These Live 2020 NFL Draft Grades will be posted minutes after each pick in the 2020 NFL Draft. Follow @walterfootball
2020 NFL Draft Grades - Round: Picks 1-16
| Picks 17-32
| NFL Draft Team Grades
2020 NFL Mock Draft
Cincinnati Bengals: Tee Higgins, WR, Clemson - D Grade
The Bengals were going to select Zack Baun unless an "unexpected player" fell to them. I suppose that means Tee Higgins was unexpected. He should have been expected, however, as Higgins, despite what he did in college, doesn't project well for the NFL. He reminds me of N'Keal Harry in terms of his inability to separate from coverage. Baun would've been a better pick, as Higgins should've been chosen in the third round.
Indianapolis Colts: Michael Pittman, WR, USC - B- Grade
The Colts wanted Tee Higgins, so they're lucky the Bengals made a bad pick. This is a better one. Michael Pittman has tons of upside, and I think he could start across from T.Y. Hilton as a rookie. However, I think the Colts should've tried to trade down with so many receivers available. The value with Pittman is lacking at No. 34.
Detroit Lions: D'Andre Swift, RB, Georgia - A+ Grade
I love this pick. The Lions needed someone to challenge or take over for Kerryon Johnson, who can't stay healthy. They upgraded Johnson here with a player who easily could've been chosen as high as No. 18 overall. Running backs dropped because the need wasn't there for the most part in the 17-32 range, so the Lions are getting a steal with the best player at his position in the entire class.
New York Giants: Xavier McKinney, S, Alabama - A+ Grade
Like the Lions, the Giants are getting the best player at the position in the entire class in the second round. This is an incredible steal. I wrote earlier today in the Day 2 preview that the Cardinals considered McKinney as a trade-option in the mid-teens. That's where McKinney should've gone, but he slipped for no reason I'm aware of. The Giants will gladly benefit from this, as they can finally replace Landon Collins.
New England Patriots: Kyle Dugger, S, Lenoir-Rhyne - B+ Grade
The Patriots just broke a certain team's heart. Kyle Dugger over the likes of Grant Delpit and Antoine Winfield might be a head-scratcher to some, but I've heard that some teams loved Kyle Dugger's versatility. Dugger can play in so many spots, including linebacker, and that's exactly what Bill Belichick is looking for. This isn't an A+, but it's a very solid selection.
Carolina Panthers: Yetur Gross-Matos, DE, Penn State - A+ Grade
What a steal by the Panthers! Yetur Gross-Matos was definitely a first-round prospect, but he slipped a bit because of off-the-field issues. As I wrote earlier, with Derrick Brown joining Kawann Short and Brian Burns, the Panthers are another talented edge rusher short of having the best defensive front east of San Francisco. Gross-Matos could be the solution.
Miami Dolphins: Robert Hunt, OT/G, Louisiana-Lafayette - B Grade
I wonder where the Dolphins plan on playing Robert Hunt. Will it be at tackle or guard, and does it even matter, given how many needs they have on their offensive line? Robert Hunt is a solid option at this juncture, but I think I would've preferred the Dolphins to take Ezra Cleveland or Josh Jones.
Houston Texans: Ross Blacklock, DT, TCU - A Grade
The Texans lost D.J. Reader, so I can see why they'd pursue Ross Blacklock. Reader's departure created a huge void on the defensive front, and Blacklock projects to be a similar player. He's a huge presence who will clamp down on the run, and he'll be able to offer some pass-rushing juice. I'm usually down on the moves the Texans make, but this is a very good selection. I'm shocked!
Indianapolis Colts: Jonathan Taylor, RB, Wisconsin - A+ Grade
The Colts surrendered a fifth-round pick to move up three spots, and they selected Jonathan Taylor as a result. The reason for moving up is easy to understand. They had to leap the Jaguars, who are looking to trade Leonard Fournette, in order to secure Taylor. Running back wasn't a huge need, but Marlon Mack is just an above-average talent. Taylor is a huge upgrade, and he gives Indianapolis so much more upside.
Jacksonville Jaguars: Laviska Shenault, WR, Colorado - A+ Grade
Laviska Shenault would've been a top-10 pick if the 2020 NFL Draft occurred a year ago. Many things have changed, however, as teams have grown terrified of Shenault's poor durability. In fact, some teams believed Shenault would fall to the third round. However, I think this is a great bargain for him, and the injuries might be overblown. If so, the Jaguars will have an incredible tandem of receivers.
