Open Rants by NoHeroes94




2020 NFL Draft Awards - Round By Round
Published at 7/7/2020
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Hi, all. I thought I would do a run-down of the NFL draft by handing out awards – good, bad, or ugly – round-by-round. This was influenced by the brilliant rookie forecasts by Charlie Campbell, and I thought it would be interesting to do a similar breakdown by round.

Awards:

Rounds 1 – 4: Best Overall Pick, Worst Overall, Steal of the Round, Reach of the Round, Best Trade Acquisition, Worst Trade Acquisition, 'Marriage Made in Heaven' (Best Fit), 'WTF?' (Worst Fit), Potential Boom Pick, Potential Bust Pick

Rounds 5 – 7: Best Overall Pick, Steal of the Round, Marriage Made in Heaven’ (Best Fit) and Potential Boom Pick (at this point, I don’t think anyone who doesn’t pick it isn’t a true bust, and you see so many odd picks and trades that it would be really difficult to track it).

Finally, there are some instances where players win more than 1 award, but by and large I try and spread out awards. For example, if someone wins Best Overall Selection and is also a huge steal, expect a different player to win Steal of the Round. Just to keep things fresh.

 

Round 1 Awards

Best Overall Selection

Washington Redskins - Chase Young – Defensive End (Pick #2)

Even though there isn’t any real value in this pick, I couldn’t give this award to anyone else. Chase Young was the best player in this draft class by a country mile. It wasn’t close. Chase Young is a transcending young talent and probably the most talented DE draftee since Jadaveon Clowney. Young looks to be a perennial double-digit sack machine and Pro Bowler. He will be entering a stacked defensive line, and by making this selection the Redskins are putting themselves in a great position to build one of the NFL’s most formidable defences next season. Washington could have exploited a needy team for a king’s ransom, or taken another player, but both would have been mistakes when they could take a prodigal defensive talent.

Honourable Mentions: Kenneth Murray (LB, Chargers); Derrick Brown (DT, Panthers); Isaiah Simmons (LB, Cardinals) Tua Tagovailoa (QB, Dolphins)


Worst Overall Selection

Green Bay Packers - Jordan Love – Quarterback, Utah State (Pick #26)

This pick was horrid on so many levels, and easily the worst pick of the 1st round. It could be franchise altering. Despite excessive media attention, Jordan Love is an incredibly flawed prospect who shouldn’t have been taken in the 1st round at all. I don’t hate Love – he has some decent physical tools and athletic upside which makes him a 2nd to 3rd round developmental option – but he has awful intangibles and feel for the game. In terms of field vision, football IQ and decision making he is as raw as they come and had a woeful season last year. This is a reach of huge proportions, and provides no value.

Then we get to team factors. The Packers were just 1 game away from the Super Bowl in 2019, and with a really solid class of wide receivers and Linebackers – both positions that failed them in the 2019 playoffs – they should have taken advantage of this opportunity. Instead, they completely wasted their 1st round pick (and indeed the majority of the draft). Then we get to Aaron Rodgers. Whilst he may not be at his peak anymore, Rodgers is still a top-5 calibre QB and a future HOF’er who would have had a 3-5 year championship window. You can cut that to a 1-2 year window now, and with no additional help being added around him, that window isn’t wide open anymore. Matt LaFleur seemed to get more out of Rodgers in 2019 so it’s really surprising they are looking to move on from him when he seems capable of playing for several more years.  I would sort of understand the Packers ushering the new era in sooner if Tua or Herbert happened to freefall, but Love isn’t close to the ceiling or talent level of either prospect.

Even if they do sit Love for 3 years, they would be completely wasting his rookie contract. Redshirting QBs during their rookie year can be a great tactic for them to learn and grow (i.e. Patrick Mahomes & Lamar Jackson), but doing so for 2-3 years means a front office is far more limited in utilising their cheaper rookie contract to build a Super Bowl team around them (not that I think Love is good enough to warrant such an opportunity). This is a terrible pick for a variety of reasons, and binds the Packers into a bad situation. Short of winning a Super Bowl, drafting Jordan Love will have been a mistake.

Dishonourable Mentions: Henry Ruggs III (WR, Raiders); Noah Igbinoghene (CB, Dolphins); Damon Arnette (CB, Raiders)


Steal of the Round

Dallas Cowboys - CeeDee Lamb – Wide Receiver, Oklahoma (Pick #17)

There were a few really good-value selections in the middle of the 1st round, and I think Patrick Queen to Baltimore was a very close 2nd towards the end, but this pick was particularly noteworthy given how blue-chip the player is. Lamb was considered by at least half of the NFL community to be the best receiving prospect available, and everyone else felt he was the 2nd best prospect just behind Jeudy. I had Lamb has the 7th best player available full stop. However, the Jaguars, Jets, 49ers and Broncos all went in a different direction, and the Raiders reached on the inferior Ruggs at #12, meaning that Lamb slid down the board.

Many people felt that Lamb could have gone as early as #9 overall, and for sure should have gone in the #11 – 15 range, so to reach #17 is tremendous value for the Cowboys. A lot of teams could end up regretting passing on CeeDee Lamb as he is one of the best players in the entire draft class. Dallas already has 2 really good receivers, so Lamb may not see 1,000 yard seasons for the first year or two. However, that doesn’t change how outstanding this value is, as CeeDee Lamb has very clear #1 receiver upside and could replace Cooper’s mega contract if he outperforms him (which is very possible). Although I don’t like Mike McCarthy much as a head coach, the Packers drafted very well under his regime, and Dallas absolutely nailed this draft too.

Honourable Mentions: Patrick Queen (LB, Ravens); Kenneth Murray (LB, Chargers); Justin Jefferson (WR, Vikings)


Reach of the Round

Atlanta Falcons - AJ Terrell – Cornerback, Clemson (Pick #16)

This is one of the more subjective reach awards in this blog, as there weren’t a ton of egregious reaches in the 1st round of the 2020 NFL Draft. The 3 most notable reaches to me were AJ Terrell to the Falcons, Jordan Love to the Packers and Damon Arnette to the Raiders. Despite Arnette being a reach, I actually think his talent level warrants that of a mid-to-low-1st round selection – his reach was more to do with off-field issues and the fact other teams in the 20’s weren’t considering him, equating to a poor value pick despite the potential. Meanwhile, I think Terrell and Love simply don’t possess the skill-set of 1st round prospects. On the basis that I’ve already branded Love the worst pick of the entire 1st round, I’ll give this dubious honour to AJ Terrell.

