What a unique and interesting draft this really was. It might not have felt like you were right in the middle of the action as fans gather around an actual stage, but it definitely was a more intimate experience as you saw all the coaches and general managers working from home. As I do every year, I wanted to give an extensive recap of what happened over those three days.
However, I don’t like handing out grades, because they don’t encapsulate the real value of a pick in my opinion. You have to consider the fit and needs for a team, but at the same time we don’t fully understand the role a player will have with his new team and the whole thing is just too complex to define with just a one-letter grade.
Instead I wanted to identify some of the biggest winners and losers, steals and reaches coming out of the draft. That means looking at the prospects selected compared to where I have them in my overall rankings, analyzing how teams worked the board, how they positioned themselves and how it made their team better. Yet, I didn’t only look at the different clubs, but I also included certain players and how it affected them. Just as a side note – I didn’t want to talk about too many prospects who mostly fell due to injury concerns among my steals.
You can check out my positional rankings and big board to read up more in depth about these prospects and see how they stack up for me. This breakdown is also available in video format right here.
Biggest winners and losers:
Winner – Drew Lock
Nobody received more help around him over the draft than Denver’s sophomore quarterback. First, the Broncos decided to stay put at number 15 and still got their guy in my number one receiver Jerry Jeudy. The Alabama standout is a perfect complement to Courtland Sutton, as they can move the rookie around and create easy completions for Lock to the savvy route-runner. Then they came back in the second round and added a jitterbug like Penn State’s K.J. Hamler, who can take your breath away with his ability to eat up cushions and is tough to put a hand on with the ball in his hands. Late on day two, the Broncos landed an absolute steal in LSU center Lloyd Cushenberry, who was my 35th overall prospect in the draft and should immediately compete for the starting spot at right guard next to recently acquired Graham Glasgow. And then early in the fourth round they selected Missouri tight-end Albert Okwuegbunam, who can be used in a similar fashion as last year’s first-round pick Noah Fant, as a seam-stretcher and flexed out wide in some capacity. Using an ace set with both those TEs on either end of the O-line and letting them streak downfield with a big-bodied receiver like Sutton breaking inside underneath should be a scary sight. And that red-zone personnel is towering over defenses. Combine that receiving corp with a much-improved offensive line and an excellent duo of running backs with Philip Lindsay and Melvin Gordon and they are pretty close to rivaling the fire power of Kansas City on offense. The Broncos also nailed their other picks with the long and physical Iowa corner Michael Ojemudia, an explosive penetrator on the interior D-line in Arkansas’ McTelvin Agim, a mobile linebacker who is slippery working around blocks and brings some thump at collisions in Wake Forest’s Justin Strnad, a technically sound edge rusher in North Dakota STate’s Derrek Tuszka and a guy in Fresno State guard Netane Muti, who can add some competition, if he can finally stay healthy, since when he was on the field his natural power and mean-streak really stood out.
Loser – Tyrod Taylor
You could put the L.A. Chargers here altogether, but let’s just talk about Tyrod. His first four years in the league he backed up Joe Flacco in Baltimore, then he was brought in to be Rex Ryan’s starting quarterback in Buffalo, where he did play like an above-average QB for three seasons, really taking care of the ball. In 2017 when Sean McDermott was brought in as the head coach, it became clear that Taylor’s conservative style of play wasn’t even for them, as they (falsely) threw rookie Nathan Peterman out there, who famously tossed five interceptions in the first half of their game against the Chargers. While the veteran signal-caller did start the rest of the season and almost won a playoff game against Jacksonville, the Bills decided to go a different route and ultimately drafted Josh Allen. Tyrod went on to sign with the Browns and earned the starting gig, until he lost his job three weeks into the season to number one overall pick Baker Mayfield – which absolutely was the right move. Last offseason he decided to sign with the Chargers to back up Philip Rivers and with the long-time idol being let go, it finally looked like a team really wanted Taylor, especially with head coach Anthony Lynn saying he is their guy. Well, I think the Chargers had to settle for Justin Herbert with the sixth overall pick because of the top two quarterbacks being off the board and I think he is not ready to start, but you know how things work out with guys being selected in the top ten. Tyrod has one of the best rosters around him, but as soon as the offense stalls – and it will because he tends to take his eyes down when the rush gets to him and L.A. did not select a single offensive lineman – people will be calling for Herbert to get out on the field. I also really like the potential of OU linebacker Kenneth Murray, but I disagree the strategy of trading back up into the first round in exchange for both their picks on day two, which they really need in terms of adding depth.
Winner – New York Jets
There’s only maybe three or four draft classes that I would put ahead of what Joe Douglas and Adam Gase put together. They started things out with the massive Louisville tackle Mekhi Becton, who will immensely upgrade their zone rushing attack and has the agile feet to develop into an excellent pass-protector down the road, and then they came back in the second round and grab Baylor wideout Denzel Mims, after trading down with the Seahawks for a late third-round pick, who should immediately jump in as their starting X receiver and should improve one of the worst red-zone offenses in the league right away. Those two picks should make Sam Darnold very happy as well. With the 68th overall selection they bring in Cal safety Ashtyn Davis, who I had already penciled in as a second-rounder and can legitimately line up at nickel day one because he has the hips and electric change-of-direction skills for it, but also the range for a true single-high free safety in case they want to let Marcus Maye leave in free agency next year. That additional third-rounder they picked up was used on Florida’s Jabari Zuniga, who Gregg Williams can groom into an explosive edge rusher with inside flexibility in sub-packages. I liked some other guys better than Lamical Perine, who they selected with their first pick of day three, but in that zone-heavy rushing attack he is a pretty good fit, and spending number 125 on FIU quarterback James Morgan was somewhat surprising, but people around the league were pretty high on him as a developmental player, who they could swap for some picks down the road. After those two, they grabbed Charlotte OT Cameron Clarke, who actually has some of that Mekhi Becton quality of torqueing pads and finishing defenders on the ground in the run game, who could move inside at the next level, and then Virginia’s Bryce Hall in the fifth round could turn out to be one of the biggest steals in the draft due to some injury concerns, as a smart corner with great ball-skills. Since you spend sixth-round picks on special team contributors anyway, I can’t hate grabbing the best one in punter Braden Mann from Texas A&M either.
