“The media has been higher than teams on many other prospects such as Blaine Gabbert, Matt Leinart and Jimmy Clausen. It could all be smokescreens, but I think Herbert is now a near lock to be the second quarterback selected.”
We are now officially under two weeks away from one of the most electric nights of the NFL Offseason and the Draft is an absolute mess. From players cancelling Pro Days to the Draft being held remotely from each GM’s home office, it is safe to say that 2020 is going to be….different. Although almost every aspect of the Draft is facing a high amount of uncertainty, I have focused in on five of the biggest questions heading into Draft Night.
- Who is the First Wide Receiver that will be drafted?
This is a tough one, and because the Wide Receiver class is so stacked, there is likely to be a run somewhere in the middle of the first round. Due to the depth of the position, teams that are needy may decide to wait to pick one in 40s rather than top 10. With that being said, the top of the class boils down to 1a and 1b being CeeDee Lamb and Jerry Jeudy, who both are guaranteed first rounders. Jeudy fits extremely well in the slot, and CeeDee may be a better fit to the outside, however both of these guys will find success anywhere on the field.
Prediction: I think Jeudy specializes better at getting separation, although CeeDee may have better physical traits. I believe Jeudy will be off the board first due to his versatility.
- How does this Defensive Line Class Compare to Last Year?
Last year was notoriously one of the most stacked defensive line classes of all time, but many of the first rounders struggled in their rookie season. Both Quinnen Williams and Clelin Ferrell, who were drafted 3rd and 4th respectively, had slow starts to their career’s. Brian Burns (16th) battled a broken wrist for the better part of his rookie campaign, although he posted great statistics and efficiency while available. Josh Allen (7th) and Nick Bosa (2nd) found the most success as they each posted 9+ sacks and made the Pro Bowl. The highly touted 2019 DLine class received mixed reviews to say the least. Hindsight is 20/20, but how does this year’s class compare?
I think Derrick Brown is the best Defensive Tackle prospect we have seen in years. He dominated the SEC and offers an unbelievable combination of pass rushing and run stopping abilities. To go along with Brown, Chase Young is the best edge rusher since Julius Peppers. Outside of the top 2, I really don’t see much depth. Kinlaw and Epenesa are both solid candidates, but I really don’t think there is much outside the top 5-6 prospects. The 2020 class lacks depth and may be one of the most top-heavy classes we have ever seen.
Prediction: Both Derrick Brown and Chase Young go on to become stars of the NFL.
- Will the Virtual Draft get Hacked?
Unfortunately, yes, this is bound to happen. Since the NFL announced that they will be holding a 100% virtual draft (coaches, players, and GM’s will be video conferencing in from their own homes), there has been serious speculation regarding the safety and security of the event. It is safe to say that a majority of coaches may not be as tech savvy as the millions of students taking online classes, which will make for one huge headache of a draft night. If you still aren’t speculative, imagine Andy Reid trying to make his case for a new running back when his Wifi goes out randomly. Do you really think he is going to be able to fix it?
Prediction: Mel Kiper cyberbullies Todd McShay all night. The Draft hits an all-out halt at some point to fix technical difficulties. A+ primetime entertainment.
- How Far Will Tua Fall?
I’ve been a bear on Tua since he won the National Championship off the bench. I believe he was a phenomenal college football player, but have always stated several reasons why he isn’t the top quarterback in the class, and through time Burrow has emerged as the clear media favorite. Besides his shady, injury-filled past, I also have thought another red flag is that he played in a very simplistic college offense that was filled with first round talent. As he has fallen from the clear media favorite to miles behind Burrow, I think that he will continue to slide to be the 3rd or 4th quarterback taken.
Part of his slide is due to Justin Herbert emerging as the possible favorite in Miami, and Jordan Love is also popping up on draft boards. Another aspect is that Tua flunked several physicals at the Combine due to undisclosed injuries in his past (including 2 broken wrists). Lastly, there has been talk that Tua’s board work and interviews at the combine were very weak and that teams believe his stock is highly inflated by the media. The media has been higher than teams on many other prospects such as Blaine Gabbert, Matt Leinart and Jimmy Clausen. It could all be smokescreens, but I think Herbert is now a near lock to be the second quarterback selected.
Prediction: I think Herbert overtakes Tua for the QB2, but I have a feeling that someone takes the chance in the mid to late first round. Love is such a wildcard that I could see him either pushing Tua to 4th QB or falling back himself. The Raiders sit at an interesting spot and Jon Gruden has wanted to draft a QB since taking over.
- What Are the Bucs Willing to Do for Brady?
It took a lot to get Tom to Tampa, and I am sure much of that has yet to be seen. Just like securing a star like LeBron in the NBA, there most likely has been a conversation about Brady having somewhat of an opinion on the GM moves. Tampa is 100% committed to the win now mentality and they should not take Tom’s opinion lightly when deciding on the 14th pick overall. In my initial mock draft, I had the Bucs picking Jonathan Taylor (RB – Wisconsin), but I could very well see them also trying to land a top offensive lineman. If they pick a running back, I think that Taylor is the best fit and most NFL ready of the class, but I also could see them filling their needs with J.K. Dobbins or DeAndre Swift. Protecting Tom is important, but just remember he holds onto the ball less and hits running backs more than any QB in the NFL. I also think they could be involved in trading for other cheap additions, such as Christian Kirk (rumors say Cardinals are looking to trade for a second-round pick) to plug into the WR3 spot.
Prediction: I love Taylor in this spot, but I could see D’Andre Swift being more likely as he may be the better receiving options. Look for several trades on draft night from the Bucs.
Image from Sports Illustrated