NFL Draft 2021 – Quick update

In preparation for the upcoming 2021 Draft just wanted to drop a quick note to say I’m directing all my efforts into the excellent @NinetyNineYards #DraftTalk team – there are draft related articles on and we put a weekly Draft Talk podcast out there each week looking at the various position groups.

My recent articles have been:

Which position groups are hot or not in round one of recent drafts –

Who could trade back during round one –

Pointers to the top 10 draft picks –

The Curious Case of Nate Sudfeld

We all know what happened. Down by 3 points early in the fourth quarter, the Philadelphia Eagles got the ball back on their own 11-yard line, and out trotted back up QB Nate Sudfeld to try and overturn the deficit. Not Jalen Hurts. Bear in mind that Hurts had breathed life into the previously moribund, Carson Wentz-led offense and that in this week 17 match up the Eagles had the ability to help or hinder Washington’s progress to the NFC East divisional title. And upfront here I congratulate the Washington Football Team – and in particular the efforts of Head Coach Ron Rivera and QB Alex Smith. Both have triumphed over adversity and deserve their division title win.

I should preface the article with a reminder that yes I am a New York Giants fan, so there is an element of bile surfacing about this episode. However, that is not where I am coming from as I type. I was a big fan of the Super Bowl LII-winning Eagles side, and the fairytale story for Nick Foles, Philly special and all. Yes there is divisional rivalry but I have the utmost respect from fans of all NFL teams. We pick our team and we stick with them through thick and thin. But the actions of Head Coach Doug Pederson should be scrutinised by the league as it points to a wider problem.

Tanking – doesn’t everyone do it?

This is the first argument I’ve seen to explain away what the Eagles against Washington. The Jaguars and the Jets have been doing it all season – haven’t they? It is an impossible question to answer unless you are in the heart of those organisations. I would argue against this point on a couple of fronts. Firstly, this season has been unique because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Pre-season looked like nothing before and you can see how it impacted in particular on the weaker teams in the league. The pandemic has also played its way into player availability as the season has wore on. For the Jets, I would say that Doug Pederson is a far better head coach than Adam Gase – I’m not sure Gase could have done any better! The Jaguars were always a team in transition and unsettled at the QB position. The Jets lost four games by 1 score, the Jaguars six.

However, my main concern here is that Pederson’s decision to bench Jalen Hurts was in-game, at such a crucial point within a game. It is hard to draw a comparison with another sport but where else would you see a player who gives you the best chance of winning a game pulled for a substitute who has barely seen competitive action for years? In-game decisions of this nature, not related to injury, should be open to scrutiny.

But Hurts wasn’t playing well was he?

No, he had not had a great game to that point but QB statistics always need to be taken in context of the game. The Eagles were well and truly in the game, 3 points behind, despite his 7/20, 72 yards and 1 interception. So, sure pull him and give Sudfeld a whirl? Ask the Washington defense who they would rather close out the game against. Hurts would still have been a dual threat and was far more likely to mount a comeback than Sudfeld with his (prior to last night) 25 career pass attempts.

As for Hurts, he didn’t match the previous week’s 21/39, 342 yards, 1TD, 2INT, when he did not get benched early in the 4th quarter despite a much larger deficit – 13 points behind to the Cowboys. The argument that Pederson wanted to see Sudfeld in action to assess him just does not hold water, he has been on the books for 3 years – I’m not sure what 4 series (interception, fumble, punt, and a final spluttering 24 yards in 7 plays) will have told the Eagles organisation.

But the Giants should have taken care of business themselves.

In short, yes. Many Giants fans are pointing at Evan Engram and his drop in the week 7 loss to the Eagles by a single point. Win that one and you would have won 7 games. Yes and no. Like any time travel related movie you may have seen you cannot extract one moment out of the season and assume everything else followed as it has done. Who is to say the Giants wouldn’t have lost every single game after week 7 in that version of reality? Enough mind-bending – this is not about the Giants. I’m not writing this with the Giants in mind but in a wider context.

For the Good of the Sport

The Eagles did not owe being honest to the Giants but to every other NFL franchise. Several teams had nothing to play for in week 17 but many made every effort to win. If you watched the Falcons battle the Bucaneers, the Vikings and Lions clash, the 49ers against the Seahawks, the Texans and the Titans, the Broncos and the Raiders, the Chargers at the Chiefs – did any of these sides throw the towel in for the sake of a couple of 2021 NFL Draft positions? As a result of some of them pulling off that final W they have dropped down the draft board but their integrity is intact.

Slippery slope

Well it goes on every year doesn’t it? That is the other point I keep hearing. When you have a draft system that effectively rewards failure in an effort to balance the league, this will always happen. I don’t think that should be acceptable to the league and is something the Competition Committee should at least air out during the offseason. It maybe that without crowds, in the majority of stadia this year, some sides have been able to get away with it more than usual. I very much doubt that Pederson would have dared bench Hurts if the Eagles faithful had filled Lincoln Financial Field.

The relationship between Pederson and the Eagles fans has been strained throughout the year. His desperate clinging to Carson Wentz until the Eagles were 3-7-1 probably cost them a shot at the laughable 2020 NFC East title. It is clearly not a happy camp at the moment and it would have been interesting to see Pederson’s decision making over the last month if there had been more pressure on him from the organisation. I applaud their stability and remember they did walk off with the Lombardi only 3 years ago. But incidents like the one against Washington and the issue of who is the starting QB in 2021 are going to plague the Eagles during the offseason.

Looking to the draft

Now that they have the sixth pick of the 2021 NFL Draft they need to hit a home run with that pick – remember they took Jalen Reagor over Justin Jefferson last year, before taking Hurts in the second round. I would not be surprised to see them dip back into the wide receiver pool with that first pick – but the question of who will be throwing to them is open for debate. But I bet you it won’t be Nate Sudfeld!

As for what to do as a wider point about tanking, I think this is something that should be debated. Teams should make all honest effort to be winning games. Perhaps there is nothing that can be done but maybe, for specific in-game decisions that appear to impact outcomes, there should be a level of scrutiny which comes from the league.

The fans of all teams of this great sport deserve more than what happened last night.

Contenders and Pretenders

Contenders (teams who look strong enough to challenge)

Buffalo Bills 4-1
Josh Allen has demonstrated great progress in his 3rd year as starting QB. The addition of Stefan Diggs has given their offense an added dimension. The Titans gave them a bloody nose in week 5 and the Bills D does need to get healthy and back to their 2019 standards but they should take the AFC East.

Pittsburgh Steelers 4-0, Cleveland Browns 4-1, Baltimore Ravens 4-1
The AFC North is stacked with three true contenders this year. The Steelers offense is back in business with Big Ben at the helm and rookie WR Chase Claypool looks like another great find. The Browns are for real this year and have shown the ability to adapt gameplans to maximise their chances. The talent on offense should propel them to the playoffs. For the Ravens their offense has been somewhat muted in comparison to their stellar 2019 but they have a very solid roster on both sides of the ball which should see them through. The divisional match-ups will be key to who advances as division winners with the week 6 Browns @ Steelers the first glimpse of who will have the bragging rights.

Tennessee Titans 4-0
Could the Titans repeat the recipe on offense this year with Ryan Tannehill and Derrick Henry? Apparently so. They followed up three close wins with stuffing the Bills 42-16. With AJ Brown now back on offense, and a weak AFC South they should be able to navigate their win to another division title (and maybe better than 9-7 at last!).

Kansas City Chiefs 4-1
The Chiefs had opened with four straight wins but there have been signs of teams (Chargers and Patriots in particular) working out how to slow Mahomes and company down. Then the Raiders came to town and produced a stunning upset. So, some things for Andy Reid to ponder. This is still potentially the most explosive offense in the league but they may not have it all their own way.

Green Bay Packers 4-0
The focus and the determination of Aaron Rodgers looks borderline scary at the moment. The lowest number of points scored across first four weeks is 30! The script has been flipped since 2019 with the offense dominating and making up for some defensive frailties which may need correcting to be a true challenger or maybe Rodgers is going to do it all himself. Speaking of which….

Seattle Seahawks 5-0
Let Russ cook! That could be the summary. The Seahawks don’t win easy dull games. As with the Packers, the Seahawks defense is not going to win them the championship, but Wilson, DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett might.

LA Rams 4-1
Great coaching job by Sean McVay this year, after a disappointing 2019. The switch to Brandon Staley as defensive coordinator has renewed the defense, with Aaron Donald looking like he may be a good bet to beat the season high sack record (2001 Michael Strahan 22.5 – Donald already has 7.5 putting him on track for 24). The offense is back to an efficient scheme, run first then develop play action. They could repeat their 2018 challenge.

