Draft day is finally here, and here we are, reacting to every first-round pick and supplying the top-notch analysis you want and need.
This year’s version of the NFL Draft will be unlike any other draft in history as the 2020 NFL Draft will be completely virtual. All 32 NFL front offices, coaching staffs and scouting departments will be sending in their picks remotely. The coronavirus may have altered this year’s draft, but it hasn’t stopped it, nor will it stop us from bringing you up-to-the-minute analysis and grades from every first-round pick Thursday night.
Some general manager or head coach will undoubtedly fudge up and show their draft board or forget to mute themselves on the national broadcast but that’s beside the point. We’re drafting tonight!
Whether they get a gold star, a thumbs up or 10 points (in the immortal words of Michael Scott: Pam, check to see if there’s a conversion chart in that notebook), each first-round selection will be analyzed based on the prospect’s ability, value and fit towards the future.
Pick 32: Kansas City Chiefs select Clyde Edwards-Helaire, RB, LSU
You read that right, another LSU player goes in the first round, giving the Tigers five first-round selections. Edwards-Helaire can make defenders miss in a phone booth and adds incredible value in the passing game.
He immediately becomes Patrick Mahomes’ check-down like he was for Joe Burrow during LSU’s title run in 2019. Edwards-Helaire recorded a ridiculous 55 catches with the majority of those coming over the middle of the field. This means he is likely on the field for all three downs and should absolutely feast in the Chiefs system.
Chalk this one up as one of the better player-team fits of the first round.
Pick 31: The Minnesota Vikings select Jeff Gladney, CB, TCU
Gladney was around college football for what felt like eons. Still, he was rarely beat for many big plays and has some of the more athletic plays on the ball over the past two years than any other Big 12 cornerback, and did that despite some shaky knees, literally.
Does the meniscus surgery worry me? No. That’s how good he is.
Pick 30: Miami Dolphins select Noah Igbinoghene, CB, Auburn
Armchair general managers probably have never even heard of Igbinoghene, but that is no one’s fault but their own. Sure he didn’t have an interception a season ago at Auburn, but he was every bit of a lockdown cornerback for the Tigers.
Few are as athletic as Igbinoghene in this class but this pick puzzles me a bit with the amount of money the Dolphins have paid to the cornerback position this offseason. He’s a former wide receiver who can locate the ball at any level on the field. Add in his return skills, and he plugs in for a ton of snaps early in Miami.
Pick 29: Tennessee Titans select Isaiah Wilson, T, Georgia
A huge man on the outside, Wilson was a better pass protector than he was run blocker at Georgia during his two years of starting experience. He helped pave the way for some big runs here and there, but was a bit stiff with some move blocks.
Perhaps a sign of good things to come for Tennessee is the fact Wilson looked significantly improved from 2018 to 2019 so he may be reaching his proverbial ‘ceiling’ at the right time.
Pick 28: Baltimore Ravens select Patrick Queen, LB, LSU
It’s a light off-ball linebacker class, but Queen was my considerable favorite as LB1. He has plus-coverage skills and a solid set of pass-rushing moves if he gets to use them but will have to improve with his open-field tackling in the run game to make more of a three-down impact in the NFL.
Coverage is king on defense nowadays and that’s Queen’s forte. This is a dream matchup with his skillset in the Baltimore linebacking corps.
Pick 27: Seattle Seahawks select Jordyn Brooks, LB, Texas Tech
Brooks is likely the best blitzing linebacker among the class of 2020 as he recorded a multitude of different pressures from all over the Red Raiders’ defense. He, like Kenneth Murray before him, also struggled in coverage against Big 12 short-area receivers so he’ll have to improve in that regard.
He will record a bevy of tackles and has great sideline-to-sideline speed, but coverage will be the aspect of his game he’ll have to greatly improve in, if he wants to stay around in the NFL for awhile.
Pick 26: Green Bay Packers select Jordan Love, QB, Utah State
Alright, well, interesting. All I can do is quote Trey Wingo right now: “Aaron Rodgers is the same age as Brett Favre was when the Packers selected Rodgers to be Favre’s replacement.”
Still, give Love time and he’ll likely make a defense pay, but stick him with some short-area throws in rhythm and/or pressure in his face, and he’ll struggle, mightily. His upside has to be his arm strength and mobility as well as his pocket-passing ability documented in the 2018 season, but if the play breaks down or he has to check it down, look out for some erratic throws and more of the FBS-high 17 interceptions that he threw in 2019.
I understand the selection of a quarterback to groom under Rodgers (one of the best to ever do it) but you have to think this Packers team was a few players short of a lengthier playoff run and Love doesn’t help them at all.
Trade Alert! The Dolphins sent Pick 26 to the Packers in exchange for Pick 30 and their fourth-round pick.
