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Redrafting the First Round of the 2020 NFL Draft

Liam McKeone
Justin Herbert
Justin Herbert / Harry How/Getty Images
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It's been about nine months since the 2020 NFL Draft, the first virtual event of its kind. That's enough time to know that mistakes were made and there were hidden gems to be found in the later rounds, but not quite enough time to judge the class as a whole. There will be a handful of late bloomers amidst the 2020 picks that will make us wonder what we were all thinking in 2024. There will be a similar handful of players who fall off a cliff after a successful rookie year for various reasons that also make us wonder what we were all thinking — but for different reasons.

Hindsight is 20/20, as we all know. So with the benefit of that, I present to you a redraft of the first round of the 2020 draft. There were a lot of good players selected in the first round this year who came in and excelled immediately. Not all of them were taken as high as they should have been. We fix that.

Los Angeles Chargers v Kansas City Chiefs
Los Angeles Chargers v Kansas City Chiefs / Jamie Squire/Getty Images

1. Cincinnati Bengals -- Justin Herbert, QB

The Bengals were probably thrilled with how Joe Burrow performed in his rookie season before tearing his ACL. He still didn't hold a candle to Herbert's rocket arm and absurd statistical prowess. It's impossible to say which quarterback will be better in the long run at this point, but Herbert's ceiling is clearly higher and can transform a franchise.

2. Washington Football Team -- Joe Burrow, QB

Even with how good Chase Young was this year, and the fact that Dwayne Haskins was still on the team ahead of the season, Washington would take Burrow if he were available in this alternate universe. No hesitation whatsoever, either. It's the first shot they've had at a legitimate franchise quarterback since selling the farm to get Robert Griffin III.

3. Detroit Lions -- Chase Young, DE

The Lions were going defense with this pick no matter what and end up with the best overall defensive player in this redraft. Young fixes their biggest issue (pass rush) and gives them a foundational cornerstone to build the unit around. They couldn't send the draft card in fast enough here.

4. New York Giants -- Tristian Wirfs, T

Wirfs was the best tackle drafted in 2020 and the Giants want a big guy like him in the trenches. The original pick, Andrew Thomas, struggled mightily to start the season but finished strong. Wirfs was excellent wire-to-wire. It's hard to say if Wirfs would have performed as well if he was thrown on the left side like Thomas, but the talent is clearly there and the Giants need that all over the roster.

5. Miami Dolphins -- Tua Tagovailoa, QB

Nothing changes for Miami. Tua had a rocky rookie year but flashed enough potential for the Dolphins to believe they have their quarterback of the future, and if they had the chance to do it again, they would take it. He fits what Miami needs too perfectly and no other player available is a better pick for that.

6. Los Angeles Chargers -- Justin Jefferson, WR

Tough draw for the Bolts, who miss out on their franchise quarterback in the redraft. To compensate, they add perhaps the best offensive rookie from this year's draft in Jefferson, he who has already logged a 1,000-yard, 100-catch season to help out incumbent starter Tyrod Taylor. No other quarterback is worth taking and there are worse strategies than loading up at the skill positions.

7. Carolina Panthers -- Derrick Brown, DT

The Panthers stick with their original pick here. Brown had an inconsistent rookie season but at times showed he was very much the athletic monster who could wreck a drive on his own that Carolina believed him to be when it originally picked him. Given the Panthers only picked defensive players in this draft in what they planned to be a bridge year anyway, their priorities don't change with the benefit of hindsight and they stick with their guy.

8. Arizona Cardinals -- L'Jarius Snead, CB

The Cardinals whiffed on Isaiah Simmons in the original iteration of the draft. He isn't a complete bust yet, but did nothing to help Arizona with its playoff push, a tough pill to swallow for the team that picked him in the top-10. Instead, the Cardinals go with the best rookie corner in the draft in Snead, who was stellar all year for the Kansas City Chiefs. A boost in the secondary could have been just what they needed to break their playoff drought.

9. Jacksonville Jaguars -- C.J. Henderson, CB

The Jags stay put. Henderson didn't have a great rookie year but at times looked good enough to justify the top-10 pick, and Jacksonville needs all the help it can get on defense.

10. Cleveland Browns -- Mehki Becton, T

Becton goes instead of Jedrick Wills here. Becton was one of the better rookie tackles and is an absolute monster of a man that Cleveland would love to have protecting Baker Mayfield's blindside.

Indianapolis Colts  v Cleveland Browns
Indianapolis Colts v Cleveland Browns / Jason Miller/Getty Images

11. New York Jets -- Jonathan Taylor, RB

The Jets decide to forgo the tackle position with the two best off the board at this point and fix what was by far their biggest issue in 2020 -- the run game. Taylor looks like an excellent workhorse back with big-play ability and can impact the game on all three downs.

12. Las Vegas Raiders -- Chase Claypool, WR

Claypool may not be as fast as the Raiders' original first-rounder Henry Ruggs III, but he is definitely the deep threat they wanted and needed in the draft.

13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers -- Michael Onwenu, T/G

Onwenu makes the biggest jump as a former sixth-round-pick all the way to the first round. He proved he can play tackle and guard at an equally high level, an extremely valuable and rare trait in the NFL. He may not have been as good as Wirfs was straight-up on the right side this season, but combined with his versatility, he's the clear pick for Tampa.

