Biggest reaches of the 2020 NFL Draft: Four first-round pick make the list

Our draft week coverage continues, but now it is time to dish out some hate for some of the teams that got a little over aggressive in their draft strategy. After reviewing the best value picks of this draft, I figured the next step would be to look at the biggest reaches. There are a number of teams that showed up on both lists. Now I understand that my rankings are specific to me. I am using them primarily as a reference point for where I had them. I tried to focus more on other players that were still available and the level of need the team had at that position. These are the players that I thought came off the board too early in the 2020 draft.

Falcons logo

A.J. Terrell, CB, Clemson – Atlanta Falcons
Draft position: 16th overall (1st round)
My ranking: 63rd overall (2nd-round grade)
Atlanta desperately needed corner help, but they got a little too desperate here. There were reports the Falcons wanted to move up the 2nd pick to grab Chase Young or into the top 10 to draft CJ Henderson. Once they couldn’t trade up, it felt like they settled for A.J. Terrell. There were definitely better corners available, but Atlanta should have tried to trade back or taken the best player available and address corner in round two. K’Lavon Chaisson was still available at a major position of need for this team. Keep in mind the following corners were still on the board for the Falcons second-round pick: Jaylon Johnson, Trevon Diggs and Krisitan Fulton. I had them all ranked higher than Terrell to begin with and in the second round, they were much more valuable additions.

Raiders logo

Damon Arnette, CB, Ohio State – Las Vegas Raiders
Draft position: 19th overall (1st round)
My ranking: 72nd overall (3rd-round grade)
Welcome to the reach of the first round and maybe the entire draft. Damon Arnette seems to have the makings of a solid second option in the secondary. He has some physical limitations though and was the third-best corner on Ohio State this year. There is no question the Raiders need help at the position, but this was way too early for Arnette to come off the board. All those same corners I just mentioned above for Terrell were available and I had higher draft grades on all of them as well. Arnette was 11th ranked corner, but he was the fourth one off the board. The Raiders definitely should have traded back. It is easier said than done, but without a second round pick, this felt like the perfect opportunity to do so.

Seahawks logo

Jordyn Brooks, LB, Texas Tech – Seattle Seahawks
Draft position: 27th overall (1st overall)
My rankings: 74th overall (3rd-round grade)
This was surprising at face value, but when you factor in how the Seahawks tend to draft, this is par for the course. Spoiler alert: Seattle shows up on here twice, which probably means this list is going to look really silly in about three years. Few franchises have as much success identifying and developing talent as the Seahawks. However, for every Russell Wilson, Richard Sherman or Bobby Wagner this team seems to find, it hard to ignore mistakes like Rashaad Penny, Malik McDowell and potentially L.J. Collier if he doesn’t take a big step in his second year. I liked Brooks as a prospect, but I didn’t think he was good enough to go in the first round. He is rangy and explosive, but definitely pretty raw. He has very limited experience in coverage. Most of his snaps on passing downs are spent spying on the quarterback. If he can become more comfortable dropping back, he will justify this draft slot, but that is a really big if.

Titans logo

Isaiah Wilson, OT, Georgia – Tennessee Titans
Draft position: 29th overall (1st round)
My ranking: 96th overall (3rd-round grade)
I actually really like this fit a lot, I just thought it was very early to see Isaiah Wilson come off the board. He has tons of potential given his size, but I think he would have really benefited from another year at Georgia. He just isn’t very technically sound yet as a prospect. He will likely be in contention to start at right tackle with the departure of Jack Conklin. Wilson will grow into the role eventually, I just think he has a decent amount of work to do. Given the coronavirus-impacted offseason, that could be a problem. If Tennessee is comfortable letting him learn on the job, that’s fine, but it could hurt them in the short term.

Dolphins logo

Robert Hunt, OL, Louisiana – Miami Dolphins
Draft position: 39th overall (2nd round)
My ranking: 79th overall (3rd-round grade)
This was not as significant of an overdraft as some of these others on this list, but still a surprise nonetheless. Robert Hunt is a really powerful blocker who can knock opponents back in the run game and punish them if they misstep as a pass rusher. However, he is not exactly pro ready and has lapses in his footwork and hand placement. I would consider him to be something of a project with decent upside as an interior lineman. My bigger issue with the selection was the list of interior linemen still on the board. I had Matt Hennessy, Tyler Biadasz, Lloyd Cushenberry and John Simpson all ranked ahead of Hunt. Simpson in particular feels like a more polished prospect that brings a lot of the same attributes to the table. Perhaps Miami liked how Hunt could fit in their scheme, but I still think there were some better options available.

