Way-too-early 2021 NFL Power Rankings

Welcome to the NFL offseason. The Buccaneers put a bow on the 2020 season by steamrolling the Chiefs 31-9 in a lopsided Super Bowl. Now, all 32 teams shift their focus to 2021. After a year like none we have ever seen before, we are heading for an offseason like none before.

There are at least a dozen teams that could make a change at quarterback. The NFL combine will not be taking place as usual either due to COVID-19 restrictions. On top of all of that, the salary cap is set to decrease by close to $15 million. This sets up one of the most interesting and pivotal offseasons in recent memory.

With tons of key players potentially switching teams, there is bound to be a lot of movement in these rankings before we get anywhere close to the start of the 2021 season. As it stands though, this is how each team stacks up following Super Bowl LV, as well as a quick look at each team’s biggest free agents.

Chiefs Logo

1. Kansas City Chiefs
2020 record: 14-2
Key free agents: WR Sammy Watkins, CB Bashaud Breeland, CB Charvarius Ward, SS Daniel Sorenson, OLB Damien Wilson
Even coming off a drubbing in the Super Bowl, no team is better positioned to make another run at the Super Bowl than the Chiefs. The core of the team is signed through at least 2021 and Kansas City’s front office has done well in recent years to find solid contributors in the draft. As long as Patrick Mahomes is healthy, it is going to be hard to pick against him and Andy Reid.

Buccaneers logo

2. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
2020 record: 11-5
Key free agents: WR Chris Godwin, OLB Shaquille Barrett, LB Lavonte David, TE Rob Gronkowski, DT Ndamukong Suh, DT Rakeem Nunez-Roches, RB Leonard Fournette, WR Antonio Brown, K Ryan Succop
Tampa Bay will not be going anywhere as long as they have Tom Brady. Yes, Brady will be 44 next season, but this team is built for success all across the roster. There are a number of critical free agents the team will need to lock up, but players like Gronk and AB are likely to stick around to keep chasing rings. There are probably a few other veterans around the league that would do the same thing. Call it the Brady effect, but this team is going to be a front runner to repeat.

Bills logo

3. Buffalo Bills
2020 record: 12-4
Key free agents: G Jon Feliciano, OT Darryl Williams, LB Matt Milano, CB Josh Norman, DE Trent Murphy, TE Tyler Kroft
Make no mistake, the Bills are for real. Buffalo has the offensive firepower and defensive grit to be one of the best teams in the league in 2021. Without a ton of crucial free agents, the front office could get aggressive in pursuing another corner across from Tre’Davious White or a more reliable tight end. If Josh Allen can come anywhere close to repeating his performance next year, Buffalo will be back in the postseason.

Packers logo

4. Green Bay Packers
2020 record: 13-3
Key free agents: RB Aaron Jones, C Corey Lindsley, CB Kevin King, RB Jamaal Williams, WR Allen Lazard, TE Robert Tonyan, DE Montravius Adams
Once again, the Packers found themselves on the doorstep of the Super Bowl, but could not break through. This team is still really close to putting it all together and finally getting Aaron Rodgers his second ring. Green Bay has some key offensive pieces to re-sign in Jones, Lazard, Lindsley and Tonyan, but this roster is pretty solid throughout. With the right additions at cornerback and along the offensive line, this team should be primed for another deep playoff run.

Ravens logo

5. Baltimore Ravens
2020 record: 11-5
Key free agents: OLB Matt Judon, DE Yannick Ngakoue, OLB Tyus Bowser, C Matt Skura, RB Gus Edwards, WR Willie Snead
It was a rocky start to the year, but what we saw from the Ravens in the second half of the season points to this team’s championship credentials. Baltimore has some clear holes to fill in the front seven on defense with Judon, Bowser and Ngakoue all out of a contract. The offensive line could use a boost and Baltimore is desperate for another receiver, but the foundation is still strong.

Browns logo

6. Cleveland Browns
2020 record: 11-5
Key free agents: OLB Olivier Vernon, SS Karl Joseph, DT Larry Ogunjobi, WR Rashad Higgins
I am very bullish on the 2021 Browns. Cleveland has arguably the best offensive line in the league, a deep group of offensive playmakers and a solid front seven. The secondary should be a bit healthier this season, but the Browns also have enough cap space to make a signing or two to bolster the unit. Baker Mayfield does not need to be Superman for Cleveland to take the next step. If he can avoid turnovers, this team should be in the thick of the division title race.

7. Los Angeles Rams
2020 record: 10-6
Key free agents: C Austin Blythe, OLB Leonard Floyd, RB Malcolm Brown, CB Troy Hill, TE Gerald Everett, SS John Johnson, WR Josh Reynolds, LB Sam Ebukam
Los Angeles created themselves a two-year window to go win a championship by acquiring Matthew Stafford. The Rams’ biggest obstacle to accomplishing that goal will be finding a way to supplement the roster with limited draft capital. L.A. is projected to be $25 million over the cap as of right now. They are likely going to lose a lot of their key role players. Stafford is not a mobile quarterback, so if the Rams cannot find a way to protect him, this is going to be a really ugly collapse.

Seahawks logo

8. Seattle Seahawks
2020 record: 12-4
Key free agents: LB K.J. Wright, RB Chris Carson, DE Bruce Irvin, G Mike Iupati, DT Poona Ford, LB Shaquem Griffin, CB Shaquill Griffin, G Ethan Pocic
Seattle played two halves of a great season. The offensive was unstoppable in the first half while the defense looked helpless. In the second half, the offense ground to a halt while the defense found its stride. It all culminated in a disheartening first-round playoff loss. The Seahawks have some critical free agents to re-sign and a number of holes left to fill. Russell Wilson will give them a chance to be great, but the supporting cast is not ideal. Mike Iupati’s retirement is just another sign that this front office needs to invest in the offensive line. If the Texans have taught us anything, it’s that you need to keep your franchise quarterback happy.

Dolphins logo

9. Miami Dolphins
2020 record: 10-6
Key free agents: C Ted Karras, LB Elandon Roberts, DT Davon Godchaux, QB Ryan Fitzpatrick
It all falls on Tua Tagovailoa now. With a solid amount of cap space, a few premium draft picks and a great coaching staff, Miami seems to have the foundation in place to be successful this year and beyond. The theme of this offseason will be finding Tagovailoa some help. Miami knows it needs to find a No. 1 receiver and to solidify the offensive line. Expect the team to be in the running back market as well. With a strong offseason, the Dolphins could definitely push themselves into the top five.

Titans logo

10. Tennessee Titans
2020 record: 11-5
Key free agents: WR Corey Davis, TE Jonnu Smith, DT Da’Quon Jones, OLB Jadeveon Clowney, LB Jayon Brown, K Stephen Gostkowski
Tennessee could not take that next step forward after an AFC Championship run in 2019, but the Titans did well to avoid falling apart as well. It is clear the Titans have a formula that works. They just need to reinvest in the front seven on defense to get back on track. Jadeveon Clowney did not work out and you can bet the front office will be looking for some pass rushing help this offseason. Some really interesting free agent decisions exist too in Corey Davis and Jayon Brown.

