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2020 NFL Draft: Quick-snap grades for day one

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The 2020 NFL Draft started on Thursday night with the promise it was going to be an event like no other. All 32 teams made sure their personnel were kitted out with multiple monitors, a collection of phones and a (hopeful) stable Wi-Fi connection.

Fortunately for all concerned, any potential technical difficulties were avoided and the spectacle emanating from the basement of league commissioner Roger Goodell is firmly underway. Who performed best on day one under these unusual circumstances? Read on.

AFC North

Baltimore Ravens

Grade: A-

#28 Patrick Queen – LB/LSU

Baltimore were one of the fortunate teams with no glaring holes on their roster. This means they went best available with Patrick Queen out of LSU. Queen is a game-changer and showed up big in the CFB playoffs. He still has much promise despite already being an NFL calibre sideline-to-sideline linebacker. Also, the best fun fact of the first round is related to this pick; Queen becomes the first ever LSU player to be drafted by the Ravens.


Cincinnati Bengals

Grade: A

#1 Joe Burrow – QB/LSU

Despite any efforts made by the Dolphins to trade into the #1 spot, the Bengals made the chalk pick with Joe Burrow. In comes the future of the franchise and the hopes of a brighter future.

Cleveland Browns

Grade: A

#10 Jedrick Wills Jr. – OT/Alabama


A fantastic pick for the Browns. Many projections had Wills as being the first tackle off the board. The talent is there for sure and it appears he can be a plug-and-play LT for the Browns. With Jack Conklin coming to Cleveland in free agency, Baker Mayfield will certainly have an improved 2020 season with this better protection.

AFC East

Miami Dolphins

Grade: A-

#5 Tua Tagovailoa – QB/Alabama

The only team with three picks in the first round and they started it right. The left-hander out of Alabama will call Miami home. Of course the big question that still looms is will Tua be ready to go by the time week 1 rolls around. Injured or not, this is the correct pick by the Dolphins. With multiple draft picks still to come, they can now build around Tua.

#18 Austin Jackson – OT/USC

Tua needs new protectors and with Jackson he gets a solid if unspectacular left tackle. Early on in the draft season there was not much talk surrounding Jackson. As the weeks have passed his name moved up and up draft boards across the league. The future is starting to look brighter for the Dolphins with promising talent like this.

#30 Noah Igbinoghene  – CB/Auburn

Miami moved back to the #30 slot after trading with the Packers. Many thought that they would go RB here, with plenty of options still on the table at the time. Instead they addressed the other side of the ball with Igbinoghene. An interesting pick with Xavien Howard and Byron Jones already on the roster. Plenty of picks still remain in Miami’s holster, running back will surely be addressed in the 2nd round.

New York Jets

Grade: A

#11 Mekhi Becton – OL/Louisville

An offensive lineman was definitely the right way to go in here. They had their picks of WRs available but the Jets front office has done the right thing in resisting this urge. Becton is a huge guy with serious power, Sam Darnold is getting a true protector. His nickname Mount Becton says it all.

AFC South

Jacksonville Jaguars

Grade: A-

#9 C.J. Henderson – CB/Florida

Henderson will not have to travel far for his new team. Truth be told the Jaguars need help all over the field. The rebuild for this team will start from the secondary.

#20 K’Lavon Chaisson – DE/LSU

The presumptive replacement for Yannick Ngakoue. This move also signals the Jaguars intent to reinstall its once feared Sacksonville defence. An exception athlete out of LSU who nearly chose basketball instead. Chaisson can also line up at linebacker, he brings versatility and competitiveness to the Jags defence.

Tennessee Titans

Grade: B+

#29 Isaiah Wilson – OT/Georgia

No huge surprise the Titans elected to upgrade the offensive line here. Their offence heavily relies on being able to establish a run game with Derrick Henry. Wilson is more of a developmental piece, but brings a lot of potential to Nashville. His footwork certainly requires work until he can be depended on as a stud right tackle for the Titans.

