NFL 2020 Draft has been flying by. The first day came and went and the second day went even faster. There has been a lot of surprising picks throughout the first two days. Here are grades for each selection.
33. Cincinnati Bengals: Tee Higgins, WR, Clemson
The Bengals are surrounding Joe Burrow with as many weapons as possible, just like he had at LSU. Tee Higgins plays like Bengals’ receiver AJ Green. It is also important to note that Green is only on the franchise tag, coming off a year he didn’t play and is 31 years old. Green might move on from free agency or could possibly get traded by the trade deadline. Higgins might have to wait his turn in this offense, but could be one of Joe Burrow’s favorite targets in a season two.
34. Indianapolis Colts (via Washington Redskins): Michael Pittman Jr., WR, USC
One year after selecting Parris Campbell the Colts draft a true outside threat in Pittman. Pittman gives the Colts a true, large target on the outside opposite T.Y. Hilton who is also starting to get slowed down by injury and age. He has a fantastic upside and could take over as the team’s number one receiver soon. Hilton and Pittman on the outside, and Campbell in the slot, with Jack Doyle at tight end is a nice group of weapons for Philip Rivers. He could easily become Rivers’ new version of Keenan Allen.
35. Detroit Lions: D’Andre Swift, RB, Georgia
It’s sad to see this for Kerryon Johnson, but running backs don’t get a lot of chances because of their short shelf life. Anyways, Swift is the best running back on most people’s boards. He is versatile and extremely valuable as a runner and receiver. His ceiling is Alvin Kamara which is the type of piece the Lions need on this offense for Matt Stafford and to take the pressure off Stafford as well.
36. New York Giants: Xavier McKinney, S, Alabama
A few weeks ago it was predicted that Xavier McKinney would get selected by the New York Giant in their draft profile. McKinney will make a nice tandem with Jabrill Peppers. With those two deep and James Bradberry, DeAndre Baker on the outside, and Julian Love in the slot, the Giants have a nice young secondary coming along who could surprise people in a year or two once their players get a little more experience under their belt. Safety wasn’t the biggest need, but the Giants got a first round talent early in day two.
37. New England Patriots (via Los Angeles Chargers): Kyle Dugger, S, Lenoir Rhyne
This seems like a very New England pick. The Patriots grab a defensive back from a small school who many teams had as a sleeper. This is a slight reach, but Dugger is a day two pick. Patrick Chung and Devin McCourty are getting old and the Patriots at times play three safety sets. Dugger has the type of upside that Bill Belichick could unleash on the league. In this defense, Dugger can become a household name in time.
38. Carolina Panthers: Yetur Gross-Matos, EDGE, Penn State
It was extremely surprising to see Gross-Matos fall to the second round, as there were rumors of him creeping into the early teens. The Panthers were likely going to draft defense and now have invested their first two selections in their defensive line. The Panthers’ front four right now is Gross-Matos, Derrick Brown, Kawaan Short and Brian Burns. If the Panthers can snag another defensive back or two this defense can play as well as it did last year. But right now their defensive line is going to wreak havoc on the NFC.
39. Miami Dolphins: Robert Hunt, Tackle, Louisiana
After drafting Tua Tagovailoa and knowing his injury history, the Dolphins have to get players who can protect him. Thats what they did here. Robert Hunt is like Cody Ford who was drafted last year by the Bills. He will either play right tackle or guard at the next level who is a nasty blocker and is a huge upgrade over what the Dolphins have now at the position.
40. Houston Texans (via Arizona Cardinals): Ross Blacklock, DT, TCU
Ross Blacklock could have snuck into the end of round one, but lands here. He doesn’t have the sack production but shows promise to be a better pro than he was in college. Blacklock will be filling the void left by D.J. Reader in the middle of the defense. This a nice pick, but the Texans gave up a lot to get it. The Texans can’t get a high grade for drafting a D.J. Reader replacement with the pick they got for DeAndre Hopkins.
