The Weird, Wicked, and Wild From the 2020 NFL Draft

The 2020 NFL Draft is in the books, and to the surprise of many it went off without a hitch. The lead up to the first ever “virtual draft” was ripe with handwringing and doomsday predictions because, ya know, NFL general managers had apparently never before used modern technology.

Well, with the exception of a few awkward delays and momentary picture freezes, the whole shebang ended up being a seamless production that quite honestly was significantly more watchable than the dog and pony show the league usually rolls out. Dave Gettleman didn’t plug his rotary phone into a Commodore 64 and mistakenly (or on purpose) select Justin Herbert with the 4th pick. Jerry Jones didn’t trade the Cowboys entire draft haul for Tua Tagovailoa while chillin out maxin’ relaxin’ all cool on his luxury yacht.

Instead, the Giants, Cowboys, and several other teams trusted the process and behaved like professional football organizations. That doesn’t mean there weren’t a cacophony of impressively shrewd, downright awful, and bizarrely off the wall decisions made during the three-day, seven-round marathon. Let’s recap, shall we?

The Wild

  • Welcome to the Jungle – Even if Joe Burrow’s historic national championship-winning 2019 season at LSU was an anomaly, he still gives the long-suffering Bengals fanbase hope that things will turn around sooner than later. I will miss referring to them as the “Bungals” though. Ahh, the memories…
  • Child Cheerleaders – Even though the ‘Mike Vrabel’s kid is taking a dump in the background’ meme was proven to be fake (winky face), child labor laws were still put to the test by GMs and head coaches who forced their offspring to dance and cheer after every selection. Most of these pint-sized promoters looked like frightened hostages, which was highly entertaining.
  • Big Blue Bounty – Much to my chagrin, the Giants played it smart and took Georgia OT Andrew Thomas in the first round. If Daniel Jones is going to be the franchise quarterback for the next decade, he needs to be adequately protected. Thomas is a guy who can do that from day one. I miss dumb Dave Gettleman.
  • Jeudy Can’t Fail – Denver stood pat at 15 and waited for arguably the top wide receiver in the class to fall into their loving arms. If the Broncos want any chance of competing with the Chiefs over the next few years, they will need playmakers like Jeudy. Of course, this surmises that Drew Lock is actually good.
  • Mr. Goodell’s Neighborhood – The warm and cozy basement setting (which was obviously a Hollywood set) did nothing to polish Roger Goodell’s wooden, humorless persona. He still came off as a derpy douchebag desperately angling for a seat at the cool kids table.
  • Go speed racer go! – If a wide receiver ran 4.3 or better at the Combine, he was drafted. Hell, the Eagles grabbed three of them and even traded for perpetually injured track star/football player Marquise Goodwin. Who knows if any of them can track a ball or catch, but watching the highlight packages was a blast. Needless to say, the Tyreek Hill effect has taken the league by storm.
  • Life without Brady – The mainstream media was forecasting (and praying) that Bill Belichick would pluck a quarterback off the board after Golden Boy Brady took his services to western Florida. Wisely, Belichick sat this one out. Joe Burrow aside, the 2020 quarterback landscape was loaded with landmines. The Pats are much better off rolling with Jarrett Stidham.

The Wicked

  • Super Freak! – Oh how the NFL loves massive offensive tackles who smash the Combine drills. Mekhi Becton is listed as 6’7″ 364 lbs, which was tantalizing enough for the Jets to draft him at #11 overall. His athleticism and ability to overpower pathetic ACC competition is eye-popping. However, I’m skeptical he can handle an elite NFL defensive end with speed, strength, and a variety of pass rush moves. This pick reeks of bust.
  • Reaching for Ruggs – The NFL’s fascination with wide receivers who clock 4.3 or faster in the 40-yard dash at the Combine continues to be an exercise in futility. Leave it to the Raiders to snag Henry Ruggs at 12th overall. See Ted Ginn Jr, Darrius Heyward-Bey, Troy Williamson, Tavon Austin, Kevin White, and John Ross to name just a few first-round flops and disappointments. Ruggs is obviously fast, but his college production at Alabama was mediocre as best, and his profile as a deep threat is fraudulent. Behold, the proof.

