After months of mock drafts, trade rumors, and speculation about team-player fits, the 2020 NFL Draft is in the books. This one may have been conducted with some unusual technology, but it felt much like the usual exercise.
We don’t know whether there will be an NFL season this fall -- if there is, it will almost surely look different from the norm -- but at some point, America’s Game will return. When it does, Vegas gives the Chiefs, Ravens, 49ers, and Bucs (yes, Tom Brady’s Bucs!) the best odds to win the Super Bowl.
In the chase to the title, rookies will likely play a key role in contenders’ success or failure. We saw major impacts last season from top-squad players like Nick Bosa, Marquise Brown, and A.J. Brown, not to mention exciting campaigns from players on lower-performing teams like Josh Jacobs, Kyler Murray, and Devin Bush.
Who will be the key newcomers this season and in the years to come? Who will quickly fall off the radar and become a one-paragraph Wikipedia entry?
(Rubs hands together.) It’s time for more speculation. Here are Complex’s biggest winners and losers of the 2020 NFL Draft. Feel free to roast us in five years, when we’re inevitably proven wrong about most of this.
The Cowboys already had a strong offense, with Zeke, Prescott, Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup, and two returning Pro Bowlers on the offensive line. In the draft, however, that unit got even more exciting. Dallas added arguably the top receiver in the draft, CeeDee Lamb, at No. 17. It was pretty shocking to see Lamb fall to the third receiver spot. New coach Mike McCarthy & Co. took a guy who was clearly the best overall player on the board.
They also needed a cornerback with the departure of Byron Jones, but they addressed that need in the second round -- Alabama’s Trevon Diggs (Stefon’s brother) fell to them at No. 51. They again lucked out; many thought Diggs would go in Round 1. Fourth-rounder Reggie Robinson II should also be in the DB mix, giving more insurance there.
In Round 3, they filled another void by adding Oklahoma’s Neville Gallimore, replacing the departed Robert Quinn. CBS Sports had Gallimore ranked No. 36 but Dallas got him at No. 82. Dallas had a run of serious good fortune.
The Cowboys’ NFC East rival didn’t have the same level of success.
The Eagles clearly need help at receiver -- especially with DeSean Jackson’s injury history and Alshon Jeffery wanting a trade -- and this was the right draft to have such a problem, with this crop of incoming wideouts noted as the best in years. Much of the buzz, however, revolved around the top three receivers. Philly had pick No. 21, but Lamb, Henry Ruggs, and Jerry Jeudy were all off the board at that point.
The Eagles got TCU’s Jalen Reagor, who has flashed promise but also has detractors because of an inconsistent track record. Reagor is a decent ‘get,’ but he hasn’t proven himself like the other three.
In the second round, Philly took Jalen Hurts at No. 53. The Oklahoma quarterback was another risky pick -- and one that comes with questions. Philly is financially all-in on Carson Wentz as its franchise QB, but maybe the Eagles aren’t sure his body will hold up -- and Wentz, the face of the franchise, can’t feel great about this pick. It’s a nice situation for Hurts -- no rush to get on the field -- but a questionable pick for a Philly team with multiple needs outside of QB.
The pick of Colorado LB Davion Taylor in the third round made more sense. The speedy, versatile linebacker fills a need and will compete for a starting role. So it wasn’t a total loss for Philly...but the first two picks could’ve been better.
The Cardinals got one of our favorite first-round steals by snagging Clemson linebacker Isaiah Simmons at No. 8. Simmons will be a Day 1 impact player and would’ve gone much higher if most of the top-seven teams didn’t have specific offensive needs. In another year, you’d see this guy go top-three.
The one void some had hoped the Cardinals would fill with that No. 8 pick, though, was offensive tackle -- particularly given the strong top-four prospects this year. Nonetheless, Arizona addressed that issue by lucking into Houston’s Josh Jones with the Cards’ next pick -- all the way at No. 72. Jones was ranked a top-20 prospect in some circles and was the fifth-best offensive tackle. The college four-year starter, renowned for his balance and athleticism, should keep Kyler Murray clean.
