The Wrap - 2020 NFL Draft Edition

The dust has settled on the 2020 NFL Draft and I have to say that I absolutely loved it.

Of course, being in lockdown with not much sport to talk about whetted the appetite even more than usual, but it was more than that. Much more than that. There was a purity and simplicity to this draft - albeit forced - that we have probably not seen in our lifetimes.

I missed seeing players hugging Commissioner Roger Goodell as they realised their life-long dream of reaching the NFL and walking onto that brightly-lit stage, but I can live without parts of the normal drafts. The red-carpet shenanigans and $5,000 suits don't do it for me.

This draft was about a determined and compassionate leader in Goodell who pushed for a distraction that the world needed when some general managers and owners called for a postponement. And, most importantly, it was about the players who were at home with the families who helped them realise their NFL dreams.

After that, it became an enjoyable lesson in learning about the players heading to our respective teams. And I thought the combined crews from ESPN and the NFL Network did a tremendous job of telling us all about the prospects. I was even hanging on their every word on day three, which is not always the case, I have to admit!

There were winners and losers in terms of the teams and who they selected, but the real winner was the NFL and the sport of American football. The league was able to take centre stage for an entire three-day period and provide that much-needed distraction.

And I agree with Peter King, of NBC Sports, who wrote in his Football Morning in America column this week that the 2020 NFL Draft was Goodell's finest hour. It could have been a technical disaster or proven to be flatter than the flattest of pancakes, but the 2020 NFL Draft will go down in the history books.

We may never see another draft like this one, but we can always say we witnessed history by watching this virtual and historic selection process.

Who's Hot

The Dallas Cowboys...Not only was team owner Jerry Jones living large on his luxury yacht, he was overseeing a draft that should make his Cowboys the driving force in the NFC East this year. Dallas got an absolute steal when wide receiver CeeDee Lamb dropped to them at 17. This big-play talent can play inside or outside and scored seven touchdowns outside and seven in the slot in 2019. Dallas also took cornerback Trevon Diggs in round two, defensive tackle Neville Gallimore in round three and center Tyler Biadasz in round four. Encouragingly for Cowboys fans, the bright minds at Pro Football Focus listed all four of those selections as absolute steals. The Cowboys got significantly better over the weekend.

Eric DeCosta...Learning at the knee of the great Ozzie Newsome served DeCosta and his Baltimore Ravens very well indeed. The Ravens had another very strong draft as they manoeuvred up and down the board and made 10 picks covering almost every position. They stayed patient and waited for linebacker Patrick Queen to drop to them and he is a sideline to sideline run-and-hit machine. A modern-day defender with speed who doesn't need to come off the field. I also liked the addition of running back J.K. Dobbins to the backfield. With Baltimore's commitment to the running game, you can never have enough good backs.

John Lynch...The San Francisco 49ers had a good few days and not just in terms of adding at areas of need (which they did at defensive tackle and wide receiver). Those picks of Javon Kinlaw and Brandon Aiyuk were welcomed but the Niners also off-loaded a couple of players they deemed surplus to requirements in wide receiver Marquise Goodwin and running back Matt Breida. And then they addressed a real area of need by trading for Washington RedskinsPro Bowl left tackle Trent Williams. That was a much-needed move as we learned of Joe Staley's retirement and it solidifies the Niners at one of the most important positions in football. All in all, John Lynch has proven himself - over several years now - to be very good at this general manager thing.

Who's Not

The Green Bay Packers...You can spin it 78 different ways and explain it to me for about 29 hours straight, but I'm never going to get on board with the drafting of quarterback Jordan Love in the first round. Aaron Rodgers is 36 years old and can still play at a high level for at least another four years, in my opinion. How does this move help a Packers team that was 60 minutes away from the Super Bowl get over the NFC Championship Game hump? It doesn't. All it does is provide talking points and a distraction for the foreseeable future. I understand that teams want to safeguard their future at the game's most important position, but when you have a Hall of Famer in the building already, surely you do everything you can to make your team competitive every season? Rodgers needed passing game weapons and he didn't get them in this draft. And now he is going to be prickly as hell because if they try to sell the Love pick to him, how can he get on board with that? The only way Love gets on the field and succeeds in Green Bay is in a future without Rodgers. That may be okay five years from now and this could look like a good move. But right now, this looks like a disaster for Green Bay, especially compounded by their lack of interest in picking up receivers and tight ends on days two and three.

Bill O'Brien...I'm not talking about Houston's head coach and general manager getting caught on camera ranting at his laptop and technical equipment. I'm talking about an approach that seems to lack rhyme or reason. O'Brien traded away a considerable amount of draft picks to bring in veteran players, primarily left tackle Laremy Tunsil. That particular player will cost Houston first and second round selections in the 2021 Draft also. So it looked like the offseason approach was to focus on veteran players and not young prospects coming out of college. With that in mind, why the heck did this team trade wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins to the Arizona Cardinals? There doesn't seem to be much of a plan in Houston with O'Brien filling his dual role.