I feel similarly about AJ Terrell that Walt here at WF felt about Kristian Fulton during this process. I am of the opinion that he isn’t stellar at anything in particular, and is a bit of a jack of all trades/master of none. He also allows way too much separation from this year’s draftable receivers, and his decision-making question marks are really concerning. He was absolutely burned at times during his senior season, to the point where he should have been benched in the championship game against LSU. I’ve read he had a bad fever during that game, which mitigates this criticism partially.

I don’t think Terrell will be a complete bust in the NFL. However, for the #16 overall pick, his ceiling in the NFL is rather low – he probably won’t become a shutdown corner, and may cap out as an average #2 or slot corner. I had Arnette, Diggs, Igbinoghene & Gladney all graded ahead of him, so it was really questionable that Atlanta settled for Terrell so high. Atlanta should have traded down – at the very least 6 spots- if Terrell was truly their guy. The other issue with this pick is the complete late of foresight into how deep the CB class was on Day 2, and they missed out on some stellar 1st round stalwarts in the process. For example, K’Lavon Chaisson and all linebacker apart from Isaiah Simmons were still on the board. Whilst Marlon Davidson was a solid find in the 2nd round, K’Lavon Chaisson/Kenneth Murray and Trevon Diggs/Jaylon Johnson would have been a far better haul than Terrell/Davidson.

Dishonourable Mentions: Damon Arnette (CB, Raiders); Jordan Love (QB, Packers); Noah Igbinoghene (CB, Dolphins)


Best Trade Acquisition

Los Angeles Chargers – Kenneth Murray – Linebacker, Oklahoma (Pick #23)

Outside of Chase Young, this was my favourite pick of the 1st round period. I absolutely love Kenneth Murray as a pro prospect, and I think he could be the one of the safest bets to reach a Pro Bowl within his rookie deal. Murray can do everything as a linebacker; he can play WILL, MIKE or SAM, is a tremendous tackler, a great leader, fast and physical without being undisciplined. Had this draft not had Isaiah Simmons – a truly generational young defensive talent – I think Murray would have gone several spots higher. I wouldn’t have criticised the Raiders, Broncos, Falcons or Jaguars taking him in the #12 – 20 range, although all had other needs they needed to address, meaning Murray fell. What makes me love this pick even more is the calculated aggressiveness of the trade. The Chargers knew that the Saints, Seahawks, Packers and Ravens were all going to be picking more-or-less consecutively, and all could have feasibly taken Murray (2 ended up taking alternate LB prospects). The Chargers took control of their own destiny and made the brave – but very necessary – move up for him.

Honourable Mentions – Javon Kinlaw (DT, 49ers); Jeff Gladney (CB, Vikings); Tristan Wirfs (OT, Buccaneers)


Worst Trade Acquisition

Green Bay Packers – Jordan Love – Quarterback, Utah State (Pick #26)


I am trying to spread out and not duplicate awards wherever possible, but the Jordan Love pick was obviously the worst trade acquisition. The Packers not only made the litany of mistakes covered previously, but traded up for the (dis)pleasure, which sealed it as the worst pick of the 2020 NFL draft in my eyes. They were already in the 1st round at #30 and there was virtually no chance that any of the other teams left in the 1st round would have taken him, so they gave up needless resources – they also can’t use the 5th year option as a justification on this basis, as they would have had it anyway. They also moved up for a player they should have never taken in the 1st round at their natural spot anyway, given the state of their franchise.

Dishonourable Mentions – Noah Igbinoghene (CB, Dolphins)


‘Marriage Made in Heaven’ Pick (Best Fit)

Baltimore Ravens – Patrick Queen – Linebacker, LSU (Pick #28)


If it wasn’t for CeeDee Lamb falling, this would have also gotten the steal of the round award. The Baltimore Ravens’ superb front office continuously preys on the weak decisions of teams drafting ahead of them, and they proved this time and time again this year – practically every pick they made was a player who should have gone earlier, but didn’t because of the stupidity of others.

The Ravens have a superb roster on both sides of the ball heading into 2020, but the two most notable holes are at interior OL and linebacker. Their only viable option in the former regard was Cesar Ruiz, who went off the board 4 picks prior to the Saints, so they remained calm and stood pat hoping that either Patrick Queen or possibly Jordyn Brooks fell to them. Fortunately for them Patrick Queen did, and is the best player of all mentioned anyway, so he may have been the plan all along presuming Kenneth Murray clearly wasn’t getting to #28. He is a tremendous fit both in terms of need and his compatibility with Matt Judon, who they franchise tagged. Queen can either replace Judon in a year or form a formidable tandem with him. He should beautifully fill their linebacking corps with a much needed injection of youth and upside. Queen should have never fallen to #28, and for the Saints, Packers and Seahawks to all pass on him after Kenneth Murray was taken off the board shows really questionable decision making.

Honourable Mentions – Jedrick Wills Jr. (OT, Browns); Javon Kinlaw (DT, 49ers); Isaiah Wilson (OT, Titans)


‘WTF’ Pick (Worst Fit)

Seattle Seahawks
Jordyn Brooks – Linebacker, Texas Tech (Pick #27)

I’m really conflicted by this award, because I love Jordyn Brooks as a player. Whilst he was consistently mocked in the 2nd round by most (including myself), I would have applauded the Packers and Ravens taking Brooks had Murray & Queen both been taken, so I don’t think this is a big reach in terms of value. My issue is that Seattle is a very odd fit for him. I get that the 1st round isn’t always the time to address primary needs, but the Seahawks don’t just have a good linebacking corps, rather a great one. They have one of the better linebacking duos in the NFL with KJ Wright and Bobby Wagner; the latter in particular is now probably the best MIKE linebacker in the entire league post-Keuchly. Brooks will either have to play slightly out of position or on a heavily rotational basis as the former are likely to remain united for at least another 2 years. What makes this choice weirder again is that Patrick Queen was still available (read above), and as much as I like Brooks, Queen is the more talented and versatile prospect. This was a very odd selection.