41. Indianapolis Colts (via Cleveland Browns): Johnathan Taylor, RB, Wisconsin
The Colts traded up three spots and gave up a fifth round pick to select Johnathan Taylor. He has one of the highest upsides out of all the players in the draft. He is running behind the Colts’ league-best offensive line. The Colts rely heavily on the running game. The one thing they were missing was a back to could potentially be elite. Marlon Mack was good, but Johnathan Taylor has the potential to be great.
42. Jacksonville Jaguars: Laviska Shenault, WR, Colorado
The Jaguars keep drafting Robin receivers. They can’t find a Batman, or true number one receiver. Marquise Lee, Dede Westbrook and DJ Chark are all legit number twos. The only legit number one they’ve taken in recent years is Allen Robinson who is now in Chicago. Chark was the alpha of the group but showed that he is not a true number one receiver. Shenault is a very good weapon and will be a large part of Minshewmania and the Jaguars offense this year, but he is not a true number one receiver that the Jaguars need.
43. Chicago Bears (via Las Vegas Raiders): Cole Kmet, TE, Notre Dame
Cole Kmet is the 10th tight end on the Chicago Bears. That is not a typo, it is 10. Can someone tell Ryan Pace and Matt Nagy to stop adding tight end? The team has invested too many assets into the tight end position Trey Burton(recently cut from his four-year $32 million contract), Adam Shaheen(second round pick), Jimmy Graham(2 years $16 million). No one knows what the Bears are doing. Unless Kmet becomes one of the league’s elite it wasn’t worth the pick.
44. Cleveland Browns (via Indianapolis Colts): Grant Delpit, S, LSU
This pick made too much sense. Last season they took a chance on Greedy Williams, another LSU defensive back that had some question marks but huge upside. Delpit disappointed this year after laying like a top-10 pick the season before. He will have time to heal up this year and could likely start opposite either Andrew Sendejo or Karl Joseph next season. Worst case scenario he takes a back seat to them this year and starts the next season. Delpit could be a future Pro Bowler and be another very good player for this Browns secondary with Denzel Ward and Greedy.
45. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Antoine Winfield Jr., Safety, Minnesota
The Buccaneers are trying to get as many win-now players in the building as possible. Antoine Winfield Jr. is just that. Safety was a discrete need considering the Buccaneers had young players at the position that haven’t played great. But Winfield reminds many of the Honey Badger Tyrann Mathieu. If he can play like anything like Mathieu early, he could give people more reasons to believe they are a legit contender this next season.
46. Denver Broncos: K.J. Hamler, WR, Penn State
After selecting a wide receiver in Jerry Jeudy in round one, the Broncos doubled up by selecting K.J. Hamler in the second round. Selecting the same positions back to back is usually not a good idea, unless they are offensive lineman. But the Broncos don’t have a lot of needs and want to give Drew Lock all the help he needs. Hamler will be the Broncos’ speed guy in the slot while Sutton and Jeudy man the outside.
47. Atlanta Falcons: Marlon Davidson, DL, Auburn
Marlon Davidson makes a lot of sense for the Atlanta Falcons. The Falcons like using a 3-4 defensive end to play defensive end while they have their typical edge rusher stand up with the linebackers. In the past, Tyson Jackson and Allen Bailey have manned this role. Marlon Davidson is an in-betweener, as it is hard to say if he is a defensive end or tackle, so this could be a great fit for him. Davidson can slide right inside next to Grady Jarrett on the inside on one down and then get put on the edge standing Dante Fowler up to rush the passer.
48. Seattle Seahawks (via New York Jets): Darrell Taylor, EDGE, Tennessee
The Seattle Seahawks traded a third round pick along with the 59th overall pick to select Taylor. Darrell Taylor is an edge rusher who is versatile enough to play defensive end or linebacker. Does that sound like anyone who played for the Seahawks recently? Jadeveon Clowney. Ironically enough the Seahawks might have also sent Clowney to the Jets by making this pick because they are one of the rumored teams to be still interested in Clowney at this point of free agency. But it isn’t a huge loss for the Seahawks considering he didn’t play that well for them this past season and didn’t give up a lot to trade for him. Now the Seahawks don’t have to overspend and get a younger player at the position.
