The NFL’s 85th annual draft was held last April 23-25 via videoconferencing due to the coronavirus pandemic. Round 1 was held on April 23 while the 2nd and 3rd rounds happened on April 24th. Rounds 4-7 were completed on April 25th with a total of 255 players selected.
As always, the first round took centerstage with the draft’s best players going to new home cities as professionals. In this article, we will take a look at the Top 20 players drafted in the first-ever virtual draft in NFL history:
1. Cincinnati Bengals: Joe Burrow, QB
There’s a chance that Burrow will never be as impressive during LSU’s championship run but he has what it takes to become an above-average player in the NFL’s most important player position. His pocket presence, poise, and IQ were enough to make the Bengals choose him. Of course, it helped that he passed for 60 touchdowns and completed 76.3% of his passes during his senior year.
2. Washington Redskins: Chase Young, ER
Young’s talent as a pass rusher is undeniable. He displayed elite strength and explosion in picking up 16 ½ sacks last season. He has the potential to be an All-Pro in the NFL and he will be a defender that opposing teams should be aware of at all times. Young will make the elite Washington defense even better. However, he doesn’t address the Redskins’ needs.
3. Detroit Lions: Jeff Okudah, CB
The Detroit Lions traded three-time Pro Bowl cornerback Darius Slay to the Philadelphia Eagles for a pair of draft picks. Then they drafted his potential replacement in Okudah. It would have been interesting had Slay and Okudah play together but they’re happy to have just one. Okudah is a lockdown defender that Detroit’s shaky defense needs to have a good start to the season.
4. New York Giants: Andrew Thomas, OT
After picking Saquon Barkley and Daniel Jones in previous drafts, it was right that the Giants picked a player who could help both this season. Thomas has the size and strength to become elite in the NFL. He also has experience playing both left and right tackles. But the Giants could have picked Tristan Wirfs or Mekhi Becton who, to me, have more upside. Or they could have opted for Isaiah Simmons who could very well be the defensive playmaker that they need.
5. Miami Dolphins: Tua Tagovailoa, QB
Miami wanted Tagovailoa all along and they got him without having to trade picks to move up in the draft. Tagovailoa has the potential to be a superstar and we might look back at this pick in the future and thing how he dropped this low in the draft. However, it remains to be seen if he can stay healthy, especially now that he is playing with the big boys.
6. Los Angeles Chargers: Justin Herbert, QB
Herbert has all the tools needed to become a very good NFL quarterback. He has a big arm and natural athleticism but was a polarizing pick because of his inconsistency. But yeah, I think this pick is going to work out for the Chargers but he’s going to need a couple of years to develop before he is ready to start in the NFL. Having said that, I think #6 was too high for a guy like Herbert as the Chargers could have picked up an impact defender.
7. Carolina Panthers: Derrick Brown, Defensive Lineman
Rookie head coach Matt Rhule got a good one here. Not only did the Panthers pick a defensive lineman who was in the Top 15 on most big boards but one who is going to be a good locker room presence. Brown is already dominant in the interior but if he can improve on his pass rush, he is going to be someone special in the NFL.
8. Arizona Cardinals: Isaiah Simmons, LB
We listed him as a linebacker because that’s how the broadcast team introduced him. Sure, he can play linebacker but his effectiveness as a safety and corner make him special. Arizona passed on an opportunity to draft someone who could protect Kyler Murray but I think Simmons’ potential as a positionless defender makes him worthy of this selection.
9. Jacksonville Jaguars: CJ Henderson, CB
Henderson was one of the best athletes in the draft class and he fills a big need for the Jaguars. He had an outstanding sophomore season but took a step back in 2019 and is reluctant to get dirty as a tackler. However, he is excellent in covering receivers and you can’t blame the Jaguars for falling in love with him.