14. San Francisco 49ers -- Javon Kinlaw, DT

Kinlaw was often the only reason worth watching Niners games during their snake-bitten 2020. Like Brown, he struggled at times, but also like Brown, his athletic traits are so obvious that San Francisco wouldn't pass up a second chance to take him.

15. Denver Broncos -- Brandon Aiyuk, WR

Denver succeeds a bit more in their quest to help Drew Lock in the redraft, taking the playmaker Aiyuk instead of Jerry Jeudy (who was good but had the dropsies something fierce). Aiyuk may not be as effective without Kyle Shanahan drawing up his plays, but he can make things happen on the football field in ways that few other of his rookie counterparts can claim.

16. Atlanta Falcons -- Jeff Okudah, CB

The original pick here, A.J. Terrell, wasn't terrible, but Okudah still has a lot of potential after an injury-marred rookie year. The Falcons capitalize on the value of finding him at No. 16.

17. Dallas Cowboys -- Antonie Winfield Jr., S

CeeDee Lamb was a fun pick, but the Cowboys definitely do not need another receiver. They need all the help they can get defensively, and Winfield was stellar as a rookie. He would make a big difference on the back end in Dallas for years to come.

18. Miami Dolphins -- Jedrick Wills Jr., T

The Dolphins surprised everyone by taking Austin Jackson back in April, but Willis was the better player as a rookie and will probably be the better player in the long-term. A rock-solid tackle to protect the combination of Ryan Fitzpatrick and Tua.

19. Las Vegas Raiders -- Cameron Dantzler, CB

Mike Mayock fixes his mistake and takes a good rookie corner in Dantzler, whose highs were as high as any rookie corner in the draft.

Houston Texans v Jacksonville Jaguars
Houston Texans v Jacksonville Jaguars / Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images

20. Jacksonville Jaguars -- James Robinson, RB

If given the opportunity, there's no way the Jags let Robinson go undrafted the second time around. He was invaluable to their offense in his first season while rushing for more than 1,000 yards and Jacksonville wouldn't take the chance of letting him go somewhere else.

21. Philadelphia Eagles -- Tee Higgins, WR

The Eagles need somebody, anybody to catch passes for whoever is under center. Higgins had 67 catches for 908 yards as a rookie (including a bunch from Brandon Allen and Ryan Finley) and certainly fits that bill. He's the receiver the Eagles have been looking for.

22. Minnesota Vikings -- CeeDee Lamb, WR

With no Jefferson on the board, Minnesota goes for the big-play potential here in Lamb, who became a forgotten man in Dallas with no Dak Prescott and a loaded depth chart. He'd likely make more noise in Minnesota and would pair well with the skills of Adam Thielen.

23. Los Angeles Chargers -- Patrick Queen, LB

Los Angeles takes Queen instead of Kenneth Murray in this redraft. Queen looks like a modern linebacker in the NFL with the speed to battle both the pass and the run from sideline to sideline. He'd pair beautifully with Derwin James.

24. New Orleans Saints -- Cesar Ruiz, OL

New Orleans sticks with their original pick here as Ruiz quickly acclimated to the NFL and slotted in seamlessly among one of the better offensive lines in the league. They have no complaints and don't have any other obvious weaknesses.

Houston Texans v Kansas City Chiefs
Houston Texans v Kansas City Chiefs / Jamie Squire/Getty Images

25. San Francisco 49ers -- Clyde Edwards-Helaire, RB

The Niners want a playmaker at this position and CEH is certainly that. He would feast in the open fields of Kyle Shanahan's offense and would balance out an attack that shuffled through running backs at an alarming rate in 2020.

26. Green Bay Packers -- Justin Blackmon, S

Assuming the Packers decide to move up again, we'll do Aaron Rodgers a favor. Green Bay picks up the best cover safety in the draft in Blackmon instead of Jordan Love.

27. Seattle Seahawks -- K'Lavon Chaisson, DE

Seattle's original first-rounder here, Jordyn Brooks, was a complete non-factor as a rookie and so the Seahawks pick up a rookie pass-rusher here in Chaisson. He didn't log particularly impressive stats in his first year but anything is better than Brooks and Chaisson flashed a lot of potential.

28. Baltimore Ravens -- Kenneth Murray, LB

The Chargers and Ravens swap picks here. Murray had his struggles but looked the part of a three-down linebacker at times as a rookie, and is as good a consolation prize the Ravens would find for Queen.

29. Tennessee Titans -- Andrew Thomas, T

This is a bit far for Thomas to tumble, but that's the way the board plays out sometimes. The Titans would love to have him, struggles and all, after the original pick here — Isaiah Wilson — didn't play well while pissing everyone in the building off at the same time.

30. Miami Dolphins -- Jeremy Chinn, S

Chinn was great in his rookie season as a run-stopping safety and would have a legitimate case for Defensive Rookie of the Year if not for Chase Young's existence. He'd fit well into Brian Flores' defense.

31. Minnesota Vikings -- A.J. Terrell, CB

Terrell was better than Jeff Gladney as a rook and the Vikings desperately need help in the secondary.

32. Kansas City Chiefs -- Antonio Gibson, RB

With no CEH to take, the Chiefs take the other shifty running back in the draft with Gibson. He isn't quite as good as Edwards-Helaire but would certainly get the job done in that offense.

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