AFC West

Denver Broncos

Grade: A

#15 Jerry Jeudy – WR/Alabama

The Broncos were a team mentioned quite a bit in trading circles. The rumours were linking Denver with Jeudy but instead it was a case of biding their time and it has paid off. With Courtland Sutton already impressing, pairing him with Jeudy in the slot should give Drew Lock a lot of opportunity to make big plays.

Kansas City Chiefs

Grade: A

#32 Clyde Edwards-Helaire – RB/LSU

CEH is a great fit for the Chiefs. With this pick KC were likely to go RB and they have made a smart choice here. Edwards-Helaire did it all for LSU. From running up the middle to catching screen passes, it is yet another weapon for Patrick Mahomes and Andy Reid to have all sorts of fun with.

Las Vegas Raiders

Grade: C+

#12 Henry Ruggs III – WR/Alabama

Weapons were required for the new Raiders. With Ruggs they are getting a speedster who can stretch the field and match Tyreek Hill‘s ability to stretch the field. Whilst his production is not as high as college teammate Jerry Jeudy, this guy is still a legitimate threat.

#19 Damon Arnette – CB/Ohio State

It’s clear to see the Raiders had their eyes on cornerback with the #19 pick. They would certainly hoped for A.J. Terrell out of Clemson to fall to them here. With some teams having a third or even a fourth round draft grade on Arnette, this pick has echoes of the Clelin Ferrell pick in the 2019 draft. The Raiders have reached again here and they will need to hope this pick works out, unlike the Ferrell selection.

Los Angeles Chargers

Grade: A-

#6 Justin Herbert – QB/Oregon

The Oregon duck goes to LA. Everyone involved with the Chargers fell in love with this guy at the combine, no huge surprise to see him go here. Herbert can certainly sling the ball and has quick feet, a lot of keen eyes will see if his skill-set translates to success in the NFL.

#23 Kenneth Murray – LB/Oklahoma

This pick was acquired from the Patriots. A really solid pick from the Chargers, they are getting a true leader and a smart player. Murray can be effective on all three downs. Will not be long until he is a defensive captain in LA.

NFC North

Detroit Lions

Grade: B

#3 Jeff Okudah – CB/Ohio State

Rumours were abound right up until the pick was submitted that a trade would surface with #3 pick. Instead the Lions stayed put and have brought in Okudah to replace Darius Slay. Perhaps trading back would have been the way to go here, however it seems likely no decent offers were received.

Green Bay Packers

Grade: C

#26 Jordan Love – QB/Utah State

Well, well, well. The big shock of the night. Green Bay are making sure they future proof with this pick. Worth noting Aaron Rodgers is a year older than Brett Favre when the Packers drafted him. Will be rather interesting to get A-Rod’s thoughts on this pick, he made it clear he wanted more help in the pass game, perhaps it comes later in the draft.

Minnesota Vikings

Grade: A-

#22 Justin Jefferson – WR/LSU

This pick came over from Buffalo in the Stefon Diggs trade. With Jefferson they are getting his replacement. He saw great production at LSU, especially in his final year. Be it short passes that require catch and run qualities, or a slot route, JJ can do it all.

#31 Jeff Gladney – CB/TCU

Yet another cornerback for the Vikings in the first round. Gladney comes with durability concerns and is a little raw, but the upside is huge. He has a high football IQ and knows how to use his hands in contact. It may take a little bit of time, but the Vikings should make a dependable starter out of the guy.

NFC East

Dallas Cowboys

Grade: A

#17 CeeDee Lamb – WR/Oklahoma

With Lamb still on the board at #17, it was a no-brainer for the Cowboys to make this pick. They have arguably landed the best receiver in the draft. This selection will hurt divisional rivals Eagles, as they certainly will of had their hopes pinned on Lamb falling to them. Instead they will have to watch him on the opposing sideline. This pick will also certainly sweeten the pot for Dak Prescott‘s eventual re-signing with the team.