In the mix (they may mount a challenge)

New Orleans Saints 3-2, Tampa Bay Buccaneers 3-2
Both of these have shown glimpses of their ability to challenge, but they have also demonstrated their limitations. Both have experienced QBs, but Brees and Brady are not invincible anymore and Sean Payton and Bruce Arians may need to scheme their way out of that. Their defenses may need to help dig them out of a hole now and again. The battle for the NFC South title will be scrappy.

Indianapolis Colts 3-2
Are the 2020 Colts the Peyton Manning Broncos? They have a winning record and a top 10 defense but do they enough on offense? Injuries have stacked up (Marlon Mack, Parris Campbell, Michael Pittman) which has limited players available to Philip Rivers to look to. The system looks designed to take the pressure off Rivers and at least he is behind a good offensive line so he has protection. However, he has already looked like the Chargers turnover machine of recent years and that may impact their ability to make the playoffs in a strong AFC.

New England Patriots 2-2
Cam Newton looks like a great acquisition and will be one of the main reasons the Patriots will stay competitive. They remain one of the best coached teams in the league, particularly in terms of defensive game planning and situational football. However, as with the Colts, this could be a brutal AFC race to the playoffs and they may miss out in the end.

Dallas Cowboys 2-3
The Cowboys get to be in this category purely for three reasons: how poor the NFC East is this year, their trio of WRs (Cooper, Gallup and Lamb) and Zeke Elliott. With Dak Prescott now out for the year expect Andy Dalton to lean heavily on his superb trio of WRs and Zeke. The defense needs to press reset but they might win the division just by beating the Giants, Redskins and Eagles.

Frisky (will be a thorn in anyone’s side)

Chicago Bears 4-1
The Bears are 4-1! The Nick Foles Experience is in full effect again. Their defense has helped them to edge out some close games and they are heading for a difficult part of the schedule (Rams, Saints, Titans weeks 7-9 and still both Packers games). Survive those and they might accrue enough wins for a wildcard spot.

Las Vegas Raiders 3-2, Arizona Cardinals 3-2
Both these teams have shown signs they are working things out, particularly on offense. The Raiders have Josh Jacobs on the ground, Darren Waller as a premium pass-catching TE and WR Henry Ruggs as a deep threat. And they’ve beaten the Chiefs, which will give great confidence. Games against the Buccaneers and Browns following their bye week might tell us if they can make the playoffs. The Cardinals are built around throwing to Deandre Hopkins and Kyler Murray’s dual threat. They have stuttered a bit in a relatively soft part of their schedule with 5 NFC West divisional match ups to come. They may not get enough in the W column to make January football.

Carolina Panthers 3-2
In my view probably the best coached team in the league at the moment. Rookie HC Matt Rhule has taken a team predicted to tank in the pre-season and engineered 3 wins in firs 5 games. Offensive coordinator Joe Brady is getting the best out of Teddy Bridgewater and the rookie defensive pieces have helped mould the tough persona Rhule demands from his teams. Panthers will continue to surprise through the season and probably be around .500 which would be a very promising first season.

Season slipping away

Houston Texans 1-4, Minnesota Vikings 1-3
Much was expected from the Texans and Vikings pre-season. Both have disappointed in the first few weeks and are now up against it to mount any sort of challenge in 2020. The Texans have been decisive in sacking their GM/HC Bill O’Brien and they may play with more freedom now and become quite a dangerous team with nothing to lose. Their next two fixtures (Titans and Packers) may decide whether they can flip the switch or are destined for a 6-10 type season. The Vikings look similar on offense to 2019 with the ability to both dazzle and frustrate but the defense is a work in progress. Their run of divisional games in weeks 8-10 (Packers, Lions, Bears) will dictate if they can catch Chicago and challenge for a wildcard spot.

Philadelphia Eagles 1-3-1, San Francisco 49ers 2-3
Both of these sides have QB issues. Carson Wentz looks better running with the ball than throwing it and Jimmy G has the Super Bowl hangover from hell (remember he was probably 1 good deep ball throw from being a Super Bowl winner last year). The Eagles have what feels like perennial injury problems but they are in the dire NFC East so they could challenge the Cowboys. The 49ers are behind the 8 ball in a talent stacked NFC West and have had their own fair share of injuries on both sides of the ball. The Seahawks, Rams, and Cardinals have got a head start and even with Kyle Shanahan’s ability scheme up the best chance to win it will be hard for San Francisco to return to the playoffs this year.

Detroit Lions 1-3
This should read must do better, for the sake of HC Matt Patricia and GM Bob Quinn. There are small signs of improvement each week but not enough to secure the wins needed. Games against the Jaguars and the Falcons may dictate the future direction of the franchise. Win and they may be able to salvage something, lose and Patricia and Quinn can be added to the casualties of 2020.

On the mend

Miami Dolphins 2-3
The Dolphins are having some fun. They almost made it into the frisky section of the article. Crushing victories against the 49ers and Jaguars have been in-between close, 1-score, defeats to contenders the Bills and Seahawks. Ryan Fitzpatrick knows he is probably in his final flourish, with Tua waiting in the wings, and he is making the most of it. Again they look a well coached outfit by Brian Flores and his team, and with high picks already in the bag for the 2021 draft things are looking good for the Dolphins. A .500 season would be a step in the right direction.

Cincinnati Bengals 1-3-1, Los Angeles Chargers 1-4, Denver Broncos 1-3
The new shiny QB effects galvanised the Bengals and the Chargers. Burrow and Herbert may not have turned that into W’s on a regular basis yet but the future looks bright for both as they look really composed in their play. The Bengals have also added well to their defense which looks like it will grow into a much improved unit. The Broncos have been unlucky with key injuries which have negated any opportunity to see their young, fast offense in full flow. For the Chargers it is the defense which has been hit hard by injury. Ultimately all three will probably have losing records but they should be able to take positives from this year.

In limbo

Jacksonville Jaguars 1-4, Washington Football Team 1-4
The Jaguars looked good for about a fortnight with Gardner Minshew and rookie RB James Robinson fast out of the blocks. However, since their week 3 stall versus Miami they have fallen behind in games which is a place they cannot recover from, they have to get out in front. It will be interesting to see if they can pick some momentum back up, first of all this week with a winnable matchup against Detroit. If not it could be a long hard slog. For Washington they are in QB turmoil and that is not a good place to start. It looks as though Dwayne Haskins time is up, and the duo of Kyle Allen and the returning Alex Smith will not be able to conjure much with a talent poor offense. Their defense will cause problems for some and Ron Rivera’s effort during his treatment for skin cancer is heroic, but they look like a team in rebuild with one eye on 2021 already.

On fire

Atlanta Falcons 0-5, NY Jets 0-5, NY Giants 0-5
Oh dear. Not a win between them. One HC and GM gone in Atlanta (Dan Quinn and Thomas Dimitroff) and surely one more of each (Adam Gase for the Jets, Dave Gettlemen for Giants) will follow, A case of when not if. All three are already looking at their potential draft pick for 2021. The Falcons have shown a tremendous capacity to lose leads, with a defence which cannot stop the opposition. For the Giants, the offense has been the root of most issues particularly after the early season loss of Saquon Barkley. Dave Gentlemen has not been able to revamp a Giants roster which is still talent poor in areas and he will surely not be given another offseason. As for the Jets it is hard to know where to start. Sam Darnold is being wasted and could be lost for all the talent he has shown glimpses of at times. Worse still it looks as though the players and coaches are not on the same page. As I finish this article I keep refreshing my NFL app expecting to see the firing of Adam Gase, which seems to be the starting point for any recovery.

So where would I point to right now as a potential final four? I’m going to go with possibly the four strongest QBs and expect to see the Chiefs and the Ravens in the AFC, and the Packers and the Seahawks in the NFC. The next month’s matchups will help shape where we are headed!

In case you missed it!

Although I enjoy putting my own, sometimes random, thoughts relating to the NFL here on I also write for and I’ve concentrated recent efforts on there. Thought it would be worth linking up and providing links to my recent @99YDS work.

First up my recent preview of the NFL divisions as I see them at this point in time. I’m really excited about what the West has to offer, in both the AFC and NFC. I think their inter-divisional match ups will be among the most intriguing and exciting next season.