The Fast Five

The Miami Dolphins have to feel good about their draft. They grabbed their quarterback of the future in Tua Tagovailoa, three young offensive linemen, a couple of edge rushers, an athletic corner and a potential starting safety. And they added some explosive punch to their running game by trading for Matt Breida.

The Carolina Panthers are certainly buying into the whole "defense wins championships"motto. New head coach Matt Rhule may be an offensive guy but it would be hard to tell when looking at this draft. The Panthers grabbed three defensive linemen and four defensive backs. Not sure what it means, but I found it interesting and it was a first in draft history.

From Bill Belichick's dog to Kliff Kingsbury's showhome mansion, I loved being let into the homes of the NFL's head coaches and general managers. And I thought it was very cool that their families were involved throughout the 2020 NFL Draft. It added a nice human element to proceedings.

Look out for the Denver Broncos' offense in 2020. With Drew Lock developing at quarterback late in 2019, John Elway looked to surround him with talent and and speed. First-round wide receiver Jerry Jeudy is more of a possession receiver but is no slouch, second-round wideout K.J. Hamler runs a 4.27 40 and fourth-rounder Albert Okwuegbunam was the fastest tight end at the NFL Combine (4.49 seconds).

There were not many trades at the top of round one but the first could prove to be very impactful. Tampa Bay traded up one spot to grab Iowa tackle Tristan Wirfs. What a smart move. There is no point investing in Tom Brady at quarterback if you're not going to protect him. The Bucs are going to be fun to watch in 2020.

Finish That Sentence

After a hugely entertaining draft, you have responded via Twitter and I will finish some of your sentences here...

From Graham Byrne (@fitnessCoachG) The winners and losers of the offseason are...the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Houston Texans. I love Bruce Arians going all in for success by signing up Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski. And as I mentioned above, the first-round addition of Tristan Wirfs at tackle is useful. The Bucs, if nothing else, are relevant and I think they are a playoff team. As I have stated many times before, I cannot believe the Texans failed to make it work with DeAndre Hopkins. I also think Miami, Arizona, Cleveland and Dallas took strides forward this offseason. And San Francisco and Kansas City could easily be back in the Super Bowl as they still look incredibly strong. I'm not sure what the Packers have done to get better in Green Bay.

From Tony Wheat (@TonyJWheat) Aaron Rodgers will be...Absolutely fuming, at least on the inside. He will put on a brave face come training camp, but how can he be happy with the addition of Jordan Love? Packers fans will hope it motivates Rodgers to show his worth, but he is a pro who has always maintained high standards. He didn't need this kind of motivation to improve. If anything, this could have an adverse affect on his play in 2020.

From Nick (@niceasey) Draft grades without a single snap being played are the dumbest thing since...people decided it was okay to go to the beach during a lockdown! Okay, they're not quite that dumb. Look, we all seek instant results when we look back on a draft and I don't think it hurts to assess what a team did. But we truly don't know what each team has got until the players get on the field. The very fact that there are more undrafted free agents in the Hall of Fame than first overall picks suggests this is not an exact science.

From Adam Smith (@24ads) Aaron Rodgers will do a Favre/Brady and finish his career at...the place where it should have all began when San Francisco had the first overall selection in the 2005 NFL Draft. It's a tad far fetched but tell me this doesn't excite you, 49ers fans? Aaron Rodgers to end his playing days in San Francisco putting the finishing touches to a Super Bowl-calibre team.

From Spenny (@Spen92) The Patriots choice not to draft a quarterback was...further confirmation that they really do like Jarrett Stidham. Either that or they are about to make a move for veteran free agent Cam Newton. Look at the quarterbacks who have been available in the draft or via free agency this offseason. The Patriots have not even given them a sideways glance. As it stands right now, that means they really like Stidham and are prepared to roll the dice with him in 2020. But with Newton still on the market and Andy Dalton surplus to requirements in Cincinnati, there is still enough of the offseason left for that situation to change.

By the Numbers

13...A total of 13 wide receivers were chosen in the first two rounds of the 2020 NFL Draft - that is most in the common draft era, beating the mark of 12 in 2014.

15...The Minnesota Vikings had the most selections in the 2020 NFL Draft. By contrast, the New Orleans Saints had the fewest with just four.

29...There were 29 draft day trades with the Miami Dolphins, New England Patriots and San Francisco 49ers leading the way with five each.

38...Linebacker was the most chosen position with 38 coming off the board over three days. There were 34 wide receivers chosen and coming in third was the cornerback position with 27 selections.

125 and 124...There were 125 offensive players chosen in the 2020 NFL Draft, 124 from the defensive side of the ball and six on special teams.

Final Thought...

While we are in an uncertain world, the NFL continues to prepare for the 2020 season and rightly so. We need that hope and something to look forward to. And with that in mind, the NFL should give us plenty to talk about once again in early May when the season schedule is unveiled. Until then, stay safe everybody.

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