Dishonourable Mentions –Jordan Love (QB, Packers); Cesar Ruiz (C/G, Saints); Damon Arnette (CB, Raiders)


Potential Boom Pick

San Francisco 49ers – Javon Kinlaw – Defensive Tackle, South Carolina (Pick #14)

There are a ton of excellent players I considered for this pick, and in the 1st round, you could expect 10+ players to be franchise-changing boom-potential players.  However, proportionate to where he was drafted, I think that Javon Kinlaw could really pan out into an excellent selection for the 49ers.

Kinlaw has slight durability concerns entering the next level, but is one of the best athletes in the entire class – on top of this, he is also a well-rounded player with supreme ability and talent, as well as a good work ethic. I am of the opinion that Kinlaw should have been taken earlier – the Jaguars may regret passing on him in particular, as there was a lot of CB depth later in the draft, as they possessed the #20 pick also. Kinlaw possesses an Aaron Donald-esque ability to rush the QB from the interior to a very impressive level whilst also being highly effective in stuffing the run. Along the 49ers already dominant defensive line he will laterally replace Buckner. Make no mistake, they will obviously miss him, as Buckner is a top-3 DT in the league, but Kinlaw will make this loss as painless as possible and is really as good as the 49ers could have hoped to have come out of this situation.

Given the quality of San Francisco’s defensive front, Kinlaw will get the opportunity to start very early, get plenty of 1-on-1 matchups, and to get a lot of sacks/tackles for loss. Don’t be shocked if Kinlaw gets the 49ers’ 2nd consecutive DROTY if Chase Young gets hurt.

Honourable Mentions – Derrick Brown (DT, Panthers); Isaiah Simmons (LB, Panthers); Kenneth Murray (LB, Chargers)


Potential Bust Pick

Las Vegas Raiders – Henry Ruggs III – Wide Receiver, Alabama (Pick #12)

The Raiders had a really poor 1st round, but I hated this selection in particular. Aside from Jordan Love, I always felt that Ruggs was one of the most over-rated offensive prospects. Whilst he is a 1st round talent due to his athleticism, I don’t think he is a very gifted football player and should have been taken in the deep teens or even 20’s. As he was picked so high, Ruggs will be deemed a big disappointment if he doesn’t become a bonafide #1 WR, and the chances of him capping out below that is high in my opinion. Pure speed receivers at the next level really concern me – case in point, John Ross in 2017.

Whilst I think Ruggs is a better player than Ross, he isn’t as good as Jeudy or Lamb, who were both available and true #1 receiving talents with greater physique, talent and intangibles. I think the case could easily be made for Jefferson over Ruggs, or even Aiyuk/Reagor over Ruggs. Ruggs also happens to be extremely raw, and whilst this isn’t always a huge issue, he will be forced to play very early on in his career. Ruggs could quite easily cap out as a #2 - #3 speed option rather than a true franchise-leading receiver, and isn’t entering a great situation in Las Vegas either with Derek Carr as his QB. I could end up being very wrong, but for now, I think there is a lot of bust potential with this pick.

Dishonourable Mentions – Jordan Love (QB, Packers); AJ Terrell (CB, Falcons); Jalen Reagor (WR, Eagles)


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Round 2 Awards


Best Overall Selection

Carolina Panthers – Yetur Gross-Matos – Defensive End, Penn State (Pick #38)


The 2nd round was the strongest round of the draft in my opinion, and the majority of selections in the top half of the 2nd round were excellent, with the talent taken comparable (if not better) than the back half of the 1st round. There are many players who should have gone in the 1st round – D’Andre Swift, Jonathan Taylor, and Xavier McKinney being but a few notable candidates. However, Yetur Gross-Matos was a player I had in the 1st round in every single iteration of my mock draft without fail, and given his talent, I am awarding best pick of the 2nd round award to the Panthers.

I was really surprised Gross-Matos fell out of the 1st round. Whilst Chaisson was always likely to get drafted slightly higher due to his booming 2019 season, I actually had Gross-Matos graded as my 2nd best DE of this class. I believe he is a much safer pick than Chaisson with roughly equivalent upside. Even for those who disagree, with the amount of teams in need of pass-rush support, and the general weakness of this EDGE crop, I was quite surprised so many passed on Gross-Matos. There were some minor character concerns after hazing allegations during his time at Penn State, which presumably contributed to his slide, but it never really manifested into a legitimate legal case, and proportionate to what other players in previous drafts have been affiliated with it was really nothing noteworthy. He seems solid otherwise, and on the field, Gross-Matos is a very productive player with good technique and superb athletic ability. He is a tenacious player and will form a really nice tandem with fellow defensive line draftee Derrick Brown. The Panthers in general nailed this draft, so kudos to them.

Honourable Mentions: D’Andre Swift (RB, Lions); Jonathan Taylor (RB, Colts); Xavier McKinney (S, Giants)

Worst Overall Selection

Philadelphia Eagles – Jalen Hurts – Quarterback, Oklahoma (Pick #53)


This isn’t quite as bad as the Jordan Love pick, because a mid-to-low 2nd round pick naturally doesn’t have the same franchise-shaking consequences. However, it’s close. Carson Wentz is a stud, and one of the best franchise QBs in the NFL. Wentz should be the franchise QB of the Eagles for the next 10+ years, health depending. Health is the only real question around the otherwise proven Wentz, so having a solid backup such as Nick Foles and Josh McCown has proven to be important for Philadelphia. Drafting a mid-round talent with some potential as a solid backup – e.g., Jacob Eason or James Morgan – would have made a lot of sense as a cheaper alternative to Foles/McCown. However, taking a QB in the 2nd round usually indicates there is a realistic opportunity for them to compete for the starting job, or be a feasible succession option for an aging QB. Neither case applies here, so this provides very poor value from that standpoint alone.

Additionally, the prospect they’ve chosen is horrible. Jalen Hurts is extremely questionable as a QB entering the next level, as he is a college-scheme QB who has virtually no ability to read progressions. He also has limited upside and bad decision making, so I’m not even sure he can become a capable backup. Hurts is an inferior talent to the other mid-round prospects named above, and shouldn’t have been picked in the 2nd (even 3rd) round. Had Hurts not played with an offense filled with NFL-calibre players at both Alabama and Oklahoma, Hurts likely wouldn’t even be considered a draftable NFL prospect.