Chicago Bears: Cole Kmet, TE, Notre Dame - O'BRIEN Grade
Ryan Pace needs help. I don't understand why he thinks he needs to spend so many high resources on tight ends, especially when none of them are close to elite. He paid tons of money to Jimmy Graham this offseason, only to select a tight end in the second round? Why!? And why didn't he pick the tight end some teams had higher on their boards, Adam Trautman? Kmet was not the consensus best player at his position, and Pace could've obtained someone similar in the third round, or perhaps someone slightly worse early on Day 3. This is an "F" grade all the way. Pace needs to go.
Cleveland Browns: Grant Delpit, S, LSU - A Grade
The Browns did a nice job of moving down three spots and picking up a fifth-round pick for a player they easily could've drafted at No. 41 - or earlier. Grant Delpit was a first-round prospect a year ago, but struggled in 2019. However, we heard that Delpit disappointed because he was protecting himself for the NFL, which is understandable. This made Delpit a nice buy-low target, so the Browns are filling a need with a talented player.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Antoine Winfield, S, Minnesota - A Grade
A couple of years ago, the Buccaneers were widely criticized for passing on Derwin James in favor of Vita Vea. It turns out that Vea became a tremendous run defender for the Buccaneers, but James has been better for the Chargers, at least when healthy. However, the Buccaneers may have made amends for that mistake. Antoine Winfield is a tremendous play-maker who will pair with an improving cornerback group. He could've been chosen in the first round, so I love this value.
Denver Broncos: K.J. Hamler, WR, Penn State - B Grade
Another receiver this early? I knew the Broncos would select another wideout on Day 3, but I figured that would come with one of the three third-round selections. Back-to-back picks on wideouts is a bit dubious with Courtland Sutton already there to pair with Jerry Jeudy. I suppose the run on receivers had a bit to do with that, so I don't hate this decision. The Broncos needed a third receiver - especially a speed threat - and they now potentially have three studs at the position. If Drew Lock can progress, Denver will have a dynamic offense.
Atlanta Falcons: Marlon Davidson, DT, Auburn - B+ Grade
The Falcons finally get their defensive tackle. I thought they would trade up for Javon Kinlaw on Thursday, but perhaps the virtual conditions made that difficult for them. They get a nice consolation prize with Marlon Davidson, a very solid player who wasn't quite athletic enough to be considered in the first round. Davidson will be needed to pressure Tom Brady and Drew Brees.
Seattle Seahawks: Darrell Taylor, DE/OLB, Tennessee - O'BRIEN Grade
The Seahawks moved up 11 spots and gave up a compensatory third for Darrell Taylor!? This is a head-scratcher. Had the Seahawks remained at No. 59 and took Taylor, I would've been OK with it. Taylor is an explosive edge rusher, but is a raw player and needs development. He's more of a third-round prospect, so this is a reach. This has to get an "F" because Seattle surrendered a valuable resource unnecessarily.
Pittsburgh Steelers: Chase Claypool, WR, Notre Dame - C Grade
Meh. Chase Claypool blew up the combine and helped his draft stock, but I'm still not sure if he can separate from coverage or even play wide receiver at the next level. If the Steelers have plans for Claypool to play tight end or H-back at some point, this pick makes more sense. Otherwise, Claypool will be joining a very crowded receiving corps, and I'm not quite sure he can become a top-three player at the position for the Steelers.
Chicago Bears: Jaylon Johnson, CB, Utah - A Grade
What, not another tight end? Ryan Pace made up for his latest mistake with Jaylon Johnson, who easily could've been chosen toward the end of the opening round. Johnson has great instincts and ball skills, and he'll help a secondary that regressed a bit in 2019. I love this value.
Dallas Cowboys: Trevon Diggs, CB, Alabama - A+ Grade
Want to hear something crazy? Trevon Diggs was the Cowboys' Plan B at No. 17 if K'Lavon Chaisson wasn't available. Of course, CeeDee Lamb was, which bumped the Chaisson pick, but Diggs is still Dallas'. Diggs has an injury history, but that clearly didn't bother the Cowboys, who selected Leighton Vander Esch in the first round despite his medical concerns. Diggs is a first-round talent, and he fills a need, so this is an A+ grade.
Los Angeles Rams: Cam Akers, RB, Florida State - A Grade
The Rams had to get rid of Todd Gurley and his arthritic knees this offseason because of his absurd contract. They also had to replace him. I didn't know if one of the second-round running backs would get to them, but a couple did. The Rams are making a great pick with Akers here, as he should be a major upgrade over the other runners Los Angeles has on its roster at the moment.
