The 2020 NFL Draft is in the books and the league’s three-day signature event delivered plenty of excitement for fans and will prove to be pivotal for teams across the league. While plenty of teams crushed it during this year’s draft, which we’ll dive into, commissioner Roger Goodell delivered an incredible performance at an unprecedented time in an all-virtual NFL Draft.
There’s a reason fans and organizations view the NFL Draft as an opportunity to feel renewed hope. Whether it’s a team that fell short in the playoffs making big additions that will make them a Super Bowl contender or a team is beginning a rebuild and providing the fan base with optimism for the future.
The 2020 NFL Draft delivered that good feeling for many teams across the league, although a few fell far short of the mark. Now with seven rounds in the books, the landscape for the 2020 NFL season looks quite different after a series of key additions by teams.
Let’s dive into our takeaways from the 2020 NFL Draft.
Baltimore Ravens are ready to take the next step
After an incredible regular season, Baltimore collapsed in the playoffs with an ugly knockout in the divisional round. After making some nice additions on the defensive side via free agency, the Ravens turned to the NFL Draft as an opportunity to make both sides of the ball stronger.
The Ravens took advantage of linebacker Patrick Queen falling right into their lap in Round 1, giving them a weapon that can excel in coverage and stick with the likes of Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce. When J.K. Dobbins fell to Baltimore late in the second round, they snagged him up and will now have an even more dangerous rushing attack in 2020 with Lamar Jackson, Mark Ingram and Dobbins. The Ravens added even more impact help to their front seven with defensive lineman Justin Madubuike and linebacker Malik Harrison. Pair that with wide receivers Devin Duvernay and James Proche, both of whom will see significant snaps this season. The Ravens improved on both sides of the ball and are ready to contend with the Kansas City Chiefs.
Green Bay Packers seemingly throw in the towel on Super Bowl hopes
Coming off an incredible season that saw Aaron Rodgers and first-year coach Matt LaFleur reach the NFC Championship Game, it seemed obvious that the Packers would make an all-in push to become a Super Bowl favorite. They needed to address inside linebacker and wide receiver, which came at the perfect time in a draft class loaded at both positions. Somehow, Green Bay came out of the 2020 NFL Draft without addressing their most pressing needs.
The decision to trade up for quarterback Jordan Love remains baffling and the picks didn’t make any more sense on Day 2 or Day 3 of the NFL Draft. Love likely won’t see the field until 2022 at the earliest. A.J. Dillon will be the team’s No. 3 running back this year and could push star all-purpose back Aaron Jones out the door next offseason. Oh, Dillon also carried the ball more than 800 times in college and accounted for only 21 receptions in three seasons. As for their third-round pick, Green Bay took a fullback. The Packers had a chance to build a Super Bowl-caliber roster, but general manager Brian Gutekunst seemed to build a team for 2022 or ’23. We’ll see if he is around long enough to see Love become this team’s starter.
New England Patriots firmly believe Jarrett Stidham is their future
Everyone expected the Patriots to draft a quarterback early this year, but they didn’t spend a single pick on the position. It came as a major surprise given the depth of this year’s quarterback class, especially given all of the opportunities New England had to take a quarterback on Day 2. The decision means several things for this team’s future and certainly could hint at a rebuild, but Bill Belichick’s draft moves paint an even more obvious picture.
The coaching staff is remarkably confident in Jarrett Stidham. We wrote a few weeks ago just how much Belichick and offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels believe in Stidham, this year’s draft class just emphasize that. Once viewed as a potential top-10 pick, the Patriots grabbed Stidham with a fourth-round pick in 2019 after a disappointing season. He knows this team’s system and the coaching staff firmly believes he is ready to start and be the new face of the franchise. If the Patriots are wrong and things don’t work out, they can make a run at Trevor Lawrence or Justin Fields next year. The Patriots love Stidham and we love Belichick’s dog, that’s what we learned this offseason.
Outstanding draft makes Dallas Cowboys a Super Bowl contender
Everyone expected the Cowboys to have a laughable draft with Jerry Jones in charge without anyone to stop him. It turns out, Dallas came away with one of the best hauls in the draft class and what could go down as one of its best in years. In an unusual draft process with every team hampered by restrictions, Dallas executed a nearly perfect draft and found incredible value.
While wide receiver might not have been this team’s most pressing need, they couldn’t pass on a top-10 talent like CeeDee Lamb. He’s cut from the same cloth as DeAndre Hopkins and gives this team an unbelievable trio at receiver. The Cowboys also grabbed Tyler Biadasz, one of the best centers in the draft class, with their fourth-round pick. The value selections of cornerbacks Trevon Diggs, Reggie Robinson II and defensive lineman Neville Gallimore addressed holes on the defensive side. The Cowboys are easily the favorites in the NFC East and could be a legitimate Super Bowl contender next season if everyone stays healthy.
Cincinnati Bengals building around Joe Burrow the right way
Any team would make the easy decision to draft Joe Burrow with the No. 1 overall pick, but not every front office would put him in a great position to thrive. Cincinnati could have addressed its defense with the No. 33 pick, but they grabbed another top receiver to make Burrow feel right at home in this offense.
A rare knock on Burrow coming out of LSU was that he benefitted from being helped by a strong supporting cast. He’ll have even more help in the NFL. A.J. Green is an outstanding No. 1 receiver, Tyler Boyd is a reliable No. 2 weapon and Tee Higgins will be a great weapon in the red zone and will win on 50-50 balls. Throw in Joe Mixon, an excellent all-purpose back, you have the makings for a fantastic offense. We expect big things from Burrow immediately and the Bengals will be an exciting team to watch in 2020.
AFC West will be better than ever in 2020
The Kansas City Chiefs enjoyed coasting through the AFC West this past season with a 6-0 record and a five-game advantage on their next closest divisional foe. We hope they enjoyed it because the AFC West is going to be one of the NFL’s best divisions for years to come.
We’ll start with the Denver Broncos, a team that is built for playoff contention immediately. Denver’s defense should remain steady under Vic Fangio, but we’re even more excited about the offense. Melvin Gordon and Phillip Lindsay will lead a strong rushing attack and the receiver trio of Courtland Sutton, Jerry Jeudy and KJ Hamler will be tremendous. Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Chargers will boast an elite defense and Justin Herbert could be the guy to balance the offense. While we didn’t love the Las Vegas Raiders draft, they’ll also be very competitive next year. The Kansas City Chiefs are still the team to beat in the NFL, but they’ll face far more competition this year.
No more excuses for Tom Brady
Tom Brady didn’t receive much help in his final season with the New England Patriots, which made for a convenient excuse when the team fell short of expectations. Credit to him for finding a great landing spot with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, an organization that knows how to build around their quarterback. We already liked Tampa Bay’s supporting cast before the NFL Draft and now we love it even more.
The decision to trade up one spot to grab Tristan Wirfs was brilliant. He represented the missing piece at right tackle and filling that void with the perfect player will always be a great move. NFL teams let Antoine Winfield Jr. fall right to Tampa Bay, giving their secondary an incredible playmaker. Oh, Tyler Johnson also landed in their lap to complete an incredible receiving corps. A dominant offensive line, an elite group of pass-catchers and a strong defense. If the Buccaneers don’t make it to the Super Bowl this season, the blame will have to fall on Brady’s aging shoulders.