As the smoke clears on the first ever virtual NFL Player Selection Meeting, we grade each NFC team on the strength of their acquisitions.
Dallas Cowboys: Jerry Jones and Mike McCarthy got outstanding value all the way through this draft. CeeDee Lamb was just too good to pass up in R1, whilst Trevon Diggs and Reggie Robinson should help ease the loss of Byron Jones. Tyler Biadasz was a likely first-rounder last year and fell because of injury, whilst Bradlee Anae has outstanding hands and should contribute in sub-packages.
New York Giants: GM Dave Gettleman may have been the focus of some gentle ribbing for his home draft set-up, but there should be very little complaints about his haul. Andrew Thomas and Matt Peart could start as bookend tackles for a decade, and the former could kick inside to G if Nate Solder regains his form. Xavier McKinney was great value and should give Patrick Graham the sort of versatility he thought he had in 2019 in Miami with Minkah Fitzpatrick. Day three was full of great picks with Shane Lemieux, Carter Coughlin and Mr Irrelevant, Tae Crowder, as standouts.
Philadelphia Eagles: Much of this draft will focus on the decision to select Jalen Reagor over Justin Jefferson, and Jalen Hurts over anyone. Eagles fans, never ones to overreact, tried to organise a protest march on GM Howie Roseman’s house after taking the Oklahoma QB but, given Carson Wentz’s injury-plagued career, the pick makes a lot of sense. Overall, it was a really strong draft and one that put the current receivers’ room on notice by also adding the speedy John Hightower and Quez Watkins, as well as trading for Marquise Goodwin. Davion Taylor and Jack Driscoll are personal favourites and K’Von Wallace was extremely good value.
Washington Redskins: For all intents and purposes, this draft will be measured by how good Tua Tagovailoa becomes in Miami, regardless of what happens to second overall pick Chase Young. It was a good barometer for Dwayne Haskins’ strong off-season that they passed on the Alabama signal caller. Losing Trent Williams would hurt any team and they’re taking a risk on Saahdiq Charles filling the gap. His talent isn’t in question, but his off-field issues are lengthy. Antonios Gibson and Gandy-Golden could really give Haskins some talent to go with Terry McLaurin on the perimeter, whilst Keith Ismael had very few bad reps on tape and should be an early starter. James Smith-Williams was one of the best picks of the seventh round.
Chicago Bears: Lacking a first-rounder as part of the Khalil Mack trade, the Bears struggled to get out of their own way. Cole Kmet has fans, but we’re not one of them, and they now have ten tight ends on the roster, which is ludicrous. CB Jaylon Johnson was nice value seven picks later, while Trevis Gipson and Kindle Vildor will make the 53 but, much like the entire Matt Nagy era, it was all a bit bland.
Detroit Lions: Bob Quinn couldn’t find a trade partner for pick three, so took a lockdown corner and culture-changer in Jeff Okudah. D’Andre Swift should give the Lions their first 1,000-yard rusher since 2013 and Jonah Jackson and Logan Stenberg will re-tool the interior of the OL that took a hit in FA. WR Quintez Cephus could be a pleasant surprise at pick 166.
Green Bay Packers: One of the more head-scratching drafts in recent memory. A 13-3 roster watched their rivals zoom past them as they summarily failed to do anything much to help Aaron Rodgers. I can’t see a single year-one starter from their nine picks, and picking no wide receivers at all is an abdication of duty by GM Brian Gutenkunst. Jordan Love could be a star down the road but immediately puts Rodgers on notice, whilst A.J. Dillon and Josiah Deguara should at least contribute in 2020, albeit in back-up roles. Hard to quantify how bad this was.
Minnesota Vikings: Rick Spielman continues to be one of the more underrated GMs in football and delivered another masterclass here. Justin Jefferson and Jeff Gladney were two of our favourite players in the entire process and Ezra Cleveland, Cameron Dantzler and James Lynch were outstanding value at 58, 89 and 130 respectively. There are smart picks all over the board – Kenny Willekes the perfect example – and Nate Stanley could be groomed as a future starter.
Atlanta Falcons: Missed out on their top two targets in round one in C.J. Henderson and Javon Kinlaw, so settled for tough and long corner A.J. Terrell, who has real talent. They did very solid work on day two, and Marlon Davidson and Matt Hennessey should be instant starters. Day three, however, was a bit of a washout, although new punter Sterling Hofrichter is a hang-time maven.
Carolina Panthers: The first all-defensive draft in history, Matt Rhule and Marty Hurney targeted the Panthers weak spot and went full-bore towards fixing it. Derrick Brown is simply one of the best players in the draft, but Yetur Gross-Matos, Jeremy Chinn and Troy Pride Jr were all outstanding value picks.
New Orleans Saints: We were convinced Sean Payton would take Jordan Love in R1, but he passed on the Utah State QB for Cesar Ruiz, who should be a day one starter at RG and give the Saints a tremendous interior threesome alongside Andrus Peat and Erik McCoy. As usual, they played the futures market, dealing away picks in 2021 to move up and get the excellent Zack Baun, who fell due to a failed drugs test. Adam Trautman was tremendous value in round four, but trading up to get the Dayton TE meant that the Saints only selected four players all weekend.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Moving up to select Tristan Wirfs to protect Tom Brady was the right play, especially as the Iowa stud started to fall in round one. Giving the venerable one Ke’Shawn Vaughn, the speedy Raymond Calais and the ultra-precise Tyler Johnson were also strong moves. Pick of the group though was Antoine Winfield Jr who, if he can stay healthy, has Earl Thomas-type potential. He should be a dominant force in this league for a very long time.
Arizona Cardinals: Solid value through all three days and a strong draft becomes even better when you throw in DeAndre Hopkins, who only cost them a second-rounder. Leki Fotu and Rashard Lawrence give that DL some serious beef, and RB Eno Benjamin could be a late round gem. However, the best part of this draft was Kliff Kingsbury’s home set-up. His interior designer was the real winner of this process.
Los Angeles Rams: The four day two picks really made this draft for the Rams, especially as they once again lacked a first-rounder. Cam Akers replaces Todd Gurley and has superstar potential, whilst Van Jefferson is crafty, Terrell Burgess is versatile and Terrell Lewis has tremendous upside, albeit tempered by some injury issues. Jordan Fuller could hang around for ten years, whilst Sam Sloman is an interesting selection at 248 to replace ‘Legatron’, having made 26-30 FGs last season and possessing a huge leg.
San Francisco 49ers: Despite making only five picks, it was an extremely busy few days for GM John Lynch, who also made three veteran player trades: losing Matt Breida and Marquise Goodwin and bringing in stud LT Trent Williams to replace the retired Joe Staley. Any time you can get a top three LT for a three and a five, you simply have to make that call and it was an inspired decision. Javon Kinlaw replaces DeForest Buckner, whilst the trade up for Brandon Aiyuk and the selections of Charlie Woerner and Jauan Jennings will give Jimmy G more to work with, which can only be a good thing.
Seattle Seahawks: John Schneider is a very unconventional drafter and he generally seems a world away from the Hall of Fame picks he made when Scot McCloughan was his lieutenant a decade ago. The best selections were Darrell Taylor and Damien Lewis in rounds two and three, and the pair should be instant starters. DE Alton Robinson has talent, albeit tempered by some fairly significant off-field issues. DeeJay Dallas is great in pass protection and Colby Parkinson will be a force in the red zone. However, it did feel a little disjointed overall.
This article originally appeared in Issue 3 of the new Gridiron Weekly digital magazine – for subscriptions, click HERE