Packers logo

A.J. Dillon, RB, Boston College – Green Bay Packers
Draft position: 62nd overall (2nd round)
My ranking: 149th overall (5th-round grade)
I really did not see this pick coming. People have been slamming the Packers for not taking a receiver in this draft (I have been one of them), and this selection in particular made that even harder to swallow. When you already have Aaron Jones and Jamal Williams on your roster, finding a goal line back shouldn’t be super high on the priority list. Had the Packers made this selection in the fourth round, I would be all in favor, but this was simply too early for a player that had almost 850 career collegiate carries. At best, A.J. Dillon is a short-yardage specialist for this team. He has taken small steps as a receiver, but not to the point where you expect him to be a factor in the passing game. Even if you want to argue that Green Bay has enough developing options at receiver, this should have been a linebacker to help bolster the team’s poor run defense.

Washington made up logo

Antonio Gibson, RB/WR, Memphis – Washington
Draft position: 66th overall (3rd round)
My ranking: 161st overall (5th-round grade)
In terms of difference between draft slot and overall ranking, this was my biggest reach of the draft. Antonio Gibson certainly brings a unique skill set to the table. However, this feels like the type of selection a team looking to add a unique playmaker to an already established offense makes. Washington’s offense is anything but established. He could be an impact player in the next few years, but I think this team had much bigger holes to fill and honestly much better playmakers available. If you wanted that do-it-all weapon to install in your offense, Lynn Bowden Jr. was still on the board.

Seahawks logo

Damien Lewis, OL, LSU – Seattle Seahawks
Draft position: 69th overall (3rd round)
My ranking: 136th overall (4th-round grade)
Another new Seahawk makes the list. I appreciate the effort the front office made here to protect Russell Wilson, but this was a miss. Damien Lewis should help the Seattle run game as they continue to pound the rock, but he is limited in space and has some very uneven film as a pass blocker. Go watch how often Joe Burrow was running for his life in the College Football Playoff. I don’t think Lewis has a tremendously high ceiling to chase either. This feels like Seattle trying to force a need. On top of all of that, I had Ben Bredeson, Jonah Jackson, Logan Stenberg, and Solomon Kindley all ranked ahead of Lewis. That doesn’t even include Matt Hennessy, Lloyd Cushenberry or Tyler Biadasz, all of whom played center in college. Quick reminder, the Seahawks just released long-time center Justin Britt.

Jets logoJabari Zuniga, EDGE, Florida – New York Jets
Draft position: 79th overall (3rd round)
My ranking: 153rd overall (5th-round grade)
I’ve hated on some other teams’ draft picks. Now I get to question my favorite team for one of its selections. Jabari Zuniga has the potential to be a solid pass rusher, provided he can stay on the field. He works hard to generate pressure and displays good play strength. Unfortunately, he is not the most athletic player of all time, which I think caps his upside. He also missed a good chunk of his final season at Florida due to an ankle injury. With Curtis Weaver, Bradlee Anae, Kenny Willekes, Terrell Lewis, Jonathan Greenard, Alex Highsmith, Khalid Kareem, Alton Robinson and Nick Coe all still on the board, I just don’t love this pick at this spot. Maybe it is recency bias (or anti-recency bias, if that’s a thing) after watching former Gators pass rusher Jachai Polite fail to make it out of training camp, but I think Zuniga is going to max out as a situational pass rusher.

Best value picks from the 2020 NFL draft

The 2020 NFL draft is officially in the rear view mirror. It is hard to believe that the first round was already a week ago. That is partially because I almost never what day of the week it is now since social distancing measures have gone into place. While the first rounders gets the majority of the headlines, there were a lot of teams that found incredible value in the later rounds of the draft. Here are my favorite players that last way longer than they should have.

Arizona_Cardnals_logo_(1994-2004)Josh Jones, OT, Houston – Arizona Cardinals
Draft position: No. 72 (3rd round)
My ranking: No. 21 (1st-round grade)
I don’t think I am the only one who was shocked Josh Jones slid all the way to the third round. I wrote about it as one of the biggest surprises of the first round, and then as one of the biggest surprises of Day 2. He is powerful and athletic. There are certainly areas for improvement when it comes to his base strength. He uses his hands well though, seeks out contact and finishes blocks at the second level. I think he has a real chance to start this season for Arizona.

Saints logoZack Baun, LB, Wisconsin – New Orleans Saints
Draft position: No. 74 (3rd round)
My ranking: No. 29 (1st round grade)
The reason Zack Baun dropped into the third round primarily has to do with his lack of experience as an off-ball linebacker. He showed he could transition to that role at the Senior Bowl. I really like his versatility. He is very comfortable rushing the passer, something he did with regularity at Wisconsin, and is a solid open-field tackler. I think he is also a great fit for this Saints defense. I think he should be in line for a lot of playing time.

Cowboys logoTyler Biadasz, C, Wisconsin – Dallas Cowboys
Draft position: No. 146 (4th round)
My ranking: No. 52 (2nd-round grade)
I know I was a bit higher than the consensus on Tyler Biadasz, but there is no way he should have fallen to the end of the fourth round. Biadasz dealt with some injuries in 2019, but he is rock solid in pass protection and works very well as a head-on run blocker. He might struggle if asked to pull and block in space, but overall, I think he also has room for growth from a technical standpoint. He will be in consideration for the starting center role following Travis Frederick’s retirement.