  • Moldy cheeseHoo Boy! How ’bout those Green Bay Packers? Even though Jordan Love is probably Brett Hundley 2.0, drafting him to be the heir apparent to Aaron Rodgers a couple of years before Rodgers is cooked makes sense. What makes no sense is taking running back AJ Dillon in the 2nd round when Aaron Jones and Jamal Williams are on the roster. Even more egregious, the Packers chose to draft ZERO wide receivers in an historically deep wide receiver class. The front office might as well trade Rodgers now while he still has value because this team is going nowhere fast.
  • Super charged – The vast majority of pundits, experts, and talking heads rated Justin Herbert as an average to atrocious quarterback prospect. The Dolphins spent weeks smoke-screening whichever gullible rube would take the bait they were “in love” with Herbert. Then they went ahead and drafted Tua Tagovailoa at #5, leaving Herbert to come off the board one pick later to the Chargers. Were the Bolts fooled  and therefore confident Tua would drop to them, or did they ignore the noise because they genuinely liked Herbert and knew he would be there at #6? Whatever the case, the Chargers are rolling the dice on a guy who the draft community believes is trash. Good luck with that.
  • Draft grades – Fans and sports media outlets get horny for post-draft letter grades. It’s a clear, concise way to summarize what each team accomplished over the three-day event. However, handing out grades is a pointless endeavor. Roughly 50-55% of first-round picks every year end up being busts or underwhelming players. Those numbers increase dramatically round by round. Obviously, the talking heads on ESPN or the NFL Network aren’t going to shit all over a kid whose lifelong dream just came true, but the lack of honest analysis borders on delusional. Hear the “experts” tell it, every guy drafted is going to be fantastic. For some context, let’s look at the Top 5 picks from the 2017 Draft:1) Myles Garrett 2) Mitchell Trubisky, 3)Solomon Thomas, 4) Leonard Fournette, 5) Corey Davis. Three misfires and Uncle Lenny is on the trading block. Garrett is the only hit and he’s fortunate to still have a job after attempting to murder Mason Rudolph with a helmet. Pro Football Focus at least takes into account positional value when awarding grades. Teams that draft quarterbacks and offensive tackles are graded higher than those that select running backs and linebackers. That line of thinking combined with an individual player’s skill set and schematic fit is the best way to analyze a draft. All that said, PFF and pretty much every other outlet doles out way too many A grades.
  • Run for the hills – Why are teams still wasting valuable resources in the first three rounds on running backs? The lead backs for the last four Super Bowl winners consisted of two undrafted free agents (Damien Williams, LeGarrette Blount), a fourth-rounder (James White), and one first-rounder (Sony Michel). In addition, undrafted free agents Corey Clement and Raheem Mostert both scored touchdowns for the Eagles and 49ers, respectively. This didn’t stop nine teams from taking a running back in the first three rounds, including the Rams and Bills who did the same exact thing in 2019. Boggles the mind.
  • Buyer’s remorse – Spending the fifth overall pick on a 22-year-old quarterback who endured a broken finger, knee sprain, high ankle sprains to both ankles, a pair of “Tightrope” surgeries, and surgery to repair a dislocated right hip in three college seasons isn’t ballsy, it’s insanity. Brittle quarterbacks don’t suddenly get healthier when they enter the NFL. The window for Tua Tagovailoa is already closing and he hasn’t even been fitted for a Dolphins jersey.