49ers Logo

11. San Francisco 49ers
2020 record: 6-10
Key free agents: OT Trent Williams, CB Richard Sherman, FB Kyle Juszczyk, DE Solomon Thomas, CB K’Waun Williams, RB Jerick McKinnon, FS Jaquiski Tartt, RB Tevin Coleman
How does a 6-10 team that lost both its offensive and defensive coordinator end up 11th? Well when pretty much your entire roster is hurt and you still find ways to win football games, that inspires a lot of confidence for when you do get Nick Bosa and company back on the field. This is going to be a crucial offseason for the 49ers, who could be a player in the Deshaun Watson sweepstakes. Cutting Jimmy Garoppolo would get this team up to roughly $45 million in cap space, so big decisions lie ahead.

Arizona_Cardnals_logo_(1994-2004)

12. Arizona Cardinals
2020 record: 8-8
Key free agents: CB Patrick Peterson, WR Larry Fitzgerald, RB Kenyan Drake, G J.R. Sweezy, DT Corey Peters, OLB Markus Golden, OLB Hassan Reddick, OT Kelvin Beachum
The future still seems bright in Arizona, even after a rough finish to the season. Kyler Murray is clearly the team’s franchise quarterback. The defense had some bright spots. This team is still a few key pieces away from truly contending and the front office has some tough decisions to make regarding Patrick Peterson and Larry Fitzgerald. Finding a new running back will be on the to-do list as well. This offseason is critical for the Cardinals.

Colts logo

13. Indianapolis Colts
2020 record: 11-5
Key free agents: DE Justin Houston, DE Denico Autry, WR T.Y. Hilton, S Malik Hooker, CB Xavier Rhodes, TE Trey Burton, RB Marlon Mack, WR Zach Pascal, QB Jacoby Brissett
Not included in that list of free agents are Philip Rivers and Anthony Castonzo, both of whom retired. For the third straight year since Andrew Luck retired, the Colts do not have a plan at quarterback. Perhaps Jacob Eason is the answer, but it is hard to feel too strongly about a player who has yet to attempt an NFL pass. Meanwhile, Indy has a bunch of free agents at key positions on defense and several players close to needing extensions. Thankfully, the Colts have nearly $80 million in cap space to reshape this roster.

Pittsburgh_Steelers logo

14. Pittsburgh Steelers
2020 record: 12-4
Key free agents: WR Juju Smith-Schuster, RB James Conner, OLB Bud Dupree, OT Alejandro Villanueva, DE Tyson Alualu, FS Sean Davis, LB Robert Spillane, CB Mike Hilton, OT Zach Banner
Pittsburgh’s offensive line is in shambles and Ben Roethlisberger is mulling retirement. Big Ben will probably be back, but the Steelers are going to need to rework his contract to avoid a $41 million cap hit. This offense has a number of critical needs and the Steelers have limited cap space to work with. Maurkice Pouncey is gone as well after announcing his retirement. All eyes will be on the draft for Pittsburgh. Don’t be surprised if a couple of big-name players walk away in free agency.

Saints logo

15. New Orleans Saints
2020 record: 12-4
Key free agents: QB Jameis Winston, DT Sheldon Rankins, FS Marcus Williams, DE Trey Hendrickson, CB P.J. Williams, TE Jared Cook
When you are $70 million over the cap and your future Hall of Fame quarterback is about to retire, you are in for a pretty steep drop. There is still plenty of talent on the roster, but New Orleans has a number of major question marks. With key players on defense headed for free agency and no cap space to re-sign them, the Saints could be headed for a rebuild. I think they will be aggressive in trying to stay competitive, but it is hard to see the path forward right now.

Cowboys logo

16. Dallas Cowboys
2020 record: 6-10
Key free agents: QB Dak Prescott, DE Tyrone Crawford, LB Sean Lee, C Joe Looney, OLB Aldon Smith, S Xavier Woods
This ranking mostly stems from the belief that the Cowboys will bring back Prescott. Before his injury, Dak Prescott was putting up MVP-type numbers. Dallas’ offensive line was decimated by injuries as well and the defense crumbled. Still, with the offensive firepower at Prescott’s disposal and a number of key players returning from injury, this Cowboys team should be in the mix to win the NFC East.

Vikings logo

17. Minnesota Vikings
2020 record: 7-9
Key free agents: FS Anthony Harris, DE Ifeadi Odenigbo, LB Eric Wilson, LB Todd Davis
The Vikings have very few free agents to tend to. Anthony Harris and Ifeadi Odenigbo are quality starters, but Eric Wilson and Todd Davis were rotational players this year and could easily be allowed to walk. Minnesota’s defense needs a huge turn around in 2021 after a very disappointing 2020 season. There is room for improvement on the offensive line as well. This is a make-or-break year for Kirk Cousins and potentially Mike Zimmer.

Panthers logo

18. Carolina Panthers
2020 record: 5-11
Key free agents: OT Russell Okung, G John Miller, RB Mike Davis, LB Tahir Whitehead, WR Curtis Samuel, OT Taylor Morton
Reports have placed the Panthers in the middle of conversations for Matthew Stafford and Deshaun Watson. It is clear the front office feels it needs to upgrade at quarterback. With a young defense, there is a lot to like in Carolina. One major area for concern is the offensive line. Three of the team’s starting linemen are headed for free agency. Don’t be surprised if the Panthers spend some draft capital to rebuild their offensive front.

Patriots Logo

19. New England Patriots
2020 record: 7-9
Key free agents: QB Cam Newton, G Joe Thuney, CB Jason McCourty, RB James White, DT Lawrence Guy, C David Andrews, DE Adam Butler, RB Rex Burkhead, WR Damiere Byrd, CB J.C. Jackson, DE Deatrich Wise
New England is primed for a makeover this season with tons of cap space, several key free agents and, potentially, a new quarterback on the way. The Patriots will have a bit more talent, specifically on defense, with several players likely to return after opting out of the 2020 season. Bill Belichick has his work cut out for him to overhaul this roster.

20. Los Angeles Chargers
2020 record: 7-9
Key free agents: OLB Melvin Ingram, TE Hunter Henry, C Mike Pouncey, LB Denzel Perryman, G Dan Feeney
Los Angeles is headed in the right direction, but this team still has a long way to go before it is ready to compete for a title. The Chargers are breaking in a first-time head coach in Brandon Staley and have a patchwork offensive line. Mike Pouncey definitely won’t be back either after announcing his retirement. Justin Herbert gives this team a bright future, but there is still a ton of work ahead.

