The 1st-round of the 2020 NFL Draft came and went on Thursday night, with the league holding an adapted “virtual” version to accommodate current social distancing measures. The fate of 32 of the best football prospects were decided. However, history shows us that still a significant percentage of 1st-round picks will fail to live up to their high draft status. Of course, much of that comes down to team fit. That leads us to today’s topic, where we give our instant reactions to every pick in Thursday’s draft.
#1 Cincinnati Bengals: QB Joe Burrow, LSU
Who expected this? Well, everyone. While I respect some arguments to the contrary, the Bengals had a glaring need at the sport’s most important position and there happened to be a very strong quarterback prospect present at this particular time. People can nitpick Burrow, but on paper he is good enough at just about every skill to have an excellent floor at quarterback, even if he fails to live up to expectations.
#2 Washington Redskins: DE Chase Young, Ohio St
Perhaps the most obvious selection of the draft, as with Washington took a quarterback last year, it made all the sense in the world to take Young, the consensus best defensive player in this class.
#3 Detroit Lions: CB Jeffrey Okudah, Ohio St.
Detroit keeps their pick instead of trading down and deploys it to get reinforcements in the secondary. Okudah was the highest graded defensive back in the 2020 draft by most. The Ohio State product goes to Detroit to pair with free agent signing Desmond Trufant.
#4 New York Giants: OT Andrew Thomas, Georgia
Thomas, to the surprise of many, was the first offensive lineman off the board on Thursday night. Most scouts had dropped him towards the 4th best tackle in his class, but we here at Hussey’s Huddle mentioned Thomas going first as a distinct possibility in a recent article. There’s no need to overthink this: Thomas was a rock-solid three-year starter in the best conference in the nation, the SEC. He will go a long way in fixing the Giants’ tackle woes.
#5 Miami Dolphins: QB Tua Tagovailoa, Alabama
The mystery ends, with the Dolphins keeping their pick to select the quarterback they probably desired all along, Tua. The Bama quarterback is a special prospect with one major question mark–his health. Evidently, the Dolphins were comfortable enough with that risk and get their man.
#6 Los Angeles Chargers: QB Justin Herbert, Oregon
Similar to Miami, no trade for the Chargers, who keep Herbert on the west coast. Herbert is perhaps the most polarizing prospect in his class, with unquestionable physical gifts combined with skepticism about his accuracy and decision-making. Let’s say this, if Herbert is going to succeed in the NFL, being situated with the Chargers and their strong supporting cast is the best bet.
#7 Carolina Panthers: DT Derrick Brown, Auburn
After debate picking up over the past few weeks between Brown and South Carolina’s Javon Kinlaw as the best defensive tackle in the draft, the Auburn product goes first. An elite run-stuffer, with some pass-rushing upside, Brown should be a plug-and-play guy for Carolina, a team that really needs to stabilize on all fronts.
#8 Arizona Cardinals: LB Isaiah Simmons, Clemson
Arizona was likely genuinely shocked that the Panthers didn’t choose Simmons, the best swiss-army knife in the draft. With versatility to play linebacker and safety, Simmons was seen as one of the Top 3 overall players in the draft by some.
#9 Jacksonville Jaguars: CB C.J Henderson, Florida
Henderson sneaks up the board a bit here, but this is still a solid selection by the Jaguars, who also get the added bonus of the cornerback being a state product. Regardless, it was a bit surprising to see Jacksonville go cornerback when three of the four best offensive tackles were still available.
#10 Cleveland Browns: OT Jedrick Wills, Alabama
The Browns had plenty of options to fill their biggest need–offensive tackle–with three of the four top consensus prospects still remaining. They select Wills, a star at Alabama, to add to their group in front of Baker Mayfield. Wills played right tackle in college, the same position that major free agent signing Jack Conklin is accustomed to playing. One of them will have to slide to the left.
#11 New York Jets: OT Mekhi Becton, Louisville
A mammoth of a man, Becton generated plenty of buzz in the months leading up to the draft, standing six-foot eight with long arms. Becton has an ideal frame to develop into an elite pass-protector on the edge because of that length. The Jets dived into the free agent market for offensive line help this offseason, but needed a premium pick to solidify the group.
#12 Las Vegas Raiders: WR Henry Ruggs III, Alabama
A true speed demon, Ruggs surprisingly jumps off the board first at wide receiver. This is a selection that would have made late Raiders Owner Al Davis proud.
#13 TRADE–Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Via IND): OT Tristan Wirfs, Iowa
Tampa flips picks with the 49ers to select Wirfs, who went on a bit of a slide. Iowa provides the NFL with yet another elite lineman prospect, as Wirfs flashed his unique athleticism this offseason at the NFL Combine. You could say he landed in a pretty good spot blocking for Bucs QB Tom Brady.
#14 TRADE–San Francisco 49ers (Via TB): DT Javon Kinlaw, South Carolina
Many aren’t thrilled with the selection of Kinlaw, one of the offseason’s biggest risers, as San Francisco traded away defensive lineman DeForest Buckner to get this selection in the first place. Kinlaw was rewarded for a strong draft lead-up with a Top 15 selection and ends up in a pretty good position too, playing beside Pro-Bowlers in Joey Bosa and Arik Armstead. 49ers fans just have to look at it as a cost-effective replacement for Buckner.
#15 Denver Broncos: WR Jerry Jeudy, Alabama
The perfect storm for Denver, who gets the most polished and well-rounded receiver in the draft. Pairing Jeudy with established young wideout Courtland Sutton should pay major dividends for a Broncos passing game that has struggled for the past few seasons.
