2020 NFL draft: The winners and the losers
Associate Sports Editor
The 2020 NFL draft concluded on Saturday. Even with the implementation of a fully virtual drafting system, the anticipation and hype that surrounded each pick felt as if it were in Las Vegas, as it was originally planned.
It is still unclear how much coronavirus, state shutdowns and social distancing will affect the NFL season, but it is still clear that there were winners and losers in the draft.
Winner: Dallas Cowboys
For a team with as much talent that is already on its roster, the Cowboys added even more to it by the end of the three days. The selection of Oklahoma wide receiver CeeDee Lamb in the first round did not fill a need for the team in the secondary, but it did add to an already explosive offense that included two 1,000 yard receivers in Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup. Not to mention Pro Bowl running back Ezekiel Elliot.
On offense, the Cowboys now have the ability to move Gallup, Cooper and Lamb around and put opposing defenses in a pickle on whether or not they want to double-cover Cooper and leave Lamb and Gallup in single coverage. Such a deep top three wide receiver core also opens up the middle of the field for Elliot to run behind a stout Cowboys offensive line.
The selection of Lamb alone creates one of, if not the best wide receiving trios in the game as well as one of the best offensive attacks in the game. General manager and owner Jerry Jones is getting as much talent as he can to surround quarterback Dak Prescott in hopes of making a deep playoff run.
Loser: Philadelphia Eagles
Staying in the NFC East, the first two days were not kind to Eagles fans. The Eagles were in desperate need of a wide receiver and as CeeDee Lamb continued to fall, the stars looked to align and have Lamb paired up with franchise quarterback Carson Wentz. That was until the Cowboys selected Lamb four picks ahead of the Eagles.
Instead, the Eagles went with Jalen Reagor, a wide receiver out of Texas Christian University. On day two, in the second round the Eagles had the chance to draft another wide receiver or fill a need at cornerback or linebacker. The Eagles proceeded to take quarterback Jalen Hurts.
The selection of Hurts is not bad in and of itself, however using a second round pick on a quarterback when the team is already paying over $100 million to Carson Wentz is a waste of such a high pick.
On top of this, the team did not address their issue at cornerback. The Eagles secondary is still in need of another true outside cornerback, even after trading for Pro Bowl cornerback Darius Slay. Beyond Slay, the Eagles have Sidney Jones and Rasul Douglas, both of whom have struggled in their first three years. Other options include Nickell Robey-Coleman, Avonte Maddox and Cre’von Leblanc who are all undersized and play a bigger role in the slot.
Time will tell whether or not the Hurts pick pans out for the team in any way, but this might just be the least of the issues still have to deal with moving forward.
Winner: Baltimore Ravens
The Ravens were one of the best teams in the NFL last season. Typically, teams in this position are low on draft picks as good teams see future picks as trade ammunition. This was not the case for the Ravens.
The Ravens used 10 picks in this year’s draft and filled one large glaring hole in terms of linebackers by drafting Louisiana State (LSU) linebacker Patrick Queen. The Ravens are rich historically with producing linebackers including Ray Lewis, Terrell Suggs and most recently C.J. Mosley.
The Ravens also added weapons to their already high-powered offense including running back J.K. Dobbins and wide receiver Devin Duvernay. Dobbins ran for more than 2,000 yards at Ohio State and joins an already elite rushing attack with running back Mark Ingram and 2019 MVP quarterback Lamar Jackson. The Ravens led the NFL in rushing yards last season and averaged 206 yards on the ground per game.
The amount of picks the Ravens had allowed them to have as many chances as possible in finding talent. This ability to bring in a lot of young talent on an already proven football team allows the Ravens to develop talent now and in the future.
Loser: New England Patriots
The word, “loser” and “New England Patriots” have not come up in the same sentence often in the past 20 years. Now after the departure of Tom Brady, it is all on Bill Belichick to continue the football empire he built.
Belichick started off by taking Kyle Dugger, a safety out of Lenoir-Rhyne, a small Division II school. He would go on to draft two tight ends back-to-back and even used a fifth round pick on a kicker.
In terms of drafting, Belichick has always had his own style and looks for prospects that would fit best in his system. Still, the Patriots did not draft a quarterback with any of their 10 picks, which is the biggest need on the team. At the moment, Belichick looks to be handing over the keys to the offense to either unproven second-year quarterback Jared Stidham or veteran backup Brian Hoyer.
The inexperience at quarterback and no interest in drafting a quarterback shows that a down year may be in the future of the once mighty Patriot dynasty.
Winner: Cincinnati Bengals
The tanking seems to have worked for the Cincinnati Bengals as they drafted Joe Burrow with the first pick in the draft. Burrow looks to be the franchise guy in Cincinnati, and the Ohio native has all the tools to become the savior of the franchise. Burrow threw 60 touchdowns and for more than 5,600 yards in his senior year at LSU. He also led the Tigers to a national championship with the poise and demeanor of a winning quarterback.
The Bengals are bringing Burrow in with skill position players that will help take some of the load off his shoulders early. Pro Bowl wide receiver A.J. Green is returning after being injured most of last season. Young running back Joe Mixon adds a pass catcher out of the backfield and can add another dimension to the Bengals offense.
The Bengals also drafted wide receiver Tee Higgins in the early second round. The addition of Higgins allows the two to develop a long-term connection as they develop over time.
The addition of Burrow and Higgins lays the base for long term success in Cincinnati and allows the team to look at other positions of need in the coming years.
Loser: Chicago Bears
The Bears had no first round pick in this year’s draft, after trading for Khalil Mack in 2018. In the second round, the team selected tight end Cole Kmet and now have 10 tight ends on their roster.
The Bears still have big spaces to fill in terms of their roster going forward and one of the biggest ones is at the quarterback position. The 2020 draft class did not have as many big name quarterback prospects as it has had in past drafts, but options such as Jacob Eason and Jake Fromm did not go until day three of the draft.
Currently, the Bears are looking to start Mitchell Trubisky or Nick Foles at the position, both of whom have underachieved in their careers. Trubisky has declined noticeably since 2018 and Nick Foles’ only real success came in Philadelphia.
No matter how good the Bears defense is, having no long term plan at quarterback will continue to hold the Bears back from becoming a consistently winning franchise.