As nicely summarised by Charlie Campbell, the Eagles will ideally never play Hurts. Investing a pick in the first 3 rounds on a player you never want to start has no value whatsoever. The Eagles have a present championship window and an excellent roster, so this feels like a completely redundant/wasted pick. So disappointing.

Honourable Mentions: AJ Dillon (RB, Packers); Cole Kmet (TE, Bears); Willie Gay (LB, Chiefs)


Steal of the Round

Buffalo Bills – AJ Epenesa – Defensive End, Iowa (Pick #54)

Picks #53 and #54 couldn’t have been further apart. There were some tremendous value selection in the 2nd round, but AJ Epenesa was a monumental steal, and another example of how well the Bills have drafted in recent years. Epenesa is another player I consistently had in the 1st round for the longest time. Overall, I largely understand why Epenesa dropped out of the 1st round – he has some capped upside, and didn’t test well at the combine. However he is an utter dog in the trenches who works tremendously hard and uses the tools he’s got very well. With this being a weak edge rushing class, I thought there was a chance he would still go at the death in the 1st round. Then, I thought it was likely he would go before #40. F for him to fall to the foot of the 2nd round weak, pre-draft process or not, was a huge surprise,

What makes this pick even better is that Epenesa will be entering a very good situation in Buffalo, who have quietly built one of the best defences in the NFL, with a much underrated secondary, a solid linebacking corps and potentially having a Pro Bowl-calibre defensive tackle in Ed Oliver. Whilst I don’t think Epenesa will be a perennial Pro Bowler or a sack monster, he will be a solid starter with a pretty high floor, which for a late 2nd round pick is excellent.

Honourable Mentions: Trevon Diggs (CB, Cowboys); Cam Akers (RB, Rams); Yetur Gross-Matos (DE, Panthers);


Reach of the Round

Green Bay Packers – AJ Dillon – Running Back, Boston College (Pick #62)

The Packers had an abysmal draft that continued throughout Day 2. This is runner up to Jalen Hurts as the worst pick of the 2nd round (as is Jalen Hurts the runner up here as the biggest reach), which shows just how bad the Packers’ front office performed this year. AJ Dillon appears to be a rotational power back at best, and just an average one at that. I had him graded in the 4th – 5th round.

Despite being a big player he isn’t as strong or athletic as you would think, and had hyper-inflated stats at Boston College as he was an over-used workhorse (which may also affect his career-span in the pros) After the terrible mistake the Packers made in the 1st round, you would have thought they would have taken a secondary upgrade or athletic linebacker to help them out here, but instead drafted yet another over-rated player in yet another a position they didn’t need. From Rounds 1 – 3, the Packers have made barely any improvements to their roster, which is shocking. They could have made 20+ better selections than this one, which is inexcusable.

Dishonourable Mentions: Jalen Hurts (QB, Eagles); Ezra Cleveland (OT, Vikings); Darrell Taylor (DE, Seahawks)


Best Trade Acquisition

Indianapolis Colts – Jonathan Taylor – Running Back, Wisconsin (Pick #41)

This was an outstanding trade. With Jacksonville picking before Indianapolis’ natural position, and Tampa Bay/Pittsburgh both more than capable of moving ahead of them, the Colts gave a mere Day 3 pick to move ahead of them all and take a complimentary running back to pair with Marlon Mack. Taylor may well end up being the #1 RB in Lucas Oil Stadium as early as his 1st or 2nd  season, as he is an outstanding prospect and one of the more underrated prospects in the draft – with a brilliant mix of athleticism, natural ability and work ethic. In terms of pure talent, there is no question that Taylor should have gone much earlier than this, probably 1st round. However, given how recent high-selection running backs have deteriorated recently (e.g. Todd Gurley & Melvin Gordon) several good backs have dropped to Day 2 in this draft. Taylor, Swift, Akers and Moss could all become terrific running backs for their respective franchises.

Honourable Mentions: Kyle Dugger (S, Patriots); Grant Delpit (S, Browns)


Worst Trade

Seattle Seahawks – Darrell Taylor – Defensive End, Tennessee (Pick #48)

This pick was a slight reach anyway as I viewed Taylor as a 3rd round prospect.  I wouldn’t have hated it if Seattle stayed at their original spot 10-picks or so down, and I like the player, but to move up 10 spots to makes this an egregious reach. I am of the belief that the Seahawks wanted Marlon Davidson, and panicked when the Falcons took him one selection prior to where they ended up trading to. Meanwhile, I don’t think anyone would have taken Taylor before their natural spot anyway, and even if they did, there were plenty of comparable talents who ended up going in the 3rd – 4th round. The Seahawks had no need to trade the farm for a non-premium EDGE rusher, especially when this isn’t a great class at the position.

Dishonourable Mentions: Denzel Mims (WR, Jets)


‘Marriage Made in Heaven’ Pick (Best Fit)

New England Patriots – Kyle Dugger – Safety, Lenoir-Rhyne (Pick #37
)

Similar to why I loved the Colts’ trade so much, I thought that Kyle Dugger was one of the more underrated media prospects entering the draft. He built up his deserved buzz in the scouting community, though, due to his stellar combine, upside and excellent tape. Due to his lower level competition I thought he could have dropped. Fortunately, the Patriots saw sense, and took him as the 2nd safety behind Xavier McKinney a mere pick earlier, which is precisely how I had both prospects graded. The Patriots needed to make a safety upgrade after trading away Duron Harmon, and Kyle Dugger gives them tremendous versatility in this regard, similar to what Harmon offered. They traded down over a dozen spots too, so that has to be commended as well. Dugger is a very physical and naturally gifted player who could end up playing similar to Jamal Adams and being used as a sub-package linebacker. Alongside their otherwise superb secondary, the Patriots defense has a nice injection of youth and talent for 2020.

