The NFL Draft is defined by its hits and misses. There are several factors in play that will determine the success of each of these players. However, several months spent getting to know them as collegiate players allow us to confidently proclaim who should have a fruitful career as a professional.
Here are the best picks made by each team in the 2020 NFL Draft:
Round 7, No. 222 overall – Arizona State running back Eno Benjamin
Benjamin has his deficiencies with fumbling and focus drops but few players offer the level of explosion that he will bring to Arizona. The Cardinals should have a nice backfield with Kenyan Drake, Chase Edmonds and Benjamin.
Round 3, No. 78 overall – Temple center Matt Hennessy
Hennessy really gained steam late in the process. He is a fundamentally sound interior offensive lineman that should be able to slot in early at offensive guard or center. He also perfectly fits Atlanta’s blocking scheme. The expectation was that he might have been taken a little higher.
Round 1, No. 28 overall – LSU linebacker Patrick Queen
It was a surprise to see Queen on the board that late into Round 1. Baltimore had some better picks in terms of the value that they received but the fit here is perfect. The Ravens have always been known for their physical interior linebackers and they get one of the draft’s best.
Round 2, No. 54 overall – Iowa defensive end A.J. Epenesa
Epenesa carried a first-round grade for me. There were not many picks made by Buffalo that felt like a reach. Epenesa is a strong, technically sound player that offers some versatility on the edge or with the potential to move inside on certain packages.
Round 2, No. 64 overall – Southern Illinois safety Jeremy Chinn
Carolina had the opportunity to select Clemson’s Isaiah Simmons or Auburn defensive tackle Derrick Brown in the first round. Chinn has been referred to as a “poor man’s Simmons” so it made sense for them to take the package of Brown and Chinn rather than Simmons and whichever defensive tackle they would have gotten at this stage.
Round 2, No. 50 overall – Utah cornerback Jaylon Johnson
An injury was the reason for the slide here but Chicago gets a first-round caliber cornerback in the second round. They desperately needed some new blood at the position.
Round 4, No. 107 overall – Appalachian State linebacker Akeem Davis-Gaither
The Bengals are getting a steal here if Davis-Gaither is healthy. He flies around the field like a banshee. Despite being smaller in stature, he does not surrender any tackling ability.
Round 6, No. 187 overall – Michigan wide receiver Donovan Peoples-Jones
Peoples-Jones has as much upside as any wide receiver in this class. For him to be taken in the sixth round is great value for the Browns. He can learn from some really good wide receivers without having to be thrust into the mix early.
Round 3, No. 82 overall – Oklahoma defensive tackle Neville Gallimore
Galimore is a big, active defensive tackle that has the benefit of learning from Gerald McCoy and Dontari Poe. It would not be a surprise if he became the best defensive tackle from this class. Dallas had a handful of players in the mix for “best pick” because they did a great job drafting value.
Round 6, No. 181 overall – Fresno State offensive guard Netane Muti
Muti has first-round caliber film but his injury history is terrifying. If Denver can get him to stay healthy, then they knocked this one out of the park on Day 3. The Broncos needed to address their offensive line and this could accomplish part of that ask. They still need some help at tackle.
Round 5, No. 166 overall – Wisconsin wide receiver Quintez Cephus
Cephus is a really productive wide receiver. He was one of the few that gave Ohio State cornerback Jeff Okudah fits last season. In fact, at the combine, Okudah said Cephus was the best wide receiver he matched up against. The Lions will not ask him to contribute early because they already have some good players. He can work his way into the rotation at his own pace.
Green Bay Packers
Round 1, No. 26 overall – Utah State quarterback Jordan Love
To be honest, there were not many options for this honor. I understand what they were trying to do but I did not value players in the same manner as Green Bay. Love sets them up for another decade-plus of winning, which is something that they had done in the past with Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers. I love the pick for that reason.
Round 2, No. 40 overall – TCU defensive tackle Ross Blacklock
It will be interesting to see how Blacklock will fit into the Houston defense. They will likely have more sub-packages to get him on the field. The player is fantastic though. Houston did a good job to get him at this point in the second round after losing D.J. Reader, who is more of a true nose tackle, in free agency.
Round 5, No. 149 overall – Ball State offensive guard Danny Pinter
Pinter played tackle in the past but his professional career will carry him inside. He has a good frame and lateral athleticism to potentially be successful. Quenton Nelson will be able to give him some pointers and that must be exciting for Colts fans.
Round 2, No. 42 overall – Colorado wide receiver Laviska Shenault Jr.
Shenault was valued as a first-round pick for most of the process but an injury led to his fall. Jacksonville is getting a wide receiver for Gardner Minshew that can offer a number of different looks. He has been at his best closer to the line of scrimmage.
Kansas City Chiefs
Round 3, No. 96 overall – TCU offensive tackle Lucas Niang
Niang was once regarded as a potential first-round pick before his injury. He did not sacrifice many pressures in the Big XII. Kansas City needed to upgrade their offensive line more than many realized. They are setting themselves up for a sustainable championship run over the next five years.
