2020 NFL Power Rankings: Week 6

If you are a fan of drama, you got lots of it in Week 5. After the Cowboys failed to reach a long-term deal with Dak Prescott during offseason, Prescott suffered a compound ankle fracture, ending his season. Conversely, Alex Smith suited up in his first NFL game since suffering a horrific leg injury of his own in November 2018. The league schedule got reorganized, undefeated teams, including the defending champs, lost and we even got Tuesday Night Football. Week 5 had a little bit of everything.

Given that it was such an unpredictable and wild week, the rankings underwent a massive overhaul, starting with a new team at the top. With injuries and uncertainty continuing to hang over this 2020 season, there is a good chance this order will change dramatically again as soon as next week.

Packers logo

1. Green Bay Packers: 4-0 (Last Week: 3)
Bye Week
This is a nice setup for the Packers. Take the week off an move atop the Power Rankings. Green Bay has been dominant through its four games and it is not at full strength yet. Davante Adams has been banged up, but should be back at 100% starting in Week 6. Eventually, Allen Lazard will be back as well. The Packers defense still could use some improvement against the run, but this secondary is quietly one of the better units in the league.

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2. Seattle Seahawks: 5-0 (Last Week: 2)
Won 27-26 vs. Minnesota
Seattle got hot in the third quarter and scored three touchdowns in under two minutes. Outside of that stretch, the Seahawks looked outmatched against the Vikings. Russell Wilson worked a bit of late magic just to pull off a one-point win against a one-win team. The defense has been an issue all year long. However, the run defense was a strong point, up until Minnesota racked up 200 yards, even with Dalvin Cook missing the second half. Seattle was a bit lucky to stay unbeaten, but there is something to be said for showing ability to win close games.

Chiefs Logo

3. Kansas City Chiefs: 4-1 (Last Week: 1)
Lost 40-32 vs. Las Vegas
The streak is over. Kansas City lost its first game since November as the defense fell apart. Derek Carr racked up 346 yards and three touchdowns, including two of over 50 yards. The Chiefs are still top in the AFC West though despite the loss. Sometimes a loss like this can help refocus a team. After all, it has been almost a year since Andy Reid’s team came out on the losing end. They will get a Bills team that is out to prove it is for real after dropping its first game of 2020.

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4. Baltimore Ravens: 4-1 (Last Week: 4)
Won 27-3 vs. Cincinnati
Baltimore reminded everyone that while Joe Burrow might be the first overall pick and the Bengals are headed in the right direction, it is going to be a few years before they can really compete in the AFC North. The Ravens sacked Burrow an outrageous seven times and held the Bengals to just 2.5 yards per carry. Add in three forced turnovers, and this looked like the defense we saw down the stretch last year. Now if only the offense could get back to it’s 2019 form.

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5. Pittsburgh Steelers: 4-0 (Last Week: 7)
Won 38-29 vs. Philadelphia
For the first time in 41 years, the Steelers are 4-0. For a franchise that has been so consistently in the top half of the league, it is hard to believe 1979 was really the last time Pittsburgh won four straight to open the season. Winning the battle of Pennsylvania was a bit ugly at times, Miles Sanders did rip off a 74-yard TD run after all, but Chase Claypool came to the rescue. He put on a performance for the ages, complete with four touchdowns. I don’t know how this front office continue to find incredible talent at receiver in seemingly every NFL draft.

6. Los Angeles Rams: 4-1 (Last Week: 10)
Won 30-10 at Washington
That looked a lot better than the week before. Los Angeles blew the doors of Washington in a really impressive showing. Jared Goff had a stellar day as the offense bounced back and the defense continued its dominant start to the season. Only the Steelers have more sacks per game so far than the Rams. This is shaping up to be one hell of a fight in the NFC West.

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7. Tennessee Titans: 4-0 (Last Week: 11)
Won 42-16 vs. Buffalo
Well that was a statement win if I’ve ever seen one. Tennessee dismantled Buffalo in a rare Tuesday night game to put the league on notice. While the Titans did struggle a little bit earlier this season, this was the same team that reached the AFC Championship game and had an early lead against the Chiefs in said game. They sure looked like that against a previously undefeated Bills team. With A.J. Brown back, it is time to start respecting the Titans.

