Every year the NFL Draft welcomes a fresh class of college athletes to the professional ranks. Owners and coaches desperate to turn their bad fortunes into a Super Bowl title jump for the hottest quarterbacks, defensive lineman, and wide receivers (just to name a few positions) to add the missing piece. In 2020, the Bengals selected LSU QB Joe Burrow with the first overall pick after a 2-14 season. But how did the rest of their draft go? These are the biggest winners and losers of the 2020 Virtual NFL Draft.
Winners – The NFL
For the first time in NFL history, the league held a virtual draft. Originally scheduled to be a live three-day event in Las Vegas, the current global crisis forced the league to have everyone stay at home.
To ensure the draft would run smoothly, cameras were set up in the houses of coaches, general managers, prospects, and Commissioner Roger Goodell. A test run full of technical errors helped prevent bugs during the live virtual show, allowing it to go without a hitch. A record audience of 15.6 million viewers tuned in and the new format was met with near-universal praise!
Losers – Aaron Rodgers And The Green Bay Packers
With the 26th pick the 2020 Virtual NFL Draft, the Green Bay Packers selected… QB Jordan Love? After the 2019 NFL season ended, one thing was crystal clear, the Packers needed to surround Aaron Rodgers with reliable wide receivers with big play ability.
When the team selected a QB with their first overall pick, fans were left scratching their heads and asking, “why?” Things only got worse when the team took a running back with their second pick, even though Aaron Jones just had a breakthrough years where he rushed for over 1,000 yards.
Winners – The Bengals And Their Fans
The Cincinnati Bengals took the 2020 Virtual NFL Draft as an opportunity to officially move on from QB Andy Dalton. With the first pick in the draft, the team took Joe Burrow, a star at LSU who threw 60 touchdowns in his final year of college.
The good times didn’t end there. The team used the rest of the draft to surround its new franchise player with weapons like Tee Higgins, a record-setting SEC wide receiver who now gets to line up in the pros across from A.J. Green.
Losers – The Seattle Seahawks And Their NFC West Hopes
On paper, the Seattle Seahawks didn’t do a whole lot to improve their team in the draft. As long as they have Russell Wilson under center, Seattle will be a Super Bowl contender, but with how difficult the NFC West has become, the team still could have tried to improve.
Instead of going for home runs, GM John Schneider and head coach Pete Carroll played it safe. Depth was the name of the game, with Seattle selecting a running back and an edge rusher early.
Winners – The Arizona Cardinals And Kliff Kingsbury
After trading for all-star wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins earlier in the offseason, the Arizona Cardinals drafted one of the best defenders available with their first pick. Competing in the NFC West with the Seahawks, Rams, and 49ers, GM Steve Keim was smart to sure up the offense and the defense.
But can we really talk about the Cardinals draft without talking about Kliff Kingsbury’s home? One look into his living room instantly made him one of the most wanted bachelor’s in America!
Losers – The Philadelphia Eagles And Carson Wentz
The Philadelphia Eagles want to operate as a “QB factory” that drafts, develops, and trades QBs for high value. But does that really explain why the team took Jalen Hurts with their second-round selection?
When drafting a QB to develop, most teams select them in the 4th or 5th round and hope to swap them for a 3rd or 2nd rounder a few years later. For the Eagles, it won’t be easy turning an early 2nd round pick into a 1st round pick. Is it then possible the team views Hurts as the replacement to Carson Wentz?
Winners – Dallas Cowboys And Dak Prescott
While the Eagles made questionable drafting decisions in 2020, the Dallas Cowboys scored a touchdown with theirs. With their first pick, Dallas took wide receiver CeeDee Lamb, who should form a dangerous combo with Amari Cooper
The only thing the Cowboys need to do to call this a perfect offseason now is to extend the contract of QB Dak Prescott. Franchise-tagged for the upcoming season means the young signal-caller has a chance to up his value before possibly hitting free agency in 2021.
Losers – New England Patriots And Their Fans
The New England Patriots had a lot of work to do this offseason after losing Tom Brady to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Not only was the team supposed to find a new QB, but they also needed to find wide receivers for that player.
Instead, the Patriots stood pat and now appear to be putting their trust in Jarrett Stidham for the 2020 NFL season. Furthering the frustration of fans, the team failed to draft a wide receiver, opting to select two tight ends instead.
Winners – 49ers And Their Super Bowl Hopes
Entering the offseason the 49ers were coming off a Super Bowl loss, had a tight salary cap margin, and only four draft picks. When they traded away DeForest Buckner, they added a second first round pick and saved some money.
With their first pick, the Niners took a defensive lineman to replace Buckner. At the end of the first round, they then took a wide receiver to replace Emmanual Sanders. To top it off, on the third day of the draft, the team traded away picks to get seven-time Pro Bowl offensive lineman Trent Williams from the Washington Redskins.
