Cal Christoforo’s 3 Winners and Losers of the Draft: Where does Jalen Hurts fall?

Winner – Arizona Cardinals

The Cardinals weren’t known to be searching for defense in the first round, but they obtained an absolute steal with the eighth overall pick, grabbing Isaiah Simmons out of Clemson. Simmons is listed as an outside linebacker, but he can truly play anywhere on the defensive side of the ball, and the fact that he was available at #8 was very surprising. It looked like Arizona had forfeited their chance to grab an impact player at offensive tackle, their biggest need, but somehow, in the third round, Houston tackle Josh Jones, ranked 17th overall on CBS’s draft board, was still available. The Cardinals grabbed the first round talent there, walking away with two steals. Considering their second round pick was part of the deal for DeAndre Hopkins, and the Cardinals were pretty happy with the usage of their top picks. 

Loser – Jalen Hurts

Doug Pederson may find a way to use Hurts in some creative packages, but ultimately, Jalen Hurts wants to be a starting quarterback in the NFL, and he’s now stuck behind Carson Wentz, who is locked in for another four years in Philadelphia. It’s going to be tough for Hurts to develop, especially considering Pederson’s commitment to Wentz. If winning a Super Bowl isn’t enough to supplant Wentz, nor is his multitude of injuries, it’s going to be a long road for hurts to gain prominence at the next level.

Winner – Wide Receivers
Wide receivers flew off the board left and right, with thirty-seven total receivers hearing their name called this past weekend. Six came in the first round, and seven more in the second, as NFL squads showed a desperate wish to grab receivers, finding value in all seven rounds. As dynamic offenses continue to take hold in the NFL, skill position players, particularly receivers, are becoming huge value picks. 

Loser – Las Vegas Raiders

Henry Ruggs was a good pick, but the Raiders started reaching with Damon Arnette, and then they took two more offensive players. I get offense is the new premium in the NFL, but when you’re in a division with Patrick Mahomes, you simply have to get some impact defensive players, and the Raiders just didn’t do that. Considering the Broncos and Chargers really putting together strong drafts, the Raiders could find them at the bottom of the AFC West next season. 

Winner – LSU
14 draft picks. Absolutely absurd. LSU set all kind of records, including an SEC record with 14 picks, along with becoming the first team to have their quarterback, wide receiver, and running back selected in the first round, as Clyde-Edwards Hillaire snuck in with the final pick of the round. Justin Jefferson, Joe Burrow, K’Lavon Chaisson, and Patrick Queen made it 5 LSU players taken in the first round. You can say what you want about how last year was just an anomaly, how LSU is not really the power of the SEC, but 14 draft picks will get you somewhere in recruiting, and that’s undeniable. Also, bonus points for LSU breaking the prior SEC record of 12 draft picks by getting long snapper Blake Ferguson picked in the sixth round. You love to see that. 

Loser – ACC

This is specifically targeted at the ACC not including Clemson. Clemson had a decent draft day, as would be expected from one of the top programs in the country, but the ACC in general struggled. In the first two rounds, only 3 non-Clemson ACC players heard their name called, and only one of those was in the first round (Mekhi Becton, Louisville). Running backs Cam Akers of Florida State and AJ Dillon of Boston College were the only other ACC players to leave the draft board. As Clemson continues to dominate the ACC, the lack of NFL interest in the other teams in the conference is a tough look for teams looking to recruit heavily and begin to compete with the Tigers once more.

2020 NFL Draft Ratings and Rankings, 8-1: Bengals and Jaguars near the top, but who’s #1?

The NFL Draft has come and gone, and while there will still be flurries of signings of undrafted free agents, it’s time to hand out the grades for who nailed the draft, and who is left with more questions than answers. Here are my official draft rankings and ratings, from worst to first. Here are my top eight!
Note: Especially in the top eight, the ‘worst’ pick was usually just a position I felt didn’t need to be addressed as soon as it was. It very rarely has anything to do with the player, unless there was a clear steal available that the team passed on.

 8. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Rating 67 out of 100)
Best Pick: Tristan Wirfs, OT, Iowa (Round 1, Pick 13)
Worst Pick: Tyler Johnson WR, (Round 5, Pick 16)
1-Sentence Analysis: I was confused why the Bucs traded up one spot in the first round to get Wirfs, who the 49ers probably weren’t targeting, but they still took the right guy there, and they filled most of their needs, really nailing their first three picks in my opinion, but I would have liked them to the defensive tackle position earlier, as adding a 5th-round receiver to the strongest part of their team does little to improve their chances of winning right away. 

