2020 NFL Draft First Round Analysis

May 25, 2020

via NBC Sports

via NBC Sports

Maxwell Vaughan

1.) Cincinnati Bengals: Joe Burrow (QB, LSU)

Just about anyone could’ve seen this pick coming. The LSU quarterback threw for 5671 yards and 60 touchdowns on his way to a Heisman Trophy and a National Championship last year. He is certainly the most talented and pro-ready quarterback in this draft and is a no-brainer for the Bengals at number one. He stands at 6’3” and seems to make any throw he wants to. But, what makes Burrow special is his ability to extend plays when under pressure.  In fact, when he was pressured and forced to improvise, his passer rating increased to 143.2 (via Sports Info Solutions). He can think and play on the fly, and he can sling the ball like no other. He is the future of the NFL and the Bengals’ franchise.

2.) Washington Redskins: Chase Young (DE, Ohio State)

Chase Young is probably the best outright player in this draft. Arguably one of the most dominant college football players of all time, he registered 16.5 sacks and 21 tackles for loss in just 12 games. He’s almost impossible to stop, unless he’s double or triple teamed; he has the size, length, speed, power, technique to beat any offensive lineman he wants. It’s a smart pick from the Redskins, and as a Cowboys fan, I dread the thought of having to face Young twice a year.

3.) Detroit Lions: Jeff Okudah (CB, Ohio State)

The Lions make a good pick in Jeff Okudah out of Ohio State. He is the best cornerback in this draft, and probably the most impressive cornerback prospect since Jalen Ramsey. Okudah can press receivers very effectively on the outside. He also loves to play physical and tackles well. Even though they just signed Desmond Trufant, another cornerback, he’s on the tail end of his career. The Lions need a young corner.  It’s a logical pick for defensive-minded head coach Matt Patricia.

4.) New York Giants: Andrew Thomas (OT, Georgia)

At the number four pick, the Giants decide to improve their offensive line. This is the right move by the Giants considering how much Daniel Jones struggled last year. He had very little pocket presence, and failed to deal with pressure well. The hope is that Thomas can help alleviate some of the pressure on Jones, and therefore their offense can improve as a whole. While I think this is the right idea, I think guys like Tristian Wirfs or Jedrick Wills have higher ceilings. Thomas was a solid and safe pick, but he will probably not end up being the best lineman in this class.

5.) Miami Dolphins: Tua Tagovailoa (QB, Alabama)

Tua is definitely a good quarterback. He has good pocket presence, plays well under pressure, and has a good (but not great) arm. He will be a solid NFL quarterback, but many are worried about his injuries. In his college career he was injured five times, spraining both ankles and a knee, breaking a finger, and most recently, dislocating his hip as well as fracturing it. This is certainly an unattractive injury list. He’s a risk, plain and simple. If he can recover completely he will be a great quarterback for the Dolphins.

6.) Los Angeles Chargers: Justin Herbert (QB, Oregon)

This might be my least favorite pick in the top ten. On paper, Herbert looks good. He has great size and a strong arm. He also had great college stats with 32 touchdowns and almost 3,500 yards. But, much of this production was due to Oregon’s offensive scheme. About half of Herbert’s attempts last season were within 5 yards of the line of scrimmage, and 23.2% of his passing attempts last year were screen passes. He doesn’t like to take shots downfield, and when he does, he’s constantly throwing too late and letting his receivers take big shots from preying defensive backs. This will simply not fly with NFL receivers, especially Keenan Allen. With all this being said, he has potential to be great, which he showed several times last year. But, that brings up another point: he’s inconsistent. If he can clean this up, he will be a solid quarterback. But right now, I don’t see him having much success his rookie year.

7.) Carolina Panthers: Derrick Brown (DT, Auburn)

Now, defensive tackle might not be the most glamorous position, but it is certainly important for building a franchise. Brown may not put up insane stats (only 4 sacks last year), but that’s just the nature of the position. He will certainly play his part in the Panther’s defense for years to come. He’s a great run stopper and can put pressure on the quarterback, even when double teamed. And if an offensive line has to double team him on the majority of downs, that means fewer players to block the remaining defensive linemen. This is a solid pick from Carolina; they’re getting a guy who is probably a top five player in this draft at the number seven spot.

