The virtual draft was … an absolute success! Not only did all three days go far smoother than everyone expected, but the event provided exactly the kind of shared escapism we all need in these strange, scary days. And the storylines that emerged filled a serious void for football fans from coast to coast.
John Elway cleaned up in Denver. The Lions stole D’Andre Swift after reaching on Jeff Okudah. Carolina went ALL DEFENSE — and it made sense. Bill O’Brien got angry, but not as angry as many Texans fans are with him.
I can’t go through every team here, though — after all, my last name rhymes with nine, not 32. So here’s a taste of my draft takes in this annual LOVE/LOATHE edition of the Schein Nine.
NOTE: Click on each team name for a full class rundown.
DRAFT HAULS I LOVE
1) Dallas Cowboys
Now this is a draft haul. Many evaluators, including NFL Network draft guru Daniel Jeremiah, had CeeDee Lamb as the top-rated receiver in this loaded WR class — and Dallas stole him at No. 17. Never in a million years did I think the Oklahoma product would be there for Jerry Jones. Many teams will regret passing on him. One day before the draft, I had Lamb on my SiriusXM Radio show, "Schein on Sports," and the 6-foot-2, 198-pounder talked about his big-game savvy and how he loves having the spotlight on him. This guy is perfect for America’s Team. And happy early birthday, Dak Prescott! The quarterback, who turns 27 in July, now has a scary-good receiving trio, with Lamb joining Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup — and I think the rookie might end up being the best of the bunch. The Cowboys better lock up Prescott on a long-term deal ASAP, because the price is only going to go up with all this weaponry at his disposal.
Now, before Lamb fell into Dallas’ lap, most mock drafts had the ‘Boys addressing one of two defensive areas of need: cornerback or D-line. Well, Jerrah hit those two spots with his next two picks. Midway through Round 2, the Cowboys plucked a winning and talented cover man many projected to be a first-round pick: Alabama’s Trevon Diggs. Absolutely perfect. One round later, Dallas scooped up disruptive DT Neville Gallimore out of Oklahoma. Another great value pick.
And my favorite Day 3 pick in the draft might’ve been the Cowboys snagging Wisconsin center Tyler Biadasz in the fourth round at No. 146 overall. Injuries affected his performance last season, but if Biadasz can get right again, he can be a stellar replacement for the recently retired Travis Frederick. When you lose one Badgers pivot … go get another!
2) Los Angeles Chargers
The Chargers’ Day 1 grade: A++. That is how you own a draft.
Bolts GM Tom Telesco let the draft come to him at No. 6 overall, then gobbled up a fabulous young quarterback to build around in Justin Herbert. Some people have questions about the Oregon product. Not me — I love what Herbert brings to the table. At 6-6 and 236 pounds, he is a fantastic athlete with an absolute cannon for an arm. He’s brilliant and unflappable. He won’t feel any pressure taking the franchise-quarterback torch from future Hall of Famer Philip Rivers. He won’t rock the boat if/when Tyrod Taylor begins the season in the starting lineup. Herbert has time to marinate if necessary, but he is going to be great for the Chargers for a very long time. He’s Anthony Lynn’s vision of a quarterback.
And how about Telesco trading back into Round 1 to nab playmaking linebacker Kenneth Murray? Throughout the pre-draft process, everyone waxed poetic about the Oklahoma star’s qualities, both tangible and intangible. He was a fantastic leader and tone-setter in Norman. Los Angeles’ defense will be one of the best in the league in 2020, and I love the Bolts to bounce back from last year’s 5-11 debacle to make the playoffs.
3) Indianapolis Colts
Indy’s first-round pick went to San Francisco in the DeForest Buckner trade, which was a win for both sides. (Buckner is a stud, while the Niners used the pick to snag a cheaper replacement in Javon Kinlaw.) And then Colts GM Chris Ballard just owned the second round. USC receiver Michael Pittman at No. 34 is a dream. He’s the perfect No. 2 receiver to T.Y. Hilton, as a big-bodied playmaker with great hands and contested-catch ability. Meanwhile, my love affair with Jonathan Taylor has been well-documented. Scoring him at No. 41 was another master stroke. I think the Wisconsin back will have a Rookie of the Year type of season running the ball for the Colts. Pittman and Taylor: two first-round talents acquired on Day 2.
I liked how Ballard built depth on defense throughout the rest of the draft. And I am obsessed with QB Jacob Eason’s upside. He has a rocket arm, and if there’s ever a coach to foster growth in the rest of his game, it’s Frank Reich. Worthwhile project to pick in Round 4.