Part 1 – Go West! (NFC West)

Part 2 – The Wild Wild West (AFC West)

Part 3 – Best of the Rest

I’ve also been interested in how teams and coaches go about building a “Championship Culture”. I put together an article based on interviews Daniel Jeremiah and Bucky Brooks  held on their “Move The Sticks” podcast last autumn with several high profile head coaches. It was fascinating how the principles in building a football team could translate to pretty much any team situation, whether sport or in the workplace.

The article “Building a Championship Culture” can be found at

Hope you might find something interesting in amongst these as we wait for the start of the next NFL season!




The @47yards Quantum Leap Edition – 2010-2019

Back in the late 1980s and early 1990s I was a fan of Quantum Leap. For those of you who don’t remember it, or it was before your time, the premise was one of time-travel where the main character, Dr Sam Beckett (Scott Bakula) ‘leapt’ through time righting various wrongs with only a hologram of his friend Al (the brilliant Dean Stockwell) appearing to help him solve what he needed to do to leap again, trying to get home.

Reminded of the premise the other day I wondered about instances in the NFL over the last decade. Games are won and lost by the smallest of margins, sometimes on one decision. So, how might the last decade have looked if we make a few small changes, concentrating solely on playoff games.

February 5th 2012 – Super Bowl 46

NY Giants 21 – 17 New England Patriots (4th Qtr 0:05)

Watch this final play back. The Patriots are down by 4 after Ahmad Bradshaw had ‘fallen’ into the end zone for a Giants TD with 0:57 left on the clock. Conscious of leaving Tom Brady enough time to strike back, the New England Patriots defense had parted like the red sea to allow Bradshaw to run in from 6 yards out unchallenged.

Brady, starting on the Patriots 20 yards line, had managed somehow (in the midst of incompletions and a sack from Justin Tuck) to engineer one final hail-mary shot at a miracle finale. On the final play he evades the Giants token 3-man rush and hurls a bomb which is up for grabs in the endzone. Giants defenders deflect the initial throw but the ball then falls to the ground barely out of the finger tip grasp of Rob Gronkowski.

What if Gronk had stretched a little further or anticipated the deflection a fraction of a second earlier? The result could have been one of the most memorable final plays in Super Bowl history. BTW as a Giants fan this one hurts me to even contemplate!

New Result: NY Giants 21 – 24 New England Patriots

Let’s leap on!

January 11th 2015 – NFC Divisional Round

Dallas Cowboys 21 – 26 Green Bay Packers (4th Qtr 4:50)

It’s a catch. You know what I am talking about. The Cowboys are at the Packers 33 yard line with a 4th and 2, and they are going for it. Tony Romo, ever the gunslinger, eschews any thought of a short yardage gain for the first down. He sends a jump ball to Dez Bryant who catches it while falling to the ground with the Packers defensive back, and rolls into the endzone. Somehow it is ruled as he was not in control of the catch. I’m a Giants fan and I think it was a catch!

He could have been ruled down at about the 2-yard line but the Cowboys still punch it in, and I’m taking them to see the game out and advancing to the NFC Championship game.

New Result: Dallas Cowboys 29 – 26 Green Bay Packers

But there is more to do in 2015.

February 1st 2015 – Super Bowl 49

New England Patriots 28 – 24 Seattle Seahawks (4th Qtr 0:26)

So, sorry Cowboys fans but after beating the Packers in the divisional round I still think the Seahawks, the reigning champions after their destruction of the Denver Broncos 12 months earlier, face the Patriots.

Again, we all know where I am going here. This was a great Super Bowl. A real back-n-forth as first the Patriots led, then the Seahawks were up by 10 in the second half. The Patriots dominate the 4th quarter with 14 unanswered points to lead by 4. Finally, Seattle drive to the Patriots 2-yard line and with 2nd and goal call a pass play, a quick slant, which Malcolm Butler reads, intercepts, game over.

I have huge respect for Pete Carroll and the job he has done at Seattle but he is surely 1 playcall away from another Super Bowl ring. Let’s give the ball to Marshawn Lynch, he gets the 2 yards. The Seattle Seahawks have consecutive Super Bowl victories.

New Result: New England Patriots 28 – 31 Seattle Seahawks

Where next? Oh yes, 2017

February 5th 2017 – Super Bowl 51

New England Patriots 20 – 28 Atlanta Falcons (4th Qtr 4:40)

For three quarters the Atlanta Falcons were imperious. It wasn’t a contest. If it was a title fight the Patriots had received the standing 8 count from the referee and were one punch away from being KO’d. Then the comeback began and you could see the contender start to buckle as the more experienced champion summoned up all they had not and refused to be defeated.

However, even after 17 points were clawed back, the Falcons found themselves 1st and 10 with 4:40 left on the clock at the Patriots 22-yard line. Even if Matt Ryan had knelt down 3 times they could have kicked the field goal to go 11 points clear with possibly around 3:30 left. Instead, following a sack and a holding penalty they found themselves 3rd and 33, now out of field goal range. The Patriots sensed blood in the water, the Falcons were broken.

The 2016-17 Atlanta Falcons were an outstanding team and would have been worthy winners of Super Bowl 51. Let’s change the playcalling on that fateful drive, they kick the field goal and although the Patriots score another TD it is Atlanta lifting the trophy.

New Result: New England Patriots 28 – 31 Atlanta Falcons

Here’s where it gets fun – lots to change in 2018 so it’s a quickfire round!

January 13th and 14th – NFC Divisional Round
First of all it is sorry to Minnesota Vikings fans. The Minneapolis Miracle doesn’t happen. With 10 seconds left, on their own 39 yard line, 3rd and 10, but this time Saints Safety Marcus Williams concentrates on tackling Stefan Diggs in-bounds and time expires. The amazing Case Keenum show ends here.

January 21st – AFC Championship Round
In almost identical fashion to the previous year’s Super Bowl, the Patriots toyed with a pretender to the throne. Blake Bortles and the Jaguars largely dominated the first three quarters, which is never enough. The Jaguars ad taken part in one of the best divisional round games I’ve seen the week before as they and the Steelers had ‘duked’ out a 45-42 classic. Against the Patriots though the Jags dried up on offense as the game progressed. At the end it was a brilliantly batted down ball from Stephon Gillmore which sealed the Patriots progression. This time he doesn’t quite make it, the completion is made and the Jaguars win out.

What would this do to Super Bowl 52? Who would the Jaguars play? I’m going with the Saints as they struggles past the Falcons in the divisional round and I think the Saints would have edged them. If this was to play out I think the New Orleans Saints would walk off with Super Bowl 52.

There is one more Super Bowl I think I need to save…..on to 2019

January 13th 2019 – NFC Championship

LA Rams 20 – 20 New Orleans Saints (4th Qtr 1:48)

What did the officials see? Nothing, clearly. Everyone else did. Known as the “worst no call in NFL playoff history”. The Saints are 3rd and 10 at the Rams 13-yard line. The Rams only have 1 timeout remaining. Drew Brees finds Tommylee Lewis on the sideline or at least he would have done if Rams corner Nickell Robey-Coleman hadn’t slammed him mid-air before the ball arrived. Clearcut pass interference, at the very least. It should have been Saints 1st and goal with 1:45 left which would have given them scope to run the clock down before kicking a game winning field goal – or the opportunity to run in a TD.

In watching the video back the irony is that Coleman could have waited a split second and tackled Lewis fairly and out of bounds, about 3 yards short of the first down. Sean Payton would have then had to decide whether to go for it or kick the field goal. Either way, I hated the call (or non-call) so my yellow flag is thrown to the ground.

New Result: LA Rams 20 – 23 New Orleans Saints

This would have resulted in a Saints vs Patriots Super Bowl 53, Brees vs Brady. It would have been more of a classic than the 13-3 result. Remember in my alternate universe the Saints won in 2018 so I’m giving them 2 in a row winning Super Bowl 53.

So, there we have it, a rewritten history for the last decade of NFL Playoffs. Unsurprisingly, the Patriots are the team most affected by my time travel exercise. Three titles taken away but one added. I think it shows just how ruthless they have been in playoff football, often capitalising on individual moments in games on the biggest stage. They know how to win.

Seahawks and Saints fans should be happy as I’ve created mini-dynasties for them with both achieving back-to-back victories. Again, these are two of the strongest NFC franchises of the last 10 years but it demonstrates how close you can get to a title, to within touching distance, before having victory swiped away from you. And the Falcons don’t capitulate from 28-3 up.

How would you change NFL history by a split-second here or an inch there? It could all have been so different, the beauty of competitive sport. I wonder what 2020-21 has in store for us…….

