Why provide instant grades on the selections of prospects who have yet to take an NFL snap? Well, you're reading this, aren't you? Considering the makeup of every roster and the factors surrounding each pick, Gennaro Filice and Dan Parr attempt a division-by-division assessment of the 2020 NFL Draft. Keep in mind that these grades are based on draft hauls alone -- picks traded for veteran players were not taken into account. Below is Dan's review of the AFC West.
I liked the Raiders' selection of Henry Ruggs III at No. 12. In fact, I liked it a lot. But I liked Denver's selection of his former Tide teammate three picks later even better. Why? Well, while plenty of folks expected the Raiders to be the first team to draft a receiver (and they were), the board wasn't supposed to work out this well for Denver. In the 31 mock drafts published by NFL.com analysts over the past few months leading up to the start of Round 1 last Thursday, Jeudy was still available at Pick No. 15 in a grand total of five mocks. The Broncos landed the top-ranked receiver on many boards, and they didn't even have to trade up to do so. That's good fortune and a well-played hand by John Elway. Jeudy filled Denver's biggest need, giving second-year QB Drew Lock an ideal complement opposite Courtland Sutton. The former Alabama star has scored 24 touchdowns in his last 28 games. That's absurd production! Of course, Elway doubled down at the position, drafting Penn State speedster KJ Hamler in Round 2 and then took another pass catcher (Missouri TE Albert Okwuegbunam) in Round 4, but picking Jeudy was a great way to get the party started.
I actually predicted in my pre-draft mock that Murray would go 23rd overall (this mock was not published so you're just going to have to trust me; a big ask, I know, but I believe in you), so the fact that he was selected here wasn't the least bit surprising. What stunned me was the Bolts' decision to trade back into Round 1 to take him after selecting Justin Herbert sixth overall earlier in the night. I don't think anyone saw that one coming outside of the Chargers' brain trust. L.A. gave up both of its Day 2 picks (Nos. 37 and 71) in the deal with the Patriots. 'Twas a surprising transaction for a team with plenty of needs to address as it begins the post-Philip Rivers era.
Robertson wasn't the first cornerback the Raiders selected in this year's draft (Damon Arnette, Round 1), but he's first in our hearts. Underappreciated as a recruit because of his smallish stature, it was the same old story in the draft for Robertson, who fell further than he should have, likely because of his lack of size (5-foot-8, 187 pounds). No one should be surprised if he's the Raiders' starting nickel corner come the start of next season, though. Do yourself a favor and check out the man's highlights at Louisiana Tech. There's plenty of dog in Robertson's game. He won't back down from anyone. The lack of size didn't keep him from racking up 14 picks in his college career, and I expect him to punch above his weight again in the pros.
NOTE: Draft classes are ranked from best to worst within the division.
» Round 1: (No. 15 overall) Jerry Jeudy, WR, Alabama.
» Round 2: (46) KJ Hamler, WR, Penn State.
» Round 3: (77) Michael Ojemudia, CB, Iowa; (83) Lloyd Cushenberry, C, LSU; (95) McTelvin Agim, DT, Arkansas.
» Round 4: (118) Albert Okwuegbunam, TE, Missouri.
» Round 5: (178) Justin Strnad, LB, Wake Forest.
» Round 6: (181) Netane Muti, OG, Fresno State.
» Round 7: (252) Tyrie Cleveland, WR, Florida; (254) Derrek Tuszka, edge rusher, North Dakota State.
As I mentioned up top, love the way the Broncos kicked off their draft, snagging a Pro Bowl-caliber complement for Courtland Sutton and arguably the class' WR1. That was only the beginning of John Elway's tour de force when it came to adding help for one of the draft's biggest winners, Drew Lock, who made it clear he appreciated the effort by blasting out the cool sunglasses face emoji via Twitter shortly after the Broncos plucked another receiver with their second pick. Hamler can flat out fly, giving Denver the field-stretcher it needed. I would have liked to see the team draft a tackle at some point, but the squad did add help for the interior O-line. Cushenberry is a plug-and-play starter at center and Muti could prove to be a tremendous value at guard if he can stay healthy (played in just 19 games over four seasons due to injury). There's no denying there's some significant bust potential with a few members of this class, including the polarizing Okwuegbunam, which is why we tempered our enthusiasm for the group a bit. Plus, Ojemudia went surprisingly early, coming off the board at No. 77 after coming in at No. 148 on NFL Network draft guru Daniel Jeremiah's list of the draft's top 150 prospects. But there's a lot to like here.
» Round 1: (No. 12 overall) Henry Ruggs III, WR, Alabama; (No. 19) Ohio State CB Damon Arnette.
» Round 3: (80) Lynn Bowden, RB, Kentucky; (81) Bryan Edwards, WR, South Carolina; (100) Tanner Muse, LB, Clemson.