Loser – Seattle Seahawks
John Schneider and those guys in the Pacific Northwest do this every year – they take somebody in the first round who nobody values as highly, they pick some guys they like more than others in the middle rounds and then they bail themselves out to some degree later on day three. I thought they overdrafted players with each of their first-round picks. Texas Tech’s Jordyn Brooks is a downhill linebacker who people around the league seemed to like quite a bit and the Hawks see as a free-flowing player, but I had him ranked as a third-rounder because he struggles to deal with blocks and doesn’t show great awareness in zone coverage. Considering the Ravens scooped up LSU’s Patrick Queen a pick later, who I thought was a top-20 prospect, makes matters even worse. Then to trade up 11 spots in the second round and giving up a third-rounder to select Tennessee edge rusher Darrell Taylor, who isn’t very technically sound with his hands and is kind of predictable with his rush, doesn’t make too much sense to me either, since I have their fifth-round pick Alton Robinson from Syracuse a spot ahead of him in my edge rankings actually. And with an early third-round selection they bring in LSU guard Damien Lewis, who is a powerful run-blocker and some of his agility concerns won’t come to light as much in their run-heavy offense, but you just had to look at the guy one spot next to him in center Lloyd Cushenberry, who I think actually is a much better player and I had as my 35th overall prospect. As usual Seattle softens the blow on day three with guys like the big-bodied and sure-handed Stanford tight-end Colby Parkinson, an excellent passing down back in Miami’s DeeJay Dallas, the aforementioned Robinson, a speedster in Florida receiver Freddie Swain, who can contribute for them in the return game, and a seam-stretching big slot/flex tight-end in LSU’s Stephen Sullivan, but some of the picks they make early on are just confusing, no matter how much they seem to value their personal meetings with those guys.
Winner – Tua Tagovailoa
With the way the Dolphins 2019 offseason went and how they built their roster, it didn’t look like they would be in position to compete at a high level, but after getting blown out by the Ravens and trading away left tackle Laremy Tunsil, fans started making those “Tank for Tua” signs and it ultimately materialized. This past week especially, reports started coming out about how the Alabama quarterback could slide leading up to Thursday. In the end however, Tua was the pick at number five overall and while there is obviously a lot of risk due to injury concerns, I think this was the right call, because he can be one of the premiere passers in the league if he can stay healthy. Yes, going one spot later to a talented Chargers roster would have been nice as well, but I believe Miami might be building something special here, because Brian Flores is setting the tone for a culture that is slowly adding the pieces to the puzzle and has already shown a lot of fight in wins over the playoff-seeking Eagles and at New England in week 17 to cost the Patriots a bye week. And after fielding one of the worst offensive lines in the NFL, the Dolphins also made it a priority to put protect their new signal-caller whenever he’s ready. While overrated to me, they added a very talented tackle in USC’s Austin Jackson at number 18, one of my favorites in Louisiana’s pancake machine Robert Hunt early in the second round and the massive Georgia guard Solomon Kindley with the fifth pick on day three. Miami also brought in former 49ers running back Matt Breida in exchange for a fifth-round pick. The rest of their picks was invested into defense and a long-snapper, before grabbing Navy QB/RB/WR Malcolm Perry. He should be an interesting gadget player if he makes the roster, who can do some wildcat quarterback stuff and take the pressure off Tua. Ryan Fitzpatzrick will still most likely start and his play should determine when they throw the rookie QB out there, who is still working back to 100 percent. Tua is set up to succeed long-term.
Loser – AFC defenses going up against the Chiefs
Well, you already had to feel kind of sorry for whoever is out there trying to run with all those track stars streaking down the field and the most talented passers I have seen in my life, but this just added a different dimension. The Chiefs only drafted two offensive players over the weekend, with one of them being TCU offensive tackle Lucas Niang, who I like a lot but should be a backup in year one for the most, but like I correctly predicted in my one and only mock draft, they selecting LSU running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire with that final pick in the first round and they might have doomed the entire AFC with that. I know CEH was only my number-five ranked back and he was 51 overall on my board, but as we got closer to the actual draft, I thought about moving him up a few spots because I really like the floor he presents as a player and he is just perfect for that Kansas City offense. The former Tigers’ RB gives the Chiefs a physical presence in the ground game, with the low center of gravity and contact balance to bounce or spin off tacklers for yards after contact, but most importantly runs with an enormous chip on his shoulder. However, he is much more than just a bruiser. Edwards-Helaire probably has the best start-stop quickness in the entire draft to attack one edge of a blocker and force linebackers behind the action to overcommit and he can make guys miss in the backfield with jukes and spins to escape from traffic. He also caught the most passes of any draft-eligible RB and gives them another option in the passing game. Just think about the way defenders have to chase all those speedy receivers down the field or on crossing routes and now when they are already tired, they have to come up and tackle this guy catching a check-down? Nobody will want to get in his way and I can already promise you he will convert some crucial third downs by sheer will to extend drives.