NFL Draft 2020 – Team by Team review

I’ve already posted my Top 10 takeaways on but i wanted to do a quickfire team by team grade and analysis of the 2020 NFL Draft. Let’s dive right in, division by division.

AFC East

Buffalo Bills – A
The Bills did not have a day 1 pick due to the Stefan Diggs trade, but his addition will certainly be worth the trade. They then nailed their next four picks – AJ Epenesa fell to #54 and helps build strength on strength for the Buffalo D. Zack Moss (RB) and Gabriel Davis (WR) are excellent additions to the offense, and then Jake Fromm (who is about as different a QB as you could get from Josh Allen) could develop into a really sound back up to Allen. And I love they took kicker Tyler Bass!

Miami Dolphins – B
The Dolphins had 3 picks on day 1 and, for me, 2 of those 3 were a reach (Austin Jackson & Noah Igbinoghene). They did have highlights though – offensive lineman Robert Hunt in round 2 and edge rusher Curtis Weaver dropping all the way to round 5. They are going through a roster reset and will need to hope the prospects develop how they hope.

New England Patriots – B+
Loved what the Patriots did on day 2 – the defensive trio of Kyle Dugger (S), Josh Uche and Anfernee Jennings (EDGE) may help to offset the losses of Jamie Collins and Kyle Van Noy. They also picked up two tight ends (Devin Asiasi and Dalton Keene) who have the versatility to prove themselves as starters in the now Brady-less offense.

New York Jets – A
The Jets nailed it early on to support Sam Darnold by bolstering the offensive line (Mekhi Becton) and a big, imposing receiver (Denzel Mimms). Ashtyn Davis has track athlete speed and a high football IQ – if they can hang on to Jamal Adams they will have an impressive secondary in 2020.

AFC North

Baltimore Ravens – A+
Oh c’mon, give us a break… Patrick Queen falls to them in round 1 at #28, JK Dobbins adds to their all powerful run game in the second round and top defensive tackle slips to round 3. They hit home runs all the way down – both day 3 guards (Ben Bredeson and Tyre Phillips) have the ability to be starters and slot receiver James Proche will prove a very useful pickup.

Cincinnati Bengals – A
The Bengals did not fluff their lines picking first in every round of the draft. Burrow in the bag and Tee Higgins to throw to at the top of round 2. Linebacker help has arrived in Logan Wilson, Akeem Davis-Gaither and late on day 3 Markus Bailey. Hakeem Adniji was also a great pick up in round 6 to add depth on the offensive line.

Cleveland Browns – A-
Big Boy draft for the Browns this year. Every pick should give them a great return. Jedrick Wills is a great tackle (but he’ll likely need to switch to LT rather than Conklin). Grant Delpit (S), Jordan Eilliot (DT) and Jacob Phillips (LB) all improve the defense. They seem to be collecting TEs with Harrison Bryant in round 4 – is David Njoku on the way out?

Pittsburgh Steelers – B
Not too much to get excited about here as the Steelers only had 6 picks but they did make solid choices. Highlight for me would be the second rounder Chase Claypool who has the ability to fulfil a WR/TE hybrid role.

AFC South

Houston Texans – B-
Did they have any picks left? Five picks in total and they managed to do what they could with them. Ross Blacklock (DT) will be disruptive on defense and Charlie Heck in round 4 (OT) is a good prospect. Try and keep some picks in 2021 hey Bill?

Indianapolis Colts – A+
Love it. After bringing in Phillip Rivers they give him the best chance to win by drafting Michael Pittman JR at receiver (he will become their #1) and Jonahtan Taylor (RB) to help keep defenses honest. Then in round 4 they draft Rivers’ potential successor – QB Jacob Eason has a great spot here to watch and learn from Rivers and then take over in 1-2 years.

Jacksonville Jaguars – B+
Nice start on day 1 with their 2 picks as CJ Henderson (CB) and K’Lavon Chaisson (EDGE) help to rebuild the defence. Laviska Shenault JR adds yards after catch as a receiver – as long as he stays healthy. Ben Bartch (OT) is raw and new to the position but shows promise and on day 3 WR Collin Johnson adds size and presence as a pass catcher.

Tennessee Titans – C+
Titans were another team with limited picks. They did need to replace Jack Conklin at right tackle but Isaiah Wilson at #29 could be rich. Kristian Fulton (CB) fell down the boards against other defensive backs so the end of round 2 became good value. Nothing stood out with their other picks.

AFC West

Denver Broncos – A-
The Broncos went all out at wide receiver by double dipping first two rounds. Jerry Jeudy was the best route runner of the draft and KJ Hamler has great speed in the slot. Lloyd Cushenberry is good enough to start at center straightaway and Justin Strnad (LB) on day 3 was another high point.

Kansas City Chiefs – A
Like the Ravens, the Chiefs solidified and consolidated strengths. Clyde Edwards-Helaire (RB) is a dual weapon 3-down back (as if that offense needed help). Willie Gay JR (LB) is a ferocious downhill defender and L’Jarius Sneed a versatile defensive back which will bolster the ‘Spags’ D.

Las Vegas Raiders – B-
Ok, I get it, they are in Vegas now so it’s glitz, glamour and gambling hereon-in. That’s how it seemed in the draft. Taking Henry Ruggs before Jeudy or Lamb screamed “the need for speed”. I hope he’s not another John Ross. Damon Arnette was a huge reach at #19 when other options were there at CB. Lynn Bowden is perhaps even more exciting than Ruggs in terms of the versatility he brings (they could use him similar to how 49ers use Deebo Samuel). Amik Robertson was my favourite prospect at the nickel CB position – so tough and physical even at only 5’8”.

Los Angeles Chargers – B+
The Chargers got their QB of the future in Justin Herbert and followed up by trading up for LB Kenneth Murray. It cost them in day 2 picks but it will be worth it. Big value on day 3 with, somehow, slot receiver KJ Hill falling to them in round 7.

NFC East

Dallas Cowboys – A
CeeDee Lamb at #17? How? The Cowboys struck lucky and Jerry did not blink. Followed that up by improving the secondary (Trevon Diggs and Reggie Robinson) and Gallimore on the defensive line is a real disruptor. Their luck continued on day 3 with Bradlee Anae (EDGE) in round 5. They should now challenge the Eagles.

New York Giants – B
Solid draft – very much focused on solving the o-line issues (3 of the first 5 picks). Xavier McKinney was the highlight, falling to them in round 2. More help came to the secondary and at linebacker but the fans would have liked to see some pass rush in there.

Philadelphia Eagles – C+
Jalen Reagor over Justin Jefferson? That could haunt the Eagles in years to come. Reagor was a reach at #21 and using a 2nd round pick for what will be a developmental back up QB (Jalen Hurts) may also prove rich. There were nice picks in here – round 6 LB Shaun Bradley for one, but with the Cowboys improvement they may look back and rue the early picks.

Washington Redskins – B
Maybe you get an A just for Chase Young? My concern here would be that if you knew that Trent Williams was on the way out maybe you should have picked up the tackle before Saahdiq Charles on day 3 (could have had Josh Jones round 3).

NFC North

Chicago Bears – B-
Another TE? Cole Kmet is yet another addition to those ranks in Chicago. My highlight would be Jaylon Johnson at CB who would have gone round 1 if not for a current injury he is working through. Not much else of note, with only 2 picks across first 2 days.

Detroit Lions – B
Lots of holes on D to fill and Jeff Okudah (CB) and Julian Okwara (EDGE) go some way to doing that but I would like to have seen more creativity across those first 2 days to get another starting defender.

Green Bay Packers – B-
I can see it. This is a changing of the guard in the way the Packers move the ball. Less reliance on Rodgers and that may not go down well at first or even for a season or two. Love is the future in Green Bay. AJ Dillon is a bull of a running back – let’s hope Rodgers doesn’t mind handing off to him 15 times a game! Really interested to see how Packers play offense in 2020.

Minnesota Vikings – A+
Everything about this should make the Vikings favourites for the division. Justin Jefferson replaces Stefon Diggs. Jeff Gladney and Cameron Dantzler replenish the secondary. Ezra Cleveland will be a great offensive tackle and loved James Lynch (DE from Baylor in round 4). Also watch for EDGE Kenny Willekes from round 7 – no one will work harder to make the team.

NFC South

Atlanta Falcons – B+
Only six picks but nailed the first 3 – AJ Terrell is a ball-hawk of a cornerback and Marlon Davidson was somewhat in the shadow of Derrick Brown at Auburn but has great rushing instinct. Matt Hennessy was one of the top centers in the draft so pick #78 was great value.

