Draft King Analysis|
April 23, 2020
Lou Pickney, DraftKing.com
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Running Commentary on the 2020 NFL Draft
Lou (3:25 p.m. CDT): Day one of the 2020 NFL Draft is here. In a year where things progressively seem to be more and more out of sorts, in large part because of the novel coronavirus pandemic, it's nice to have something both important and live related to sports.
At the same time, I wish the NFL would have delayed the draft. But they didn't, so here we are.
Best wishes to Todd McShay on a quick recovery from COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus.
More here in a bit, but for now you can check out my past NFL Draft running commentaries and/or live event experiences:
2004 (Round one)
2004 (Round two)
2005 (Part one)
2005 (Part two)
2005 (Part three)
2012 (Live event)
Lou (3:30 p.m. CDT): It's always a scramble for me on the evening before round one of the NFL Draft. Usually my most intense night of the year, with so much late information and a firm midnight CDT deadline to get in on the Huddle Report.
To that end, it's like a throwback to my days as a television news producer. If your newscast starts at 5 a.m., that's an immovable deadline.
Lou (3:45 p.m. CDT): If you've ever watched the CBS game show The Price Is Right, you're probably familiar with the Race Game, an intense rush to match price tags with the correct associated prizes within the time limit. That's how it feels sometime right up against the Huddle Report deadline to finalize my mock draft.
This year was especially tense. It was no secret that Miami had desperately tried to trade up, but then word from last night that the Dolphins weren't moving up to get a quarterback, but instead... an offensive lineman.
What's more, late indications strongly suggested the Los Angeles Chargers wouldn't be targeting a round one QB. Keep in mind that very little leaks from that organization, but more and more pointed indicators pointed toward an offensive tackle.
You could imagine the cascading effect from switching both from QB projections to offensive line near the top of my draft board.
It did free me up to make project Jordan Love to Miami for later in my mock, but between that and tracking the prop bet wagering lines it made for an absolute sprint to lock it all in ahead of the deadline.
Lou (5:01 p.m. CDT): There had to be all kinds of scrambling last night with the talk that Miami was likely going offensive tackle and not quarterback in its quest to move up from #5.
It was obviously a possibility, particularly with Miami having three first-round selections in this year's draft. And that could all be a smokescreen, but I doubt it.
You probably can't get an elite OT at #18, but you can reasonably trade up to get a sliding QB from there. And there likely will be quarterbacks sliding if Miami and the L.A. Chargers both go offensive tackle early.
Now playing: Blue Sky Black Death's cover of "Crossroads" by Bone Thugs N Harmony.
Lou (6:46 p.m. CDT): Here are some of my thoughts behind the final 2020 mock for this website...
* Detroit trading back and going defense is the expectation. The favorite has been Ohio State CB Jeff Okudah, but late in the process there were subtle nudges from people who know things that Okudah might be going lower than expected.
I was leaning Derrick Brown late and ultimately went with that. Elite defensive tackles with great pass-rush ability are in higher demand than ever in the NFL.
* The anticipation for the Giants is offensive tackle at #4. They really need a right-OT, which you'd think would make Iowa OT Tristan Wirfs or Alabama OT Jedrick Wills the top contenders. I went with Wills at the end (betting odds leaned that way) though if it's Wirfs that's not a surprise either.
* There will be a run on receivers at some point. Probably starting near the Jets at #11, possibly earlier if there's a trade-up.
* Ultimately went with Tua Tagovailoa to the Las Vegas Raiders at #12. If there is a QB slide as I anticipate might happen, you're going to have teams wanting WRs and CBs competing with QB-hungry teams battling to trade up.
It could turn into a seller's market if that holds true.
* I'm still not convinced the Falcons will be trading up for a corner, but it seems quite likely. Florida CB C.J. Henderson might be a viable target, though Henderson made a late surge to move ahead of Okudah on some CB boards.
* I seldom match a player to a draft position instead of the team, which is something that has changed over time. But I did have that as a throwback of sorts with Jacksonville at #20 with Patrick Queen.
When you're up against a time deadline, sometimes you have to make tough choices.
The fun starts soon at the top of the hour...
Lou (7:03 p.m. CDT): Imagine going back in time four months and telling someone what was about to happen with the pandemic. I never thought we'd have a widespread shutdown like this.