#16 Atlanta Falcons: CB A.J Terrell, Clemson
The Falcons ideally would probably have preferred CJ Henderson in this spot, but he went off the board quickly. Atlanta looks to Terrell, a player with a Clemson pedigree, to help fix their woes in the secondary.
#17 Dallas Cowboys: WR CeeDee Lamb, Oklahoma
Bang, Bang Bang! Lamb takes a bit of drop and ends up in Big D. The Cowboys pair star receiver Amari Cooper and his new large contract, with a cost-effective option in Lamb. Some had Lamb rated as the best receiver in the class.
#18 Miami Dolphins (Via PIT): OT Austin Jackson, USC
5 offensive tackles in the first 18 selections, verifying the hype from scouts about this being a deep class at the position. A Junior out of USC and still just 20, Jackson is a worthwhile gamble for a Dolphins line desperately in need of improvements.
#19 Las Vegas Raiders (Via CHI): CB Damon Arnette, Ohio St
The first major surprise. In a strong corner draft–as we will see–Arnette was the player coveted by the Raiders. The Ohio State product was projected by some as a 3rd-round pick, so perhaps the Raiders could have traded down and found better value.
#20 Jacksonville Jaguars (Via LAR): OLB K’Lavon Chaisson, LSU
The Jaguars couldn’t really go wrong in this spot, in a position to pick the best-graded player available due to their rebuild. That player was deemed to be Chaisson, an edge-rusher from the National Champion LSU Tigers. Two defensive selections for Jacksonville, who signals they are fully committed to Gardner Minshew in 2020 by not selecting Utah State’s QB Jordan Love.
#21 Philadelphia Eagles: WR Jalen Reagor, TCU
Many expected a receiver with this pick but few expected it to be Reagor. A fast-riser up draft rankings, the Eagles will need instant production from the TCU star with questionable options elsewhere on the roster.
#22 Minnesota Vikings (Via BUF): WR Justin Jefferson, LSU
Taking a page from San Francisco, Minnesota finds a cost-effective replacement for former receiver Stefon Diggs, whom they traded earlier this offseason. Jefferson provides a similar skill-set to Diggs, with his two best traits being his precise route-running and his ability to gain yards after the catch.
#23 TRADE–Los Angeles Chargers (Via NE): LB Kenneth Murray, Oklahoma
The Chargers trade up with New England to snag Murray, a linebacker with coverage range and sideline-to-sideline ability. Murray upgrades one of the few weak points on this Los Angeles roster.
#24 New Orleans Saints: G/C Cesar Ruiz, Michigan
The Saints do not have many obvious roster holes, so they add another piece to their already-strong front along the offensive line. Ruiz can play guard or center, and is the best interior offensive lineman in his class.
#25 TRADE–San Francisco 49ers (via MIN): WR Brandon Aiyuk, Arizona St.
A rare, short but lengthy receiver, Aiyuk is said by scouts to be an elite after the catch athlete. This should add some pop to a San Francisco passing game that vastly depends on short to intermediate routes.
#26 TRADE–Green Bay Packers (Via HOU): QB Jordan Love, Utah St.
The shocker of the night. Love’s slide comes to an end with Green Bay trading up for what they hope is their future franchise quarterback. Green Bay decides to spend a premium pick on Aaron Rodgers’ successor, despite many objections to the decision among Cheeseheads.
#27 Seattle Seahawks: LB Jordyn Brooks, Texas Tech
A surprise pick to some, Brooks is a fast linebacker that was a standout at Texas Tech. It was a tad unexpected that Seattle didn’t choose to address either the offensive or defensive lines, but its hard to question the team’s track record under Pete Carroll of developing players on defense.
#28 Baltimore Ravens: LB Patrick Queen, LSU
Queen joins a long line of highly drafted Ravens linebackers, and if history tells us anything, the LSU linebacker is destined for success. Traits that scouts point out about Queen include his excellent field vision and his ability to make open field tackles.
#29 Tennesee Titans: OT Isaiah Wilson, Georgia
A potential starter at right tackle, Wilson will look to fill the shoes of the departed Jack Conklin for Tennessee. The Titans could have went elsewhere, but adding reinforcements in the trenches is rarely a bad idea.
#30 TRADE–Miami Dolphins (Via GB): CB Noah Igbinoghene, Auburn
While some question the pick given that corner was arguably Miami’s biggest strength, perhaps the Dolphins are looking at the 49ers model and how they stockpiled talent along their defensive line and attempting to do the same in the secondary with cornerbacks Xavien Howard, Byron Jones and now Igbinoghene.
#31 TRADE–Minnesota Vikings (Via SF): CB Jeff Gladney, TCU
Gladney is Minnesota’s second selection, as yet another cornerback goes off the board in round one. Gladney gives Mike Zimmer a great Xavier Rhodes replacement.
#32 Kansas City Chiefs: RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire, LSU
We pondered the idea of a runningback sneaking into the 1st-round in our recent draft article, and while one was taken Thursday night, it was not the one expected. Kansas City, a team with an abundance of offensive resources, adds a multi-purpose runningback with shades of Maurice Jones-Drew to their arsenal in Edwards-Helaire. The Super Bowl Champions are in great shape for a repeat.
1st-Round Positional Breakdown:
6 Wide Receivers
0 Tight Ends
6 Offensive Tackles
1 Interior Offensive Lineman
2 Edge Players
2 Defensive Tackles
4 Inside Linebackers