8.) Arizona Cardinals: Isaiah Simmons (OLB, Clemson)

Isaiah Simmons is a great athlete and very unique football player. He’s explosive and he can cover a lot of ground, as he ran a 4.39 second 40 yard dash and had a 39 inch vertical jump at the combine. He’s also got long arms and loves to play physical. This is a great pick for the Cardinals. Their defense was horrible last year, allowing the most yards per game out of all NFL teams. They needed an upgrade very badly, and Isaiah Simmons could be the answer for all of their past defensive struggles.

9.) Jacksonville Jaguars: CJ Henderson (CB, Florida)

The Jaguars defense struggled last year, so they certainly needed immediate help from this pick. They took CJ Henderson from Florida to shore up their secondary. What’s interesting though, is that their defensive problems from last year stemmed mostly from their inability to stop the run. They had the 28th ranked run defense (in terms of yards allowed per game), while having an average pass defense (16th in passing yards allowed per game). Yet, while desperately needing run help, they opt for help in the secondary. However, guys who could help their run defense like Brown and Simmons were already off the board, so I think the Jaguars made the best they could from a tough pick.

10.) Cleveland Browns: Jedrick Wills (OT, Alabama)

The Browns have been looking for their next Joe Thomas, and they may have just found him here at the number ten spot. Wills is arguably the best tackle in the class and could have easily been a top 5 pick. He has a solid football IQ, great technique, and is very athletic for an offensive lineman. He’s able to read defensive ends’ stances and alignments and adjust and block accordingly. He’s a great player, and it looks like he is set up for success in the NFL

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Tarun Senthil Kumar

11.) New York Jets: Mekhi Becton, OT

The New York Jets needed a receiver, offensive tackle, and cornerback in the draft. Becton, standing 6’7 and weighing 365 lbs, mows over his blocking assignments in the run game and sustains his protection in the passing game. His elite upper body strength overwhelms opponents. However, his hands are a bit raw when it comes to blocking techniques. Becton is a great player, but he’s not their best receiver by far.  New York’s stale offense lacks any real playmaker other than Le’Veon Bell, so the ideal selection would have been Jerry Jeudy or CeeDee Lamb, but Mekhi Becton is a good pick.

12.) Las Vegas Raiders: Henry Ruggs III, Receiver

Las Vegas had the luxury of every receiver on the board being available to them. Yet, instead of picking projected best receivers Jerry Jeudy or Ceedee Lamb, GM Mike Mayock selected Henry Ruggs III. What Ruggs lacks in height, he makes up for in speed. He requires special attention from defenses at all times and poses a big play threat every time the quarterback drops back. Speaking of which, QB Derek Carr now has a wide array of receivers (including Ruggs III, Tyrell Williams, and Hunter Renfrow) at his disposal. With Carr’s job on the line, he should be able to hold his own in the high-powered AFC West this year. This was not the pick I would have made, but it still was a good one.

13.) Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Tristan Wirfs, OT

Thanks to the arrivals of Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have become the Super Bowl favorites. Before the draft, the Buccaneers needed an offensive tackle and running back. They fulfilled part of those needs by drafting Tristan Wirfs out of Iowa. Wirfs dominated the NFL Combine in February, posting a 40 yard dash of 4.85 seconds, a broad jump of 121 inches, and a 20 yard shuttle of 4.68 seconds. Standing 6’5 and weighing 320 lbs, Wirfs is a freak athlete, but tends to lack composure and hand speed on some plays. With Wirfs protecting Brady’s blindside, Tom has ample time to throw to Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, Gronk, OJ Howard, and Cameron Brate. Tampa Bay selected Wirfs to fill their most glaring need, and because of their draft day execution, the Buccaneers’ offense might be a historical one. This pick is certainly a great one.

