This NFL season has been one for the ages. Between rescheduling games due to COVID-19 outbreaks and record-breaking performances, this season has seen it all. Despite the season’s irregularity, it has not stopped rookies from significantly contributing to their respective teams. While some teams found value with their picks, others will be looking for a do-over after just 12 weeks. Here is a way-too-early redraft of the top 10 picks from the 2020 NFL Draft.
1. Cincinnati Bengals
Original Pick: Joe Burrow, QB, LSU
New Pick: Joe Burrow, QB, LSU
The Bengals stick with their original selection at 1st overall. After a national championship with LSU, Burrow had high expectations coming into rookie camp as the anticipated starting quarterback. It is fair to say he did not disappoint.
His accuracy, his most touted skill by scouts coming out of LSU, saw no regression as 75.3% of his passes were considered “on-target” by Pro Football Reference. Burrow completed 65.3% of his passes coupled with a 16 to 5 touchdown to interception ratio through 9 games. The Bengals relied heavily on him from Day 1. His 61 passing attempts in a Week 2 loss to the Cleveland Browns was the second-most by any rookie quarterback ever. The Bengals even named Burrow a captain, a rare occurrence for a rookie and one that speaks to Burrow’s leadership.
Unfortunately, the Bengals neglected to protect him sufficiently on the offensive line. Burrow was third in the NFL for number of times sacked at 32. He was second in sack yards lost with 231. Presumably, Cincinnati thought the return of offensive lineman Jonah Williams from injury would help to stabilize the line. However, after weeks of brutal hits, Burrow’s body couldn’t take it any longer.
In a loss to the Washington Football Team in Week 11, defenders rolled up Burrow’s knee, causing it to buckle awkwardly. The resulting MRI revealed a torn ACL and multiple other damaged ligaments in Burrow’s knee. A tragic ending to what was a truly remarkable rookie campaign. However, what the Bengals saw out of Burrow in the first 11 games of his career was more than enough to convince them that he is the franchise quarterback of the future. With a full recovery from the injury expected, he holds his place at first overall in the redraft.
2. Washington Football Team
Original Pick: Chase Young, DE, OSU
New Pick: Justin Herbert, QB, Oregon
Washington would have a difficult decision to make at second overall, but the performance put on by Herbert so far this season makes him difficult to pass up.
The Chargers dismal 2-7 record is deceiving given Herbert’s play so far. Through 10 games, Herbert has amassed over 3,000 yards, 23 touchdowns, and only seven interceptions. While putting up elite stats, he has acquired some records that he shares with elite company. Herbert is one of two quarterbacks in NFL history who has passed for over 3,000 yards in their first ten games of their careers. The other quarterback is Super Bowl MVP and Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes.
Herbert also tied Andrew Luck’s rookie record for most games with 300 plus passing yards. There is an argument to be made that the Bengals would select Herbert over Burrow if the redraft were an option. However, Burrow has dealt with a much worse offensive line and inconsistent play from his receivers. Neither Tyler Boyd nor rookie Tee Higgins, Burrows’s top receivers, can compare to former Pro Bowler Keenan Allen, Herbert’s No.1 target in Los Angeles.
The Washington Football Team currently has a quarterback room of Alex Smith, Dwayne Haskins, and Kyle Allen. Smith has been the starter for the last few weeks and has been solid but not stellar. Haskins, a first-round pick in 2019, fell out of favor when the Football Team brought in head coach Ron Rivera. Haskins still has potential and maybe in line for some playing time down the line. However, given what Herbert has done so far, combined with the importance of the quarterback position in football, it would be difficult for Washington to pass up on Herbert.
3. Detroit Lions
Original Pick: Jeff Okudah, CB, OSU
New Pick: Chase Young, DE, OSU
The selection of the top two quarterbacks means Chase Young falls into Detroit’s hands at number 3. Detroit is suffering through a down year for the franchise. With a 4-7 record, the Lions decided to clean house and fire head coach Matt Patricia and general manager, Bob Quinn.
Young has been nothing short of remarkable in his ten games so far this season. He has 4.5 sacks and seven tackles for loss. He has also amassed five quarterback hits and one quarterback knockdown. A physical freak, the double and triple teams that Young saw in college, have followed him into the NFL, a remarkable sign of respect and talent towards the young edge rusher.
The actual selection, Jeff Okudah, was selected to shore up what was a horrible pass defense for the Lions. While he hasn’t been atrocious, the Lions cannot afford to pass up Young’s generational talent at number 3.
4. New York Giants
Original Pick: Andrew Thomas, OT, Georgia
New Pick: Tristan Wirfs, OT, Iowa
The Giants trade in one offensive lineman for another here with the selections of Tristan Wirfs over Andrew Thomas. Wirfs went nine selections later to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and has been remarkably solid in protecting Tom Brady this season.
Going into the 2020 NFL Draft, there was a consensus top-4 tackles: Thomas, Wirfs, Louisville’s Mekhi Becton, and Alabama’s Jedrick Wills. Out of all 4, Wirfs has played the most snaps (751), committed just three penalties, and surrendered the least amount of sacks (1). According to Pro Football Focus, he also has the highest overall grade out of all 4, with a grade of 77.9. Wirfs is a top one percent athlete and has demonstrated that with his outstanding pass blocking ability down in Tampa this season.