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8. Buffalo Bills: 4-1 (Last Week: 5)
Lost 42-16 at Tennessee
Missing Tre’Davious White, John Brown and Zack Moss certainly hurts, but losing by 26 is inexcusable. This was a beatdown for Buffalo and a reminder that this team still is still building. The Bills have not had a playoff win since 1995. Hopefully, a loss like this will allow them to refocus. One game hardly ever defines a season. This might just be a speed bump on the Bills’ path to postseason success. They will get a chance to bounce back in a huge way as soon as this week. Buffalo hosts Kansas City in Week 6.

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9. New England Patriots: 2-2 (Last Week: 7)
Bye Week
New England got a very unexpected bye week, which probably threw off some preparations and planning, but will hopefully allow the team get back to full strength. It was clear the offense was not the same without Cam Newton. Stephon Gilmore hit the reserve/COVID list as well. Another week to prepare for the Broncos likely isn’t really what Bill Belichick needs, but getting his two best players back is.

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10. Las Vegas Raiders: 3-2 (Last Week: 15)
Won 40-32 at Kansas City
Welcome to the top 10 Las Vegas. Knocking off the defending champs was a great way to prove that the Raiders truly belong in the playoff conversation. It was one of the best games Derek Carr has ever played. Now the defense didn’t do a ton to help, but they did just enough. If Las Vegas can somehow find a way to produce like this offensively on a more consistent basis, this team could be scary. It is almost unfortunate the Raiders are heading into a bye week with all of the momentum they gained from this win.

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11. New Orleans Saints: 3-2 (Last Week: 8)
Won 30-27 vs. Los Angeles
This was nearly a major set back, but Drew Brees and the offense did just enough to squeak by the Chargers. However, it is hard to completely ignore the Saints’ first half struggles. Los Angeles led 20-3 late in the second quarter. Justin Herbert, in just his fourth career start, threw for four touchdowns against the defense. That should be a red flag for this team going forward. The Saints seem to be hanging on right now, hoping that the return of Michael Thomas is going to save them. I am starting to worry this team might not really be a contender after all.

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12. Cleveland Browns: 4-1 (Last Week: 16)
Won 32-23 vs. Indianapolis
It is hard to believe that this is the same team that got walloped by the Ravens in Week 1. Cleveland is capitalizing on an opportunistic defense and scoring at a really impressive rate. The Browns currently rank fourth in the league in scoring. What makes this win even more impressive is that they did it without Nick Chubb. I don’t think Cleveland is ready for contender status yet, but this team is one that no one should want to face right now. This style of play is hard to beat, but it is equally as hard to sustain.

Arizona_Cardnals_logo_(1994-2004)

13. Arizona Cardinals: 3-2 (Last Week: 14)
Won 30-10 at New York
Nothing like a good old pick-me-up to wash away a two-game losing streak. Kyler Murray wasn’t perfect, but Arizona did more than enough to batter New York. Then again, everyone has crushed the Jets this year. Still, the defense played well enough. Now it is time for the Cardinals to prove they are really a playoff-caliber team. Facing a Cowboys team without Dak Prescott might not seem like a huge test, but Dallas has a ton to play for and Arizona better not sleepwalk through that game.

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14. Indianapolis Colts: 3-2 (Last Week: 14)
Lost 32-23 at Cleveland
What on Earth should we make of the Colts at this point? At first glance, it is easy to say the defense should have played better when you see it gave up 32 points. However, it is hard to ask more of a unit that had two interceptions and held the NFL’s top rushing team to just 3.8 yards per carry. Instead, it was Philip Rivers who once again proved not to be up to the task. With two interceptions, including a pick-six, a safety given up and no touchdown passes, Rivers cost the Colts an important game in the AFC wildcard race. I have said it before and I will say it again. Indianapolis has a roster ready to contend, they just don’t have a quarterback who can lead them to a championship.

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15. Chicago Bears: 4-1 (Last Week 17)
Won 20-19 vs. Tampa Bay
Perhaps I am still sleeping on the Bears, but this proved to me that this team is definitely better than I initially thought. This defense means business and Nick Foles might be able to do just enough to help it grind out some wins. It will be interesting to see what Chicago decides to do next. They are a likely suitor for Le’Veon Bell given David Montgomery’s struggles and the injury to Tarik Cohen. Will the front office swing for the fences on a player who comes with an oversized personality? If the Bears are serious about competing, they might have to.