Jets logoBryce Hall, CB, Virginia – New York Jets
Draft position: No. 158 (5th round)
My ranking: No. 24 (1st-round grade)
As a Jets fan, I was thrilled with this pick. Bryce Hall has the size and technique to excel in the NFL. He does not have elite speed, but he knows how to press his opponent to the sideline and tracks the ball very well in the air. Apparently, teams are still worried about the ankle injury that cut his 2019 season short. Once he is healthy, I think we will see him return to his 2018 form, where he led the country in pass breakups. He will likely top out as a serviceable No. 1 corner or a great No. 2 option.

Dolphins logoCurtis Weaver, EDGE, Boise State – Miami Dolphins
Draft position: No. 164 (5th round)
My ranking: No. 55 (2nd-round grade)
There are few players in this year’s draft who had the level of production in college that Curtis Weaver had. He had 34 sacks and 43.5 tackles for loss during his three years at Boise State. He has the size to be a rotational pass rusher right away either as a 4-3 defense end or a 3-4 outside linebacker. I think he will fit really well with Miami, who needs a young edge rusher to develop. He does not have the explosive first step that makes you think he will turn into a game-wrecker, but his pass-rush moves and technique could see him develop into an eight-to-ten sack per year guy.

Cowboys logoBradlee Anae, EDGE, Utah – Dallas Cowboys
Draft position: No. 179 (5th round)
My ranking: No. 59 (2nd-round grade)
I still can’t wrap my head around this one. Bradlee Anae dominated the Senior Bowl and is at the very least a pro-ready rotational pass rusher. He does not have the desired bend some teams are looking for in edge players, but he brings plenty of experience and some very polished pass rush moves. For a team that really needed to find some help getting pressure on the quarterback, this is an absolute steal in the fifth round.

Browns logoDonovan Peoples-Jones, WR, Michigan – Cleveland Browns
Draft position: No. 187 (6th round)
My ranking: No. 65 (2nd-round grade)
Donovan Peoples-Jones is definitely a project, but coming from a big program with poor quarterback play, I will be curious to see how he translates. He has all the physical traits you look for. He has long arms and tore up the combine when it came to testing. He ran a 4.48 40, which is really solid given his size (6’2″, 212 pounds). Peoples-Jones posted a combine-bests in the vertical jump (44.5 inches) and broad jump (139 inches). I get that combine stars don’t always translate and there are questions about his agility. However, I think spending a sixth-round pick on a player with that much athleticism is definitely worth it.

Eagles LogoPrince Tega Wanogho, OT, Auburn – Philadelphia Eagles
Draft position: No. 210 (6th round)
My ranking: No. 66 (2nd-round grade)
A medical red flag on his knee caused Prince Tega Wanogho to plummet. I can understand teams being wary to spend a high draft pick on a player with an injury history. That being said, I think by the 210th pick in the draft, finding a player who, when healthy, is probably worth spending an early third-round selection on is worth the risk. If Tega Wanogho can get on the field, he is a developmental tackle that moves well and has a lot of experience at left tackle in the SEC. In the short term, he can provide some depth for a team that saw veteran stalwart Jason Peters end his 11-season tenure with the franchise.

Chargers logoK.J. Hill, WR, Ohio State – Los Angeles Chargers
Draft position: No. 220 (7th round)
My ranking: No. 93 (3rd-round grade)
There were several players that should have gone in the third round that fell into the seventh. However, K.J. Hill is the most understandable of the group to drop. He did not test well at the combine and this was an incredibly deep receiver class. However, if you go back and watch his film at Ohio State and the Senior Bowl, you will see a crafty slot receiver with more than enough speed to make it at the next level. He definitely has his physical limitations, but I could see Hill developing into a Danny Amendola-type receiver in the right offense. I think the Chargers would be thrilled to get that out of a seventh-round pick.

Arizona_Cardnals_logo_(1994-2004)Eno Benjamin, RB, Arizona State – Arizona Cardinals
Draft position: No. 222 (7th round)
My ranking: No. 91 (3rd-round grade)
I was a bit more surprised to Eno Benjamin slide this far. He did have a lot of touches in college, and his sophomore season was more impressive than his junior one, but the talent is still there. He caught 77 passes over the past two years, so he is definitely comfortable as a receiver. Benjamin has the makings of a great rotational back. Someone you can rely on to touch the ball 10-15 times a game and be productive with those touches. I think he will be a great fit in Arizona.

Vikings logoKenny Willekes, EDGE, Michigan State – Minnesota Vikings
Draft position: No. 225 (7th round)
My ranking: No. 87 (3rd-round grade)
How does a redshirt junior return to school and put up the same number of tackles and register more sacks and drop in the NFL draft? Beats me. Perhaps teams were not as high on Willekes because of his age. There also seems to be a misconception that he is not very athletic. Watch this video and tell me you still think that. I don’t expect Willekes to set the world on fire in the NFL, but he deserved to be drafted much higher than this. Minnesota found themselves someone who will likely compete for Everson Griffin’s spot at defensive end as a rookie.

