end up starting and replacing Trent Frederick (might as well replace one Wisconsin center with a new one). Gallimore was a great value pick at #82, but Anae at #179 was even better. I’m not sure why Anae fell so far, but of course Jerry gets to benefit from it. I know nothing about Ben DiNucci and had not heard of him prior to the draft and it does not even matter. This draft class was great.
It feels like the Cleveland Browns have started appearing here quite frequently and they have to put it all together eventually…right?
Getting Jedrick Wills was absolutely crucial. Frankly, it did not even matter which tackle they ended up with, they just had to end up with one of the four top tackles in this draft. They spent free agent money on Jack Conklin to fortify the right tackle spot and now they have their starting left tackle. Grant Delpit has his warts as a player, particularly when tackling, but at #44 overall he had some big time value.
Jordan Elliott and Jacob Phillips should help solidify the interior of the defense and Nick Harris has the versatility to play guard or center. I’m guessing he will end up as a backup rotational player, but still a player nonetheless.
Adding Harrison Bryant was a bit odd to me since they spent big money on Austin Hooper and picked up David Njoku’s fifth-year option, but it seems like Kevin Stefanski wants to run more two TE sets and Bryant is a good player that will give them depth. Donovan Peoples-Jones seems like a complete dartboard throw but they do not have any wide receivers that should beat him out for the third spot on the depth chart. If he can get any sort of coaching or figure it out, he will be a great value pick and should be able to return punts and kicks for them at the very least.
I do not want to include trading the 13th overall pick for DeForest Buckner as a part of this because that feels like cheating. They had a good enough draft as it was.
Michael Pittman Jr is going to be a fantastic piece to start opposite T.Y. Hilton and will allow them to put Parris Campbell in the slot. Then you’ve got Jonathan Taylor who will take over for Marlon Mack. They did not necessarily need to trade up for Taylor since their stable of backs is already productive behind their offensive line. And while this was a bit of a luxury pick, they’re clearly trying to plan ahead since Mack only has one year left on his deal and is often injured. If Taylor gets his fumbling under control, he will be a monster behind that offensive line.
Pinter has potential future starting ability and while I’m not a big Jacob Eason fan, there was value there and they may be able to turn his raw tools into something useful. Patmon is a nice developmental wide receiver and Rodgers and Glasgow will contribute immediately on special teams. Blackmon was the only pick that I did not love and thought went a bit early, but the Colts did damn well.
Going into Day 3, the Vikings had already made four picks and had 13 (!!!) left to make. They ended up making 11 picks and then added a 4th and a 5th for 2021. They had Justin Jefferson fall into their lap after the Eagles reached for Jalen Reagor and he should be a fantastic replacement for Diggs. Then they replaced Trae Waynes with Jeff Gladney and then added Cameron Dantzler for some insurance and depth in the secondary.
Ezra Cleveland could end up starting at tackle for them some day and there was talk that he would sneak into the first round. D.J. Wonnum, James Lynch and Troy Dye will all rotate in on the defensive this year and contribute, Dye most likely on special teams. Then they spent the rest of the draft throwing darts. I think Josh Metellus and Brian Cole will end up as special teamers and Kenny Willekes could be a rotational defensive end.
To get rid of a wide receiver that did not want to be there and get his replacement, then add two more starters with their next picks, plus a plethora of depth and potential? This was a solid draft.
The Carolina Panthers and Matt Rhule went with the YOLO fix the defense approach and only drafted defensive players. Their first three picks are potential starters and Troy Pride should not be slept on. Derrick Brown, Yetur Gross-Matos and Jeremy Chinn should contribute immediately and I expect Derrick Brown and Chinn to be immediate starters. The Panthers ran a 3-4 defense last year and it seems as thought Matt Rhule will switch back to the 4-3…if that is the case, then Gross-Matos will likely start as well.
After Pride, the last three players were effectively dice rolls and I’ll be curious to see where they end up on the roster. Matt Rhule is obviously very familiar with Bravvion Roy and he will provide interior depth.
This draft was not perfect, but it was a big step in the right direction to try and fix the Panthers defense. Losing Luke Kuechly to retirement leaves a big time hole in the middle of the defense so I was slightly surprised they did not try to make a move for one of the inside backers. Either way, this team is not going to compete any time soon with the Saints, Bucs and even the Falcons in the division, so getting players to contribute in the future was key.
Boom or Bust: Miami Dolphins
The Dolphins are poised to remake their franchise in quite a hurry if they hit on their draft picks. They had five picks in the top 56 this year and they have four more picks in the first two rounds next year because Bill O’Brien does drugs.
Obviously the most important pick to hit on is Tua Tagovailoa. For me, I do not see him as a generational talent and the past injuries in college give me cause for concern. I think if he can get healthy, and stay healthy, that he will be an effective starting quarterback in the NFL. For people to declare his hip injury as a non-issue is misguided. He’s barely six months removed from the injury and it could easily be August before any doctors have an idea of the long-term issues he could be facing.
On top of that, their next first round pick ended up being Austin Jackson. He’s a player with a tremendously high ceiling but he still has a ways to go in terms of development. He donated bone marrow to save his sister’s life last year and unfortunately, it set him back on the football field. I think he will go through some growing pains early, but provided this past year did not stunt his development, he should be a good player.
The Dolphins then went with Noah Igbinoghene and have invested some serious talent and money in to their secondary. They paid Xavien Howard and Byron Jones and now have spent a first rounder on Igbinoghene. Hell, even adding Brandon Jones in the third gives them another player that will contribute in the secondary.
Offensively, they went ahead and added two more guards in Hunt and Kindley and made it quite clear that they are concentrating on protecting Tua whenever he gets onto the football field. I liked the value of adding Strowbridge and Weaver in the 5th and even though they drafted a long snapper, which is lol funny, this was a solid draft.
If Tua and Jackson can be healthy and hit their ceilings, this draft will be a clear winner. Though that “if” factor is exactly what keeps it in the boom or bust column.
[Photo via: Bryan D Fischer]