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16. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 3-2 (Last Week: 9)
Lost 20-19 at Chicago
This week, Tom Brady took care of the football, but the offense still could not finish drives. You aren’t going to win too many games when you have to settle for four field goals and manage only one touchdown. It is important to cut the Buccaneers a little bit of slack. Chris Godwin and Justin Watson were both out, although, Tyler Johnson stepped up well in their absence. Ronald Jones also had arugably the best game of his professional career. Still, the team stalling in the red zone that many times is concerning, no matter how good the defense was on the other side of the ball.

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17. Miami Dolphins: 2-3 (Last Week: 22)
Won 43-17 at San Francisco
Miami came out swinging and boy did it land a haymaker. The team benefited a bit from facing a rusty Jimmy Garoppolo, but that should not take away from how thoroughly the Dolphins dominated this game. Ryan Fitzpatrick looked unstoppable, posting an unbelievable 99.1 QBR. Defensively, Miami forced three turnovers and registered five sacks. This is the type of win that can build momentum, which means the Jets are in a world of trouble come Week 6.

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18. Carolina Panthers: 3-2 (Last Week: 20)
Won 23-16 at Atlanta
I would have likely laughed at you five weeks ago if you told me the Panthers would have won three straight to take a share of the NFC South lead. I would have laughed harder still if you told me all three wins would have come without Christian McCaffrey. Yet, here we are. Carolina is finding its groove. This young defense is learning on the job and seems to be improving from week to week. Teddy Bridgewater looks like a franchise quarterback, smartly and efficiently leading the offense. It is too early to crown anyone yet, but the Panthers have to feel really good about their offseason remodel.

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19. Minnesota Vikings: 1-4 (Last Week: 18)
Lost 27-26 at Seattle
Minnesota might be the best 1-4 team I have seen in a while. In their past three games, the Vikings have lost by a single point twice and picked up their first win of the year. Believe it or not, Minnesota largely dominated this game. They had a 13-0 at halftime. Then the wheels fell off for about two minutes and the Vikings were down 21-13. That cannot happen, nor can it be overlooked in evaluating this team. Mike Zimmer has this team competing with some of the best of the league, but he needs to see the results start going his way soon, or he will be out of a job.

20. Los Angeles Chargers: 1-4 (Last Week: 20)
Lost 30-27 at New Orleans
Here is a quick peek inside my process. Every week, I copy the entirety of last week’s rankings and paste it into a new document to start editing. It usually works really well, but it almost caused an issue this week. That’s because the Chargers blew a close game in which they had a huge first-half lead against an NFC South team. It is hard to know which aspect of this game to focus on. Despite another disappointing result, which mostly boils down to two missed kicks, Justin Herbert was sensational. If Los Angeles finishes 1-15, but knows it has it franchise quarterback, this season will be a success.

Eagles Logo

21. Philadelphia Eagles: 1-3-1 (Last Week: 24)
Lost 38-29 at Pittsburgh
Philly needs help in its secondary. Ben Roethlisberger threw for three touchdowns and the Eagles surrendered 38 points. It is time to pick up the phone and call Earl Thomas, Eric Reid or some other free agent for assistance. It is costing them their ability to run the ball too because they are going down early in games. Granted, outside of a 74-yard run from Miles Sanders, the second-year back managed just six yards on 10 additional carries. The Eagles look like they are in a lot of trouble.

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22. Dallas Cowboys: 2-3 (Last Week: 24)
Won 37-34 vs. New York
There is really no positive way to spin this. What happened to Dak Prescott flat out sucks. However, Dallas is about as well positioned as it could be for an injury at quarterback. Andy Dalton is experienced and a solid spot starter. Given how bad the rest of the NFC East looks and the skill position players he has available to him, the Cowboys are still likely the favorite in the division. It is going to be interesting to watch this team going forward.