Bills logoDane Jackson, CB, Pittsburgh – Buffalo Bills
Draft position: No. 239 (7th round)
My ranking: No. 148 (4th-round grade)
He was definitely a bit of a sleeper, but Dane Jackson was one of my favorite late-round grabs. He was the last player I gave a fourth-round grade to, so I wouldn’t have been surprised to see him slip into the fifth or even sixth round. The Bills getting him in the seventh makes this great value. Jackson looked really solid at the Senior Bowl. I was impressed with how he competed against the top receivers in this class. He was a three-year starter at Pittsburgh. He tackles well and is aggressive in closing to break up passes. I think he has a good shot to carve out a role on this Buffalo defense.

Check back in Friday for the biggest reaches of the 2020 draft.

Best 2020 Undrafted Free Agent Landing Spots

255 players were drafted into the NFL over the weekend. The draft process hardly ends there though. Dozens of players immediately sign with teams as undrafted free agents. While most fail to make a meaningful impact, there have been plenty that have gone on to be great players. Tony Romo, Priest Holmes, John Randle, Kurt Warner, Warren Moon, Wes Welker, Antonio Gates and many more went on to have great, and in some cases, Hall of Fame careers.

More recently, Austin Ekeler, Phillip Lindsay, Charvarius Ward, Corey Littleton, Taysom Hill and Matt Breida all never had their name called during the draft, but went on to carve out roles in the league. Lindsay reached the Pro Bowl as a rookie. Ward just won a Super Bowl with the Chiefs. Every year, there is someone that slipped through the cracks and goes on to wow the league. Here are some of the players best positioned to achieve that kind of success from this year’s crop of undrafted free agents.

Washington made up logoThaddeus Moss, TE, LSU – Washington
Randy Moss’ son does not possess the same type of athletic ability as his father, but Thad Moss has the makings of a solid possession receiver. He caught 47 passes from Joe Burrow this season en route to a national title and showed his ability to make plays on the biggest stage with two touchdowns in the championship game against Clemson. He lacks elite speed, but he definitely has the chops to help out in the passing game. Given that Washington seems set to enter the season with Jeremy Sprinkle as their starting tight end, there is potential that Moss could earn playing time as early as this year.

Jets logoJavelin Guidry, CB, Utah – New York Jets
The Jets did take a corner in this draft in Bryce Hall, and I love that pick. However, there isn’t a ton of depth in this group that mostly just features Colts castoffs. Guidry is a track star who ran a 4.29 40 at the combine. Reminder that Henry Ruggs ran a 4.27. I’m surprised that no one decided to take a flier on him. He is a bit undersized at 5’9″, but he has a good shot to make the roster and compete for maybe a role as their dime corner or a special teams role.

Seahawks logoAaron Fuller, WR, Rhode Island – Seattle Seahawks
One of my favorite sleepers in this draft, I think Fuller could be the latest unheralded prospect to find success in Seattle. He has really impressive body control and there are some already comparing him to Doug Baldwin. There are definitely some things he will have to overcome from a traits perspective. He has smaller than average hands and slightly shorter arms. I think he could have some issues catching the ball away from his body at the next level, but he did it really well in college. If he can adjust to the game speed, I think he has a chance to make the roster and eventually become a contributor.

Browns logoA.J. Green, CB, Oklahoma State – Cleveland Browns
Picture this. The Browns are facing the Bengals. Denzel Ward and Greedy Williams are both out due to injury (something that happened a few times in 2019) and Cleveland needs someone to cover Cincinnati’s top receiving threat. And that is how we get our first A.J. Green vs. A.J. Green matchup. Fun scenario’s aside, the former Oklahoma State corner is big and physical. He didn’t always win his matchup at the Senior Bowl, but he did not back down from anyone. Green regularly battled with the best receivers in this class during that practice week and I liked what I saw. He is definitely a little underdeveloped from a technique standpoint, but I think his physical traits are good enough for him to make the roster and provide some important depth at the position.

Cowboys logoFrancis Bernard, LB, Utah – Dallas Cowboys
I like my Utah defensive players. Bernard has impressive lateral quickness and is very comfortable in coverage. He is also really good at shedding blocks and has the ability to contribute as a situational blitzer. His biggest knocks are his size and his tackling, the latter being something he will need to improve upon if he wants to make the roster. He should provide some really good depth though and might even be able to work his way into the lineup for some sub-packages in obvious passing situations. Given the injuries Dallas has had at the position in recent years, Bernard could end up being valuable.