Winner – Jerry Jones
Nobody might have had a better time just sitting back and getting his guys in the draft than the head of America’s Team on his yacht. I did not really study their seventh-round pick in quarterback Ben DiNucci from James Madison other than the FCS Championship game, but every pick before that to me was at or above value for the Cowboys. Wide receiver might not have been the biggest need for this team in the first round, but did you really think Jerry Jones was going to pass on a star receiver from Oklahoma like Ceedee Lamb if he fell to them at 17? Not only did that just create one of the premiere receiver trios in the league, but it also prevented the division rival Eagles from getting my number eight overall prospect, as they reportedly tried to move up one spot ahead of them with Atlanta. Then Jerry selected another standout from the nearby Sooners in defensive tackle Neville Gallimore in the third round, who I had in the 40s and only strengthens an already excellent rotation on the interior and two long, physical press corners in Alabama’s Trevon Diggs and more of a small-school guy like Tulsa’s Reggie Robinson. If the latter reaches his potential, you could have those two guys on the outside and move Chidobe Awuzie into the slot, where he excelled at in college. This makes Anthony Brown and Jourdan Lewis your fourth and fifth CBs respectively and gives you the opportunity of letting them go if you don’t have the money to pay them. With Dallas’ first pick on day three they selected Wisconsin center Tyler Biadasz, who looked like the top interior offensive linemen just a year ago but fell due to injury concerns and the related decline in play last season, which helps with the recent retirement of another former Badger center in Travis Frederick. And then with the final pick of the fifth round to grab Utah’s Bradlee Anae, who I had as my 67th overall prospect is just outstanding. That guy is a man out there on the field, who can set the edge in the run game and give you production as a pass-rusher right away.
Loser – New England Patriots
Who am I to question the madness behind Bill Belichick and that Patriots organization, right? Bill has managed that roster exceptionally well and that’s why that run continued until the one constant in Tom Brady left this offseason. However, you can objectively look at their last three or four draft classes and question some of the selections they have made. In the last four years the first players they have selected are named like this: N’Keal Harry, Isaiah Wynn, Derek Rivers and Cyrus Jones. None of them have made major impacts for the team and there are only three sure-fire starters from that entire stretch. This year once again I would put their draft class near the bottom, even if I like some of the players the selected. As they like to do, they traded out of the first round for the Chargers two picks on the second day, which is something I can definitely get behind, but I’m not sure about what they did with them. At 37th overall they select Lenoir Rhyne safety Kyle Dugger, who is an explosive athlete with the size to drop into the box possibly and I had ranked as a mid-day two prospect, but he doesn’t strike me as the type of anticipatory player BB would covet and I had better players at safety and WILL linebacker ahead of him depending on where they want to play Dugger. I’m a big fan of Joshua Uche, who they selected later in the second, but they had to give up a third-rounder in a trade-up, where that pick they gave away ended up being Ohio State linebacker Malik Harrison, who actually is that kind of big, thumping linebacker they usually like to have on the field. Edge defender Anfernee Jennings from Alabama in the third looks more like your typical Patriot, but he isn’t a very dynamic player and then the Pats invested two more third-rounders into tight-ends Devin Asiasi (UCLA) and Dalton Keene (Virginia Tech). I actually loved Asiasi as a potential target in the 100-range and Keene certainly has upside as an underutilized pass-catcher after putting in good work as a blocker, but once again they traded up for the latter who might have gone in the sixth round if they hadn’t grabbed him. And no, I didn’t study the Marshall kicker from round five or hear his name called – ever.
Winner – The analytics-based Cleveland Browns front office
Man, the Browns just killed the draft. As much fun as you could make of their front office, with some of the talk about how their analytics team overviews the gameplans and after just hiring Vikings offensive coordinator Kevin Stefanski to take over the head coaching position, who was coming off a ten-point showing versus San Francisco in the Divisional Round and a lot of the offensive success was thanks to Gary Kubiak, you have to applaud them for the draft class they just put together. They selected my number four prospect at tenth overall in Alabama offensive tackle Jedrick Wills Jr., who is an aggressive run-blocker and technically sound pass-protector, and then they brought in my 29th-ranked prospect at 45 overall in LSU safety Grant Delpit, who has incredible range and can do a lot of things for you if you move him into the slot. With those two they complete the transition from a poor offensive last season to one of the top front-fives in the league combined with the signing of former Titans right tackle Jack Conklin and a true single-high free safety to make life easier on their young corners, if Delpit can just clean up his tackling a little bit. I actually don’t love their two third-round picks Jordan Elliott and Jacob Phillips, but I have to acknowledge that the Missouri D-tackle has a lot of talent, even though I thought he was overhyped when watching the tape. However, I really like those day three picks, starting with John Mackey award winner Harrison Bryant (FAU) adding to that tight-end room as a target to pull away from defenders off play-action, slipping underneath the formation into the flats off split zone plays or getting behind linebackers. My favorite one might be Washington’s Nick Harris, who is super-mobile center with excellent lateral agility and is a perfect fit for that zone-heavy rushing attack Stefanski ran in Minnesota last year, who could take over in the middle with a potential out on J.C. Tretter in 2021. And then Michigan receiver Donovan Peoples-Jones in sixth is just crazy. I had a third-round grade on him as well, as a very explosive and talented pass-catcher, who never actually produced the way he is capable of because of quarterback play.
