The NFL wrapped up its annual draft with three full days, seven rounds, and 255 picks of football-lover’s paradise. And, the league did it all virtually.
With Commissioner Roger Goodell calling out picks from his basement, the NFL stuck to its schedule and held the 2020 draft during a public health crisis. In doing so, the league set a new TV ratings record for Round 1. The league was a definite winner this year. Here’s who else prospered at the 2020 NFL Draft.
The Cincinnati Bengals
With the first overall pick in the draft, the Bengals got the face of the franchise for the next decade – quarterback Joe Burrow. The Heisman Trophy winner is a likely Day 1 starter and he’ll have plenty of weapons.
Cincinnati got wide receiver Tee Higgins (6-4) out of Clemson with the first pick in the second round. The Bengals added some defensive depth with LB Logan Wilson, LB Akeem Davis-Gaither, and DE Khalid Kareem.
Sitting at No. 17, Dallas somehow came away with what many regarded as the best wide receiver in the draft – Oklahoma’s CeeDee Lamb. The 6-2, 198-pound Lamb is a skilled route runner with great ball skills and enough speed to be able to average 11.0 yards per reception after the catch.
The Cowboys then got CB Trevon Diggs and DT Neville Gallimore in Rounds 2 and 3. Both players were rated much higher. The same was true of fourth-round pick Tyler Biadasz, an offensive lineman, and DE Bradlee Anae, who was selected in the fifth round.
It wasn’t until pick No. 12 that the first wide receiver, Alabama’s Henry Ruggs III, was taken. The wide receiver flood gates then opened up as five more were selected in Round 1 and a total of 13 were taken in the first two rounds.
The second round kicked off with Higgins to Cincinnati followed by USC’s Michael Pittman who was selected by Indianapolis. A total of seven receivers were picked in Round 2. They were part of a total of 37 taken in the draft. That means a full 15 percent of all players chosen in the 2020 draft were wide receivers.
The Baltimore Ravens made the most of their draft with 10 selections, six of them coming in the first three rounds. Linebacker Patrick Queen from LSU will be an instant star. Baltimore had four picks in the third round and acquired DT Justin Madubuike, WR Devin Duvernay, LB Malik Harrison, and OG Tyre Phillips. All four were projected to go earlier than Round 3.
Then, Baltimore pulled off one of the steals of the draft. Iowa S Geno Stone (5-10, 207) fell to the seventh round likely due to his 4.62 40 time. The Ravens scooped up the super-productive Stone, who had one of the highest coverage grades in the nation last year.
It is the nation’s premier conference for a reason. The SEC continues to produce NFL talent and did so this year in record fashion. Of the first 64 picks – Rounds 1 & 2 – the SEC produced 25, or 39 percent, of them.
The conference had a total of 63 draftees, tops of all the conferences in the country. The Big Ten was a distant second with 48. National champion LSU accounted for 14 picks itself. Alabama followed with nine and Florida and Georgia each produced seven draft picks.
Head coach Bruce Arians and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are going all-in on winning now. The Bucs acquired future Hall of Fame quarterback Tom Brady and his former New England teammate TE Rob Gronkowski before this year’s draft.
Then, the Bucs went to work surrounding Brady with a number of weapons, the first being the uber-athletic Tristan Wirfs. The former Iowa tackle produced some of the best combine numbers ever for an offensive lineman with a 4.85 40-yard dash and a 36.5-inch vertical jump. He recorded those numbers at 6-foot-5-inches and 320 pounds.
With Wirfs protecting Brady’s blind side, he will have new offensive weapons in RB Ke’Shawn Vaughn, RB Raymond Calais, and WR Tyler Johnson. The Bucs also added depth to the secondary picking safety Antoine Winfield Jr. in the second round.
Minnesota amassed a total of 15 picks in this year’s draft. They had multiple picks in each round except for Rounds 2 and 3. They started the onslaught in the first round with LSU wide receiver Justin Jefferson, who will help make up for the loss of Stefon Diggs in the offseason.
With their second first-round pick, the Vikings took CB Jeff Gladney out of TCU. They selected two more corners – Cameron Dantzler and Harrison Hand – in Rounds 3 and 4, respectively. Head coach Mike Zimmer, a defensive guy, loaded up on edge rushers in the fourth round with D.J. Wonnum at pick No. 117 and Baylor’s James Lynch at No. 130. Two picks later, Zimmer and company took Oregon LB Troy Dye.