Lions LogoHunter Bryant, TE, Washington – Detroit Lions
One year after drafting T.J. Hockenson in the first round and signing Jesse James in free agency, the Lions are set at the position for the time being. I still really like the move to grab a high-upside player like Bryant. He had 852 yards receiving this year at Washington and was a finalist for the Mackey Award. He is definitely a flex option rather than an inline blocker, but he gives the team some flexibility going forward. James’ contract has an out after this season if Detroit decides they want to save some money.

Packers logoStanford Samuels, CB, Florida State – Green Bay Packers
Not seeing Samuels drafted was a big surprise. I thought he would come off the board some time in round five. He doesn’t possess blazing speed, but he has good size at 6’1″ and looked very comfortable in coverage at Florida State. He was an All-ACC honorable mention his final year in school and had six interceptions over the past two seasons. I think he has a good shot to make the roster as a developmental corner.

Colts logoRodrigo Blakenship, K, Georgia – Indianapolis Colts
Yeah we can put kickers on here! One year after watching Father Time finally catch up with Adam Vinatieri, the Colts will be auditioning new kickers. Blakenship is something of a folk hero after his career at Georgia. He never missed an extra point in college and made 80 of 97 career field goal attempts during his four years as the starter. He has a powerful leg which will translate well to the next level. If he can find a way to get back to the level he was at during his sophomore year when he made 87 percent of his kicks, the Colts will have found themselves a great kicker.

Jaguars logoJames Robinson, RB, Illinois State – Jacksonville Jaguars
With rumors that Leonard Fournette is unsettled in Jacksonville and no clear succession plan in place, I think Robinson has a good chance to make the roster. He was one of the best backs in all of FCS last year. He is north-south runner who can catch the ball out of the backfield and pass block as well. Robinson tore up the East-West Shrine Bowl during the pre-draft process. Don’t be surprised if he is getting some touches this season if Fournette ends up elsewhere.

Eagles LogoAdrian Killins, RB, UCF – Philadelphia Eagles
Another East-West Bowl participant, I think Killins fits well in what the Eagles like to do offensively. He has a very slight build, but he has good vision and the speed to bounce any play to the outside and pick up extra yardage. I can see Philly using him as a third-down back similar to what they used to do with Darren Sproles. Killins needs to improve his hands if he really wants to lock down that role, but he has the agility and instincts to thrive in it if he does.

2020 NFL Draft takeaways: Who crushed it and who missed out?

Draft weekend has officially come to a close. It will go down as the most memorable in history for a laundry list of reasons, starting with Roger Goodell’s ever-changing wardrobe and incredibly comfy chair. 255 players heard their names called and 50 or more so players have signed on as undrafted free agents. I think it way too early to start handing out grades on draft classes. It takes about five years to be able to begin appropriately evaluating how teams did.

That being said, I think we can start handing out some winners and losers tags. Balancing filling team needs with taking the best player available. Some teams did that really well. Others, not so much. Here are the teams that crushed the draft and the teams that could have fared better.

Winners:

Cowboys logoDallas Cowboys
Biggest impact: CeeDee Lamb, WR, Oklahoma (17th overall)
Best value: Bradlee Anae, EDGE, Utah (179th overall)
I think it would be hard to qualify the Cowboys as anything other than the winners of this draft. They landed a top-10 talent in CeeDee Lamb at 17, then filled a major need at great value with Trevon Diggs in the second round. Dallas filled another need with Neville Gallimore, who slid into the third. Reggie Robinson is an interesting smaller school prospect to develop with decent size and speed. Tyler Biadasz has the potential to be a starter this season, which is great to find at the end of the fourth round. Travis Fredrick retired this offseason, so that was a huge hole to fill. I had a second-round grade on Bradlee Anae as well, who fell into the fifth. Taking a flier on a developmental quarterback in the seventh is never a bad idea either. Everyone other than Ben DiNucci has the potential to contribute this year. I think the Cowboys scored a really good core to develop.

Arizona_Cardnals_logo_(1994-2004)Arizona Cardinals
Biggest impact: Isaiah Simmons, LB/S, Clemson (8th overall)
Best value: Josh Jones, OT, Houston (72nd overall)
Arizona didn’t overthink things with Isaiah Simmons on the board. It definitely wasn’t their biggest need, but he is an incredible defensive playmaker. The Cardinals had no second-round pick because of the DeAndre Hopkins trade. However, all 32 teams would take Hopkins in the second round in a heartbeat. Josh Jones was one of the biggest steals of the draft. His drop to the third round was stunning. Leki Fotu and Rashad Lawrence help beef up the interior of the defensive line. Evan Weaver will contribute on special teams right away and provides solid depth at linebacker. Nabbing local kid Eno Benjamin in the seventh round was another impressive move to work into the backfield rotation. In two years, this roster has been thoroughly turned over.