The Weird

  • Hurts so good – Eagles Nation went ballistic when Howie Roseman plucked ex Alabama and Oklahoma starting quarterback Jalen Hurts off the board with pick #53. As an Eagles fan, I’ve seen vitriol spewed at Roseman before, but this was on another level. It’s as if the fanbase forgot Roseman constructed a Super Bowl Championship team just three years ago. Bah! What have you done for me lately, pal? I’ll admit, I was shocked at first. But then I began to see the decision through the front office’s eyes. The Birds have played in six postseason games since 2017. Carson Wentz has been on the field for a total of two series in said games. That’s a major concern. In the not-so distant past, Howie duped the Vikings into sending him a first-round pick in exchange for a broken-down Sam Bradford. In 2004, the franchise shipped backup quarterback AJ Feeley to Miami for a second-round pick in the 2005 draft. See where I’m going with this? A quality backup signal-caller can be more precious than gold. Fans and pundits might not get it, but Roseman does. Hurts needs a lot of work as a passer. His recognition skills and deep ball accuracy are below average. He could be a disaster in waiting. Then again, he could be exactly what the Eagles need now and in the future.
  • Follow the yellow brick road – Criticizing what John Schneider and Pete Carroll do on draft weekend always manages to fall on deaf ears. The Seahawks’ dynamic duo brain trust has always marched to beat of their own drum. They eschew the value of first-round picks, reach for players on a regular basis, and take a scattershot approach to roster construction. They lost to the Packers in the playoffs because Davante Adams eviscerated their secondary to the tune of 160 yards and two scores. Their solution? Draft a run-stopping linebacker in the opening round and completely ignore the cornerback and safety positions altogether. Odd. Also, LOL!
  • “I’ll have the lamb, please” – The supposed top wide receiver, Oklahoma’s CeeDee Lamb, dropped all the way to the Cowboys at #17. Did teams wait on receivers early due to the depth of the class, or is there some sort of issue with Lamb’s evaluation? Coaching genius du jour Kyle Shanahan apparently had Brandon Aiyuk at the top of his receiver board, and both Mike Mayock and John Elway bypassed Lamb for other wideouts. On the surface, it appears dem Boys were gifted the steal of the draft. Or were they…
  • Big Red Machine – Similar to the Packers, the defending champion Kansas City Chiefs elected to not add another downfield threat in a class chock-full of speedy wide receivers. Even taking Clyde Edwards-Helaire in the first round was a bit puzzling. Edwards-Helaire is a talented back who should excel in Andy Reid’s attack. However, almost any running back with average pass catching skills (see Damien Williams) will excel with Patrick Mahomes, Travis Kelce, and Tyreek Hill on the field. Seems like a missed opportunity to add even more over the top firepower to the league’s most lethal offense.
  • The sincerest form of flattery – It’s clear that Packers head coach Matt LaFleur is copying Kyle Shanahan’s offense. Load up on running backs and offensive linemen and next stop, Super Bowl! Even if you believe it’s that easy, it was San Francisco’s defense, not their offense, that fueled their success in 2019. Lest we forget, Green Bay’s defense allowed Raheem Mostert to run for 220 yards and four touchdowns in the NFC title tilt. Did the Packers add anyone of note in the draft to help their defense? Nope.
  • Stubborn to a fault – Bill Belichick skipped out on quarterback, but that was the only smart move he made the entire draft. Like Green Bay and Kansas City, the Patriots totally ignored wide receiver. Instead, they opted to select a pair of tight ends in a lackluster tight end draft. Their current wide receiver depth chart is as follows: Julian Edelman (soon to be 34), N’Keal Harry, Mohamed Sanu, and Damiere Byrd. Yikes. Tom Brady jumped ship because the team refused to add young, fast weapons. There’s a lesson to be learned, but Belichick clearly doesn’t give a shit.
  • Recency bias – A total of 21 players from LSU and Clemson were drafted, including 7 in the first round. Both teams were obviously peppered with top flight talent, but I get the feeling a lot of GMs just watched the college national championship game a few times and called it a day.

Eagles Fans “Reagor” to Complain About First-Round Draft Pick

Well, that didn’t take long. Immediately after Eagles GM Howie Roseman selected TCU wide receiver Jalen Reagor with the 21st pick in the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft, living rooms across the land rang with boos while keyboard warriors set their Twitter timelines ablaze with hot takes.

Why? Without getting too deep into the weeds, there are essentially three reasons why Eagles fans are pissed.

  1. Justin Jefferson was still on the board – Hey, I get it. Nearly every Eagles’ beat writer and a few national “experts” have been mocking the LSU star to the Birds for weeks. Plus, he racked up gaudy stats for the national champions playing with first overall pick Joe Burrow throwing him pass after pass during the 2019 season.
  2. Jalen Reagor is an “unknown” guy – I’m guilty of falling for Jefferson as much as everyone else. I happen to think he was a perfect fit for Doug’s offense. I was aware of Reagor, but I didn’t view him as someone the Eagles would consider at 21. That said, his skill set actually fits what the Eagles want and need. He’s fast and explosive. Would fans be as angry if Henry Ruggs was taken over Jefferson? Probably not, because Ruggs blew up the combine, despite being a less productive receiver than Reagor. And Ruggs is, ya know, a known guy.
  3. CeeDee Lamb ended up with the Cowboys – Lamb’s unexpected tumble down the board added insult to injury when Jerry Jones snatched him up at 17. BUT WHY DIDN’T HOWIE TRADE UP FOR LAMB?! I dunno, maybe no one above him wanted to make a deal. Do fans think GMs can waive a magic wand and force teams to trade with them? Atlanta at 16 was the only spot where the Eagles might have been able to jump. We have no idea what the asking price was and probably never will. By the way, Atlanta was itching to draft a CB which is exactly what they did. Maybe, just maybe, the Falcons preferred to stay put and grab A.J. Terrell rather than risk missing out on him by trading back.