Giants Logo

21. New York Giants
2020 record: 6-10
Key free agents: DT Leonard Williams, OT Cameron Fleming, DT Dalvin Tomlinson, WR Austin Mack, RB Dion Lewis, RB Wayne Gallman
New York had some significant highs in 2020, taking the Bucs to the brink and beating the Seahawks in Seattle. Unfortunately, those were few and far between. Getting Saquon Barkley back will help this offense, but the team is still lacking playmakers. It seems like Joe Judge has reset the culture though and given the team a much brighter outlook. This defense is underrated and is capable of keeping New York in games.

Bears logo

22. Chicago Bears
2020 record: 8-8
Key free agents: WR Allen Robinson, QB Mitchell Trubisky, WR Cordarrelle Patterson, FS Tashaun Gipson, G Germain Ifedi, DE Mario Edwards
Chicago has a big decision to make this offseason. Consensus seems to be that Trubisky is not the answer at quarterback, but the Bears are not well positioned to find his successor. With Robinson unlikely to return, and an uninspiring offensive line, this is not exactly a prime spot for free agents quarterbacks either. How the Bears answer their quarterback question is going to determine their outlook for 2021.

Washington made up logo

23. Washington
2020 record: 7-9
Key free agents: G Brandon Scherff, DE Ryan Kerrigan, CB Ronald Darby, QB Kyle Allen
Washington’s defense is one of the best in the league. Now it needs to invest its resources in building an offense to match. Alex Smith is one of the league’s best comeback stories ever, but he is not the long-term answer at quarterback. He might not even be the short-term solution. With a sizable amount of cap space, Washington could get aggressive in finding some free agent additions, but everything hinges on the quarterback.

Raiders logo

24. Las Vegas Raiders
2020 record: 8-8
Key free agents: DE Jonathan Hankins, DE Takkarist McKinley, WR Nelson Agholor, LB Raekwon McMillan, OLB Vic Beasley
This franchise has been stuck in neutral for the past five years. Since a short-lived playoff run in 2016, the Raiders have been toiling away in obscurity and mediocrity. Derek Carr likely isn’t the answer at quarterback. Las Vegas’ defense is still one of the worst in the league. This team had it’s moment in the sun after stunning the division rival Chiefs, but it feels 8-8 is the ceiling given who the Raiders currently have on their roster.

Denver_Broncos

25. Denver Broncos
2020 record: 5-11
Key free agents: OLB Von Miller, FS Justin Simmons, SS Kareem Jackson, DT Shelby Harris, WR Tim Patrick, A.J. Johnson, RB Phillip Lindsay
Denver’ s offseason is going to be dictated largely by the decision the franchise makes at quarterback. There is some buzz about Deshaun Watson being interested in the Broncos. Drew Lock is still developing, but if the club is going to make a move like that, it would accelerate this team’s timeline significantly. They still have some key pieces on defense to lock up and a major decision looming regarding Von Miller. There is plenty of room for upward mobility.

Falcons logo

26. Atlanta Falcons
2020 record: 4-12
Key free agents: C Alex Mack, RB Todd Gurley, SS Keanu Neal, S Damontae Kazee, DE Charles Harris, K Younghoe Koo
Where in the world is this team headed? They still have Matt Ryan under contract through 2023 with a pretty easy out after 2021. The future of the club is going to be determined with what the Falcons decide to do with the fourth overall pick. Atlanta has a ton of options. They could find a successor to Ryan, pick their favorite non-QB prospect, or trade down and restock the roster. It is a tough call for new general manager Terry Fontenot.

Eagles Logo

27. Philadelphia Eagles
2020 record: 4-11-1
Key free agents: OT Jason Peters, WR DeSean Jackson, DE Vinny Curry, S Jalen Mills, RB Corey Clement, WR Greg Ward
Carson Wentz is in Indianapolis. Zach Ertz is likely to follow. The Eagles are in salary cap hell and headed for something of a rebuild. Philly has an intriguing young quarterback to work with in Jalen Hurts, but there are question marks all over this roster. Not to mention, the Eagles have a first-time head coach who is a relative unknown. This team does not have the cap space to replenish this depleted roster right away. It is going to be two years before we see the Eagles competing in the NFC East again?

Bengals Logo

28. Cincinnati Bengals
2020 record: 4-11-1
Key free agents: CB William Jackson, WR A.J. Green, WR John Ross, DE Carl Lawson, DT Mike Daniels, K Randy Bullock, P Kevin Huber
The key to this offseason will be protecting Joe Burrow. After the former Heisman winner spent much of 2020 running for his life, rebuilding the offensive line is the focal point. Expect the Bengals to be aggressive in the draft and free agency looking for ways to upgrade its current unit. Cincinnati has a few key free agents as well with William Jackson and Carl Lawson. There is a good chance that one of them departs, opening up another need on that Bengals defense. Cincy will need to stay patient, finding long-term solutions instead of short-team patches.

Texans logo

29. Houston Texans
2020 record: 4-12
Key free agents: DE J.J. Watt, WR Will Fuller, CB Gareon Conley, CB Vernon Hargreaves, DT P.J. Hall, DE Carlos Watkins
Things look bleak in Houston. Franchise quarterback Deshaun Watson wants out. J.J. Watt is gone. The roster has holes at cornerback, edge rusher, running back and wide receiver, just to name a few. Under normal circumstances, the Texans could be well-positioned to land a top prospect to accelerate this rebuild. Instead, Houston does not have a pick in the first or second round. The organization maintains that it wants to keep Watson and rebuild his trust, but it is looking like this team might be headed for a long rebuild.

Jaguars logo

30. Jacksonville Jaguars
2020 record: 1-15
Key free agents: OT Cam Robinson, CB Tre Herndon, WR Dede Westbrook, WR Keelan Cole, WR Chris Conley, CB D.J. Hayden, TE Tyler Eifert, P Dustin Colquitt
A new era is coming in Jacksonville. Urban Meyer takes over as head coach and presumptive No. 1 pick Trevor Lawrence will be the team’s new franchise quarterback. Things are definitely looking up, but the Jaguars have a lot of work to do still. Josh Allen and K’Lavon Chaisson offer exciting building blocks on defense, but the cupboard is pretty bare in the defensive playmaking department. Jacksonville’s secondary was one of the worst in the league in 2020. With a number of receivers headed for free agency, there is a clear need there as well. Lucky for the Jaguars, no one has more cap space this offseason, so Meyer and new general manager Trent Baalke will have every opportunity to reshape the roster.

Jets logo

31. New York Jets
2020 record: 2-14
Key free agents: FS Marcus Maye, WR Breshad Perriman, CB Brian Poole, LB Jordan Jenkins, S Bradley McDougald, CB Arthur Maulet, LB Tarell Basham
The Adam Gase experiment ended with a resounding thud as the Jets played their way out of contention for the No. 1 pick. New York now has a huge decision to make about Sam Darnold’s future. It is very possible he is traded this offseason to make way for a new rookie quarterback selected with the second overall pick. The Jets are also still in the Deshaun Watson sweepstakes, but it is seeming less and less likely they are the winners. At least the organization landed Robert Saleh to be the team’s next coach. His arrival should bring some much needed leadership to the locker room, but also means a scheme change and a likely massive roster turnover. New York is going to be busy this offseason.