Bengals LogoCincinnati Bengals
Biggest impact: Joe Burrow, QB, LSU (1st overall)
Best value: Tee Higgins, WR, Clemson (33rd overall)
Sure they had it easy picking up Joe Burrow, but the Bengals filled some big needs and found solid value down the line. Tee Higgins probably should have gone in the first round and gives Burrow a huge target to grow with. Logan Wilson is quick cover linebacker and no team in the league needed help at the position more than Cincinnati. Akeem Davis-Gaither is a similar player to Wilson, but that isn’t bad thing given how much talent the group lacked. Khalid Kareem should be a rotational player up front capable of eating up plenty of defensive snaps. Hakeem Adeniji is a developmental tackle to work with and Markus Bailey is worth a flier in the seventh. He has some major history, but when healthy, he could be a starting caliber NFL player. There will be a learning curve as the Bengals continue to rebuild, but they have some solid pieces in place now.

Vikings logoMinnesota Vikings
Biggest impact: Jeff Gladney, CB, TCU (31st overall)
Best value: Kenny Willekes, EDGE, Michigan State (255 overall)
Minnesota let the board come to them, traded back well and reloaded at some key positions. Having Justin Jefferson fall to them was a bit of luck, but trading back and still taking Jeff Gladney was a very skillful move. Ezra Cleveland is a tackle prospect worth developing. He might not be totally pro ready, but he is a future starter. Cameron Dantzler, D.J. Wonnum, James Lynch and Troy Dye are all high-upside players who can provide depth right away. Harrison Hand is an intriguing option on the back end as well. I thought K.J. Osborn was a reach, especially given the other receivers on the board. Kenny Willekes and Josh Metellus were very productive starters in college and well worth kicking the tires on in the later rounds. It wasn’t a very sexy draft for the Vikings, but this sets them up well for this season and beyond.

Ravens logoBaltimore Ravens
Biggest impact: Patrick Queen, LB, LSU (28th overall)
Best value: James Proche, WR, SMU (201st overall)
Very few teams draft as consistently well as the Ravens. Patrick Queen is a perfect fit in a massive position of need and J.K. Dobbins adds another dynamic player to potentially the scariest backfield in football. Devin Duvernay and James Proche are instant impact players at receivers that should work well with Lamar Jackson. Justin Mandubuike is a solid prospect to work with on the defensive line and could eventually take over for the 31-year-old Brandon Williams. Malik Harrison plays downhill and could become an extremely disruptive player in a few years. Tyree Phillips and Ben Bredeson offer offensive line depth too. Geno Stone isn’t a flashy player, but he was really good value in the seventh round. Give Eric DeCosta a lot of credit. This has the makings of a very good class that sets them up really well for the future.

Buccaneers logoTampa Bay Buccaneers
Biggest impact: Tristan Wirfs, OT, Iowa (13th overall)
Best value: Tyler Johnson, WR, Minnesota (161st overall)
When filling needs meets finding great value, you tend to have a solid draft. Tristan Wirfs is the perfect player to anchor the right side of the line for Tom Brady. Antoine Winfield Jr. is a ballhawking playmaker who should add some explosiveness to an underrated secondary. Ke’Shawn Vaughn provides another dimension to a Buccaneers backfield that has really struggled in recent years. Tyler Johnson provides great depth at receiver after a stellar career at Minnesota. This team got better at important positions and positioned themselves well to compete this year. I don’t need to explain how important that is with a 44-year-old quarterback.

Losers: 

Eagles LogoPhiladelphia Eagles
Biggest surprise: Jalen Hurts, QB, Oklahoma (53rd overall)
Biggest reach: Jalen Reagor, WR, TCU (21st overall)
Now some of this is personal preference, bordering on being a premature grade, but I was not a huge fan of the decisions the Eagles made in this draft. Jalen Reagor over Justin Jefferson drew a lot of scrutiny and rightfully so. That was one of the biggest surprises of the first round. Philadelphia then had the biggest surprise of round two by taking Jalen Hurts. Carson Wentz has an injury history, but this team was desperate for receivers, corners and linebackers. Finding a sub-package quarterback given the other holes on this roster is questionable at best. Davion Taylor and K’Von Wallace are solid mid-round picks. The Eagles did eventually find receiver depth in John Hightower and Quez Watkins in addition to trading for Marquise Goodwin. They might have also found a steal in Prince Tega Wanogho. Not taking a corner was a big miss though and waiting until the late third round to take a defensive player could cost Philly in the short term.

Packers logoGreen Bay Packers
Biggest surprise: Jordan Love, QB, Utah State (26th overall)
Biggest reach: A.J. Dillon, RB, Boston College (62nd overall)
No team’s draft confused me more than the Packers. Coming off an NFC championship appearance, it was clear Green Bay needed some more reliable receivers and an injection of talent at linebacker. Instead, the Packers traded up to take a project quarterback, despite having one of the best passers in the league. Then they drafted a running back in the second round despite having Aaron Jones and Jamal Williams already on the roster. Josiah Deguara and Kamal Martin finally hit on some needs and Green Bay built a lot of offensive line depth in the later rounds. The fact that the front office didn’t draft a single receiver is shocking. In what was the deepest receiver draft in at least a decade, not finding more options for Aaron Rodgers to work with borders on malpractice in football. This was a perplexing approaching by Brian Gutekunst.