14.) San Francisco 49ers: Javon Kinlaw, DT

The San Francisco 49ers hoped to add the missing pieces to their roster through this year’s draft after their Super Bowl loss. Coming into the draft, the 49ers had needs at receiver, defensive tackle, and offensive tackle. They decided to improve their strong defense, which ranked 5th in the league last year, by selecting Javon Kinlaw. After impressing during Senior Bowl week, Kinlaw was projected to be selected in the top ten. He, along with Nick Bosa and Arik Armstead, looks to wreak havoc in the league for years to come. Considering that San Francisco filled their other needs with the rest of their picks and took the best player available, this was a great pick.

15.) Denver Broncos: Jerry Jeudy, Receiver

The Denver Broncos finished the last season 7-9 after a 0-4 start.  Despite this resurgence after a terrible start, QB Drew Lock needed help, so John Elway drafted Jerry Jeudy. Jeudy set countless records with Tua Tagovailoa at Alabama and hopes to do so in the Mile High City. This past year, Jeudy, who played slot receiver, was known for his crisp route-running and elusive jukes. The Bronco offense, now consisting of Drew Lock, Courtland Sutton (WR), Jerry Jeudy, KJ Hamler (WR), (new signing) Melvin Gordon (RB), Philip Lindsay (RB), and Noah Fant (TE) will be sure to pose a threat in the AFC West next year and for years to come. This was a great pick.

16.) Atlanta Falcons: AJ Terrell, CB

Though the organization may try to hide it, QB Matt Ryan, receiver Julio Jones, and the Atlanta Falcons haven’t fully recovered from their Super Bowl loss a few years ago in which they “choked” a 28-3 lead to the Patriots. After an eventful offseason, Atlanta had needs at corner, linebacker, running back, and safety going into the draft. Terrell is a tremendous athlete who moves smoothly in coverage and possesses great range, but struggles with tackling. His draft stock plummeted when LSU receiver Ja’Marr Chase scorched him  in the 2019 National Championship game. All in all, though corner was a priority for the Falcons, they reached for Terrell at pick 16 when they could have simply traded back and selected him in the second round. This was a bad pick.

17.) Dallas Cowboys: Ceedee Lamb, Receiver

The Dallas Cowboys are fresh off an upsetting offseason which I hope I won’t have to go into. Their most glaring needs entering the draft were at cornerback, safety, and edge rusher.  The Cowboys front office stayed true to their draft board and managed to keep Receiver Ceedee Lamb away from their fierce divisional rivals, the Philadelphia Eagles. By selecting Lamb, the Dallas offense, statistically the 1st in the league last year, added more versatility and playmaking to their attack, which still fell short at times. Opponents will need to focus more on the air assault and can no longer load the box to stop Zeke from “eating” at will.  If Coach McCarthy fares any better than his predecessor, then teams will no longer be at liberty to simply double team Amari and will have a tough time covering the threatening likes of Cooper, Gallup, and Lamb. This was a great pick.

18.) Miami Dolphins: Austin Jackson, OT

After the Cowboys drafted Ceedee Lamb the round before, the Dolphins were forced to address another need of theirs at offensive tackle, and they tried to do so with Jackson. Standing at 6’5 and weighing 322, he possesses ideal measurables and masterful footwork. However, his technique needs work, and he lacks lower body strength. He played well against Pac 12 defensive lineman, but when faced against NFL talent, Jackson was dominated. In USC’s bowl game vs. Iowa this year, AJ Epenesa (DE), who at the time was projected to be drafted in the first round, embarrassed Jackson. Due to his unpolished skillset and disappointing performances against above average prospects, Jackson should not have been selected in the first round; this was a bad pick.

19.) Las Vegas Raiders: Damon Arnette, CB

At OSU, Arnette and 3rd overall pick J. Okudah locked down Big 10 receivers while 2nd overall pick C. Young terrorized Big 10 quarterbacks. The 2019 OSU defense was a sight to behold. The Raiders, who have needed a cornerback since Charles Woodson’s departure, have certainly fulfilled their need for one with Arnette. He excels in man-to-man coverage and pressing the receiver at the line of scrimmage. He joins Johnathan Abram and Trayvon Mullen Jr. to form the young core of the Raiders secondary. Arnette was a surefire first rounder before his fluke, sub-par 40 yard dash of 4.56 seconds raised questions among scouts. However, this was a good pick considering that Las Vegas filled another need with a solid player.

