2020 NFL Draft winners and losers
The 2020 NFL Draft, held virtually in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, offered plenty of entertainment, surprise, and unexpected appearances.
Let’s look back over seven rounds of selections and pick the biggest winners and losers from the weekend.
Cincinnati Bengals complete a successful draft, finally
Former LSU quarterback Joe Burrow had been a near-lock as the first overall pick since the Tigers won the 2020 College Football Playoff National Championship in January. Still, some Bengals fans held their breath on Thursday, wondering if the front office would pull a shocking stunt at the 11th hour.
Instead, Cincy played its hand correctly and selected the signal caller from Ohio with its first pick. The true surprise occurred in the second round, when Clemson receiver Tee Higgins fell to the Bengals, with the 33rd pick. Cincy then drafted linebacker Logan Wilson from Wyoming in the third round.
On Day 3, the team hauled in Appalachian State linebacker Akeem Davis-Gaither, Notre Dame defensive end Khalid Kareem, Kansas tackle Hakeem Adeniji, and Purdue linebacker Markus Bailey.
Aaron Rodgers’ replacement comes sooner than expected
Rodgers surely pleaded with the Packers front office to draft a few more offensive weapons, which he desperately needed last season. What Green Bay did, however, was trade up in the first round to select Rodgers’ potential long-term replacement: Utah State quarterback Jordan Love.
In Green Bay’s defense, the franchise drafted Rodgers, 36, in 2005, when longtime Packer Brett Favre was just 35. Nonetheless, Rodgers is under contract until 2023 and is still one of the league’s elite QBs.
In the second round, they opted for Boston College running back AJ Dillon, who won’t see much time on the field behind Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams. Tight end Josiah Deguara went to Green Bay in the third round, then the Packers drafted linebacker Kamal Martin in the fifth, three linemen in the sixth, and a safety and defensive end in the seventh.
LSU shines in the first round
Technically, the top three picks in the 2020 NFL Draft all played for Ohio State, since Burrow spent his freshman and sophomore seasons as a backup quarterback in Columbus. After Buckeyes Chase Young and Jeff Okudah heard their names behind Burrow's, it seemed like Ohio State might dominate the draft, but that honor went to Burrow’s most recent school.
The Tigers’ national title clearly boosted LSU players’ draft stock, as Burrow, linebacker K'Lavon Chaisson (No. 20, Jacksonville), receiver Justin Jefferson (No. 22, Minnesota), linebacker Patrick Queen (No. 28, Baltimore) and running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire (No. 32, Kansas City) were taken in the first round. In all, 14 players from LSU were selected over the weekend. Ohio State finished with 10 picks, tied with Big Ten nemesis Michigan.
College football teams with the most first-round NFL Draft picks since 2000:— PFF Draft (@PFF_College) April 26, 2020
Alabama - 35
Ohio State - 34
Miami - 30
LSU - 24
Florida St - 24
USC - 23
Florida - 22
Georgia - 21
Jake Fromm slides all the way to pick No. 167
The Georgia quarterback nearly played for Nick Saban as a 5-star, top-50 high school recruit, but he followed former Alabama coordinator Kirby Smart to Athens. As a true freshman, he played 15 games and led the Bulldogs to the 2018 national championship game, where they lost to the Crimson Tide. He finished his collegiate career with a 63.3% completion rate, 8,236 passing yards, 78 touchdowns, and 18 interceptions, before he declared for the NFL draft after his junior year.
Jake Fromm beat out Jacob Eason and Justin Fields at Georgia, yet both will be higher NFL Draft picks— Stephen Means (@Stephen_Means) April 25, 2020
Fromm had been projected to land much higher in the draft, but he fell to the fifth round, where the Buffalo Bills selected him as a backup to Josh Allen. Seven QBs went before Fromm, including Burrow, Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa, Oregon’s Justin Herbert, Love, Oklahoma’s Jalen Hurts, Washington’s Jacob Eason (whom Fromm replaced at Georgia as a freshman), and FIU’s James Morgan.
Kliff Kingsbury’s crib is a sight to behold
The Arizona Cardinals had a solid draft, as they picked up Clemson linebacker Isaiah Simmons in the first round, offensive tackle Josh Jones in the third, built up the defense in the later rounds, and swiped running back Eno Benjamin in the seventh.
But the biggest winner in Arizona was head coach Kliff Kingsbury, who had social media buzzing about his lavish pad.
In a photo posted by the Cardinals’ Twitter account, the team displayed Kingsbury’s "war room," featuring a large, cushy sofa, flat screen TV, three cell phones on his coffee table and a sleek backyard, with Camelback Mountain in the background. The setups of the 31 other NFL coaches paled in comparison.
Bill Belichick's dog takes over
It’s anyone’s guess what the Patriots coach’s game plan is for the 2020 season — the first without quarterback Tom Brady since 2000. On Thursday, Belichick heightened the mystery, when he traded out of the first round, then used New England’s first draft pick to choose safety Kyle Dugger of Division II Lenoir-Rhyne University on Day 2.
While the Pats were on the clock, Belichick played a trick on the broadcast, when it flipped to his feed from his Nantucket residence. Instead of Belichick in front of the camera, his dog Nike, an Alaskan Klee Kai, featured prominently on screen, sitting in the coach’s chair in place of Belichick.
The legendary coach's draft approach might have been the weirdest of the weekend, and his selections didn’t exactly boost confidence in the Pats’ upcoming season.