The Cards also get points in our highly scientific scoring system for their coach, Kliff Kingsbury, ruthlessly flexing on the rest of the NFL. Don’t hurt ’em, Kliff.
Loser: Former Georgia QBs
Back in the day, two Jacobs -- Eason and Fromm -- were competing for the starting QB job in the lovely Athens, Georgia. Eason won the job but suffered an injury in Game 1, and the job was Fromm’s from there on out. That season, the Bulldogs ultimately fell to Hurts, Tua Tagovailoa, and Alabama, 26-23, in an epic CFP National Championship. That game still bangs, though.
Eason transferred to Washington, and Fromm dominated in the SEC for two more seasons. Both entered the draft process considered possible fringe first-round picks...but neither even went in the first three rounds.
The top three QBs in this year’s crop were pretty well-established, but these two guys were considered in the next tier. Nonetheless, Jordan Love, Hurts, and Lynn Bowden Jr. ended up going ahead of them. Eason went to the Colts in the fourth round, but Fromm was even leapt by James Mordan of FIU (to the Jets in the fourth). Fromm went to Buffalo in the fifth.
You have to feel for these two accomplished college signal-callers. They expected to be top draft prospects and NFL franchise QBs just a year ago, yet now they look poised for backup careers. All hope is not lost...but life comes at you fast.
Winner: Panthers & Panthers 2.0
In Matt Rhule’s first draft at the helm of Carolina, he got lucky by scooping future two defensive line stars. First, Rhule & Co. got Auburn’s Derrick Brown -- AKA “Baby Barack” -- at No. 8. Brown was ranked No. 6 by CBS Sports, is an absolute beast in the middle, and has massive leadership potential. Then Carolina landed Penn State defensive end Yetur Gross-Matos at No. 38, whom CBS had ranked 18 spots higher at No. 20.
The Panthers also should be applauded for moving up to No. 64 to scoop safety Jeremy Chinn, the best FCS defensive player last season. Carolina needed a safety and got one whose stock was low because of his college competition level but with lots of promise. The Southern Illinois standout had 13 picks in his career and has the ability to line up in multiple positions, a la Honey Badger. Don’t sleep on Chinn.
We’ve also got to show some love to Panthers 2.0, AKA Brandon Beane, Sean McDermott, and the Buffalo Bills. The Bills essentially traded their first-round pick for Stefon Diggs, who is only 26 and is playing on an absolute bargain deal through 2023.
Then the Bills got lucky with their top three picks. It started with DE A.J. Epenesa at No. 54 (though he was ranked No. 34), then continued with RB Zack Moss at No. 86 and WR Gabriel Davis at No. 128. Buffalo filled three needs with their top three picks and added the No. 1 receiver Josh Allen needed with the one they dealt away. This team is on the come-up.
Loser: Aaron Rodgers & the Packers
The most shocking pick of the whole draft had to be Green Bay’s move up to No. 26 to snag Utah State QB Jordan Love. Aaron Rodgers was hoping to get some help at a skill position...and ended up seeing his heir apparent selected. That’s gotta hurt.
Granted, Green Bay gave Rodgers a couple weapons in the next two rounds by taking RB AJ Dillon at No. 62 and TE Josiah Deguara at No. 94, but this draft still has to be considered a net loss for Rodgers. He didn’t receive a warm welcome from Brett Favre and it took years for him to win over the old gunslinger -- expect a similar situation here.
It appears the first conversation between Rodgers and Love went well, but we can’t imagine the 36-year-old Rodgers is ready to ride off into the sunset and graciously hand the keys over to a young buck. For all his talent, Rodgers is notoriously stubborn, and this move could seriously sour his relationship with second-year coach Matt LeFleur and third-year GM Brian Gutekunst. It was all good just a week ago.
Could this be a Tom Brady situation with Rodgers joining a new franchise late in his career?