Honourable Mentions: Yetur Gross-Matos (DE, Panthers); Xavier McKinney (S, Giants), Grant Delpit (S, Browns)


‘WTF?’ Pick (Worst Fit)

Chicago Bears – Cole Kmet – Tight End, Notre Dame (Pick #43)


This could easily be argued as Hurts or Dillon, and should probably be Hurts by the letter of the law, but for the sake of variance I’m going with Cole Kmet here. Ryan Pace has a very mixed history with tight ends, continuously signing aging or injury prone players at the position (Trey Burton/Jimmy Graham), and/or drafting tight ends with questionable instincts and limited ceilings (Adam Shaheen/Cole Kmet). Adam Trautman, Albert Okwuegbunam and Dalton Keene should have all been selected before Kmet, who is a decent but limited player with a lower ceiling than other available prospects. All of the above prospects went in the 3rd round or later in this notoriously weak TE class, showing clear that the Bears could have waited a significant amount of time and made a more valuable mid-round addition to their Tight End corps. This pick is exaggerated when considering their other 2nd round pick – Jaylon Johnson – was a slight steal, an underrated player, and filling a far greater need. The Tight End room in Chicago is backed up, so Kmet might not see significant playing time early. Weak choice.

Dishonourable Mentions: AJ Dillon (RB, Packers); Jalen Hurts (QB, Eagles); Darrell Taylor (DE, Seahawks)


Potential Boom Pick

Detroit Lions – D’Andre Swift – Running Back, Georgia (Pick #35)

This is the equivalent of the CeeDee Lamb pick in the 1st round, so I very nearly gave this steal of the round – however, I get the logic in running backs falling due to durability and recent panics at the position (i.e. Todd Gurley).

D’Andre Swift was the consensus best running back in this draft class, yet due to fit as a receiving back, Clyde Edwards-Helaire was the first back taken with the final pick of the 1st round to fit into Andy Reid’s offense. Swift is a high-calibre running back prospect, who could have been drafted as high as #18 overall. Similar to Jonathan Taylor Swift was a bonafide 1st round talent, so this is first a huge steal. What is more, Swift has more athletic ability than his former teammate Nick Chubb, who is an elite running back with the Cleveland Brown, and grades comparably to Josh Jacobs who was very good for the Raiders as a rookie, so this has tremendous upside as a pick and could revolutionise Detroit’s offense.

The Lions haven’t had a great running back in many, many years. Kerryon Johnson is fairly talented but is highly susceptible to injury, and will likely never be able to take a full workload. Swift is the complete antithesis of that – he is very talented, and will be able to take 20+ carries a game. I was really surprised the Dolphins passed on Swift at #30, as they were apparently enamoured with him – perhaps they felt a slot cornerback upgrade was more important, and as they were also selecting 4 picks after this, were perhaps hoping Swift would fall to them. Meanwhile, the Lions needed to make several other upgrades, but rightfully couldn’t miss out on the opportunity of drafting Swift.

Honourable Mentions: Cam Akers (RB, Rams); Trevon Diggs (CB, Cowboys); Kyle Dugger (S, Patriots)


Potential Bust Pick

Philadelphia Eagles - Jalen Hurts – Quarterback, Oklahoma (Pick #53)


I will keep this brief, as I’ve already slated Hurts as a prospect in the above ‘worst pick overall’ selection of the round. Hurts has extremely limited potential as an NFL QB due to his inability to read progressions, his one and run approach to plays, and his highly questionable instincts. He also isn’t a very good passer in general, has only average accuracy, and equally possesses some reasonable athleticism, although nothing to mitigate his weak passing tools. Hurts won a lot in college, but also went to 2 of the most powerful college programs in the US, so that doesn’t have much to do with him. Hurts seems like a 2nd – 3rd string QB in the NFL, and the Eagles wasted this pick.

Dishonourable Mentions – AJ Dillon (RB, Packers); Laviska Shenault Jr. (WR, Jaguars); Tee Higgins (WR, Bengals)


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Round 3 Awards

Best Overall Selection

New Orleans Saints – Zach Baun – Linebacker, Wisconsin (Pick #74)


I was critical of the Saints not taking a linebacker in the 1st round, but they made amends for it with this tremendous pick – albeit by luck rather than by design. Baun is a premium 2nd round prospect, and if he went #33 overall to the Bengals I wouldn’t have critised it. He should have for sure gone later in the 2nd round, so this freefall was really odd. Granted, he had a diluted sample at the combine, but so did Mekhi Becton, and his stock didn’t really decrease. I had Zach Baun as the 4th best linebacker on the board, and I think several teams – namely the Bengals and Chiefs, who selected other Day 2 linebackers before Baun– will really regret passing on him.

Honourable Mentions: Josh Jones (OT, Cardinals); Justin Madubuike (DT, Ravens); Matt Hennessey (C, Temple)


Worst Overall Selection

Miami Dolphins – Brandon Jones – Safety, Texas (Pick #70)


This was one of the most egregious reaches of the entire draft, irrespective of the round. Brandon Jones was consistently pegged as a Day 3 prospect. The Dolphins have a need at safety, and had a decent draft overall, so I wouldn’t have been too critical if they took a 4th round prospect or something, but Jones is almost draftable. The Dolphins missed out on some far superior talent – i.e. the above Zach Baun – with this pick. Jones looks to be a complete bust at the next level with virtually no upside and painfully bad instincts.

Dishonourable Mentions: Bryan Edwards (WR, Raiders); Jonah Jackson (G, Lions); Josiah Deguara (TE, Packers)


Steal of the Round

Arizona Cardinals – Josh Jones – Offensive Tackle, Houston (Pick #72)


The Cardinals came up smelling like roses after the first 2 days of the draft. After selecting a top-3 player 8th overall in the 1st round, they were also able to improve their offensive line with a prospect they might have taken a whole round earlier. Much of the media had Josh Jones mocked consistently in the 1st round –  I considered Josh Jones the 6th best OT and a fringe 1st/2nd round prospect. Whilst he has some physical limitations he was an outstanding college player and has plenty of tools to work with, so I was really surprised he fell this far. The Cardinals needed some insurance on the OL as its below-par at best, so it’s also up there in terms of fit. Brilliant pick.

Honourable Mentions: Zach Baun (LB, Saints); Adam Trautman (TE, Saints); Justin Madibuike (DT, Ravens)


Reach of the Round

Miami Dolphins – Brandon Jones – Safety, Texas (Pick #70)

Nothing more to really add that what I mentioned above.