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23. San Francisco 49ers: 2-3 (Last Week: 13)
Lost 43-17 vs. Miami
Oh boy. This is bad. In addition to the mounting injuries, San Francisco now has a quarterback controversy on its hands. Jimmy Garoppolo might have been rusty, but he looked terrible in his return from injury. For the second straight week, C.J. Beathard looked better in relief of the game’s original starter. Granted, he didn’t play a whole lot better. Additionally, the defense is a mess, the offensive line is struggling and I don’t know where the 49ers are going to get reinforcements from. Things are only going to get harder with the Rams up next.

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24. Houston Texans: 1-4 (Last Week: 25)
Won 30-14 vs. Jacksonville
The post-Bill O’Brien era got off to a good start. Shoutout to Romeo Crennel for picking up his first win as a head coach since 2012. Even David Johnson looked pretty good, topping 100 yards in the win. There were still some troubling signs. Deshaun Watson took a lot of risks in this game, resulting in a pair of interceptions. Thankfully, the defense stepped up and Watson threw three touchdowns to help make up for the mistakes. Houston gets a fresh start, but I still don’t think the pressure is totally off. This team has no incentive to lose this year without a first- or second-round pick in the upcoming draft. I expect the Texans to keep fighting to get better with the part they currently have.

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25. Atlanta Falcons: 0-5 (Last Week: 23)
Lost 23-16 vs. Carolina
It was only a matter of time, but another disheartening loss cost Dan Quinn his job. General manager Thomas Dimitroff went with him. Arthur Blank even went as far as to cast doubt on Matt Ryan’s future with the franchise following this loss. Atlanta’s famed offense of first-round picks once again failed to put up points and the defense can’t stop a nosebleed. While one loss rarely defines a season, this has the potential to be a pretty memorable one if the Falcons decide to move on from Ryan in the offseason.

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26. Detroit Lions: 1-3 (Last Week: 27)
Bye Week
We have seen Bill O’Brien and Dan Quinn kicked to the curb in successive weeks. Will Matt Patricia be next? A loss to the Jaguars might just seal his fate. Patricia was brought in from New England to instill a winning culture and build a championship-caliber defense. With a 10-25-1 record in two-plus seasons and the Lions ranking last in rushing yards allowed per game and 29th in points allowed per game, I think it is safe to say he has failed to do both those things. Keep in mind, Detroit fired Jim Caldwell after a 9-7 season to hire Patricia.

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27. Cincinnati Bengals: 1-3-1 (Last Week: 26)
Lost 27-3 at Baltimore
The high of the first win of the season and the first win of Joe Burrow’s career faded very quickly on Sunday. Burrow spent much of the game running for this life, taking seven sacks and getting absolutely no help from his ground game in the process. Defensively, it was a different story. Cincy held Lamar Jackson in check all afternoon. The reigning MVP finished with 4.9 yards per attempt passing and an interception. That doesn’t really make losing 27-3 to your division rival feel any better, but it is nice to have a silver lining.

Denver_Broncos

28. Denver Broncos: 1-3 (Last Week: 28)
Bye Week
Few teams benefit as much from a week off as the Broncos. Denver gets a chance to allow KJ Hamler, Noah Fant, Jeremiah Attaochu, Mike Purcell and maybe even Drew Lock a chance to get back on the field in Week 6. Lock would obviously be the most significant development. While the defense was able to overcome Brett Rypien’s three interceptions against the Jets, that is a much tougher task against the Patriots. Denver still has an outside shot at a playoff run. Dropping to 1-4 makes that outlook a whole more bleak.

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29. Washington: 1-4 (Last Week: 29)
Lost 30-10 vs. Los Angeles
As just about everyone did this week, let me take a moment to acknowledge the incredible feat that Alex Smith accomplished in returning football. He took it a step further by weathering an onslaught from the Rams defense. Aaron Donald along had four sacks. Los Angeles’ defense racked up eight in total, with Smith taking six of them. The offensive line has deteriorated quickly in Washington and no matter who is at quarterback, I don’t see things getting better before it is stabilized.

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30. Jacksonville Jaguars: 1-4 (Last Week: 30)
Lost 30-14 at Houston
That Week 1 win over that Colts feels awfully long ago right about now. Jacksonville has a pedestrian defense with no pass rush. Offensively, the team moves the ball up and down the field, but does not score anywhere near enough points. It is hard to pinpoint exactly where the main issue lies with this team. It is much easier to see now why everyone expected the Jaguars to end up with the first overall pick.