10. Cleveland Browns: Jedrick Wills Jr., OT
Heading to the draft, the Browns were worried that the four best tackles would be off the board when they made their pick. Instead, they got the best one and the only issue with Wills is how quickly he’ll adjust to playing left tackle with the Browns acquiring Jack Conklin during free agency. Wills thrives in the running game and has the athleticism to be a very good pass blocker.
11. New York Jets: Mekhi Becton, OT
The Jets had a wide choice of wide receivers in Jerry Jeudy, CeeDee Lamb, or Henry Ruggs II still available when they picked 11th. However, they chose to draft a player who is still raw but one who will complement their two best offensive players. Becton will give Sam Darnold protection and he will help open the lanes for Le’Veon Bell.
12. Las Vegas Raiders: Henry Ruggs II, WR
This was a strange pick for me. Sure, the Raiders badly needed a receiver but they could have picked Jerry Jeudy or CeeDee Lamb. There must be something about Henry Ruggs II that made Jon Gruden pick him over the other two big names. His 4.27 at the 40-yard dash was the 6th fastest ever in the Draft Combine but you could make a case for him being only the third-best receiver in the class.
13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (via 49ers): Tristan Wirfs, OT
This has been one of the best offseasons ever for the Buccaneers. First, they got Tom Brady, then Rob Gronkowski followed. Now they bagged one of the most explosive offensive linemen at the Draft combine. Wirfs was a potential Top 5 pick in the weeks leading to the draft and for Tamp Bay to get him at #13 is a steal in my books.
14. San Francisco 49ers ( via Buccaneers): Javon Kinlaw, DL
I was surprised that the 49ers passed on Jeudy and Lamb but they picked a wide receiver later in the draft. But Javon Kinlaw is a younger and cheaper version of DeForest Buckner. Kinlaw joins a defense that boasts of Nick Bosa, Arik Armstead, and Dee Ford. That’s bad news for their opponents.
15. Denver Broncos: Jerry Jeudy, WR
If you watched the broadcast, John Elway was grinning from ear to ear when he made this pick. And why not? The best receiver in the draft was still available at #15. Jeudy is a polished wide receiver with NFL speed and elusiveness. He should complement Pro Bowler Courtland Sutton. Now it’s up to Drew Lock to take advantage.
16. Atlanta Falcons: A.J. Terrell, CB
Nobody expected that Terrell would be picked inside the Top 20. Sure he fit Atlanta’s need for a cornerback but they could’ve traded down and he would’ve still been available. Then the Falcons could’ve also taken Jeff Gladney or Kristian Fulton who are better cornerbacks. Elite receiver CeeDee Lamb was still available and he could’ve been a better pick. This was a surprise pick.
17. Dallas Cowboys: CeeDee Lamb, WR
The Cowboys needed to bolster their secondary and defensive line but they opted for the best player still available. With Lamb, Amari Cooper, and Michael Gallup, Dallas has become more dangerous through the air. The team needs to think about giving in to Dak Prescott’s request now. He’ll surely command more than what he is asking after one season with these three wide receivers.
18. Miami Dolphins (via Steelers): Austin Jackson, OT
Jackson fills an immediate need in Miami as he joins a line that will have to protect Tua Tagovailoa. He was one of the youngest players in the draft class at the age of 20 and there is no doubt that his ceiling is high. However, he had plenty of mediocre performances at USC and could be a risk for the Dolphins at #18.
19. Las Vegas Raiders (via Bears): Damon Arnette, CB
This was the pick that they got for trading Khalil Mack and I’m sure the fans were expecting more. Las Vegas could have traded down and still gotten him on Day 2. He can contribute to the team and the Raiders need for the position but this pick came as a surprise to me.
20. Jacksonville Jaguars (via Rams): K’lavon Chaisson, ER
The Jaguars drafted the player who will potentially replace Yannick Ngakoue when he leaves. Chaison has the speed and athleticism to create an impact in the NFL but there is work to be done. With a little patience and guidance, this pick is going to work out just fine for Jacksonville.