Dishonourable Mentions: Josiah Deguara (TE, Packers); Jonah Jackson (G, Lions); Damien Lewis (G, Seahawks)


Best Trade Acquisition


Baltimore Ravens – Justin Madubuike – Defensive End, Texas A&M (Pick #71)

This was in the running to be my steal of the round and also best fit of the round, so let’s award it as the best trade acquisition. Madibuike is a player with high-2nd round potential, but slid due to injury and reported character issues. The Ravens have a really good track record of working with problematic players, and Madubuike is extremely talented, so this is a very nice fit and a pick with a lot of upside. Aside from Derrick Brown, Madubuike stood out in particular as having a very good combine workout. The Ravens have a decent but aging and expensive defensive front, largely assembled of off-season acquisitions, so it was really important the Ravens added some young talent to eventually take over the reins. As usual, the Ravens knocked it out of the park with this pick.

Honourable Mentions: Zach Baun (LB, Saints)


Worst Trade Acquisition

Detroit Lions – Jonah Jackson – Guard, Ohio State (Pick #75)


This pick got hyped because of the program Jackson came from, but OSU candidly had average OL talent last year. They traded up 10 spots for a player with very questionable instincts and one who is painfully raw; what’s more, Jackson doesn’t have very good upside. Similar to Seattle, it would have been a slight if not egregious reach at their natural position, but dramatically trading up for Jackson was very disappointing. It was particularly inexcusable considering the litany of very decent IOL prospects drafted in the 4th round such as Solomon Kindley, Ben Bartch and Ben Bredeson, who were all great steals.

Honourable Mentions – Ashtyn Davis (S, Jets); Devin Asaisi (TE, Patriots); Damien Lewis (G, Seahawks)


'
Marriage Made in Heaven’ Pick (Best Fit)

New Orleans Saints - Adam Trautman – Tight End, Dayton (Pick #105)


I agree with Walt wholeheartedly that Adam Trautman was the best TE in this year’s draft, and a potential 2nd round prospect, yet he was the 5th taken off the board, so you could actually argue this was one of the bigger steals too. However, in terms of fit, this is a wonderful selection. The Saints are devoid at Tight End aside for Jared Cook, a competent but injury prone journeyman. Trautman should be a starter very quickly in his career, and whilst I don’t think he’ll ever become an elite player, he should be a solid starter for years to come. This Is Brees’ final chance at a 2nd Super Bowl, so it was really important for the Saints to make a TE upgrade, and they’ve achieved this with the best prospect at the position.

Honourable Mentions: Cameron Dantzler (CB, Vikings); Lloyd Cushenberry (C, Broncos); Jabari Zuniga (DE, Jets)


'WTF?' Pick (Worst Fit)

Washington Redskins – Antonio Gibson – Running Back, Memphis (Pick #66)

I think Gibson in the 3rd round is fine, if a bit of a minor reach. However, the pick is really weird because Washington already have one of the most inflated RB rooms in the league, and a 3rd round pick is quite a valuable choice. Adrian Peterson is a future HOF’er coming towards the end of his career, but they also have Derrius Guice and Bryce Love – two supremely talented players. They are also extremely injury prone, but have Peyton Barber to cover in this regard. I don’t think Gibson is better than Barber, so he will likely become a rotational backup at best.

Dishonourable Mentions: Bryan Edwards (WR, Raiders)


Potential Boom Pick

Baltimore Ravens – Justin Madubuike – Defensive End, Texas A&M (Pick #71)


I nearly went with Zach Moss here, which would have been my runner-up, as I think Zach Moss could be one of the better running backs in this draft class. However, I would be doing it for the pure sake of variance. I love Madubuike and I think he has late 1st-round upside, so I need to give him a 2nd award. His boom may come later, as the Ravens made some solid acquisitions in free agency – Derek Wolfe and Calais Campbell will instantly improve their previously average defensive line, nearly adding Michael Brockers to that mix too. However, those guys likely will only stay with Baltimore for 1 – 3 years. Madubuike can clean up his game, learn, and just focus on football with some brilliant mentors to guide him through his early years, whilst getting some play time. By year 3, I think Madibuike could be an extremely good starter with Pro Bowler potential. He is explosive, physical and a superb run defender. One of my favourite Day 2 picks.

Honourable Mentions: Jordan Elliott (DT, Browns); Justin Madibuike (DT, Ravens); Zach Baun (LB, Saints)


Potential Bust Pick

New York Jets – Ashtyn Davis – Safety, California (Pick #68)

Davis was very overrated in the pre-draft process, and I always found the media’ affinity for him forced. He doesn’t do anything particularly well, and is a weak tackler with questionable intangibles. I really don’t rate him as prospect at the next level (I think he was a 5th round talent). The Jets need safety help desperately, especially with Jamal Adams likely leaving via a blockbuster trade, but Davis will pale in comparison. Davis has an extremely low floor, will be badly coached by the incompetent Adam Gase, and will be forced to start too early if Adams is traded. New York seems to be a disaster waiting to happen.

Honourable Mentions: Terrell Lewis (LB, Rams), Julian Blackmon (S, Colts); Jonah Jackson (G, Lions)


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Round 4 Awards

Best Overall Selection

Solomon Kindley – Guard, Georgia (Pick #111)


Despite the concerns around him, I still viewed Solomon Kindley as a mid-2nd round prospect, so this was highway robbery from the Dolphins. Kindley is a bit heavy and sloppy in his technique, but he also has so much potential with the right coaching and conditioning. He helped form a formidable offensive line at Georgia alongside 1st-round teammates Andrew Thomas and Isaiah Wilson. Kindley was a big reason that Swift was able to play so well, as he constantly opened holes for him. He has a somewhat low floor, but I think that he also has Pro Bowl potential, which for the 4th round is an instant A+. In the ground game, Kindley is a demon and was my favourite guard in the entire process, even above Cesar Ruiz. To get him in the 4th round is a big plus for Miami, who needed to make several OL upgrades this off-season to sort out their putrid protection for whenever Tua is healthy to start.

Honourable Mentions: James Morgan (QB, Jets); Ben Bredeson (G, Ravens); Logan Stenberg (G, Lions)


Worst Overall Selection

Atlanta Falcons – Jaylinn Hawkins – Safety, California (Pick #134
)

I’m not sure what it is with Golden Bear safeties and hype, but to me, Hawkins simply wasn’t a draftable prospect. He is slow and very raw. I wouldn’t have minded him as a late round prospect, I guess, but he went multiple rounds too early. The Falcons could have done much better with this pick.