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31. New York Giants: 0-5 (Last Week: 31)
Lost 37-34 at Dallas
While it was a bitterly close against a division rival, it was good to see the Giants’ offense show signs of life. Granted, it might have been against the worst defense in the NFL, but beggars can’t be choosers. On the flip side, Daniel Jones continues to struggle with ball control. He was strip sacked and the fumble was returned for a touchdown. Miraculously, Jones did not throw a touchdown pass, despite New York finishing with 34 points. Ultimately, this team cannot find a way to win, even with the Cowboys rolling out their backup quarterback.

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32. New York Jets: 0-5 (Last Week: 32)
Lost 30-10 vs. Arizona
Adam Gase Watch enters what feels like a sixth year. The Jets lost by double digits yet again and barely looked competitive against a reeling Cardinals team. To top that off, New York released Le’Veon Bell on Tuesday night after failing to find a trade partner for him. The franchise knows it is destined for a top-five pick and a potential reset on its rebuild. The sooner the team decides to move on from Gase so it can start evaluating players like Sam Darnold and Lamical Perine, the better.

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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.

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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.

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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

2020 NFL Draft: First-Round Surprises and Best Players Available

That was exactly what everyone in the sports world needed. A nice dose of excitement, chaos and entertainment. Cincinnati, Washington and Detroit kicked the draft off with some predictable picks. After that, nothing was guaranteed. Trades started coming fast and furious in the 20s. Miami and Los Angeles stayed put and took franchise quarterbacks. Tons of wide receivers and corners came off the board, maybe not in the order most expected.

I think it is way too early to start handing out grades for the first round. We can do that a few years from now. (I should really go back and regrade the 2015 draft class.) Instead, let’s discuss the biggest surprises of the first round. There are plenty to discuss, but I think the first one is pretty obvious.

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Rodgers turned 36 in December. (Wikimedia Commons)

Packers trade up for Aaron Rodgers’ successor
Of all the teams to take a chance on Utah State quarterback Jordan Love, I did not have Green Bay anywhere in the conversation. Thinking about it though, this is exactly what the franchise did with Brett Favre towards the end of his career. They saw a talented quarterback sliding and pounced to find their next franchise passer. What makes this so shocking is that Aaron Rodgers has shown no signs of slowing down. This offense is in desperate need of more playmakers. In a draft stocked with them, it felt like a great chance for the Packers to find Rodgers more weapons. Instead, they found the man who will potentially replace him. After being just a game away from the Super Bowl last year, this feels like an odd move. Credit the Green Bay for being forward thinking, but I definitely did not expect this.

Josh Jones’ slide
I had Houston offensive tackle Josh Jones pegged to go at 18 to the Dolphins. He was my 21st overall prospect and my highest remaining offensive lineman. Miami decided to take USC product Austin Jackson. When the Chargers traded back into the first round, I assumed it was for Jones. They opted for Oklahoma linebacker Kenneth Murray. Tennessee had a chance to take Jones as well, but chose a different tackle in Georgia’s Isaiah Wilson. I was just about convinced the Jones would find a home in the first round. He is a bit older at 23, but he is a physical player with solid technique. It would not be a shock to see the Bengals take Jones at 33, but it is unclear when his slide might end at this point.

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Okudah was the highest drafted corner since 1997. (Wikimedia Commons)

Corner craze in round one
I did not think we were going to see six cornerbacks go in the first round. A.J. Terrell at 16 to the Falcons felt like a bit of a reach to me, but I had seen some first-round buzz around him. Damon Arnette to the Raiders 19th overall was truly a stunner. Then, Noah Igbinoghene went to Miami at pick 30. Teams felt like they were reaching a bit at the position, especially given some of the other players available. K’Lavon Chaisson felt like a great fit for Atlanta. Las Vegas passed on a lot of talented corners to take Arnette, who I had 11th at the position. Miami has spent tons of money locking up Xavien Howard and Byron Jones. Igbinoghene is definitely a luxury pick for the Dolphins, who have a ton of draft picks. Pass rusher felt like a bigger need though with some solid players available. I thought there was depth at the position in this draft, but the league went all in much early than expected. Three felt like a safe number to peg with Jeff Okudah, CJ Henderson and Jeff Gladney in the mix. I didn’t expect that number to double. I think there are some really good options still available too with Bryce Hall, Kristian Fulton and Jaylon Johnson still on the board, so this trend might continue.

