2020 NFL draft winners, losers: Best, worst moves of all seven rounds
The 2020 NFL Draft is in the books, and what a draft it was.
It’s Joe Burrow time in Cincinnati, while a huge influx of tremendous receiving prospects are entering the league. Numerous teams have new faces of their franchise, while others kicked that can down the road for another year.
The three-day virtual draft was the first of its kind, and there was very little in the way of technical glitches. Though many assumed there would be a significant decrease in the number of trades between teams, that did not prove to be the case.
The draft offers teams the best avenue to acquire cheap, young talent. Many teams capitalized on their opportunities, while a few others left us scratching our heads.
With that in mind, here are the three biggest winners and losers from the 2020 NFL Draft:
The Ravens had a phenomenal draft. What else is new?
Year after year, Baltimore revitalizes its roster through the draft, and this was no different. First-round pick Patrick Queen seems destined to continue the Ravens’ great linebacker tradition, while second-round pick J.K. Dobbins should only enhance their already league-leading rushing attack. Their four third-round picks all offer promising upside, and Geno Stone could be a diamond in the rough in the seventh round. Baltimore was already near the top of the AFC, and they’re not going anywhere anytime soon.
New Orleans Saints
Let’s stick at the top, but move to the other conference. The Saints didn’t have many picks in the draft, but what few they had, they got tremendous value out of.
First-round pick Cesar Ruiz is a plug-and-play mauler in the middle of the offensive line. Then, in the third round, New Orleans added a tackling machine in Zack Baun and an intriguing offensive weapon in tight end Adam Trautman.
For a team that already had one of the best rosters in the NFL, the Saints managed to add three guys who should be significant contributors right away.
In terms of maximizing value, no team might have done a better job than the Cowboys.
CeeDee Lamb was an absolute steal at No. 17 overall, as were Trevon Diggs and Neville Gallimore in the middle of the second and third rounds. Then, in the fourth, they added arguably the top center in the draft in Tyler Biadasz, who should immediately take over for the recently retired Travis Frederick.
They added a bunch of talent to a roster that underachieved last season. There’s no question as to who should be the overwhelming favorites in the NFC East.
Honorable Mention: San Francisco 49ers
The 49ers got younger and better over the three days of the draft, while creating more salary-cap space. That’s a win no matter how you break it down.
Yes, DeForest Buckner and Emmanuel Sanders are gone and Joe Staley announced his retirement. You’d be hard-pressed to find a better example of pivoting on the fly — and absolutely nailing it.
First-round picks Javon Kinlaw and Brandon Aiyuk will immediately fill the voids created by Buckner and Sanders’ departures — albeit at a significantly cheaper cost. Those savings have already come in extremely handy, as they allowed the 49ers to trade for All-Pro offensive tackle Trent Williams, who is entering the final year of his contract and will command a hefty extension. Though it’s sad to see Staley go out on a Super Bowl loss, Williams is considerably younger, and, frankly, better. Somehow, someway, the 49ers upgraded the position, and it only cost them third and fifth-round picks.
San Francisco’s late-round picks were just icing on the cake. They’re all perfect fits for what the 49ers want to do.
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It’s almost impressive how little the Green Bay Packers did to help out Rodgers.
In what was arguably the greatest receiver draft of all time, the Packers drafted precisely zero of them. The only pass-catcher they did add was an undersized tight end who was a reach in the third round. Green Bay’s draft was already off to a rocky start after trading up in the first round to draft quarterback Jordan Love, who is quite obviously being set up to be Rodgers’ successor. The problem is — the biggest one, anyway — is how obvious it is.
One could make the case that every single Packers draft pick was made with Love — and not Rodgers — in mind. They took only one defensive player in the first five rounds, and the three offensive lineman they picked in the sixth are all projects. How exactly is that going to help Rodgers?
He might be saying the right things, but no one could blame Rodgers if he felt like he was being left out to dry.
Los Angeles Rams
Is Sean McVay an offensive genius or not?
If the answer is yes, which I believe, then why on earth would the Rams — who are in salary-cap hell and don’t have a first-round pick until 2022 — use their first two picks of the draft on a running back and wide receiver?
I get the need to replace Todd Gurley and Brandin Cooks, but that was a really curious decision. Cam Akers is immensely talented, but the Rams had bigger needs, and they used a third-round pick on Darrell Henderson just last year. Van Jefferson is intriguing, but he’s already 24 years old, and you’d think McVay would be able to scheme open less talented players.
Getting the two Terrell’s — Lewis and Burgess — in the third round was solid, but unless Akers is the second coming of Gurley — before the knees went caput — the Rams will continue to lose ground in the NFC West.
One of the most unbelievable developments of the offseason was Bill O’Brien gaining even more power and influence inside the Texans’ building. It was quite surprising, given that he has a long track record of being a terrible roster-builder. Case in point, the DeAndre Hopkins trade.
He jettisoned Deshaun Watson’s favorite target for a pitiful return, and while Ross Blacklock is a nice pickup in the second round, Houston appears to be flapping in the wind. There doesn’t appear to be any rhyme or reason from one move to another, and it would be impossible to blame any Texans fan for feeling quite underwhelmed.
Honorable Mention: New England Patriots
It’s a brand new day in New England, and while it’s rarely wise to question coach Bill Belichick, one wonders if the Patriots did enough to keep their heads above water now that Tom Brady is with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Kyle Dugger is a promising safety prospect, and given New England’s track record of churning out defensive backs, that should be a great value in the second round. The Patriots also know how to find defensive linemen, so you should give them the benefit of the doubt on Josh Uche and Anfernee Jennings.
But defense wasn’t the problem for the Patriots last year. Quite the opposite. Their offense was pedestrian, to say the least, and they didn’t add a single receiver. While they did pick two tight ends in Devin Asiasi and Dalton Keene in the third, that’s not exactly a murderer’s row for Jarrett Stidham, or whoever else is going to start under center.