Dishonourable Mentions: John Reid (CB, Texans); Kevin Dotson (G, Steelers); Mykal Walker (LB, Falcons)


Steal of the Round

Dallas Cowboys – Tyler Biadasz – Center, Wisconsin (Pick #146)

This pick and Kindley are practically tied in terms of their ‘steal’ factor, so considering Kindley got best overall selection I’ll award Biadasz steal of the round. Biadasz isn’t seen as a special player, but he is rock-solid with some versatility to play multiple positions on the interior offensive line. Like Kindley, Biadasz was rated by some to be a 2nd round prospect, which is where I had him. I thought he could slip to the 3rd round, but I never thought he’d be the last pick in the 4th. Biadasz should have never been available to the Cowboys, and now he will be able to compete for either the starting job left vacant by Travis Frederick’s retirement, or for a Guard spot given the ineptitude of Connor Williams.

Honourable Mentions: Jacob Eason (QB, Colts); Solomon Kindley (G, Dolphins); James Lynch (DT, Vikings)


Reach of the Round

Atlanta Falcons – Jaylinn Hawkins – Safety, California (Pick #134)


Nothing more to really add that what I mentioned above.

Dishonourable Mentions: Kevin Dotson (G, Steelers); Mykal Walker (LB, Falcons), D.J. Wonnum (DE, Vikings)


Best Trade Acquisition

Minnesota Vikings – James Lynch – Defensive Tackle, Baylor (Pick #130)


I haven’t given the Vikings any awards to date, but only because of other moves by other teams. I thought Minnesota had a top-8 draft, albeit with some mistakes here and there. This was one of my favourite picks. The Vikings lost numerous players on their defensive line, including Linval Joseph at defensive tackle, so the Vikings needed to make an upgrade. Such a replacement was not at hand during the 1st round due to need and the players available, but Lynch in the 4th round provides a ton of value, as this was his absolute floor. The Vikings were smart in trading up for a player to fill a position of need, and Lynch figures to be a strong candidate in competing for the starting job at the position.


Worst Trade Acquisition

Pittsburgh Steelers – Kevin Dotson – Guard, Louisiana-Lafayette (Pick #135)


There were a lot of really good interior offensive line selections in the 4th round of the draft, but this wasn’t one of them. Whilst I completely get the Steelers adding offensive line depth, Dotson was a late round prospect. There was no need to move up for him.


‘Marriage Made in Heaven’ Pick (Best Fit)


Baltimore Ravens – Ben Bredeson – Guard, Michigan (Pick #143)


Walt made a really good point during the live grades in mentioning how many times the Ravens saw stupid teams do stupid things in front of them, and this was once again the case here. The Ravens lost Yanda to retirement, which opened a big hole in their interior offensive line. Whilst they missed out on Cesar Ruiz, they made up for it by taking his former team-mate here. Bredeson is a far superior pick to other interior lineman taken earlier in the draft, and was part of a quality interior offensive line. Bredeson is being taken at the right spot in the 4th round, and whilst he isn’t overly athletic, he is surprisingly polished and good with his hands moving into the next level.

Honourable Mentions: Akeem Davis-Gaither (LB, Bengals); Troy Dye (LB, Vikings); Leki Fotu (DT, Cardinals)


'WTF?' Pick (Worst Fit

Seattle Seahawks – DeeJay Dallas – Running Back, Miami (Pick #144)

This isn’t an indictment on the player – the 4th round feels about right for DeeJay Dallas. Similar to the Washington in Round 3, though, the Seahawks have a really inflated running back corps of Chris Carson, Rashaad Penny, Carlos Hyde and (possibly) Marshawn Lynch. I’m not sure what DeeJay Dallas brings to the table the others do not, and I think this pick could have been better used elsewhere.

Dishonourable Mentions: Cameron Clark (OT, Jets); James Morgan (QB, Jets); Josiah Scott (CB, Jaguars)


Potential Boom Pick

Washington Redskins – Antonio Gandy-Golden – Wide Receiver, Liberty (Pick #142)

Gandy-Golden is a Div II prospect who has level of competition questions, but if he was able to separate more, he would grade out as a high 2nd rounder as he is very talented. Gandy-Golden isn’t being drafted to be a #1 receiver, and as a big-bodied receiver Gandy-Golden will be able to nicely compliment a developing receiving corps in Washington led by Terry McLaurin. He could feasibly become a solid #2 starting receiver with a lot of production, which for a late 4th round pick would be outstanding.


Honourable Mentions: Jacob Eason (QB, Colts); Gabriel Davis (WR, Bills); Albert Okwuegbunam (TE, Broncos)


Potential Bust Pick

Houston Texans – John Reid – Cornerback, Penn State (Pick #141)


Bill ‘What Is a 1st round Pick?’ O’Brien must have had a pact with the Devil over draft weekend, because unlike almost everything else he touches, he didn’t completely butcher the Texans’ draft. Despite this, it wouldn’t be an O’Brien draft class without a blunder or two. Reid is a late-round to UDFA level player who looks capped to special teams. He is slow, has poor athleticism and undersized. Had he gone in the 6th or 7th round (where he should have) I wouldn’t be surprised if he hadn’t made the final roster.

Dishonourable Mentions: Jaylinn Hawkins (S, Falcons); Kevin Dotson (G, Steelers); Mykal Walker (LB, Falcons),


************************************************************


Round 5 Awards

Best Overall Pick

New York Giants – Shane Lemieux – Guard, Oregon (Pick #150)


Rounds 5 – 7 will only have some positive awards. There is no point diving too deep into the final few rounds as most of these players won’t be in the league for more than a few years, and any trades are usually at the cost of nominal compensation. Having said that, there were some nice gems found.

Shane Lemieux in the 5th round is utterly absurd, and of all the players who were drafted below their expected place, Lemieux’s slide was especially puzzling. Some people consistently had Lemieux as a late 1st/early 2nd round selection as late as a month before the draft, and most (including myself) consistently valued him as a solid Day 2 bet. However, to get a starting-calibre player in the 5th round is quite extraordinary. The Giants have a good IOL, but they couldn’t pass on a player that should have been taken 50+ picks before. Lemieux’s fall during the draft is one of the more surprising slides, as there was no real reason I’m aware of – a bunch of guards were drafted before him, too. Perhaps it’s the hair.