Philadelphia Eagles: Jalen Hurts, QB, Alabama - O'BRIEN- Grade
What the hell is this? Unless the Eagles have a trade lined up where they can ship Jalen Hurts, this makes absolutely no sense, and I think Howie Roseman has lost his mind. There's no reason to take a quarterback here, period, with Carson Wentz not even in his prime yet. And yet, this is a major reach. Jalen Hurts' ceiling is very low, so he should've been a fourth-round pick. This is the worst pick of the draft so far unless a trade is pending.
Buffalo Bills: A.J. Epenesa, DE, Iowa - A+ Grade
Back to sanity... The Bills' terrific offseason continues. A.J. Epenesa isn't a great athlete, which is why he fell out of Round 1. He could have still been chosen on Thursday, so I love this value. Epenesa doesn't fill a huge need, but the Bills are great pretty much everywhere, so it makes sense for them to add talent, regardless of the position.
Baltimore Ravens: J.K. Dobbins, RB, Ohio State - A+ Grade
Once again, the Ravens get to laugh at the dumb teams in the NFL and select a talented player because half the league is incompetent. J.K. Dobbins could've easily been chosen early in the second round. He's a talented, explosive back who should be able to supplant Mark Ingram in a year or so. In the meantime, Dobbins will get a healthy number of carries, as there are many rushes to go around for the team that runs more than any other.
Miami Dolphins: Raekwon Davis, DT, Alabama - B Grade
Raekwon Davis' stock has slipped since an explosive 2017 season. The Dolphins might be getting a great bargain if Davis can play that well again. The Dolphins needed to add players who can pressure the quarterback, so this is a solid choice.
Los Angeles Rams: Van Jefferson, WR, Florida - B- Grade
The Rams used the pick they acquired in the Brandin Cooks trade on another receiver. Van Jefferson projects as a solid replacement for Cooks, as he's a great route runner. I don't think he was quite good enough to crack the second round, but I'm OK with this selection.
Minnesota Vikings: Ezra Cleveland, OT, Boise State - A Grade
There was some speculation that the Vikings would pick Ezra Cleveland at No. 25, so this is a steal as far as that is concerned. Cleveland is a great fit for the Vikings' blocking scheme, and he could displace Riley Reiff as early as this year. Reiff is very expensive, and the Vikings don't have much money, so they needed to get cheaper at left tackle. Cleveland has nice upside and could make things much easier financially for the Vikings.
New York Jets: Denzel Mims, WR, Baylor - A+ Grade
I don't understand why Denzel Mims fell so far. I look forward to Charlie Campbell's Why the Slide on Mims, which will be posted sometime in May. In the meantime, the Jets get to enjoy an explosive receiver who should've been chosen at the end of the opening round. This is a steal for the Jets, and they get to fill a huge need.
New England Patriots: Josh Uche, DE/LB, Michigan - C Grade
I like Josh Uche because he's an explosive edge rusher who had a huge win rate when getting to the quarterback, but I don't think it was worth moving up for him. In fact, the Patriots may have gotten him just by standing pat. This wasn't a necessary move, but I like the player.
Tennessee Titans: Kristian Fulton, CB, LSU - C Grade
I don't know why everyone was wondering about Kristian Fulton falling in the draft. I considered Fulton to be a third-round prospect. I don't think he ever cracked the second round in any of my updates, so this is a slight reach. Fulton was torched routinely last year, and I imagine Deshaun Watson is licking his chops. Still, there's a bit of upside here, as Fulton might improve if he gets over all of his injuries.
Green Bay Packers: A.J. Dillon, RB, Boston College - O'BRIEN Grade
The Packers must have wanted Jalen Hurts because they reached for a running back with the Oklahoma quarterback off the board. The Packers don't need a running back at all with Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams on the roster, so there was absolutely no need to select a fourth-round running back prospect in the second round. If I were Aaron Rodgers, I'd demand a trade at this very moment.
Kansas City Chiefs: Willie Gay Jr., LB, Mississippi State - C Grade
The Chiefs have needed linebacker help ever since Derrick Johnson declined. I still think they'll need linebacker help after this pick. I think this is a bit of a reach for Willie Gay Jr. It's not an egregious one, but the Chiefs could've done better or traded down to acquire Gay.
Carolina Panthers: Jeremy Chinn, S, Southern Illinois - A Grade
2020 NFL Draft Grades - Round: Picks 1-16 | Picks 17-32 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | NFL Draft Team Grades
The Panthers traded up to this spot, but for good reason. There were a handful of second-round safeties entering Day 2, and Jeremy Chinn is the final one. The Panthers, who did a good job of bolstering their defensive front already, needed help in the back end. Chinn will be a nice upgrade, and Carolina is getting him for good value.
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