20.) Jacksonville Jaguars: K’Lavon Chaisson, Edge

The Jacksonville Jaguars are coming off an interesting 2019 season with new QB Nick Foles suffering a season-ending injury in Week 1, and the team was being led by 6th rounder QB Garder Minshew. Coming into the draft, Jacksonville needed an edge rusher, receiver, corner, and offensive tackle. Chaisson, standing 6’4 and weighing 249 lbs, uses his explosiveness to perform power moves and stop the run. His ability to also drop into coverage makes his complete skill set special. Due to the departures of many players on the defensive line, adding a prospect like Chaisson to the roster is a great move by the Jaguars to help build their young core moving forward.

21.) Philadelphia Eagles: Jalen Reagor, Receiver

The  Eagles are looking to return to the Promised Land, but their success is dependent on their health. Coming into the draft, they had needs at receiver, linebacker, and safety. Reagor, their pick, uses his elite speed to excel in route-running, gaining separation, and the return game. Despite his height and small stature, Reagor is a potent player when it comes to jump balls. Though Reagor is a great receiver, fans must wonder why GM Howie Roseman decided to pass on better receivers such as Justin Jefferson and Brandon Aiyuk for Reagor. QB Carson Wentz, if he can stay healthy, now has a wide array of receivers to help him prove to the rest of the league why he deserved the huge contract that he signed. Though the Eagles filled a need, they passed on much better players, making this pick a reach.

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Cole Burk

22.) Minnesota Vikings, Justin Jefferson (Receiver, ) A:

With the departure of Stefon Diggs, the Vikings needed a new number two receiver to compliment All-Pro wideout Adam Thielen. Jeffferson was one of the top route runners in the NCAA last year, making corners stumble all over the field trying to guard him. He can also make a difference once the ball is in his hands with his agility and ability to make defenders look silly trying to tackle him. He will make an immediate impact in the Vikings offense and will see a lot of playing time considering the team’s loss of Diggs, Thielen’s down year in 2019, and Kyle Rudolph’s advancing age. The Vikings nailed it with this pick and we can expect to see a lot from this bayou rookie.

23.) Los Angeles Chargers, Kenneth Murray (Linebacker), B+:

The Chargers traded back into the first round after selecting Philip River’s replacement, Justin Herbert, to get Murray. . Murray can be found in the backfield on almost any play, whether he is sacking the quarterback or stuffing the run game. A blitzing maniac, he recorded 17 tackles for loss in his final season for OU. Overall this is a decent pick for the Chargers as they look to reinforce what is already a strong defense.

24) New Orleans Saints, Cesar Ruiz (Center), C:

The Saints’ pick of Ruiz was peculiar since they had already drafted a center in Round 2 of last year’s draft. However, instead of Ruiz playing center, his college position, they will more than likely play him at guard. Lary Warford (current guard) is in the last year of his contract and after drafting Ruiz it’s looking less likely that he will be re-signed. I just don’t understand this pick at all. Not only did they draft a center last year, but they already have one of the best lines in the league. Personally, I think a better option would have been something to strengthen their defense, which is the weakest spot of what is a star-studded squad.

25) San Francisco 49ers, Brandon Aiyuk (Receiver), C+:

This pick was mainly meant to replace Emmanuel Sanders, who had a quick one year stint in the Bay. However, there were much better receivers left on the board when the Niners were on the clock. Tee Higgins or Michael Pittman Jr. would have been better choices in this spot, based off of overall impact during their college careers. This means the 49ers scouts must have seen something nobody else did in Aiyuk, that led them to believe he was worth trading up for. I still think Higgins would have been the best option here, but only time will tell.

26.) Green Bay Packers, Jordan Love (QB), F:

This pick puzzled everybody who pays any kind of attention to the NFL. Everyone knows Aaron Rogers is the signal caller for the Pack. The thought of his retirement has not crossed most minds, and if it has, it won’t be for the next three years at least. Not only that, Love’s statline looks like that of an undrafted free-agent signing. There were also so many areas the Packers needed help in that they apparently ignored (e.g. receiver, running back, linebacker, etc.). Their current quarterback is a shoo-in for the Hall of Fame and wants to play until he’s 40. It’s smart to wait another two or three years when Rogers is declining in ability to draft his replacement, not when he is on the top of his game and Green Bay is on the cusp of a Super Bowl.