Carolina Panthers – B
All defensive picks? What, all 7 of them? Your offense is fine then, right? Great picks on one side of the ball – loved the opening trio of Derrick Brown, Yetur Gross-Matos and Jeremy Chinn but you could have used one guy on offense, surely?

New Orleans Saints – B
Only 2 days work for the Saints with no day 3 picks. Given they are a Super Bowl contender they could perhaps have used their first round pick on Patrick Queen (LB) but instead they renewed the offensive line with Cesar Ruiz. They did go linebacker in round 3 but I would have flipped those two positional picks. Adam Trautman could be the best TE in the class.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers – A
You cannot doubt the Bucs are all in. They sought to back up TB12 with a tackle in round 1 (Tristan Wirfs), a running back in round 3 (Ke’Shawn Vaughn) and another receiver to that talented group in round 5 (Tyler Johnson). There were a couple of defensive picks too in there somewhere – Antoine Winfield JR joins at safety.

NFC West

Arizona Cardinals – A+
Another group where I loved everything – Isaiah Simmons at #8 then somehow Josh Jones in round 3. Round 4 added to the D-line (Leki Fotu and Rashard Lawrence) and running back Eno Benjamin falling to round 7 was a mystery but great fortune for the Cardinals. They will compete in a tough division next season.

Los Angeles Rams – B
The Rams lost their way last year, a sort of Super Bowl loss hangover. The draft sought to reaffirm their identity. Cam Akers (RB) helps to fill the gap left by Todd Gurley and Van Jefferson (WR) is as smooth a route runner as you can find. They’ll hope EDGE Terrell Lewis can stay fit on defense.

San Francisco 49ers – B+
John Lynch works magic. He somehow convinced the Bucs to swap places in round one and they still got Javon Kinlaw (their replacement for DeForest Buckner). The Brandon Aiyuk pick later that round show provide the Kyle Shanahan offense with another exciting piece but trading up to #25 may be a reach.

Seattle Seahawks – B-
Seattle continued to pick future Seahawks. The first 2 picks were classic Seattle – raw athletic talent that they feel they can coach on technique. Jordyn Brooks (LB) ahead of Patrick Queen will be contentious if Brooks does not work out. Damien Lewis was a nice grab in round 3 at guard and I love the potential of DeeJay Dallas (RB round 4) and Alton Robinson (EDGE round 5) but they need the early picks to work out.

That’s it – my quick assessment of everyone’s 2020 draft haul. Time will tell!

47 Yards – 2020 NFL Draft (Mock 2.0)

Following on from the 4-part Mock Draft 1.0 I decided to revisit my thoughts with a little over a week to go to the, now virtual, draft.

Once again I used the ProFootball Network Mock Simulator which is particularly useful when it comes to working out whether your trade ideas have a remote chance of happening for real.

For this version I also tried to play out a notably different set of circumstances from the first mock to see how early trade impact on the selections later on in round one.

We start with the Miami Dolphins making a major move up from 5th to 1st (via Detroit at 3) which completely shakes up the top 10 picks. This is based on a scenario where Joe Burrow does not want to end up in Cincinnati and the Bengals have to make the best of the situation. They still come out with their next franchise QB and an additional first round pick, so not all is lost.
1. Miami Dolphins – Joe Burrow QB, LSU
(previous picks in the brackets – for the Dolphins this was Tua)
It is pretty much nailed on, for me at least, that the Dolphins are going to take a quarterback with their first pick. The consensus has been that, with Ryan Fitzpatrick a very capable starter for 2020, they can pick someone who sits for a year (hence the link to Tua). However, they are also the team with the draft capital (including additional 2021 picks) to go all the way to the first pick to take Burrow. The deal went down as follows.

The Bengals are only content if they fall to #3 so the Dolphins have to deal with the Lions first and then Cincinnati.

MIA #5 & #39 for DET #3

MIA #3, #18, #56 #154, #173 (plus a 2021 1st and 2nd round pick)
2. Washington Redskins – Chase Young, EDGE, Ohio State
(1.0 – Tristan Wirfs)
In the last draft it was Washington dealing with Miami but for this second mock the Redskins are content to sit second and take potentially the best prospect in this year’s draft.

3. Cincinnati Bengals – Justin Herbert, QB, Oregon
(1.0 – Joe Burrow)
So the Bengals miss out on Burrow but they are able to secure Justin Herbert. In this scenario I think Herbert is a good fit in Cincinnati. He could learn from (and push) Andy Dalton and this may be viewed as a safer pick than Tua or Love (potentially lower ceiling but higher floor). A controversial pick but could be making the best of things if played out this way.

4. New York Giants TRADE
In this scenario the Chargers watch as the first 2 QBs are off the board inside three picks. This may stir them into action and it would not necessarily take much to deal with the Giants and move up 2 spots, just to be sure. Tua slots in nicely behind Tyrod Taylor (to start the season at least) and is a great draw for the now LA-based Chargers franchise.

LA Chargers – Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Alabama LAC #6 & #37 for NYG #4
(1.0 Justin Herbert)

5. Detroit Lions – Jeffrey Okudah, CB, Ohio State
(1.0 – Chase Young)
First time around Chase Young fell into the Lions lap at #3 but here we see them drop to #5, Young is gone but they are still able to select a player who is consistently mocked to them, making up for the loss of Darius Slay – plus watch out for them then trading back into round 1 later….

6. NY Giants – Jedrick Wills, OT, Alabama
(1.0 – Isaiah Simmons)
Dave Gettlemen seems to have a straight choice and whichever way he goes (top tackle or Simmons is the consensus) he probably upsets half the Giants fan base. This time I have gone with what feels more like a Gettlemen pick, and the need at RT is apparent.

7. Carolina Panthers – Isaiah Simmons, LB/S, Clemson
(1.0 – Jeffrey Okudah)
Carolina still pick up a new key defensive piece and Simmons feels like a Panthers (and Matt Rhule) type player, fast and aggressive. It’s a nice fit.

8. Arizona Cardinals – Tristan Wirfs, T/G, Iowa
(1.0 – Mekhi Becton)
Staying on the O-line for the Cardinals with a slight switch to Wirfs, solely because of this versatility and the ability to kick-inside to guard if necessary.

9. Jacksonville Jaguars – Derrick Brown, DT, Auburn
(1.0 – Derrick Brown)
No change for the Jaguars – staying with Brown, a great way to start rebuilding this defense with a Calais Campbell type replacement.

10. Cleveland Browns – Mekhi Becton, OT, Louisville
(1.0 – Andrew Thomas)
Another O-line pick but as Becton is still available this time around the Browns take him over Andrew Thomas. Size over technique take here.

11. New York Jets – CeeDee Lamb, WR, Oklahoma
(1.0 – CeeDee Lamb)

12. Las Vegas Raiders – Jerry Jeudy, WR, Alabama
(1.0 – Jerry Jeudy)

13. 49ers – Javon Kinlaw, DT, S. Carolina
(1.0 – Javon Kinlaw)

With picks 11 through 13 I see no reason for any changes. I see Lamb and Jeudy as the first two receivers off the board (with Henry Ruggs II close behind), and Kinlaw is a great replacement for DeForest Buckner using the pick they got from the Colts in the trade.

14. Tampa Bay Buccanneers – Andrew Thomas, OT, Georgia
(1.0 – Jedrick Wills)
This completes the re-ordering of the four top offensive tackles and the Bucs get probably the best technician of the four to help protect Tom Brady.

15. Denver Broncos – Henry Ruggs III, WR, Alabama
(1.0 – CJ Henderson)
Mulled this one over after the first mock draft and it just did not excite me for Denver. I’ve swapped their picks this time around (WR first then CB) and look what they get – now this is exciting!

16. Atlanta Falcons – K’Lavon Chaisson, EDGE, LSU
(1.0 – K’Lavon Chaisson)
Same again here for the Falcons. defense will be the focus and Chaisson is a great start in improving that side of the roster.

17. Dallas Cowboys – CJ Henderson, CB, Florida
(1.0 – Xavier McKinney)
Another situation where I was not 100% comfortable with the pick last time. Stayed in the secondary but as CJ Henderson is available this time around I’ll take him over McKinney. Helps to make up for missing Byron Jones.

18. Cincinnati Bengals (pick gained from Miami) – AJ Epenesa, EDGE, Iowa
This is the additional pick the Bengals have picked up from the earlier trade and they use it to upgrade at another key position. First pick they got their QB so with this pick they get some help to get after everyone else’s.