Another point that has gone largely unnoticed is why CeeDee Lamb fell to 17? The Jets, Raiders, 49ers, and Broncos all needed wide receiver help and all four bypassed Lamb. Maybe the decision-makers for those teams are idiots who will rue the day they said no to Lamb. If Lamb ends up being the awesome player most pundits and talking heads projected him to be, then those four teams will look pretty dumb.

On the flipside, it’s possible the talent evaluators for those four teams could be right about Lamb. Maybe Lamb’s production in Lincoln Riley’s high-octane offense was viewed as manufactured rather than uniquely special. I personally like Lamb and think he’ll end up being a good pro, but I’m just a fan. What the hell do I know?

Like the overwhelming majority of football fans, I’m not a trained scout who has spent years studying the athletic traits and skills required to be an NFL caliber player. It’s easy to bitch and moan, beer in hand, when some guy you don’t know gets drafted over the guy you do know.

The Eagles desperately needed a young, fast, playmaking wide receiver. That’s the profile of Jalen Reagor. I’m not going to dismiss the guy just because he’s not the pick I wanted or expected. Only time will tell which of Reagor, Jefferson, or Lamb will end up helping their respective teams more.

Guys I Want The Eagles to Draft

Six weeks in quarantine. Hibernation beard looks like an abandoned bird nest. Overdosing on frozen pizza. Sweat pants are screaming to be washed. Neighbor’s AC unit rattles like a jackhammer around the clock. Hey, the NFL Draft starts in a few hours. That’s nice. Here are the guys I want the Eagles to take. No, I don’t give a shit if anyone agrees. Also, it’s dark and I’m wearing sunglasses.

The Pipe Dreams

CeeDee Lamb (WR, Oklahoma)Have you heard the Eagles wide receivers are more putrid than baby diarrhea? Well, they are. DeSean is fantastic (when he actually suits up), but he’s 34 and coming off a season in which he started and finished one game. After him, the depth chart is laughably atrocious. Will Lamb fall to 21? Hell no. Will Howie trade up to get him? Probably not since the cost will be too much. There are at least six teams ahead of the Birds who should or could draft Lamb. That said, if any receiver can be another Nuk Hopkins, it’s Lamb. Decent speed, awesome hands, savvy route-runner, and loves to compete. Sadly, he’ll likely end up a Jet or Raider. Bummer.

CJ Henderson (CB, Florida)Loved the Darius Slay move. He’s a legit shadow corner who has had success trailing number one receivers, including in 2019 when he battled hamstring and ankle injuries. The other outside corners are either on the trading block, busts in waiting, or not big enough to get the job done. Henderson is a man-cover specialist with long arms and ballhawk tendencies. Can he tackle? Uh, not really. Therefore, he’s not a Jim Schwartz guy and has zero chance of wearing midnight (or Kelly) green. Plus, there’s no way he slides out of the Top 15. Whatever. I still think he’ll be a dynamic starter in the pros.

Andrew Thomas (OT, Georgia)The Andre Dillard “might be bad” buzz is concerning. Maybe there’s a reason he slid down the draft board in 2019? One would think if Jeff Stoutland can mold Big V into a capable spot starter for a Super Bowl-winning team, he should have little trouble morphing a superior athlete like Dillard into a solid starting left tackle. Right? Regardless, don’t be surprised if Howie nabs a tackle in the 2nd or 3rd round. It won’t be Thomas, who might be the first tackle selected on Thursday night. He was a four-year starter and can play on either side. Great athlete with a little JP in him. If the Giants were smart, they’d take him with the 4th pick. They won’t.

The Usual Suspects

Justin Jefferson (WR, LSU) – The hype on “Jefferson to the Eagles” has reached DEFCON 1. I have a sneaking suspicion he’ll be gone before 21. Now, if Howie really covets the former bayou Bengal, he probably has enough ammo to jump a few spots. Of course, the Vikings and Saints might attempt to do the same. I’m not convinced Jefferson can win outside versus man coverage, but there is no doubt he can use his superior route-running prowess to create space and make plays. He also has the kind of brash attitude I like in a wide receiver. Confident without being overly cocky or Antonio Brown level insane. I think he’d immediately become the Eagles best receiver. Worst case he’s a better version of Agholor. Best case he’s Reggie Wayne. Alas, my gut tells me another team scoops him up.   