With a quarterback in Daniel Jones who has struggled to recognize the situation in the pocket, having a surefire tackle to protect him would be an opportunity that the Giants would not pass up on if they had the chance.
5. Miami Dolphins
Original Pick: Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Alabama
New Pick: Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Alabama
The Dolphins stick with their original pick in Tagovailoa after he falls to them once again. While he does not have insane numbers similar to Herbert and Burrow, he has been efficient and crucial to team success since he stepped in Week 6. He has six passing touchdowns through 4 starts and 0 interceptions. The Dolphins are 3-1 in the games Tagovailoa has started.
Like Burrow, Tagovailoa has been remarkably accurate as 74.2% of his passes have been “on-target” this season. The Dolphins appeared to have found their quarterback of the future and would select him again given a choice.
6. Los Angeles Chargers
Original Pick: Justin Herbert, QB, Oregon
New Pick: Jeremy Chinn, DB, Southern Illinois
With Herbert going to Washington at 2nd overall, the Chargers must find a new selection. In place of Herbert, picking defensive back Jeremy Chinn would be an excellent fit for the Chargers.
Chinn has significantly outperformed his second-round selection so far. Through 12 games, all of which he has started, Chinn has 87 combined tackles and two fumble recoveries, both of which went for touchdowns. He has played at least 90% of all defensive snaps in 11 out of the 12 games so far this season. While considered a safety, at 6’3 and 221 pounds, he can come down into the box and lay the boom on blockers or ball carriers. His physicality and size at the safety position are similar to current Seahawks safety Jamal Adams.
The Chargers secondary has suffered after losing star defensive Derwin James to a season-ending injury before the season. While Chinn and James technically play the same position, James is talented enough to flex out to cornerback to make room for Chinn. A secondary of James and Chinn would create a scary defensive tandem for the next decade.
7. Carolina Panthers
Original Pick: Derrick Brown, DT, Auburn
New Pick: Derrick Brown, DT, Auburn
The Panthers lose their budding star in Chinn but get to reselect Derrick Brown as he falls to them at seven once again. The top-rated defensive tackle from the class has been a disruptive force from Day 1 for Carolina.
While Carolina’s run defense is still the middle of the pack in the league, bringing in Brown has had a noticeable impact on the defense. While Brown is still looking for his first sack of the season, he leads all rookies in the NFL with 20 pressures. He has also amassed six tackles for loss along with 7 QB hits. Brown appears to be on track to become one of the best defensive tackles in the league in the coming years.
8. Arizona Cardinals
Original Pick: Isaiah Simmons, LB, Clemson
New Pick: Isaiah Simmons, LB, Clemson
Simmons was considered the best non-quarterback prospect by some analysts before the draft. After a short slide, he ended up with Kliff Kingsbury in Arizona, where the results have been mixed so far.
At the beginning of the season, Simmons was struggling with the pace and complexity of NFL games. He played less than 20 snaps in every game through the first five weeks. However, he slowly began to establish himself as a Swiss Army knife in the middle of the Arizona defense and has earned more reps as a result. According to PFF, since Week 6, Simmons has been the highest-graded defensive rookie with an overall grade of 84.3.
Simmons still has a lot to learn but has shown very exciting and promising flashes. As he gets more snaps, the Cardinals should expect his stats to match his in-game impact.
9. Jacksonville Jaguars
Original Pick: C.J Henderson, CB, Florida
New Pick: Justin Jefferson, WR, LSU
Jacksonville opts for the explosive Jefferson at the number 9 spot. In what was a highly touted class of receivers, Jefferson has come out at the top at this point in the season.
Jefferson was the 5th receiver selected in the 2020 NFL Draft. While each of the four receivers has had their own unique situations, Jefferson has been by far the most impressive thus far. In just nine starts, Jefferson has 918 receiving yards and six touchdowns. His 17.7 yards per reception is 4th in the league. His 918 receiving yards is top-5 all time by any rookie receiver through 11 games.
Jacksonville desperately needed a cornerback prompting the Henderson pick. Henderson has been solid and has improved his tackling significantly, one of his red flags coming out of college. However, the potential to pair Jefferson with D.J Chark and Keelan Cole would be too tempting for the Jaguars to pass up on at 9th overall.
10. Cleveland Browns
Original Pick: Jedrick Wills, OT, Alabama
New Pick: Andrew Thomas, OT, Georgia
Analysts predicted that the Browns would select a tackle and, when the clock expired, the selection was Wills. Wills has been outstanding in pass protection for the Browns and a significant part of the run game. However, the Browns would probably go for Thomas, given what they have seen out of him so far.
Thomas has played 614 snaps and given up eight penalties through 11 games. He has allowed six sacks and has an overall grade of 59.4, according to PFF. However, he has shown significant improvement throughout the season and slowly eliminating rookie mistakes. It should also be noted that Thomas matched up against some of the most elite pass rushers in the game in his first few games in the league. Steelers T.J Watt and Bears Khalil Mack were Thomas’s first two tests of the season.
Thomas is a solid tackle all around. He can pass protect but could also be an asset in Kevin Stefanski’s run game.