Lions Logo

32. Detroit Lions
2020 record: 5-11
Key free agents: WR Kenny Golladay, DE Romeo Okwara, WR Marvin Jones, DE Everson Griffin, WR Danny Amendola, LB Jarrad Davis, S Durron Harmon, K Matt Prater
Welcome to the bottom of the pile, Detroit. With Kenny Golladay headed for free agency and Matt Stafford now in SoCal, the outlook for the Lions is not very inspiring. It is hard to get excited about anyone on this roster at the moment. Jared Goff gives new coach Dan Campbell a reclamation project, albeit an expensive one. The defense needs an overhaul after some poor roster building in recent years. With a ton of future draft capital now available, the future is a bit brighter in Detroit, but 2021 is going to be a year where this team bottoms out, sheds veteran contracts and looks to rebuild the foundation of the franchise.

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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.

2015 NFL Re-Draft

It’s draft week! We are only a few days away from the 2020 NFL draft. To kick us off in the run up to this week’s main event, we will go back five years and rewrite some draft history.

They say it takes five years to properly evaluate a draft class. Going back five years brings us to a loaded draft class with some notable mistakes going early. In 2015, Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota went first and second overall respectively. Tampa Bay let Winston walk after completing the first 30-touchdown, 30-interception season in NFL history. Tennessee benched Mariota in favor of Ryan Tannehill. The former Oregon star inked a deal with Las Vegas to back up Derek Carr. Needless to say, they probably weren’t worth the first two picks in the draft.

However, there aren’t clear replacements for them in this draft class. If you consult the list of quarterbacks drafted in 2015, you will find a list of career backups and spot starters. After Mariota went second overall, the next quarterback off the board was Garrett Grayson to the Saints at 75th overall. Sean Mannion, Bryce Petty, Brett Hundley and Trevor Siemian round out the rest of the position group in this class. Those five haven’t exactly set the world on fire.

Instead, this draft class is chock full of edge rushers and defensive linemen. There is plenty of talent, just not at the quarterback position, which makes this redraft really interesting to tackle.

Buccaneers logo1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Original pick: Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State
Redraft pick: Danielle Hunter, DE, LSU
Rather than tab a streaky passer, Tampa grabs an underrated stud to pair with then defensive tackle Gerald McCoy. Hunter far and away leads this draft class in sacks with 54.5 in his career. Frank Clark is the next closest with 43. He has grown as a pass rusher and now has 14.5 sacks in each of his past two seasons, which has translated to a pair of Pro Bowl appearances. Hunter is the real deal and would give the Buccaneers a crucial building block in their front seven.

Titans logo2. Tennessee Titans
Original pick: Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon
Redraft pick: Amari Cooper, WR, Alabama
There is only one player in the 2015 draft class to reach four Pro Bowls in their first five seasons. That would be Cooper. After staring early in his career with the Raiders, he has become one of the game’s top receivers for the Cowboys. He leads the 2015 class in receiving yards and touchdowns, which is impressive when you consider it consists of Stefon Diggs and Tyler Lockett as well. While Tennessee needed a quarterback, with only Zach Mettenberger on the roster, adding a playmaker like Cooper would make life a lot easier for whoever would take over under center.

Jaguars logo3. Jacksonville Jaguars
Original pick: Dante Fowler Jr., EDGE, Florida
Redraft pick: Frank Clark, EDGE, Michigan
Fowler never lived up to his potential in Jacksonville, which led to them shipping him off to the Rams less than three years into his tenure. The Florida product posted a career-high 11.5 sacks and landed himself a deal with the Falcons, but he is ninth in this draft class for career sacks. Clark on the other hand has become a dominant force as pass rusher, culminating in winning a Super Bowl with the Chiefs this year. He burst onto the scene in his second season with 10 sacks and has posted at least nine in every season since. Clark might have ended up clashing with some of the high profile Jaguars brass, but he would also have been a much more productive pick.

One last note, the Rams acquired Fowler for third and fifth round picks. The Chiefs landed Clark for a first, future second and third-round pick swap. If nothing else, the trade value for the Jaguars would have been much higher.

Raiders logo4. Oakland Raiders
Original pick: Amari Cooper, WR, Alabama
Redraft pick: Stefon Diggs, WR, Maryland
With Cooper already off the board, Oakland opts for the next-best receiver available. Diggs has quite the resume himself, if not quite as polished as Cooper’s. He ranks second in receiving yards and touchdowns, trailing only the current Cowboys star. However, he has more receptions through five years than Cooper despite playing seven fewer games. Diggs can be downright explosive and would fill the roll of then second-year quarterback’s Derek Carr’s favorite target.

Washington made up logo5. Washington
Original pick: Brandon Scherff, OL, Iowa
Redraft pick: Brandon Scherff, OL, Iowa
Finally someone makes the same pick again. If after five years, a player is important enough to franchise tag with the intention of keeping him around, he is usually worth a top-five pick. Washington has struggled to find consistency in its secondary and run game, but Scherff has been a constant for them. He became a day-one starter and has three Pro Bowl appearances to show for his efforts. He is one of the best interior linemen in the league today.

Jets logo6. New York Jets
Original pick: Leonard Williams, DL, USC
Redraft pick: Preston Smith, EDGE, Mississippi State
The Jets hoped Williams would develop into a premier pass rusher. After trading him to the Giants, I think it is fair to say he felt short of his lofty expectations. Snagging Preston Smith over draftmate and 2019 Pro Bowler Za’Darius Smith might seem a bit controversial, but Preston actually has more career sacks (36.5 to 32) and a bit more consistency to lean on. The former Mississippi State edge rusher would represent the option New York has had to get after opposing quarterbacks since Sean Ellis left. Maybe he could have helped chase Tom Brady from the division a few years earlier.

Bears logo7. Chicago Bears
Original pick: Kevin White, WR, West Virginia
Redraft pick: Tyler Lockett, WR, Kansas State
Bears fans, I will spare you by not even bothering to list White’s career stats here. Instead, imagine the prospect of Jay Cutler and maybe eventually someone other than Mitch Trubisky throwing passes to Lockett instead. The current Seahawks receiver turned in his best season as a pro in 2019, eclipsing 1,000 yards receiving. He has become Russell Wilson’s security blanket and would a much more reliable option for a regularly anemic Bears passing game.

Falcons logo8. Atlanta Falcons
Original pick: Vic Beasley, EDGE, Clemson
Redraft pick: Za’Darius Smith, EDGE, Kentucky
Believe it or not, Beasley actually has more career sacks than Smith. The reason the Falcons pass on him though is that 41.3 percent of his career sacks came in one season. Beasley’s 2016 campaign is a frustrating anomaly. Atlanta thought they had found a star pass rusher, only for Beasley to never top eight sacks over his next three seasons. Smith on the other hand is definitely on the way up in his NFL career. In his first season as a full-time starter, he posted 13.5 sacks and recorded a staggering 37 quarterback hits. Perhaps it was just a one-season spike, but his pass rush win rate of 23% (7th in 2019) makes these numbers feel very sustainable.

