Live 2020 NFL Draft Grades
These Live 2020 NFL Draft Grades will be posted minutes after each pick in the 2020 NFL Draft. Follow @walterfootball for updates.
Cincinnati Bengals: Joe Burrow, QB, LSU – A Grade
The Bengals were undoubtedly tempted by trade offers, as the Dolphins were said to be in love with Joe Burrow. However, Cincinnati smartly held on to the No. 1 pick and selected Burrow. The LSU product is going to change the fortunes of this franchise, as the Bengals have been stricken with mediocre or worse quarterbacking ever since Carson Palmer left the team. Burrow, who has great accuracy, mobility and leadership, is a major upgrade over Andy Dalton, so it would’ve been a huge mistake to trade out of this pick.
Washington Redskins: Chase Young, DE/OLB, Ohio State – A Grade
The Redskins received trade offers from the Falcons and perhaps other teams, but they were never moving out of this spot. Charlie Campbell reported prior to the combine that Washington was absolutely smitten with Young and didn’t want to trade the No. 2 pick. The Redskins believe Young can average double-digit sacks per season, and they might just be right about that. He’s a supreme talent, and Washington would’ve been foolish to pass up the opportunity of having him on its roster for the next decade.
Detroit Lions: Jeff Okudah, CB, Ohio State – D- Grade
I like the player. I really do. This D- grade has nothing to do with Jeff Okudah. In fact, Okudah is the reason why this grade isn’t an O’Brien. However, this is very close to a failure. The Lions could’ve obtained Okudah at No. 5 overall. They should have at least obtained something for moving down two spots, even if it was just a fifth-round pick. This is just horrible management by the Lions.
New York Giants: Andrew Thomas, OT, Georgia – B Grade
There’s nothing wrong with the pick itself. Some say Andrew Thomas is the best tackle in the 2020 NFL Draft, and the Giants have to protect Daniel Jones. I’m a bit disappointed, however, that the Giants didn’t trade down. The Giants liked Thomas and Tristan Wirfs equally, so they could have moved down a spot or two, much like the Lions. However, a shift from No. 4 to 5 or 6 would’ve received less compensation that the Lions should have received, so I won’t punish the Giants as much as I did Detroit.
Miami Dolphins: Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Alabama – A+ Grade
The Dolphins once didn’t sign Drew Brees because they deemed him too risky. A few years later, they passed on Matt Ryan because they wanted to go the safer route with Jake Long. This time, they didn’t make the mistake. The Dolphins medically cleared Tua Tagovailoa, so he had to be the choice at No. 5 overall. What makes this an A+ is that the Dolphins didn’t have to trade up for him. The Miami front office did a great job of not panicking and getting its franchise quarterback.
Los Angeles Chargers: Justin Herbert, QB, Oregon – A Grade
The Chargers must be praised like the Dolphins were for not trading up and yet still being able to land a franchise quarterback. The only reason this isn’t an A+ is because I don’t like Herbert as much as Tua Tagovailoa. I worry about Herbert making lots of mistakes once he’s thrust into real NFL action – unlike the safe Senior Bowl and combine situations – but it’s not like first-round quarterbacks pose much risk anymore. Just look at the Cardinals. They drafted Josh Rosen, then gave up on him for Kyler Murray with no penalty. This is the right pick because of the upside.
Carolina Panthers: Derrick Brown, DT, Auburn – A+ Grade
Some consider Derrick Brown to be the second-best prospect in this class behind Chase Young. The Panthers were able to get the No. 2 prospect with the seventh pick, so you could say that this is a steal. The Panthers now reside in a division with Tom Brady, Drew Brees and Matt Ryan. Beating elite (and very good) quarterbacks requires teams to have elite four-man fronts that can deliver pressure consistently without the help of a blitz. Brown will be able to provide that for the Panthers. I love this pick.
Arizona Cardinals: Isaiah Simmons, LB, Clemson – A Grade
I had Isaiah Simmons slotted to the Cardinals forever, but moved him the day prior to the draft. It just made too much sense. Arizona was torched by tight ends week after week last year. They really needed to find a player who could help put a stop to that, and Simmons is the answer. Simmons will be able to play all over the Cardinals’ defense and help them immensely.
Jacksonville Jaguars: C.J. Henderson, CB, Florida – B+ Grade
This isn’t a sexy pick, but it’s a solid one, and it’s probably what the Jaguars should have done outside of trading down. We know that at least one NFL team slotted Henderson ahead of Jeff Okudah on their board, so the Jaguars might be getting their top cornerback at No. 9. Henderson is very talented and happens to be more athletic than Okudah, and he fills a huge need with Jalen Ramsey and A.J. Bouye both gone.
Cleveland Browns: Jedrick Wills, OT, Alabama – A Grade
I’ve seen several people suggest that Jedrick Wills clashes with Jack Conklin because they both played right tackle last year for Alabama and the Titans, respectively, but Wills is a natural left tackle; he simply played on the right side because Tua Tagovailoa was left-handed. With that in mind, I love this pick. The Browns made a huge mistake last year when they went into the year with Greg Robinson and Chris Hubbard as their tackles. Their blocking is so much better now.
New York Jets: Mekhi Becton, OT, Louisville – C Grade
Over Tristan Wirfs!? Mekhi Becton has unbelievable upside, but he has a very low floor as well. There could be weight issues, and he’s not exactly the most refined prospect. He could end up being a perennial Pro Bowler, and he could also eat himself out of the league in three years. I think Becton is way too risky for the No. 11 pick with Wirfs and the receivers available. I don’t hate this pick, but the Jets could’ve done better.
Las Vegas Raiders: Henry Ruggs, WR, Alabama – D Grade
The Raiders had both Jerry Jeudy and CeeDee Lamb fall into their laps, and they went with Henry Ruggs? Ugh, I don’t know about this. Jeudy and Lamb are such great, polished route runners, while Ruggs is just all speed. He has great upside, but he’s a raw receiver. He has the greatest chance of busting out of the top three wideouts, and that’s not good news for the No. 12 overall pick.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Tristan Wirfs, OT, Iowa – A+ Grade
Wow. I can’t believe the Buccaneers stole Tristan Wirfs. The Giants were very close to taking him – Dave Gettleman had him ranked higher than Andrew Thomas, but the coaches disagreed – so getting Wirfs at No. 13 is almost grand larceny. This is the perfect pick for the Buccaneers, who needed a big upgrade at right tackle to protect their 43-year-old quarterback.
San Francisco 49ers: Javon Kinlaw, DT, South Carolina – B+ Grade
The 49ers were desperate to trade down after Henry Ruggs was chosen at No. 12. They moved down once, and they tried to do so again, but ran out of time. I figured they might “settle” for the better receivers, CeeDee Lamb or Jerry Jeudy, but they opted instead for Javon Kinlaw. I worry a bit about Kinlaw’s injury history, which is why this isn’t earning an “A” grade. However, Kinlaw is very talented, and he could end up being a great replacement for DeForest Buckner.
Denver Broncos: Jerry Jeudy, WR, Alabama – A+ Grade
Ask three different people whom they believe to be the best receiver in the 2020 NFL Draft class, and you might get three different answers. The Broncos’ answer was Jerry Jeudy all along, and I agree with that. Jeudy’s football IQ is off the charts, and he’s a great route runner. He’ll be an excellent weapon for Drew Lock, and he’s a steal here at No. 15 overall.