As the dust starts to settle on the 2020 Draft Ninety-None Yards takes an early look at the winners and Losers of this years draft.
The first ever virtual draft went off without a hitch. No technical difficulties, no hacks, no “sorry the pick was late my WiFi went” as some feared there would be. The usual draft rooms filled with suits, boards and Gatorade cups were replaced by coaches and GMs hanging with their kids and dogs; hugging, smiling and high-fiving as the picks went in. The charming look into coaches and players home lives were a welcome change right now compared to the traditional, rowdy, draft extravaganza.
A record breaking 55million viewers US viewers tuned in, up 16% on last year. In what is a scary time due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic the draft gave relief to millions wanting a small sense of normality.
The NFL and it’s broadcast partner ESPN gave us something to look forward to, some hope, some respite from reality. The NFL also raised well over $100m to help the COVID-19 relief effort. A great few days all round!
Loser: Arron Rodgers
Only 3 month since a NFC Championship appearance future hall of fame QB Aaron Rodgers was hoping for some help in the draft. How about a receiver or two from this historically stacked draft class?
Unfortunately not, the Packers selected Utah State QB Jordan Love to be his heir apparent. Love was seen as many as a first-round quality QB but has inconsistent mechanics as well as 17 interceptions to his name last year.
It’s an ironic mirror to 2005 when Rodgers, now 36, was drafted. Brett Farve too was 36 years old and showing no signs of slowing down. The Packers drafted Rodgers at 24… Jordan Love was the pick 26. That worked out for the Packers, Rodgers sat for a few years before going onto 2 MVP seasons and 8 pro bowls. It’s far too early to know if this move will work for the Packers, but it certainly doesn’t help Rodgers who’s entering the latter end of his career and lacking help throughout the roster.
LSU have done a lot of winning recently; having won the national championship this January on the back of a undefeated season. Their Heisman winning QB Joe Burrow was the first player drafter on Thursday night – joining the Bengals in what many saw as an “open goal” situation.
But it wasn’t just Joe Burrows who was drafted, 14 (FOURTEEN) LSU players were! Equalling Ohio States’ record from 2004. They had five players selected in the first round; Burrows, Chaisson (Jags), Jefferson (Vikings), Queen (Ravens) and Edwards-Helaire(Chiefs) all went in the first round. They had 10 players go in the first three rounds tieing another record with Ohio State (2016 this time).
This is a real increase for LSU’s football programme; they only had 3 players drafter last year and average below 6 picks between 2015-19. As Ninety-Nine Yard’s own Chris Lawton put it last week; “if you are a recruiter for a top college football programme there is nothing better than being able to say to potential recruits look how many of our players made it to the pros. Even better if you can say look at our guys who went near the top of the draft.”
Loser: Jacoby Brissett
It’s been a strange eight months for Jacoby Brissett. When Andrew Luck retired last August Brissett was the ipso facto Colts starting QB. Fast forward to April 25th: The Colts have signed Philip Rivers to take over as their starter and drafted Jacob Eason, from Washington, to be their development QB option.
Brissett is on the last year of a two year, $30m extension. He may well be surplus to requirements in Indianapolis. Quite a fall from grace from his position last August.
Winner: Kellen Moore
Many, including myself, had picked the Cowboys to go defence heavy early in this draft. Gaps left in free agency had yet to be filled at corner and defensive end. Cowboys offensive coordinator Kellen Moore would have to “make do” with their current crop; 4 time pro bowler Amari Cooper, up and coming star Michael Gallop and 3 time pro bowler Zeek Elliot as weapons primary weapons for franchise QB Dak Prescott.
Jerry Jones, on his yacht, sat tight Thursday night and let top receiver prospect CeeDee Lamb fall to the Cowboys. Many saw lamb going top 10 but the Cowboys nabbed him at 17. Receiver isn’t a huge need for the Cowboys it was a no brainier to take the All-American former Oklahoma receiver.
With Lamb included the Cowboys now have, arguably, the most talented set offensive skill position players in the league.
The addition of Lamb should see Elliot see less 8 man boxes to run through. Lamb should take receiving pressure off recently resigned tight end Blake Jarwin. OC Kellen Moore should have some fun when the Cowboys take the field.
Loser: Carson Wentz
Despite countless injuries the Eagles limped into the playoffs last year. The Eagles were tipped to add help for formed first round pick Wentz with a plethora of talent from this draft. They sat tight and lost out to their arch rival Dallas Cowboys for CeDee Lamb, who many had as the top receiver in the draft. Then came the second round where they selected Alabama QB Jaylen Hurts.
This isn’t exactly parallel to the Rodgers/Love situation; Wentz is only 27 so Hurt’s isn’t so much a successor, more a back-up. This points to the Eagles admitting that Wentz’s yearly injury is something that concerns them: only a year after giving him a 4 year $128m extension.
Wentz not only has his injury issues put front and centre by the franchise, but doesn’t get the offensive help many thought he would.