The 2020 NFL Draft is now behind us after a wild three days like we've never seen before. The remote draft broadcast was intriguing and entertaining, but most people just want to know who their teams selected. Here's our look at the biggest winners from this year's NFL draft.
The 2019 LSU Tigers were a special squad, as evidenced by their 15-0 record, their national championship and their quarterback who put together arguably the greatest single-season performance of all-time. Oh, and he won the Heisman Trophy. That was an incredible year for LSU and it got even better this weekend. The Tigers had 14 players selected in the 2020 NFL Draft tying the all-time record (for the seven-round draft era) set by Ohio State in 2004.
This was a huge weekend for LSU because a ton of recruits were surely watching as all those Tigers came off the board. There's no better way to sell a program than with proof you can put players in the NFL.
The Dolphins were the big winner of the first round. They didn't panic and trade up for their quarterback, instead they sat tight and let Tua Tagovailoa fall to them at No. 5. They now have a franchise quarterback to build around who, if he's healthy, is easily the second-best at his position in the draft. He's an elite talent with outstanding accuracy, the ability to move in the pocket and enough arm to make all the throws. Then the Dolphins got him an offensive tackle at No. 18 in USC's Austin Jackson, who might need time to develop but has as much upside as anyone at his position in this year's class.
After trading down four spots from the 26th pick, the Dolphins got another high-upside athlete at cornerback in Auburn's Noah Igbinoghene at No. 30. That was a bit of a reach for me but teams were reaching for corners early, so it fit with the draft's pattern.
At No. 39, the Dolphins got guard Robert Hunt, who will plug in as a starter right away. He's a mauler at the point of attack and can dominate in the running game. He's also versatile, having played all over the line during college. With the 56th pick they took a first-round talent in Alabama defensive tackle Raekwon Davis, who under-performed in college but can still be a stud against the run.
Texas safety Brandon Jones (No. 70) was Miami's third-round selection. While undersized, he's a really good tackler who is good against the run and can likely help out in slot coverage. He'll likely be able to play early but needs to iron out some of the holes in his game, especially defending the middle of the field in coverage.
Miami spent the rest of the draft on some value picks. Boise State's Curtis Weaver (No. 164) was a fifth-round pick at defensive end. He was considered a potential late first-round pick during the season but dropped during the pre-draft process.
As far as needs, the Dolphins checked off everything I had except for running back. But, let's be real, you can find a decent running back fairly easily. Miami did a great job and super-charged its rebuild with a big influx of talent at positions of need.
The Ravens are just better at this than other franchises. The team's biggest need was at inside linebacker and it was nailed with two picks at the position. The Ravens snagged LSU's Patrick Queen in the first round (No. 28), and Ohio State's Malik Harrison in the third (No. 98). They also got a new weapons for Lamar Jackson to deploy as Ohio State running back J.K. Dobbins dropped into their lap at No. 55, and Texas slot receiver Devin Duvernay fell to No. 92.
Another big value came in the third round, as a potential late first-round pick dropped to No. 71 in Texas A&M defensive tackle Justin Madubuike. The Ravens snatched him up and got an undersized lineman who is an outstanding interior pass rusher. He's strong and has good length but must get better against the run. He's got big upside if he develops.
Queen and Harrison are both almost certain to be starting when the season kicks off. Dobbins will help spell an aging Mark Ingram with his aggressive running style. Duvernay is built like a running back (5-foot-11, 200 pounds) but has track speed, good hands and can take short passes to the house.
Another value pick was Mississippi State's Tyre Phillips (no relation), a massive offensive tackle who can back up Ronnie Stanley and also probably play some guard if needed. Getting Phillips at No. 106 provided solid value, as did the fourth-round selection (No. 143) of Michigan guard Ben Bredeson.
The Ravens are one of the best teams in the NFL at gauging need and value and drafting accordingly. In this year's draft they both filled needs and found value picks. A team that was 14-2 in 2019 got decidedly better during the draft.