Giants Logo9. New York Giants
Original pick: Ereck Flowers, OL, Miami
Redraft pick: Trent Brown, OL, Oregon State
Flowers turned out to be a bust in New York, but has turned himself into a serviceable interior lineman elsewhere. Meanwhile, Brown goes from seventh-round flier to top-10 pick in this redraft. He has had some issues with injuries, but he has turned into a top-end tackle. His 2018 season with New England flashed his immense potential. He is the only offensive tackle from this class to reach a Pro Bowl as well (Brandon Scherff and Andrus Peat have made it as guards). If he could stay healthy, he would solve a lot of problems that plagued the Giants in Eli Manning’s final five seasons.

Rams logo10. St. Louis Rams
Original pick: Todd Gurley, RB, Georgia
Redraft pick: Todd Gurley, RB, Georgia
I thought long and hard about this pick. Rams fans are probably not happy to see Gurley taken again. However, I will maintain that the mistake the then-St. Louis front office made was not drafting Gurley, but handing him a monster contract. There are only two players from the 2015 class to be named first-team All-Pro twice. Gurley is one of them. The other is Marcus Peters (reminder, the Rams once had both of them). Obviously Jeff Fisher’s usage of Gurley did not help things. In a perfect world, St. Louis would monitor his touches and play the long game. It would be hard to pass on him. After all, he has 22 more touchdowns than any other non-quarterback in this draft.

Vikings logo11. Minnesota Vikings
Original pick: Trae Waynes, CB, Michigan State
Redraft pick: Marcus Peters, CB, Washington
In terms of talent, no corner in this draft class matches Peters. Waynes never really lived up to the expectations, but still cashed in on a solid second contract with the Bengals. Peters no doubt has a vibrant personality that can lead to him drawing some frustrating penalties, but when he is locked in, he is a shutdown corner. He showed that after being traded to Baltimore this season. He has 13 more interceptions than anyone else in this draft class and has a knack for making big plays. If the Vikings could get him to dial in and put the nonsense aside, they would have an all-world corner.

Browns logo12. Cleveland Browns
Original pick: Danny Shelton, DL, Washington
Redraft pick: Grady Jarrett, DL, Clemson
Shelton has turned into a decent player bouncing around the NFL, but never really lived up to the billing. Instead, Cleveland could grab a top-end interior rusher in Jarrett. He holds the edge over Arik Armstead for most sacks by an interior lineman in the 2015 class. He posted the second-best pass rush win rate by a defensive tackle in 2019 as well, trailing only Aaron Donald. Jarrett has also been available, missing just three games in five years. He has been a fixture in the middle of the Falcons defense for the past three years now and was handsomely rewarded with a four-year, $68 million extension in the 2019 offseason. He would be well worth the investment for the Browns.

Saints logo13. New Orleans Saints
Original pick: Andrus Peat, OL, Stanford
Redraft pick: Andrus Peat, OL, Stanford
While an Dante Fowler was tempting here, Peat felt like a solid choice for the Saints five years later. He had a rocky 2019 season, missing six games due to injuries. However, New Orleans still believes in him. They locked him to a five-year deal that makes him sixth-highest paid guard in the league, on average. When he is healthy, Peat has been one of the better interior offensive linemen in football, but he has never started all 16 games in a season. The Saints are clearly counting on him to stay healthy over the next few years, but there is a bit of doubt there given his track record.

Dolphins logo14. Miami Dolphins
Original pick: DeVante Parker, WR, Louisville
Redraft pick: Dante Fowler Jr., EDGE, Florida
Dolphins fans might be interested in seeing Parker go here again after watching him grown up in his fifth NFL season. However, his injury history and otherwise lack of production make it hard for me to get behind that. While Fowler certainly carries some injury concerns of his own, his talent for disruption makes it worth keeping him in the state. Miami has missed on a number of pass rushers around this time, notably Ndamukong Suh and Charles Harris. Fowler’s potential might have taken a few years to fully appear, but his 11.5 sack showing in 2019 seems like a sign of things to come.

49ers Logo15. San Francisco 49ers
Original pick: Arik Armstead, DL, Oregon
Redraft pick: Arik Armstead, DL, Oregon
The 49ers traded down and still landed Armstead on draft night in 2015. While it might have taken a few years to for him to settle in, Armstead flashed his potential with a 10-sack season in 2019. He has the second most sacks of any interior lineman in this class and has the versatility to line up all over the defensive line. While injuries are still likely a concern to resurface. He has started every game over the past two seasons. Expect Armstead to keep climbing as well.

Texans logo16. Houston Texans
Original pick: Kevin Johnson, CB, Wake Forest
Redraft pick: Byron Jones, CB, UConn
Johnson has started just nine games over the past four seasons. Meanwhile, Byron Jones just cashed in to join the Dolphins on a massive deal. I think it’s fair to say the Texans probably wish they had taken Jones, who went 11 selections later to their in-state rival. Jones does not have gaudy numbers, read as only two career interceptions, but he does well in coverage and is a sure tackler. He would represent a reliable upgrade in a Houston secondary that has struggled to get it right in recent years.

Chargers logo17. San Diego Chargers
Original pick: Melvin Gordon, RB, Wisconsin
Redraft pick: Mitch Morse, OL, Missouri
Gordon’s time with the Chargers did not end amicably with the former Wisconsin running back signing with the division rival Broncos. Gordon was not consistent enough at a position the league is continually devaluing. Adding Morse would give them somebody to stabilize what has been a mess of an offensive line for years now. For the record, the Chargers have had a different starting center each of the past five seasons. Morse had some injuries problems, but started all 16 games for Buffalo this season. He is a solid run blocker and holds up well enough in pass protection.

Chiefs Logo18. Kansas City Chiefs
Original pick: Marcus Peters, CB, Washington
Redraft pick: Eric Kendricks, LB, UCLA
Kansas City never really found anyone to replace Derrick Johnson when he retired. They also started Josh Mauga alongside him in 2015. Kendricks has turned into one of the best off-ball linebackers in the NFL. He excels in coverage and has the speed to go sideline to sideline. He allowed just 53.3 percent of passes to be completed when he was the primary defender in 2019, which is better than a lot of corners. He would be the perfect replacement for Johnson when he hung up his cleats and could have enjoy a few seasons learning from him before that day came.

Browns logo19. Cleveland Browns via Buffalo Bills
Original pick: Cameron Erving, OL, Florida State
Redraft pick: David Andrews, OL, Georgia
The Browns had the right idea in locking down the interior of their line. Unfortunately, Erving never turned into the starting center they hoped for. Andrews on the other hand signed as an undrafted free agent and took over the starting job that season. He missed all of 2019 due to a blood clot in his lung, but he is expected to make a full recovery. Andrews dominated in the 2018 playoffs en route to another Patriots Super Bowl. He would have been a massive upgrade for Cleveland and provided a lot of stability at the position.

