We’ve made it. Thanksgiving is over; it is now officially Christmas season. With Christmas season comes Christmas wish lists, and I’m playing Santa for five NFL teams. I’ve chosen five top prospects from the 2020 NFL Draft class, and paired them with their perfect fit.
To find these perfect pairings, there were a number of variables that had to be met. Team need, draft position, positional value, and other miscellaneous factors all went into the equation to determine who was Naughty and who was Nice. Believe me, I checked it twice. Christmas is just around the corner, and while the draft may be a bit further down the road, you can believe these teams would love to find these prospects under their tree. Or at least still on the board when they’re picking in April.
Cincinnati Bengals: Joe Burrow, QB, LSU
The Bengals have been stuck in a loop of mediocrity for… well, for pretty much the majority of the franchise’s history. With the hiring of Marvin Lewis in 2003, they started on a 16-year journey of average. They’ve been “good enough” for years, but were never able to take the next step. This past offseason, they chose to let Lewis go, and chose a younger, more exciting lead man in new head coach Zac Taylor. This year was always going to be the start of a rebuild, but I doubt anybody expected the Bengals to be winless this late into the season. However, this might have turned into a best-case scenario for the Bengals. Now, they get the number one present on their wish list. The top QB in the 2020 NFL Draft class, LSU’s Joe Burrow.
The 2020 NFL draft class is deep with quarterback talent, none more polarizing than Joe Burrow. Burrow is an exciting player that brings an aura of competitiveness and moxie with him. He is the perfect fit for Cincinnati because he brings new life to a franchise that has been excruciatingly dry since the days of prime Chad “Ochocinco” Johnson. They’ve had bright spots like a 12-4 season in 2015, but that was followed up with three straight years of less than eight wins. Joe Burrow will look to be the man that changes all of that.
With his elite pocket presence, and an innate ability to get out of trouble, Burrow will be a a great fit with a Bengals’ receiving unit that’s quietly very strong. Cincinnati has also invested resources into fixing their offensive line. Burrow will be the Day 1 starter, and he’ll be tasked with saving the franchise; a franchise based in his home state of Ohio. This is truly a Christmas miracle.
Washington Redskins: Chase Young, EDGE, Ohio State.
Speaking of Christmas miracles, the Redskins would be beneficiaries of one if they found themselves in position to draft Ohio State’s Chase Young. Not only is he the best player in the 2020 NFL Draft class, but Young is probably the best prospect in at least three years. Young has dominated this season, and wrote his name in the Ohio State record books. He has not only been the best defensive player in the country, he’s been the best overall player in the country. Young should be the Heisman favorite.
The Redskins have struggled to get after the passer from the edge. First-round pick Montez Sweat has struggled to consistently produce pressure, but his potential is immense. Long-time veteran Ryan Kerrigan has’t been the consistent pass rush threat he has been in the past, and he only has one season left on his contract. Kerrigan has been the most productive pass rusher in team history; what better way to replace him than with the best prospect in team history? The Redskins haven’t picked a defensive player in the top five since selecting the late, great Sean Taylor in 2004. Pairing Young with the Redskins would provide an heir to Kerrigan, and a future pairing of Sweat and Young would have massive upside.
Denver Broncos: Tristan Wirfs, OT, Iowa
The Broncos have struggled all season to protect the passer. Left tackle Garett Bolles has been inconsistent and a holding machine. He provides solid power in the run game, but I believe he’s best suited for the interior. The Broncos desperately need someone who can protect the pocket, but with the upside of developing into a top-tier blindside blocker. The top of their Christmas list: Iowa’s Tristan Wirfs.
In the 2020 NFL Draft class, no tackle is more refined as a pass protector than Wirfs. He’s played primarily right tackle at Iowa, but has stepped in at left tackle well from time to time. His upside is immense, and he’s the best fit possible for Denver. They need to fix their issues protecting the passer before they can ever be truly successful.
Jacksonville Jaguars: Jeffrey Okudah, CB, Ohio State
After trading the Jalen Ramsey to the Rams, the Jags have struggled to consistently cover the pass. Why not replace Ramsey with the best cornerback prospect since the Jaguars drafted him? Jeffrey Okudah is the best cornerback in the country, and the best cornerback I have ever scouted (started in 2017). Okudah is the perfect replacement for Ramsey; he has similar athletic ability and his ability to mirror any receiver ahead of him is on par with Ramsey’s.
Okudah would fit immediately with Jacksonville, as his role behind the dominant pass rush would once again provide the Jaguars an elite defensive unit. The offense has struggled, but I doubt they give up on the Nick Foles experiment after just one year. Okudah would be the best player available when the Jags pick, as I view him as the second best overall player in the 2020 NFL Draft class. Talk about a steal; no coal for the Jaguars this year.
New York Jets: AJ Epenesa EDGE, Iowa
The Jets desperately struggle to find pass rushing production from the defensive edge. They took a flier in the third round on Florida EDGE Jachai Polite. That experiment didn’t exactly work out. They’re leading pass rusher is safety Jamal Adams, and they desperately need someone else who can collapse the pocket.
Iowa edge rusher AJ Epenesa is the perfect pairing and should be atop the Jets wish list. He’s a powerful pass rusher who has long arms and great strength at the point of attack. Pairing Epenesa with 2019 first-round pick Quinnen Williams would be massive for New York. With all the offensive talent they’ve added recently, the Jets need to look to address the defense.