» Round 4: (109) John Simpson, OG, Clemson; (139) Amik Robertson, CB, Louisiana Tech.
Ruggs might not be the prototypical WR1 with size, but I'm not sure how much that matters because he's fast enough to run past just about every defender he'll encounter, and it's lazy to suggest he's simply a deep threat. I have no issue with Vegas rolling the dice on him even with Jerry Jeudy and CeeDee Lamb still on the board. Mike Mayock and Jon Gruden filled their biggest need with the pick and now Derek Carr has no excuse for failing to throw the ball downfield. And credit to the decision makers for not stopping there when it came to upgrading the QB's supporting cast. A receiver turned quarterback for Kentucky last season, Bowden will start off as a running back for the Raiders, but it's a safe bet we'll see him lining up in the slot, too. He brings the type of edge this team covets. A foot injury kept Edwards from working out at the NFL Scouting Combine, but if his hands improve, he has the size and strength to become a nice complementary piece in this recharged receiving corps. NFL.com draft analyst Lance Zierlein's player comp for him ( former Bears first-round bust David Terrell) is terrifying, though, as a recovering Bears fan who can still feel the pain of that disappointment. Now, Arnette at No. 19 was not as big of a reach as some are making it out to be, but it was still a little rich for my blood given that the second-best edge rusher in the draft (K'Lavon Chaisson) was still available, among other options that intrigued me more than the Ohio State corner. That said, corner was the team's biggest need other than receiver, so I get it. I mentioned my fondness for the Robertson pick earlier in this piece. The competitive streak runs strong in the undersized slot man who shouldn't be underestimated.
» Round 1: (No. 6 overall) Justin Herbert, QB, Oregon; (23) Kenneth Murray, LB, Oklahoma.
» Round 4: (112) Joshua Kelley, RB, UCLA.
» Round 5: (151) Joe Reed, WR, Virginia.
» Round 6: (186) Alohi Gilman, S, Notre Dame.
» Round 7: (220) K.J. Hill, WR, Ohio State.
Chargers GM Tom Telesco said this week that he would have taken whichever of the top three quarterbacks fell to him at No. 6, which is a refreshingly candid comment, albeit probably not the strong vote of confidence Justin Herbert would like to hear. Anyway, Herbert was undoubtedly picked earlier than where he was ranked on most boards, but that happens with quarterbacks all the time. If they couldn't trade down and feel confident they'd still get Herbert, they had to stick and pick. It's going to be interesting to see how much time the team gives him before he sees game action with Tyrod Taylor atop the depth chart for now, and whether Herbert becomes more comfortable with being aggressive as a passer. As for the surprising decision to trade back into Round 1, I'm a big fan of Murray, a three-down linebacker who will make plays all over the field. However, I'm not certain that sitting out Day 2 in order to get him was the best move for a team that still has a glaring need at left tackle (a position it didn't address in this draft). L.A. found some depth/special teams help on Day 3, starting with a player who can help make up for the loss of Melvin Gordon. Kelley helped himself with his performances at the Senior Bowl and NFL Scouting Combine. Landing Hill in Round 7 has a chance to be a good value. I mean, the guy is Ohio State's all-time catch leader and was projected to go two or even three rounds earlier by some draftniks.
» Round 1: (No. 32 overall) Clyde Edwards-Helaire, RB, LSU.
» Round 2: (63) Willie Gay Jr., LB, Mississippi State.
» Round 3: (96) Lucas Niang, OT, TCU.
» Round 4: (138) L'Jarius Sneed, S, Louisiana Tech.
» Round 5: (177) Michael Danna, edge rusher, Michigan.
» Round 7: (237) Thakarius Keyes, CB, Tulane.
There might not have been a better fit in the draft than Edwards-Helaire and the Chiefs. Quibble with taking a running back in the first round if you'd like, but Andy Reid has his new Brian Westbrook (or, gulp, perhaps an even better version of the former All-Pro). CEH is the dynamo K.C. didn't technically need (yes, the offense was already great) but will certainly get the most out of. I didn't love anything else about what the Chiefs did, but that's not really surprising considering their flexibility was pretty limited, as they entered the draft tied for the fewest selections in the league (five). There's a case to be made that they should have added a true corner earlier than Round 7, but that might be where Sneed, a safety last season at Louisiana Tech, ends up playing. Gay was one of the stars of the NFL Scouting Combine, but will he be able to put it all together and challenge for a spot atop the depth chart next season? Niang is coming off November hip surgery, but he has the tools to become a starter. On the other hand, seeing Danna, who wasn't considered a lock to be drafted, go in Round 5 was a surprise. This isn't a bad haul, but the excitement about it wore off for me after Day 1, which probably means this will be a great group.