Eagles Logo20. Philadelphia Eagles
Original pick: Nelson Agholor, WR, USC
Redraft pick: Adrian Amos, S, Penn State
There is no question the Eagles have been eager to find talent at wide receiver for several years now. Agholor did not pan out for this team though and ended up being a miss for the team. In this version of the 2015 draft, Philly selects a local kid ready to start from the moment he reached training camp. Amos had four really good seasons in Chicago, who inexplicably let him walk over to the division-rival Packers. The Eagles started converted corner Walter Thurmond at safety in 2015. That was his last season in the NFL.

Bengals Logo21. Cincinnati Bengals
Original pick: Cedric Ogbuehi, OL, Texas A&M
Redraft pick: Ali Marpet, OL, Hobart
On the whole, this turned out to be a pretty disappointing offensive tackle class. Ogbeuhi never caught on and would eventually lose his starting job in 2018. His lack of development led to him joining the Jaguars as a free agent that offseason. Meanwhile, Marpet has turned into a versatile starting-caliber lineman. He has started at both guard positions and center in his career. He is far from an elite player, but he is a solid building block on the offensive line.

Pittsburgh_Steelers logo22. Pittsburgh Steelers
Original pick: Bud Dupree, LB, Kentucky
Redraft pick: Bud Dupree, LB, Kentucky
After being consistently average for four years with the Steelers, Dupree finally broke out in 2019. He had 11.5 sacks and four forced fumbles. While it may have taken a while for Dupree to finally match his potential, he is still worth the pick here because of his consistent contribution. He produced between four and six sacks each of his first four seasons. That’s not setting the world on fire, but it is still decent production. If Dupree can produce another season like the one he just had, Pittsburgh will have no problem handing him an extension to stick around.

Lions Logo23. Detroit Lions
Original pick: Laken Tomlinson, OL, Duke
Redraft pick: David Johnson, RB, Northern Arizona
Back in 2015, the Lions traded down and tabbed Tomlinson in an effort to beef up their offensive line. The former Duke lineman last just two years in Detroit, but has bounced back with the 49ers. Rather than trade down, the Lions could land their most promising running back since Barry Sanders by taking Johnson. He has struggled quite a bit with injuries and had a rough 2019 season. Prior to that, he was one of the best players in the league. His ability as a receiver out of the backfield would have been huge for Matthew Stafford. On a team with Calvin Johnson, there is a good chance David Johnson would have had plenty of running room as well.

Arizona_Cardnals_logo_(1994-2004)24. Arizona Cardinals
Original pick: D.J. Humphries, OL, Florida
Redraft pick: Vic Beasley, EDGE, Clemson
Even though the Cardinals locked up Humphries to a big contract, I’m not sure he was worth a first round pick. He draws a ton of penalties and has struggled with injuries. Instead, the Cardinals pickup the talented, but inconsistent Beasley. Arizona definitely needed another pass rusher to add to the mix. 35-year old Dwight Freeney led the team in sacks that year with eight. Beasley has shown an ability to be productive in spurts. He might have been able to learn a thing or two from a veteran like Freeney as well before taking on a bigger role.

Panthers logo25. Carolina Panthers
Original pick: Shaq Thompson, LB, Washington
Redraft pick: Shaq Thompson, LB, Washington
Thompson didn’t really have a position coming out of college. He had played some running back at Washington and was viewed as being a hybrid linebacker/safety type because of his size. He developed into a solid off-ball linebacker who has enough speed to cover tight ends and running backs out of the backfield. I strongly debated going with Benardrick McKinney here, who fits the more prototypical middle linebacker role. However, I think Thompson was a great pairing with Luke Keuchley and the Panthers would be happy to bring him again if given a second chance.

Ravens logo26. Baltimore Ravens
Original pick: Breshaud Perriman, WR, UCF
Redraft pick: Bernardrick McKinney, LB, Mississippi State
Perriman just signed with his third NFL team in his five-year career. He flashed a bit of the potential the Ravens saw in him when they drafted him in 2015, but there is no way the front office would choose him again. Instead, they solidify their linebacking core by grabbing a thumping tackler in McKinney. Only Eric Kendricks has more solo tackles by linebackers in this class. McKinney has been a stalwart for the Texans over the past five seasons and would have slotted in really nicely next to C.J. Mosley. He would have taken over Daryl Smith’s job when Smith left the team after the 2015 season.

Cowboys logo27. Dallas Cowboys
Original pick: Byron Jones, CB, UConn
Redraft pick: Landon Collins, S, Alabama
With Jones off the board way before this, Dallas opts to bolster its secondary in a different form. Keep in mind that Jones actually spent his first two seasons at safety, so Collins could fill the same position. Now Collins is more of a box safety. Somebody who plays around the line of scrimmage and attacks downhill. He actually leads this draft class by a wide margin with 407 tackles in his career. Collins can hold up well enough in coverage for the Cowboys to get the necessary value out of this pick.

Denver_Broncos28. Denver Broncos
Original pick: Shane Ray, EDGE, Missouri
Redraft pick: Shaq Mason, G, Georgia Tech
Back in 2015, Denver traded up to grab in hopes that he could be DeMarcus Ware’s successor. That never happened. The Broncos went on to win the Super Bowl that year in Peyton Manning’s final season largely thanks to that defense regardless. One of the biggest issues exposed for Denver that season was it’s porous offensive line. Mason ended up sliding to the fifth round, but became an immediate starter for the Patriots. He is a solid guard with the size and power to play the position. He has lapses at times in protection, but he would be a massive upgrade for a Broncos line that really struggled that season and beyond.

Colts logo29. Indianapolis Colts
Original pick: Phillip Dorsett, WR, Miami

Redraft pick: Darren Waller, TE, Georgia Tech
Back to back Yellow Jackets coming off the board here. It is important to note that Waller was drafted as a receiver actually and it took him a few years to find his way into his role. He also struggled with substance abuse and missed 20 games due to suspension, including the entire 2017 season. He finally broke out in 2019 with the Raiders. While that doesn’t usually scream first round pick, the Colts essentially got the same amount of production out of Dorsett. They ended up trading him to the Patriots in exchange for Jacoby Brissett. Indy has struggled to find reliable pass catchers in recent years and seem to need a tight end more than ever now. Based on his eventual breakout, I could see the Colts taking a flier on him.

Packers logo30. Green Bay Packers
Original pick: Damarious Randall, S, Arizona State
Redraft pick: Jordan Hicks, LB, Texas
Randall had a fairly productive career with the Packers, but they were more than happy to trade him to Cleveland in exchange for a backup quarterback. Instead, Green Bay can grab a quick linebacker who would’ve been a nice depth option and eventual starter. Hicks has missed a lot of NFL games due to injury, but over the past two seasons he has stayed fairly healthy and been one of the best tacklers in football. He nearly led the league in tackles in 2019. For a Packers team that has been looking for some linebacking help for years, Hicks would be worth developing.