Pick 25: San Francisco 49ers select Brandon Aiyuk, WR, Arizona State
An absolute burner with the ball in his hands, Aiyuk would have been the best after-the-catch threat in any draft class without CeeDee Lamb in it. He averaged 18.3 yards per catch and was as disruptive to defenses as any other receiver in the country. His 81-inch wingspan means he is basically always open.
Considering he hauled in the majority of his passes short of the line to gain a season ago, that 18.3 yards per catch figure stands out even more. And it makes more sense why the 49ers were willing to trade three picks to move up six spots to secure Aiyuk.
Trade Alert! The Vikings have traded Pick 25 to the 49ers for Picks 31, 117 and 176.
Pick 24: New Orleans Saints select Cesar Ruiz, C, Michigan
Ruiz is a truly fun tape study from Michigan. He’s a terrific pass protector and, by my count, had an incredible six games of Big Ten play without allowing a single pressure last year. That’s an incredible effort against some of the best pass-rushers in the business.
He’s a 10-year starter on the interior of the offensive line with center and guard versatility.
Pick 23: Los Angeles Chargers select Kenneth Murray, OLB, Oklahoma
I don’t even think Murray was the best player on his own defense last season, alas here we are. He misses far too many tackles and was a liability in coverage against Big 12 slot receivers, tight ends and running backs.
Those are likely to continue at the pro level and the Chargers just gave up a second- and third-round pick to grab him.
Trade Alert! The Patriots have sent Pick 23 to the Los Angeles Chargers. The Chargers sent a second- and third-round pick in exchange for No. 23 overall.
Pick 22: Minnesota Vikings select Justin Jefferson, WR, LSU
The best slot receiver in the class and that’s just with one year of slot experience thanks to Joe Brady and the LSU staff. Jefferson emerged as the second-best receiver on his own team last season but that’s no discredit to him (yes, you’ll hear Ja’Marr Chase a lot in prep for the 2021 draft).
Jefferson’s fast 40-yard dash time is no fluke. He’s that fast, but he’s also that shifty. And he uses that shiftiness both in his route-running just as well as after the catch. Line him up in the slot and let him thrive with his quick release and smooth routes.
The only puzzling thing about this selection is that Adam Thielen is already an established slot weapon so it will be interesting to see how they mesh together.
Pick 21: Philadelphia Eagles select Jalen Reagor, WR, TCU
It’s widely documented that Reagor suffered from subpar quarterback play during his time at TCU, but to me, there should have still been more flashes of top-end play than we saw. He’s got incredible athleticism and terrific speed but we’ve seen those kinds of athletes fizzle out in the NFL just as easy.
Drops may also be an issue for him as well so he’ll have to find the right situation and the right coaching staff to help him out as he adjusts to the NFL and works on his hands. He’ll see his fair share of targets and Carson Wentz is certainly the best quarterback he’ll ever have at his disposal, so it’s all lined up for him to succeed.
Pick 20: Jacksonville Jaguars select K’Lavon Chaisson, Edge, LSU
Perhaps he was overshadowed by his own defensive teammates last season, but I didn’t see all the hype until I really turned on some LSU film and watched specifically for Chaisson. Sure he had just a bit more than a handful of sacks last year, but he was constantly pushing the pocket and forcing errant decisions that don’t find their way into the box score.
Combine that with underrated ability in coverage and you’ve got this year’s version of Josh Allen. As if Yannick Ngakoue wasn’t already on his way out, his replacement was just drafted.
Pick 19: Las Vegas Raiders select Damon Arnette, CB, Ohio State
Likely the first real surprise here, once again the Raiders tab a ‘second-round graded’ guy in the first round. Arnette is good, not great, and did have some solid tape from his time at outside cornerback in Columbus. He was targeted heavily at times when teams looked opposite Jeff Okudah and did have his moments during his long, five-year career with the Buckeyes.
He can press cover very well but still has some catch-point lapses at times. Have to say this is way too high for Arnette to be selected.
Pick 18: Miami Dolphins select Austin Jackson, OT, USC
He’s young and ideally coachable as he’s likely a long shot to start right away. Still, he’s only 20 years old and stands at 6’5, 310 pounds with two seasons of starting experience at left tackle for the Trojans under his belt. He may not be a starter-level tackle right now but he certainly has the ability to get there quickly.
He can move extremely well for a man his size and has great athleticism across the board. This is likely a reach at this pick but immediately fills a spot of need for the Dolphins.
Pick 17: Dallas Cowboys select CeeDee Lamb, WR, Oklahoma
A pure man among boys at times during his Oklahoma career, Lamb is still making Texas defenders miss. He is hands down not only the best after-the-catch threat in this class, but perhaps in all of football.