CeeDee Lamb inexplicably dropped in the first round and the Cowboys didn't worry about needs and grabbed him at No. 17. Lamb was too much of a value to pass up at that spot. He's an outstanding route runner and an explosive big-play threat. Along with Amari Copper and Michael Gallup, he'll help form what might be the NFL's best receiving trio.
The Cowboys also got value at No. 51 by landing Alabama cornerback Trevon Diggs. The younger brother of Stefon has big-time upside as a potential replacement for Byron Jones. Given his size (6-foot-1, 205) and ball skills, if he can find a way to be more consistent this could prove to be a steal.
I liked the fourth-round selection (No. 146) of Wisconsin center Tyler Biadasz. A few months ago he was pegged as a late first-rounder and could step in as an immediate replacement for the retired Travis Frederick. Meanwhile, the Cowboys did well along the defensive line, getting Oklahoma defensive tackle Neville Gallimore at No. 82 and Utah defensive end Bradlee Anae at No. 179. On top of that, Tulsa cornerback Reggie Robinson II (No. 123) was a late riser as the draft approached, likely due to his oustanding size/speed combination.
It was a solid all-around draft, but the insane value the Cowboys got with the Lamb pick and the potential of Diggs push it up a notch.
Give the Vikings a lot of credit for identifying needs and filling them early. Their biggest needs were at cornerback and wide receiver and they got both in the first round.
LSU receiver Justin Jefferson (No. 22) will be a perfect fit for Kirk Cousins in the passing game. He has great hands, runs excellent routes to create separation and has enough speed to get down the field. TCU cornerback Jeff Gladney (No. 31) was another need pick after the losses of Trae Waynes, Xavier Rhodes and Mackensie Alexander this offseason. Gladney is a bit undersized but plays bigger than he's listed, and excels in man-to-man coverage. Mike Zimmer will love him.
The Vikings also got value by selecting Boise State offensive tackle Ezra Cleveland at No. 58. He's likely an immediate starter and had garnered first-round buzz over the last few weeks. Zimmer got another cornerback to work with in the third round (No. 89) in Mississippi State's Cameron Dantzler. Dantzler looked great on film but ran a 4.64 40 at the combine, torpedoing his stock. He doesn't run that slowly on tape and it seems like it must have been a fluke. He's an aggressive, pressing corner with can tackle and has good instincts.
The Vikings had a whopping 11 picks on the final day of the draft and they got some solid value. Guys like Oregon linebacker Troy Dye (No. 132), South Carolina defensive end D.J. Wonnum (No. 117) and Baylor defensive tackle James Lynch (No. 130) should all see the field as rookies and could have some upside.
Minnesota filled all of its open needs and got value at a number of spots. It was a very good draft for the franchise.
This is mostly about the top of the draft. The Bengals had the No. 1 pick and didn't overthink it. They took the best value available by securing their franchise quarterback. Burrow was by far the best quarterback in the draft and he's an Ohio guy to boot. It was the right pick for months and the Bengals didn't mess around.
With Burrow secured, the Bengals went out and got him a big (6-foot-4, 216 pounds), athletic target to start the second round by nabbing Clemson wide receiver Tee Higgins at No. 33. Higgins is a big-time playmaker, though he needs some polish in his route running. It's a nice addition to what should be a really nice offense in Cincinnati, especially with A.J. Green aging.
The Bengals badly needed to address the middle of their defense and they did that in the third and fourth rounds. Wyoming linebacker Logan Wilson (No. 65) is a sideline-to-sideline guy who is fast, hits hard and was a three-time captain. He'll be a leader for the defense. Appalachian State's Akeem Davis-Gaither (No. 107) and Notre Dame's Khalid Kareem will also help bolster one of the league's worst units.
Cincinnati had the No. 1 pick for a reason and the franchise put itself on a wildly better path with this draft. The Bengals went out and filled all the needs I had listed.