The 2020 draft is unlike any we have seen before. Because of social distancing restrictions, the league office had to improvise to keep the draft on schedule, choosing to host the draft virtually through Zoom, an online teleconferencing platform. Similarly to how online classes around the country are being conducted, coaches, general managers, owners and players convened online to prevent any delays in the draft.
The draft began as expected with the Cincinnati Bengals selecting LSU quarterback Joe Burrow with the first overall pick. There were rumors that the Miami Dolphins gave a last effort to try to swap picks, but there was no way the Bengals were giving up the rights to Burrow. The Bengals were also able to land Clemson wide receiver Tee Higgins as the first pick of the second round, adding to an already deep receiving core composed of veteran AJ Green, speedster John Ross and versatile Tyler Boyd.
The second pick was also predictable, with the Washington Redskins selecting Ohio State’s edge defender Chase Young, who was ranked the highest overall prospect in the draft and is expected to dominate from the beginning of his career. Young’s coaches, the same guys who mentored both Joey and Nick Bosa, have openly commented on the fact that they believe Young will surpass both of the Bosas just based on pure talent. For first-year head coach Ron Rivera’s sake, let’s hope they’re right.
The Dolphins were able to land their guy with the fifth overall pick, selecting quarterback Tua Tagovoiloa from Alabama. Miami was linked to Tagovoiloa since the beginning of last season when Tagovoiloa was originally expected to go first overall while Miami was projected to finish last in the NFL. After their wretched 0-7 start, the Dolphins found life in the season, finishing their remaining schedule with a mind-boggling defeat of the Patriots in week 17 to finish 5-11. The Dolphins found a spark they can build off of going into the next season, while still staying in the range to draft the signal-caller they wanted. Tagovoiloa is likely to sit behind veteran quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick while additionally knocking young journeyman Josh Rosen off the roster as the team’s primary backup.
In a loaded draft filled with wide receivers, the first one taken off the board was Alabama speedster Henry Ruggs III. It was unclear who would be picked first out of Ruggs III, his teammate Jerry Jeudy or Oklahoma’s CeeDee Lamb among others, but Ruggs III’s blazing speed and quickness were enough to sell Jon Gruden for the Raiders. Ruggs III is the first player selected by the Raiders since their move to Las Vegas.
The next receiver to go was Jeudy who was selected by the Denver Broncos. Jeudy will slide into a young, talented offensive core in Denver alongside primary receiver Courtland Sutton, running backs Melvin Gordon and Phillip Linsay, tight end Noah Fant and young signal-caller Drew Lock. General manager John Elway seems sold on Lock, who the Broncos feel is their first true quarterback since Peyton Manning retired and the first franchise signal-caller they’ve drafted since Elway heard his own name called in the 1979 draft.
The biggest steal of the first round was Lamb falling all the way to 17th overall to Jerry Jones and the Dallas Cowboys. Quarterback Dak Prescott will have a group of weapons as good as any in the league. Dallas also landed arguably the biggest steal in the second round too, taking Alabama corner Trevon Diggs who inexplicably fell to a late pick. Diggs will be the replacement of Byron Jones, who just left to sign with the Miami Dolphins in free agency.
One of the biggest head-scratchers in the draft was the Green Bay Packers taking Jordan Love with their first-round pick. The Packers made it to the NFC Championship despite a down year, by his standards, from Aaron Rodgers. Considering Rodgers has had minimal weapons to work with outside of stud wideout Davantae Adams, it seemed as if the Packers were going to pick a receiver for Rodgers, but instead, they took his heir apparent. Rodgers did not get along with his mentor, Brett Favre, and it’s hard to imagine his relationship with his successor will be any different.
The Kansas City Chiefs have added another weapon to their high flying offense with the selection of running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire. Edwards-Helaire was one of Burrow’s key playmakers at LSU which helped propel them to one of the best seasons in the history of college football. Edwards-Helaire will go from playing with the best signal-caller in college football to the best quarterback in the NFL, which should help him translate his production to the next level.
If you’re a Patriots fan, you’re probably constantly saying “trust Bill, trust Bill” in your head after the first few nights of the draft, where they made a couple of very interesting selections. After trading away their first-round pick, the Patriots decided to draft a safety, one of the few positions they don’t need. The Patriots selected safety Kyle Dugger while LSU’s Grant Delpit was still on the board, a real head-scratching move as Delpit far outshined Dugger both on tape and in the combine. The Patriot way will be tested more than it ever has been before in this coming season and those to come in the post-Brady-Belichick era.