Loser – Aaron Rodgers
There weren’t a lot of mock drafts out there that didn’t have Green Bay selecting a pass-catcher in the first round and I actually had them going with Baylor’s Denzel Mims at 30th overall in my own. However, instead of getting the veteran quarterback some much-needed help at receiver, you draft his replacement in Jordan Love? Rodgers has to be pissed with GM Brian Gutekunst and that front-office. The Packers are coming off a bad loss to the 49ers in the NFC Championship game, but when you look at their two matchups last season, it was Raheem Mostert and those other backs for San Francisco running all over the defense, while all the receivers for the Pack were blanketed on the other side. So even going with an interior D-linemen would have been more towards the liking of Green Bay’s signal-caller. In fact they did not select a single receiver in a historically great draft at the position that had 36 of them hear their names called. In the second round, Green Bay selected Boston College’s A.J. Dillon as massive running back in the mold of what Matt LaFleur had in Derrick Henry as the Titans’ offensive coordinator, but not only was he a definite day three prospect to me, but he also was pretty much a non-factor in the passing game at Boston College. I like Cincinnati’s Josiah Deguara quite a bit – who they selected in the third round – and I see how he could be their version of Kyle Juszczyk since he played that H-back role for the Bearcats, showing great effort as a blocker and ability to put hands on people in space, but once again, I would think Rodgers would have rather had somebody like Liberty wide receiver Antonio Gandy-Golden, who went a full round later. In the sixth round, Green Bay picked up three offensive linemen and I think Michigan’s Jon Runyan can actually make an impact early on if you move him inside, but none of those guys really move the needle in terms of the immediate help for a team looking to compete for the NFC. While I hope this lights a fire under Rodgers and he raises his level of play after what you may call a couple of down-years, this draft does not give their signal-caller a lot of help.
Winner – Jonathan Taylor
I’m sure Taylor would have loved to hear his name called in the first round, but in the end this may be the best situation he could have found himself in. He will be running behind what I think is the best offensive line in football for the Colts. Indy does run quite a bit of zone, where they will allow Taylor to make that one cut and get upfield, but they also run a lot of power schemes, where the running back can really build up momentum exploding through a wide open hole. Insert a 225-pound bowling ball like Taylor with a ton of explosiveness and 4.39 speed and this becomes a scary sight. Marlon Mack is a nice back and he has had a lot of success in that system, but unless Taylor’s fumbling problems remain such a big problem, the rookie should become their true workhorse in 2020. Only four teams ran the ball more than the Colts did last season and while Taylor still has to establish himself as a third-down back – especially with Nyheim Hines already there – with Philip Rivers under center those guys will catch a lot of check-downs when you look at how often the quarterback relied on Austin Ekeler last year. Considering all of that, Taylor is my early favorite for Offensive Rookie of the Year. Add one of my favorite wideouts in the draft USC’s Michael Pittman Jr. earlier in the second round to the mix with one of the better receivers in the league when healthy in T.Y. Hilton, last year’s second-rounder Parris Campbell, who could be used more on jet sweeps, quick screens and slants to bind defenders and the Wisconsin RB has some help around him. He will also love tight-end Jack Doyle as an excellent run-blocker and there are some other solid receivers on the roster. With the selection of Washington’s Jacob Eason, who is in a great situation himself thanks to being able to sit at least a year, they could be set at quarterback for the future as well, if they can develop the strong-armed kid.
Loser – Anybody in that Bears tight-end room
Before Chicago released Trey Burton about a week before the draft, they had the most expensive group of tight-ends in the league after paying Jimmy Graham 16 million dollars over the next two years, despite looking like a shell of himself recently. Adam Shaheen was a second-round pick out of Ashland just three years ago and he has only caught 26 passes since then. Last season it was actually J.P. Holtz who led the Bears tight-ends with 91 receiving yards. So you understand why you would want to upgrade that position, but they just haven’t done it in a way that I would like to see in terms of building a roster. Second-round pick Cole Kmet out of Notre Dame looks like the clear-cut starter and best all-around option, because he can execute a multitude of blocking techniques and has upside as a pass-catcher. So he is the one guy in this conversation that you can classify as a winner. Still, the Bears now have ten(!) tight-ends on the roster currently, when most teams only carry three on gamedays. Kmet is certainly an upgrade and I thought he was the second-best prospect at the position, but staying put at 43 when you actually need more mid-round picks to address a position that you already spent money on is kind of a head-scratcher. When you look at the guys who went a few picks like later, like Minnesota safety Antoine Winfield, who would have been a great fit next to Eddie Jackson, or Penn State receiver K.J. Hamler, who would have given them a true deep threat and could create easy yardage. Then you look at my TE1 Adam Trautman out of Dayton going 105th overall and you really question the value of that selection, when you probably would have gotten Kmet if you had traded back about ten spots. When you look at the other guys in that TE room, Graham won’t get a chance to revive his career probably as more of a red-zone target and even if two of the other guys make the roster, they will likely have to settle for run-down duties in heavy personnel.
Winner – Baltimore Ravens
When Ozzie Newsome – who is not only a Hall of Fame tight-end but also a Hall of Fame executive – decided to retire a couple of years and Eric DeCosta took over the general manager duties, it was fair to assume the quality of their front office might take a small step backwards, but it just hasn’t. No matter who runs their draft, every damn year they knock it out of the park and with pretty much every pick you go like “that’s so Ravens”. Whether it was being patient with their first round pick and seeing three linebackers selected ahead of their selection, until they picked up the dynamic LSU linebacker Patrick Queen, grabbing a physical, explosive running back in Ohio State’s J.K. Dobbins (my RB2) or then trading back with New England to now have four picks in the third round with how much talent they knew would be there. Interior D-line wasn’t an immediate need, but Texas A&M’s Justin Madubuike is a super flexible and explosive kid with a lot of room to grow being part of that group, while he wasn’t rated my best available receiver, Texas’ Devin Duvernay is an excellent addition to that offense, because of what he can do as a slant or bubble option on their RPOs and then Ohio State’s Malik Harrison is another great fit as a downhill MIKE next to first-rounder Queen at WILL. With their first pick on day three, John Harbaugh brought in one of his brother’s standouts in Michigan guard Ben Bredeson, who could immediately replace an all-time great in Marshal Yanda, James Proche in the sixth was of one the best receivers in the country last season at SMU and then in the seventh to grab a really smart and instinctive safety in Iowa’s Geno Stone just puts the cherry at the top. Yeah I wasn’t too high on Tyre Phillips or Broderick Washington, but there’s really nothing that comes to mind for this draft class other than “that’s so Ravens”.
