clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Pick-by-pick grades for the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft

The 2020 NFL Draft gets underway at 8 p.m. We’ll be grading every pick as they come in Thursday evening.

The 2020 NFL Draft has finally arrived. It gets underway at 8 p.m. and we could see plenty of chaos. There are some obvious picks and needs for teams to fill, but we will get some head-scratchers as well. We can only help Jerry Jones alone in his house makes some ridiculous decisions.

It takes several years to fully evaluate draft picks, but that won’t stop us from some knee-jerk reactions right after the pick is made. We’ll offer up grades and a few thoughts as to why. If you want to save this article and yell at me on Twitter next year or in a few years, I eagerly await it!

For now though, these are just some initial reactions. Plenty will change, with injuries in particularly something that can change things for good or for bad. But for now, we know who is healthy and who is hurt, and we can start to estimate where these guys will fit into depth charts. The grades will be all over the place, but it should make for some fun discussion.

1. Cincinnati BengalsJoe Burrow, QB, LSU

Grade: A+

Whether Joe Burrow turns into a star or a bust, for the moment, the Bengals have their guy. He’s the consensus best quarterback in the draft due in part to Tua Tagovailoa’s hip injury, and the Bengals made the pick they were expected to make. They can’t be faulted whatsoever for the selection, so they get the best grade possible.

2. Washington — Chase Young, Edge, Ohio State

Grade: A+

Washington got calls for the pick, but they decided to stick with the next in a line of great Buckeyes edge rushers. He has as much upside as anybody, and might be the best overall player in this draft. Washington has a lot of holes to fill, and Young gives their defensive line a huge boost from day one.

3. Detroit Lions — Jeffrey Okudah, CB, Ohio State

Grade: A+

They got the best cornerback in the draft, filling an area of need. There was a lot of trade talk, but it never came to fruition. If they couldn’t get the right deal, they went with a player who best fills a need. Derrick Brown might have made sense here, but Okudah is a great add to a weakened secondary.

4. New York Giants — Andrew Thomas, OT, Georgia

Grade: A-

This is a bit of an upset. Tristan Wirfs was viewed as the favorite to go to the Giants here, with Jedrick Wills mentioned as well. Dan Kadar had him as his fourth best offensive tackle, so based on that, we’ll ding the Giants a little bit for the pick. But they think he’s their best guy, so they likely view it as an A+ pick.

5. Miami Dolphins — Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Alabama

Grade: A+

The Dolphins were rumored to be interested in moving around, but eventually it might have all proven to be smoke. They drafted Tua in spite of the injury concerns and will build their franchise around him. If the injuries cost him down the road, so be it, but for now the Dolphins made the perfect move in this spot.

6. Los Angeles Chargers — Justin Herbert, QB, Oregon

Grade: A

I’m not a huge fan of Justin Herbert, but I can’t knock the Chargers too much for the pick. He’s the third best QB in the draft at this point, but whether he ends up in that spot a few years from now, we’ll see.

7. Carolina Panthers — Derrick Brown, DT, Auburn

Grade: A

The Panthers need defensive line help and Brown is the best option at this point. It’s not a pick that will get fans super excited, but he’s a clear upgrade for the team. Interesting to see them go defense after adding an offensive-minded coach.

8. Arizona Cardinals — Isaiah Simmons, LB, Clemson

Grade: A+

Offensive line would have been a justifiable pick here, but Simmons is a fascinating prospect. He’s a linebacker who can play in coverage, and will see playing time in a host of roles. Some teams might have been confused by it, but he’s the perfect kind of addition to a defense right now.

9. Jacksonville Jaguars — C.J. Henderson, CB, Florida

Grade: A-

The Jaguars need help in a lot of areas, and it’s not surprising to see them look at the secondary. Some teams reportedly graded Henderson better than Okudah. He’s an upgrade for them, but a bit of a surprise he went here. Not a bad pick, but a bit of a surprise.

10. Cleveland Browns — Jedrick Wills, OT, Alabama

Grade: A+

The Browns need a line upgrade in a big way, and Wills is a strong addition. A tackle run was expected earlier, but Thomas is the only one gone prior to this pick. Wills didn’t exactly slip much, but it’s a great get for the Browns.

11. New York Jets — Mekhi Becton, OT, Louisville

Grade: A

The Jets need pass catchers, but with a historically deep draft at the receiver position, I like adding a strong tackle option to protect Sam Darnold. It’s not a sexy pick, but it’s an important addition for Darnold.

12. Las Vegas Raiders — Henry Ruggs III, WR, Alabama

Grade: B

Leave it to the Raiders to focus on speed instead of overall body of work at wide receiver. Ruggs has considerable potential, but is a bigger question than CeeDee Lamb and Jerry Jeudy. It’s not a bad pick by any means, but it’s a big swing rather than a conservative safer receiver.

13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers — Tristan Wirfs, OT, Iowa

Grade: A

The Bucs traded up one spot to land protection for Tom Brady. At first glance it’s surprising, but clearly the Bucs felt someone else wanted to move up for a tackle. They get protection for Brady, and can start looking at the defense on day 2.

14. San Francisco 49ers — Javon Kinlaw, DT, South Carolina

Grade: A

The 49ers picked up a fourth round pick in moving back one spot, which adds some value here. They clearly were not drafting a tackle, so that’s a plus. They dealt away DeForest Buckner so replacing him makes sense. There were two quality wide receivers there, but in a deep class, there’s no need to rush there.

