As we prepare to welcome the future of the NFL in the 2021 NFL Draft, it’s only natural to go back and look at how the past dictates the future. If NFL teams could have their time on the clock again, would they have done something differently? Although one year isn’t enough time to fairly ascertain a player’s value, that’s what we’re going to do anyway in this 2020 NFL Draft redraft. Does Joe Burrow still go number one?
The 2020 NFL Draft Redraft
1) Cincinnati Bengals – Joe Burrow, QB, LSU
Does Joe Burrow still go number one in this 2020 NFL Draft redraft? Of course, he does! Anything other than the selection of the LSU quarterback would be ridiculous. Quarterback was the biggest need on the Bengals’ draft board, and Burrow was the best quarterback in the class. Is there really any other pick they could or should have made?
Despite Oregon quarterback Justin Herbert putting together a convincing argument for Offensive Rookie of the Year, Burrow’s performance in entirely different circumstances has been more impressive.
The Bengals’ offensive line was an absolute disaster. Ultimately, it resulted in a season-ending injury for the former Heisman winner. Prior to this, however, Burrow had played out of his skin to mitigate the relentless pressure he faced week in and week out.
2) Washington Football Team – Chase Young, DE, Ohio State
With the benefit of hindsight, would the Washington Football Team swoop for a quarterback in the 2020 NFL Draft? The team’s quarterback room was sub-optimal in the 2020 NFL season. As much as Alex Smith’s comeback story was heroic, how much did he really add to the offense? Would they have been better taking former Oregon QB Justin Herbert in April?
Offensively, it’s difficult to argue that they wouldn’t have been. However, when presented with the opportunity to draft a generational talent like Chase Young, you don’t hesitate.
There is a reason why Young is the frontrunner for Defensive Rookie of the Year. He’s that good. Maybe it doesn’t show up in the stat sheet, but if you watch football and not box scores, then you know how influential Young has been. Washington stays with the explosive pass rusher in this 2020 NFL Draft redraft.
3) Detroit Lions – Justin Jefferson, WR, LSU
Following two non-events, this 2020 NFL Draft redraft kicks it up a gear with the Detroit Lions. Matt Patricia used the third overall pick to select Ohio State cornerback Jeffrey Okudah. A home run hit at the time, Okudah had his struggles in 2020. Additionally, he missed time through injury and played just nine games. Although he secured his first career interception against Arizona, Okudah hasn’t been the expected defensive difference-maker just yet.
In this 2020 NFL Draft redraft, the Lions instead give Matthew Stafford a wide receiver weapon for his final season. The Detroit wide receiver room was bare in 2020.
Meanwhile, Justin Jefferson was having a Rookie of the Year-style campaign for their NFC North rival Minnesota Vikings. Jefferson had 1,400 receiving yards and 7 touchdowns this year with Kirk Cousins as his QB. Imagine what he could have done with Stafford throwing him the ball.
4) New York Giants – Tristan Wirfs, OT, Iowa
Dave Gettleman changed the habit of a lifetime when he selected Georgia’s Andrew Thomas with the New York Giants’ original first-round pick. Gettleman had never selected an offensive lineman with a first-round pick prior to 2020. It just so happens he picked the wrong one to protect Daniel Jones.
That’s not to say that Thomas won’t become good in the future. However, he had his struggles in 2020, and there were clearly multiple rookie offensive tackles better than him.
In this 2020 NFL Draft redraft, the Giants select the best one of the lot: Iowa’s Tristan Wirfs. Tom Brady has been amply protected on his right side by Wirfs during their Super Bowl run. Although offensive linemen don’t get the recognition they deserve, Wirfs should be in the running for the Offensive Rookie of the Year award.
5) Miami Dolphins – Justin Herbert, QB, Oregon
So, here’s where this 2020 NFL Draft redraft becomes a little contentious. Miami Dolphins fans were absolutely thrilled when they landed Alabama QB Tua Tagovailoa back in April. Less than 12 months later, and they’re already trying to trade him to the Houston Texans.
Miami media also reported that there are concerned voices within the Dolphins’ locker room that Tua isn’t the quarterback to lead the team going forward.
The temptation here was to take one of the other top offensive tackles and let Ryan Fitzpatrick lead the team in 2020. The Dolphins could then add a Justin Fields or Zach Wilson in the 2021 NFL Draft. However, Herbert showed immediate star potential in starting for the Los Angeles Chargers in 2020. There’s no reason to believe he couldn’t be successful in aqua and orange.
6) Los Angeles Chargers – Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Alabama
With the sixth pick in this 2020 NFL Draft redraft, the Chargers and Dolphins essentially swap picks. In Los Angeles, Tua could have had the opportunity to sit behind Tyrod Taylor to ensure a full rehab of his hip injury. Additionally, he fits nicely in the Tom Telesco quarterback model as a mobile quarterback who can make plays with his legs.
7) Carolina Panthers – Derrick Brown, DT, Auburn
The Panthers stick with their original selection in this 2020 NFL Draft redraft. The Auburn defensive tackle has made an immediate impact on the Carolina defense, starting 15 games in his rookie season.