19. Las Vegas Raiders – AJ Terrell, CB, Clemson
(1.0 Jordan Love)
Last time around the Raiders used their second pick to go for Jordan Love. This time they pass on Love and go after another Clemson CB to partner with Travyon Mullen. Vegas could be a no-fly zone….

20. Jacksonville Jaguars – Kenneth Murray, LB, Oklahoma
(1.0 – Kenneth Murray)

21. Philadelphia Eagles Justin Jefferson, WR, LSU
(1.0 – Justin Jefferson)

For the next two picks it is ‘as you were’ with the Jags and Eagles more than happy to have Murray and Jefferson fall into their respective laps.

22. Minnesota Vikings – Jaylon Johnson, CB, Utah
(1.0 – Henry Ruggs III)
In version 1.0 the Vikings hopped up 3 spots to take Henry Ruggs, this time he is long gone so the Vikings focus on the secondary and wait for their receiver (more later on that). I think Johnson is going to gatecrash round one above some of the other highly rated CBs (and I doubt they take another Diggs….)

23. New England Patriots – TRADE to Detroit Lions – Patrick Queen, LB, LSU
We get to the Patriots and they have to deal. They don’t have much by way of early picks and the Detroit Lions (with ex-defensive coordinator Matt Patricia) have an offer which gives the Patriots an additional high 3rd rounder and the cost is only to slip into the top of round 2.

With the additional pick the Lions take a player with a really high ceiling but little experience (which is why I think the Patriots are happy to trade back).

24. New Orleans Saints – Jeff Gladney, CB, TCU
(1.0 Jeff Gladney)
No change for the Saints as they pick up a real physical cornerback which will be an upgrade on Eli Apple.

25. Minnesota Vikings – Denzel Mimms, WR, Baylor
(1.0 – Jaylon Johnson)
As mentioned earlier, in this scenario I’ve switched the positions the Vikings target and go for cornerback first (so they still get Johnson) and then they can get one over on NFC North divisional rivals Green Bay. The Packers will also be after a wide receiver and by taking Mimms the Vikings steal a potential target away.

26. Miami Dolphins – Austin Jackson OT, USC
(1.0 – D’Andrew Swift)
The Dolphins have secured Joe Burrow in this mock so the next step is to provide some additional protection in the form of Jackson. A running back could still have been a possibility but they could pick one up day 2.

27. Seattle Seahawks TRADE
In recent days it has been mentioned that in amongst all the possible unknowns of this year’s draft the one (near) certainty is that Seattle will trade down. It happens a lot. The Seahawks like to increase their number of picks and find gold on days 2 and 3. Here they trade with the Colts who jump up to take their QB of the future to sit behind Philip Rivers.

IND #34 & #75 for SEA #27

The Indianapolis Colts select – Jordan Love, QB, Utah

28. Baltimore Ravens – Zack Baun, EDGE, Wisconsin
(1.0 – Patrick Queen)
In the first mock Patrick Queen was available but he is long gone this time around. Zack Baun is a more than useful back up plan here to add to the Ravens pass rush.

29. Tennessee Titans – Isaiah Wilson, OT, Georgia
(1.0 – Ezra Cleveland)
Same position but a change in name. Wilson is a name shooting up various boards and looking back this is a better fit (I think) for Wilson to plug in at RT, replacing Jack Conklin.

30. Green Bay Packers – Jalen Reagor, WR, TCU
(1.0 – Denzel Mimms)
The Vikings have taken Denzel Mimms away this time around but I still focus on wide receiver for the Packers. Reagor is still a top quality receiver and would make a great target for Aaron Rodgers.

31. San Francisco 49ers TRADE
As with my first mock I expect the 49ers to trade down and I still feel the Broncos are prime candidates to be the trade partner.

DEN #46, #77 & #118 for SF #31

For the Broncos (similar to the Vikings) I’ve switched which position they address first. Henry Ruggs is already onboard so it is at cornerback they focus with the second pick, particularly as there could be a run on that position late in round 1. Denver take the next best CB.

Denver Broncos select Kristian Fulton, CB, LSU

32. Kansas City Chiefs – Ross Blacklock, DT, TCU
(1.0 – AJ Terrell)
Swings and roundabout for the Chiefs here. Their previous selection, AJ Terrell, is off the board but this means they can focus on shoring up that run defense, in which case Blacklock will do nicely.

Running through this mock and playing out those early trades in the top 6 picks has a ripple effect further down round one. There are only about half a dozen instances where teams choose the same player in both mocks, proving you better have, at least, a plan B for your first round pick. Also there are five new names late on (Blacklock, Fulton, Reagor, Wilson and Jackson) at the expense of Shenault JR, Cleveland, Ruiz, Swift and McKinney.

That’s me done for mock drafts for this year. Just going to sit back, watch and enjoy now! Hope your team gets your guy!

NFL Mock Draft 2020 Round 1 – part 4 (picks 25-32)

The end is in sight! Part 4 of my look at round 1 of the NFL Draft and we are into the final 8 picks. Some teams have already picked twice, some not at all. The top 4 wide receivers have all gone from the board but I think there is at least a 5th in these last few picks. Plus a few of last year’s top teams look for those elusive pieces which will help them challenge again next season.

Throughout this mock draft I’ve used the PFN Mock Draft Simulator to help work out potential trades and scenarios –

25. Minnesota Vikings “Free hit”

This is the Vikings second pick after they traded up to #19 to secure Henry Ruggs. With their second pick of the round they are free to take a defensive player to try and offset the losses in free agency. I think they will look to the secondary and another cornerback will come off the board – the question is which one? Three possibilities here I think – AJ Terrell, Kristian Fulton or Jaylon Johnson and I’m going with the latter as the best shutdown corner available here.

With the 25th pick of the 2020 NFL Draft the Minnesota Vikings select, Jaylon Johnson, cornerback, Utah.
26. Miami Dolphins “Build that offense”

The Dolphins are dipping in for the 2nd time here after moving up for Tua and dealing away pick 18 to the Redskins. Remember that trade also dealt away pick 39 so they will have to sit and wait after this until the bottom of the 2nd round. They might be open for business here with a team like the Texans or Bears – both of whom have 2x 2nd rounders but nothing in the first.

However, I think they should just go and get their running back to compliment Tua as and when he is starting. It is becoming less fashionable to take a running back in round 1 but it is a need for Miami even with Jordan Howard coming in from Philly in free agency.

So, with the 26th pick of the 2020 NFL Draft the Miami Dolphins select, D’Andre Swift, running back, Georgia.
27 Seattle Seahawks “What does Russ need?”

Picks (7) – 27, 59, 64, 101, 133, 144, 214

Seattle are set up quite nicely in terms of picks with two second rounders to follow this pick so I don’t see them trading – unlike last year where John Schneider, Seahawks GM, went trade happy to somehow turn 4 picks into 11. However, their later picks will probably put them out of range of the next level of offensive tackles or the premier interior linemen.

I’m going to pair them up with taking the first center off the board although they could quite easily go for the tackle spot.

With the 27th pick of the 2020 NFL Draft the Seattle Seahawks select, Cesar Ruiz, center, Michigan.
28 Baltimore Ravens “Use the window”

Picks (8) – 28, 55, 60, 92, 129, 134, 170, 225

The Ravens are in good shape but they cannot afford to rest on their laurels. Lamar Jackson is still in his rookie contract for now and they had an offense few teams could answer during the 2019 season. Defensively though they have had to use the franchise tag on Matthew Judon, so with some uncertainty there it provides the opportunity to go for a linebacker in round 1. And it just so happens there is a great one available at #28.

With the 28th pick of the 2020 NFL Draft the Baltimore Ravens select, Patrick Queen, linebacker, LSU.
29 Tennessee Titans “Trade away into 2nd?”

Picks (6) – 29, 61, 93, 174, 224, 243

The Titans are not blessed with many picks this year so they may well be open for business and trade down into the top of the second round. I like the idea of them trading with Detroit – a team I highlighted in part 1 as being under pressure to nail the draft. On PFN this could happen with the Lions offering up #35 and #67 (top of round 3) in order to secure the Titans #29.

However, the Titans will feel the loss of starting right tackle, Jack Conklin, and I think they may simply do the obvious in order to keep those running lanes open for Derrick Henry and to continue the renaissance of Ryan Tannehill. Looking at who has gone from the tackle class I think one player has been climbing boards of late and may just sneak into round 1.