You know when I got worried? When they started doing evacuation flights out of Wuhan for foreign nationals in early February. I've followed the story from the beginning; the news producer in me will never die.
In some ways, I resent the NFL for pressing forward with the draft. The fact teams are prohibited from speaking out about it is very off-putting. People whose very health was compromised to at least some level by the league's insistence on moving forward.
But it's my gig to cover the NFL Draft, and that I can safely do from my home.
Lou (7:15 p.m. CDT): It's amusing to see the NFL play up the booing the commissioner gimmick. I know Roger Goodell has taken plenty of heat through the years, but that's part of the gig: taking the heat for the owners.
Lou (7:19 p.m. CDT): Is there a modern equivalent to taking the phone off the hook to give a perpetual busy signal on a landline? If so, I get the impression that's what Cincinnati wanted there by the end. "Stop bothering me, the answer is no!"
There's no way the Bengals can pass up on Joe Burrow at #1 overall.
Lou (7:25 p.m. CDT): Watching ESPN's coverage on ABC (WKRN-TV) and the NFL Network feed via Dish Network, and impressively they are both nearly perfectly synced up. Sometimes things work out like that, and sometimes you see spoilers on NFL Red Zone for a game airing locally on another TV.
Lou (7:27 p.m. CDT): Ohio University has an outstanding journalism school, and I've had a few fun nights up in Athens, Ohio. And I've followed the story of Joe Burrow for some time from his Ohio State days (remember I lived in Columbus, Ohio for a year) and what he did last year at LSU was nothing short of remarkable.
Here's hoping the best for Burrow in the NFL. Bengals fans have been waiting a long time for something like this to happen.
Lou (7:31 p.m. CDT): Burrow goes #1, no surprise. You can tell the transitions and tosses to reporters for both ESPN and NFLN are already notably more awkward with the inherent delays of everyone working remotely.
Live television is tricky enough as-is when you're all based in the same location. Reminds me of my second producing run at WSAZ-TV where we had reporters on a several second delay and I had to time when to say "Go!" like Dick Clark on the $25,000 Pyramid.
Only Dick Clark never had to worry about the anchors reading the intro toss too slowly and stepping on the reporter.
Lou (7:36 p.m. CDT): I mentioned Columbus, Ohio earlier, and not surprisingly the Redskins go with Ohio State EDGE Chase Young at #2. Teams tried like crazy to move up here, but the Redskins seemed entirely disinterested.
Young is a superstar at a key position in a year that doesn't have much beyond him for night one. The Redskins wouldn't have ever heard the end of it had they traded out and the Giants somehow ended up with Young.
Lou (7:38 p.m. CDT): In the end, Detroit didn't trade out from #3, instead taking Ohio State CB Jeff Okudah. That had been the prevailing thought late, and it makes sense given that the Lions traded CB Darius Slay earlier this year.
I switched in Auburn DT Derrick Brown late in my projection, so I missed on that one. But the Lions should have an excellent CB with Okudah.
Lou (7:48 p.m. CDT): So the Giants go with an offensive tackle at #4 overall... and it's Georgia OT Andrew Thomas. In the end, Thomas got the nod over Wirfs and Wills and the rest.
Four picks, zero trades.
Lou (7:51 p.m. CDT): Remember, the late talk was Miami trading up for an offensive lineman. I had thought they would get Thomas, and they certainly tried to leapfrog the Giants. But that didn't happen.
Shoutout to Alabaster, Alabama and the family of Tua Tagovailoa. I lived in Alabaster during my one-year run in Birmingham. Part of the reason there are no running commentaries for 2006 and 2007 is because I moved near draft day both times (from Tampa to Birmingham and Birmingham to Nashville), just the way it worked out.
Lou (7:55 p.m. CDT): So much for Miami going offensive line here, as it's Tagovailoa going #5 overall to the Dolphins. Tagovailoa was the betting favorite late to be the second QB off the board.
I wonder if Miami would have gone with Thomas over Tagovailoa had the Giants not selected Thomas at #4. We might never know for sure.
Lou (8:02 p.m. CDT): Justin Herbert goes at #6 to the L.A. Chargers. So much for the rush on offensive tackles early.
For all the talk of the Chargers being content with Tyrod Taylor at QB in a post-Philip Rivers era, ultimately it's Herbert.
