I'm obsessed with the 2020 NFL Draft class, especially on the offensive side of the ball, where I see a whole heap of instant-impact prospects. Four offensive tackles could go in the top 10, and rightfully so -- those big boys help you win. But today, I'd like to concentrate on the skill positions.
Quarterback, wide receiver and running back always move the needle in this beloved sport of ours, and that's certainly the case in this draft crop. All three positions offer known commodities with franchise-changing positional -- the kind of rare talents who really get your juices flowing as a fan of the game.
So, with apologies to the highly qualified hog mollies up front, here are the most sizzling offensive (skill) players in this year's draft, Schein Nine style:
MY QB HIERARCHY
No need to overcomplicate things here at the top. You know the deal. Burrow was a star at LSU, logging the largest margin of victory in Heisman Trophy history while spearheading one of the most impressive national title runs in memory. He's going to be a star in the pros, checking all of the crucial boxes at the game's most important position.
When it comes to the first pick of the draft, Burrow's an absolute no-brainer for a quarterback-needy team. Congrats to the Bengals.
Yep, Herbert's my QB2 in this class. Color me smitten. The Oregon product provides a spectacular combination of arm strength and athleticism. He's also quite intelligent, as evidenced by his degree in general science with an emphasis in biology, as well as his three straight years as a first-team Academic All-American. And despite all the scuttlebutt about him not being a rah-rah type, Herbert strikes me as a natural leader.
I think it's a lock that Herbert comes off the board within the first six picks on the night of April 23. I've been saying that for a while. I believe the Dolphins (who hold the No. 5 pick) and Chargers (No. 6) would be quite pleased landing the 6-foot-6, 236-pounder. And although some draftniks believe he'll need time to marinate before taking an NFL field, I think Herbert can play right away if he has to. I loved Carson Wentz and Josh Allen in the walk-ups to their respective drafts. Both of those guys were big, athletic signal-callers with question marks about how they'd transition to the NFL level. Welp, I've been proven right on both fronts, as Wentz and Allen swiftly made an impact at the highest level. And I think Herbert can be an even better and more sizzling version. I'm here for it.
Look, I love Tua. He was an absolutely dominant college player, bursting on the scene as a true freshman relief pitcher in the 2018 national title game and finishing his Alabama career with some mind-blowingly efficient figures, including an 87:11 TD-to-INT ratio and a 69.3 completion percentage. In the video footage from last week's scripted workout/virtual pro day, the southpaw slinger looks healthy and spry. But the guy's had three surgeries (a hip and both ankles) in the past two years. That's a highly disconcerting series of lower-body setbacks for a quarterback who relies on his athleticism, agility and general twitchiness to skillfully distribute the ball all over the field. And in a prospect evaluation where health is the biggest question mark -- by far -- the coronavirus pandemic is blocking teams from getting a full look under the hood. For a long time, I thought Tua was going to be a prime trade-up target. Now, I am not so sure.
That said, I still think Tagovailoa ends up going top six, because if he's right, he's a franchise quarterback -- and those things don't grow on trees. This highly abbreviated pre-draft process might give some teams pause when it comes to rolling the dice on a clean bill of health, but somebody will take the plunge because the potential payoff is just too great.
THREE GAME-CHANGING WIDEOUTS
When it comes to playing wide receiver, electric speed and hulking size are certainly nice qualities to possess. Really, though, success at the NFL level typically relies on one simple thing: separation. And that's something Jeudy brings to the table in a major way, thanks to his spectacular route-running ability. Such a skill is QUITE transferrable to Sundays.
I think the sweet spot for the Alabama standout could be just outside the top 10, with the Jets and Raiders picking back-to-back at Nos. 11 and 12. Both of those teams clearly need a legit No. 1 receiver. Jeudy would sizzle as Sam Darnold's go-to guy. He'd lead the Raiders in catches in Year 1. Honestly, I'll be surprised -- even disappointed -- if Jeudy doesn't go to one of these two teams. He's the perfect marriage of need and value for either franchise in Round 1.
I love this cat. A true playmaker at the position. While Jeudy offers elite route-running, Lamb's just a dog -- in the best possible sense -- who specializes in contested-catch wizardry and wreaks havoc in the open field. Truthfully, if you're trying to determine the best receiver in this draft, you can flip a coin between Jeudy and Lamb. They're both Day 1 difference-makers who'll redefine their drafting teams' receiving corps.
If the 49ers, who pick 13th, team up Lamb with Deebo Samuel and George Kittle ... watch out! You know he could help a Super Bowl-caliber team right away. He simply explodes on game day. At Oklahoma, Lamb showed he has the chops for the moment. Pun intended. Hey, I've been cooped up in the house for over a month.
Speed! Speed! Speed! And more speed! Did I mention he's fast? Yeah, Ruggs posted the top time in the 40-yard dash at this year's NFL Scouting Combine, with a lightning-quick 4.27, and even that felt a bit disappointing. Given how absurdly fast the dude looks on the gridiron -- destroying all defenders' angles with obscene acceleration -- Ruggs had many believing he'd threaten John Ross' all-time record of 4.22. Must be nice to run a "slow" 4.27 ... Ruggs isn't just a speed merchant, either. He has great hands and a knack for the big play. In his 98 career receptions at Alabama, he scored a whopping 24 touchdowns. He's dangerous on all levels of the field and can be a terror on jet-sweep concepts.
I think there's a very realistic chance he goes in the 11-12-13 Jets/Raiders/Niners range. If he doesn't (New York could go tackle, and the Raiders defense), I cannot see how he gets past Denver at 15. Can't imagine Drew Lock would mind a field-stretching dynamo to complement emerging star Courtland Sutton. Miami will do backflips if Ruggs is there at No. 18.
DRAFT THESE TWO RBS IN ROUND 1!
My guy Greg Cosell from NFL Films has Taylor as his top running back in the draft. He will get picked late in the first round or early in the second. Personally, I think he should be a Round 1 lock. He's a classic NFL running back who was simply dominant at Wisconsin. Just look at his rushing yardage totals in his three years on campus: 1,977, 2,194 and 2,003. He showed growth this past season in the passing game, with five TD grabs, and then went out and blazed a 4.39 40 at 226 pounds in Indy. This is a consistent, durable specimen at the position.
The Georgia running back can do it all. I think his versatility and ability to step in and help a good team right away will make him a late first-round pick. Swift is fast, physical and an excellent receiver out of the backfield. I think Swift can be squarely in the mix for Offensive Rookie of the Year, especially if he's on the right team. Think: Miami near the end of Round 1, with their third first-rounder, as Good Morning Football megastar Peter Schrager recently suggested. How about Kansas City with the last pick of Round 1? Or the Chargers trading up into the back stretches of Round 1?
DON'T SLEEP ON THIS PLAYMAKER
As everyone knows, this draft is absolutely loaded with receiver talent. I think the three listed ahead of him on this list represent the first class. But don't let that diminish Jefferson's ability to step in and dominate right away. There might be a cap on his upside, but there is hardly a downside. I just love this kid's all-around game. I love his ability to execute in the red zone and on third down. Some questioned his long speed. Then he went and ran a 4.43 40 at the combine.
I think the sweet spot for Jefferson is 18-21: Miami, Las Vegas, Jacksonville, Philadelphia. He'd be dreamy for the Eagles at No. 21.