With the 29th pick of the 2020 NFL Draft the Tennessee Titans select, Ezra Cleveland, offensive tackle, Boise State.
30 Green Bay Packers “Make Aaron happy”

Picks (10) – 30, 62, 94, 136, 175, 192, 208, 209, 236, 242

As we progress through round one it is not always easy to see which direction a team might go in as there are so many variables at play. Then there comes a team where you, at least, think it is obvious what they need to do. The Packers wide receiver corps is thin, and it needs a stud. I think the Packers can sit tight in round 1 and then right at the end here a 5th wide receiver gets his name called out. This is another player whose stock has rocketed in recent months and this is a pick which will make Aaron Rodgers very happy indeed – for a while at least.

With the 30th pick of the 2020 NFL Draft the Green Bay Packers select, Denzel Mimms, wide receiver, Baylor.
31 San Francisco 49ers “Open for business second time round”

Remember that the 49ers have already selected courtesy of the 13th pick from the DeForest Buckner trade. John Lynch and his team should be very happy with the result (Javon Kinlaw as a like for like replacement). They can now sit and wait for the phone to ring from a team looking to get up into the back end of round one.

Again I think there will be a few suitors for the pick including the Texans and Lions but actually the team that I think has capital it could use here is the Denver Broncos. Imagine the two John’s (Lynch and Elway) get on the phone and hammer out the following deal.

TRADE! – SF #31 for DEN #46, #77, #118 (verified by PFN mock simulator)

What could the Broncos do with the extra pick? Back when I mocked their original pick (CJ Henderson) I was aware that wide receiver was another position of need. With all the picks at their disposal they could wait until the second or third round but what if they wanted to make sure they got a quality wideout with the first 5 having already gone. Here we go then with the sixth wide receiver off the board in round one and it is a hometown pick for the Broncos!

With the 31st pick of the 2020 NFL Draft the Denver Broncos select, Laviska Shenault JR, wide receiver, Colorado.

I know his stock has fallen of late when he was injured during the combine which impacted his stats but he is a tough physical receiver with plenty of ability in yards after catch. The Broncos met with him at the combine and I think his versatility and competitiveness will appeal to Elway and co.
32 Kansas City Chiefs “Champions next move?”

Picks (5) – 32, 63, 96, 138, 177

The Chiefs are in a similar position to the 49ers one place above them. They may find some value in trading down into the second round in order to gain additional picks. If this were to happen then, unlike the 49ers, I doubt it would be with divisional rivals the Broncos.

For now, I’m going to leave the Chiefs here at #32 and I think they will look to the defense and it could either be for a cornerback (to offset the loss of Kendall Fuller in free agency) or it could be to shore up the run defense which was ranked 29th by DVOA last year. Looking at who is left on the board it was a toss up between Kristian Fulton (who I’d acknowledge has slipped down this mock scenario – I like him as a solid corner but not a 1st rounder) AJ Terrell (who I think is on the rise on some boards due to his toughness and aggressive play) or on the defensive line – Neville Gallimore, Ross Blacklock or Marlon Davison (I think the latter two fit Kansas 4-3 scheme better).

Ultimately I think Kansas can dip back in at #63 to find a player to help the run defense but you should take your cornerback soon as you can and Terrell’s versatility and toughness tip the balance for me.

So, with the 32nd and final pick of the 1st round of the 2020 NFL Draft the Kansas City Chiefs select, AJ Terrell, cornerback,

And that’s it – all done, 32 picks made. Players who can dramatically change the fortunes of their new team. It has been a lot of fun working through my thoughts on each team – now I doubt that a lot of what I’ve put may end up happening but hopefully I’ve been able to articulate why I have made those choices. Can’t wait for draft night!

NFL Mock Draft 2020 Round 1 – part 3 (picks 17-24)

In part 3 of this look at my mock of round 1 of the NFL Draft we delve into what happens when the 4 best offensive tackles have flown off the board and the run on the top quality wide receivers has begun. In picks 17-24 I think we see at least another trade and a situation where divisional rivalry is also in play for the NFC East.

Throughout this mock draft I’ve used the PFN Mock Draft Simulator to help work out potential trades and scenarios –

17. Dallas Cowboys “Play the hand you’re dealt”

Picks (7) – 17, 51, 82, 123, 164, 179, 231

The predicted Dallas Cowboys free agency drama did not materialise. They look as though they will get the deal done with Dak Prescott, although the price goes up the longer it takes. That will eat into cap space later down the line but for now they have got that plus the Amari Cooper deals sorted. They don’t have a ton of draft capital and I expect them to just play the board how it lies and take what they need to supplement a solid roster. The secondary is likely to be the first port of call, particularly in light of losing Byron Jones to the Dolphins and Jeff Heath to the Raiders.

I had a tough time here deciding whether they went for a cornerback or safety so i settled on who, at this point, I think is the better overall player.

So with the 17th pick in the 2020 NFL Draft the Dallas Cowboys select, Xavier McKinney, safety, Alabama.
18. Washington Redskins “A little spite store?”

Remember from part 1 the Redskins acquired this pick from the Dolphins in the trade which took Miami up from #5 to #2 in order to get Tua.

If this did happen they could now use the additional first round pick to spite a divisional rival, the Eagles. The Redskins know that Philly needs wide receiver help but how about Washington take another star wideout off the board before their rival is anywhere near on the clock. However, with so many other needs on the roster and a deep wide receiver class which could be revisited later, I think they go with another need, on the EDGE.

So, with the 18th pick of the 2020 NFL Draft, the Washington Redskins select, AJ Epenesa, edge rusher, Iowa.
19. Las Vegas Raiders “Time to trade?”

We are on the Raiders second pick after they took Jerry Jeudy in trading up from #12 to #10. They could now do with acquiring some draft capital back and they may feel able to drift down a few spots in order to pick up a second rounder where traditional, certainly as a commentator, Mike Mayock has always thought there was good value picks to be had.

Step forward the Minnesota Vikings. They have an additional first round pick courtesy of the Buffalo Bills trade for Stefon Diggs. The Vikings can offer the Raiders a suitable second rounder and leapfrog the Eagles (another team in need of a star wideout) to get their guy.

TRADE – LV #19 for MIN #22 and #58 (verified by PFN mock simulator)

When they do get round to pick #22 the question there will be for Gruden and Mayock will be: how much to the love Jordan Love? This is around the time in the draft I think Love might go – either late in the 1st or early 2nd round. Having mulled this over quite a lot I reckon it will be the Raiders, ever the gamblers, who take Love. After all, in a season or two who doesn’t want to see Mahomes versus Love a couple of times a year?

With the 22nd pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, the Las Vegas Raiders select, Jordan Love, Quarterback, Utah.
20. Jacksonville Jaguars “A nice spot to be in”

Another team on its second pick and the Jags have plenty of later round pick to simply sit here and take who they like most. I think it will be linebacker and it could be a toss up between Kenneth Murray and Patrick Queen. I’m going with the more proven performer, Murray.

So, with the 20th pick of the 2020 NFL Draft, the Jacksonville Jaguars select, Kenneth Murray, linebacker, Oklahoma.
21. Philadelphia Eagles “Sat waiting”

Picks (8) – 21, 53, 103, 127, 145, 146, 166, 190

The Eagles are a very settled unit at the moment and a very well run organisation. They made a silk purse out of a sow’s ear last year when players were trooping on a weekly basis into the injury tent. In free agency they have made a nice job of rebuilding in the secondary which was a weak spot last season. However, they remain thin at the wide receiver position and this is one they should address in the draft. The problem will be who is left once we get to pick #21? The Eagles have little to offer in terms of a trade unless they start to offer high 2021 picks into the bargain (which is a possibility). However, in this mock they do still have a day 1 value receiver on the board they can be pleased with securing.

With the 21st pick of the 2020 NFL Draft, the Philadelphia Eagles select, Justin Jefferson, wide receiver, LSU.
22. Minnesota Vikings “Replacing Diggs”

Picks (12) – 22, 25, 58, 89, 105, 132, 155, 201, 205, 239, 249, 253, (WR, CB, EDGE)

As explained above, the Vikings have both the draft capital available and the need (to replace Stefon Diggs) so I am simply joining the dots here. Yes, there are other needs on the defensive side of the ball but pick #25 is ready and waiting to start addressing that. The ability to jump a couple of spots and steal a march on sides in need is very appealing.