7. Houston Texans (Rating 68 out of 100)
Best Pick: Ross Blacklock, DT, TCU (Round 2, Pick 8)
Worst Pick: John Reid, CB, Penn State (Round 4, Pick 35)
1-Sentence Analysis: I’ll stand up for Bill O’Brien here, as I actually didn’t think Houston bombed the draft like many say they did, picking up a great talent in Blacklock, a late-round flier at receiver Isaiah Coulter, and some decent value in the trenches to both adequately fill needs and build for the future, although they probably could have done better at cornerback, as Virginia’s Bryce Hall was still available. 

6. Miami Dolphins (Rating 72 out of 100)
Best Pick: Raekwon Davis, DT, Alabama (Round 2, Pick 24)
Worst Pick: Noah Igbinoghene, CB, Auburn (Round 1, Pick 30)
1-Sentence Analysis: Miami was superb with attention to detail, filling lots of little holes – they even added a really good long snapper to shore up their special teams – with pretty good value, adding intriguing prospects for much of the draft, although I think I would have preferred to see Miami get a playmaker cornerback with some bigger upside with their first round pick. 

5. Baltimore Ravens (78 out of 100)
Best Pick: Patrick Queen, ILB, LSU (Round 1, Pick 28)
Worst Pick: Tyre Phillips, OT, Mississippi State (Round 3, Pick 42)
1-Sentence Analysis: The Ravens are entering a championship-or-bust window, and they excelled in picking up guys that look NFL-ready, securing huge steals in Queen, and running back JK Dobbins, and several others, filling most of their needs – Phillips is a great developmental pick, he just seemed to fit outside the ‘win-now’ mode Baltimore is in, considering they spent a third-rounder on him. 

4. Cincinnati Bengals (81 out of 100)
Best Pick: Tee Higgins, WR, Clemson (Round 2, Pick 1)
Worst Pick: Khalid Kareem, DE, Notre Dame (Round 5, Pick 1)
1-Sentence Analysis: Adding Higgins to give Burrow an immediate weapon was a stroke of genius, and the Bengals did a great job filling needs and finding great value along the way, as Kareem gets the nod as ‘worst pick’ largely because he, in my opinion, has the lowest ceiling, but he could still be a decent impact player for the Bengals. 

3. Jacksonville Jaguars (82 out of 100)
Best Pick: K’Lavon Chaisson (Round 1, Pick 20)
Worst Pick: Laviska Shenault Jr (Round 2, Pick 10)
1-Sentence Analysis: Jacksonville came in with a wealth of draft picks and they filled most of their major needs, making a great call on Chaisson to fill a hole at linebacker in the first round, getting great value at receiver in Collin Johnson in the fifth round, grabbing a sixth-round quarterback to keep some competition for Gardner Minshew, and the only thing I would have liked to see is prioritizing a tight end selection earlier than the 6th round (Cole Kmet was available when they took Shenault).

2. Arizona Cardinals (89 out of 100)
Best Pick: Josh Jones, OT, Houston (Round 3, Pick 8)
Worst Pick: Evan Weaver, ILB, California (Round 6, Pick 23)
1-Sentence Analysis: Arizona was able to surprisingly grab defensive swiss-army-knife Isaiah Simmons with the eighth overall pick, and despite not picking until the third round, got amazing value in Jones while filling their biggest need, and they went on to add a pair of intriguing defensive tackles that should fill a hole for the Cardinals, as, all-in-all, my only minor complaint is their refusal to go get another wide receiver for Kyler Murray, but their earlier trade for DeAndre Hopkins helps alleviate that grievance.

1. Minnesota Vikings (91 out of 100)
Best Pick: Justin Jefferson, WR, LSU (Round 1, Pick 22)
Worst Pick: Cameron Dantzler, CB, Mississippi State (Round 3, Pick 25)
1-Sentence Analysis: The Vikings had 14 draft picks and did well to cover all their needs, getting a steal at receiver in Jefferson, trading back and getting a good corner in Jeff Gladney, another major steal at offensive tackle in Ezra Cleveland, and that was just the start of an excellent weekend for Minnesota, whose biggest (and very minor) regret may be taking two cornerbacks in their first four picks, but you can still argue it was a position of need, and Dantzler is a very good prospect.