15. Denver Broncos — Jerry Jeudy, WR, Alabama

Grade: A

The quality wide receivers slipped and your personal grade might depend on which of the two you like more between Jeudy and Lamb. In reality, I think you can’t go wrong with either, so it’s an easy A for John Elway. Drew Lock gets a huge addition.

16. Atlanta Falcons — A.J. Terrell, CB, Clemson

Grade: B-

Cornerback was a need and there were rumors the Falcons were trying to move into the top ten. They held steady instead and get arguably the third best cornerback, but in a bit of a reach. Dan Kadar ranked Terrell 39th overall, behind both Jeff Gladney and Trevon Diggs. If this is their guy, so be it, but in a deep cornerback draft, this feels like a reach.

17. Dallas Cowboys — CeeDee Lamb, WR, Oklahoma

Grade: A+

Based on the smile on the faces of Jerry Jones and Mike McCarthy, I gotta think they really didn’t expect Lamb to slip to them. They had bigger needs, but they couldn’t pass on Lamb here. Dak Prescott gets a big-time addition opposite Amari Cooper.

18. Miami Dolphins — Austin Jackson, OT, USC

Grade: A-

The Dolphins added their franchise quarterback at No. 5, and now they’re adding some protection to the line. After the first four tackles, Jackson was in competition with Josh Jones and Ezra Cleveland to be next off the board. The next Dolphins pick at No. 26 meant they might have missed if they didn’t grab a tackle here.

19. Las Vegas Raiders — Damon Arnette, CB, Ohio State

Grade: C

Every team’s draft board is different, but this seemed like a massive reach for the Raiders. They don’t pick again until the third round, so I get wanting to get your guy, but this just seems like a reach that cost them a better talent.

20. Jacksonville Jaguars — K’Lavon Chaisson, Edge, LSU

Grade: B+

Chaisson has a limited sample size, but there is a ton of upside with this pick. The Jaguars need some help on offense, but with a deep WR class, sticking with more defensive help makes sense. Some decent value here as well.

21. Philadelphia Eagles — Jaelen Reagor, WR, TCU

Grade: B

The run on wide receivers did not quite go as expected, and it continued with Reagor as the fourth off the board. It’s a bit odd in the bigger picture, but the Eagles were connected to Reagor regularly in recent weeks. Justin Jefferson made more sense here, but they clearly like something more about Reagor.

22. Minnesota Vikings — Justin Jefferson, WR, LSU

Grade: A

The Vikings needed to replace Stefon Diggs, and they got a nice little present when the Eagles passed on Jefferson. This is a solid addition to that offense.

23. Los Angeles Chargers — Kenneth Murray, LB

Grade: B+

The Chargers made a useful addition to their defensive front, moving up for Murray. They gave up a second and third to do it, so that was a bit pricey, but a strong addition to a shaky Chargers defense.

24. New Orleans Saints — Cesar Ruiz, C, Michigan

Grade: B

This is a nice boost to the Saints interior line, but a bit of a surprise this high. Of course, the Saints don’t pick again until the third round, so they might have felt they had to reach on this. If they had a second round pick, this would have gotten a worse grade.

25. San Francisco 49ers — Brandon Aiyuk, WR, Arizona State

Grade: B+

It’s easy to like most any receiver Kyle Shanahan is a fan of, so there’s upside to this pick. He’s a guy who can make things happen in space, and Shanahan is the ideal coach to scheme him open. The downside is the 49ers still have no picks on day 2.

26. Green Bay Packers — Jordan Love, QB, Utah State

Grade: B

In four or five years this could look like an A+ pick or this be an F. Aaron Rodgers won’t be giving up his job in the near future, so we’ll see. The Packers need to figure out the future, but not sure if this is it. The upside is enticing however.

27. Seattle Seahawks — Jordyn Brooks, LB, Texas Tech

Grade: C

The Seahawks need some long-term help on defense, but this is a bit of a head scratcher. He was 88th on Dan Kadar’s big board and feels like someone the Seahawks could have snagged with a second round pick. More importantly, there seemed to be some better options available here.

28. Baltimore Ravens — Patrick Queen, LB, LSU

Grade: A

The Ravens needed to beef up their linebacker corps, and Queen is a solid addition. He was a one-year starter, but it was an impressive season on the national championship team. He’s a great tackler who will need to work on taking on blocks. With some solid coaching, the sky’s the limit for Queen. This is a great late first pick.

29. Tennessee Titans — Isaiah Wilson, OT, Georgia

Grade: B-

He seemed like a fringe 1st round prospect, in part because he’s a little too inconsistent at the moment. The Titans need some bodies to protect Ryan Tannehill, so an o-line pick makes some sense. It just feels like a bit of a reach.

30. Miami Dolphins — Noah Igbinoghene, CB, Auburn

Grade: B

Started as a wide receiver and transitioned to the other side, he brings serious speed to the position. He brings needed physicality, but is also raw given the transition from WR. He’s got potential, but it’s hard to say how he will transition. He sounds like a hard-worker, so that gives him a boost.

31. Minnesota Vikings — Jeff Gladney, CB, TCU

Grade: B+

A solid press cover corner with man/zone versatility that will boost him early in his career. The Vikings lost some cornerback talent, so it made sense to grab a first round talent in a deep cornerback pool.

32. Kansas City Chiefs — Clyde Edwards-Helaire, RB, LSU

Grade: A

The rich get richer. The Chiefs could use some defensive upgrades, but this is a great pick for that Chiefs offense. He’s not a speedster, but his ability as a pass-catcher bodes well for KC’s offense.