So (remembering they have jumped up to 19) with the #19 pick of the 2020 NFL Draft, the Minnesota Vikings select, Henry Ruggs III, wide receiver, Alabama.
23. New England Patriots “Life after Tom”

Picks (13) – 23, 87, 98, 100, 125, 172, 195, 204, 212, 213, 230, 235, 241

The Patriots are awash with draft picks, as a result of their oft quoted strategy of allowing high price veterans to leave, usually when they are just starting to dip in terms of performance. The same has been true of this free agency period with the likes of Kyle Van Noy, Jamie Collins and, of course, Tom Brady exiting the building.

It will be incredibly intriguing to see how the Patriots map their way through the draft and further down the line I would expect to see a number of the later round picks bundled up in order to gain some additional picks across rounds 2-4. However, I expect them to stay put in round 1 and start to rebuild to offset the losses on defense.

With the 23rd pick of the 2020 NFL Draft the New England Patriots select, Zack Baun, edge rusher, Wisconsin.
24. New Orleans Saints “For now or later?”

Picks (5) – 24, 88, 130, 169, 203

The Saints remain one of the powerhouses of the NFC and with the return of Drew Brees for one last crack at another Super Bowl title with Head Coach Sean Payton they are most definitely in ‘win now’ mode. There could be scope for trading down whereas they do not own much by way of picks and there could be a scenario where they trade with a team which has no first rounders but two 2nd rounders such as the Houston Texans or Chicago Bears. That scenario would not surprise me come draft day.

However, taking into account the need to push for a championship let’s leave them at pick 24 and try to secure one of the final pieces in their roster puzzle. Let’s hand them a real physical cornerback.

With the 24th pick of the 2020 NFL Draft the New Orleans Saints select, Jeff Gladney, cornerback, TCU.

So that’s 24 down and 8 picks left to go. Now we are getting to the teams who will be hoping to return to the playoffs next year and probably have one major need – will the right players still be there for them to take with their all-important 1st round pick.

NFL Mock Draft 2020 Round 1 – part 2 (picks 9-16)

In part 2 of this look at my mock of round 1 of the NFL Draft we have a situation where three QBs have gone (Burrow, Tua and Herbert) but none of the talented wide receiver class have been selected. This is about to change with picks 9-16….

Throughout this mock draft I’ve used the PFN Mock Draft Simulator to help work out potential trades and scenarios –

9. Jacksonville Jaguars “Capital to play with”

Picks (12) – 9, 20, 42, 73, 116, 137, 140, 157, 165, 189, 206, 223,

Another team in reboot and with a Head Coach / GM combination (Doug Marrone / David Caldwell) under significant pressure to improve on the 2019 season (4th place 6-10). In free agency they’ve been forced to swallow dead money to move on from Nick Foles which has proved an expensive mis-step. They seem united on offense behind Gardner Minshew but the once vaunted defense has crumbled into the dust with a chain of recent departures. Only Joe Schubert, linebacker from the Browns, has come the other way in terms of a high profile capture.

Lots to do in the draft and they do have a dozen picks to work with. I think they will sit at #9 and see who falls into their lap before probably bundling up some late picks to possibly get another 2nd or 3rd rounder. This is where I think it is dependent on who the Panthers take at #7 ahead of them. In this scenario the Panther took Okudah which leaves the Jaguars with Derrick Brown, which is a good result and a definite need. It could very easily go the other way round which would leave Jags with Okudah.

So, with the 9th pick of the 2020 NFL Draft the Jacksonville Jaguars select, Derrick Brown, defensive tackle, Auburn.

10. Cleveland Browns “The Prove it year”

Picks (7) – 10, 41, 74, 97, 115, 187, 244

Oh how it all fell apart last year. After the offseason fanfare the Browns began 2019 being talked up into a playoff spot and a run at a championship. Then we all watched as discord broke out on an almost weekly basis. Baker Mayfield’s production dropped. OBJ didn’t look happy, neither did Jarvis Landry at times. Freddie Kitchens could not keep this talented group of individuals together as a team. The result – 6-10, and Kitchens was gone. Kevin Stefanski is in and the Browns doubled-down in free agency with big money signings such as Jack Conklin and Austin Hooper. Much is expected, again.

Now I think there is room in amongst picks 10-12 for movement. The Browns are set at wide receiver, and have other pressing needs. However, the two teams behind them, the Jets and Raiders could both have eyes on getting their first choice wide receiver. The Raiders, ever bold in the Manock / Gruden era are going to deal and the Browns can probably afford to fall a couple of spots and still get their player, plus additional pick(s).

Back to ProFootball Network for the trade details to be verified.
TRADE – CLE #10 for LV #12 #80 and a 2021 5th rounder

When the Browns do get on the clock at pick #12 it turns out they can further support their offensive line with possibly the most pro-ready left tackle of the class, Andrew Thomas.

With the 12th pick of the 2020 NFL Draft the Cleveland Browns select, Andrew Thomas, offensive tackle, Georgia.

11. New York Jets “All set to improve”

Picks (7) – 11, 48, 68, 79, 120, 158, 191

The Jets have been active in free agency, particularly with a view to adding greater protection for Sam Darnold. The acquisitions of George Fant and Connor McGovern may mean that the Jets can focus elsewhere with their first round draft pick. The loss of Robby Anderson is not offset by picking up Breshad Perriman from the Bucs and I think the Jets will focus on taking the best receiver on offer with pick #11.

With the 11th pick of the 2020 NFL Draft the New York Jets select, CeeDee Lamb, wide receiver, Oklahoma.

12. Las Vegas Raiders “Always the wildcard”

Picks (8) – 12, 19, 80, 81, 91, 121, 159, 226

As mentioned above I think the Raiders will look to leapfrog the Jets in order to take their pick of the wide receivers on offer. Their free agency signings were very much focused on adding depth to their defense which leaves them free to go after key offense positions early in the draft.

With the 10th pick of the 2020 NFL Draft the Las Vegas Raiders select, Jerry Jeudy, wide receiver, Alabama.

13 San Francisco 49ers “Like for like”

Picks (7) – 3, 31, 156, 176, 210, 217, 245

This is the pick the 49ers gained in trading DeForest Buckner to the Indianapolis Colts. This was a move which made sense for both teams but for the 49ers in particular it gives them the opportunity to draft a like for like replacement to their defensive line at a fraction of the cost. Excellent roster building strategy from GM John Lynch. It will be interesting to see if their guy is not still there at #13 – if not then expect them to trade back as they have precious few early picks.

With the 13th pick of the 2020 NFL Draft the San Francisco 49ers select, Javon Kinlaw, defensive tackle, South Carolina.

14 Tampa Bay Buccaneers “What does Tom need?”

Picks (7) – 14, 45, 76, 117, 139, 161, 194

For the Tampa Bay Buccaneers the equation is simple. They have signed Tom Brady for the next 2 years. Their defense is a top-10 unit, particularly in run defense. On offense they have options for TB12 to find – they just need to keep him upright and provide a complementary run game. This is Bruce Arians swan song and he is all out for a championship. If round 1 pans out like this then it is a simple call, take a top-rated tackle to keep Tom on his feet, then come back for the running back in either round 2 or 3.

With the 14th pick of the 2020 NFL Draft the Tampa Bay Buccaneers select, Jedrick Wills, offensive tackle, Alabama.

15 Denver Broncos “Lots to play with”

Picks (10) 15, 46, 77, 83, 95, 118, 178, 237, 251, 254,

The Denver Broncos are now looking to kick on with Drew Lock at the helm as their starting QB. They have plenty of draft capital to play with this year with 5 picks in the top 100. It will be interesting to see how they use that value but, for now, I think they stay at #15 and have the opportunity to replace veteran CB Chris Harris (lost to divisional rivals LA Chargers) with a top prospect at the same position.

With the 15th pick of the 2020 NFL Draft the Denver Broncos select, CJ Henderson, cornerback, Florida.

16 Atlanta Falcons “Defense the priority”

Picks (7) – 16, 47, 78, 119, 143, 228, 230

The Atlanta Falcons are in a position where they can field an offense entirely of 1st round draft picks next year – that is astonishing. Now, they have all found their way to Atlanta by a variety of routes and career ups and downs but it does mean they can look to revamp their defense in the draft. Everyone could run on them last year and that needs fixing, starting with their first round pick.

With the 16th pick of the 2020 NFL Draft the Atlanta Falcons select, K’Lavon Chaisson, edge rusher, LSU.

That brings us to the halfway point of round 1. Still plenty of talent on the board as we enter picks 17-24 next time. Some teams have a second pick, some still with their first to take – and maybe others who may want to try and gate crash the first round?