One could not describe the feeling entering this year’s NFL Draft. The excitement was rampant the entire day, leading up to the 8 P.M start. Millions of fans sat, with their eyes glued to the TV, soaking in the surprises and the storylines.
The first night of the NFL Draft was a smashing success. The first ever virtual draft, conducted due to the COVID-19 epidemic, went off without a hitch. Concerns about technical problems quickly went away as ESPN and the NFL Network, as well as Commissioner Roger Goodell, put together a smooth, informative and entertaining first round.
And then the second day came and it was much of the same. Fans were enthralled with the draft, all the way up to the 106th pick, the final one of the night. The NFL Draft gave us exactly what we needed, a live sporting event to look forward to. We were able to agonize, obsess and cheer for our teams again. There may have been no actual competition, but for three days, sports were back.
With this being one of the most talented draft classes every, highlighted by a historic wide receiver class, teams had the ability to find immediate starting level talent all the way into the third day of the draft.
This article is not a swan song to the memorable and extremely talent-filled 2020 NFL Draft, rather it is an article meant to recap the draft and I plan on doing that in the most official manner possible, superlatives.
BEST PICK OF THE DRAFT*- DeAndre Hopkins to the Arizona Cardinals
Even before the draft had even begun, you could have penciled in the Arizona Cardinals to have the best pick in the draft*. Due to a bizarre trade initiated by Texans coach/general manager, Bill O’Brien, the Cardinals essentially shipped of their second round pick (40th overall) for one of the best wide receivers in the game in DeAndre Hopkins. So while the Texans selected TCU defensive tackle Ross Blacklock with the actual 40th pick in the draft, the Cardinals were essentially picking DeAndre Hopkins to pair with star quarterback, Kyler Murray. Unreal.
WORST UNIFORMS- Atlanta Falcons
One superlative in and I am already breaking the rules. No, the Falcons did not receive any superlative related to the draft. In fact, they had a relatively average draft. They attempted to shore up their cornerback situation by drafting AJ Terrell and clogged up the middle of their defensive line by drafting Marlon Davidson. But, it would be a crime if I failed to mention the atrocity that is the Falcons’ new uniforms.
They are horrendous. Next level bad. A gradient jersey? Disgusting. The much-to-large ‘ATL’ logo on the front? An eyesore. Everything about the jersey set is heinous and deserves to be immediately discarded.
BEST DRAFT HAUL- Baltimore Ravens
While numerous teams had phenomenal drafts, the Ravens came away with the best haul. A team that is only a couple of pieces short of being legitimate Super Bowl contenders filled those exact needs while also drafting for the future. Linebacker was their most pressing issue and they immediately filled that hole, drafting the talented Patrick Queen in the back half of the first round. They later followed that up by drafting Malik Harrison in the third, a productive linebacker at Ohio State.
Provide weapons for Lamar Jackson, you say? The Ravens did that too, as my top-rated running back, JK Dobbins, fell to them in the second round. Dobbins can complement the aging Mark Ingram in the present and replace him within the next two years. They also drafted Devin Duvernay in the third round, a burner in the slot. Duvernay could push to be Jackson’s favorite reciever target right away.
BEST USE OF A DRAFT PICK ON AN XFL PLAYER- Kenny Robinson to the Carolina Panthers
The Panthers intentions were clear throughout the draft. New coach Matt Rhule wants to build that defense up. With their seven total picks, the Panthers drafted a defensive player with everyone. However, Kenny Robinson may have been the most intriguing pick of the entire draft.
Robinson established himself as a long and rangy safety playing for West Virginia, but was dismissed from the team following an academic misconduct scandal. After his mother was diagnosed with cancer, Robinson decided to join the XFL in order to help care for her. Robinson quickly became one of the stars of the fledging startup league and has both the skills, the size and the timing to translate to the NFL.
EASIEST PICK IN THE DRAFT- Joe Burrow to the Cincinnati Bengals
Joe Burrow. ‘Nuff said.
BEST BACK TO BACK PICKS- Jedrick Wills and Grant Delpit to the Cleveland Browns
Of all teams to receive this superlative, I did not expect it to be the Cleveland Browns, but alas here we are. The Browns new front office, driven by data analytics, nailed their first two picks of the draft, not only filling two major needs, but getting two first round talents.