Losers – The Bears And Their Tight Ends
If there was one thing the Chicago Bears absolutely did not need in the 2020 Draft, it was a tight end. So what they do with their first pick? They drafted Cole Kmet, a tight end out of Notre Dame.
The move to take Kmet creates a big problem on the Bears’ roster. The team now has 10 tight ends, which is about seven tight ends too many. It was a bold move by Chicago, and we’ll have to wait for the season to start to see if it pays off.
Winners – Denver Broncos And Drew Lock
Drew Lock will begin his second season with the Denver Broncos as the team’s unquestioned starting QB. To make sure that he has every opportunity to flourish, team president and general manager John Elway focused his draft on offense.
With their first pick, the Broncos took Jerry Jeudy, widely viewed by many as the best WR in the draft. Later the team drafted another wide receiver and a pass-catching tight end.
Losers – Las Vegas Raiders And Derek Carr
The Raiders’ first season in Las Vegas could very well be Derek Carr’s last. Like the Broncos, the Raiders focused heavily on offense in the draft despite several defensive needs. The team gave Derek Carr the goods, and if he can’t produce, he’ll have to find a new home in 2021.
Las Vegas, of course, didn’t draft an heir apparent to Carr, despite having three first-round draft picks. The confidence they continue to show to the former Fresno State standout won’t last forever, though.
Winners – Los Angeles Chargers And Justin Herbert
The Los Angeles Chargers have their QB of the future! With the 6th overall pick in the draft, the team selected Justin Herbert out of Oregon. The move to draft a QB was expected after the departure of Phillip Rivers to the Indianapolis Colts.
In Herbert, the Chargers are getting a highly accurate QB who rarely gives the ball away. With Tyrod Taylor still on the roster, it’s safe to assume Herbert won’t jump in as the starting QB from day one but instead will have a chance to watch and learn.
Losers – Tennessee Titans And Ryan Tannehill
In 2019, Ryan Tannehill did a lot with very little offensive talent around him in Tennessee. Aside from playmaking rookie wideout A.J. Brown, there wasn’t a lot going on in the air. Thankfully the team had Derrick Henry to help out on the ground.
With their offensive shortcoming evident in the AFC Championship Game, it would have made sense to find more playmakers in the draft. Instead, the team’s first three draft picks were an offensive lineman, a cornerback, and a running back who will play second fiddle to Henry up the middle.
Winners – New York Giants And The Offensive Line
Nate Solder was supposed to be the anchor of the New York Giants offensive line when the team signed him to a big-money deal. Instead, he’s been dead weight. With the end of his tenure in New York nearly done, the Giants drafted his replacement to help speed up the process.
New head coach Joe Judge appears to have no sympathy for players from the last regime, which should benefit the slew of draft picks chosen in his first season.
Losers – Washington Redskins And Ron Rivera
Ron Rivera knows a thing or two about building a franchise up from scratch. He did it once in Carolina, now he’s trying to do it again in Washington. Unfortunately, part of that fresh start meant giving away Trent Williams to the 49ers for nearly nothing.
The Redskins only finalized the Williams trade after they picked an offensive lineman to replace him in the draft. Will the plan work? Maybe not in year one, but Rivera is in it for the long haul.
Winners – Tampa Bay Buccaneers And Tom Brady
One of the reasons Tampa Bay was able to reel Tom Brady in was by making a promise the Patriots couldn’t – surround him with talent. On a roster already stuffed with stars, Tom Brady is the shining light, and to keep that light from going out, drafting more talent was necessary.
With their first pick, the team selected one of the best offensive lineman available. Keeping Brady standing is a very good thing. In later rounds, the team added a running back and wide receiver.
Losers – New Orleans Saints And Their Lack Of Picks
Unlike the 49ers, the New Orleans Saints were not able to maximize their limited number of draft picks. In the first round, the team took a center, which should be a boost for Drew Brees. Then the team was forced to wait until the third round to pick again.
New Orleans used the third round to grab defensive depth and a shiny new tight end. That was all the excitement fans got until the 7th round when they took a QB who likely won’t make the final 53-man roster.
Winners – Detroit Lions And Matt Patricia
Matt Patricia wants to build a bully in Detroit. After selecting a cornerback with the 3rd overall pick, he and GM Bob Quinn focused on the interior. By drafting several defensive lineman and offensive lineman, the team made it clear they plan to win the battle in the trenches.
Add in a wide receiver to help QB Matthew Stafford and a running back to split reps with Kerryon Johnson and the offense could be pretty good as well. We smell a possible sleeper team in the motor city!
Losers – Carolina Panthers And Their Offense
In the offseason, the Carolina Panthers hired offensive-minded Matt Rhule to become the team’s new head coach. Knowing that, you would assume offensive players would be drafted in his first year in charge.
You would think wrong. The Panthers had seven draft picks and used them all on defensive players. Oddly enough, the Panthers’ biggest defensive need was in the secondary, which they failed to address with those seven picks.