New York Giants

Grade: C

#4 Andrew Thomas – OL/Georgia

It was always gonna be an offensive lineman here. Daniel Jones needs keeping upright and holes need creating for Saquon Barkley. A surprise it was Thomas going off the board here, with Tristan Wirfs and Jedrick Wills still on the board.

Philadelphia Eagles

Grade: C-

#21 Jalen Reagor – WR/TCU

A polarising pick. With Justin Jefferson, Brandon Aiyuk and Michael Pittman Jr. still on the board at this point, it is surprising the Eagles have gone down this route. For sure they were desperate for help at wideout, but much remains to be seen if Reagor was the right choice here.

Washington Redskins

Grade: A+

#2 Chase Young – DE/Ohio State

With the second least surprising selection in the first round, the Redskins made Chase Young the latest addition to their defence. The unanimous best player entering the league in 2020. He provides Washington with an immediate upgrade on the front seven, which now features 5 first-round picks.

NFC South

Atlanta Falcons

Grade: C

#16 A.J. Terrell – CB/Clemson

A native of Atlanta, Georgia means Terrell is returning home. Perhaps the biggest of all the trade rumours involved the Falcons looking to move up, with talk of Jeff Okudah and C.J. Henderson being their targets. As it turned out, no one took their offers and instead they had to pick at #16. Terrell is a bit of a reach here, he is raw but the promise is there. Certainly not what the Falcons front office hoped for, but they have something to work with.

Carolina Panthers

Grade: B

#7 Derrick Brown – DT/Auburn

It’s easy to criticise this pick with Isaiah Simmons still on the board at this point. The fan-base will certainly voice their discontent but the Panthers are getting a quality player here. Brown is a disrupter and will provide stability for the Panthers defensive trenches for years to come.

New Orleans Saints

Grade: B+

#24 Cesar Ruiz – C/Michigan

The belief here was the Saints could go best available player here. Decent options at linebacker and cornerback remained but instead they have opted for an upgrade on the interior offensive line. Ruiz can play either centre or guard so it will be intriguing to see where he lines up.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Grade: A

#13 Tristan Wirfs – OT/Iowa

The Bucs acquired the #13 pick from the 49ers, moving up one spot. Despite only moving just a single slot, it was absolutely the right thing to do. The state champion in both wresting and track & field possess incredible power and strength. Tom Brady will be getting some solid pass protection from Wirfs. Great pick at #13.

NFC West

Arizona Cardinals

Grade: A

#8 Isaiah Simmons – LB/Clemson

A true position-less defender out of Clemson is rather surprisingly headed to Arizona. For the Cardinals perhaps going o-line should have been the way here, but there is nothing wrong with the drafting best available strategy. They are getting a quality player no doubt. He will be one of the league’s most exciting defensive players to watch, just as long as you know where to look for him.

San Francisco 49ers

Grade: A

#14 Javon Kinlaw – DT/South Carolina

This is an underrated great pick. With all of the focus on wide receiver here, the 49ers surprised a lot people with the selection of Kinlaw. He is a true 3-down player and will come in as a direct replacement for DeForest Buckner. They can pick a WR later in the draft in this deep class. This writer’s favourite pick of the round.

#25 Brandon Aiyuk – WR/Arizona State

The 49ers, already short on picks, moved up six slots by trading with the Vikings for the #25 pick. It was clear this move was made as the 49ers had their eyes set on this WR. Fearful that Aiyuk would not remain on the board until #31, it explains the trade up. It’s clear the 49ers front office want to extend their Super Bowl, with this move they are firmly in win now mode.

Seattle Seahawks

Grade: C-

#27 Jordyn Brooks – LB/Texas Tech

No other team drafts like Seattle. Often candidates for trading back, they instead kept the pick and took Brooks. A curious choice with Patrick Queen still on the board at this point, so it’s obvious the Seahawks front office saw a good fit here. He has much to prove however. The Seahawks drafted three inside linebackers last year alone, it is clear they are throwing darts at the position.

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