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Thoughts on the 2020 NFL Draft

Posted in Sports - football, mostly by EloiSVM42 on April 27, 2020

Three differences characterized this year’s NFL draft. First, of course, was the format. Instead of the Las Vegas extravaganza, the NFL followed the isolation and social distancing protocols required due to Covid-19, and everything was done virtually. Overall, I thought the NFL handled it well. In the later rounds, when the time between picks shortened, ABC, the network I watched, had trouble keeping up with the picks. They tried to cram in too much feature material at that pace.

Second, the talent this year is as deep as I can remember. There were at least 15 players who were legitimate top 10 ones, and the second round looked a lot like the first. There were several excellent quarterbacks, and the number of talented wide receivers was astounding, reflecting, I think, the evolving game at the college level. (Spoiler alert: OU got the best one.)

Finally, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell came off looking human and likeable. At times, he was very casual, almost slouchy. I think his stock went up with the public.

How ‘bout them Cowboys? It was a little embarrassing to see the owner and head coach of the Dallas Cowboys dancing on national television – neither was particularly good at it. But you cannot blame them, because University of Oklahoma wide receiver Cee Dee Lamb had just fallen into their lap at #17 in the draft. Since Lamb was rated the sixth best player in the entire draft by the Cowboys, you can understand why the ‘Boys were so excited. They never dreamed that Lamb would be there. They jumped on him like a duck on a June Bug.

This unexpected event upset the Cowboys’ initial plans. It was thought Dallas would take an edge rusher with their first pick and defensive backs thereafter, but after taking Lamb and dancing, they got back on schedule and took two very promising DBs with subsequent picks, and then began filling back up needs at edge and center with excellent picks, I think. Each player taken was ranked higher than when Dallas was able to take them.

I would have taken Lamb under any circumstances, but there is an underlying reason Dallas was safe taking the risk of changing their plan to take an edge rusher first, as I see it. Dallas has signed two suspended edge rushers – Randy Gregory and Alton Smith – who are hoping to be reinstated before next season, whenever that it. I think Gregory at least should win his case, because he was apparently suspended for using (a lot of) pot, and pot is not even a banned substance in the NFL player agreement anymore. I think Goodell will relent on Gregory. I do not know enough about Smith to comment.

Along the way, The Cowboys took DL Neville Gallimore, also from Oklahoma, who could end up being a real steal. Gallimore’s sophomore and junior seasons were nothing to write home about, but that was when OU had a terrible defensive coaching staff that produced one of the worst defensive teams in OU and NCAA history. After a new defensive coaching staff was brought in, Gallimore’s play skyrocketed his senior year. I think he could really blossom under professional coaching.

None of the other NFC East teams had distinguished drafts and Philadelphia’s was poor. Washington got a great player in Chase Young, but they lost one when they were forced to trade Lane Johnson, another OU product and perennial All-Pro player to San Francisco, because Lane flat out refused to play another down for the Redskins.

Bottom line: The Cowboys nailed this draft, and I think they should be a lock on the NFC East this season, assuming there is one.

The most intriguing pick in the draft also involved a Sooner – quarterback Jalen Hurts to the Philadelphia Eagles – who only three years ago selected Carson Wentz and paid him a ton of money to go out on the field and get injured frequently.

The most charitable way to look at this pick is that Philadelphia wanted a hedge against their huge investment in Wentz, given his history of injuries. My take is that it goes deeper than that. I think the Eagles are, deep down, no longer completely sold on Wentz.

The worst draft was that of the Green Bay Packers. They not only did not help themselves much, but in the process seriously disappointed their certain Hall of Fame bound franchise quarterback – Aaron Rodgers.

Last year, the Packers seemed to be one piece away from getting to the championship game. Instead of getting that piece in the first round, they drafted Rodgers’ future replacement instead. Rodgers wants to win now. He cannot have been pleased.

I thought the Baltimore Ravens had a very good draft as well.

It seemed that every eligible player on the four playoff teams was drafted high. It made me wonder why, with so much talent taken in the draft, why Ohio State hasn’t done better in the college championship hunt than they have the last few years.

Lots of good players in the draft. I hope they get to play this fall, for their sake and mine.

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