Combine that with his ability to make contested catches, his insanely sharp routes and his potential to take any throw the distance, and he’s the 1B to Jerry Jeudy’s 1A. Line him up anywhere, just get him the ball.
This is an absolute steal and a must-get for the Cowboys at 17.
Pick 16: Atlanta Falcons select A.J. Terrell, CB, Clemson
Terrell won’t make much of an impact anywhere besides in coverage, and even then he still makes a few too many mistakes when playing the ball. He was beat several times for long gains last season, including against LSU (but then again, who wasn’t?) but still did limit completions very well during his entire career.
He’s a wild card at the CB position this year. This seems like a reach.
Pick 15: Denver Broncos select Jerry Jeudy, WR, Alabama
The best pure route-runner in the class, Jeudy stole the show time and time again in perhaps the most illustrious receiving corps college football has ever seen. Jeudy can track the ball deep just as well as he can break off a route with no wasted movement.
He’s the complete package at wide receiver and should instantly be WR1 in Denver.
Pick 14: San Francisco 49ers select Javon Kinlaw, DL, South Carolina
Interior pressure is more vital to a defense’s success than edge pressure and that’s just what Kinlaw brings to the table. He may struggle at times to bring down skill players in open space, but that’s not his game. Line him up anywhere from a true nose tackle to a 3-technique and let him go to town on who is guaranteed to be a smaller center or guard.
The 49ers grab their guy to replace DeForest Buckner and gained a fourth-round pick in the process with the trade. Solid move, John Lynch. Solid move.
Trade compensation — San Francisco sent Pick 13 and a seventh-round to Tampa Bay for Pick 14 and a fourth-round pick.
Having seen the 49ers pick now, have to say that’s a steep price for the Bucs to have paid.
Pick 13: Tampa Bay Buccaneers select Tristan Wirfs, OT, Iowa
Trade alert! The Bucs moved up one spot, trading with the San Francisco 49ers to move from Pick 14 to Pick 13.
Perhaps the most athletic of all the tackles in the class, Wirfs wowed at the combine, but if you watched any Iowa game from his 33 career starts, you weren’t surprised to see his athleticism on display. He’s a stud with incredible upside in the right system, we’ll just have to wait and see if that system is Bruce Arians’ in Tampa.
Wirfs is a versatile pass-protecting tackle who can play both sides of the line and was apparently high enough on the Bucs’ board to warrant the trade up one spot with the 49ers.
Pick 12: Las Vegas Raiders select Henry Ruggs III, WR, Alabama
Look, you don’t run the fastest 40-yard dash at the combine and not get labeled with the potential bust narrative that has followed speedy guys before him. Still, Ruggs is so much better as a receiver than the other ‘fast’ guys from the combine in recent memory and that’s indicated by his ridiculous 18.6 yards per catch figure. The number looks better and better after you watch his tape and realize the majority of his targets were thrown to him behind, at or just beyond the line of scrimmage.
Ruggs was one of the best receivers in all of college football off slant and in-breaking routes last year and should be used heavily in Vegas.
Pick 11: New York Jets select Mekhi Becton, OT, Louisville
I’ve been impressed with Becton since his first days at Louisville and that was during what felt like an all-time low for the program. He’s a mountain of a man who is incredibly athletic for his size, setting records for 40-yard dash time at the combine for a man his size.
With some work on his hands during an NFL training camp with the Jets, Becton very well could blossom into the best tackle from the entire 2020 draft class.
Pick 10: Cleveland Browns select Jedrick Wills Jr., OT, Alabama
More of a stout run blocker than he was an elite pass-protector with Alabama, Wills enters the NFL seemingly in the wrong generation. Still, in new head coach Kevin Stefanski’s run-heavy scheme, he may be perfectly fit for this team.
His pass protection is good, not great, and he’ll have to improve there to be considered an elite tackle at the professional level but his run blocking will carry him until he improves his pass blocking.
Pick 9: Jacksonville Jaguars select CJ Henderson, CB, Florida
I’m less inclined to look at interception totals for a defensive back and rather look at the catch percentage allowed. That being said, Henderson barely allowed over 50 percent of passes thrown his way to be caught in his three years with Florida. That’s a career figure, not just one season.
He’s not only the clear-cut No. 2 option at cornerback in this draft class, he began to push for No. 1 behind Okudah with an impressive combine just last month.
He’s no Jalen Ramsey but he’ll add a solid piece to the Jags’ secondary.
Pick 8: Arizona Cardinals select Isaiah Simmons, LB/S, Clemson
My selection for the Paul Hornung Award a season ago, Simmons can quite literally do it all. Put him at running back for all I care, this guy is pro-ready and he’s got a certain ‘Derwin James-esque’ to him that he flashed during his time as an edge rusher, off-ball linebacker or deep, free-roaming safety.