Los Angeles Chargers
Round 1, No. 23 overall – Oklahoma linebacker Kenneth Murray
The value in Murray’s selection was not that grand considering what the Chargers had to give up to pick him. The fit is fantastic though. Their defense will be fast and athletic with Drue Tranquill and Derwin James serving as smaller defensive weapons to deploy on nickel packages.
Los Angeles Rams
Round 3, No. 104 overall – Utah safety Terrell Burgess
Burgess is a top 100 player. The Rams valued him more than some of the safeties taken before him. He primarily played in the box but has proven to be an instinctive playmaker in the Utah secondary. Los Angeles will be able to move him all over the field to best utilize his skill set.
Las Vegas Raiders
Round 4, No. 139 overall – Louisiana Tech cornerback Amik Robertson
Las Vegas has loaded up on players from Alabama, Clemson and other traditional programs because they bring expectations of winning. The Raiders did not sacrifice their cultural desire to select Robertson. He is a gritty player that loves the game. He will give 110-percent every game.
Round 5, No. 164 overall – Boise State edge rusher Curtis Weaver
Some NFL teams might have a problem with his conditioning but few college football players can say they were as productive as Weaver in recent years. He has accumulated 34 sacks over the past three seasons. Weaver does a great job getting off blocks by using his hands and speed.
Round 2, No. 58 overall – Boise State offensive tackle Ezra Cleveland
Cleveland was projected to be taken higher. He is an athletic offensive tackle that lacks the power some others in the class possess. Minnesota needed to upgrade the position and were able to accomplish that with a gifted lineman in the second round. It is better for them to land a viable long-term replacement rather than giving up draft capital and salary cap space for a few years of Trent Williams.
New England Patriots
Round 2, No. 60 overall – Michigan edge rusher Josh Uche
Uche was underutilized at Michigan. The best football is yet to come for Uche and the New England coaching staff should be able to bring that out of him. He has great size and is more than solid in coverage as well.
New Orleans Saints
Round 3, No. 74 overall – Wisconsin linebacker Zack Baun
There was no one that believed Baun might be around mid-way into the third round when the draft started. He has the versatility to play inside and outside, which may have precipitated his fall a bit. There was supposedly an injury that he was dealing with as well. New Orleans gets great value at a position of need on Day 2.
New York Giants
Round 2, No. 36 overall – Alabama safety Xavier McKinney
McKinney was my top safety so to land him in the second round is great value for New York. He is a smart, athletic player that wears many hats, similar to Minkah Fitzpatrick. His versatility will allow Joe Judge to show different looks pre-snap.
New York Jets
Round 5, No. 158 overall – Virginia cornerback Bryce Hall
Hall was a first-round caliber player before his injury. He does a great job mirroring receivers downfield and is physical. New York desperately needed some help at the cornerback position so this was a gamble worth taking on Day 3. It could pay huge dividends.
Round 6, No. 210 overall – Auburn offensive tackle Prince Tega Wanogho
Wanogho is a bit raw but his athleticism makes this a worthwhile pick. The upside of this pick was too much for Philadelphia to bypass in the sixth round. If there is one concern with the pick, it is that the Eagles already have a few developmental tackles on the roster with Andre Dillard and Jordan Mailata.
Round 4, No. 135 overall – Louisiana-Lafayette offensive guard Kevin Dotson
Dotson is a rock at the heart of the offensive line. He is a brute in run blocking. Pittsburgh needed to address their interior offensive line and they were able to do so with great value on Day 3.
Round 3, No. 69 overall – LSU offensive guard Damien Lewis
Seattle has made the move to release Justin Britt and D.J. Fluker following the draft. Lewis is one reason for their confidence. He should be a Day 1 starter for them at offensive guard. His selection much earlier could have been justified.
San Francisco 49ers
Round 7, No. 217 overall – Tennessee wide receiver Jauan Jennings
Jennings is not going to blow anyone away with his athleticism but he always finds a way to get the job done. Everyone raves about the way that he plays. Kyle Shanahan took an informed flyer on the prospect late in the draft. It could pay off big-time down the road.
Tampa Bay Bucs
Round 5, No. 161 overall – Minnesota wide receiver Tyler Johnson
Johnson was one of the most polarizing wide receiver prospects in this draft class. His film was fantastic but several were underwhelmed with his testing. Johnson finds a nice fit in Tampa Bay with Chris Godwin, Mike Evans and Tom Brady. He could be a good contributor out of the slot.
Round 5, No. 174 overall – N.C. State defensive tackle Larrell Murchison
It was a bit of a surprise to see Murchison on the board in the fifth round. He is an active player that should fit well on Mike Vrabel’s defense. They traded away Jurrell Casey but return Jeffrey Simmons. It’s a younger group, but one that can grow together.
Round 4, No. 142 overall – Liberty wide receiver Antonio Gandy-Golden
A year ago, the Redskins landed their most productive rookie in the third round — wide receiver Terry McLaurin. Gandy-Golden is another that offers tremendous potential down the field. His frame reminds many of Julio Jones but he is not as explosive. Washington might be building a solid receiver room grounded in Day 3 picks though.
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