Saints logo31. New Orleans Saints
Original pick: Stephone Anthony, LB, Clemson
Redraft pick: Kwon Alexander, LB, LSU
Swapping out an under-performing linebacker in Anthony for an oft-injured one in Alexander is a bit questionable, but when healthy, Alexander is one of the best linebackers in the league. He has only played in 54 of a possible 80 games in his NFL career, but he trails Bernardrick McKinney by only two career tackles. McKinney has played in 22 more NFL contests. Alexander’s upside and playmaking ability are worth investing in here, even if he is not always available.

Patriots Logo32. New England Patriots
Original pick: Malcolm Brown, DL, Texas
Redraft pick: Leonard Williams, DL, USC
If there is anyone in football who could have found a way to maximize Williams’ skillset and capitalize on his versatility, it would definitely be Bill Belichick. Williams actually generates a lot of pressure, even if those plays don’t always result in sacks. He leads this whole class of talented rushes with 101 career quarterback hits. In a Patriots defense that is always looking for reliable, tough players along the line, Williams would fit right in and likely excel.

2020 NFL Mock Draft: Post Free-Agency Mock with Trades

I never thought I would see the day Tom Brady left the Patriots. I figured he would play as long as he could in New England and then retire. His decision to join the Buccaneers shakes up the entire league. Really, with Brady in Tampa, Philip Rivers in Indy and Teddy Bridgewater in Carolina, the quarterback market has shifted drastically. New England is now a major player, while the obvious candidates like Cincinnati, Miami and Los Angeles still remain.

With free agency mostly behind us, it feels like a good like to reexamine how the first round could shake out. After all, Minnesota and San Francisco now own an extra pick each in the opening round. While players like Jadeveon Clowney, Jameis Winston and Robby Anderson remain unsigned, there aren’t really any others that could influence the decision making behind a first round pick. With the dust mostly settled, here are the trades I like to go down.

Projected Trades:

Dolphins send 1.5 and 1.26 to Lions for 1.3

Buccaneers send 1.14, 2.45 to Arizona for 1.8, 4.114

Vikings send 1.22, 3.89 and 5.155 to Cowboys for 1.17

Broncos send 2.46, 3.83 to 49ers for 1.31

Trying to predict draft day trades is like trying to pick the winning lottery numbers. Fun, but nearly impossible. There will be plenty more moves I never saw coming. With just about a month until the draft gets underway, let’s dive in to this latest mock draft!

Bengals Logo

1. Cincinnati Bengals – Joe Burrow, QB, LSU
Unless Cincinnati suddenly gets an offer that blows them away, this will likely be the pick. He handles pressure exceptionally well and can throw on the move. Those will be important early on given the Bengals offensive line struggles.

Washington made up logo

2. Washington – Chase Young, EDGE, Ohio State
The likely smokescreen for Tua Tagovailoa took a hit with the coronavirus shutdown of the pre-draft process. I think Washington was always going to take Young. He has the physical tools all coaches crave and will be a Day 1 contributor.

Dolphins logo

3. Miami Dolphins via Detroit Lions – Tua Tagovailoa, QB Alabama
I still believe Miami needs to move up to secure this deal. If not, I think the Giants will be getting a lot of calls at pick four. Tagovailoa’s medicals looked good the last time we had an update. He would come into a situation where he can fully rehab for a year behind Ryan Fitzpatrick while this team continues to rebuild.

Giants Logo

4. New York Giants – Jedrick Wills, OT, Alabama
I expect the Giants to listen to some trade offers here, but when it’s all settled, I think Dave Gettleman will gladly just take an offensive lineman. They have their pick of a talented bunch and I think they will land on Wills. He is solid as a pass blocker with room for some growth in the run game. Keeping Daniel Jones clean has to be a priority.

Lions Logo

5. Detroit Lions via Miami Dolphins – Jeffrey Okudah, CB, Ohio State
Detroit moves down and still lands the player everyone expects them to target. Even with Desmond Trufant on the roster, this team needs so much help at corner. Okudah is dominant in man-to-man coverage, using smooth hips and good closing speed to make a lot of disruptive plays.

6. Los Angeles Chargers – Justin Herbert, QB, Oregon
Los Angeles is committed to starting Tyrod Taylor in 2020. While that is a mistake for at least a dozen reasons, there is no one on this roster that looks the part of a franchise quarterback. Herbert has his knocks, but his arm strength and experience make him a solid fit for a Chargers team needing to rebuild.

Panthers logo

7. Carolina Panthers – Isaiah Simmons, LB/S, Clemson
With Luke Keuchley gone, this feels like an obvious move. Carolina could target an offensive tackle here, but I think they trust their recent draft picks to step up. Simmons can be a game-changing player on defense and someone new coach Matt Rhule can rebuild this defense around.

8. Tampa Bay Buccaneers via Arizona Cardinals – Tristan Wirfs, OT, Iowa
They got the future Hall of Fame quarterback. Now Tampa needs to protect Brady. Trading up to get their pick of those remaining is important, and it’s far from a guarantee anyone will still be available at 14. Wirfs can step in and lock down the right side of the line immediately at either guard or tackle. His versatility is intriguing and his long-term potential at left tackle makes him the best option here.

Jaguars logo

9. Jacksonville Jaguars – Javon Kinlaw, DL, South Carolina
This vaunted Jaguars defense is in shambles. They spent some money on Joe Shobert, but that does not solve the underlying issues. Assuming Yannick Ngakoue stays, Kinlaw would be a great fit next to him. He can collapse the pocket and has the size to plug up the middle against the run.

Browns logo

10. Cleveland Browns – Andrew Thomas, OT, Georgia
Cleveland found it’s right tackle in Jack Conklin. Now it needs to find its left tackle. Thomas is a pro-ready option who can run block with the best of them. He has some raw power to work with. He is my favorite tackle in this class. I just don’t think his potential is quite as high the rest.

Jets logo

11. New York Jets – Mekhi Becton, OT, Louisville
Joe Douglas has sunk a lot into the offensive line, but the outlook at tackle is still a bit murky. Becton needs a lot of refining, but based on raw skill and size, he has the highest ceiling of any tackle in this class. He should be in the mix at right tackle right away with the potential to kick to the other side with a bit of seasoning.

Raiders logo

12. Las Vegas Raiders – CJ Henderson, CB, Florida
I had been mocking receivers to the Raiders for months. While they haven’t done much to address the need, I think they will wait given the relative depth of the class. Instead, they tab the best corner on the board. I don’t rate Henderson this highly, but it is unlikely he makes it to their second selection this round. He has the athleticism and size to develop into a solid starting option.

13. San Francisco 49ers – Jerry Jeudy, WR, Alabama
The defensive line was getting too expensive to keep together, so John Lynch pulled a masterclass move to position himself to find his receiver of the future. Jeudy is the best route runner in the class and has plenty of athleticism. With Emmanuel Sanders headed to New Orleans, this fills a huge need.