Loser – Anthony Gordon
This is the only actual draft prospect on my list of biggest losers and it’s easy to understand why he made it – he didn’t hear his name called at all. Gordon transferred from junior college in 2018 and lost out to Gardner Minshew in the battle for the starting spot under center, before taking over last season. In his one year as a starter, all he did was complete 493 of 689(!) passes for 5579 yards and 48 touchdowns compared to 16 INTs. Like it is every year (until now when Mike Leach left the program), a lot of the production for the Wazzu quarterbacks is due to that Air Raid system and Gordon doesn’t blow anybody away physically, but when you look at him as a pure player, I think he is pretty good. He might not have a huge arm, but it is more than adequate. He is not a great athlete, but he can really buy time inside the pocket. And he is way too loose with the ball, but that is something that can be corrected. I really like the way he puts the ball to where receivers don’t have to break stride, setting those guys up for nice YAC opportunities. The former Cougars signal-caller was my eight-ranked quarterback and I thought he could be a target early on day three, especially with how weak this class is after the top four – and to me even more the top two. Overall, 13 quarterbacks were selected through three days and Gordon surprisingly wasn’t one of them. I know he only put out one year of tape and he is far from a perfect prospect, but he has to be frustrated to not have anybody call him after finishing second only to number one overall pick Joe Burrow in both passing yards and touchdowns last season. The Seahawks have since then signed him as an undrafted free agent and they should have an excellent backup with no other QB on the roster other than Russ, but I think Gordon deserves a chance to at least compete somewhere.
Winner – Saquon Barkley & Daniel Jones
You know what? Let’s give Dave Gettleman and Joe Judge some credit here. The Giants GM deserves some credit here for doing what he was supposed to after surprising everybody by selecting quarterback Daniel Jones out of Duke a year ago and going against what the analytics say by going with a running second overall in superstar Saquon Barkley – protect his investments. While I did have Georgia’s Andrew Thomas as my fourth offensive tackle, I still thought he was a top ten prospect and he can immediately jump in at right tackle (even though I would have preferred them to move back a little and grab one of the OTs). In the third round the G-Men selected in a developmental tackle I really like in UConn’s Matt Peart, who should be ready to take over on the right side when the team ultimately replaces Nate Solder at left tackle with Thomas. And then to come back early on day three and selecting another top 100 prospect for me in a road-grading guard like Oregon’s Shane Lemieux, who was a high-quality starter for 52 games with the Ducks, just put them at another level. If Big Blue can move the rookie or Kevin Zeitler to the center spot, they can put their best five out there – which is now pretty strong all of a sudden. Saquon should have a lot more room to work with a great zone-blocking O-line in front of him, while their quarterback should not get killed back there, if he also learns to get rid of the ball when nothing is there downfield. Gettleman had one of the best overall drafts I can remember from him. While he is still way too stuck in his thoughts about just using the draft picks he has and grabbing whoever is there, instead of operating the board, he did select my top-rated safety in Alabama’s Xavier McKinney and a day-one starter at nickel in UCLA’s Darnay Holmes to upgrade that secondary. He spent four of his final five picks on that poor linebacker group, with two of them having outside flexibility.
Loser – Fantasy football owners
This is somewhat of an off-the-board pick here. For me the draft is always somewhat of a grueling process when I get to watching prospects in the 300-400 range, who probably won’t even be selected, but there are also guys that you get excited about and it gives you an edge in fantasy football, because I have already seen all these guys on tape and can kind of project how they could be used. However, this year more than I can remember in a while, a lot of things have become kind of murky seeing what happened in the draft. So many running back committees have been formed, when you look at Detroit pairing Kerryon Johnson up with D’Andre Swift, Cam Akers now building a one-two punch with Darrell Henderson in L.A. most likely, J.K. Dobbins being thrown in the mix with all those guys in Baltimore, A.J. Dillon joining the backfield with a rising star in Aaron Jones in Green Bay and a few other situations. It will be tough to figure out how all those touches are going to split once the regular season rolls around. We also saw a bunch of receiving corps being upgraded with several weapons to spread the wealth between. Overall there were 36 receivers selected in those three days, with multiple teams selecting more than just one pass-catcher, and there are even some guys I like who didn’t hear their names called. I will have fun going through the depth charts of every team and trying to decipher who is worth a look, but for the casual fan this might be headache. I also think this could lead to some shifts in which positions are being invested in more. I usually don’t draft a quarterback in the single-digit rounds, but could we see the top quarterback rise a little? Or will there be more emphasis on the elite tight-ends? We will see.
Winner – Buffalo Bills
I don’t believe anything the Bills did over the weekend will blow anybody away, but Brandon Beane and Sean McDermott once again had a really solid draft. Before we talk about any of the actual picks they made, we have to look at Stefon Diggs as their first-round pick in a trade with the Vikings. This was a great class of wide receivers, but when you look at LSU’s Justin Jefferson actually being the pick for Minnesota with that 22nd overall selection, Diggs is a better fit for Buffalo as more of a vertical threat. When they actually were on the clock on day two, the Bills selected Iowa’s A.J. Epenesa at pick 54, after I thought he would have been a nice target at their original first-round spot. The Iowa defensive linemen was born to play for the Bills it feels like, with the excellent hand-usage and power to give them a piece up front, who can slide inside on sub-packages. Then Utah running back Zack Moss is the perfect bruising type of runner to complement Devin Singletary, UCF receiver Gabriel Davis is a deep ball specialist perfect to pair up with Josh Allen’s big arm while Oregon State’s Isaiah Hodgins is more of a big-bodied contested catch guy, who can bail the quarterback out when he puts the ball up for grabs. Fifth-round QB Jake Fromm from Georgia might be the polar opposite of Allen physically and the kind of risk-averse style of play, but he excels in the quick-game, which the Bills quietly have gone more to with that 11 personnel, up-temp offense. He should be a high-quality backup, they might be able to deal for some draft capital down the road. While I don’t necessarily advocate drafting kickers and I didn’t study the class to much, I know that Tyler Bass has a LEG and could immediately replace Stephen Hauschka, who has converted less than 80 percent of his field-goal attempts in each of the last two years. I’m also a fan of the feisty Pitt corner Dane Jackson, who they picked up in the seventh round and he could actually compete for the starting nickel spot with Taron Johnson potentially. So maybe nothing spectacular, but a rock-solid class.