Cesar Ruiz (C, Michigan)Jason Kelce is probably gonna hang it up after the 2020 season. He’s mulled retirement the last two years and he’s reaching an age where decline normally rears its ugly head. Maybe they shift Isaac to his spot. I’m not too crazy about that idea, especially if he continues to improve at LG. The best solution is to draft a replacement. Ruiz has the same type of athleticism and nimble feet at Kelce. He’s also considered to be smart and instinctive, two qualities every NFL center should possess. Yeah, he’s not a sexy pick and I’m sure most fans will take to Twitter spewing vitriol if he ends up being the first-round pick. I wouldn’t take him at 21, but if Roseman trades back, Ruiz makes a lot of sense in the late 20s.

Kenneth Murray (LB, Oklahoma) or Patrick Queen (LB, LSU)LOL. Just kidding, There’s no way the Eagles are selecting a linebacker in the first round. Unless, everything goes to shit, they trade back twice, and the good receivers are gone. Let’s hope that doesn’t happen.

Henry Ruggs (WR, Alabama)I personally don’t like speed guys who didn’t produce in college. I know, I know, he scored 24 touchdowns in three years. Meh. Everyone scored on Bama’s offense. He’s not Tyreke Hill, folks. Fingers crossed he doesn’t fall to 21. If he does, Howie will be forced to pull the trigger (I guess). In three 2018 and 2019 playoff/bowl games, Ruggs totaled 9 catches for 114 yards and one TD. Not great. To me, he’s a second-round prospect masquerading as an elite talent.

Trevon Diggs (CB, Alabama)If all the receivers with first-round grades on the Eagles board are gone (a distinct possibility) by 21, cornerback is the next position they should target. If the DE class wasn’t so weak, I’d say they go that direction. Diggs is big enough to battle with the league’s hulking receivers and is physical at the line scrimmage (i.e. Jim Schwartz guy). He would be the perfect corner to start opposite Darius Slay. If he’s still available at the start of Day 2, Howie would be wise to move up to snatch him. Seems like he’s going overlooked by a lot of draft pundits.

Pretty, Pretty, Good

Denzel Mims (WR, Baylor) – Size. Speed. Physical. Big play threat. Mims blew up the combine and shined at the Senior Bowl. What’s not to like? Well, his route tree at Baylor was severely limited and his hands are inconsistent. He’s either going to be good David Boston or bad David Boston. I lean toward the former.

Laviska Shenault (WR, Colorado) – Only saw action in 27 games in three college seasons. Scored 17 total touchdowns, but 7 came as a runner. Versatility is a positive, but a lengthy injury history raises a giant red flag. Obviously, the Eagles don’t need more injury-prone players, in particular at wide receiver.

Jeff Gladney (CB, TCU) – Say hello to 27 combined pass breakups in 2018 and 2019. He just gets his hands on the ball frequently. And he has massive guns, unlike string bean Sidney Jones.

Antoine Winfield, Jr. (S, Minnesota) – Not very big, but like his old man, Winfield is a ballhawking spark plug who isn’t afraid to lower the boom on backs and receivers. Screw the stupid Jalen Mills experiment — draft this guy instead and watch him climb the safety depth chart with ease. 

Devin Duvernay (WR, Texas)A one-year wonder with the Longhorns, Duvernay strikes me as a bigger version of DeSean. He’s a blazer who can dominate from the slot once the ball is in his hands. Coming away with a one-two WR punch of Mims and Duvernay could solve all the Birds’ receiving woes in one draft.

Matt Peart (OT, UConn) Massive small school tackle project reminds me of a little of Todd Herremans. Give him a year to marinate and he could end up being a valuable swing tackle in the same vein as Big V.

Cam Akers (RB, Florida State)My favorite running back in the entire class is Akers. He’s essentially a Miles Sanders clone in that he can do everything as a three-down back. Appears to be flying under the radar because the Seminoles have been a burning trash heap since 2017.

Curtis Weaver (DE, Boise State)The level of competition wasn’t elite, but 34 sacks in three seasons cannot be overlooked. I place Weaver in the same category as Joe Ostman. He gets the job done with a quick first step and a tenacious attitude. Projects as a 3-4 OLB because he doesn’t rush from a three-point stance, so it’s unlikely the Eagles are interested. Watching hm and his dad bod crush quarterbacks is still fun as hell.