10. Minnesota Vikings – TCU CB Jeff Gladney at No. 31
For a moment, let’s just appreciate that the Vikings, after losing Xavier Rhodes, Trae Waynes, and Mackensie Alexander in free agency, managed to recoup their losses by adding Jeff Gladney, Cameron Dantzler, and Harrison Hand in the draft. Hand has the length and athletic upside to be a consistent contributor in time, and Gladney and Dantzler should be starters early.
Gladney, in particular, has the traits to be an impact player right away. He couples speed and explosiveness with instincts and moxie, and while he’s a bit undersized, he makes up for it with his play style and his ability to cover ground. The Vikings needed a quick turnaround at one of the most important defensive positions, and they got it. They traded back and still got Gladney, culminating in excellent value, worthy of a top-10 slot.
9. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Iowa OT Tristan Wirfs at No. 13
Had the Buccaneers not traded a fourth-round pick to swap places with the 49ers, this would have been the highest-value offensive tackle addition in the first round. Even so, the Buccaneers got the most athletic offensive tackle in the 2020 NFL Draft, at a place where he shouldn’t have been available.
Tristan Wirfs’ athletic profile is eerily reminiscent of seven-time Pro Bowl tackle Trent Williams, and on tape, his play reinforces his potential. Wirfs is an incredibly smooth, agile blocker with the power to render opponents inert, and he has the upside to pace his position for years.
The Buccaneers, with Tom Brady and a newly-formed talent core, are gearing up to win now, and they needed another tackle to immediately solidify Brady’s line. Wirfs does exactly that, and he’ll also smoothen the inevitable transition to Brady’s heir.
8. Miami Dolphins – Auburn CB Noah Igbinoghene at No. 30
It was interesting to see how this pick was received. The Dolphins traded back with the Packers for the 30th pick and wound up selecting Auburn CB Noah Igbinoghene. Some people liked the pick. Some people hated the pick. Some people had no idea who Igbinoghene was.
I loved the pick, as evidenced by this ranking. Igbinoghene is raw in some areas of his game, but when I watched his tape, I saw a player with potentially the highest ceiling in the cornerback class. He’s an incredibly fluid mover with excellent closing speed and explosiveness, and he plays with an ingrained urgency that not all players have.
Igbinoghene’s profile pits him as a top-three cornerback in my eyes and the Dolphins got him after trading back to 30. He offers early starting potential and trans-positional versatility for Brian Flores, a quality that could be very valuable in due time.
7. Cleveland Browns – Alabama OT Jedrick Wills at No. 10
Virtually every mock draft leading up to late April had the Cleveland Browns selecting an offensive tackle with the 10th overall pick. It doesn’t even qualify as a poorly-kept secret because it wasn’t a secret; it was always tackle or bust for the Browns, and when it came time to make the selection, they did exactly what they needed to do.
At 10, the Browns picked the offensive tackle with arguably the highest floor in the 2020 class. Jedrick Wills is a robot on tape, possessing unreal snap-to-snap consistency, and while Wirfs edged out Wills for my OT1 spot, Wills was a close second with his complete foundational floor as a prospect.
He has the profile to file in opposite from Jack Conklin with ease, and that value that he might provide, protecting Baker Mayfield’s blindside and expediting his growth process, is astronomical.
6. Denver Broncos – Alabama WR Jerry Jeudy at No. 15
Whispers ahead of the 2020 NFL Draft told of the Broncos’ desire to add a dynamic receiving threat for Drew Lock. It was even believed that the Broncos would try to trade up, in order to secure their chances of adding their desired target.
In the end, the Broncos did no such thing. Instead, they sat at 15, as Alabama wide receiver Jerry Jeudy fell to them, undeterred. As Pro Football Network insider Benjamin Allbright reported recently, Jeudy was the number one receiver on the Broncos’ board, and they were able to get him without sacrificing extraneous value. Whenever a team is able to capitalize on the draft board like this, it goes without saying that they essentially maximized their potential value.
5. Carolina Panthers – Auburn DL Derrick Brown at No. 7
Derrick Brown’s NFL Combine performance was the source of some controversy, as the Auburn standout didn’t quite test to the level that some thought he would. But those numbers pale in comparison to the tape, where Brown shows all of the burst, power, and length necessary to wreck opposing offensive lines at the next level.
The Carolina Panthers, needing top-end talent heading into the draft, got a potential top-three player in Brown at seventh overall. Interior strength and pressure are important components to the modern defense, and Brown gives them a player with a full tool chest in that regard. With Kawann Short aging and coming back from injury, Brown has the skills to boost him up once he’s back, and ultimately succeed him when he’s gone.
4. Miami Dolphins – Alabama QB Tua Tagovailoa at No. 5
There was talk in the months leading up to the 2020 NFL Draft that the Miami Dolphins would be forced to trade up to grab their quarterback of the future. Speculation was fueled by the fact that the Dolphins had the capital, as well as the incentive to do so. But when the draft finally came around, the Dolphins were able to sit at five, let the board play out before them, and select their desired choice at quarterback without giving up any assets.
There are questions surrounding whether or not Tua Tagovailoa can elevate a team to the degree that other quarterbacks can, but his athleticism, accuracy, and steadiness make him a quarterback teams can win with. That’s not always an easy thing to find in today’s NFL, and the Dolphins did it while also keeping the assets needed to strengthen his supporting cast.
3. Washington Redskins – Ohio State EDGE Chase Young at No. 2
The Redskins didn’t necessarily need to pick an edge rusher second overall, as Ryan Kerrigan is still in the wings across from Montez Sweat. That said, Kerrigan is getting older and appears to be declining, and when there’s a top talent available at a position of heavy importance like edge rusher, it only makes sense to re-up and benefit from the added talent.
Most people you ask will tell you that Chase Young was the best prospect in the 2020 NFL Draft. His combination of size and athleticism is rare for an edge rusher, and while he was dominant in college in 2019, he’s still trending up and growing into his frame.
For the Redskins, who have a multi-year rebuild on deck, getting the best overall player at two was the right move, regardless of positional need, and in a year or two, once they’ve filled other needs on defense, Young’s fearsome presence could help make them real contenders.
2. Cincinnati Bengals – LSU QB Joe Burrow at No. 1
When there’s a sure thing at quarterback, you take him. Few quarterbacks are ever a sure thing emerging onto the draft circuit, but in the 2020 NFL Draft, Joe Burrow was the closest one to that status, and he was the only choice that made sense for the Cincinnati Bengals first overall.
Burrow brings with him an incredibly solid profile. He has almost everything you want in an NFL quarterback — Poise, evasion skills, general accuracy, toughness, leadership, and more. His arm strength drew the most complaints from scouts during the recent pre-draft cycle, but quarterbacks who know how to keep plays alive and use their tools don’t need rocket arms. Burrow has the traits necessary to elevate his team, and with the first overall pick, that kind of player gives you the best long-term value possible.
1. Dallas Cowboys – Oklahoma WR CeeDee Lamb at No. 17
It only makes sense that the Cowboys are the ones who committed highway robbery. Not many mocks had Dallas picking a receiver in the first round; the presence of 1,000-yard pass-catchers Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup made sure of that. However, there were not many mocks that had CeeDee Lamb dropping to 17 either, and when he did, Jerry Jones rightly sent in the card.
Lamb was my WR1 in this cycle. He’s an incredibly dynamic receiver with the size, explosiveness, body control, and run-after-catch ability to be a premier threat at the next level, and his profile warranted a selection in the top 10. He should have been someone’s top wide receiver after the draft, but instead, he’ll join a fearsome trio in Texas, and he might make them the best group in the NFL from day one.