Other drafts I liked:
Arizona Cardinals, Minnesota Vikings and Carolina Panthers
Other questionable draft classes:
Atlanta Falcons, Philadelphia Eagles and Las Vegas Raiders
Ceedee Lamb, WR, Oklahoma (17th overall to the Cowboys)
I already talked a little bit about this one. To me there was no way Jerry Jones would let a star receiver from nearby like Lamb stay on the board and possibly allow the division-rival Eagles to pick him up. Yes, they had bigger needs, but Lamb was the top player available at that point (my eight overall prospect) and that offense – which already ranked number one in total yardage – just went to a different level. Sliding Lamb in at X and moving Amari Cooper more into the slot, where he can avoid press-coverage from guys like Stephon Gilmore and Jalen Ramsey, who gave him some trouble last season, helps everybody, plus Lamb actually steps up in the big game unlike Amari. Still, number 19 is one of the most savvy route-runners in the league and if you throw in third-year guy Michael Gallup, who might have had the most quiet 1000-yard season I can ever remember, you have a trio that rivals for the best in the entire league.
A.J. Epenesa, Edge, Iowa (54th overall to Bills)
With this one, I kind of get why it happened, but I just don’t agree. Before the 2019 season Epenesa was looked at as an eventual top-ten pick and even a few months ago, I thought he was a first-round lock, but with sub-par athletic testing, he clearly wasn’t very appealing to NFL clubs. At the combine, the Iowa D-lineman couldn’t crack the five-second mark in the 40 and put up modest numbers across the board, but put on the tape and tell me this guy isn’t worth a first-round pick. No, he is not as explosive as a Chase Young or can bend like K’Lavon Chaisson from LSU, but Epenesa has the natural strength to hold his ground in the run game against pretty much anybody, is already very advanced with his hand-usage and can straight up drive guys back into the quarterback’s lap if they set him too softly. I think he will immediately start across from Jerry Hughes at D-end and be a mismatch versus guards on third downs.
Kristian Fulton, CB, LSU (61st overall to the Titans)
I heard before the draft started that Fulton could drop a little bit in the draft, but I thought he would still go in the late first or early second. Instead he slid all the way down to the end of round two and I think the Titans were very lucky to land him. Fulton was my number three corner in the draft, pretty clearly ahead of guys like Clemson’s A.J. Terrell and Ohio State’s Damon Arnette, who went number 16 and 19 respectively. I get that Terrell has better length and speed to fit a press-heavy scheme and Arnette is the type of feisty, competitive player the Raiders have gone after under their current regime, but Fulton was my 23rd overall prospect for a reason. His ability to mirror receivers off the line and stay in their hip pocket, combined with the fluid lower body to adjust in zone coverage are all excellent. He might not be super-interested in tackling, but we have seen other guys like that go a lot higher.
Josh Jones, OT, Houston (72nd overall to the Cardinals)
One of the most surprising developments in the draft to me was the fall of the Houston offensive tackle. Jones was 25th overall on my big board as the clear-cut number five tackle and with teams like the Dolphins, Seahawks, Titans and Vikings in that range, I definitely thought one of those teams would pick him up. Even after that, with Cincinnati making that first selection of day two and all the other teams mentioned having him available in round two, there was no way I saw him be there in the third round. Jones’ pass set need some work, as he almost pedaled backwards at times to establish position, but he gets after people in the run game and he has a punch in protection that can stun pass-rushers. After selecting Clemson do-it-all freak defender Isaiah Simmons with that eight pick and using that second-rounder in a trade for superstar receiver DeAndre Hopkins from Houston, grabbing Jones at that point as a likely day one starter at right tackle is outstanding.
Adam Trautman, TE, Dayton (105th overall to the Saints)
Okay, let’s start like this – Trautman was my top-rated tight-end and a mid-day two prospect on my list, so the value isn’t through the roof quite like it is with some of the guys I have with these next few names. However, when you look at the fact that he was the fifth player at the position to hear his name called and guys like Josiah Deguara and Dalton Keene being two of the earlier ones, getting him with the second-to-last pick on day two is surprising. Trautman is an aggressive blocker, who can secure the edge for Alvin Kamara, and not only can he win above the rim but he also takes guys for a ride with the ball in his hands. I know the Saints traded away their day three capital for the tight-end, but their roster was already pretty stacked and they needed impact players over depth. So I don’t disagree with that strategy.
Bryce Hall, CB, Virginia (158th overall to the Jets)
I didn’t want to talk too much about players who dropped solely based on injury, but Hall is not coming off a recent injury, having ankle surgery all the way back in October, and I believe NFL decision-makers didn’t fall in love of him because of what they perceive as average athleticism. Hall has a nice frame, shows excellent football IQ and instincts to go with great ball-skills for the position. I don’t think he would have stood out at the combine with the way he ran or jumped, but he has more than adequate tools for the secondary. Picking a guy like that up in the fifth round when he was the 65th overall prospect on my board is a gift for the Jets and Gregg Williams as their defensive coordinator. I would not be surprised if he started for them by mid-season.