And, for some reason, there's Herbert swinging a sledgehammer and smashing things in a strange video on ABC.
Seven picks and zero trades, as the Panthers' selection is in while commercials play on both ABC and NFLN. It gets somewhat awkward live waiting for pick announcements that start to backlog, but I can only imagine the high-wire act required to coordinate with two networks covering the same event.
Lou (8:15 p.m. CDT): Auburn DT Derrick Brown goes to Carolina at #8. I switched Okudah and Brown late, biting on the late whispers that Okudah would slide, which didn't happen.
And at #9 it's Isaiah Simmons going to Arizona. He's a special player with a remarkable range within his skill set.
I'm hoping Simmons shines in the NFL, as it's fun when players with freakishly unique special abilities are able to succeed on the highest level. Should be interesting to see how Arizona utilizes him.
Lou (8:20 p.m. CDT): Jacksonville, which also has the #20 selection from the Jalen Ramsey trade with the Rams, has their pick turned in now.
Still no trades, very surprising. Perhaps a symptom of teams wanting more of a sure thing in a year with so much missing data about players?
Lou (8:24 p.m. CDT): And it's Florida CB C.J. Henderson going to the Jaguars at #9. Certainly fits a need for the Jaguars.
Ten picks and counting without a trade, as Cleveland has turned in their pick. This is moving along quick briskly, at least by usual night one standards.
Lou (8:30 p.m. CDT): Cleveland at #10 selects Alabama OT Jedrick Wills. The Browns needed to upgrade QB Baker Mayfield's protection, and now Cleveland has Wills to go with free agent signee Jack Conklin, a former first-round pick by the Titans.
And now it's the Jets on the board at #11. WR and OT are two strong possibilities. The clock is still ticking, unlike the quicker moves by earlier teams. Might there be a team wanting an OT or a WR trying to move up?
Lou (8:33 p.m. CDT): Still no trades, though Ian Rapoport reported that there were attempts by teams trying to trade up with Cleveland at #10.
Lou (8:38 p.m. CDT): The Jets keep the #11 pick and go offensive line with Louisville OT Mekhi Becton. Fits a need.
12 picks and no trades now with the Raiders pick turned in and the announcement coming up soon.
Lou (8:42 p.m. CDT): Las Vegas selects the first wide receiver to come off the board in this draft, Alabama WR Henry Ruggs. Ultra high-end speed like Ruggs has is a highly-valuable trait in the NFL.
Lou (8:50 p.m. CDT): Finally a trade, as Tampa Bay moves up one spot to select Iowa OT Tristan Wirfs at #13. Considering the speculation that Wirfs would go to the Giants at #4, this constitutes good value.
Also, for many teams, it was the top four offensive tackles and then a drop to the next tier. And Wirfs was #4 of 4 remaining on the board.
Lou (9:08 p.m. CDT): San Francisco found a replacement for DeForest Buckner at #14 with South Carolina DT Javon Kinlaw, and then at #15 Denver lands Alabama WR Jerry Jeudy.
And now it's Atlanta on the board at #16. The Falcons tried hard to trade up according to multiple reports, but ultimately they stayed at #16.
Lou (9:12 p.m. CDT): With the Falcons unable to move up for one of the top two corner prospects, they stick at #16 and land Clemson CB A.J. Terrell. His name shot up board late with indications he wouldn't fall to round two, and indeed he didn't.
Lou (9:25 p.m. CDT): A nice pickup for the Cowboys at #17 with Oklahoma WR CeeDee Lamb. The epitome of a playmaker. Yards after catch is his specialty, just get him the ball. I had thought Lamb would be gone by this spot.
I'm getting trounced as far as team/player matchups go, but most players have gone relatively close to the predicted range to this point.
Miami has turned in their pick at #18.
Lou (9:28 p.m. CDT): Souther Cal OT Austin Jackson goes to Miami at #18. I had thought Jackson would slide out of round one, but he fills a major need for the Dolphins.
Only one trade so far, and it's the Raiders back on the clock.
Lou (9:33 p.m. CDT): It seems the opinion variance is starting to kick in, with Las Vegas selecting Ohio State CB Damon Arnette. Big night for the Buckeyes on night one, and we're not even 20 picks deep at this point.
I had the Raiders taking Utah CB Jaylon Johnson here, but instead it's Arnette selected by Las Vegas.