14. Arizona Cardinals via Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Derrick Brown, DL, Auburn
Arizona can recoup the second round pick it gave up in the trade for DeAndre Hopkins. This might be best case scenario as well for the Cardinals defense as they land a talented interior option. Brown shows flashes of being an elite pass rusher and should contribute against the run. He fits the build of a 3-4 end with good upside.

Denver_Broncos

15. Denver Broncos – CeeDee Lamb, WR, Oklahoma
Courtland Sutton is a great starting option. However, he needs a partner in crime. Lamb should benefit from playing with an arm like Drew Lock’s. Sutton and Lamb have the potential to develop into the best tandem in the NFL in a few years. This would be a huge step in the Broncos turning this roster around.

Falcons logo

16. Atlanta Falcons – K’Lavon Chaisson, EDGE, LSU
Picking up Dante Fowler is a nice addition, but Atlanta can’t count on that being enough. Chaisson brings impressive strength for his size. I see him as being a situational rusher for the Falcons while he continues to develop other parts of his game. He has a long way to go as a run defender.

17. Minnesota Vikings via Dallas Cowboys – Henry Ruggs, WR, Alabama
With two first round picks and a ton of of mid round options, Minnesota can afford to be aggressive in finding its replacement for Stefon Diggs. Ruggs has dynamite speed with a bigger frame than most realize. He has a different skill set than Diggs, but should help this Vikings offense add a new dimension to the passing game.

Dolphins logo

18. Miami Dolphins – Josh Jones, OT, Houston
Miami made some questionable moves in free agency, but did not find it’s offensive tackle of the future, so taking a flier on Jones feels like a smart move. He is a bit raw despite being a little older than some of the other tackles in this class. However, he brings an impressive blend of mobility and power to the table and should be able to help the Dolphins in both the short term and long term.

Raiders logo

19. Las Vegas Raiders via Chicago Bears – Tee Higgins, WR, Alabama
Mike Mayock loves Clemson players. Even if the Raiders GM hadn’t spent three picks on former Tigers in 2019, this would be a great landing spot for Higgins. His size and ball skills make him a matchup nightmare with tons of potential to contribute in the red zone. He didn’t run at the combine, so he might never get to answer questions about his speed for teams, but his game tape makes him worth a top-20 pick.

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20. Jacksonville Jaguars via Los Angeles Rams – Jordan Love, QB, Utah State
Gardner Minshew is the best option Jacksonville has for 2020, but beyond that, that is up for debate. Love is an unfinished product with lots of potential. After shipping off Nick Foles, this team could use another option to build around going forward.

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21. Philadelphia Eagles – Justin Jefferson, WR, LSU
After trading for Darius Slay and signing Jonathan Hargreave, Philly has set themselves up to target a receiver early in this draft. Jefferson is a great fit given his size and playmaking ability. Given the team’s struggles at receiver this past season, this will be a welcome addition.

22. Dallas Cowboys via Minnesota Vikings and Buffalo Bills – Bryce Hall, CB, Virginia
Dallas slides back a few spots and still lands a solid corner with some potential to contribute for next season. Hall is coming off an injury, but he was putting together a really strong senior year before going down. He tracks the ball well in coverage and has the size to be a prototypical starter. With Byron Jones now in Miami, this is a huge need.

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23. New England Patriots – Patrick Queen, LB, LSU
What comes next for the Patriots without Tom Brady is anyone’s guess. What feels like a Bill Belichick move is to grab a linebacker with great coverage ability and range. Queen is the perfect fit for New England’s defense with the loss of Kyle van Noy.

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24. New Orleans Saints – Kenneth Murray, LB, Oklahoma
Emmanuel Sanders is 32 and does not solve New Orleans’ long-term need for a receiver, but it does give them flexibility in the draft. Adding a downhill linebacker with good speed and instincts is never a bad thing. The Saints have been trying to solidify their linebacking corps for years. Murray might actually help them do it.

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25. Minnesota Vikings – Jeff Gladney, CB, TCU
The Vikings went bold and grabbed a top-end receiver, but they still need to patch up the secondary. Gladney is a bit undersized, but he plays the ball well and plays his man even better. He is a bit rough around the edges, but he should be capable of contributing early on in his NFL career.

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26. Detroit Lions via Miami Dolphins and Houston Texans – A.J. Epenesa, DL, Iowa
Adding Danny Shelton was a good move, but it does not solve all of Detroit’s defensive line needs. Epenesa has really good play strength and some versatility as a pass rusher. He is a bit inconsistent, but when he is on, he has the talent of a top-10 player in this draft. This is not the biggest need on Detroit’s board, but he is the best player left available and they pick again early in round 2.

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27. Seattle Seahawks – Ross Blacklock, DL, TCU
Rumors point to Jadeveon Clowney returning to Seattle, who at the time of writing, is still unsigned. If Clowney does come back, Blacklock could slot in well next to him and create a dynamic front four for the Seahawks. He rarely loses ground in the trenches and often drew double teams at TCU. It would be fun to see him run free because Clowney would definitely be drawing the majority of the attention.

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28. Baltimore Ravens – Xavier McKinney, S, Alabama
Baltimore made some savvy moves to restock the defense without breaking the bank, but those moves were in the front seven. To round out the defense, the Ravens can tab a rangy safety who likes to play down in the box. McKinney should help soften the blow of Tony Jefferson’s departure and give John Harbaugh another starting option in the secondary.

29. Tennessee Titans – Austin Jackson, OT, USC
Jack Conklin is now a Brown. That means the Titans desperately need help on the right side of the line. Jackson is a bit of a project. However, he has great size and measurables along with some solid moments on tape. Putting him on the right side could hide some of his deficiencies while he develops.

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30. Green Bay Packers – Michael Pittman Jr., WR, USC
Here is my comp for Pittman: Jordy Nelson. Nelson is 6’3″, 217 pounds and ran a 4.51 40 time. Pittman is 6’4″, 223 pounds and ran a 4.52 40 time. We know what Aaron Rodgers did with Nelson. I think Pittman could be the perfect complement to Davante Adam’s and help jumpstart this offense.

31. Denver Broncos via San Francisco 49ers – Kristian Fulton, CB, LSU
With a bunch of mid-round picks, Denver can get aggressive in moving up to find Chris Harris’ replacement. Yes, they traded for A.J. Bouye, but when you play in the same division as Patrick Mahomes, you need a few good corners. Fulton is aggressive and played against some great competition this year. He is a bit inconsistent, but at his best, he is a lockdown corner.

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32. Kansas City Chiefs – Trevon Diggs, CB, Alabama
Given the way the board broke for the Chiefs, I could see them trading out. Instead, Kansas City should tag the lengthy Diggs to help rebuild a decimate cornerback room. His size and physicality would bring a different element to this Chiefs secondary and it should be a welcome one.

For more NFL Draft coverage, check out the Aftermath’s NFL Draft Podcast, with new episodes every Thursday.

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.
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