27.) Seattle Seahawks, Jordyn Brooks (Linebacker), B:

The first thing that caught my eye was the fact a Texas Tech defensive player went in the first round. Their historically awful defense doesn’t produce a ton of first round talent. The Seahawks really needed a pass rusher to either complement or replace free agent Jadeveon Clowney. Brooks may not be a true edge rusher, but he blitzed quite a bit during his four year tenure at Tech from his middle linebacker position, wreaking havoc in the backfield. If the Seahawks really wanted an edge rusher, Yetur Gross-Metos was still available from Penn State, so there must be a good reason for drafting Brooks that has yet to be revealed. Overall, this pick was just okay, and the Seahawks apparently have their middle linebacker of the future.

28) Baltimore Ravens, Patrick Queen (Linebacker) A:

The Ravens have a history of producing stud linebackers (i.e. Ray Lewis, Terrell Suggs, CJ Mosely), and Queen was drafted to become the next Baltimore Bruiser. His sideline to sideline ability is second to none, as he ran a blazing 4.5 forty at the combine. He will see a lot of playing time in his rookie campaign, pairing up with Matthew Judon to create a scary middle of the Ravens defense. Not to mention with all of the other studs on that squad, the Ravens will be a scary team in the near future. This pick was great all-around for Baltimore, and I expect a Defensive Rookie of the Year campaign from Queen in 2020.

29.) Tennessee Titans, Isaiah Wilson (Tackle Out?), B:

Wilson received All-American honors in his two seasons as a starter for the Bulldogs, as well as All-SEC accolades. This draft was flooded with offensive line talent, and Wilson was no exception to this plethora of big boys. His down blocking skills are something to take serious note of, and will be utilized well in a run-first offense in Tennessee. He will pair up nicely with Titans’ left tackle Taylor Lewan, and they should keep edge rushers from reaching newly re-signed QB Ryan Tannehill. Wilson may not start his rookie year, but should be a lockdown for the number one right tackle spot in his sophomore season. This is a good pick by the Tennessee front office, filling a spot that needed serious attention.

30.) Miami Dolphins, Noah Igbinoghene (Cornerback), A-:

The Dolphins had so many spots that needed help and decided to strengthen the secondary with this selection. Igbinoghene was one of the most athletic cover corners in this year’s draft class. He should be an immediate starter in this defense, pairing up with newly acquired Byron Jones and Xavien Howard to lock down opposing receivers. He has great body control and plays the receiver close in man to man, breaking up an absurd number of passes. The ‘Fins had an incredible draft class this year, and Noah Igbinoghene is no exception. Tremendous pick by a rebuilding Miami team.

31.) Minnesota Vikings, Jeff Gladney (Cornerback), B+:

With the departure of Xavier Rhodes, the Vikings desperately needed corner help. Gladney was no doubt the Frogs’ top defensive back during his time there. However, injuries could be a concern; he suffered a torn ACL as a high school senior and had meniscus surgery after the 2019 season. Ignoring his medical history, he could easily be a day one starter in Minnesota. There was one other option on the board at this point (Trevon Diggs from Alabama). He  could have replaced Gladney in the first round, but Gladney’s experience makes him the better option, especially since Diggs started his career in college as a receiver. This pick was really helpful for the Vikings, and Gladney will make an instant impact.

32.) Kansas City Chiefs, Clyde Edwards-Helaire, (Running-Back), B-:

This pick was very questionable to loyal Chiefs fans, until they realized this is who Patrick Mahomes wanted since the start. The secondary would have been a good place to bulk up, but instead they added more firepower to the offense. Damien Williams will be the number one back for Kansas City this year, but with Shady McCoy’s future uncertain, it’s not bad to add another back who can make an impact. Edwards-Helaire was the best pass catching back in this year’s draft, which fits perfectly with Andy Reid and Eric Bieniemy’s master plan. As they say, the rich get richer, and the Chiefs just got a whole lot richer. This offense will be unstoppable in the coming years.

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