Steal of the Round


Dallas Cowboys – Bradlee Anae – Defensive End, Utah (Pick #179)

This is the 3rd time the Cowboys have won a Steal of the Round award, showing just how superb their front office has become. Lemieux could also win this award, but the other notable steal of the 5th round was Bradlee Anae, and both were comparable. Due to Utah’s solid 2019 season, a lot of people originally over-hyped Anae. He has some athletic limitations, so a top 64 pick was never realistic for him. However, I was of the opinion that a mid-3rd round to high-4th round selection was an appropriate range for him, so to take a valuable rotational edge rushing piece with the very last pick of the 5th round is truly exceptional. The Cowboys have some question marks in their pass rush, so Anae is very likely to see some time on the field as a rookie.


‘Marriage Made in Heaven’ (Best Fit)

Cleveland Browns – Nick Harris – Center, Washington (Pick #160)

I absolutely love this pick. Nick Harris isn’t hyper-athletic or anything, but he stood out to me as one of the darlings of the offensive line group at the combine, testing really well and showing some good technique during the drills. The fit is really good, too. The Browns have massively upgraded their OL already with Wills and Conklin, but their starting center currently is JC Tretter – a very mediocre option. It wouldn’t shock me is Harris saw some playing time early in the 2020 season, which is brilliant for a 5th round draft choice.


Potential Boom Pick

New York Jets – Bryce Hall – Cornerback, Virginia (Pick #158)

I once mocked Hall to the Jets in the 2nd round, and then consistently valued him as a late 3rd or early 4th round pick due to his injury issues, which means this selection has some notable value. What’s more, I think it’s a huge opportunity to be a boom pick. The only reason Hall slid was because of injury concerns, but in the 5th round, those sort of gambles can pay off. The Jets have a very weak CB room, so Hall could see some game time early. What’s more, I think he has the potential of not just being a rotational starter or backup but a solid starting cornerback, which in the 5th round equates to boom potential.


************************************************************


Round 6 Awards

Best Overall Pick

Baltimore Ravens – James Proche – Wide Receiver, Southern Methodist (Pick #201)

I’ve sort of lost count how many awards I’ve awarded to Baltimore. Proche is a 4th round receiving prospect, who fell due to injury and size concerns, but he is a solid wide receiver and will help fill a Ravens receiving corps which can do with some quality young depth.


Steal of the Round

Philadelphia Eagles – Prince Tega Wanogho– Offensive Tackle, Auburn (Pick #210)


This was the easiest steal of the round I have done.  Wanogho reportedly has some work ethic lethargy, and there are also some durability concerns – however, I was blindsided that he wasn’t taken until the very end of the 6th round. I had Wanogho as the 7th best OT in this entire draft class, and mocked him several times in the top half of the 2nd round! In terms of his talent level, he absolutely has the capability of being a starter. He was a quality player in college and has an excellent skill-set. I fear Philadelphia isn’t the best landing spot for him, as they already have a few rotational swing tackles (most notably Jordan Maitala), but Wanogho has a good chance at being at least a quality swing tackle in the NFL. I hated the first few rounds of the Eagles draft, but they made some nice late-round choices, this being the highlight.


Best Fit

Pittsburgh Steelers – Antoine Brooks – Safety, Maryland (Pick #198)

I think this is a roughly appropriate value for Brooks, maybe he could have been taken slightly earlier. Whilst he isn’t a home-run prospect or a pure steal, he is a very nice addition in two positions of great need this late. The Steelers made a big mistake drafting Terrell Edmunds in the 1st round of the 2018 NFL Draft, who has been a bust to date. Brooks is a competent if limited young player who can compete at this spot whilst also adding some depth to a linebacking corps, as he is versatile enough to play in both spots.


Potential Boom Pick

Denver Broncos – Netane Muti – Guard, Fresno State (Pick #181)


Muti could have been a top-3 OG in this class if it wasn’t for being one of the most injury prone prospects I’ve ever seen. He played just 7 games in 3 years from 2018 – 2020 due to injury, and I’m surprised he was drafted because of how severe his injury issues are; however, given his talent level, a 6th round choice can’t be considered a reach either. He is – quite literally – the strongest guard prospect in this class, and will be able to open up a ton of holes for the Broncos’ running back duo in Lindsay and Gordon. The real key question is whether he can actually play or not. Muti is the definition of a boom or bust pick, but if he can sort his conditioning out, Muti could be a very good starter.

************************************************************


Round 7 Awards

Best Overall Pick

Baltimore Ravens – Geno Stone – Safety, Iowa (Pick #219)

The Ravens have one of the best secondaries in the NFL, but some depth in their secondary wouldn’t go amiss. Earl Thomas is still outstanding but aging and injury prone, whilst Chuck Clark was excellent but a bit of a one-year wonder. There is no guarantee any player drafted in the 7th round will be on the roster for the start of the season, but Stone is as safe a bet as I can think of to make the squad.


Steal of the Round

Minnesota Vikings – Kenny Willekes – Defensive End, Michigan State (Pick #225)

Willekes has physical limitations, but due to his potential I thought he could have gone in the mid-rounds. A lot of mock drafts I saw had him mocked on Day 2, so it was really surprising that he almost went undrafted. Willekes will have to work hard to make a roster, but the need for depth was there, as the Vikings lost Everson Griffin this off-season. Willekes could have gone rounds ago, so this was the noticeable steal of the last round, alongside KJ Hill to the Chargers.


Best Fit

San Francisco 49ers – Jauan Jennings – Wide Receiver, Tennessee (Pick #217)


The 49ers offense over-performed last season, but at times the 49ers could have used some more big-body presence in the red zone. Whilst Jennings is not a special player by any means, I thought he could have been drafted as early as the 5th round, and was a hard-working, productive player in college with some upside. As a rotational 3rd or 4th receiver Jennings is likely to make the roster, and should complement Samuel, Aiyuk and Bourne very nicely. He’s a reasonably safe bet to make the final roster out of all these 7th round choices.



Potential Boom Pick

Los Angeles Chargers – KJ Hill – Wide Receiver, Ohio State (Pick #220)

I mentioned in the Willekes commentary that Hill was the other notable steal was KJ Hill. Whilst he wasn’t overly productive in college, Hill has a lot of upside and is a really talented – if painfully raw – young receiver. The Chargers don’t have a superb receiving corps, so Hill could be as high as the #3 receiver on their roster as a rookie. That is outstanding returns on a 7th round pick when most are delivering pizzas within a year or two.



                                                        




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