4) Arizona Cardinals
Cardinals general manager Steve Keim told me Friday on SiriusXM Radio that he’s never scouted a player like Isaiah Simmons. Who has? There’s truly no comparison. The guy is an absolute freak, playing all over the field and running a 4.39 40-yard dash at 6-4, 238 pounds. Keim didn’t think there was a chance Simmons would be there at No. 8. Me neither. The GM loved how the hybrid playmaker performed in big games and highly valued his ability to cover tight ends in today’s NFL. This was a coup. And so was the selection of Josh Jones. I thought the offensive tackle would go in the first round — Arizona got him in the third! Valuable protection for reigning Offensive Rookie of the Year Kyler Murray.
And of course, Keim’s second-round pick netted DeAndre Hopkins. When you factor in that highway robbery of a trade, this was a wow draft.
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5) Baltimore Ravens
Vintage Ravens draft. Patrick Queen was a perfect pick at linebacker near the end of Round 1. J.K. Dobbins was put on Earth to run the ball for Baltimore. And I really liked the Devin Duvernay pick in Round 3. Another speed merchant for Lamar Jackson to play with? Yes, please!
The transition from the great Ozzie Newsome to Eric DeCosta has gone swimmingly. This was another great weekend for the second-year general manager.
6) Cincinnati Bengals
Simply put, Joe Burrow just has It. The reigning Heisman Trophy winner and No. 1 overall pick changes everything for Cincy. And I love how the Bengals backed up their new franchise quarterback with a stud receiver to start Round 2 in Tee Higgins. That’s inspired drafting.
I see this offense to be great sooner than later, and envision Cincinnati turning into a consistent winner. Seriously.
DRAFT HAULS I LOATHE
7) Green Bay Packers
The Packers failed the 2020 NFL Draft. They failed their players — particularly Aaron Rodgers — and their amazing fans. What a bizarre, backwards, embarrassing weekend for the franchise.
Trading up from 30 to 26 to draft quarterback Jordan Love was simply inexplicable. That was the biggest WTF moment of the entire draft. I am on record saying I don’t believe in Love’s NFL prospects. In fact, just last week, I explained why the Utah State should NOT be taken in Round 1. He’s a major project, having just led the FBS with 17 interceptions last season. As one NFC executive told me pre-draft: "There’s just too much bad tape." And yet, the Packers moved up to take him, despite a serious lack of receiving options at Rodgers’ disposal. In fact, Green Bay didn’t take a single wide receiver in a draft class that was defined by immense depth at the position. That’s insane. In Round 2, Brian Gutekunst drafted a bruising running back with minimal pass-catching chops. In Round 3? An H-back whom NFL Media’s Lance Zierlein projected as a sixth-rounder, while comping him to the illustrious Tyler Conklin.
What on earth was this front office thinking? Green Bay was a game away from the Super Bowl last season. Rodgers, who’s still playing at a high level at age 36, has four years left on his current deal. This franchise is squarely in its Super Bowl window. And now they’re going to attempt to become a run-first offense while grooming the quarterback of the future? It’s nonsensical.
8) Philadelphia Eagles
I didn’t like Philly taking Jalen Reagor over Justin Jefferson in Round 1. I really didn’t like taking a quarterback in Round 2.
The Eagles should be in the Super Bowl business. They needed help on defense. Plus, they rightly gave star quarterback Carson Wentz a $128 million contract extension less than a year ago. And then they spend a second-round pick on Jalen Hurts? Please understand: I am a huge fan of Hurts. I believe he can play — and win — in the NFL. But this pick bizarrely begs for some kind of quarterback controversy. You still have delusional Eagles fans who somehow believe Nick Foles should be the team’s quarterback. Wentz was majestic in the final quarter of the 2019 season, leading the banged-up Birds to the playoffs with clutch performances against division foes. Doug Pederson admitted after the draft that he spoke to new Eagles offensive consultant Marty Mornhinweg about how the Ravens used Lamar Jackson during his rookie year. If you remember, Lamar played in certain packages, then Joe Flacco got hurt and never got his job back.
I can appreciate the Eagles attempting to improve the backup quarterback position. Wentz has been injured pretty routinely in his NFL career. But such a high pick invites drama in an insane hotbed like Philly, and it’s not going to end well.
9) Las Vegas Raiders
I just don’t get it. Henry Ruggs III over Jerry Jeudy and CeeDee Lamb? That can’t happen. The major reach for CB Damon Arnette at No. 19 overall? Unacceptable.
On a weekend where the Broncos simply cleaned up, the Chargers got their franchise quarterback and Kansas City took a stud running back to give Patrick Mahomes frightening balance, the Raiders were the blot on the AFC West landscape.
Follow Adam Schein on Twitter @AdamSchein.
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