49. Pittsburgh Steelers: Chase Claypool, WR, Notre Dame
Regardless of need, the Pittsburgh Steelers love drafting receivers early. It has its pros and cons. Pros: The Steelers are a wide receiver factory and get high production out of most of them. Con: The Steelers have more pressing needs. But anyone who has the size and tests like Calvin Johnson is a prospect worth taking a chance on. Juju Smith-Schuster struggled in his first year as the true number one receiver. That wasn’t all his fault, he did have terrible play at quarterback this year. But the Steelers did need to find a better number two receiver than James Washington. Claypool has elite upside and could be dangerous getting groomed in the Steelers receiving room.
50. Chicago Bears: Jaylon Johnson, CB, Utah
No, the Bears did not pick another tight end, they actually addressed a major need. After cutting Prince Amukamara the Bears had a hole to fill at cornerback. They signed former first round pick Artie Burns, but he likely isn’t the answer to cornerback opposite Kyle Fuller. Many had Jaylon Johnson as a first round cornerback but is a victim of being a part of the cornerback cluster. He should start right away for the Bears who are trying to stay true to their routes on defense. Johnson can be a steal when all is said and done.
51. Dallas Cowboys: Trevon Diggs, CB, Alabama
After losing Byron Jones in free agency the Cowboys did need to address the cornerback position at some point early in the draft. Trevon Diggs is one of the last one of those cornerbacks who could have been a first round pick but fell here. Diggs will likely split time with Chidobe Awuzie, Jourdan Lewis and Anthony Brown next season, but could develop into the Cowboys starting number one or two corner as soon as 2021.
52. Los Angeles Rams: Cam Akers, RB, Florida State
After the Rams cut Todd Gurley the Rams had a void to fill at running back, but after utilizing Malcom Brown and drafting Darrell Henderson in the third round, how high were they going to take one? They felt it was a major priority selecting one with their first selection in the draft. Akers played extremely well for a poor Florida State team which is the reason why he did not receive as much national attention as other backs. Expect Akers to split snaps and for the Rams to use a committee until Akers asserts himself as the teams lead back.
53. Philadelphia Eagles: Jalen Hurts, QB, Oklahoma
Arguably the most SHOCKING pick in the entire draft. The Philadelphia Eagles select quarterback Jalen Hurts in the second round. Why take a quarterback in the second round when you have Carson Wentz who signed a 4 year $128 million extension and played well after it? Wentz isn’t elite. His injuries are concerning, but that is why you sign a Cam Newton, Jameis Winston or even Joe Flacco (for cheap), not use your second-round pick on a “back up quarterback”. The Eagles weren’t looking for a wildcat gadget quarterback, they wanted a legit quarterback. Rumors came out that they wanted to draft Jordan Love before Green Bay got him. The Eagles cannot really move Carson Wentz without eating a enormous cap hit until 2023, which would be the last year of Hurts’ contract. Unless Hurts replaces Wentz and has major success the pick is bad. Jalen Hurts’ talent is the only reason why this isn’t an F.
54. Buffalo Bills: A.J. Epenesa, EDGE, Iowa
The Buffalo Bills get a first round player with their first selection in the draft, after trading their first round pick away for Stefon Diggs. A.J. Epenesa fits the blue collar city of Buffalo and has a great opportunity here to prove to the rest of the league why he should have been a first round pick. He will likely rotate with Mario Addison and Trent Murphy this year, but will step right in the minute one loses a step.
55. Baltimore Ravens(via Atlanta Falcons from New England Patriots): J.K. Dobbins, RB, Ohio State
Mark Ingram is now 30 years old. Even though the Ravens have him under contract for the next two years, they could add another back to potentially take the lead in the backfield. The Ravens have Gus Edwards who is more of a high end back up and Justice Hill who is more of a receiving back. There will be plenty of carries for Dobbins in this offense. The Ravens ran the ball more than any team in the league this past year. This is a nice luxury pick for a contending team that doesn’t have many needs.
56. Miami Dolphins (via New Orleans Saints): Raekwon Davis, DT, Alabama
The Miami Dolphins likely went with their top player on their board with this pick. The Dolphins don’t have a major need at defensive tackle, but don’t have legitimate starters on it besides Christian Wilkins. The Dolphins signed Emmanuel Ogbah, Shaq Lawson and retained Taco Charlton. Davis will have to fight for a role on their defensive line and could likely start down the road.
