The first round of the NFL Draft is finished, with a handful of surprises spreading across the round. Some teams benefited from players who slid, while others made bold picks that could make or break the franchise for years to come. There’s a reason it’s one of the most important days of the NFL calendar, after all.
So who did the best? Here are the five best picks of the 2020 NFL Draft’s first round.
5. Broncos select Jerry Jeudy 15th overall
There were rumors that the Broncos were going to try to move up to draft Jeudy. They managed to get him without even having to trade up. Jeudy is an incredibly well-rounded receiver who should be ready to get volume targets immediately. That’s great news for young quarterback Drew Lock, who will want weapons to assist his effort in becoming the franchise quarterback. Jeudy is a perfect weapon, and he should improve the Denver offense immediately.
4. Dolphins select Tua Tagovailoa 5th overall
The Dolphins were comfortable with Tagovailoa medically, and that was all that mattered. They tuned out the noise, pushed aside the chatter about a trade, and drafted a franchise quarterback. As long as Tagovailoa stays healthy, he should be a success in the NFL. For Miami to get him at No. 5 when it looked like he was going to be the consensus No. 1 pick a year ago is a huge win, and they did the right thing when it came time to make the pick.
3. Ravens select Patrick Queen 28th overall
One of the best value picks of the round, Queen was one of the defensive MVPs for LSU’s championship team. He fits in with the Ravens perfectly, as he fills a need and is likely to be ready to start immediately. Queen is a dynamic player who goes sideline-to-sideline, and with so much talent on defense around him, he won’t be under huge pressure or a massive spotlight. The Ravens are great at developing quality defensive players, so don’t be surprised if Queen follows in that tradition.
2. Buccaneers select Tristan Wirfs 13th overall
Tampa Bay’s offseason plans have revolved around Tom Brady, and so does this pick. Brady has weapons in Tampa, but he needed protection. The Buccaneers responded by getting their new quarterback one of the top offensive linemen in the draft while only having to move up one pick to do so. Wirfs was another player who was expected to go in the top ten, but the Buccaneers were the beneficiaries of his modest slide. Brady, for one, should be very happy.
1. Cardinals select Isaiah Simmons 8th overall
Simmons might be the best athlete in the draft. He can play all over the defense, which should provide the Cardinals with significant flexibility as they scheme against the talent in their division. With Arizona’s offense looking to be on the rise, they needed defense here. Simmons was a top five pick in the minds of some, so for him to drop to No. 8 is a major coup. Simmons has all the tools to be a star, and might become the new leader of the Arizona defense in the years to come.
The Miami Dolphins are beginning a new era and have a franchise quarterback to build upon.
The Dolphins on Thursday selected Tua Tagovailoa with the No. 5 overall pick in the draft. They shook aside any questions about Tagovailoa’s medical history and recovery from hip surgery and decided he was their guy.
This outcome is not too surprising.
Miami went into the 2019 season effectively with the plan of tanking. They traded away Laremy Tunsil and Kenny Stills to Houston, and dealt Minkah Fitzpatrick to Pittsburgh. They got destroyed in their first few games of season before turning things around late and winning five games. But it was clear the front office’s intention was to accumulate draft picks and build for a future in the AFC East when the Patriots would be weakened. Their plan worked out.
The Dolphins got the quarterback I believe they wanted all along, and they still had four more picks in the top 56 to do damage with. They also had a big offseason in free agency, adding Byron Jones and Kyle Van Noy to their defense. The Patriots, who have dominated the AFC East the past two decades, are moving on from Tom Brady.
Miami could not have timed their rebuild any better, and now they have a quarterback who has great upside. Was Tua the product of playing alongside talented offensive weapons and a good line? To some extent he was, but he’s an accurate and mobile quarterback who should put up big numbers in the NFL.
Nick Saban coached Tua Tagovailoa at Alabama for three seasons and is preparing to see his former quarterback move on to the NFL. Saban believes in Tagovailoa but thinks Tua has some areas he needs to improve.
Appearing on ESPN’s College GameDay with Rece Davis Thursday, Saban talked about Tua’s prospects in the NFL. He said Tagovailoa will do well and teams should overlook the medical issues that have supposedly scared some front offices. But he did make a suggestion.