Lou (9:41 p.m. CDT): Jacksonville hasn't yet traded disgruntled DE Yannick Ngakoue yet, but at #20 they moved into position to do so by selecting LSU OLB K'Lavon Chaisson. I had Chaisson in my mock until a late switch last night, and if Chaisson can play up to his potential, he has the chance to shine with the Jaguars.
Lou (9:48 p.m. CDT): The Eagles at #21 select TCU WR Jalen Reagor. A late riser who just missed the cut for me. I had Philadelphia going wideout here, but thought they would opt for LSU WR Justin Jefferson. Instead, it's Reagor with his underrated quickness and exceptional athleticism going to the Eagles here.
Lou (9:55 p.m. CDT): I didn't think Justin Jefferson would be on the board for Minnesota at #22, and he certainly would fill a need for the Vikings. They have another pick at #25, which is a challenge if there are two players you really like there on the board and you want to land them both.
No surprise, the Patriots traded down with the Chargers in exchange for a 2020 second-rounder and a 2020 third-round selection. Trade back, collect picks, add depth.
Lou (10:01 p.m. CDT): Kenneth Murray goes to the L.A. Chargers at #23. I had thought the Saints would get Murray at #24, but the Chargers moved ahead of them to add an excellent sideline-to-sideline defender with impressive closing speed.
Lou (10:09 p.m. CDT): New Orleans goes with Michigan C Cesar Ruiz at #24. Another name I had on my board before swapping him out late. Ruiz was the top-rated interior OL on nearly every list I saw.
Minnesota is back on the clock at #25.
Lou (10:13 p.m. CDT): Plans change: San Francisco has traded with the Vikings for the #25 overall selection. The 49ers seem to be looking for a wide receiver based on what Adam Schefter is reporting.
Lou (10:19 p.m. CDT): The 49ers selected Arizona State WR Brandon Aiyuk at #25. I had Aiyuk going at #25, only to Minnesota instead of San Francisco. I'm having a historically bad night with the team/player matchups.
Lou (10:27 p.m. CDT): Green Bay moved up to #26 to select Utah State QB Jordan Love. That's quite the developing storyline coming out of night one. Love is talented but was seen by many as the best fit on a team where he wouldn't be asked to start right away.
With Aaron Rodgers under contract, this would seemingly be a situation where Love could develop behind Aaron Rodgers. That's the positive against the inevitable negative of endless questions and discussion on sports/talk programs starving for content.
Lou (10:34 p.m. CDT): The Seahawks went with a surprise at #27, selecting Texas Tech ILB Jordyn Brooks. He's a great tackler with outstanding speed.
Seattle has proven adept at finding players to fit their system, even if they're not among the top projected picks.
Lou (10:44 p.m. CDT): I didn't expect LSU LB Patrick Queen to still be on the board at #28, but he was and the Ravens selected him there. Queen should be able to make an immediate impact in Baltimore.
Lou (10:51 p.m. CDT): The Titans went offensive tackle at #29, as I had anticipated. But instead of Boise State OT Ezra Cleveland, it's Georgia OT Isaiah Wilson. The Titans needed to replace Jack Conklin and Wilson should be helpful to that end.
Miami is back on the clock at #30 after trading down from #26. I wonder if they might go running back here.
Lou (10:59 p.m. CDT): Considerable surprise at #30 with Miami selecting Auburn CB Noah Igbinoghene. Tremendous special teams skill, but cornerback was not an expectation for Miami late in round one.
The pick is in for Minnesota at #31. One pick after that and round one will be complete.
Lou (11:03 p.m. CDT): And the Vikings go with TCU CB Jeff Gladney at #31. At one point I had Gladney on my board, and he was one of several defensive backs receiving late consideration.
Lou (11:14 p.m. CDT): Ending night one with pick #32, the Chiefs select LSU RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire. I had Kansas City going RB here, only with Wisconsin RB Jonathan Taylor.
Chasing the late rumor of a possibly earlier run on OL than expected cost me. Wasn't all that far off the pace as far as number of first rounders correctly projected goes, but wow the team/player matchups just didn't match up like I had anticipated.
15 first-rounders from the SEC is remarkable, with LSU and Alabama in particular being well-represented on opening night.
But there will be some great talent available at the top of round two, especially for teams wanting a safety or a running back.