Nick Harris, IOL, Washington (160th overall to the Browns)
Similar to some other guys on this list, I know why front-offices passed on this guy until the fifth round, but I just disagree. Harris may not be the strongest offensive lineman and you can argue that he is a center-only prospect, but I had a third-round grade on him because I see what he can excel at rather than looking at some snaps where is one-on-one with a 330-pound nose tackle, who can drive him backwards in protection. Harris has outstanding agility and ability to get on the move to puts on people. In that zone-based scheme Kevin Stefanski is bringing over from Minnesota, he is just a perfect fit. Like I mentioned already when I talked about why the Browns had a great all-around draft, there is a potential out on J.C. Tretter’s contract next year and if Harris bulks up a little through an NFL training program, I would not be shocked to see them replace the veteran.
Bradlee Anae, Edge, Utah (179th overall to the Cowboys)
This might be the biggest steal of the entire draft. I was totally baffled as to why Anae continue to slide down the board. He was my 67th overall prospect and he went over a hundred spots later without any apparent reason. Yes, his arm length isn’t optimal and he is a not the most dynamic athlete, but he is so much better right now than some of the developmental edge rushers that were selected ahead of him. The former Ute has a nasty cross-chop combo and he can really convert speed to power in order to force quarterbacks off the spot. He had 13 sacks last season against what quietly was some pretty good tackle competition in the Pac-12. In my write-up for the positional rankings I compared him to a little taller Brandon Graham. To add him to a defensive line that has some question marks across from DeMarcus Lawrence with a late pick like that is fantastic.
Donovan Peoples-Jones, WR, Michigan (187th overall to the Browns)
Once again, here we have a player I had exactly a hundred spots higher than where he actually went off the board. Peoples-Jones never put up big numbers for that Michigan offense and there are some things he needs to clean up about his route-running, but that lack of production had a lot to do with very poor quarterback play and the talent is undeniable. He had one of the most impressive all-around combines, running 4.48 in the 40 at 212 pounds and he just jumped out of the gym. DPJ can work the entire field and he adjusts beautifully to the ball in the air. To me his best fit would be in the slot, where Cleveland already has Jarvis Landry, but he might already be the third-most talented receiver on that roster and should be much more productive as a pro.
Eno Benjamin, RB, Arizona State (222nd overall to the Cardinals)
I have no idea how this one happened. I knew I was a lot higher on Benjamin than most people, having him as my number six running back and the 78th overall prospect, but for him to be 15th player at the position to hear his name called in the final round of the draft is absurd. The former Sun Devil tends to dance around in the backfield a little too much and his fumbles went up quite a bit last season – which was largely due to exchange problems with his freshman quarterback – but I’m a big fan. Benjamin is a violent runner with explosive jump-cuts to make defenders miss but also the attitude to bury his facemask into the chest of defenders to finish runs. Kenyan Drake was tremendous for the Cardinals when they brought him in last season, but Eno could easily put up 500 yards from scrimmage and be used to churn away some games this year.
Jedrick Wills Jr., OT, Alabama (10th overall to the Browns)
Ross Blacklock, IDL, TCU (40th to the Texans)
Denzel Mims, WR, Baylor (59th overall to the Jets)
Zack Baun, LB, Wisconsin (74th overall to the Saints)
Neville Gallimore, IDL, Oklahoma (82nd overall to the Cowboys)
Lucas Niang, OT, TCU (96th overall to the Chiefs)
Akeem Davis-Gaither, LB, Appalachian State (107th overall to Bengals)
Jason Strowbridge, IDL, North Carolina (154th overall to the Dolphins)
Evan Weaver, LB, California (202nd overall to the Cardinals)
Prince Tega Wanogho, OT, Auburn (210th overall to the Eagles)
Geno Stone, S, Iowa (219th overall to the Ravens)
Kenny Willekes, Edge, Michigan State (225th overall to the Vikings)
Jonathan Garvin, Edge, Miami (242nd overall to the Packers)
Justin Herbert, QB, Oregon (6th overall to the Chargers)
I already called Tyrod Taylor one of the biggest losers from draft weekend and talked about some of the things I disagreed with the Chargers on with some of the decisions they made, but let me get into a little more detail about their new rookie quarterback. Herbert has prototype measurements and with his arm talent, the upside is tremendously high. I just don’t know if he will ever reach it. He started almost four years with the Ducks and simply never really improved. Yes, the numbers looked pretty good last season, but when you look at the offense, the coaches didn’t ask a lot of him. It was a bunch of screens and rail routes off those. I like that he has experience in heavy play-action and some of the spectacular throws he can make, but Herbert is kind of a one-read quarterback who doesn’t see the field particularly well. He was my 37th overall prospect and I thought he should have gone more in that Jordan Love range as a developmental QB.
Damon Arnette, CB, Ohio State (19th overall to the Raiders)
Just like they did last year, the Raiders delivered the shocker of the night when they selected the second corner from the Buckeyes. I had not seen Arnette in any mock drafts since early in the process and I don’t think he was worth that pick. He was my tenth-ranked cornerback and the 66th overall prospect on my board. I like the competitive and physical style of play, but when I look at the Vikings being able to trade down six spots and collect draft capital while still being able to grab TCU’s Jeff Gladney with the second-to-last pick in round one just makes this look bad. I don’t even mind Arnette being the guy they want to target, because I think if there was never anything off the field, he would have probably been talked about more, but Mike Mayock & company could have definitely traded down a few spots and still gotten the Ohio State corner. The next guy at the position was selected at number 30 overall by the Dolphins and even he was a surprise pick.