The best part about Simmons: He lined up all over the field and played at an elite level at every one of those positions. It won’t matter where Cardinals defensive coordinator Vance Joseph wants to use him on the Cardinals’ defense, he represents a ‘movable chess piece’ that can be deployed just anywhere. And deployed anywhere at an incredibly-high level.
This is incredible value for the Cardinals to nab Simmons at eighth overall.
Pick 7: Carolina Panthers select Derrick Brown, DL, Auburn
Tailor-made for today’s NFL, Brown can push the pocket from the interior and he won’t miss a tackle in the run game. He’s a three-down stud with an incredibly high motor and instantly upgrades the defensive line in Carolina. Brown should draw comparisons to Aaron Donald, that’s how good he can be.
The Panthers improve an already young and solid defensive line, which has to get after Tom Brady, Drew Brees and Matt Ryan a total of six times this season.
Brown is one of my favorite players in this entire class and he pencils in as a Day 1 starter next to Kawann Short and Brian Burns, forming a scary defensive front.
Pick 6: Los Angeles Chargers select Justin Herbert, QB, Oregon
More athletic than he gets credit for, the big-armed, big-framed quarterback from Eugene had impressive enough performances to warrant first overall selection discussions through his career. Ultimately, though, some of his throws were incredibly maddening and those came back to haunt his tape as he literally threw games away at times for the Ducks.
Still, in the discussion of the good vs. the bad with Herbert, the good outweighs the bad, heavily. Los Angeles gets their quarterback of the future.
Herbert is a 10+ year starter for the Chargers, who are now set at the position in the post-Philip Rivers era.
Pick 5: Miami Dolphins select Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Alabama
Color me not worried in the slightest about the hip injury sustained last season and more drawn to concerns over Tagovailoa’s ankle injuries. Still, he’s a sure-fire elite-level starter when healthy who presents trouble for any defense with his pinpoint accuracy and athleticism.
Tagovailoa was considered a lock to be the top quarterback in the 2020 draft class before Joe Burrow’s meteoric rise and the left-hander now gets to battle with a slew of youngsters for top quarterback in the AFC East. Tagovailoa’s downfield accuracy is among the best I’ve seen in some time and plays outside of structure incredibly well.
This is a home run for the Dolphins, who weren’t scared of the injury history from Tagovailoa.
Pick 4: New York Giants select Andrew Thomas, OT, Georgia
The switch from right tackle to left tackle did wonders for Thomas two seasons ago at Georgia as he blossomed into the best pass-blocking tackle in this class. He benefits from a pro-style Georgia offense and should be a Day 1 starter for the New York Giants.
Head coach Joe Judge gets the ever-important elite left tackle to protect the blindside for quarterback Daniel Jones. He’s improved from 2018 to 2019, and if that continues the All-American Bulldog will become a Pro Bowler in no time.
Pick 3: Detroit Lions select Jeff Okudah, CB, Ohio State
The most important aspect of a defense is being able to defend the pass in today’s NFL and Okudah does just that better than anyone in the class. With the loss of Darius Slay, it made cornerback a glaring need for the Detroit Lions, so this pick fills a need and secures a solid addition to a unit that struggled in the most important aspect on defense a season ago.
Throw out a shaky performance at the combine, this guy is a stud in any coverage scheme. Okudah has the athleticism to hang with any receiver and the ball skills to play against any type of throw in any situation. Can’t wait to see him in a Matt Patricia defense.
Gimme a few gold stars for this one.
Pick 2: Washington selects Chase Young, DE, Ohio State
Much like last year, the best player in this draft class is a defensive end and happens to fall to the No. 2 spot, happily in the lap of Washington. Young can change offensive game plans just as quick as he can beat tackles with his bend, strength and speed. He took over games at times while at Ohio State and if he wasn’t pressuring quarterbacks, it was because the offense literally scripted their plays to avoid him. He’s better than either Joey or Nick Bosa were upon leaving Columbus and has Hall of Fame potential.
Yeah, I said it, Hall of Fame potential for Young.
This is an A+ pick for Washington.
Pick 1: Cincinnati Bengals select Joe Burrow, QB, LSU
The Cincinnati Bengals make the right decision and go with Burrow here. You can’t have a more clear-cut correct decision than this. I mean, it was even announced he’s already got his jersey number assigned (spoiler: it’s No. 9).
Burrow is an incredibly accurate quarterback who’s 2019 season is the most decorated and perhaps the best season by a quarterback in college football history. That being said, there is little not to like about Burrow at this stage of his career and he instantly upgrades the most important position in team sports for the Bengals, who clearly weren’t winning anything anytime soon with Andy Dalton at the helm. Short or deep, tight-window or wide open, Burrow can hit any throw, at any depth of the field.
It’s almost too obvious to give this one an A, so I’ll give it two thumbs up.