Long rumored to trade down, the Browns stayed put at 10th overall after Alabama’s Jedrick Wills fell to them. Wills is a mauler, he moves people off the line and is a fantastic addition to pair opposite of Jack Conklin. The pick will help give time in the pocket to Baker Mayfield, further aiding his development. Wills should also break open holes for Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt in the team’s run-first offense.
With their second round pick, the Browns selected Grant Delpit out of LSU. Delpit fell into the second due to tackling concerns, but if he can patch that up, there is no denying how good he can be. He was one of the most aware safeties in the draft, a phenomenal athlete and fearless at stopping the run.
STEAL OF THE FIRST ROUND- CeeDee Lamb to the Dallas Cowboys
Many teams go into the night with no plans to draft a certain player simply because there is little to no chance that they are there. The Cowboys were in that exact situation on Thursday night. CeeDee Lamb, many experts’ top wide receiver, was surprisingly available at 17th overall. The Cowboys, with young receivers Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup, had no pressing need for a receiver. Yet, Lamb was too good to pass up.
With the addition of Lamb to an offense already loaded with stars, the aforementioned Cooper and Gallup, as well as Ezekiel Elliott and Dak Presscott, the Cowboys will be the best offense in the NFC.
BIGGEST QB BENEFACTOR- Drew Lock
Drew Lock is going to slide in and take the Denver Broncos superlative for this draft. After Lock’s successful rookie year, the Broncos entered the offseason without a need to search for a quarterback since Peyton Manning’s final season.
Without the pressures of finding a quarterback, John Elway performed admirably. Showing his belief in Lock as the future of the franchise, the Broncos surrounded him with weapons to give him every opportunity to succeed. Adding one of the best route runners out of college ever in Jerry Jeudy and the explosive, quick-twitch KJ Hamler alongside rising star Courtland Sutton gives Drew Lock one of the best young wide reciever cores in the game.
MOST QUESTIONABLE DRAFT- Green Bay Packers
The Packers went 13-3 last year and were a game away from the Super Bowl. They had glaring needs at the wide receiver and linebacker positions. They also have one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time in Aaron Rodgers and a talented, young running back in Aaron Jones.
They inexplicably traded up to draft quarterback, Jordan Love, who has boatloads of talent but needs time to develop to an NFL system. Also of note, Love led college football in interceptions his final season at Utah State.
Love is the exact opposite of a player who will come in and help the Packers win now. To add salt in the wound to Packers’ fans upset over the Love selection, the Packers selected running back, AJ Dillon in the second round and did not make a move on any of the big name recievers.
For a team that was a couple of touchdowns away with an all-time quarterback, a preparation for an eventual rebuild was questionable.
BIGGEST BACKFIRE- Houston Texans
Let’s put aside the David Johnson for DeAndre Hopkins trade, which was abysmal in its own right and instead focus on the Texans trade for Brandin Cooks. By shipping off their 57th overall pick to the Rams, the Texans received an inconsistent, small and injury-prone (six concussions over three years) receiver. If they had simply held on to the pick, they would have had the opportunity to draft Denzel Mims, who surprisingly fell to the back end of the second round. Mims not only would have fit the Texans better, but would have been much cheaper, healthier and younger.
BEST QUARTERBACK VALUE PICK- Jacob Eason to the Indianapolis Colts
Phillip Rivers has one, maybe two, years left in him. Based on his performance last season with the Chargers, he may have no years left him. With this in mind, the Colts were heavily rumored to be in the market for a young quarterback, often attached to Jordan Love. After the Packers trade to acquire Love, the Colts pivoted to their backup strategy, selecting Washington quarterback Jacob Eason in the fourth round.
While Eason has serious flaws, most importantly poor accuracy and poor reads, he also possess a perfect frame for a quarterback and a rocket of an arm. If given adequate time to develop under Rivers and refine his IQ, Eason has legitimate chance to become a starting quarterback in the NFL.
PERFECT FIT- Clyde Edwards-Helaire to the Kansas City Chiefs
The Chiefs offense was a juggernaut even before this draft. Patrick Mahomes, Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce formed one of the greatest offensive trios ever. Now, one of the best running backs in the class has been added to the mix and is one of the best team-player fits in recent memory.
Edwards-Helaire burst onto the scene alongside Joe Burrow and the rest of last year’s historic LSU team. Edwards-Helaire may be small, standing just 5’7, but is incredibly strong, showing an ability to break multiple tackles in college. He was also one of the shiftiest players in college football last year, possessing a lethal juke and ability to make defenders miss. He has the ability to line up in the slot, run route trees and can even go up and high point balls. He is a complete, modern running back. Andy Reid and Co. are drooling over the ways they can use him.