Jordyn Brooks, LB, Texas Tech (27th overall to the Seahawks)
I weirdly have Brooks 28 spots lower than Arnette even, but we at least heard some stuff about him potentially sneaking into the late first round, plus Seattle always grabs a guy who isn’t looked at like that. Usually they at least trade down however and to me value just doesn’t add up. The Texas Tech backer ranked eight at the position for me and in the 90s overall – actually behind Michigan State’s Joe Bachie, who falsely went undrafted. I’m sure they love the way Brooks can run and his aggressive style of play, but I have questions about the way he can work through blocking and show awareness in zone coverage, which they ask a lot of from their linebackers to cover ground. I could absolutely see him work out if he takes over for K.J. Wright once they can’t pay him anymore, but the 27th pick on a guy like that is a little rich for me, especially when LSU’s Patrick Queen goes to Baltimore right after that.
Isaiah Wilson, OT, Georgia (29th overall to the Titans)
Similarly to Brooks, I wasn’t surprised at all to see Wilson get selected in the first round and I actually had him go to the Seahawks two picks earlier in my mock draft. Both those teams would have made a lot of sense for the massive Georgia tackle in a run-heavy offense, but I just don’t see him being the type of player worth a high pick like that. Wilson actually didn’t quite make my top 100 list and while I see the upside for a guy like that as an oldschool power right tackle, I’m not even sure if he has the agility to survive on the outside against true speed rushers. I talked about how Tennessee would look at tackle in my mock, because until Thursday it looked like the void left by Jack Conklin leaving would result in a battle between Dennis Kelly and Ty Sambrailo for RT. So Wilson can definitely be an upgrade at that spot, but not for the price of a first-round pick.
A.J. Dillon, RB, Boston College (62nd overall to the Packers)
I already discussed the Packers draft class and how they screwed over Aaron Rodgers with zero wide receivers being selected and obviously trading up a few spots for their future quarterback Jordan Love, but let’s talk more about the second-rounder. Dillon is an out-of-date 250-pound bruiser, who had a great career at Boston College, but I don’t think his success will quite translate to the next level. Watching him he simply does not have the footwork to adjust on the fly, if he can’t build up momentum, he just isn’t very effective and he was a non-factor in the pass-game with 21 career receptions. I get that LaFleur looks at him as a similar player to Derrick Henry, but I don’t think those two are in the same class, and Green Bay already kind of has that tyoe of back in Jamaal Williams, who has done more on passing down. Dillon was my RB14 and certainly had a day three grade.
Jacob Phillips, LB, LSU (97th overall to the Browns)
You know that I thought the Browns really killed the draft, but I probably hated no other pick more than this guy. From the outside, drafting the leading tackler of an undefeated National Championship team doesn’t sound too bad, but I probably watched some kind of LSU tape 50 times to evaluate all those other guys and Phillips never flashed for me. He can run pretty well, but that’s about it. He is conservative against the run, gets hung up with blocks and is content with drag-tackles. There were at least 13 other Tigers I liked better than Phillips and he wasn’t even one my top 20 linebackers. One pick later their division rival Ravens selected my LB6 in Ohio State’s Malik Harrison, who plays downhill and tested pretty much the same. That is just ridiculous to me.
Dalton Keene, TE, Virginia Tech (101st overall to the Patriots)
Don’t get me wrong here. I actually like Keene, because of the work he puts in as a run-blocker with the flexibility to line up at H-back or fullback, and I think he was heavily underutilized as a pass-catcher for the Hokies, especially with how physical he is with the ball in his hands. With that being said, he only had 59 career receptions in three years with Virginia Tech and only ran a couple of routes in college. Not only was my TE1 in Dayton’s Adam Trautman still on the board, but they actually traded away their two fourth-round selections to the divisional rival Jets. With picks 125 and 129 Gang Green selected FIU quarterback James Morgan, who I like as a developmental player and was often linked to New England, in Charlotte offensive lineman Cameron Clarke who has the tools to become an excellent sixth lineman at the very least.
Davion Taylor, LB, Colorado (103rd overall to the Eagles)
Another guy I thought went too early solely based on traits is the former Colorado linebacker. Taylor can absolutely fly and you see that ability to run with guys down the seams, but he basically played big nickel for the Buffs and never had to make actual linebacker reads. He is really explosive and you see him chase down some receivers from behind on tape, but he is just such a raw player, only having played one game in high school and he looks kind of lost in coverage, allowing a passer rating of 139.3 and being responsible for five touchdowns last season. If you are looking for an undersized backer who can run around but actually has put really good play on tape, how about App State’s Akeem Davis-Gaither, who was the first name on day three and my 62nd overall prospect.
Justin Rohrwasser, K, Marshall (159th overall to the Patriots)
Alright, time to hate on some specialists. I already admitted it – I don’t really watch kickers and I had never even heard of this guy before the weekend. So I won’t even act like I can evaluate the pick, but when I look at several other rankings, the consensus was that he wasn’t even a top five kicker in this draft and Georgia’s Rodrigo Blankenship went undrafted for example. If you select him in the seventh round, I can’t hate it – even though I would like to think nobody else would have selected them otherwise, but to spend a fifth on a kicker from Marshall nobody has ever even heard of seems crazy to me. Especially when you look at some of the other guys who went a few spots behind him, like Washington center Nick Harris, Wisconsin wide receiver Quintez Cephus and Georgia quarterback Jake Fromm.
Blake Ferguson, LS, LSU (185th overall to the Dolphins)
I mean, I actually knew him by name. But … drafting long-snappers is a thing? And at the top of the sixth round? When Alohi Gilman and Donovan Peoples-Jones were the next two picks? I’m not sure.
A.J. Terrell, CB, Clemson (16th overall to the Falcons)
Austin Jackson, OT, USC (18th overall to the Dolphins)
Darrell Taylor, Edge, Tennessee (48th overall to the Seahawks)
Raekwon Davis, IDL, Alabama (56th overall to the Dolphins)
Ezra Cleveland, OT, Boise State (58th overall to the Vikings)
Damien Lewis, IOL, LSU (69th overall to the Seahawks)