57. Los Angeles Rams (via Houston Texans): Van Jefferson, WR, Florida
The Rams have a need for a wide receiver after trading away Brandin Cooks to acquire this pick. Josh Reynolds was likely to take Cook’s starting spot in the lineup like he did, very well, when Cooks has been hurt. However, it could have been hard for the Rams to pass up on Jefferson. Jefferson is a great route runner who started getting national attention after he dominated the Senior Bowl. Sean McVay is going to have a field day making plays for Jefferson. He joins a very talented group with Reynolds, Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp.
58. Minnesota Vikings: Ezra Cleveland, Tackle, Boise State
Cleveland was rumored to sneak into the first round, but gets selected in the range most had him going, late in the second. Cleveland likely won’t start in year one for the Vikings, but could be developed into the teams starting left tackle starting next year.
59. New York Jets (via Seattle Seahawks): Denzel Mims, WR, Baylor
This could end up being a steal for the New York Jets. Denzel Mims could be the Jets’ number one receiver and they got him after trading back to the backend of the second round. Mims has all the makings of a number one receiver he is fast, athletic and can run great routes. His problem has been his production and ability to take advantage of his skills. Adam Gase and Sam Darnold need to get the most they can out of Mims in order to unleash his true potential and prevent this pick from being a bust.
60. New England Patriots (via Baltimore Ravens): Josh Uche, EDGE, Michigan
Here the Patriots got a versatile edge rusher who will likely start right away. Uche showed flashes of NFL potential and possibly first round talent edge rushing ability. He can either rush from the outside linebacker position or put his hand in the dirt and play on the defensive line. Uche must be very excited to be playing opposite former college teammate Chase Winovich once again.
61. Tennessee Titans: Kristan Fulton, CB, LSU
Kristian Fulton was mocked to the Titans in the first round by some, but he slips here. Many thought that Fulton would be a first-round pick and thought that their first round pick Isaiah Wilson should have been selected around this slot, so that kind of worked out. Fulton will be slotted into Logan Ryan’s vacant place in the Titans’ defense or move Adoree’ Jackson to the slot. This a great pick up for the Titans this late in the second round.
62. Green Bay Packers: A.J. Dillon, RB, Boston College
All day people complained that Aaron Rodgers has never gotten any help or skill players and that it was disrespectful for the Packers to take Jordan Love over a skill player. Well, the Packers got a skill player in the second round. But the Packers drafted the one skill position they seemed to be very good at…running back. Aaron Jones led the league in total touchdowns last year and Jamaal Williams could be a starting running back on a few rosters. So why would they select A.J. Dillon here? Because he reminds people of Matt LaFleur’s former running back in Tennessee Derrick Henry. That is easily the reason why the Packers chose Dillon. They did not need a running back. After the Packers made this pick there were comparisons between Jordan Love and A.J. Dillon to Marcus Mariota and Derrick Henry. It is obvious that Matt LaFleur is trying to turn the Packers into the Titans’ offense that got him the Packers job in the first place.
63. Kansas City Chiefs: Willie Gay Jr., LB, Mississippi State
The Chiefs fill their need at linebacker with one of the most athletic ones in this year’s class. Willie Gay Jr.’s play alone would have made him a higher selection. But a few off the field issues dropped his stock. The Chiefs have the locker room and winning culture to be able to take a troubled player like Gay and get the most out of him and help him get his issues dealt with. If that happens Gay could be the best linebacker on the Chiefs’ roster by the end of the season.
64. Carolina Panthers (via Seattle Seahawks from Kansas City Chiefs): Jeremy Chinn, S/LB, Southern Illinois
Jeremy Chinn could fix one of two needs for the Carolina Panthers. He could play either outside linebacker or safety for the Panthers. Carolina likely considered taking Isaiah Simmons at no. 7, but went with Derrick Brown instead. Here the Panthers traded up to get the poor man’s version of Simmons. The Panthers are a cornerback away from having one of the most complete young defenses in the league.
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