Winners: Jacksonville Jaguars
When you look at a draft as a whole, the three parameters you really want to take into account are did a team address their needs, did a team upgrade their talent and did a team weave through the rounds and players to get value every step of the way. When taking these things into account with the Jaguars 2020 NFL Draft, I can’t see where they missed the mark.
Florida cornerback CJ Henderson with the #9 overall pick was the intelligent choice, especially as the Jaguars need to plug holes in their secondary. Just eleven picks later, LSU outside linebacker K’Lavon Chaisson was another strong selection, as a powerful downhill player who gets off the ball quickly and has fantastic size. By now, we know that Colorado wide receiver Laviska Shenault Jr., the Jaguars’ second round pick, would’ve probably been a first-round talent if he played in the SEC and the rest of their nine picks on Day Three show promise and upside.
It’s so rare that Jacksonville truly gets something right, but I really think they did here. They addressed all their team needs, they added guys who can make plays and they bolstered up their defense to last, especially in an AFC South division that changes by the day.
Losers: Las Vegas Raiders
Ah, Mayock and Gruden. The NFL’s odd couple are both football gurus, so in some ways, I wanted to give them a pass and assume that they know much more about evaluating professional football players than me. But when you look at their draft class, it’s just so incredibly hard to gauge what their goal was.
Silver and Black Pride noted that after this draft, Mayock has now picked nine wide receivers since he was hired in 2019 and even with Alabama’s Henry Ruggs III being a fathomable choice at #12, the trend just asks more questions than it answers. No matter what the Raiders say, Ohio State cornerback Damon Arnette was a reach in the Top 20 and Kentucky’s Lynn Bowden Jr. is a quarterback turned running back/wide receiver, who has a huge learning curve for a third round choice.
Well-built South Carolina wide receiver Bryan Edwards has concerns about his hands and top-end speed, Clemson safety Tanner Muse is one of those prototypical college stars who probably won’t convert to the next level, Muse’s college teammate in offensive guard John Simpson was an average lineman on a great team and Louisiana Tech cornerback Amik Robertson is severely undersized, but may be the best of the bunch. I also don’t get how Las Vegas was the only team who apparently struggled to evaluate talent to make picks after the fourth round, but if that isn’t the sign of a franchise defending their actions, I’m not sure what is.
Winner: Minnesota Vikings
Minnesota managed to address team needs without reaching, grabbing LSU Wide Receiver Justin Jefferson and TCU Cornerback Jeff Gladney in the first round. After the team traded Stefon Diggs, the Vikings needed a pass catcher, and Jefferson had one of the best seasons in the country as Joe Burrow’s main target. Gladney is a ball hawk who should immediately make the Minnesota secondary more threatening.
After a great first, the Vikings did even more impressive work over the next two days. They added a tremendous amount of depth to the Offensive Line, with OTs Ezra Cleveland and Blake Brandel and Guard Kyle Hinton. They grabbed another promising receiver in KJ Osborn, and some very exciting defensive pieces with DE DJ Wonnum and LB Troy Dye. They also grabbed an interesting QB prospect in Nate Stanley out of Iowa, who might be able to push Sean Mannion for that backup job.
The Vikings look very well placed to take over the top spot in the NFC North.
Loser: Green Bay Packers
Loser is too harsh a term; teams like the Seahawks and Raiders had arguably worse drafts, but between Jordan Love and the rest of the Packers selections it feels like Green Bay is taking a step back; for now at least. Love certainly won’t play next season, and probably not for the next few seasons. He may be great when he gets the job, but we won’t know for a while.
The team then spent the next two rounds adding offensive weapons, with RB AJ Dillon and TE Deguara. They didn’t address the team’s most pressing needs until day 3, when they aggressively targeting the interior offensive line and grabbing a few defensive players.
That sends a clear message; the team is focused on a few seasons from now, not on next year. That’s fine for a team that has a rebuilding process ahead, but for a team that just played in the NFC Championship its a disappointment. If we’re not going to have Aaron Rodgers around much longer, it would be a shame to see his final seasons be on a team that’s not trying to be competitive.
Winner: Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Okay, I am a touch biased as the only presiding Bucs fan on the team. But regardless, the Bucs crushed their draft. The Bucs made the most of all of their picks, from landing one of the top four offensive tackles in the draft in round one to protect Tom Brady all the way to snagging a starting-caliber slot receiver in round five. Oh, and because of their trade with the Patriots, they basically straight-up used one of their two fourth round picks on Rob Gronkowski. Come on, how are you not a winner?
Now, I know that trading up one spot for a tackle may seem silly. In the 2019 draft, the Bucs missed out on a guard they liked because the Bills traded up to one pick ahead of them. So this year, Jason Licht was aggressive and went up and secured his guy and avoided another instance of last year. Also, drafting Antoine Winfield Jr. in the second round could give the Bucs a honey-badger-esque player if he can stay healthy. Ke’Shawn Vaughn in the third round is also a solid pick at RB that will give Tom Brady a receiving back that he loves so much.
The Bucs did not draft crazy big names like some of our other winners. But Tampa Bay took players that fit their team and their culture without jumping all over the place. The pieces they added this draft can become staples in the red and pewter for the future, and should also immediately help contribute to the TOMpa Bay Buccaneers in 2020.
Loser: Green Bay Packers
Okay, I know I’m stealing from John here. But it needs to be said that the Packers really, really, really, REALLY botched this draft. To summarize it, one AFC Exec asked a reporter at ESPN, “What the f*** were the Packers thinking?”. And honestly, this person is probably speaking on behalf of all of us.
I have repeated time and time again on this site how big of a fan I am of Jordan Love. And it’s true that I am seriously fired up for the kid to sit and learn behind Aaron Rodgers. The problem is that the Love pick in round left Jordan Love as a huge winner, but not the Packers. The Packers were one game from the Super Bowl last year and their answer to getting closer was to draft a quarterback? That math doesn’t add up.
I get looking to the future, but the Packers team is built to win now. And this draft will not help them win now. Adding more wide receiver help for Aaron Rodgers made sense. Adding help on the front seven after allowing over 280 yards rushing to the Niners in the NFC Championship game made sense. To make matters worse, the Packers used a valuable second round pick on a running back that will most likely be third string on their depth chart behind Jamaal Williams and Aaron Jones.
The Packers probably just pissed off Aaron Rodgers more than anything this offseason. Which has to be immensely disappointing to cheeseheads after having a very good offseason one year ago. The Packers are definitely trending downwards.