Despite some early-season teething problems, Brown has been a productive member of the defense. He tallied 2 sacks, 8 tackles for loss, 12 quarterback hits, and contributed 4 pass breakups. With Brown and Jeremy Chinn, the Panthers had a solid defensive draft in 2020.
8) Arizona Cardinals – Isaiah Simmons, LB, Clemson
Another team sticking with their original selection in this 2020 NFL Draft redraft is the Cardinals. Last April, they selected the athletic jewel in the NFL Draft crown in Clemson linebacker Isaiah Simmons. Although Simmons was initially branded a disappointment by some analysts, some usage issues limited his effectiveness.
Once the Cardinals figured out the best way to utilize him, Simmons began to thrive. He logged his first interception versus Seattle, then had a standout game in the NFC West rematch with the Seahawks. One of the biggest issues with Simmons’ NFL Draft projection was how to use him. Now that Arizona has it figured out expect him to shine in 2021.
9) Jacksonville Jaguars – Trevon Diggs, CB, Alabama
Replacing Jalen Ramsey was the biggest priority for the Jaguars in the 2020 NFL Draft. With their original pick, they selected Florida’s C.J. Henderson. Although he secured his first career interception in his debut, Henderson also gave up 4 touchdowns and over 400 yards in just eight games. He was placed on IR in November.
In this 2020 NFL Draft redraft, they replace him with former Alabama cornerback Trevon Diggs. Diggs was originally drafted in the second round by the Dallas Cowboys. In four more games than Henderson, he allowed just one more touchdown. Additionally, he has allowed a lower passer rating to opposition quarterbacks and snagged three interceptions.
10) Cleveland Browns – Jedrick Wills, OT, Alabama
No change for the Browns in this 2020 NFL Draft redraft. Jedrick Wills was a force on Baker Mayfield’s blind side in 2020, as the Cleveland offensive line underwent a dramatic improvement from the 2019 NFL season.
11) New York Jets – Mekhi Becton, OT, Louisville
As with the Browns, the Jets stick with their original pick in this 2020 NFL Draft redraft. Mekhi Becton was everything as advertised at the left tackle position. Unfortunately, he missed time due to injury. Despite the injury concerns, the Jets were a far better offensive line unit with him on it.
12) Las Vegas Raiders – CeeDee Lamb, WR, Oklahoma
With multiple first-round picks in the 2020 NFL Draft, the Raiders desperately needed to address the cornerback and wide receiver position. With the original pick at 12, they selected Alabama WR Henry Ruggs III. Although Ruggs has shown some sparkle, he hasn’t had the immediate impact that the Raiders required.
In this 2020 NFL Draft redraft, the Raiders make a change and select CeeDee Lamb out of Oklahoma. Originally, the 17th selection of the Dallas Cowboys, Lamb tallied over 1,000 scrimmage yards and 6 touchdowns. He accomplished this despite Dallas losing quarterback Dak Prescott early in the season. Lamb secured 66 percent of his targets compared to just 60 percent for Ruggs.
13) Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Andrew Thomas, OT, Georgia
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers traded up to secure Tristan Wirfs with the 13th pick of the 2020 NFL Draft. As we’re using the final order — including the pre-draft and draft day trades — for this 2020 NFL redraft, the Bucs still select at 13. With Tristan Wirfs long gone, the Buccaneers strike for the highest-rated offensive tackle remaining.
Despite playing left tackle for the Giants, Thomas’ experience playing right tackle in college means he could fill that role in the Tampa Bay offensive line.
14) San Francisco 49ers – Javon Kinlaw, DT, South Carolina
After trading DeForest Buckner to the Indianapolis Colts, the San Francisco 49ers drafted his replacement in Javon Kinlaw. The former South Carolina defensive tackle started 12 games in 2020, contributing 1.5 sacks, 3 tackles for loss, and 33 total tackles.
Kinlaw is credited as not having missed a tackle in 2020. Additionally, he snagged an interception in the win over the Los Angeles Rams that he returned for a touchdown.
15) Denver Broncos – Jerry Jeudy, WR, Alabama
Both offensive line and wide receiver were the big needs for the Denver Broncos back in April. Ultimately, they selected Jerry Jeudy, Garett Bolles had a transformational year, and everything turned out just fine. Well, as fine as it can do with question marks still lingering over Drew Lock at the quarterback position.
Jeudy remains the selection in this 2020 NFL Draft redraft. Although he wasn’t as eye-catching as Justin Jefferson, the rookie still had a solid season. He led the Broncos in receiving yards and yards per reception.
16) Atlanta Falcons – Jaylon Johnson, CB, Utah
Jaylon Johnson was a second-round pick of the Chicago Bears out of Utah last April. However, in this 2020 NFL Draft redraft, he arrives in Atlanta to solve the Falcons’ dismal secondary.
That’s not to say that their original pick — Clemson CB A.J. Terrell — hasn’t had a good rookie season. I just think Johnson has performed better.
Johnson led all rookie cornerbacks in pass breakups with 15 last season. Although he didn’t secure any interceptions, he would add a playmaker in the secondary that the Falcons so desperately need.