Seahawks logoSeattle Seahawks
Biggest surprise: Jordyn Brooks, LB, Texas Tech (27th overall)
Biggest reach: Damien Lewis, G, LSU (69th overall)
Seattle stayed true to form, reaching in the first round before taking some high-upside prospects to develop later in the draft. Jordyn Brooks is an enticing player, but I had an early third-round grade on him. I think Darrell Taylor could be a good get for the Seahawks, but they reached on Damien Lewis in the third in an attempt to find some more protection for Russell Wilson. I like Alton Robinson in the fifth round, but Freddie Swain came from off the radar with much better prospects on the board. At least Colby Parkinson and DeeJay Dallas should be solid roll players as rookies.

Bears logoChicago Bears
Biggest surprise: Darnell Mooney, WR, Tulane (173rd overall)
Biggest reach: Mooney
It is amazing how different the league feels about the Khalil Mack trade two years later. Given the amount of cap space he takes up and draft capital it took to acquire him, Chicago probably would’ve been better off without the pass rusher. Given that the Bears were already down a first round draft pick, the team decided to take their 10th tight end. Their second pick of the round was much better in Jaylon Johnson at a big position of need. Darnell Mooney was another example of a team passing on better prospects at the position. Kindle Vildor is a really solid add in the fifth, but I can’t get behind waiting to find offensive line help until the seventh round. Chicago just does not seem like it had a great plan in place entering the draft.

Washington made up logoWashington
Biggest surprise: Antonio Gibson, RB, Memphis (66th overall)
Biggest reach: Gibson
It is hard to put Washington in this category after landing a star edge player in Chase Young. However, they didn’t have a great draft after that. With Adrian Peterson, Bryce Love, Derrius Guice and Peyton Barber on the roster, taking a third-down back is a questionable move alone. I didn’t think Antonio Gibson was worth going before the fifth round either. Josh Jones was on the board there, which would have been a great get after not getting a ton in return for Trent Williams. I don’t think Saadiq Charles will be able to fill that void in year one either. There took a couple of fliers on players from big-name programs that often got lost in the shuffle at their respective school. Ron Rivera is a great coach, but I don’t think this set him up super well for success in his first season.

Patriots LogoNew England Patriots
Biggest surprise: Dalton Keene, TE, Virginia Tech (101st overall)
Biggest impact: Justin Rohrwasser, K, Marshall (159th overall)
Dare I put them in this category??? New England is often playing chess while the rest of the league is playing checkers. This year, it felt like the Patriots were trying too hard to out think the rest of the league. Kyle Dugger is raw, but if anyone can get the most of out his skills, it will be Bill Belichick. Josh Uche should also be a solid situational rusher as well. The Pats overdrafted two tight ends and then spent a fifth-round pick on a kicker that it seemed like no one else was even thinking about drafting. Failing to select a quarterback to develop as part of this class is a little surprising as well. I never thought Belichick would be aggressive in finding a passer, but ignoring the position all together seems like a mistake. You know that Dustin Woodard will be a Pro Bowler within two years though undrafted free agent will turn into Jarrett Stidham’s equivalent of Julian Edelman making me look like a fool for ever suggesting they had a bad draft.

2020 NFL Draft: Day 2 surprises and best players available

We are two days in, but still not even halfway through the NFL draft. This class is loaded with talented players that found their NFL homes on Friday. While the first round gets the biggest billing, this is where teams make their money. If you can find value in the middle rounds of the draft, you are going to be a very successful franchise. The teams that do this best (Seattle, New England, Baltimore) seem to always have players ready to step in when injuries strike or players leave in free agency. That’s because they find the diamonds in the rough.

I will talk about my favorite prospects still on the board, but first, let’s talk about some of the most shocking developments from rounds two and three. Check out day one’s biggest surprises here.

NCAA Football: Oklahoma vs UCLA, Sept 14, 2019, Pasadena, CA
Hurts was the runner-up for the Heisman in 2019. (Wikimedia Commons)

Eagles take Jalen Hurts
Wait … what??? Philadelphia signed Carson Wentz to a mega-extension worth north of $100 million prior to the 2019 season. So logically, at pick 53, the Eagles selected Oklahoma quarterback Jalen Hurts. Sure, the team could use a reliable passer to backup Wentz, who has a history of injuries. However, drafting a quarterback in the second round feels like a very odd decision given the cirumstances. Philly needs help at corner, linebacker and wide receiver, even after taking Jalen Reagor in round one. Howie Roseman has often been one of the general managers capable of finding talent in the later rounds, but his draft plan in 2020 is a mysterious to most outsiders. On back-to-back days, the Eagles made headlines for who they decided to draft, but not for ideal reasons.