“Look, I think Tua needs to learn a little bit about self-preservation,” Saban said. “I think most of his injuries [at Alabama] occurred after he got rid of the ball. He didn’t have to take the hit that he took. And I think that he is a great competitor and he’s always trying to make a play, so you don’t want to take that competitive spirit away, but I do think there is a time when he needs to get rid of the ball so he doesn’t get hit. But everything else he can do as a quarterback.”
Saban then said he hoped teams wouldn’t make the same mistake he made in Miami where they passed on Drew Brees because of medical concerns about the quarterback’s shoulder. Brees signed with New Orleans and began a Hall of Fame career with them, while Saban’s stint in Miami didn’t go well and he went back to Alabama. Interestingly, an ESPN analyst made the same situational comparison with Tagovailoa that Saban did.
There are a lot of concerns about Tua Tagovailoa’s health heading into Thursday night’s NFL Draft, but teams apparently do not need to worry about the former Alabama star’s surgically repaired hip.
All indications are that Tagovailoa’s rehab from the hip injury he suffered back in November has gone swimmingly. Just hours before the draft began on Thursday, there was another overwhelmingly positive report about Tagovailoa’s health. This one came from ESPN’s Stephania Bell, who spoke with the hip specialist who served as an independent evaluator for Tua’s recheck. According to that doctor, Tagovailoa’s X-rays were “pristine” and he looks as good as any patient can look five months after undergoing that particular hip procedure.
Of course, Tagovailoa being healthy at the moment does not address every concern teams have. The risk with drafting him is more about whether or not he will suffer a significant injury in the future.
The Miami Dolphins are the team that has been most frequently linked to Tagovailoa, and we still think they intend to draft him. There have been varying reports about what the Dolphins plan to do with the fifth overall pick, but it would be a surprise if they don’t end up with Tua.
The Miami Dolphins have been generating the majority of the headlines leading into the NFL Draft on Thursday night, any many believe they are intentionally leaking information to fool teams into thinking they are not going to draft Tua Tagovailoa. ESPN’s Mel Kiper is now on board with that theory.
In his final first-round mock draft before the real event, Kiper predicted that the Dolphins will select Tagovailoa with the fifth overall pick. His previous mock draft had former Oregon star Justin Herbert going to Miami at No. 5 and the Los Angeles Chargers taking Tagovailoa with the next pick, but Kiper has since changed his mind. He explained his rationale during an appearance on “Get Up!” Thursday morning, noting that he thinks the way the Dolphins missed out on Drew Brees years ago could push them toward Tagovailoa.
Tagovailoa has drawn comparisons to Brees. Former Dallas Cowboys executive and Pro Football Hall of Famer Gil Brandt called Tagovailoa a “left-handed Drew Brees” and praised the former Alabama star for his accuracy. When Brees was a free agent in 2006, the Dolphins were on the verge of signing him before a doctor raised concerns about his surgically repaired throwing shoulder. Miami traded for Daunte Culpepper instead, Brees signed with the New Orleans Saints and the rest is history.
Kiper and others believe the Dolphins will keep the Brees situation in mind when making a decision about Tagovailoa. If not for Tua’s injury history, he would have had as good of a shot as Joe Burrow to be the top overall pick. Drafting him will carry a risk, but Miami chose not to take a similar risk with Brees 14 years ago and has regretted it since.
One report this week claimed the Dolphins are looking to trade up for a non-QB, but it would be downright shocking if they actually did that. We’ve thought all along that they are enamored with Tagovailoa, and our opinion hasn’t changed.
Tua Tagovailoa has gotten nothing but positive feedback on his surgically repaired hip, and there is a wide-ranging belief that he is a lock to be selected within the first six picks of the draft. But if for some reason he makes it past No. 6 overall, the tumble down the board could be quite significant for the former Alabama star.
The Bengals are expected to take Joe Burrow first overall. The next three picks belong to the Redskins, Lions and Giants, and none of those teams are in the market for a quarterback. The Dolphins pick at No. 5 and the Chargers at No. 6, and both likely have interest in Tagovailoa and/or former Oregon star Justin Herbert. It’s possible the Chargers could try to trade up ahead of Miami to assure they have their choice between Tagovailoa and Herbert, and Detroit has reportedly been receiving some interest in the third overall pick.