Jalen Reagor over Justin Jefferson
I think TCU receiver Jalen Reagor will end up having a solid NFL career, but I think the Eagles missed big time on LSU’s Justin Jefferson, who went a pick later to the Vikings. Reagor plays a bit like former Philadelphia standout DeSean Jackson. He had an uneven 2019 season, but his game speed is impressive. Reagor is definitely a bit undersized, but he posted an outrageous 42-inch vertical at the combine. However, Jefferson is coming off a monster year and is a much better prospect in my opinion. He is really just a bigger, more physical version of Reagor. Jefferson ran a better 40 time, posted better stats and played against much better competition. I think Jefferson would have fit Philly’s system as well. This one left me scratching my head.

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Edwards-Helaire had over 1,800 total yards and 17 TD in 2019. (Wikimedia Commons)

Clyde Edwards-Helaire as RB1
Between D’Andre Swift, J.K. Dobbins and Jonathan Taylor, I thought Clyde Edwards-Helaire would be at least the second back drafted. I had him as my third running back behind Dobbins and Swift. CEH is a physical runner with the ability to be a receiver out of the backfield as well, even if he doesn’t have blazing speed. He reminds me a lot of Maurice Jones-Drew and feels like a good fit for the Kansas City offense, but I don’t think many people expected him to be the first running back off the board. There is also something to be said for Andy Reid drafting a running back for the first time in his 21-year career as a head coach. Very happy for him after he turned in a great season, but I definitely did not see this coming.

Not really enough to warrant it’s own subhead, but I was very confused by Seattle’s pick of Texas Tech linebacker Jordyn Brooks. He is a solid player, but I thought he would go middle of day two and that was definitely not the biggest need for this Seahawks defense.

Best Players Available

Those were the biggest talking points of the night for me. As teams turn their attention to rounds two and three tomorrow, here are my top remaining prospects:

18. Tee Higgins, WR, Clemson
20. J.K. Dobbins, RB, Ohio State
21. Josh Jones, OT, Houston
23. A.J. Epenesa, DL, Iowa
24. Bryce Hall, CB, Virginia
26. Yetur Gross-Matos, EDGE, Penn State
28. D’Andre Swift, RB, Georgia
29. Zach Baun, LB, Wisconsin
30. Ross Blacklock, DL, TCU
31. Grant Delpit, S, LSU
33. Michael Pittman Jr., WR, USC
35. Trevon Diggs, CB, Alabama
38. Neville Gallimore, DL, Oklahoma
41. Denzel Mims, WR, Baylor
42. Matt Hennessy, OL, Temple
43. Kristian Fulton, CB, LSU
45. Antoine Winfield Jr., S, Minnesota
46. Lucas Niang, OT, TCU
47. Lloyd Cushenberry, OL, LSU
48. Laviska Shenault, WR, Colorado
49. Kyle Dugger, S, Lenoir Rhyne
50. Jaylon Johnson, CB, Utah

NFL Draft Podcast – NFC Free Agency Primer and Draft Implications

In this week’s episode, Chris breaks down the key free agents for every NFC team and discusses how these crucial decisions will impact the draft strategy for each franchise. Dallas dominates the NFC East conversation with its trio of high-impact free agents, but New York, Washington and Philadelphia have a couple of notable players no longer under contract. Pretty much every team other than the Falcons has questions at quarterback in the NFC South. The Saints, Panthers and Buccaneers all could have new starters in 2020. Most of the NFC West teams have a few important players that could hit the open market. Chicago has very few notable free agents, but will likely be aggressive anyway. Green Bay, Minnesota and Detroit have several players they will be focused on bringing back. Catch up on all the major pending free agents ahead of the scouting combine! Listen to the latest episode now on Spotify, Apple Podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts.
https://anchor.fm/theaftermath