Edwards-Helaire unlocks the Chiefs ultimate offense. Barring injury, the offensive will have no holes.
MOST VERSATILE PICK IN THE DRAFT- Lynn Bowden Jr. to the Las Vegas Raiders
Lynn Bowden Jr. established himself as one of the best players in college football last year by doing a bit of everything. Bowden’s college resume is absurd. As a freshman and sophomore, he became one of the premier returners in the country, a threat to take every kick to the house. He developed into a solid receiver through his first two seasons after playing quarterback throughout high school. Yet, it was his junior year when he became a legend at Kentucky. After injuries to the team’s top two quarterbacks, Bowden took over as a primarily wildcat quarterback. In just eight games, he averaged close to 200 yards a game and led the SEC in rushing.
His versatility is going to make Jon Gruden drool. He is going to come in and be one of the best KR/PR in the league. His ability to make people miss is his defining trait. Whether in space or with pressure closing in, Bowden found a way to escape. Mike Mayock stated after he was drafted that he will list Bowden as a running back, but I guarantee Bowden lines up at slot reciever, running back, quarterback and returner this season, making an impact at each position.
STEAL OF THE THE SECOND DAY- Cam Akers to the Los Angeles Rams
Cam Akers was one of my favorite prospects entering the draft. His quick feet, elusiveness and ability to catch passes out of the backfield reminded me a lot of Alvin Kamara.
Enter the Los Angeles Rams, a team mired in cap hell, who just released former star, Todd Gurley, who has seen his career spiral downwards due to arthritis in his knee. Akers will provide everything that Gurley provided in his prime and more.
The ability to be a legitimate receiving threat will become a weapon in Sean McVay’s offense and his ability to make defenders miss will serve him wherever he goes.
People try and find the next Alvin Kamara and Christian McCaffery. Cam Akers is it.
MOST PATRIOTS PICK- New England Patriots
No team is more deserving of the “Most Patriots Pick” then the New England Patriots themselves. After trading out of the first round (so Patriots), they selected Kyle Dugger out of Lenior-Rhyne with the 37th overall pick. To the casual fan, the pick was met with surprise. Who was this guy? Where on earth is Lenoir-Rhyne? But, to the draft junkies like myself, Dugger has been on the radar of scouts for months. After an impressive showing at the Senior Bowl, the small school product made a massive leap into the second or third round of most mock drafts.
Dugger is an intriguing prospect. With great size, he will have the ability to roam the field, starring at safety, where he dominated in college, or even filling in at linebacker. He is extremely athletic, with speed that should not be allowed for someone his size. He was an impact return man in college and should showcase on special teams from the get-go. While his lack of experience against high-level competition remains a concern, his tantalizing skillset and size should effectively be harnessed by a defensive genius in Bill Belechick.
BIGGEST “WHAT?!” MOMENT– Philadelphia Eagles
Attending school in Philadelphia, a majority of your friends are Eagles fans. Due to this, my social media feeds often get flooded with Eagles content that was liked by said friends.
Friday night, my feed was flooded with Eagles content like never before. In what many would say was the most surprising pick of the entire draft, the Eagles avoided surrounding their franchise quarterback, Carson Wentz, with more weapons or shoring up a depleted linebacker corp, instead drafting quarterback Jalen Hurts with the 53rd overall pick.
If all goes right for the Eagles, Hurts will never be the starting quarterback. If he is ever the starting quarterback, it likely means Wetnz suffered an injury.
The Eagles have been known to value the backup quarterback decision much more than other teams and rumors began circulating after the selection that Eagles were planning on creating an important, consistent role for Hurts on offense.
However, with the Eagles glaring needs at receiver and on the defensive side of the ball and most importantly, lack of need at the quarterback position, the pick was stunning.
BEST RESULT FROM THE VIRTUAL FORMAT- Mike Vrabel’s House
Mike Vrabel’s draft bunker setup was legendary. Words cannot do the Vrabel household justice. You had Mike Vrabel, focused as can be on the draft. There was a Titans background that was hopelessly out of the intended picture. There was someone in a Frozone costume. We had a mullet. We had someone appear as though they were going to the bathroom
Again, I cannot do it justice. Take a look for yourself.