How much interest? That depends who you ask. According to Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press, the market for the No. 3 pick might not be as hot as perceived. As one person told Birkett, the Dolphins may even believe they can land Tagovailoa with their second pick of the first round, which falls at No. 18.
That seems pretty unlikely. If the Dolphins want Tagovailoa, it would be extremely risky for them to wait until their second pick. We saw a similar situation with the Giants when they had two picks in the first round last year, and they decided to take Daniel Jones at No. 6 overall. General manager Dave Gettleman faced a lot of criticism from people who thought he could have taken another player at No. 6 and still gotten Jones at No. 17, but there’s no sense waiting if you think the player is a franchise quarterback. It would be a surprise if the Dolphins didn’t view Tagovailoa or Herbert (whichever they prefer) the same way.
For what it’s worth, Birkett has Miami taking Tagovailoa at No. 5 in his mock draft. His rationale for that was that teams always seem to panic and take QBs early every year, but he clearly thinks the possibility exists that Tagovailoa could take a big tumble down the board.
If Tagovailoa does fall past No. 6, the Dolphins may have to compete with at least one team that has interest in trading up for Tua.
2019 was a big year for quarterbacks in the NFL Draft, and 2020 is similar.
Four quarterbacks may go in the first round of the draft, with a handful of others waiting behind them to potentially go on the second day. Young franchise quarterbacks are the dream for teams who don’t already have one, and this year is not expected to be any different.
Here are rankings of the seven best quarterbacks in the class of 2020.
For those who care about Wonderlic scores, it sounds like there were some errors in the initial reporting of this year’s scores among the quarterback class.
It was reported on Friday that Tua Tagovailoa’s score was among the lowest, and Justin Herbert scored a slightly above-average 25. Those two scores were among those that were actually higher than reported, according to Albert Breer of the MMQB.
These scores are a lot better for Herbert, who immediately vaults toward the top of the QB class in terms of Wonderlic score. Tagovailoa’s reported score of 19 is closer to the average than the 13 that was initially reported. It’s not great, but it’s better than it was.
At the end of the day, it’s worth remembering that Wonderlic scores don’t tell us much. Plenty of mediocre quarterbacks have scored highly, while reigning MVP Lamar Jackson scored a 13. It’s just one data point among many when it comes to evaluating a prospect.
The Tua Tagovailoa storyline is quickly becoming one of the biggest in the NFL Draft, and it could get even bigger if one scenario plays out as one well-connected individual thinks it might.
ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. believes the New England Patriots will be tempted to trade up if Tagovailoa begins falling into the teens during the draft.
“You hear people in the league saying he could fall and everybody is doing their due diligence, including the Patriots,” Kiper told WEEI’s “Ordway, Merloni & Fauria,” via Ryan Hannable of WEEI. “You can rest assured, if he gets into the middle of the first round and you’re sitting there at No. 23, wouldn’t you jump up and maybe get him? You know the connection with Bill Belichick and Nick Saban. And I know how Nick feels about Tua.”
Kiper added that, for all of the concerns about Tagovailoa’s health, quarterbacks don’t get hurt frequently in the NFL, and said that may make it worth the risk to a team like the Patriots.
“This guy has had significant injuries, so to me, if he starts slipping a little bit, sliding down, where it happened with Aaron Rodgers not that long ago, and he was projected to be No. 1 two weeks before that draft and he went in the 20s, yes, if it did happen, I would think New England would be aggressive to try and go up and get him,” Kiper said.
True as it may be that quarterback injuries aren’t exceptionally common, there are heightened concerns about Tagovailoa after he underwent hip surgery. Couple that with the fact that team doctors can’t get a one-on-one look at him and you have a scenario where some teams aren’t even willing to consider the Alabama quarterback. For the Patriots, it could prove to be a calculated risk worth taking if he falls toward them on Thursday.
The 2020 NFL Draft is nearly upon us, and rumors about potential trades are beginning to heat up.
While very few things about the draft are predictable, it’s easy to guarantee a slew of trades will take place in Round 1 and beyond — many of those coming over the first 10 or so picks. Even in a virtual setting, that’s not likely to change.
With that in mind, here’s a look at five of the top potential trade-up targets.