Josh Jones slides … again
Well I definitely overestimated how much the NFL would like Houston offensive tackle Josh Jones. I had him going 18th overall to the Dolphins. Instead, he stayed on the board all the way until pick 72 for the Cardinals (who have had a great draft so far if you ask me). He is definitely a little raw, but he is a solid offensive tackle and there are tons of teams who were rumored to be interested in help at the position. He was my fourth-ranked player at the position, but was the eighth selected. This is just one fan’s opinion, but I was shocked to see Jones fall so far. Maybe that’s less of a reflection on him as well. After six offensive tackles went in the first round, only Ezra Cleveland went in round two and Jones was the first one off the board in the third.

ga_vs_lsu_e101318_11
Swift went 35th overall to the Lions on Friday night. (Wikimedia Commons)

Teams reaching on running back
After Clyde Edwards-Helaire went with the last pick of the first round, there was some buzz that we could see a run on running backs. Jonathan Taylor, D’Andre Swift and J.K. Dobbins all went as expected in round two, along with Cam Akers. What was surprising was to see A.J. Dillon and Antonio Gibson come off the board soon after. I like Dillon a lot, but I thought the Packers, once again, had bigger needs at receiver and linebacker. Dillon was still a bit of a ways down my board as well. Gibson was a stunner. I didn’t have him in my top 150 prospects and as my 12th running back overall. I wasn’t alone in the skepticism on Gibson either, Bleacher Report had him 164th overall, 98 spots later than he was selected by Washington. Green Bay’s decision is a bit more forgivable. Washington’s follow up to Chase Young was definitely a bit underwhelming.

Broncos double up on receivers
I applaud Denver for waiting and landing the best receiver in this draft. Getting Drew Lock a receiver to pair with Courtland Sutton made a ton of sense. I think Jerry Jeudy will have a great career in Denver. The surprise here was that then the Broncos dipped back into the position group to take Penn State’s KJ Hamler. Hamler is a speedster out of the slot with tons of big-play ability. I am not a huge fan of him as a prospect given his size and issues with drops. I was surprised to see the Broncos passing on either a corner or offensive lineman (although they did fill both positions later.) I didn’t think Denver really needed another receiver with Sutton and DaeSean Hamilton already in the fold prior to the draft, but they clearly want depth at the position.

16197763809_10b6f21e12_b
Prior to 2019, the Jets were the only team with which Bill Belichick had never traded. (Wikimedia Commons)

Jets and Patriots make a trade
This definitely caught me by surprise. Very rarely do these franchise negotiate trades, but maybe it really is the sign of a new era in New England. The Jets and Pats actually brokered a trade early in the 2019 season that sent Demaryius Thomas to New York in exchange for a 2021 6th round pick. This latest trade between the two teams that saw the Patriots acquire the 101st pick, which they spent on Virginia Tech tight end Dalton Keene. As part of the deal, the Jets landed two fourth rounders this year and New England’s 2021 sixth-round pick. Believe it or not, the two teams have now just swapped 2021 sixth rounders. If you are still reading at this point, know that I appreciate your love for football and quirky draft nuggets.

Through three rounds, there is a lot of talent still on the board. I actually see a ton of prospects in my top 100 available, 21 to be exact. Considering there have already been 106 selections, I am really positive about the players still on the board. Some quality defensive options, a bunch of lanky receivers and a pair of former Georgia quarterbacks highlight the group. Here are my favorite remaining prospects:

24. Bryce Hall, CB, Virginia
52. Tyler Biadasz, C, Wisconsin
55. Curtis Weaver, EDGE, Boise State
56. John Simpson, G, Clemson
59. Bradlee Anae, EDGE, Utah
62. Ben Bartch, OT, St. John (Minn.)
65. Donovan Peoples-Jones, WR, Michigan
66. Prince Tega Wanogho, OT, Auburn
67. Troy Pride Jr., CB, Notre Dame
73. Amik Robertson, CB, Louisiana Tech
80. Troy Dye, LB, Oregon
81. Leki Fotu, DL, Utah
84. Larrell Murchison, DL, NC State
86. Jacob Eason, QB, Washington
87. Kenny Willekes, EDGE, Michigan State
88. K’Von Wallace, S, Clemson
89. Thaddeus Moss, TE, LSU
91. Eno Benjamin, RB, Arizona State
92. Ben Bredeson, G, Michigan
93. K.J. Hill, WR, Ohio State
100. Jake Fromm, QB, Georgia
101. Brycen Hopkins, TE, Purdue
102. Collin Johnson, WR, Texas
104. Tyler Johnson, WR, Minnesota
105. James Lynch, DL, Baylor
106. Logan Stenberg, G, Kentucky
109. Solomon Kindley, G, Georgia
110. Trevon Hill, EDGE, Miami
113. Evan Weaver, LB, California
114. Gabriel Davis, WR, UCF
116. Akeem Davis-Gaither, LB, Appalachian State
117. Jason Strowbridge, DL, UNC
123. Quintez Cephus, WR, Wisconsin
124. A.J. Green, CB, Oklahoma State
125. Francis Bernard, LB, Utah